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The daily view from the oasis

April 2, 2003 PERMALINK
Down-home Showdown
(posted April 2 1:45 AM ET)

A symbolic battle for public opinion is playing out on the country music charts, and you can help turn the tide.

As the Dixie Chicks have "crossed over" from country radio to pop, most Americans are aware of Natalie Maines' anti-Bush comment and subsequent boycotts.

But unless you are a fan of the nation's most popular radio format, country, you might not be aware of the de facto anti-Chick, Darryl Worley.

Despite the reduced radio airplay for the Chicks, their current CD "Home" remains the #1 country music album on the Billboard chart.

At the same time, Worley's jingoistic "Have You Forgotten?" is the #1 country music single.

And so, the battle is joined.

Worley's song and video maligns and misrepresents anti-war protestors and perpetuates the Bush lie (arguably, more successfully than Bush) that Iraq is directly linked to 9/11.

Some choice lyrics:

I hear people saying we don't need this war / I say there's some things worth fighting for...

...They say we don't realize the mess we're getting in / Before you start your preaching let me ask you this my friend...

...Have you forgotten when those towers fell? / We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell

And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden / Have you forgotten?...

...Some say this country's just out looking for a fight / After 9-11, man, I'd have to say that's right

Have you forgotten?

Worley crosses the line beyond simple patriotism and into the realm of fallacious propaganda.

But considering how well the song is doing, it's probably just a matter of time before Worley's full-length CD -- which has not been released yet -- ends the Chicks' four-month long run at #1.

That will likely be spun as a triumph for the boycotters who don't accept that dissent is just as patriotic as -- and not separate from -- love of country.

Not much can be done to stop Worley's rise in the charts.

But there is one thing we can do to blunt the spin.

Ensure the Dixie Chicks win at Monday's CMT (Country Music Television) Flameworthy Awards.

The Chicks are up for at least three awards (Group/Duo Video, Female Hottest Video, Fashion Plate Video).

And the winners are determined by popular vote on the CMT web site. Voting ends midnight Saturday. (Free registration is required).

The Chicks may also be up for Video of the Year. The final nominees for that category are announced at the start of Monday's live telecast, and voting occurs during the show itself.

If we can score this win, it will send a message that Americans do not punish those who criticize their leaders, a fundamental right in any free society.

(Or those who offer weak apologies under pressure.)

April 1, 2003 PERMALINK
Truth From Tragedy
(posted April 1 12:45 AM ET)
(edited April 1 8:45 AM ET)

You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!
-- Capt. Ronny Johnson, US Army 3rd Infantry Division

You would not have read that quote if it wasn't for an embedded journalist.

LiberalOasis has been critical of embedded journalists, calling their coverage "free PR."

But at least one embed, W. Post's William Branigin, is not making the Pentagon very happy today.

It was his news-breaking account of the horrific killing of 10 Iraqi women and children that truly depicts the deadly chaos that defines Gulf War II.

Amazingly, even after his report was on the W. Post web site, other news outlets -- including the NY Times and the AP -- wrote up the CENTCOM line that warning shots actually were fired, without mentioning Branigin's contradicting eyewitness account.

Thus proving that compliant reporters still dominate the US war media landscape.

That means the Pentagon is unlikely to scrap the entire embedding program after this war is over.

Because so far, the ratio of puff pieces to hard-hitting pieces is quite favorable to the military.

It's small solace that there are a few reporters willing to report what they see.

No matter whose shoes get stepped on, no matter how sad and ugly the truth is.

March 31, 2003 PERMALINK
The Sunday Talkshow Breakdown
A weekly feature of LiberalOasis
(posted March 31 12:50 AM ET)

Now the Bushies have done it. They got happy-go-lucky Bob Schieffer all pissed off.

From his commentary on yesterday's Face The Nation:

...it bothered me when the Army's top ground commander in Iraq said the enemy was not reacting the way we expected and official spokesmen dismissed his comments as if he were a campaign operative who had gotten off message.

One official spokesman even suggested the general didn't have the big picture.

Excuse me? The top ground commander didn't have the big picture?

If the administration wants to be believed, and that will be necessary to hold public support, the message it needs to stay on is to forget the spin, acknowledge mistakes, stick to the truth, then get on with winning the war.

This is a war, not a campaign, and Americans know the difference.

That's a stiff warning shot.

It may be pathetic that it takes a war for the media to start caring about Administration lying.

But there it is. Tolerance levels are within reach. If the WH loses the media, it'll have a hard post-war, and a rough '04 campaign.

Of course, the lies and general disingenuousness still pervaded on Sunday, as Defense Sec. Rumsfeld hit ABC's This Week and Fox News Sunday.

All the talkshows were abuzz with accusations -- by military leaders on the ground -- of Rummy's micromanagement of the plan, in part due to pieces in The New Yorker and W. Post.

Rummy's tack: what's the fuss, this ain't my plan.

And he said it with a straight face.

From This Week:

The plan we have is [Tommy Franks']. I would be delighted to take credit for it...

...Every one of the chiefs has said it's executable and they support it. It's been looked at by all the combatant commanders...

...The people who are commenting on the war plan, I think, are probably people who have never seen it. [emphasis added]

Of course, this guy -- referenced in the W. Post -- sure seems like a combatant commander.

The Army's senior ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, said...that overextended supply lines and a combative adversary using unconventional tactics have stalled the U.S. drive toward Baghdad and increased the likelihood of a longer war than many strategists had anticipated.

"The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Wallace [said].

Rummy also, at minimum, stretched the truth on the question of Shiite Muslim support. Also from This Week:

STEPHANOPOULOS: ...there have been reports at least that a lot of Arab volunteers are flowing into Iraq, flowing into Kuwait...

Are you concerned that this might be getting turned into some sort of Jihad?

RUMSFELD: No, interestingly, there are Shi'ia religious leaders who are issuing fatwas, advising against supporting the Saddam Hussein regime and urging that they support the coalition forces. So it goes both ways.

Maybe such Shiite fatwas are out there, but LiberalOasis tried to find a single news report of one, and couldn't.

Of course, it would have been helpful if Stephanopoulos bothered to ask Rummy for a name of any supportive Shiite leader.

Instead of Shiite support, LO's search found the following:

The Guardian (UK)
[In Syria, a] fatwa issued by the highest religious leaders of Shia Islam, calling on Iraqis to "fight the aggressors and stand against the invasion", will accelerate an already strong trend for young Iraqi exiles to go home to defend their country.

Islam Online
The U.S. government has been unable to find any Muslim American organization to issue a Fatwa...ascribing legality to the war against Iraq.

Prof. Fawaz Gerges, LA Times
...U.S. policy toward Iraq has alienated many of the important moderate voices...which until now had been unwilling to join with militant anti-American forces.

Cairo's Al Azhar University -- the most respected institution of religious learning in the Muslim world -- has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, advising "all Muslims in the world to make 'jihad' against invading American forces."

Rumsfeld was further dinged on Sunday by two other prominent voices.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a military veteran, dropped this during CNN's Late Edition:

The only caution I would give to our civilian leadership in the Pentagon is you better listen to these guys.

I've been a little disturbed by the dismissive tone by some in the Bush administration's civilian leadership of commanders on the ground, saying:

"Well, that's a very minute view of the war. That's a simplistic view. That's an isolated view."

Well, let me remind them, that's the view of where the soldiers are being killed and where they are doing the killing. You shouldn't dismiss that view.

And on FTN, former Reagan Navy Secretary James Webb (who had an important essay in the Sunday NYT) nailed Team Rummy for false optimism:

...this administration has allowed people like Richard Perle -- who for decades has shown a disdain for the uniformed military -- to go out and use their titles, these quasi-titles...[to], in a sense, stir[] up the public optimism, that shouldn't have been there, for a very quick war.

And they never tamped him down. So they have to accept the responsibility in some sense...

Rummy still manages to look like he's having fun (too much fun) every time he faces the media.

But there's no question, he's feeling some serious heat.

QUICK HITS

Maybe Saddam Is Dead

The Iraqi ambassador to the UN, Mohammed al-Douri, went on Meet The Press, and was so incompetent, you'd think he was a double agent.

Tim Russert, right out of the box, asked him if Saddam and his sons were dead or injured, and al-Douri couldn't give a straight answer:

We start with that. I am here. I am in New York. I think that he is alive, of course, because we saw him several times on the TV...

...[but] it is not a question of one person or two persons. It's a question of [the] slaughtered÷the whole people of a country.

Russert then proceeded to pound al-Douri on what seemed to be every atrocity ever pinned on Iraq.

Perfectly legitimate and appropriate to ask such questions, to be sure.

But Russert's open indignation was flat-out unprofessional. For example:

RUSSERT: Let me show you a Defense Department photograph that...shows a town...where tanks and military launchers have been hidden into a residential neighborhood, in effect using Iraqi citizens as human shields.

Why is your government doing that?

AL-DOURI: This is a part of the war propaganda. The American Army, the American administration use all kind of false information...

RUSSERT: Why are you using suicide bombers, or is that propaganda, too?

Russert also, wisely, threw at al-Douri reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch chronicling Iraq's brutality (which were also, weakly, dismissed as propaganda).

Since Russert is such a fan of AI and HRW, here are some other reports that he might want to ask a Bush Administration official about on his next show:

-- President Bush Sanctions Another Killing
-- U.S. "Operation Liberty Shield" Undermines Asylum Seekers' Rights
-- USA: A killing that no respectable government can condone
-- Cluster Munitions a Foreseeable Hazard in Iraq
-- U.S. Cluster Bombs Killed Civilians in Afghanistan
-- U.S. Should Release Some Guantanamo Prisoners
-- Possible disappearance of Maher Arar
-- HRW Challenges Alleged Torture of Al-Qaeda Suspects
-- U.S. Needs to Screen Iraqi Opposition Allies
-- FBI Mosque Counting Questioned
-- U.S. Homeland Security Bill: Civil Rights Vulnerable and Immigrant Children Not Protected

How Many Wounded?

On FTN, James Webb said the military's casualty counts may be misleading:

I'm wondering whether or not...the number of woundeds are being underreported. There are ways to do that with semantics. It was done during Vietnam.

For instance, when they separated out wounded in action evac [evacuation] from a wounded in action non-evac...you could blur the definition of what an evac or a non-evac was, then the wounded numbers seemed to be very low...

...the best thing to do is to ask the Pentagon for a complete breakdown of killed -- killed in action, killed by other causes, wounded in action, wounded in action, Evaced, non-Evaced...

...I think it's important for us to understand the war.

BEST OF THE BLOG LAST WEEK

The Agonist. For everything.

The Watch is watching North Korea

Bloviator on possible deaths from the smallpox vaccine

Liquid List is offering brand new "Got Allies?" T-Shirts

Ruminate This excerpts the latest from Scott Ritter, and he's just a tad pessimistic

Counterspin Central proves Ann Coulter is a visionary

And in case you think that all country music fans want to string up the Dixie Chicks, read this piece by country music historian Bill Malone and know that the Chicks held the #4 slot on this week's CMT Top 20 Countdown

The Sandbox
Humor by John Cougarstein

NEWS ALERT
US Announces "Coalition of the Willing Species"

WASHINGTON, March 30 -- The US has had trouble cobbling together a "Coalition of the Willing" to show multilateral support, as some countries added to the list have subsequently requested their removal.

But there is no doubt that the US has forged multi-species support in its campaign to change the Iraqi regime.

Earlier reports have noted the support lent by dolphins and monkeys to remove enemy mines, and pigeons to detect chemical warfare.

Today, the US released a list of 76 additional species assisting the coalition forces, including:

Ocelots: Will reinforce front-line troops during any possible urban warfare

Racoons: Will use their trash sifting skills to search for documentation of WMD

Frogs: Key role in the upcoming Operation Magnolia component of the air war

Alpacas: Will provide fleece to help soldiers stay warm during cold desert nights

Carpenter Ants: Will attack Ba'ath Party structures

Kangaroo Jack: He'll take the chemical weapons, and then he'll be hoppin' away

Sheep: R&R

Grey Wolves: No real reason, they just love the thrill of becoming endangered again

A blue monkey named Gleek: Comic relief

For more Cougarstein, check out The Cougarstein Ramble and download Cougarstein songs at Iuma.com

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

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