Wikileaks and War Support

Obviously, the leaking of documents by Wikileaks is bad news if you want the U.S. to commit more troops to Afghanistan.  The documents demonstrate, in great detail, how frustrating and inconclusive fighting in the country has been.  However, this is, as Andrew Exum and many others have said, unsurprising and unenlightening to anyone who has been paying attention.

However, assuming that most Americans have not been paying detailed attention to Afghanistan, the documents are important in that they give the media license to show fighting in Afghanistan.  The media is usually hamstrung by a lack of ability to make this case clearly — administration officials are, of course, unwilling to speak about the problems, and few people who think that Afghanistan will not improve have been to the country recently, making them difficult to pin a story on.  This, by contrast, offers proof that all is not well in Denmark, and the media is seizing that opportunity to make the case (much as l’affaire McChrystal provided a similar opportunity).  Even better, it offers a shadowy villain in the form of the Pakistani ISI, meaning that the story doesn’t even have to offend U.S. readers.

So this does not “demolish” COIN strategy.  In fact, this shows little or nothing that was not already known (and it would be foolish to take a smattering of on-the-ground reports and establish some sort of grand criticism from it…that takes far more analysis than anyone has been able to devote to these documents yet).  Rather, like Restrepo, this tells us a little bit more about the feel of the ground in Afghanistan, and puts our attention there once more.

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Paging Dr. Gupta

Correlation != causation.  People who are able to push themselves to visit what I’m guessing is a fairly boring site regularly are also able to push themselves to work out and eat healthily?  Color me shocked.

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Can’t say I agree with all of this

…but if you’re a gamer, it’s probably the funniest write-up of the political process that you’ll find this year.  Just like a video game review site, I immediately give it a high rating based on the producer (Popehat) and the impressive visuals.

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The Dumbest Article Published by a Major Magazine that I Have Ever Read

So I haven’t really updated this blog in a bit.  Mostly because I’m busy.  But also because the odds are that I’ll never write an article read nearly as widely as the one written by Jeffrey Lord over at The American Spectator today.  And that’s just sad, because while I might not be the best writer around, or the most knowledgeable, I’ll never write anything as fucking stupid as Lord’s article.

Lord, who I won’t link, offered his fresh take on the Shirley Sherrod affair today.  He argues that Sherrod lied in her story by claiming that her relative, Bobby Hall was lynched.  You see, he wasn’t hanged, merely beaten to death on the courthouse steps by friends of the local sheriff.  And, of course, everyone knows that lynching means hanging.

Except that it doesn’t.  Literally, this man wrote 4000 words accusing someone of lying because he doesn’t know what a relatively common word means.  Worse, not a single one of his editors picked up a dictionary to check him.

I have trouble believing that everyone was that negligent.  I have a sneaking suspicion that, if that abortion of an article was edited, at least one or two people realized there was a problem, but also realized that the article was inflammatory enough to drive up traffic to the American Spectator.

That’s not even all that’s wrong with the piece, incidentally.  Apparently, Sherrod is also being dishonest by not mentioning all the Democrats who have been racist in the past as well.  Read Balko if you want the full takedown.

Kudos to Quin Hillyer, Philip Klein, and John Tabin for calling Lord and, implicitly, the editors at The American Spectator for this foolishness.  There once was a time that I enjoyed reading that publication (I especially enjoyed Eric Peters’s writing).  However, with apologies to Hillyer, Klein, Tabin, and others, I don’t believe I’ll be frequenting any of their websites much in the future.  I just don’t trust their editorial policy.

Update: Add W. James Antle, III to the list of American Spectator writers willing to show some intellectual honesty and some amount of courage for standing up to their wayward colleague.  Jeff Lord, by contrast…(read his comments in that last link if you want to see the depths to which someone will sink in an attempt to avoid having to admit that he’s wrong).

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Snap Judgments

So I still stand by everything said in the last post.  But if this report by Max Blumenthal is to be believed, then I may have to be slightly more generous to the ISM figure.

So the Israeli military broadcast its plan for violence, inciting the Israeli public and the soldiers of Unit 13 with fevered visions of a kill-or-be-killed encounter with a group of Arab “terrorists.” The stated conditions for using live fire were arbitrary and poorly defined, giving the commandos little direction and lots of leeway to kill — at the very least the plan demanded force in some form.

Now, I’d still take what Blumenthal reports with some measure of caution.  We’re translating language that was probably never meant to spell out clearly and exactly what rules of engagement were.  But it is a reminder that all the facts are not in on this incident yet, and I should probably extend the benefit of the doubt to anyone commenting on it.

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Choose Your Bias

I’m a big fan of the Diane Rehm Show, despite the fact that it allows listeners to call in.  I’m also a big fan of Diane’s corrections of callers who whine about how the “mainstream media” has failed to cover a story.  Yes, the media fails to cover big stories.  That’s why you’re reading a blog.  And the media blows coverages.  So does Darrell Revis.  It’s usually not that big of a deal.

What does irritate me is when news shows invite on “experts” who offer uncontradicted opinions on controversial issues.  Al-Jazeera, which I watch from time to time because it offers a different bias from the other channels, certainly stepped in it last night by inviting on someone from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to discuss the Mami Marmara fiasco.  The man was not on the ship, though his wife was on another ship in the Marmara flotilla.  Everything he said was at best second-hand.  Still, being starved for information on the incident, I understand Al-Jazeera inviting the man on.  But when he then claims that the commandos rappelled from the helicopters because doing so allows them to shoot while rappelling, I lost all confidence in the AJ segment.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to shoot while rappelling; the ISM spokesman was just making stuff up as he went in order to attack his enemies (who, to be fair, he claimed had “bruised up” his wife).

I can’t fault the AJ anchor for failing to correct the man (I’m guessing she’s not an expert in rappelling), but don’t you ask these people what they plan to say before putting them on TV?

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Looking around the internet, I decided that there was a shortage of people blogging about national politics.  So consider this my contribution.  I have a background in law and policy, especially in national defense, and some in the health care industry (though that gave me no great insights into the health care reform debate).  I consider myself a libertarian who believes in a weak national government, though with an empowered judiciary with a strong conception of individual liberties.  I hate typos and grammatical errors, so please feel free to point out any you find in my posts.

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