A key aide to to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that “relations with U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington to withdraw the well-regarded U.S. military leader from duty here. The Iraqi foreign minister calls the relationship ‘difficult.’”
Saturday Night Live comedian Darrell Hammond said his most popular impersonation thus far has been a rude and randy version of actor Sean Connery. That people enjoy it means, “I’m hitting the mark,” said Hammond. The one with which he is least satisfied: “Wolf Blitzer. It’s not where I want it to be. I find myself falling into Chris Matthews,” Hammond said. Watch one of Hammond’s Blitzer impressions:
I’m never really sure when the best time to post about people’s books is, but since the book party for Chris Mooney’s Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming is beginning very soon, I figure this is as good a time as any. When Chris’ first book, The Republican War on Science, came out one common line of response was “well, aren’t liberals just as bad.” The new book is, in a sense, a rebuttal to that. This isn’t, in short, a prolemic about how global warming is causing massive hurricanes and coal interests are responsible for the destruction of New Orleans.
Instead, it’s a very serious, measured, thoughtful, interesting look at complicated issues in play here, where the science isn’t always perfectly clear nor is it always clear how scientists ought to behave when a pressing political issue impinges on an area where scientists know something about the issue, but there’s also a great deal of uncertainty. Personally, I like reading science books more than I like reading political books (in part, obviously, because I read and talk about politics all day anyway), but Chris’ book combines genres in the best possible way.
Our guest blogger is Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org and veteran of the Iraq war.
The worst way you can further exacerbate the pain survivors of a fallen soldier feel, is to keep them wondering why and how their loved one died. Now past three years since former NFL star Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan, his mother, Mary Tillman, and her family do not have answers. Unfortunately, documents meant to put the investigation into his death to rest are only bringing up more painful questions, rather than calming them. What’s worse is that the case could start to have serious repercussions with internal confidence in the Armed Forces.
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that among the files on the case that the news agency obtained were details of Army medical examiners being unable to convince the military to look into whether Tillman was intentionally killed. According to the documents, the wounds they found were inconsistent with the government’s original official story that Tillman was cut down by Afghan fighters and looked more like he was killed by an American M-16 just a mere 10 yards away.
After an investigation, the government changed the story — that Tillman was a victim of friendly fire, an honest mistake, because he was mistaken for the enemy. The recent revelations now cast this conclusion into serious doubt. You don’t mistake someone from 10 yards away. But, was it murder or negligence? Was this a deliberate homicide?
President Bush is not helping at all. With these new details, and his decision to invoke executive privilege in the Tillman investigation, the President is certainly sending the signal that he has something to hide.
It is inevitable, then, that unless the President comes clean, rumors about Tillman’s death will take hold. By stonewalling, there is no way to stop people from wondering, “Was the man the White House used to promote the war ordered to be killed because he was becoming increasingly critical of the war in Iraq?” It was well known that Tillman was critical of the decision to go to war, and had often read and quoted Noam Chomsky. I don’t personally believe such a conspiracy to be the case, but until the President comes clean, rumors like that will continue to grow. Every officer knows that if a soldier in their command is killed they must write the family and tell them the truth, for exactly that reason. Why can’t the man who sent Pat Tillman to war, and used his death for political gain, have the courage to tell a family what happened to their son? Read more
Arenas. Durant. Streetball. Southeast DC. Sunday night. I’m intrigued.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on contingency plans for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. A source “close to the committee” expects testimony from Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman, who recently told Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that “public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda.” Last week, Edelman was a “no-show” for a House Armed Services Commitee hearing because the administration felt he should “lower his profile” for awhile.
A senior administration official tells U.S. News, “‘The real problem for Bush now is that it looks like he doesn’t have control over the government.’ … White House officials say Bush will emerge from the doldrums as he begins to confront the Democrat-controlled Congress with vetoes of spending bills that he considers excessive.”
Center for American Progress military expert Lawrence Korb testified before the House Armed Services Committee this morning, challenging escalation proponents to have the courage of their convictions and call for a draft if they would like the surge to continue indefinitely.
One right-wing Ohio Congressman, Michael Turner, desperately tried to smear Korb during his question and answer period. Turner started off his smear attacks against Korb by questioning his credentials to speak before the panel:
TURNER: I was looking at your bio…that incorrectly I believe referred to you as Doctor Korb. And you do not have a PhD.
KORB: I do.
TURNER: You do have a PhD?
After humiliating himself once, Turner next turned his guns on Korb’s prepared written testimony. “I’ve not seen citations like this before the committee,” Turner said, noting that Korb referenced research sources in his statement. Korb said he provided the citations for the lawmakers as a reference point for more information. He noted that Gen. Jack Keane, a co-panelist, “did not have any footnotes. His were all opinions.”
After falling flat in his numerous stabs at Korb, Turner moved onto the next smear. Taking a comment made by Korb completely out of context, Turner asserted that you’ve told us “you’re not a military expert.” Korb responded:
I’ll put my record in terms of scholarship, in terms of analysis of war in terms of military issues up against anybody.
After propagating his false smears, Turner refused to allow Korb time to answer and attempted to flee the committee room quickly. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) told Turner to sit down and listen to Korb’s response.
ThinkProgress contacted Turner’s office for comment on the incident. Andy Bloom, communications director for Turner, told us that Turner has never served in the military and has no substantive military experience. Asked if Turner was participating in a coordinated effort to smear Korb, Bloom said, “I can’t be certain.”
Turner is a classic “chickenhawk,” a term used to refer to strident war proponents who have never personally experienced war. Korb, on the other hand, is a Navy captain who served in Vietnam. He has served in the Pentagon, taught at the Naval War College and Coast Guard Academy, and has twice traveled to Iraq. He recently returned from a 10-day visit to Baghdad (see his dispatch here).
If you wish to contact Turner’s office, you can do so here.
UPDATE: Commenter Midwest Product fine-tunes the definition of “chickenhawk”: “A chickenhawk is someone who ascribes the bravery of soldiers in wartime to themselves because they take a pro-war position.”
Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in English “sour lake”, is a former site of 20 years’ worth of oil extraction by Chevron (formerly Texaco), now witness to one of the world’s largest environmental lawsuits, potentially worth $6 billion.
The lawsuit first came to my attention at Live Earth, when Sting left the stage after immediately turning over his press time to his wife, who deferred to a U.S. advocate and the two lead Ecuadorean lawyers, all of whom plead their case (translators on-hand) before the dwindling number of press representatives (preparing for Sting’s stage performance).
In case you missed it (because I did), May’s Vanity Fair featured one of the lead lawyers, Pablo Fajardo, in a good-sized article on the case.
Vanity Fair traces the historical context of the oil extraction, the social and environmental devastation, including off-the-charts contamination levels, and, most poignantly, Fajardo’s personal battle leading up to his involvement with the case.
That said, I’d like to echo Fajardo’s final words of wisdom from the article:
One of the problems with modern society is that it places more importance on things that have a price than on things that have a value. Breathing clean air, for instance, or having clean water in the rivers, or having legal rights–these are things that don’t have a price but have a huge value. Oil does have a price, but its value is much less. And sometimes we make the mistake.
It looks like I won’t get a chance to see this until sometime next week, but it sure does look good:
That is all.