FOLLOWING TODAY'S PRESS CONFERENCE, THESE REPORTERS AND THE GUARDIAN'S SUZANNE GOLDENBERG WERE ALLOWED TO GET THE BEHIND THE SCENES VIEWS AS RAHM EMANUEL CRUNCHED FOCUS GROUP NUMBERS AND ATTEMPTED TO DETERMINE HOW MUCH DAMAGE CONTROL THE PRESS CONFERENCE PROVIDED?
SAID CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O, "I JUST NEED TO KNOW ONE THING, DID THEY THINK I LOOKED PRETTY? I GOT A BLACK RINSE TO REDUCE SOME OF THE GRAY. DID ANYONE NOTICE THAT, RAHM? DID THEY?"
RAHM GRABBED BARRY O BY THE BACK OF HIS HEAD AND STRONGLY HEADED BUTTED -- SLAMMED HIS OWN FOREHEAD INTO BARRY'S -- WITH THE CELEBRITY.
"DID YOU THINK THAT WOULD KNOCK SOME SENSE INTO ME?" SPUTTERED BARRY O.
"NO, YOU JUST GET ON MY NERVES SOMETIMES," REPLIED RAHM. "NOW WHERE'S KEN SALAZAR? I NEED TO TAKE A PISS."
SUDDENLY GOLDBERG CAME DASHING OVER EXCLAIMING, "FELLOWS! A GARDNER ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN JUST GAVE ME AN EXCLUSIVE. TURNS OUT GEORGE WASHINGTON NEVER TOLD A LIE! AND HE CHOPPED DOWN A CHERRY TREE! THIS WILL BE MY BIGGEST SCOOP SINCE I LET ANONYMICE FEED ME THE SPIN THAT BARRY O WAS 'DAMN' ANGRY ABOUT THE GULF DISASTER!"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
As Iraq continues "stumbling into false starts, fumbling around with false hopes, tumbling into false hearts, mainly mine" ("Make Me Feel Something," written by Carly Simon, originally appears on her Spoiled Girl album), the US doesn't have a whole lot to brag about. On the Senate floor to a 'debate' -- if debates can last mere minutes -- took place as Barack Obama's war funding supplemental -- he swore no more supplementals in April of 2009 but he's not real good at keeping promises. Senator Russ Feingold introduced an amendment -- co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Bernard Sanders, Robert Byrd and Tom Harkin -- calling for President Obama to "plan for safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan. On the Senate floor, he declared:
This is not a timetable, a binding timetable. It really asks the president to give us a flexible vision, a timetable of when he would intend for this to be over. And the senator from Michigan [Senator Carl Levin] tries to reassure us that the president has announced a start date for us to get out of Afghanistan. Well that doesn't really work because how do you feel the people in that area of the world would be reassured if we're only going to start withdrawing the troops in July of 2011? You can take one troop out. That starts it. That's not a vision of when we intend to complete it. The senator suggests that somehow this sends the wrong message in the region. Well actually the wrong message is that we intend to be there forever. We don't intend to be there forever. But you know what? After nine years, people start wondering. Nine years. Nine years. With no vision of when we might depart. In fact, I think the absolute worst message in the region is an open-ended committment. The worst thing we can do is not give some sense to the people of that region, to the American people and to our troops that there is some end to this thing. And all we ask in this amendment is some vision from the president about when he thinks we might complete this task. So when this admendment is properly characterized. It is actually a way to help us make sure that the Taliban and al Qaeda and others do not win the hearts and the minds of the Afghan people -- because they need to be reassured that we intend to make sure that their country comes back to them and that we will not occupy it indefinitely.
Feingold also noted his disappointment that "a bill providing tens of billions of dollars to keep this war going" was being proposed "with so little public debate about whether this approach makes any sense." Senator Carl Levin responded by characterizing the amendment as one that "would reinforce fear" and stated that there is "already a deep seated fear in Afghanistan" that it would be abandoned by the US. It was not a good moment for Levin and you half expected Russ Feingold to respond by breaking out into Annie Lennox's "Little Bird" ("They always said that you knew best, but this little bird's falling out of that nest . . .") Instead, Feingold offered a response which included, "The senator suggests that somehow this sends the wrong message in the region. Well actually, the wrong message is that we intend to be there forever."
We're going to fall back to Tuesday for the following on numbers. Journalists like to hide behind numbers and claim that numbers are objective and they don't lie. They may not lie but journalists damn well do decide what to emphasize and what to ignore. If you want an example of how that works, note this CBS News story by David Martin, this ABC news story by Jake Tapper, and we could go on and on but those are two of the better reporters and if that's what the best are doing . . . . Are they lying about the number of troops in Afghanistan? No, they're hiding behind that number (fed to them by the Pentagon, no reporter did the actual work on the numbers) and avoiding telling you about other numbers.
The most important number this week, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, is 171. That's the number of US service members who have died in the Iraq War since Barack was sworn in as President of the United States. "We want to end the war! And we want to end it now!" He hollered that often as tent revivals causing damp panties for many men and women. Now? End the illegal war now? He's been in office 16 months and the Iraq War drags on. The 'peace' candidate took office 16 months ago and has not ended the Iraq War, has continued it and is responsible for those 171 deaths.
Now the Pentagon didn't supply that number. But they supplied the number Tapper and Martin are quoting. Why are we back to the numbers? It's worth noting the death toll. It's worth noting the numbers Tapper and Martin dealt with Monday for another reason. Here's Martin: "The Pentagon says there are now more U.S. troops in Afghanistan (94,000) than in Iraq (92,000), reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin."
Keep the 92,000 in mind. Two years ago Alysha G wrote Yahoo! Answers: "How many people are in a combat brigade? I need to know for a presentation, for the persuasion of Obama." Best anser was: "They vary depending on what kind of brigade it is. Infantry brigades generally have around 3,500 soldiers and are commanded by Colonels. Armor brigades would have less soldiers." We'll be generous and go with 4,000 per brigade. The Pentagon just announced this week that there were 92,000 US troops in Iraq. Yes, math is involved in this but we'll go slowly. Scott Wilson (Washington Post) reports, "The sensitive departure is being managed by Vice President Biden, who says the U.S. military will reduce troop levels to 50,000 this summer, even if no new Iraqi government takes shape."
Let's do the math slowly. 92,000 minus 50,000 is: 42,000. Using 4,000 per brigade, that means there are 10.5 brigades to withdraw. That might seem doable . . . if it weren't May 27th. That leaves three months. For Barack's promise to be met and the US forces to drop to 50,000 by the end of August, that means June will need to see 14,000 troops pulled from Iraq, July will need 14,000 and August will need 14,000.
Candidate Barack and his advisers insisted that one brigade a month was the magic number because it was doable without causing any strain (on the deploying functions within the military or on Iraq). So from 4,000 a month to 14,000 a month?
As we saw when Georgia's forces (the country, not the US state) departed, it is doable. But so is an immediate departure of all US troops. If Barack manages to keep this promise, the real win will be that it will underscore what so many -- including former Senator Mike Gravel and Governor Bill Richardson -- noted which was that the withdrawal could take place much more quickly than Barack was insisting it could.
[. . .]
Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan hosts Cindy's Soapbox (radio program) and is also a founder of Peace of the Action. This week, she is Matthew Rothschild's guest on Progressive Radio:
Matthew Rothschild: These books -- I don't know much about your books, so I wanted to ask you and I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't read them because I usually try to read the books before the guest comes on.
Cindy Sheehan: Right, right.
Matthew Rothschild: Myth of America: The Ten Greatest Myths of the Robber Class or the 20 greatest myths. What's the biggest myth? Or what's one of the biggest myths?
Cindy Sheehan: Well I wrote 10 Greatest Myths last -- the beginning of last year after Obama was inaugurated and I saw the policies of the Bush administration continuing without much of an outcry from the so-called left. And so I started to think, "What makes us do that? What makes us -- every four to eight years -- believe in a system that is so corrupt and-and really cancerous no matter who's in charge of the system. And so I wrote that. I went on a forty book -- I mean a forty city book tour and I realized through the discussions I had in these towns that I really didn't hit the myths enough. And so then I came back last summer and wrote The 20 Greatest Myths of the Robber Class. And the myth I started out with is the foundational myth, I think, and that's that America's the greatest nation in the universe. Not on the planet, not in history, but in the universe. And so that makes us believe all the other myths because we, most good people, no matter if they're on the so-called right or the so-called left, we really believe that if our country does something wrong, it must have good intentions. And so that's not the case. And so I wrote the 20 myths. We have to expose the myths and dispell them and then I think we could have true change for the better in this country -- whether it's through, you know -- I call for a grassroots, very localized revolutions, you know -- and, of course, they're non-violent revolutions. But taking back our economy, taking back our government, taking back even our food systems. We have to do that if we truly want to have a more healthy -- not only a more healthy United States of America but a healthier world.
Matthew Rothschild: Cindy Sheehan, this foundational myth -- as you call this -- is really profound. It's this myth of what I call "The American Superiority Complex."
Cindy Sheehan: Yes, exactly.
Matthew Rothschild: And the idea, as you say, is that we don't -- everything we do, as you say, is because of good intentions or if we do something that isn't working out, it's because it's an accident.
Cindy Sheehan: Right, right.
Matthew Rothschild: Or it didn't work out the way that we expected.
Cindy Sheehan: It's an aberration.
Matthew Rothschild: Or a rouge operation!
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Matthew Rothschild: Or something. Not that it's elemental to the way that US foreign policy operates.
Cindy Sheehan: Right.
Matthew Rothschild: How is that myth propagated? How has it become so ingrained?
Cindy Sheehan: Oh my gosh, it's propagated through our schools, through our media, through our -- even, I talk about in my books, how Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations have turned militaristic. You know, where they roll tanks down the streets in the parade and they fly the Blue Angel planes overhead. And I tell a story about when I was second grade and my second grade teacher asked us a question -- and this was back in, let me see, 1964. They asked a question -- she asked us a question: "If a Communist came up to you and put a gun to your head and told you not to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, what would you do?" So, of course, I raised my hand and I said I wouldn't recite it and I had to stand in the corner. So even when I was seven-years-old, I was being called unpatriotic, a traitor to this country. So, yeah, I mean it's done through fear mongering, through Madison Avenue. Distraction is a really good way to keep us not thinking about if -- that our country is doing these crimes, these crimes against humanity. So there's just a lot of ways that this myth is propagated. And the number one way it starts, it starts in the family.
Cindy's Soapbox is a weekly radio program and her scheduled guest on the show that begins airing Sunday is former US Congress member and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.
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