Open Thread – Monday (Edited)

I’m still working but took a break this afternoon to do a little reading. I’m trying to finish Unbroken but I’m not there yet. Next weekend is the book review………..hint, hint. I’ve also been working on our taxes, that’s right we filed an extension (just like the Romneys), but I have even less money now than I did in April to pay what we still owe……………yikes. And we finally got the rest of the parts we needed to finish our big export order to Taiwan, which we’re trying to get out the door (that’s money in the bank). Anyway, I did read a couple of interesting pieces during my breaks this weekend that might spark a little conversation.

Last week Nova linked this piece from the Atlantic about why liberals shouldn’t vote for Obama. It was interesting but didn’t sway me. I’d already explored all of the issues and decided I’m going to vote for him anyway. The most important issue for me is health care reform and even though he didn’t get the bill I wanted I’ve decided repealing the ACA is too big of a threat for me to not support him.

One of the issues discussed was our drone policy, particularly in Pakistan.

Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn’t “precise” or “surgical” as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment. At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists. It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy. And Democrats who believe that it is the most moral of all responsible policy alternatives are as misinformed and blinded by partisanship as any conservative ideologue.

Then today I saw these charts and thought what the hell? I haven’t had the time to look into where exactly the information came from but according to them there have been exactly zero civilian deaths in Pakistan due to drone strikes this year. Can that be true?

This piece, “Is Karl Rove Losing It?”, is a pretty interesting take on Karl Rove and the author wonders if he really has as much power as he thinks he does. It’s probably just wishful thinking, those of us on the left aren’t too fond of the guy.

Karl Rove is back as GOP party boss, but this time it’s clear that even the best-laid plans of the savviest political strategists often go awry.

That became obvious earlier this week, on Sept. 25, when Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin reaffirmed that he was staying in the race in defiance of Rove, who had demanded Akin’s withdrawal and yanked American Crossroads’ millions from his campaign after Akin touted the prophylactic character of “legitimate rape.”

When pulling the super PAC dough didn’t faze the stubborn Missouri Tea Partyer, Rove went ballistic. “We should sink Todd Akin,” he declared , according to Bloomberg Businessweek. “If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”

Rove’s remarks did more than just reopen the schism between the GOP establishment he embodies and the Tea Party, which has begun to see him as a ruthless party boss. It also showed that the Republicans have another serious problem in addition to Mitt Romney’s disastrous candidacy: Karl Christian Rove.

And lastly this one suggests three reasons why Romney isn’t doing better than he is. I do realize it’s not over though…..believe me.

1. His stand on the auto bailout “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” has hurt him in states like Ohio.

2. He probably lost Florida when he chose Ryan as his running mate as the majority of seniors apparently don’t like their plans for Medicare…………even if they were excluded from the cuts.

3. His lack of connection with ordinary Americans exemplified by his 47% comments.

20 Responses

  1. Interesting stuff.

    As a practical matter drones must be more selective and cause less collateral damage than napalm and F-4s in ‘Nam.

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  2. But he looks like a president, surely that should could for something!

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  3. Is this for real?

    Charles Johnson from Little Green Footballs

    1. Support for fascists, both in America (see: Pat Buchanan, Robert Stacy McCain, etc.) and in Europe (see: Vlaams Belang, BNP, SIOE, Pat Buchanan, etc.)

    2. Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)

    3. Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)

    4. Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)

    5. Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)

    6. Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)

    7. Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)

    8. A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)

    9. Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.)

    10. Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

    And much, much more. The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

    I won’t be going over the cliff with them.

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  4. Who is Charles Johnson?

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  5. He writes Little Green Football, which used to be a right leaning site, with a sense of humor I thought. That’s why I’m wondering if he means it or not.

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  6. “Then today I saw these charts and thought what the hell? I haven’t had the time to look into where exactly the information came from but according to them there have been exactly zero civilian deaths in Pakistan due to drone strikes this year. Can that be true?”

    As noted by the NYT, the administration counts anyone hit in a strike zone as a combatant.

    “It is also because Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=all

    The irony of taking this approach with drone strikes while that the same time having the Justice Department investigate the use of “profiling” for stop and frisk in New York City is apparently lost on the Obama Administration.

    Yes, President Obama really is worse than Bush.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/05/29/militants_media_propaganda/

    http://www.salon.com/2012/05/29/obama_the_warrior/singleton/

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  7. jnc

    It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants

    I remember this, but what about women and children? Is it true we haven’t killed any with drone strikes this year do you think?

    I’ll read the salon pieces later, thanks. I’m still working pretty feverishly around here.

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  8. “lmsinca, on October 1, 2012 at 8:32 am said:

    jnc

    It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants

    I remember this, but what about women and children? Is it true we haven’t killed any with drone strikes this year do you think?”

    Of course not. The administration is lying with their statistical methodology, and by and large the media is going along with it. Clearly any women or children were just militants in disguise. The Obama administration is doing what William Westmoreland could only have dreamed of getting away with.

    The free pass that his party affiliation gives President Obama on these issues is truly impressive. The other great uncomfortable question for Obama supporters is if the only valid interrogation methods are from the Army field manual, why would we continue to render prisoners to foreign intelligence services for interrogation?

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  9. I did see this jnc in the second salon piece.

    “Ignore what the candidates say they’ll do differently on foreign policy. They’re basically the same man.”

    It doesn’t seem to matter who we vote for on Foreign Policy between the two. I realize Johnson would be the better candidate on these issues that matter to us but he doesn’t have a chance in hell of getting close to the WH. It’s the reason I’m voting on domestic policy. I have no doubt if given the opportunity Romney would sign off on every draconian legislation the Republican House could get past the Senate.

    And now we’re apparently going to war with Iran………………..who’s going to stop it……Gary Johnson? It’s bigger than all of us, unfortunately. It’s going to take people, Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians coming together to put their foot down. How we vote in the Presidential election means squat on FP, IMO.

    Clearly any women or children were just militants in disguise.

    I’d like to know for sure, personally.

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  10. More details:

    “Flawed Analysis of Drone Strike Data Is Misleading Americans
    By Conor Friedersdorf
    Jul 18 2012, 2:00 PM ET 4”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/flawed-analysis-of-drone-strike-data-is-misleading-americans/259836/

    “U.S. Said to Target Rescuers at Drone Strike Sites
    By SCOTT SHANE
    Published: February 5, 2012

    WASHINGTON — British and Pakistani journalists said Sunday that the C.I.A.’s drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan have repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of a strike, as well as mourners at subsequent funerals.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/06/world/asia/us-drone-strikes-are-said-to-target-rescuers.html

    http://www.salon.com/2012/02/05/u_s_drones_targeting_rescuers_and_mourners/

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  11. Note also that the administration made the same claim about zero collateral deaths in 2011 as well.

    http://www.salon.com/2011/07/19/drones/

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    • JNC – the Admin is lying.

      The other question remains. In asymmetric warfare we tried burning the jungle with napalm, we carpet bombed ‘Nam. Isn’t this better? Why not?

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  12. The chart I linked to shows a discrepancy there. I looked a little at the methodology for the chart’s numbers. Here’s part of it but there’s more. Did you look at the charts?

    This database reflects the aggregation of credible news reports about U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. The media outlets that New America relies upon are the three major international wire services (Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France Presse), the leading Pakistani newspapers (Dawn, Express Times, The News, The Daily Times), leading South Asian and Middle Eastern TV networks (Geo TV and Al Jazeera), and Western media outlets with extensive reporting capabilities in Pakistan (CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, BBC, The Guardian, Telegraph). The New America Foundation makes no independent claims about the veracity of casualty reports provided by these organizations.

    http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones/methodology

    I’m willing to believe some of this stuff you’re linking to but I don’t understand where the discrepancies are coming from.

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  13. I think the problem Mark, for me anyway, is we’re not at war with Pakistan. If we’re truly making strategic strikes to take out terrorists…………..I get it, but if we’re killing innocent civilians I don’t. I’m just not sure what we really know. I like Greenwald but he’s got a huge burr up his ass when it comes to Obama, some of it rightly so, so I’m just questioning where the information comes from.

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  14. From CNN in July

    The New America Foundation has been collecting data about the drone attacks systematically for the past three years from reputable news sources such as the New York Times and Reuters, as well as Pakistani media outlets such as the Express Tribune and Dawn.

    According to the data generated by averaging the high and low casualty estimates of militant and civilian deaths published in a wide range of those outlets, the estimated civilian death rate in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan has declined dramatically since 2008, when it was at its peak of almost 50%.

    Today, for the first time, the estimated civilian death rate is at or close to zero.

    Over the life of the drone program in Pakistan, which began with a relatively small number of strikes between 2004 and 2007, the estimated civilian death rate is 16%.

    And in the Obama administration, between 1,507 and 2,438 people have been killed in drone strikes. Of those, 148 to 309, or between 10% and 12%, were civilians, according to the New America Foundation data.

    The drop in the number of civilian casualties since 2008 came as a result of several developments, one of which was a directive issued from the White House just days after President Obama took office, to tighten up the way the CIA selected targets and carried out strikes. Specifically, Obama wanted to evaluate and sign off personally on any strike if the agency did not have a “near certainty” that it would result in zero civilian casualties.

    The CIA began utilizing smaller munitions for more pinpoint strikes. And drones can now linger for longer periods of time over targets, ascertaining whether civilians are around the target area, than was the case several years ago.

    http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-13/opinion/opinion_bergen-civilian-casualties_1_drone-strikes-civilian-casualties-separate-strikes

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  15. Friedersdorf’s article directly addresses the New America methodology, while still acknowledging it’s value as a tracking resource.

    The strikes are more precise than the old style bombing, but the “zero” civilian casualties claim in conjunction with the methodology of anyone in the area is assumed to be a militant is just absurd. It’s life imitating art from “Full Metal Jacket”

    “Anyone who runs, is a VC. Anyone who stands still, is a well-disciplined VC!”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093058/quotes?qt0475807

    The more disturbing thing is the moral self righteousness of the Obama administration in it’s approach to these issues, and it’s use of “trust us” as a substitute for checks and balances.

    “Harold H. Koh, for instance, as dean of Yale Law School was a leading liberal critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. But since becoming the State Department’s top lawyer, Mr. Koh said, he has found in Mr. Brennan a principled ally.

    “If John Brennan is the last guy in the room with the president, I’m comfortable, because Brennan is a person of genuine moral rectitude,” Mr. Koh said. “It’s as though you had a priest with extremely strong moral values who was suddenly charged with leading a war.” ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/29/world/obamas-leadership-in-war-on-al-qaeda.html?pagewanted=all

    Translation: It’s OK if we do the exact same thing as the Bush administration with no checks and balances because our team is headed by a Nobel Peace Prize winner and staffed with warrior-priests of the highest virtue. They have elevated hypocrisy to a virtue.

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  16. The foreign press runs pictures of the aftermath of these strikes.

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  17. I haven’t read Friedersdorf’s piece yet but I will. I read The Atlantic a lot but when I read the piece last week linked from Nova I decided to look into it a little. I’m still doing that and you’ve provided me with a lot of information. Information is always suspect to me when couched in certain terms though. I understand that a lot of people either believe Obama is just an extension of Bush or worse even, or is, according to Romney, the appeaser in chief or weak on terrorism. I don’t think either one is exactly accurate. As I said though, I’m not voting on FP this year so while I’m curious and worried, even angry sometimes, I’m voting on domestic policy.

    Obama terrorizes innocent Pakistanis on an almost daily basis. The drone war he is waging in North Waziristan isn’t “precise” or “surgical” as he would have Americans believe. It kills hundreds of innocents, including children. And for thousands of more innocents who live in the targeted communities, the drone war makes their lives into a nightmare worthy of dystopian novels. People are always afraid. Women cower in their homes. Children are kept out of school. The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders. Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment.

    Edit: Friedersdorf wrote both Atlantic pieces BTW.

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  18. lms:

    That’s why I’m wondering if he means it or not.

    He probably means it. He’s been moving leftward for a few years now. He had a big spat with Pam Geller a while back, which was probably the beginning of it all.

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  19. Thanks Mike. That’s what I thought but I don’t read there all that often so wasn’t sure.

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