Archive for afghanistan

Stop Making Sense

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Once again, I feel as if I've entered Opposite World, where up is down, in is out and everything is completely backwards. I didn't meant to quote the Talking Heads, but it's the lower case talking heads who are making my brain hurt right now.

First of all, the talking head making the most sense about Iraq right now is... Shephard Smith!?!?! Yes, the man who is relegated to keeping his sexuality safely hidden in the closet because his employer is Faux News is, once again, speaking the truth. This time, he's saying what I'm thinking about Iraq.

If that wasn't mind blowing enough, how about Mark Halperin talking sense to Paul Bremer about Iraq and the role of the US in that troubled part of the world!

If you were pleasantly surprised  by those two segments, welcome to the club. Unfortunately then, you'll likely be sadly disappointed by the answers I got from General Wesley Clark. The former NATO commander and presidential candidate apparently thinks the way I'd have expected the two men mentioned above to think... When I asked Gen. Clark what we should do in Iraq, he unequivocally called for "air strikes."

I know, he is a retired US Army General and, as such, is conditioned to think that way. But I expected more out of a career military man who opposed entering Iraq in the first place and actually seemed refreshing during his presidential run in 2004. Then again, he did participate in a sickening celebration of war on NBC in a strange "reality show" called "Stars Earn Stripes." I thought then that he had lost his mind. Now I know that his mind has been darkened by the fog of war.

In an interesting juxtaposition of ideas, Chelsea Manning published an Op-Ed in yesterday's NY Times explaining that "the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan," and urges people to be skeptical of their coverage now.

In the first hour, Howie Klein joined in as he does each Monday morning for the Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie. Today, we discussed the incompetence of Steve Israel who never saw the Cantor crushing coming, and did everything he could to protect Cantor from a Democratic challenger. Plus next week's primaries could bring us a real progressive as the Democratic nominee in the MD governor's race in Heather Mizeur, but probably won't.

Tomorrow, it's @GottaLaff time... Seriously, we all need some laughs right about now... Tuesday, 10-noon ET radio or not!

Listen to the full show here:

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Pardoned Iran-Contra figure aided #Bergdahl hunt

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the more you know msnbc Iran-Contra

The Sunday Los Angeles Times has a substantive report about now-freed Bowe Bergdahl's captors. It chronicles the events that led to his release and provides background on the groups involved with his imprisonment. They break down the timeline as best they can in the years-long efforts by the U.S. to find and rescue Bergdahl. It's interesting stuff, worth a read. One nugget in particular caught my eye: How U.S. officials relied on a private company in the search. And one of those hired by that company was a guy who was indicted for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal.

We paid Sunni militants for peace during Bush's fraudulent war, we paid private contractors to fight that war-- Blackwater. That ended well, didn't it?-- and then we paid a private intel group to aid in Bergdahl's recovery. And in turn, they paid local tattletales. We sure do have a lot of spare cash lying around:

The U.S. search for Bergdahl, and his ultimate release, involved an array of U.S. and foreign military and intelligence agencies.

It also included a private intelligence outfit called the Eclipse Group that was run by a former top CIA operations officer, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge.

In 1991, Clarridge was indicted on seven counts of perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before his trial was over. He has said he maintained a network of spies and informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan after he left the CIA.

A former Eclipse member said the group paid local informants to collect intelligence, which was passed on to U.S. military commanders searching for Bergdahl.

According to a senior member of the U.S. military who was part of the search for Bergdahl, the Eclipse reports included not only facts, but also rumors. In spite of the unreliability of some of the information, he said, "We take everything we can get." Even advice from an Iran-Contra perjurer.

The more you know.

funfacts

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Afternoon-Evening Links

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AfghanistanBoatw343h218

The U.S. spent $3 million on boats for landlocked Afghanistan

#Plagiarism The Troubling Case of Chris Hedges

Clever Piece of Code Exposes Here-to-Fore Hidden Changes in Supreme Court Decisions

Why Americans call what the rest of the world calls 'football' 'soccer'.

THE 23-YEAR-OLD WORDSMITH BEHIND THE HIP, NEW VOICE OF THE TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE

‘Numb, speechless, sad’, Israel supporters grieve Cantor’s loss

Bergdahl writing, posts show frustration, struggle

Photo gaffes generate attacks in Kentucky campaign

Krugman on the Surprising and Disturbing Lessons from Eric Cantor's Shocking Defeat

Immigrants in Federal Prisons ‘Subjected to Shocking Abuse and Mistreatment’

Vermeer's paintings might be 350 year-old color photographs

The Freezing, Hungry Lives of NHL "Ice Girls"

Colbert's Brilliant Move To Strike Back At Amazon

Islamist Militants Aim to Redraw Map of the Middle East

The O.J. Simpson Saga Began 20 Years Ago Today — Here's Why His Son Should Be A Suspect

John McCain Tweets Congratulations to George W Bush on his 'victory' in Iraq.

Sarah Palin Threatens To Leave The GOP Unless Obama Flies Abandoned Kids to Mexico

Americans Will Tolerate a Variety of In-Laws. One Exception: Atheists.

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Tuesday Links

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Walmart

Regular shoppers cite Walmart's low pay and poor treatment of workers as reasons to stay away

Tea Party Justice Says Punishment for Judge Who Blamed 14-Year-Old Girl for Own Rape Too Harsh (from the Montana Cowgirl Blog)

Christian Homeschoolers Accused of Running 'Concentration Camp'

Bush War Crimes Defender Admits Obama Didn’t Break Law But Should be Impeached Anyway

Why Is Network Television So Afraid of Admitting That Many of America's Terror Attacks Are 'Right Wing?'

Trader Joe’s NYC Store Defends 'Racist, Sexist, and Misogynistic' Songs on Playlist

Nato forces kill five US troops in Afghanistan

Surprise, Surprise! Alex Jones Calls Las Vegas Shooting a False Flag Set Up By Obama

Iraq militants control second city of Mosul

Conservative Columnist George Will Claims Rape Victim is a ‘Coveted Status’ on Campus

Instead of Scaring Hillary Clinton the GOP’s Benghazi Scandal Is Inspiring Her To Run

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Former Reagan advisor: Tea partiers are "morons, stupid, ignoramuses, bigots, dying off."

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former reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett on Ed Show Bergdahl

Republicans eating their own smaller

On "The Ed Show," Ed Schultz interviewed former Reagan advisor- slash- Bush 41 policy advisor Bruce Bartlett about the tea party as well as your favorite hypocrite and mine, Sen. John McCain. See: "Secret decoder ring decrypts behavior" of GOP v. Obama! Hint: Blatant hypocrisy #Bergdahlzi.

Let me put it this way: Bartlett didn't mince words. Or to put it another way, he showered us Dems with gifts. Bartlett blasted the hell out of "other Republicans," tea party "morons," and had a few words to say about Weather Vain (Added note: "Vain" is a pun, intended, hence the misspelling) McCain.

It was as if the heavens opened and dropped bundles of unadulterated vindication upon our aching Lefty Lib heads.

I may invite him to become a regular contributor to TPC. Oh, but I kid the rational Republican.

Ed and Former Reagan Advisor Bruce discussed how the GOP supported the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year, yet changed their tune to adhere to conservative talking points once he was released. McCain has been the poster boy for this political exercise, as you can see by the Rachel Maddow video at the link above.

Bartlett also stood by President Obama's decisions on the prisoner of war exchange, loud and clear.

And with that, here is another episode of Republicans Eating Their Own. The good part starts at about 2:27. A-a-and, we're off!

Bruce Bartlett:

[McCain] probably has his finger up in the air, looking around to see which way the tea party is blowing.

After the Vietnam experience, we all agreed that we must do more and do everything humanly possible to get all of our soldiers home who are captured, and we didn't ask questions about whether they were deserving or not. They're prisoners of war, they're American soldiers, they deserve to be brought home...

It's all been turned around now, because of the tea party. The Republicans in Washington constantly have their finger on the pulse of the grassroots, trying to figure out what they want, and how to pander to them.

But unfortunately, these people in the tea party are morons! I mean, they really are. They're stupid, they're ignoramuses, they have no idea what they're talking about, they're extremists, they're bigots.

Senator Thad Cochran... may very well lose his primary to some crackpot moron tea party person.

[Conservative Republicans] keep moving further and further to the right...

Fox-- which is essentially the Republican Party network, simply panders to the Republican Party line-- has an age 72 average viewing age. And so those people who make up the tea party are basically dying off.

bingo2

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Only 1 of 5 Taliban swapped for Bergdahl has hardcore past, per experts #Bergdahlzi

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maddow taliban who changed talking points impeach

Here it comes... wait for it... Another talking point debunked. The GOP attempt to smear President Obama with #Bergdahlzi!!!! just took a hit. This time it pertains to the Taliban who were traded for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in order to save his, you know, American life. But that's not good enough for all those Republicans who cheered for Bowe and wept with joy... until they didn't.

There have been a lot of hypocritical GOP deletions bouncing around the Twitter Machine. Read about it here: "Secret decoder ring decrypts behavior" of GOP v. Obama! Hint: Blatant hypocrisy and more about the hypocrisy here: Hagel unaware of any "soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find, rescue Sgt. Bergdahl."

Suddenly Bergdahl's life wasn't worth a damn to them, because if he mattered and the president saved his valuable life, then something Obama accomplished might actually, possibly, maybe *gasp* appeal to potential voters. And the GOP could never have that, now could they?

So of course, they're Swiftboating Bergdahl and calling the president a terrorist appeaser, or a U.S.-put-er-in-danger-er, or a reckless lawbreaker or something-er. Impeachazi!!!!

According to everyone in the whole wide media world, especially the on-air Republican bleating heads, the Taliban who were freed were the worst of the worst! The awfulest of the awful! The hardcorest of the hardcore! Why, before you know it, they'll be right back to their old dirtiest of dirty tricks terrorizing every man, woman, and child in America and we'll all die!!! DIE!!!

Never mind that they'll be stuck in Qatar for at least a year, and after that, they'll be under the same over-watchful eye of the Big U.S. Spy Machine that everyone has been kvetching about.

And oh yeah... never mind this from the Los Angeles Times:

A closer look at the former prisoners, however, indicates that not all were hard-core militants. Three held political positions in the Taliban government that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 and were considered relative moderates. A fourth was a mid-level police official, experts say. [...]

The backgrounds of the prisoners, who are confined to the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar for one year under the terms of the exchange, indicate that they would have little utility on the battlefield after more than a decade in prison. They range in age from 43 to 47.

The article then goes on to describe the more benign prisoners. One was a civilian official-turned-governor who never held a military post. His job "was to ensure the government operated as usual and to resolve tribal complaints."

The description of another "is sharply at odds with that of journalists and analysts who met him in the late 1990s. [He] assiduously reached out to local clerics, including minority Shiite Muslims, to address their opposition to the Taliban."

Then there was the guy who, "after the U.S.-led invasion... offered his help to U.S. forces in locating the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, but was arrested instead."

Analysts believe that the ex-prisoners, if they rejoined the Taliban, would serve at most in advisory roles, saying they are too far removed from a movement that has lost many of its top leaders to U.S.-led coalition operations.

"They are not aware of what has been going on for the past 13 years," said Waheed Muzhda, a political analyst in Kabul who served in the Taliban's Foreign Ministry.

Not that these men were the types we'd want to hang out with at Starbucks, but most of the Taliban who we released were not the big, bad, worst of the worst boogeymen that we were led to believe. Please follow the link for more details.

And with that, here are today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

The rescue of our only prisoner of war should have been a source of pride for America and validation of the fact that we do not leave behind those who serve in our military.

Before this young man returns home from five years of Taliban captivity — which essentially may have been torture — the Republicans are setting him up for condemnation because it was President Obama's efforts that returned him to us.

Waiting for facts has never been a Republican goal, which is why we are in this war in the first place.

Claire Zimmer

Palm Springs

***

Charles Manson was presumed innocent until proven guilty. So were killers Jeffrey Dahmer, Sirhan Sirhan and so on.

So why not Bergdahl? Why the rush to judgment by some conservative politicians and pundits?

Of course, the reason is political; you knew that, and my question is rhetorical.

The real question is: When will voters start choosing representatives who will identify and deal with real issues of public concern, instead of ideologues and party hacks?

Fredric Dunn

San Diego

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"Secret decoder ring decrypts behavior" of GOP v. Obama! Hint: Blatant hypocrisy #Bergdahlzi

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secret decoder ring

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Last night Rachel Maddow kicked some serious GOP hypocrisy ass. Please watch the video above as she reveals her "secret decoder ring" that "decrypts the behavior" of Republicans and their Obama Derangement Syndrome. Maddow systematically documented the blatant hypocrisy of GOP public officials, starting with John McCain. She ticked off tweet after tweet and video clip after video clip of Republicans supporting the president's policies only to do a 180 once President Obama did exactly what they suggested.

Her decoder ring wasn't all that secret, but Rachel did manage to condense their two-face-itude down to chewable bites that even a Republican could digest... and then spit out, as they are wont to do.

bergdahl tweets gop hypocrisy

bergdahl tweets gop hypocrisy 2

bergdahl tweets gop hypocrisy 3

Which brings me to this morning's MSNBC broadcast of Andrea Mitchell Reports with Kristen Welker subbing as host. She forgot to wear her secret decoder ring, but the relentless GOP hypocrisy was still revealed, loud and clear.

Two examples stood out to me, examples that somebody on air should spotlight. But we all know that won't happen. So allow me:

1.  Republicans are swarming all over President Obama's recent remarks that he "makes no apologies" for the way he handled Bowe Bergdahl's release after being held prisoner for five years by the Taliban:

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Again, "pro-life" Republicans are indignant and shocked! shocked! about that. How dare the President of the United States refuse to apologize for an "illegal" act such as saving an American soldier's life?!

shocked shockingIn that case, maybe they should address this:

Via a 2013 article in the Dallas News:

Near the Iraq war’s 10th anniversary — as many stepped forward to revisit their criticism of the conflict — Bush made no mention of weapons of mass destruction, “enhanced interrogation techniques” or other controversies.

But he reflected on the “realities of the situation 10 years ago”: that the Iraq invasion had bipartisan support and that seeking regime change in Iraq had also been the policy under Clinton.

“It’s easy to forget what life was like when the decision was made,” Bush said.

Since he left office, Bush has been a punching bag for Obama, Democrats and even some Republicans. But while he said “nobody likes to be criticized all the time,” he brushed aside the constant pummeling.

“I’m comfortable with what I did,” he said. “I’m comfortable with who I am.”

He made no apology for his fraudulent war and the thousands of military and civilian deaths, the torture, the lies.

2. Kristen Welker interviewed Peter King:

On Thursday, June 5, Kristen Welker, NBC's White House Correspondent, asked Congressman Peter King (R-NY) as she filled-in for Andrea Mitchell on Andrea Mitchell Reports: "Are Republicans trying to swiftboat Bowe Bergdahl?"

Congressman King shot back: "To compare what was apparently done to John Kerry or allegedly done to John Kerry to this, every allegation that's being made by these troops are the people in the field with him. They are the ones we should listen to. These are men who served with him, who felt betrayed by him. No one has a better knowledge than they would have."

So this is not Swiftboat the Sequel because the Swiftboaters say they served with Bergdahl.

This part must have slipped what's left of King's mind:

Several members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT) served in the same unit as Kerry and one, Stephen Gardner, served as a crewmember on Kerry's boat. A number of Kerry's SBVT critics were present on accompanying Swift Boats at one of the combat events for which Kerry was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal and a third Purple Heart. Another SBVT member, Dr. Louis Letson, was the physician who claims to have treated Kerry for his first Purple Heart wound. Larry Clayton Lee was the sole SBVT member to participate in the event for which Kerry was awarded the Silver Star. No SBVT member participated in events related to the award of Kerry's second Purple Heart.

In addition to questioning the merit of many of Kerry's service awards, SBVT decried his post-Vietnam anti-war activity and disputed the truthfulness of his subsequent testimony about the conduct of the American military as demonstrated in that war. Many political observers saw this as reflecting the "true reason behind the Swift Boat campaign." All of the allegations referencing Kerry's Vietnam service and awards were made during Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign while Kerry's post-Vietnam anti-war activity had long been a subject of controversy.

Defenders of John Kerry's service record, including nearly all of his former crewmates, have stated that SBVT's allegations are false.

The Swiftboaters claimed to have been "in the field with [Kerry], served with him, felt betrayed by him." The parallel is clear, the comparison Welker drew is valid. But all of that is irrelevant, because his previous (alleged) behavior is separate and apart from the obligation to rescue one of our own.

The only difference is that this time, the Swiftboaters are using Bergdahl as an excuse to go after a sitting president, because they couldn't defeat him during the two presidential campaigns. Both of them. The ones from which Obama emerged victorious. Both times. Twice.

Berghazi Bergdahlzi BergdahlThis just in via The New York Times:

A classified military report detailing the Army’s investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 says that he had wandered away from assigned areas before — both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan — and then returned, according to people briefed on it.

The roughly 35-page report, completed two months after Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit, concludes that he most likely walked away of his own free will from his outpost in the darkness of night, and it criticized lax security practices and poor discipline within his unit. But it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl intended to permanently desert.

Again, this will all be sorted out, and more facts will emerge that can and will be dealt with once Bergdahl recovers. Then we can all stop speculating and get to the truth.

Meantime, rescuing an American soldier should be seen as a good thing. More about that here: Hagel unaware of any "soldiers dying as a result of efforts to find, rescue Sgt. Bergdahl." In that post is a video from The Rachel Maddow Show that addresses the question, "Do we leave no soldier behind in captivity? Is that an American value, an American military principle? Or, do we leave some of them behind, because some of them frankly aren't worth it, according to the Fox News channel?"

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