Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, October 11, 2003
From this morning’s Olympia, Washington Olympian, Many Soldiers, Same Letter:
The Olympian recently received the two letters, pictured above, from Olympia area soldiers.
The paper describes the letters as identical and says that they appear to be part of a campaign to present a positive picture of the US occupation. Ledyard King of the Gannett News Service reports:
Letters from hometown soldiers describing their successes rebuilding Iraq have been appearing in newspapers across the country as U.S. public opinion on the mission sours.
And all the letters are the same.
A Gannett News Service search found identical letters from different soldiers with the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, also known as "The Rock," in 11 newspapers, including Snohomish, Wash.
Sgt. Shawn Grueser of Poca, W.Va., said he spoke to a military public affairs officer whose name he couldn't remember about his accomplishments in Iraq for what he thought was a news release to be sent to his hometown paper in Charleston, W.Va. But the 2nd Battalion soldier said he did not sign any letter.
Although Grueser said he agrees with the letter's sentiments, he was uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments.
Friday, October 10, 2003
Last evening’s Frontline War, Truth and Consequences on PBS, I thought, had several news worthy scenes, particularly American soldier’s crushing an Iraqi car with a tank, and several highly interesting sound bites from Iraqi soldiers, Generals, and US government officials that have, somehow, escaped the selective audio intakes of the major media over these last several months.
In the weeks building to war, early this past year, the controlled media buzz fed by selective “highly placed” sources was all about Lean & Mean and Shock & Awe.
Lean & Mean was an important concept as it played directly into the long-range private and governmental concerns of certain “highly placed” sources that vast portions of the military be privatized into lucrative subsidiaries of certain uniquely positioned corporations.
Lean was really paired with Not Quite So Mean, in Afghanistan, and demanded an over reliance upon local warlords coupled with, some think, a refusal to consider more sophisticated weaponry.
Hadn’t the President lamented, “There’s nothing to bomb there”?
In the remote mountains surrounding Tora Bora some wonder why Washington’s tough talk skipped past more historic options for that isolated redoubt as there was something to bomb there.
An over-reliance upon locals and a failure to engage with a more ultimate weapons option, at Tora Bora, in the suppressed opinion of certain elements of the Army and Marine command staff, had allowed the al Qaeda Diaspora, binLaden’s escape and continued foreign belief in weakness at America’s core.
The giddy excitement over burnoosed and enhorsed CIA and robot planes was purposefully infectious wasn’t it?
Sure it was, by gosh!
Hadn’t Rummy, eyes a twinkle, gushed like a school girl and pushed the Lean concept right out of its envelope and over the objections of certain Army, Marine, Defense and State fuddy-duddies and onto the burning Iraqi sands to park next to the pre-positioned Halliburton equipment?
Frontline had sound bites from Lt. Gen. Jay Gardner and Paul Bremer (or, Jerry Bremer as Frontline shows President Bush first calling him), admitting that post war Iraq would have been a different situation with more rational levels of ground forces.
Q: Did you have enough support from the military to do your job?
GARDNER: Initially, no, because they didn't have enough. What happened is we put an incredible requirement on the military when we got there.
Frontline, also, had very interesting interviews with Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, who Frontline failed to identify as the man who replaced Col. Joe Dowdy as the Commander of Marine Combat 1 at the end of the first week of Iraqi war.
The entire Dowdy affair, the Colonel’s battlefield actions and Washington’s involvement in this historic removal of a battlefield commander has simply vanished from the public mind except for the occasional fruitless Google search by truth hungry citizens.
Lt. Gen. Conway, interestingly, admitted to Frontline, that perhaps his troops could have prevented some of the widespread looting that has so doomed post war Baghdad and its recovery.
CONWAY: I think if we had been told to stop the looting and secure key elements of the city, we could have brought a force to do that.
Did he ask the chain of command to modify his orders to confront the mayhem his eyes were witnessing? No he did not.
Frontline didn’t ask but I wanted to know if the vanished Dowdy’s fate influenced this particular command decision by Conway?
Lean & Mean is still in effect as Rummy’s privatization plan was only recently submitted to Congress where it is sure to seem more economically attractive to a nation staggering under the treaty-enforced burden of being an occupying power.
Something, perhaps Frontline, provoked the Vice President to leave his subterranean lair this morning to rattle the vague bones of mass extinction before the receptive ears of the Heritage Foundation and the nitrous oxide inhalers of cable TV news.
According to the Vice President as reported by the AP on the New York Times web site:
The challenges we face today cannot be met with timid actions or bitter words.
Who could not agree with the Vice President as he so artfully misstates the situation?
Some, observing pre Iraq events in Afghanistan and the ongoing Plame Game, would argue that timidity and bitterness are not solely characteristic of the administration’s opposition. I would modify the Vice President statement to say:
The challenges we face today cannot be met with timid actions, bitter words or hidden agendas.
I would urge a visit to the Frontline website where War, Truth and Consequences will be available for online viewing tomorrow.
Transcripts of interviews are available now.
Photos: PBS, DOD and Getty
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Sad to say and perhaps not for reasons of age, I’ve been reduced to writing myself little reminder notes. Over the years this reminder writing has progressed way beyond kitchen and household needs. And, it needs to be said, the writing of the reminder is by no means a guarantee that I will remember the reminder. Sad, huh?
As sad as Rummy showing NATO Ministers either his new position in relation to Dr. Rice or the low low level, at which her memo was received at Defense?
So, with dispassionate dispatch similar to Cut Throat Condi, I’ve written a memo to watch tonight’s Frontline on most PBS stations (check local listings).
The documentary examines the Bush rationale for the Iraq war and is called Truth, War and Consequences.
According to a TV review in this morning’s New York Times:
Greg Thielmann, who left his post as director of the strategic, proliferation and military affairs office in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research last September, also describes in dispassionate tones how the State Department's intelligence reports were ignored or sanded down to suit the White House's case. Calling the administration's approach "faith-based intelligence," Mr. Thielmann says, "They were cherry-picking the information that we provided to use whatever pieces of it fit their overall interpretation”…What distinguished the Bush administration, "Frontline" contends, was the openness of its arrogance and the magnitude of its policy shift — sending more than 200,000 American troops to invade a Muslim country and recreate it along American democratic lines.
Photo: John Sommer II, Reuters
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
For Immediate Release
October 8, 2003
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
the James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:32 P.M. EDT
Q We now know from Secretary Rumsfeld that he was completely in the dark about this new effort by the National Security Advisor and others to offer a support group for the Iraqi reconstruction --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I don't know that -- the way you characterized the question at the beginning is necessarily accurate. I think you might want to talk to the Pentagon about that.
Q I have, and my point remains that the Defense Secretary has made clear that he was in the dark about this and did not know until he received the memo outlining the effort -- at least, that's what he says. Does the White House have a different view? And, if not --
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, one, keep in mind when we talked about this earlier in the week that the Pentagon continues to be -- has been and continues to be the lead agency overseeing our efforts in Iraq. And Ambassador Bremer, in his role as the civilian administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority, is overseeing the reconstruction efforts.
Q Does the President still retain complete confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld?
MR. McCLELLAN: Oh absolutely. He's doing an outstanding job.
Q Scott, on the leak investigation, will you sketch out a little more specific about the role that the Counsel's Office is playing institutionally within the White House in terms of liaising with the Justice Department, but also providing advice within the institution here? And does the screening --
MR. McCLELLAN: What do you mean providing advice? I think they're available to answer questions that staff may have.
MR. McCLELLAN: But keep in mind that if there's something relevant to the investigation, that our Counsel's Office would be obligated to report it to the Department of Justice. And the role that the Counsel's Office is playing is one of assisting the Department of Justice get to the bottom of this, because no one has more of an interest in getting to the bottom of this than the White House does, than the President does. This is something that we want to get to the bottom of. And there are people inside and outside this administration that can help get to the bottom of this. And if people have information, they ought to talk to the Department of Justice about it so that we can find out who was responsible for doing this.
Q Why do you refuse to answer the question whether Karl Rove said that Joseph Wilson's wife was fair game?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've been through this for now two days in a row.
Q You didn't answer the question --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I did answer the question.
Q But did he say it?
MR. McCLELLAN: I did answer the question.
Q Did he say it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I answered that question, and we've been through it for two days now. And so, it's been addressed.
Q But what was the answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to go back through it again today, because we've been through it for the last couple of days. And I pointed out that there are some that are trying to politicize this investigation for partisan political gain, and that's unfortunate. There's an investigation going on and no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than this White House.
Q But why don't you just say --
MR. McCLELLAN: So I've already addressed that issue.
Q -- just say, I don't want to answer that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Anybody else? Dana, you have one?
PLEASE CREDIT ANY QUOTES OR EXCERPTS FROM THIS NBC TELEVISION PROGRAM TO “NBC NEWS’ MEET THE PRESS.”
October 5, 2003
Broder: It is hard to believe that if the president, when he was dealing with a finite universe of possible leakers, did not really put the heat on, that he couldn’t get an answer to his question.
Russert: What do you think, Bob Novak?
Novak: I don’t know. I’m in an impossible position on this and I...
Russert: That’s why you’re here.
Novak: That’s why I’m here, but I’m not going to speculate on that.
Painting: J.W. Waterhouse
From the vast internet resources of my good friend Eric at The Hamster this link to the QuickTime clips available at Japander.com and the Governator-Elect's interesting post millennial echo of Ronnie's Death Valley Days stint here in whats left of pre global America.
Ein Grotesker Schlacht
Mit der tanzen die ganze nacht,
vor aller augen bis der morgan lacht.
Mein Lacheln ist gefroren und
muhsam halts ich die maske vor.
With you dance the whole night,
before all eyes to the morning laugh.
My smile froze and
laboriously I reproach the mask.
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
"I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is." NYT
According to this morning’s Washington Post, traditional hijacking advocate and footnote dilettante Condi Rice is the beneficiary of yet another Bush administration shake-up of post war imperial Iraq in the ongoing war against governmental departments of the United States.
The gimlet-eyed Dr. Rice has been selected to “crack the whip” over our recalcitrant dominion (and departments) through the new Iraq Stabilization Group.
According to, what else, an unnamed State Department official, this new layer of administrative gobbledygook:
…still funnels decisions into the same deputies and principals meetings that we've been having all along.
As spin and Iraq consume our government’s manpower (to say nothing of blood and treasure):
Rumsfeld appealed to his Cabinet colleagues last week for staff for the Coalition Provisional Authority….Powell and [Deputy Secretary of State Richard L.] Armitage have made clear to all of us that if there are not enough volunteers, they will start identifying people to volunteer.
According to the imperial William Kristol:
The civil war in the Bush administration has become crippling. The CIA is in open revolt against the White House. The State Department and the Defense Department aren't working together at all. We are way beyond 'fruitful tension' and all the other normal excuses for bureaucratic conflict.
Pre-enhanced Photo: Reuters
Monday, October 06, 2003
On Sunday's Meet The Press, a masterfully confidant former Ambassador Joseph Wilson held steady for a barrage of, perhaps, administration nuanced questioning while continuing to insist upon handcuffed frogmarching for those responsible for blowing his wife's non official cover.
The adroit Ambassador was unblinkingly serious and at times acidly humorous.
Aside from his bark of laughter at the moderator's suggestion of political aspirations, Ambassador Wilson's deft mention of state's rights for the District of Columbia could give this impassioned husband a certain Norma Rae cachet among other District-residing federal employees. Well, at least, those living and working outside the iron gates of 1600 Pennsylvania!
In an exclusive Meet The Press appearance, a seemingly heavily tranked Robert Novak notched another "less than artful" set of explanations and justifications for his July 14th column while tantalizingly and surprisingly widening the pool of potential leakers upward.
When asked if the President should take a less flaccid posture towards outing the leaker, a cotton-mouthed Novak responded:
I'm in an impossible position on this.
The impossibly positioned Novak, to the knowledgeable eye of an observant medical source, seemed also to be coping with perhaps a too exuberant dosing of Ativan along with a dash of Xanax.
Indeed, MTP's second half hour wrenchingly shifted from the righteous joy of Norma Rae to the fearful paranoia of film noir.
On the Arnold front
The Terminator's groping defense of "playfulness" prompts this personal memory:
My father was a professional football player. In my childhood he and his team mate buddies, all large and powerful men, would toss my brother and I around like footballs. Dad and his friends had fun with this playful teasing and assumed the feeling among the toss-ees was mutual. However, I was a dignified child and absolutely detested this "playful" activity.
Strong men can frequently misjudge their own strength.
Photos: NBC, Reuters