Thursday, August 02, 2007

NPR's Black Bloggers Roundtable Blows It Again

News and Notes' Black Bloggers Roundtable for Wednesday August 1, once again shows the bloggers lack of command of the issues.

I have been ill and really did not want to blog today at all.... but this silliness bugs me... mainly because I know there are more astute African American bloggers available for this show. Yet News and Notes brings on the same crew over and over again. This is the same crew (except for one) that trashed Michael Moore's film "Sicko" a few weeks ago.

First Farai Chideya refers to Jasmyne Cannick as a Political blogger.... yet she rarely offers any substantive political commentary on the show. Let's be truthful here.... Cannick is an entertainment & pop culture blogger....not a serious political blogger. In fact, she constantly expresses her disinterest in political issues, and instead focuses on the latest events in the entertainment world.... Black entertainment in particular.

But that's not what really annoyed me.... what annoyed me was the nonsense spouted by blogger Michael David Cobb Bowen. On the show he stated that Iraq was being turned around because of the surge. WHAT? I guess he missed the report of the 142 people killed yesterday and the new problems within the Iraqi Government. Bowen must be tapping into the Bush propaganda machine, which has created a completely different reality for those who want to avoid the facts about Iraq.

The Facts:

Iraqi Deaths rose 23% in the month of July over June. The Iraqi death toll for July was 2024. This was the 2nd deadliest death toll for Iraqis this year. Furthermore, the political situation in Iraq is still unstable. (1) (2) (3) (4) Quality of life is also on the decline in Iraq. (5) (6)


Bowen goes on to say that the "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops has improved the areas of Iraq outside of Baghdad.... therefore, things are turning around. He is asserting that the troop surge was meant for all areas of Iraq. Not quite Mr. Bowen. First of all, the troops that were sent as part of the surge were meant to turn things around IN Baghdad.... NOT outside of Baghdad (although there were a few areas outside of Baghdad that received more troops). The troop surge was specifically intended to improve the situation in Baghdad (with the clear, hold and build process). Therefore, the troop surge has little to do with areas outside of the Iraqi Capital.

Bowen does not know what he is talking about. His general assertion that the troop surge has been a success is really loopy and is not based on reality.

Listen To The Show

15 comments:

Jasmyne said...

Actually I write a lot about politics. Maybe not about the War, but domestic issues are front and center in my world. Check the archives. Oh and did I mention that I work in state politics full time in California. Thanks!

The Angry Independent said...

After visiting your site a few times, I noticed that half of the content is on the Hollywood/Britney Spears level. But I won't get into a debate about the exact ratio of content on your site. The point is, your commentary on the show does not reflect a good grasp of national or international issues....or even an interest to really discuss them.

You certainly seemed more interested in Michael Vick than the War in Iraq. The Vick story has to be one of the most ignorant stories that have emerged in recent years...both as an event and also in the way that the media and bloggers are covering it.

To me, the Vick story is very "Ghetto-esque". And when compared to the bigger picture- when compared with all of the other things going on, it is more of an irrelevant distraction than an important story.

Iraq IS important... even to Black folks. The nearly half a trillion dollars that has gone or that is going there, represents money that could have gone to domestic needs.

Not being able to see how international events are linked to domestic issues, shows a level of shortsightedness on the part of the News and Notes crew.

I'm not attacking anyone personally....but I just wanted to point these things out.

Constructive Feedback said...

Angry:

I wonder what your view of the American Civil War had you been alive back then. You see after the war the COTTON PRODUCTION in the South was less than 20% of the production prior to the war.

Also - some insurgents called the "Red Shirts" (look it up) continued to terrorize the people and killed many of those who sympathized with the new government.

Finally the "weak new government" in the area collapsed when those who were elected in the wake of the war were run out of office (you know - all of the newly elected Black officials) as the former Confederates took back over the government and insured that those who had long been displaced from the government prior to the war could not participate.

TERRORISM WORKS.


Angry - Please tell me from HUMAN TERMS how the tactics used post-Civil War is different than what we are seeing in Iraq?

You focus upon the lower production BUT DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHO IS BLOWING UP THE INFRASTRUCTURE. You are disingenuous with your assertions.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]Iraq IS important... even to Black folks. The nearly half a trillion dollars that has gone or that is going there, represents money that could have gone to domestic needs.[/quote]

WOULDA, COULDA SHOULDA.

You and all of the Democratic Candidates that you sound like should use the reference of HOW MUCH DOMESTIC SPENDING DID YOU RECEIVE PRIOR TO THE WAR as a key index of the REALITY of your position.

If President Clinton - who no doubt is favorable to you DID NOT SPEND THIS AMOUNT OF MONEY on social programs (and you did not protest about the spending levels) then why do you promote this faux outrage now?

The fact of the matter is that most domestic programs are receiving more money NOW than when there was a president in office that was favorable to you. (www.federalbudget.com)

The Angry Independent said...

CF,

You are comparing apples to bananas. You can't compare these two situations (Iraq and the U.S. Civil War). There are too many variables that are different. And it really has nothing to do with what is going on in Iraq.

This reminds me of the Bush & Co. attempt to compare Post invasion Iraq to post-war South Korea.

Read my comments here.

Constructive Feedback said...

These situations are apples to bananas IN YOUR VIEW only because to consider a person who measures the COMMERCE associated in the wake of the war over the HUMAN CONDITION in the wake of the war, for example...(and please note - I am not suggesting that YOU said "oil") violates many of the very principles that the person often operates upon when other issues are analyzed.

In the case of Iraq - you mention that ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION IS DOWN. You fail to mention that INSURGENTS have been intimidating people who would otherwise be working to produce power. About 2 years ago I posted details of how electrical linemen who were running cables into areas that were previously darkened without electricity WERE BEING SHOT DEAD as they were atop the pole.

Angry - where does this reside in your analysis? No doubt it is the US's FAULT for not protecting the electrical linemen who are now dead. What do you ask of the IRAQI WHO SHOT HIM DEAD? The one who's efforts have worked to keep the Iraqi's in the dark?

Let me ask you Angry - after having national elections in Iraq AND upon the departure of the evil American forces - if the insurgents continue to kill the Iraqi government entities....when will it STOP being "George Bush's fault that all of this is happening" and you being to see that the PEOPLE OF IRAQ need to step up and insure that their will trumps that of the insurgents?

Cobb said...

Ah the 23% number from Juan Cole. And stats about electricity? Really, was that part of the charter of General Petraeus? Try to remember AQ in Iraq and Shia Militias like those of Al Sadr. The enemy is not a lack of electricity. But while you're on that track, perhaps you could help us all to understand exactly who is in charge of those affairs and how they have progressed since the departure of Bremer. It's not a real conversation that's happening, and since you're evidently not following reports about the battlefield, it might be more up your alley.

I spoke about the areas outside of Baghdad because that's where the surge is being successful, as well as the areas inside of Baghdad. Sadr City is nowhere near as dangerous as it was a year ago, but I felt it was important to mention the 'belts' because it wasn't long ago that anti-war folks were speaking about Al Anbar as if it were unconquerable territory. The source of this information is General Petraeus himself as well as detail provided by John Burns.

AI, you are the one who doesn't understand the charter of the Surge. Your second sentence is talking about politics - this is exactly the tack that Juan Cole took. The fact of the matter is that if you pay attention to the operational details of combat, you'll understand that Petraeus is turning militias and insurgents against Al Qaeda, people who were shooting at Americans are now fighting the common enemy.

The KPIs of the surge are all impressive: "fewer car bombs, fewer bombs in general, lower levels of civilian casualties" Al Qaeda is taking a beating in Diyala Province, in Babil Province, and in Anbar.

Operation Arrowhead Ripper is still in effect and US forces have denied AQ in Iraq the city of Baquba which was its headquarters. The Surge has been in effect for about 5 weeks now and we have killed somewhere around 500 AQ members.

The primary change that the Surge has done is to bring combat troops into combat and de-emphasize the training of the Iraq military. It has changed the footing of American ground forces to a proactive one, and the results are that we are interdicting more foreign fighters, discovering and dismantling bomb factories and AQ torture chambers and capturing Iranian operatives in Iraq.

Any time you care to spar on matters of politic or being informed, you'll do yourself and your readers a favor by not referring to soundbites on the radio but my substantive writing on my blog. I am fairly new to the airwaves, but I've been writing about politics online for over a decade.

Come with it bad boy.

Cobb said...

Wait. This is funny. I actually didn't follow any of your links AI. But the page was still open and I thought I might. Guess where it landed me? Juan Cole. Spot on.

Do yourself a favor and get some facts from the ground like I do, not from AP through Juan Cole.

For you and your readers, consider the following sources:

Michael Yon, Thomas Ricks, John Burns, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, Spook86, The Belmont Club, Tigerhawk and Counterterrorismblog.org. You will get a less abstracted view of reality on the ground from the pros.

The Angry Independent said...

CF wrote:
Let me ask you Angry - after having national elections in Iraq AND upon the departure of the evil American forces - if the insurgents continue to kill the Iraqi government entities....when will it STOP being "George Bush's fault that all of this is happening"

It will still be the fault of the Bush administration....even if U.S. Troops are pulled out (which by the way, isn't going to happen in the foreseeable future). Why? Because the Bush administration had no business invading Iraq in the first place. Whether the U.S. has troops there or not when & if that nation collapses or goes into full scale civil war would not negate or reduce the Bush administrations level of responsibility for causing the disaster in the first place with its ill advised invasion (which our military leaders DID NOT want). That's like saying that if someone injects you with HIV that they won't be responsible when you succumb to the disease 10 years from now, because by that time, they would be long gone. Your argument doesn't work. Of course their level of responsibility wouldn't change. The same is true for Bush & Co.'s responsibility for the disaster in Iraq. That's why you shouldn't police the world with an almost imperialist foreign policy....not having a sufficient understanding of the people, the cultures, the religions, the languages, or the political landscapes of the countries that you push around and invade. For THIS is what is killing our troops...the lack of planning and research of these issues before going in.... the lack of understanding of the culture. It wasn't the U.S.'s performance on the battle field. The issue is not winning the war...the U.S. military did that damn near flawlessly...as everyone knew they would. The problem (as was mentioned before the invasion) was going to be- and turned out to be- winning the peace.

And I am not going to get into a pointless discussion with you about WMD, etc... History tells me I am right in that regard. Scholars are already moving on from that argument.... it's now a question of how to get out...or whether IF the U.S. wants to get out at all- I don't think the U.S. seriously plans to leave at all...they are just stringing the American people along.... making them believe that the U.S. wants to leave....yet the building of permanent U.S. bases continues.

Cobb said...

You're still about a year behind current events. What you refuse to recognize AI, is that Petraeus is the man who has a sufficient understanding about the people, cultures, the religions, the language, the customs, and most importantly how to run the proper counterinsurgency in Iraq.

So what you have to do is read what I've said again, and then pay particular attention to the 1920s Revolutionaries. This is a group of Iraqi insurgents who were once shooting AT American troops and now they have JOINED FORCES WITH American troops. How do you think that happened? Magic? It happened because the US Armed Forces have learned their lessons and are comporting themselves very differently on the battlefield than they had years ago when this conflict began.

So long as you refuse to acknowledge this significant change of strategy and tactics, you will continue to blame 'Bush' for going there in the first place. The gobsmacking irony here is that those who have studied the people, etc, recognize that it was Saddam's iron hand that held Iraq together. That's what all your multicultural blather about 'the people, the language, etc.' is all about. And are you one of those who defends the kind of regimes like Saddam's as opposed to that which this American government prefers?

If you're such an expert about the Iraqi people, I wonder if you maintain some denial that withdrawal of American troops will lead to genocide. Speak up.

The Angry Independent said...

Ah the 23% number from Juan Cole. And stats about electricity? Really, was that part of the charter of General Petraeus? Try to remember AQ in Iraq and Shia Militias like those of Al Sadr. The enemy is not a lack of electricity. But while you're on that track, perhaps you could help us all to understand exactly who is in charge of those affairs and how they have progressed since the departure of Bremer. It's not a real conversation that's happening, and since you're evidently not following reports about the battlefield, it might be more up your alley.

I spoke about the areas outside of Baghdad because that's where the surge is being successful, as well as the areas inside of Baghdad. Sadr City is nowhere near as dangerous as it was a year ago, but I felt it was important to mention the 'belts' because it wasn't long ago that anti-war folks were speaking about Al Anbar as if it were unconquerable territory. The source of this information is General Petraeus himself as well as detail provided by John Burns.

AI, you are the one who doesn't understand the charter of the Surge. Your second sentence is talking about politics - this is exactly the tack that Juan Cole took. The fact of the matter is that if you pay attention to the operational details of combat, you'll understand that Petraeus is turning militias and insurgents against Al Qaeda, people who were shooting at Americans are now fighting the common enemy.

The KPIs of the surge are all impressive: "fewer car bombs, fewer bombs in general, lower levels of civilian casualties" Al Qaeda is taking a beating in Diyala Province, in Babil Province, and in Anbar.

Operation Arrowhead Ripper is still in effect and US forces have denied AQ in Iraq the city of Baquba which was its headquarters. The Surge has been in effect for about 5 weeks now and we have killed somewhere around 500 AQ members.

The primary change that the Surge has done is to bring combat troops into combat and de-emphasize the training of the Iraq military. It has changed the footing of American ground forces to a proactive one, and the results are that we are interdicting more foreign fighters, discovering and dismantling bomb factories and AQ torture chambers and capturing Iranian operatives in Iraq.

Any time you care to spar on matters of politic or being informed, you'll do yourself and your readers a favor by not referring to soundbites on the radio but my substantive writing on my blog. I am fairly new to the airwaves, but I've been writing about politics online for over a decade.

Come with it bad boy.


___________________________

I am not surprised that you didn't check any of the links & sources that I provided. This is because you Republicans are afraid of really dealing with the facts when it comes to Iraq....or anything else that isn't going your way for that matter. Republicans like to create their own reality, particularly about Iraq. And they have been living in their own alternative reality since even before the invasion in March of 2003.

You can leave the "big shot" mentality at the door when you enter this blog. It's not going to work here. I am not one of these folks who first picked up a newspaper or began paying attention to World events on Sept. 12th, 2001. I have been keeping track of the situation in Iraq and the Middle East (in earnest) since 1990. Although I don't claim expertise in international affairs.... I'm not your average Bear.

1. Now, you mentioned electricity and challenged why I would bring that up since that was not a direct goal for General Petraeus. Well, electicity (which has been on the decrease) is a quality of life indicator. If insurgents are attacking the electrical grid and killing the workers.... wasn't slowing the sectarian violence in and around Baghdad one of the goals of the surge? Therefore...if all of these folks are being wiped out... well, that is an indirect indicator of how things are generally going.

I can't let you get away with the misinformation about the surge being successful, when the facts say otherwise. How can you come to this conclusion when the Commander of Coalition forces, General David Petraeus & deputy Commander General Raymond Odierno will not issue a verdict until September, when they will provide an assessment?

2. You stated: "The fact of the matter is that if you pay attention to the operational details of combat, you'll understand that Petraeus is turning militias and insurgents against Al Qaeda, people who were shooting at Americans are now fighting the common enemy."

I have been paying attention. And my BS meter went off when I read your comments. You are crediting Petraeus with the situation in Anbar? I have been keeping up with that situation and I know that the Sunni's began turning on Al Qaeda long before the surge was even announced and before Petraeus arrived to begin implementing the plan.
The shift in Anbar Province began as early as 2005 and carried on through 2006. (1) (2). The "surge" of course, did not begin until this year. I have tried to keep up with the reports regarding Anbar at least a couple of times a week. So Patraeus cannot take full credit for that situation.

3. You are claiming that all is fine and dandy in Iraq...but once again, facts are saying otherwise. The core goals of the surge were to slow the sectarian bloodshed, especially in Baghdad, and to buy time for the Iraqi government to pass key legislation and to encourage some sort of reconciliation between the various rival factions. The first part (slowing the carnage) has been partially successful. many areas in Baghdad have improved. However, the overall situation in Iraq has not changed significantly over the course of the surge thus far. (I will get to that in a second). But this is mainly because many insurgents (aware of the operation beforehand) moved into other parts of the country. The second part- the political reforms, has NOT been successful. If this were a test... the whole surge plan would get a grade of D, and that might be too generous.

Last month, the Bush administration provided a watered down report to Congress about political progress in Iraq. Few of the benchmarks have been met. Read Anthony Cordesmans report on the Political progress in Iraq, taken from the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (3) . (download the pdf report).

And the facts on the ground are not as Rosy as you make them out to be. The fact is, A). Iraqis are still dying in high numbers, despite the surge. (The Iraqi people...remember them? The main reason for the surge was to cut the bloodshed between Iraqis.). B). The average number of attacks across the Country has actually increased during the "surge" period. and C). Ramstein Airbase in Germany has seen high numbers of U.S. casualties during the surge period. So the intensity of attacks on U.S. troops has been sustained during the surge.

Furthermore, your own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates sees the situation in Iraq as grim (4).
And none of this is old information as you claim. This is all recent.

From the L.A. Times this week:

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates acknowledged Thursday that the Bush administration underestimated the difficulty of getting a political truce in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government has been crippled by a walkout by Sunni Arab ministers.

The Pentagon chief’s remarks Thursday were his closest yet to acknowledging that the Bush administration’s top political goals for Iraq may not materialize during the buildup, even if it is extended into next spring, the latest the military could sustain the increase. He also is the top Bush administration official to express such concerns publicly.
(5)


Furthermore, Mike Mullen- The New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, sounded pessimistic during confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, stating that the Security situation in Iraq was better, but not great. And that the Iraqi government was making little progress politically (one of the main purposes for the surge was to buy time for political reconciliation). (6)

I'm not solely blaming Bush & Co. for this... I have been mentioning the fact that the Iraqis were not doing enough.... I recently mentioned my disgust with their vacation while our troops are killed and wounded for their reconciliation which doesn't seem to be taking place. But the Bush administration created the mess with the invasion and they did not push for reconciliation soon enough. They waited until the Sectarian conflict really got out of control. Also, Bush & Co. has not done enough to help push the Iraqis to do what they need to do. And as I mentioned before, the Iraqi government is barely able to hold things together right now.

If the surge were to be graded honestly today, I don't think that it could be given a passing grade. The facts simply don't support the presumption that the surge has been a widespread success at this point. Now I don't doubt some of the stories that you might be hearing from folks who are there. There have been several pockets of success. However, those folks can't be in all places at once. They can only report what they see from their perspective during a particularly period. It is hard for them to provide a truly comprehensive picture of what is happening there. Although I know that you and your fellow Republicans want to hear good news....and ANY good news will do. But the stories you are hearing does not equal the entire picture.

Another problem is that the definition of "success" in Iraq keeps changing. Bush and Co. keeps watering down expectations...they do it everytime they realize that a goal won't be met... they lower the bar in an attempt to make the story look better for them.

4. Finally, you mentioned the various writers whom you follow. The assertion was that I don't use enough sources or double check sources...and I just swallow whatever comes to me. Wrong again. I use various sources for information that I use...and I try to find at least 2 sources for the same piece of information (if I can). I use TIME, New York Times, Jack Beatty, NPR, PBS, The McClatchy report, think tanks, the wire services, WAPO, various public radio programs, U.S. News & World Report, C-Span, blogs, and dozens of other sources. I don't rely on just a few writers.

Sometimes I speed post (due to lack of time) and I don't get do the kind of sourcing & checking that I would like to... But other times... I might prepare for 2 or 3 days or more before posting. It all depends. But the point is... I'm not always relying on just one source for information.

And btw...the 23% figure was not from Juan Cole... that was information obtained via the AP from internal Iraqi sources...police reports, etc.

McClatchy is fairly good at obtaining information on casualties.

5. The fact remains, that the surge is not permanent...and most analysts agree that it could not be maintained passed Spring of 2008.


We will never see eye to eye on Iraq. Conservatives/Republicans like yourself have a different reality than everyone else when it comes to the situation there.

But facts are facts... neither one of us can change them. We just have a different perception & interpretation of those facts.

I think most of my readers/visitors are smart enough to know how to determine what passes the smell test and what doesn't, especially when it comes down to what is going on in Iraq.

We will have a better idea of what is going on once the Commanders in Iraq issue their report next month. I suspect that the report will be mixed at best.

P.S.

I don't doubt that you have been writing for a long time... (and I never challenged you on that). In fact, I knew this from seeing your bio and visiting the site some time ago. But I just happen to disagree with some of your presumptions here. You can be around for a long time...and you can still be wrong.

Scientists thought that the earth was flat for ages, before they were proven wrong. Like the Republicans... they also created a different reality for themselves.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]That's like saying that if someone injects you with HIV that they won't be responsible when you succumb to the disease 10 years from now, because by that time, they would be long gone. [/quote]

Sorry for moving your words out of order but THIS IS A RIDICULUS comparison.
In removing the Baath regime from Iraq - please tell me how this was like an "HIV injection" Angry?
Again - I use my American Civil War Model.
This would be like some person saying that LINCOLN is reponsible for the actions of the NIGHT RIDERS who came through the communities of Black people - lynching and terrorizing our ancestors.

THINK for a minute Angry!!! The KKK and the Insurgents desired POWER! They wanted to REPRESS THE NEWLY INDEPENDENT PEOPLE from even thinking about FREEDOM by using TERORIST TACTICS to keep them in their place.

You DISMISS this as "apples and oranges" but YOU CAN'T ARTICULATE a reasoned dismissal of the HUMAN LEVEL BATTLE FOR POWER that is common between both incidents.

If you notice your entire argument is BUSH-CENTRIC!!!
When Hillary Clinton sits in the chair in a few years SHE will talk about "Bush as well". Unfortunately SHE will be in the reigns of power and will have to put forth POLICIES AT THAT POINT which deal with the SITUATION AT THAT POINT.

There will be a loyal bastieon of individuals like yourself that will believe that anything she does at that point SHOULD NOT BE JUDGED as to their EFFECTIVENESS......IT IS BUSH'S FAULT after all. (Quite honestly the CIVIL RIGHTS OPERATIVES of today operate with this mantle with respect to addring problems within BLACK AMERICA as they are shield from responsibility of the flaws of their action - but that is an other story for another time)

*************

African American Political Pundit said...

" Petraeus is the man who has a sufficient understanding about the people, cultures, the religions, the language, the customs, and most importantly how to run the proper counterinsurgency in Iraq."

You got to be kidding me. This guy knows how to run the proper counterinsurgency in Iraq. Cobb, sounds like you have not been tracking current events on the ground in Iraq. The Coalition of the willing (to be slaughtered) have been getting their ask kidded. the bottom line, like more than 70% of American's believe - America should never gone into Iraq.

African American Political Pundit said...

The Coalition of the willing (to be slaughtered) have been getting their a** kicked. the bottom line, like more than 70% of American's believe - America should have never gone into Iraq.

Duva said...

Tactical successes do not equal strategic and political victory, as Vietnam showed us. Jumping onto the bandwagon with Sunni insurgents who are fighting AQI may be a tactically successful move in the short term. But if the goal is to strengthen the gov't in Baghdad to gain legitmacy, control its security forces, and fight on their own, this strategy is not likely to work. The Sunni insurgents are largely opposed to the U.S.-backed gov't in Baghdad, so i fail to see how supporting them against AQI will serve the greater goal. Fighting AQI is only one part of the war, but will the tribal-insurgent alliance be seen as successful when they start fighting the Shi'ite dominated gov't that the U.S. has expended so much to create and support?