Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sarajevo 1994

A UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) armored personnel carrier providing cover from snipers in Sarajevo, 1994.

The man with the briefcase, where's he going? Just another day at the office?

Mr. Shiny Cadillackness

I got Clutch's new record last week and one song on there includes this line:
Tell me why Dick Cheney underneath my bed
Hell no, that ain't cool
Maybe when the song was demo'd the lyric really was:
Tell me why Dick Cheny vice president
Hell no, that ain't cool
It still fits the rhyme scheme.

Why not?

Political Theater And a Rumor Gets Its Curtain Call

The Ware "heckling" video has surfaced and surprise, surprise: No heckling can be seen.

Poor Instapundit got sucked into it and is now wiping some egg off his face. (Note to Reynolds: That wouldn't happen if you were even just a little bit skeptical of Matt Drudge's, ahem, "reporting." Remember: Matt Drudge is an advocate; he's not a reporter.)

Juan Cole has more on McCain's foray into political theater (and the alleged boorishness of a CNN correspondent isn't even mentioned). Lengthy quote, but you should read every word.
This grandstanding trip that John McCain took to Baghdad on Sunday is another occasion for propaganda to shore up his falling poll numbers in his presidential campaign. He said, "Things are better and there are encouraging signs. I've been here . . . many times over the years. Never have I been able to drive from the airport, never have I been able go out into the city as I was today."

He said that only three days after the US embassy issued an order that personnel are to wear 'personal protective equipment' when moving between buildings inside the Green Zone! He said it the day two suicide belt bombs were found inside the Green Zone. So he could ride in an armored car in from the airport. That's the big achievement? What about when he gets to the Green Zone? Then he has to put on PPE to go to the cafeteria.

Look, I lived in the midst of a civil war in the late 1970s in Beirut. I know exactly what it looks and smells like. The inexperienced often assume that when a guerrilla war or a civil war is going on, life grinds to a standstill. Not so. People go shopping for food. They drive where they need to go as long as they don't hear that there is a firefight in that area. They go to work if they still have work. Life goes on. It is just that, unexpectedly, a mortar shell might land near you. Or the person ahead of you in line outside the bakery might fall dead, victim of a sniper's bullet. The bazaars are bustling some days (all the moreso because it is good to stock up on supplies the days when the violence isn't so bad). So nothing that John McCain saw in Baghdad on Sunday meant a damn thing. Not a goddamn thing.

It makes my blood boil.

Because McCain, you see, knows exactly what I know about guerrilla wars and civil wars. Hell, people used to shop freely in Saigon in the early 1970s! And if he is saying what he is saying, it is because he is attempting to convey an overly optimistic picture with which to deceive the American public.

The deception will get even more of our young men and women in uniform blown up, at a time when their mission has become murky and undefined. If the American public sacrifices the lives of the troops with their eyes open, for what they see as the sake of the security of the United States, then the loss of life is regrettable but the mission is clear, defined, and has public support. But if the American public is lied to and only thinks a mission is being accomplished as a result, then the sacrifice of soldiers' lives is monstrous. The Iraq War has become monstrous in this way. And John McCain, whom I had long respected as a straight shooter, has now been seduced into playing illusionist with the lives of our troops.

I have a great deal of admiration for General Petraeus. I believe he really cares about the welfare of Iraqis, that he knows something serious about counter-insurgency, and that he will do the very best he can to restore security to Baghdad. I don't think the key is the extra 17,500 troops, but how exactly the troops already there are deployed. But according to press reports, he laughs when people ask him if the surge is working yet. He knows that it is a long haul. And he also implied that if he thinks it isn't working by June, or the Iraqi government hasn't done everything it could by then, he may have some tough decisions to make, since he can't go on risking his troops' lives for a mission that isn't getting done.

That's what McCain should be saying. That it is too early to tell, militarily. He should let us hear the doubt in his voice. And that if it doesn't work, if al-Maliki doesn't step up, then the US troops will come first. I don't hear that kind of realism, and dedication to the welfare of the troops, from McCain. I used to, when he wasn't running for president. He isn't going to be president, and the albatross of this war he has bought into is why. Not only because it is an unpopular war, but because he cannot see it in a clear-eyed way. We don't need any more presidents with big blinders on.

Monday, April 02, 2007

This is True

The judge presiding over the Joe Nacchio trial, Judge Edward Nottingham, is the same judge that presided over the federal case I juried a few years back. It's true.

More Heckling at CNN

I've looked all over for tape of Michael Ware heckling John McCain. Can't find it and I ain't gonna look no more.

I was hoping the right wing blogs would help me. Malkin has nothing about it. Powerline has a few posts, nothing substantial. Actually, it's really quite silly.

Before the tape is even released, we get this from Paul Mirengoff:
Ware's reporting itself constitutes heckling.
That's hilarious!

Mirengoff doesn't like Ware's sensationalist reporterisms, which sometimes recall a breathless Steve Irwin, so his conclusion is that, and I can not make this sound more ridiculous, Ware's reporting is heckling.

That right there is the broadest use of the word "heckling" I think I have ever heard.

So even if Michael Ware said not a word during the press conference, not even a laugh or a giggle or a guffaw, he would still be heckling McCain.

Me, I don't think a laugh or a dismissive harumph even constitutes heckling. I think you actually have to heckle, but that's just me.

Mirengoff continues:
When a reporter becomes this much of an advocate, he should no longer cover the story. If CNN were a credible news organization, it would reassign Ware.
Tell me, what is Michael Ware "advocating" exactly?

That McCain's trip is political theater and that the war is still raging? Well that's obvious.

And you know, if CNN were a credible news organization they wouldn't be on cable.

Trump Keeps His...(Is that really hair?)

When my nephew told me about the Vince McMahon - Donald Trump "shaved head" bet, I laughed and said, "There's no way Donald Trump is shaving his head." Donald Trump, Mr. Vain Combover? Shave his head? Not a chance...not for money, not for charity, and certainly not for the WWE.

If there was a chance, even a small chance much less a 50-50 chance, that Trump would be forced to shave his head, he would have never agreed to the stunt. This is what they call a worked shoot.

Steve Austin should have never agreed to giving him a Stone Cold Stunner though. It just kills the move and drains it of any vitality it once had.

If Donald Trump can walk away from a Stone Cold Stunner, then the Stone Cold Stunner is lame.

Michael Ware

Drudge is pushing a story that says CNN's Michael Ware heckled John McCain at the Iraq press conference. Last week, Michael Ware forcibly countered McCain's "Iraq is just peachy" scenario, saying that there was "laughter down the line" from his military sources, specifically about McCain's claim that General Petraeus rolls around Baghdad in an unarmed humvee.

Here's what Drudge has to say:
During a live press conference in Baghdad, Senators McCain and Graham were heckled by CNN reporter Michael Ware. An official at the press conference called Ware’s conduct “outrageous,” saying, “here you have two United States Senators in Bagdad giving first-hand reports while Ware is laughing and mocking their comments. I’ve never witnessed such disrespect. This guy is an activist not a reporter.”
Hmm. No mention of what Michael Ware said as he heckled McCain, just an anonymous official's unconfirmed account.

Pardon me if I don't find the report all that convincing. They can't even quote Ware, and the guy who is quoted is not named. News story, or rumor? I'm leaning towards rumor.

On CNN just now, Soledad O'Brien asked Michael Ware himself about the alleged heckling. Ware grinned sheepishly, then denied that he said anything at the press conference. He claims that as soon as he raised his hand to ask a question, the press conference was ended.

Hmm, something's not adding up there.

To get the truth, Ware suggested you watch the video of the press conference. Which is what I will do when I get the chance.

Updated: Here's the Washington Post's account of the press conference. No mention of any heckling.

The AP's account (by way of Foxnews even), and again no mention of any heckling. But there is this paragraph:
McCain, R-Ariz., was combative during the news conference, refusing to respond to a question about whether the U.S. had plans to attack Iran. He also replied testily to a question about remarks he had made in the United States last week that it was safe to walk some Baghdad streets.
So McCain's attitude gets a mention, but nothing about a heckler.

The New York Times, too, mentions McCain's "sometimes testy comments" but not his heckler.

The Washington Times doesn't say McCain was "testy" during the press conference, but then again, they don't say anything about a heckler either.

Neither does the NY Post.

So if a tree falls in the woods......

John McCain's Illusions of Grandeur

I hesitate to call John McCain an idiot, because I don't think he is. I just think he's wrong.

Last week, he chided Wolf Blitzer for suggesting that Baghdad is still an incredibly dangerous place. "There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through," McCain said.

This week, he went to Iraq to prove he was right. Only he had to walk through the neighborhood protected by more than 100 soldiers and a half dozen helicopters, not to mention the obligatory bullet proof vest. Oh, did I mention the market he toured was a "three minute drive" from the Green Zone? No? Well it was.

Yeah, John, we can tell from your carefully stage-managed stroll across the street from the Green Zone that Baghdad really is getting safer.

Of course, all this, ahem, straight-talk leads me to ask this question: Why is there such an impetus to minimize the effects of the war in Iraq?

(You know, the canard that says Washington DC or Detroit is just as dangerous as Baghdad, despite the complete lack of car bombs and death squads along the Mall or down 8 Mile Road.)

I wonder what such self-deception is meant to accomplish. Bone up flailing domestic support by hiding the true costs of the invasion? Saving face for war supporters who can't admit that the war hasn't been a "cakewalk" and may even be counter-productive?

Who knows?

I am sure, however, that it is not designed to actually assist in the war effort. You can't fix a problem unless you acknowledge that it exists. What McCain is doing by comically playing the "It's not so bad" card is demostrating how unserious he is about dealing with the real problems in Iraq.

And I would say that the real problems in Iraq have very little to do with unfavorable media coverage.

Take the latest from Iraq, updated a mere 45 minutes ago:
KIRKUK, Iraq - A suicide truck bomb killed 12 people and wounded 137 others in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Monday in the latest attack by insurgents using explosives-laden trucks.

Many of the victims were women and children at a nearby school, police said.
And then further on down the article, a paragraph about McCain:
The latest bloodshed came a day after Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain paid a heavily guarded visit to a Baghdad market and said afterwards the American people were not being given the full picture of the progress being made in curbing violence in the capital.

You call that progress, Mr. Straight Talk?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Blog Announcement

I never really posted about my love for traditional Pashtun pole dancing, but over the years, I have developed both a love and a deep respect for this historic art. Of course, when I say pole dancing, pictures of strippers and grinding Britney Spears music comes to mind, but that's not what I mean at all.

Pashtun pole dancing revolves around a pole, much like a maypole, wrapped in Hotaki, a traditional woven fabric often cut into ribbons. Carrying large curved swords (which are thankfully quite dull) four men and two women engage in a complicated dance that simulates the great defeat of the Safayids. Afterwards, everyone gets drunk on plum brandy.

It's quite the wonder to behold.

Anyway, because of my love for PPD (a common internet abreviation among afficianados), I'm converting the "Heavy: Lift With Caution" blog from a general "whatever I want to post" type blog to a more specific "Pashtun Pole Dancing" only blog. It's a subject that's near and dear to my heart, and it really deserves it's own blog.

If you've grown accustomed to the thoughts that spill from my mind and aren't looking forward to my new favorite subject, I apologize. I decided I'd like to devote all my attention to Pashtun Pole Dancing and unfortunately my opinions about other things just seem, well, insignificant.

So here we are, Heavy Pashtun Pole Dancing: Lift With Caution. Enjoy.