Daily Archives: May 14, 2004

Pub Ops At AirAmerica?

Air America went through some hard times the first couple of weeks they were up-and-running, including having their Chicago station lock them out, their Santa Monica station run alternate programming when it was supposed to be airing AA, and a lawsuit. In the last couple of weeks all that seems to have gone away but there haven’t been any press reports about what was going on or why it vanished so suddenly (publicly reported lawsuits don’t usually disappear overnight without a trace).

Until Wednesday, nobody at AA was talking either. Then Randi Rhodes (in response to a question from a caller, if memory serves) commented that, although she couldn’t talk about it yet, ‘They don’t miss a trick.’ On Thursday she went further and said that there had been a big mess at AA, that people were there who didn’t belong there, that they and the mess were at the very top of the AA hierarchy (my word, not hers), and that ‘Republican operatives’ were all over the place the first few weeks ‘but they’re all gone now.’

I’ve spent some time trying to track down anything relating to Randi’s comments, but so far no luck. Reading between the lines, it would seem that the radcons managed somehow to infiltrate AA’s management structure and were deliberately causing severe problems in order to force AA to fail–precisely the sort of dishonest, slimy trick we’ve come to expect from them. I didn’t hear the whole show today, but she didn’t bring it up again on the segments I did hear.

There’s a major story here, if anybody wants to dig into it who has the time and the resources. Ay? Anybody?

Where Have All the Grown-Ups Gone?

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

In the course of these conversations, a particular phrase cropped up several times. “We could use a few grown-ups in office,” or some variation on that. Later, I pondered that sentiment and expression. What did my friends and colleagues mean? It sounded as if the song of the ’60s, “Where have the flowers gone?” had been replaced with “Where have all the grown-ups gone?” It seems that after so many years of being exhorted to “get in touch with our inner child,” some long for people who are in touch with the “inner grown-up!”What does the hope for a few good grown-ups mean and say about us? Three things (sorry, it’s the way preachers think, in threes) suggest themselves as among the defining qualities of that possibly endangered species known as the grown-up.

First, grown-ups understand, “It’s not about you.” It is about something bigger than you. It is about a larger purpose or mission, project or vision. It is about the work. It is about a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. “It’s not about you.” While religious people think of sin in a variety of ways, one enduring definition of “sin” is our human tendency to mistake ourselves for the center of the world. No, say all the great religions, there is another, a greater reality impinging upon us and calling to us. There is that before which awe, reverence and self-giving are the right response. It’s not about you.

Read the rest.

Karl-Baby’s Drilling Holes in His Own Boat

I may have mentioned this before but one of the things we’ve got going for us is that Rove (or ‘Karl-Baby’, as I like to call him) isn’t used to fighting a losing battle and doesn’t really know how it’s done. Unlike Clinton’s people, who were good enough not only to keep him from getting impeached by a radcon Congress out for blood but re-elected despite it, Rove/Hughes/Bartlett&Co would appear to be total novices when it comes to the necessity for facing facts people believe rather than manipulating that belief so they don’t have to. It’s a corporate-style strategy (deny and change the subject/deny and hit the day’s talking point endlessly endlessly endlessly), and they cling to it even though consultants keep trying to tell them it doesn’t work and ends up making them look even worse than they did.

They’re trying it with the Abu Ghraib issue–

“Look, obviously events and the coverage and what’s reported are going to have an effect on how people see the direction of the country,” said Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for Bush-Cheney ’04. “In the last two months or three months, there hasn’t been a wealth of positive news. It was bound to have an effect, and we expected that.”But Mr. Dowd said that changing Mr. Bush’s tone on the campaign trail was not an option. So with some modifications, Mr. Bush is following the script he and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, drafted as the prisoner scandal emerged: He repeats his disgust with the abuses, then turns the subject immediately back to his broader goals in the war on terrorism, merging it with the action in Iraq. He did so again on Thursday in a West Virginia school gymnasium.

–and it’s flying about as high as a lead balloon.

The polls out this week found Mr. Bush, by some measures, at the lowest point of his presidency. Only 46 percent of Americans told the Gallup Poll they approved of the way Mr. Bush was handling his job, and a majority, 51 percent, said they disapproved. Other polls had similar results. A poll by the Pew Research Center found that 44 percent of Americans approved of the president’s handling of his job and 48 percent disapproved.

I wrote a post not long ago that questioned why Kerry wasn’t getting an equivalent bounce from Junior’s nose-dive. I couldn’t find it just now, but this week I read that an independent pollster had explained it by saying that ‘people were too busy re-evaluating this president to focus on what they think of Kerry.’ There may be some truth in that.

In any case, let’s hope they stick with it. It’s working…for us.

A Privatized War

by Kryton

(moved from Comments and mildly edited by Mick–I exchanged an already published quote for another from K’s second link)

The Abu Ghraib story has shed an unwelcome spotlight on private contractors like CACI, Titan and Halliburton and their central role in waging America’s new wars. Many of these contractors are soldiers by another name, more commonly called mercenaries. They are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, nor to the Geneva Conventions. Contractors have been identified as “giving orders” to the MPs who abused Iraqis; none have lost their jobs, and CACI is still advertising interrogator jobs on its Web site. It is estimated that 10,000-15,000 are on the ground in Iraq, but their operations are shrouded in secrecy.

Many of these contractors have been called “retired military,” with the innocent-sounding explanation that retired soldiers have the most appropriate background. Now reports are emerging that all is not as it seems. Twenty-six-year old soldiers, in the military for three years, are being recruited while on active duty. If they accept, they are temporarily “retired.” When done with their contractor assignments, they return to their units.

Why would the U.S. military engage in this shell-game, moving soldiers from active duty to contractor status and back again? While working for the contractors, they are essentially indistinguishable from the military, with three exceptions: No uniform. No chain of command. And no accountability to any legal authority.

In a related story, it was revealed — but not widely circulated — that the U.S. is setting up a secret police in Iraq to keep control over the country after the formal handover1. This police force will be staffed by contractors paid for by U.S. taxpayers. From the Washington Post:

The events of the last few days illustrate those differences well. When reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib surfaced, it was clear that the 800th Military Police Brigade (which includes the 372nd Military Police Company, home to many of the accused) was in charge of the prison; prisoner interrogations were run by the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. But Taguba’s report also mentions four civilian contractors, all of whom were assigned to the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Two of those civilians, Steven Stephanowicz and John Israel, were “either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses” at Abu Ghraib, the report says. A third contractor, Adel Nakhla, is named as a translator — and a suspect. A fourth, Torin Nelson, was said to be a witness. Both Nakhla and Nelson are listed as employees of Titan Corp., a security contractor based in San Diego.The report identified Stephanowicz as an interrogator working for CACI; Israel, an interpreter, was also said to be working for CACI, although the company has denied that. Some news reports have identified Israel as an employee of Titan, which in turn has said he works for one of its subcontractors.

So, we are not even sure for whom these contractors work or worked. Nor do we know how many other contract employees were — and may still be — working at the prison.

Is this how we’re spreading the light of democracy around the world?

Note: 1. This would likely be our old friend, Ahmad Chalabi. Viceroy Paul Bremer turned over all of Saddam’s Secret Police files to Chalabi when he replaced Gen Garner. Ahmad, so the (perfectly believable) rumors say, has been using them to blackmail his way to power ever since.–M