Robb's Journal of Dingbat Delight - Archives
...and everywhere else, for that matter.
All weekend I've been telling you to shut up. Well, not in so many words, but that was the gist of it.
I kept saying, no, no, the rumors are just that, wait until Gates opens his mouth. Great things will fly out of it. The spotlight is ON, people are WATCHING, this will be IT.
I'm sitting in 2010 looking at a television that tells me they need a FUCKING YEARLONG STUDY to coddle bigots with regard to DADT. Because in a year *what* exactly will change?
Oh, and no policy announcements, either. Lots of hemming and hawing. Oh, and Mullen tweeted something.
I'm sorry. It's not fucking fair, and it's not right.
Please, consider this single point.
The media is NOT on our side.
I'm sorry to hammer on this, but it's important that everyone "gets it" before the next news cycle. Because it will be a doozy.
Just because they tell you Obama is a media darling, they are NOT all of a sudden on our side. It's the same media they've told you for years is "liberal." We didn't believe it during the last administration, but all of a sudden we're buying it now?
In the next news cycle, they will offer a thousand stories on politics, the wars, the economy. All of them will slant to do one of two things: divide the left and encourage the right.
In the last 24 hours we've seen misleading headlines and buried ledes designed to agitate the left. Misrepresentations of events we all witnessed and "errors" of omission crafted to embolden the right.
Please, please, please. Look at these stories through that prism. This is the same media who helped lie us into at least one war, who told us the bubble would never burst, and that any number of people would be in the White House besides the guy who's sitting in the chair at the moment.
This is the same media who a year ago we knew couldn't be trusted to report accurately on the color of the sky if it somehow helped progressives. But now we jump at every "OMG teh Democrats are actually secret fascist warmongerers!!11!" story they throw out there.
We are in a lull at the moment. Don't be fooled. This eye of the storm was brought on by a weekend, nothing else. We slap one another's backs, they are ready to twist reality anew on Monday.
The United States used "online warfare" to stir up unrest in Iran after last year's elections, the Chinese Communist party newspaper claimed today, hitting back at Hillary Clinton's speech last week about internet freedom.
An editorial in the People's Daily accused the US of launching a "hacker brigade" and said it had used social media such as Twitter to spread rumours and create trouble.
"Behind what America calls free speech is naked political scheming. How did the unrest after the Iranian election come about?" said the editorial, signed by Wang Xiaoyang. "It was because online warfare launched by America, via YouTube video and Twitter microblogging, spread rumours, created splits, stirred up and sowed discord between the followers of conservative reformist factions."
Washington said at the time of the unrest that it had asked Twitter, which was embraced by Iranian anti-government protesters, to remain open. Several social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have been blocked in China in the last year.
Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/2...
Google notwithstanding, this is probably just the latest volley with respect to China's UN veto of additional sanctions against Iran. Which, of course, they would never approve -- considering their large financial interest in Iran. My journal mumbles a bit about the energy bloc over there, Iran is central to it.
Buried well past the lede in this story is an update, of sorts:
...Elsewhere, four Afghans who had been kidnapped along with two Chinese engineers were released Tuesday, three days after they were seized by Taliban militants on their way home from working on a road construction project in northwestern Afghanistan, an official said.
Afghan and NATO forces in the Ghormach area of Faryab province also killed 10 Taliban militants and detained three others late Monday in an operation linked to the kidnapping, the deputy provincial governor, Abdul Sattar Barez, said without elaborating.
Barez said the four Afghans were released with the help of village mediation and authorities were optimistic the Chinese men would be freed soon....
The short version right now is the Taliban have implied they will be asking for a ransom. This is very, very interesting.
The Afghans released have been mentioned in media reports as drivers and interpreters. The Ghormach district is about a two-iron shot from Turkmenistan. This is notable because popular wisdom would assume the engineers were in-country working as part of the copper mine the Chinese won the contract to a few years ago. That mine is about on the other side of the country, however. More likely they were working on one of the hundreds of road projects the Chinese are building throughout Afghanistan -- infrastructure that is assumed to have been an under-the-table part of their bid to develop the mine.
But Ghormach is also pretty much Taliban-controlled. I can't imagine Karzai's government would bother working roads there into any deal for the copper rights.
So, anyone care to guess why the Chinese are building roads there? ...No, that's too easy. Here's a harder one: why is this the first time, in three years of working under the Taliban's nose, a Chinese national has been abducted?
Source: Business Week
Afghan Taliban are seeking a ransom payment to release two Chinese engineers they seized on Jan. 16 in the country’s northwest.
Taliban guerrillas based in Faryab province abducted the men, who were working on a road-building project near the border with Turkmenistan, said Ahmed Jawed Bedar, a spokesman for the provincial governor. “The kidnappers said they will release them in exchange for payment,” Bedar said by phone from Meymaneh, the provincial capital.
Bedar said he did not know how much the Taliban are demanding in what is the movement’s first known abduction of Chinese citizens in the country. Akhtar Mohammed, a Taliban commander in western Afghanistan, confirmed by phone that Faryab-based Taliban are holding the Chinese and seeking ransom.
The Chinese government is “making every effort” to rescue the men, who were seized by “unknown armed forces,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters in Beijing. China is increasing its presence in Afghanistan after having won the right in 2007 to develop the Aynak copper deposit, the country’s biggest mining project.
Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-01-1...
To be clear, although it seems deliberately conflated, the engineers kidnapped were almost certainly not working on the copper mine. The mine is in the Logar province, just south of Kabul. The engineers were kidnapped building a road in the northwest, near the Turkmenistan border.
Fortunately, your link provided a link to DoD:
"There are 11,162 armed DoD PSC personnel in Iraq and 10,712 in Afghanistan."
Here it is: http://www.acq.osd.mil/log/PS/p_vault/Cont...
Here's a relevant excerpt:
...Congressional concern over the use of personal security contractors (PSCs) in areas of military operations remains high, and Congress may yet legislate that it is an inherently governmental function. There are 11,162 armed DoD PSC personnel in Iraq and 10,712 in Afghanistan. 95% of the DoD PSCs in Afghanistan are Afghans, creating important job and economic opportunities there, and is an element of the COCOM’s Counter Insurgency strategy.
The present role of PSCs is strictly limited to defensive protection of people, assets and property....
McCain, Dean form "Real Change, Right Now" PAC
WASHINGTON: One is a prickly Republican Senator who made a name for himself as a party-bucking maverick. The other is a former Governor from Vermont whose tenure as chairman of the Democratic National Committee was widely considered revolutionary - in the truest sense of the word.
Their only common ground at first blush seems to be a run at the White House. But even with no shortage of strange alliances in Washington, D.C., the partnership announced today between Howard Dean and Sen. John McCain designed from the ground up to "stand between the Democratic Party and the people" should raise more than a few eyebrows.
And the timing could not be more troubling for panicked Democrats who fear an upset in Tuesday's neck-and-neck race for the Massachusetts seat in the U.S. Senate.
"Our political differences, now matter how sharply they are debated, are really quite narrow," said McCain, who made the surprise announcement at an annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast in Phoenix, "in comparison to the remarkably durable consensus on our convictions." ... (MORE)
I'll probably be called a divider and unrec'd into oblivion for even posting this, but hopefully the message to some on DU will ring loud and clear, even if it takes a bit to sink in. People prone to knee-jerk reactions can be easily misled, and are difficult to bring back because pride and embarrassment at being misled can stand in the way. Dean and McCain obviously have nothing in common, and such a partnership should be assumed to be absurd. Thoughtfulness and careful consideration: this is a big part of why we're better than the "other side."
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta shake hands during a joint meeting in Islamabad on January 16, 2010.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan affirmed on Saturday that their trilateral cooperation was key to peace and stability in Afghanistan and that any regional arrangement for resolving the Afghan conflict should co-opt only immediate neighbours of the war-ravaged country.
The statement took into account recent reports that the United Kingdom had floated a proposal to include India and some other countries in a security umbrella for Afghanistan.
“We stress further that any regional or international conference should acknowledge the salience of our trilateral engagement and cooperation for achieving common objectives and lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan… stress that these processes must be indigenous and have ownership of all immediate neighbours of Afghanistan,” said the Islamabad Declaration issued after a meeting of foreign ministers of the three countries....
...The three foreign ministers agreed on expanding their trilateral cooperation to include Afghanistan’s other immediate neighbours -- Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China. A meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries will be held in Tehran after the London conference....
Read more: http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-c...
Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China. I've been on about this lately, if you check my journal.
Then, sometime in 2003, Pitt wrote this post... I dunno, it was like any other I thought, and I read it, because that's what you do.
Suddenly I felt this warm glow envelop me. I felt myself lifted two inches off my seat. My mouth filled with the taste of cooked peas.
Anyhow, from that point forward I found myself physically unable to post anything that disagreed with him. Whenever I tried, it felt like a nightstick was between my shoulder blades. Weird.
So, good luck I guess is what I'm saying.
OK, my post about Wafa and why he's the one talking about this doesn't seem to be resonating with DUers. Fine.
No one seems interested that Karzai picked the face that reminds Afghans most of civilians killed by U.S. bombs to investigate.
No one seems interested that whichever province the guy's governor of that year tends to have these horrifying civilian deaths while he's around.
In fact, the New York Times has apparently decided that he is so unimportant, the last update of the story took his name right out of it.
Google cache results look thusly when searching on Wafa in "News": (sometimes spelled with one "s")
And the NYT story currently reads thusly:
No, Wafa's appointment isn't important. Nothing to see here.
Read davidswanson's post, then consider this question. Who benefits?
Perhaps you're old enough to remember Nixon going to China. Today it could be said only Assadullah Wafa could be sent to investigate civilians being killed.
No, it's not a Viking hat, those are two clocks in the background. Anyhow.
Wafa has been governor of three provinces under Karzai.
Wafa is the guy who as governor of Paktia (~2004) spent the most time in the spotlight working for an amnesty program for Taliban soldiers who want to stop fighting. He kept it up and reportedly got pissed whenever someone did it without his help. Actually, he gets pissed whenever people go around him.
Wafa is the guy who as governor of Kunar characterized a U.S.-launched strike after a helicopter shootdown (2005) as a "revenge killing" in that he reported it killed more than a dozen women and children.
Wafa is the guy who as governor of Helmand province (where 45% of the world's opium is grown) reported the single largest number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since 2001 (2007).
Tragedy follows the guy, right? Anyhow.
The point? Am I saying it didn't happen because Wafa is solidly in Karzai's pocket? Hell no. In fact I expect it happened just as reported. But it doesn't matter, and it doesn't matter what I think.
Read that again. Whether it happened or not isn't going to matter. Who actually did it - Marines, Xe, Taliban in uniforms, whoever - doesn't matter. How it plays in the U.S. isn't going to matter.
Karzai appointed Wafa to this investigation for a reason. Karzai is sending a message to Obama, through the Afghan people who see Wafa on TV and think only of civilian casualties in earlier events: "Go around me at your own peril, because I can undermine you with a wave of the hand."
The only person who will benefit from this story with Wafa's face on it is Karzai. Karzai increases his relevancy with the Afghan people -- since he's no longer the lifeline to U.S. aid he used to be -- every time he wags his finger at Americans. Nothing over there happens in a vacuum. He has been ratcheting up his anti-U.S. rhetoric ever since Obama's election. This is not an accident, and it won't be the last time.
The White House wants to damage Iran's existing political structure.
A stable Iran will cement its ties with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, which have all signed on with China as the energy suppliers for the next 50 years. This represents a formidable energy bloc, especially as Bulgaria and Turkey seem to have decided to send money in that direction as well. And people wonder why Turkey can't accede to the EU.
Yolotan. We're not developing it.
Yolotan is (probably) the biggest natural gas field in Turkmenistan, and is about a 9-iron shot from the Afghanistan border. If you're talking about pipelines in Afghanistan, you're talking about the Yolotan fields.
By "we" I mean "the West" -- Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Chevron, all submitted proposals. A China-led consortium got the gig. Meaning they offered a better deal to Turkmenistan, somehow. Without troops on the ground.
This just weeks after the Turkmenistan-China pipe became operational. And we're all still talking about the vaporware that is the Af-Pak pipe.
Make no mistake: Afghanistan is again the site of a proxy war, but it's not between the U.S. and Al Qaeda. It's between China and the West, and this was Pearl Harbor. Or some similar hyperbole.
I have no idea what the next move for the West is, frankly.
You know who you are. You know what you've dished out, what you've taken. The names you've been called, and called others.
I appreciate you. I salute you.
You. Never. Give. Up. Thank you for that.
A lot of us look at a solution that winds up in the middle ground, and say "Hey, a solution!" And we feel pretty smug about it. And we jump all over you for complaining that you didn't get every single thing you asked for, we asked for, really, but you're still asking for, because hey, we've got something, right?
We forget that politics in this country is a game of tug-of-war, complete with a knotted handkerchief on a rope dangling above a a mud puddle.
We forget that for every tea-bagging bigoted knuckle-dragger on the other side, there's one of you on ours. Sometimes two, because those bastards are loud and pulling hard.
We forget we'd be standing in that puddle but for you, the anchors. Digging in your heels, demanding perfection. And not by being the enemy of the good, but the enemy of the bad.
We forget it's all of us on this side of the puddle, pulling in the same direction.
In the end, solutions tend to be a middle ground. Maybe not smack in that puddle, but in the mud around it. No one realistically denies that.
But it's foolish to deny the importance of our anchors.
So dig in. Lean back. Hold fast. Don't take "compromise" for an answer. Don't take "good enough." Don't take "better than we had."
And for the love of all that's holy, don't let us ever talk you out of your grip on the end of that rope.
You're our anchors. Thanks.
Jennings is an exceptional, distinguished educator. He is gay. And the GOP is targeting him as they have targeted other "czars" this President has selected.
I watched the GLBT end of DU become increasingly horrified with Obama's decisions from the Inauguration forward. That any of them can still support this President after the repeated neglect they have endured is a testament to their own character and commitment.
I'm a true believer in the political acumen of this President. He's very, very good at this.
This President has caved, and caved, and caved on the "czar" appointments. In an effort to appeal to a broader base, some say. In an effort for bipartisanship. In an effort to govern everyone. In part of a broader plan that will be revealed in time as worthy of his obvious genius. Whatever. I've bought into it. I've given the benefit of the doubt, because every other time I thought I knew better than Obama, I was wrong.
Jennings is a bright star and role model. The number of children he has helped, to say nothing of those who were GLBT, has earned him a place at the biggest table we can set up for him. He's got work to do, and he's got the chops to do it.
If Jennings is sacrificed on the altar of whatever plan Obama or the people around him are running, I'm done. I'll start sending my money and time to PFLAG or something. I'll join the rabble calling for a primary challenge (while still thinking most of them are idiots).
It is time for this President to stand up for the GLBT community that voted for him. Brushing off the attacks on Jennings, or rather defending him with the full force of his bully pulpit, would be a good start.
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