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Tilting at Windmills

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September 2, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

PETRAEUS AND THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS....Yesterday I received an email from Col. Steven Boylan, the Public Affairs Officer for Gen. David Petraeus, highlighting some disagreements with my Saturday post titled "General Petraeus's PR Blitzkrieg." His full email is below the fold, and for the most part it's a straightforward defense of the way Petraeus has handled briefings with the press and analysts. However, Boylan also pointed out a significant error: I quoted Andrea Mitchell saying that Petraeus had met privately with the Republican caucus in March and had promised progress by August. In fact, Mitchell partially retracted her report a few days later:

MITCHELL: He's been telling senators — he had, in fact, a closed-circuit briefing for the senators, Democrats as well as Republicans, and he is telling them that he will report some progress, that he hopes to be able to report some progress by August....But in his closed briefing — they went over to the Pentagon and had that briefing, Democrats as well as Republican senators, and he made it clear to them that he thinks he can report some progress.

The rest of Boylan's response is below the fold if you want to read his full message.



Kevin,

I would agree that the open sources are a good check, however, many times those sources are not complete, out of context and fail to provide the proper or full characterization of the events they are describing.

I will clip the areas that are in error and provide you comment.

1. For months the military transports to Baghdad have been stuffed with analysts and congress members, and every one of them has gotten a full court press of carefully planned and scripted presentations, tightly controlled visits to favored units, and assorted dollops of "classified" information designed to flatter his guests and substantiate his rosy assessments without the inconvenience of having to defend them in public.

Response: Many of the analysts have come into Iraq on commercial flights via Jordan. Visits are only controlled based on timelines and desires of the Congressional members. They inform both the Embassy and MNF-I on what they want to see and if it is possible based on the timelines they have established to be in Iraq, then they go where they have requested and see who they have requested.

2. Next is a Washington Post article providing a glimpse of Petraeus's meticulous and politically savvy planning:

The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank. So when Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) asked a soldier last weekend just what he was holding, the congressman was taken aback to find out.

In the soldier's hand was a thumbnail biography, distributed before each of the congressmen's meetings in Baghdad, which let meeting participants such as that soldier know where each of the lawmakers stands on the war. [See examples here.]

....Just who assembled them is not clear. E-mails to U.S. Central Command's public affairs office in Baghdad this week went unanswered.

"I had never seen that in the past. That's new," said Porter, who was on his fourth trip to Iraq. "Now I want to see what they're saying about me," he added, when he learned of the contents of his travel companions' rap sheets.

For one, the quotations appeared to be selected to divide the visitors into those who are with the war effort and those who are against.

Response: First, the sheets of paper were open-source bio's that were put together based on the members' web sites and the Congressional Quarterly. Second, these bio's were provided to those that were going to meet with the members, just as the members recieve bio's of the key individuals they are going to meet with at their request. Third, the bio's are only there to assist those that they are meeting with to know how in-depth and the members background knowledge based on topic area that they will be discussing. For example, if a member is not part of the HASC or SASC, more explanations may be required on the military programs/operations than with those that are members of those committees that are more likely to be familiar with the terms of reference. As such if there is a member dealing in appropriations, those that they are meeting with will know from which direction they may approach issues and can be better prepared to respond. This is the simple thing of knowing your audience, nothing more, and to suggest otherwise is completely false. In addition, the reporter failed to provide any comments from MNF-I and to say we could not be reached is sloppy journalism as the Washington Post has a bureau in Baghdad and knows how to reach any number of us 24/7.

3. Finally there was this tidbit offered up by Andrea Mitchell five months ago when the surge was just getting started:

MITCHELL: Petraeus went to the Republican caucus and told them, I will have real progress to you by August....The Republicans were against the surge but they felt it was fait accompli, and that they were willing to give Petraeus until August. He told them there will be real progress by August.

Five months ago Petraeus was guaranteeing to wavering Republicans that they'd see progress in August, precisely the month when the PR campaign was scheduled to go into high gear. Today he's issuing dire warnings about al-Qaeda hegemony and nine-dollar gas if we leave, circulating bio pages that let his staff know whether they're dealing with friend or foe among visiting congress members, and insisting repeatedly that violence is down in classified briefings where he doesn't have to publicly defend his figures.

Response: If you go back you will see that Andrea Mitchell corrected her mistake as Gen Petraeus did not address the Republican caucus. This was in March of this year and it was an open session to both sides of the aisle and in fact, there were members of the Democratic party in attendance. This was at the request of the Department of Defense to provide an update to leading members of Congress (all sides). Gen Petraeus never said that he will have "real progress to you by August." He did say that the earliest he could determine if there was any progress and a potential for success would be late summer or early fall. The reson for that was that he would not have all the surge forces in place until mid-June and it would take a minimum of 90-days or more to get an indication of the effects the surge was having. You also need to know that Mitchell was not in attendance.

Hope this helps to clarify what is in error in your article and thereby may change the tone and charecterization as well.

Best always and please feel free to contact me at any time to fact check the open sources as needed.

Steve

STEVEN A. BOYLAN
Colonel, US Army
Public Affairs Officer to the
Commanding General
Multi-National Force-Iraq
Baghdad, Iraq

Kevin Drum 1:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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Ass covering in the traditional military way

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." - Galileo Galilei

Posted by: daCasacadian on September 2, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus and Crocker will deliver a report based on selective information and arguments aimed to convince Congress to continue funding of the war, nothing more and nothing less. Imagine what anyone would say, if their career depended on it, if told to "tell them why we need to stay the course, at least until Jan. 2009."

People expecting great insights, candor, lessons, or acts of valor would be better served by tuning in to some other entertainment duo: the Magliozzi Tappit Brothers, Donny & Marie, Penn & Teller, Sanford & Son, or Bert & Ernie.

Posted by: Jkoch on September 2, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Any Democrat backed that up yet?

Posted by: Boronx on September 2, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, there's no explanation why the bios mention Tauscher's vote for withdrawal but not her vote to limit tours of duty, which as she pointed out might be a bit more popular with "the troops."

Posted by: SalHepatica on September 2, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

K-Drum:
You should ask him why he chose to meet with Hugh Hewitt and not Glenn Greenwald. Petraeus is a partisan hack, despite what Boylan says. Boylan's job is to cover Petraeus' ass.

Posted by: Joe Klein's conscience on September 2, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Congressman Porter says:

""I had never seen that in the past. That's new," said Porter, who was on his fourth trip to Iraq. "Now I want to see what they're saying about me," he added, when he learned of the contents of his travel companions' rap sheets."

Colonel Boylan said:

"First, the sheets of paper were open-source bio's that were put together based on the members' web sites and the Congressional Quarterly. Second, these bio's were provided to those that were going to meet with the members..."

And then there's this by Colonel Boylan: "Third, the bio's are only there to assist those that they are meeting with..."

Which contradicts this: "The sheets of paper seemed to be everywhere the lawmakers went in the Green Zone, distributed to Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank."

Who or what am I to believe? What do you say, Kevin? "Better liars, please?"

Posted by: A different Matt on September 2, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter war-apologist mouthpiece:

1) if the Congressmen only have time or inclination to see our dog and pony show and not go out of the safe Green Zone into the live fire, it's their own fault

2) we used the Congressmen's own web site to prepare smear sheets on them, what could be more fair than that?

3) Andrea is one of us

Posted by: melior on September 2, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

JK: I believe Petraeus did an interview with Alan Colmes, which is what Glenn Greenwald was trying to set up in the first place. So I think he's OK on that front.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on September 2, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, that was a great response by Col. Boylan. I remember reading similar responses from me, egbert, Will Allen, and ex-liberal on these topics also. But when we said it we were called trolls by the commentators in the comments section. Nice to see you are more open minded than the commentators on your blog.

Posted by: Al on September 2, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, did Boylan try to convert you?

Al? Even a stopped watch run over in the road by a semi is right once in a blue moon. So, STFU while we await your next egregious error.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 2, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Al, a shill is a shill is a shill. And you are a shill. So is scrambled egbert and that guy whose existence I refuse to acknowledge because he views the Constitution as so much toilet paper. And a public affairs officer is, by definition, the very epitome of a shill.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

You have the fascists attention, Kevin. That's good. But the downside, is these war criminals will do everything they can to slime you. They do not like to be challenged. You need to keep up the pressure and point out they have slaughtered 1 million innocent human beings needlessly - displaced another 1 million internally - and sent another million scurrying to other countries to avoid the carnage.

This is not a noble thing you are doing, Mr. Boylan - It is mass murder.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 2, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that in the opening para the email asks us to not put complete trust in open-source, and then later it says that the bios given to the greeting party were based on open-source!

Posted by: gregor on September 2, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I have a question: Did Boylan contact you first, or did you send your post to Boylan? If it's the former, it seems like Petraeus' PR machine is running on all cylinders, to respond proactively like this to someone not in the mainstream media.

Posted by: Matt D on September 2, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, take him up on his invitation for further communication. I assume you can come up with questions of your own, and the teeming masses may have a few. One thing I would like to know is: Can visiting media and officials request, or independently obtain, their own choices of contacts, and of locations and units to visit? How frequently do they do that? What portion of such requests are granted? Are such contacts monitored by command representatives? Can any positive response to these questions be supported by references to recent visitors who will verify their successful achievement of such non-officially-selected contacts?

Posted by: Ken D. on September 2, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

They inform both the Embassy and MNF-I on what they want to see and if it is possible based on the timelines they have established to be in Iraq, then they go where they have requested and see who they have requested.

Many of the analysts have come into Iraq on commercial flights via Jordan. Visits are only controlled based on timelines and desires of the Congressional members.

This is bullshit. Yes, some might come in on commercial flights, but from the moment they touch down, the U.S. military is in charge of their security. That, by it�s very nature, *controls* the visit and the perceptions taken away.

First, the sheets of paper were open-source bio's that were put together based on the members' web sites and the Congressional Quarterly. Second, these bio's were provided to those that were going to meet with the members, just as the members recieve bio's of the key individuals they are going to meet with at their request.


This is bullshit. As evidence, just look at the Tauscher bio. It was made perfectly clear that she voted for timelines in May � but it was left off completely that she has sponsored an amendment to the defense authorization bill since then that would require as much dwell-time stateside as time in the theatre of operations. That would have been too popular among those she was meeting with.

If you go back you will see that Andrea Mitchell corrected her mistake as Gen Petraeus did not address the Republican caucus.

Even those of us on the left pointed this out.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

html foul - the paragraph about Tauscher should not be italicized.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to know which democrats, specifically, he met with. Joe Lieberman and folks of that ilk?

Posted by: Oleary25 on September 2, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

The most amusing part is that not only is the military concentrating on dog-and-pony shows for congress people, but that Colonels have been assigned to monitor and critique civilian opinion back home. Will censorship be the next way to build support for their illegal, immoral and incompetent war?

An interview with Colmes is as meaningful as an interview with Hewlett: both are Republican stooges. Was there any defense of the Op-ed that Patraeus wrote in
in Sept-04, three years ago, which says success is at hand, like his report in '07 will claim?

...Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. Today approximately 164,000 Iraqi police and soldiers (of which about 100,000 are trained and equipped) and an additional 74,000 facility protection forces are performing a wide variety of security missions. Equipment is being delivered. Training is on track and increasing in capacity. Infrastructure is being repaired. Command and control structures and institutions are being reestablished....
How is that training and infrastructure repair going? How is the political reconciliation coming along? How is the old command and control happening. Where are the 200,000 AK-47s you lost? How about that police force, those militia guys in the Iraqi force?

Perhaps if these guys were spending less time monitoring what people back home are saying about their glorious war, they could find time to help end the cholera in northern Iraq, increasing clean water supplies, sewage treatment, electricity, gasoline supplies and security for Iraqis.

You should have included his contact address. I have no qualms about blistering the butts of bombilating birds named Boyan.

Posted by: Mike on September 2, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

That the military sent this response to Kevin's post about the Petraeus PR Blitzkrieg pretty much proves his point about the PR Blitzkrieg.

This is scary shit.

Posted by: Disputo on September 2, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

"The Surge" was designed to keep us in Iraq till Bush leaves office, after which he'll try to blame the next guy for the Iraq disaster. Except as a poke in the eye to Americans that voted his party out of power, it really has no other purpose. So far it's been a smashing success.

Posted by: mario on September 2, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Visits are only controlled based on timelines and desires of the Congressional members. They inform both the Embassy and MNF-I on what they want to see and if it is possible based on the timelines they have established to be in Iraq, then they go where they have requested and see who they have requested.

This is non-falsifiable, standard bureaucratese. Though I have no doubt that congresspeople, at least, are to blame for not doing enough to try to talk to people outside the military bubble.

At a fundamental level, you cannot ask Gen. Petraeus, who is responsible for our strategy and operations in Iraq, to issue a progress report on himself, and then expect him and the Armed Forces to organize trips for visiting congresspeople to review their performance, and then imagine that they are NOT going to organize those trips so as to show what a great job they are doing. Monitoring and evaluation of a project must always be carried out by independent agencies, not by the agency responsible for the project. If you have people review their own progress, you cannot expec them to come back and tell you anything but that they're doing a bangup job.

Posted by: brooksfoe on September 2, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

The political commissar for the military leadership of Iraq is monitoring Political Animal. That is reassuring.

Posted by: Brojo on September 2, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Dang it all - scrolled too fast - Now, what was Colonel Bootlicker's address again?

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

An interesting piece is that the Public Affairs Office for Petraeus is reading this blog and attempting to correct it.
I have no problem with them doing so, assuming their facts are correct, just interesting to note the degree to which Petraeus's PR staff will go.
I might humbly suggest that Colonels (sp?) in the army in Iraq have better things to do than monitor the blogosphere.
For that matter, why does a general have an Office of Public Relations? Maybe a command structure (CENTCOM, or whatever), or the Army, Navy, etc, but individual commanders? Seems a bit cultish.

Posted by: sal on September 2, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sal,

A four star general is a tad more than "any individual commander" - Petraeus is in charge of all of the operations in Iraq - PR has been around for a very long time at the upper levels.

But, this does reveal a great deal about the lengths this Bliztkreig is taking - Next, they will be calling C-Span in the mornings.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Just a nit for which I apologize to Colonel Boylan, please someone requisition him a spell checker.

charecterization

Posted by: jerry on September 2, 2007 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it's that scary that Colonel Boylan is reading this blog, since a) we all here think blogs are valuable things to read ourselves, and b) we wish politicians and other journalists would actually read blogs before they go and say their stupid things time and again.

I suspect that Colonel Boylan, or whomever, read this blog and are just as embarrassed by Al as the rest of us.

It's the notion that Al is somehow not a parody that is scary.

Posted by: jerry on September 2, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

I might humbly suggest that Colonels (sp?) in the army in Iraq have better things to do than monitor the blogosphere.

This particular Colonel is a PR guy. In the definitive sense of the term. Other Colonels have better things to do - this one is doing his job as assigned.

why does a general have an Office of Public Relations?

In Petraeus' case, it is understandable. He is a very high profile General. Can you name five other active duty flag ranks, (and I'll spot you Lute)? Without Google, and no fair using more than two of the Joint Chiefs. Exactly.

And that is what makes the Colonel's job fairly easy. He is selling a product to a public that simply doesn't know the rules of the game that is being played. The Bush administration might be playing Calvinball, but the Army is doing the exact opposite.

When you figure that only about two percent of the population knows the rules to this game, and of that two percent, a shade over half are supportive of the PR being peddled...Well, let's just say that I sometimes feel like I'm shouting down the well.

Of course, my perceptions are different, we are out for years now, and don't look back reverently, but critically. That feels good to say, having come to the realization years ago that there is far more to us than the years in uniform. But then, reckoning with ten megaton warheads day in and day out on an intimate level for years on end tends to make one realize just what pissants humans be.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

The most interesting thing I learned here is that Petraeus has a press officer in the rank of a Colonel. So a guy who should be commanding 5,000 troops is writing emails to bloggers instead?

Posted by: ogmb on September 2, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Consider that your average BG or MG has an aide in the rank of Major or higher, the rank of the Petraeus aide is in keeping. There are clearances involved, and grasp of the command structure that comes with living it...

An infantry Colonel would be commanding a brigade, but there are different kinds of Colonels. The uniforms all look the same, but the jobs vary dramatically.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

ogmb,

For a review of various troop levels assigned to officers, check out wes-downrange.blogspot.com - This is being written by a ROTC student from Princeton who is spending his summer with General Petraeus's staff - Amazing the lengths, this General will go to get his word out - In his August 18 report, Downrange writes about being at a PR briefing for Gonzo. And, he also mentions another full bird colonel who is a Public Affairs Officer.

Ah, the days to come, when Gen Petra will take up corn cob smoking, have his own jacket styled ala Ike - The dream of that 5th star wafts and wafts - A new American Caesar.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, everybody, remember this:

Boylan is lying and spinning to make the Middle East safe for Jesus.

What a fundy, lying, sack of crap.

Hey, Boylan, if you're monitoring PA, I hope you're reading this, too.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 2, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, Petraeus, if someone from your staff is reading PA, too, I hope s/he just read what I posted about Boylan.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on September 2, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK


On the issue of a General having a Colonel in charge of "public relations", my only question is how either of them defines "public".

But I would also ask Colonel Boylan how come _he_ has apparently unfiltered access to the web, while "the troops" are apparently denied access to, for example, the ThinkProgress site.

-- TP

Posted by: Tony P. on September 2, 2007 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know Colonel Boylan. General Boykin on the other hand...now there it all applies, in spades.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Colonel Boylan, Colonel Klink, is there really a difference?

Or the General with a monocle and a personal batman.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: this is called counter-blogging. They are reading your site in the Green Zone, and formulating bullshit responses to valid points. No wonder the surge has worked so well. Frankly, the real surge seems to be PR-related. The most telling part of this e-mail was that it was sent at all. Surely they have more important things to do, like writing the loved ones of injured or killed GIs. But of course, that would take valuable time away from dissembling.

Posted by: Sparko on September 2, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, they do have "more important" things to do - Such as arrange and give a bull shit face to face interview with the Australian in order to bolster the PM of that land. Didn't the Aussie trainers who are training the Iraqi Army, answer to Gen P? So, a little soft shoe with Shanahan, the Aussie writer, and a "Give me a S, give me a U, give me a R......"

Yeah, far more important things.

And to Colonel Boylan and his Stasi watchers - Fuck you.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 2, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

Tony P. Bravo--best point anyone has made on the subject. The fact that these SOBs censor what troops read for God's sake, gives them exactly how credibility? I am embarrassed for them.

Posted by: Sparko on September 2, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Colonel Steven A. Boylan is well know in rightist circles as a search indicated
So, Colonel, will you be applying for a position in the Republican Stasi when you return?
mnfi.webmaster@iraq.centcom.mil

Posted by: Mike on September 2, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it gratifying to know that vermin like Boylan are wasting your tax dollars monitoring blogs like PA? What a bunch of bullshit. This is fascism, pure and simple, and our Founding Fathers must be spinning in their graves. If they knew the armies under the command of a Commander-in-Chief would be used to monitor the private writings of private citizens, they would be horrified.

Kevin, if you had any balls, you would tell Mr. Boylan to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut. Since you won't, I will:

FUCK YOU, BOYLAN!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 2, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

>>The most telling part of this e-mail was that it was sent at all.

Exactly. The military is now reading blogs and offering up talking points? That is the only newsworthy point here.

Posted by: Orson on September 2, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Also, it is just a little ironic that you get a PR email trying to argue that there is no PR surge concerning the surge.

Posted by: Orson on September 2, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

This is a very odd thread.

I suspect that Kevin's employers would be horrified to find they pay Kevin for a "private" blog.

Posted by: jerry on September 2, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

The most interesting thing I learned here is that Petraeus has a press officer in the rank of a Colonel. So a guy who should be commanding 5,000 troops is writing emails to bloggers instead?

Perhaps he commands on the order of 5,000 comment trolls?

Posted by: just sayin on September 2, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

JK: I believe Petraeus did an interview with Alan Colmes, which is what Glenn Greenwald was trying to set up in the first place. So I think he's OK on that front.

Yeah but officers have been showing up on other wingnut radio shows, e.g., Gens. Mixon and Bergner on Brian and The Judge, Col. Boylan on Slots Bennett's show.


Posted by: Steve J. on September 2, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Response: First, the sheets of paper were open-source bio's that were put together based on the members' web sites and the Congressional Quarterly. Second, these bio's were provided to those that were going to meet with the members, just as the members recieve bio's of the key individuals they are going to meet with at their request. Third, the bio's are only there to assist those that they are meeting with to know how in-depth and the members background knowledge based on topic area that they will be discussing. For example, if a member is not part of the HASC or SASC, more explanations may be required on the military programs/operations than with those that are members of those committees that are more likely to be familiar with the terms of reference. As such if there is a member dealing in appropriations, those that they are meeting with will know from which direction they may approach issues and can be better prepared to respond.

There's something about the passive voice and bullshit that just brings them together over and over. All this impartial preparation just happened, involving no known human agents, inside what is supposed to some of be the most vigorously secured territory in the world: the Green Zone.

Is the colonel stupid, or does he just believe that we are?

Posted by: metalkettle on September 2, 2007 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, let's see. Colonel Boylan is a shill, a fascist, a Stasi member. He's vermin. And he forgot to use a spell checker. All this hate and rage in the course of one thread because of a politely worded email he wrote to the editor of a popular blog.

Let's hope Steven's mother likes him.

Posted by: trashhauler on September 2, 2007 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

All I called him was a PR guy. But some people equate PR guy with shill.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 2, 2007 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

Enlighten me, please. Where in Col. Boylan's e-mail, or Kevin's intro for that matter, does it say, indicate or suggest that Col. Boylan monitors PA?

Posted by: majarosh on September 2, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

trashcan, the whole point of the "politely worded email" was to promote the talking points of the RNC. That's the definition of "shill." That it was done in service of an unprovoked war of aggression makes it "fascist."

But you don't appear to care. From your posts it appears that you are, like a particularly twisted segment of the military, more interested in killing than in advancing the national security of the United States.

Posted by: heavy on September 2, 2007 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh: Enlighten me, please. Where in Col. Boylan's e-mail, or Kevin's intro for that matter, does it say, indicate or suggest that Col. Boylan monitors PA?

Hard to tell, but the fact that Col. Boylan sent the email the same day (2-Sep-07 13:00, "yesterday I received...") as Kevin's post (1-Sep-07 12:36 "General Petraeus's PR Blitzkrieg") suggests someone is paying attention, as they should.

I'd expect if Col. Boylan is doing his job that he receives regular updates, both on the MSM and major blogs, which have become more important of late. Even without KD and the blog, TWM has been pretty well known as a notable periodical for many years.

Posted by: has407 on September 3, 2007 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

What to make of Kevin's polite smackdown? It makes sense to me that the military is monitoring the channels of public opinion back home. I see nothing sinister in that. Col. Boylan's email was polite, fair, and his points were valid clarifications. He is in a position to know something. (All of this is a contrast to, say, the WM trolls who are neither polite, fair, in a position to know or making valid points....) Col. Boylan's ends his letter with the following comment, "Hope this helps to clarify what is in error in your article and thereby may change the tone and characterization as well." "Tone and characterization" suggests that his point in writing was to address the paranoia the progressive blogosphere is expressing right now as Bushco uses PR to sell a Surge which has yet to produce significant improvements. Boylan is telling all of us that the situation--the current "PR surge"--is not as sinister as Kevin paints.

So should we be paranoid? My answer is yes and no.

On the one hand, no. We know that the goal of the US military is to "win" in Iraq (where "win" is defined as a stable, self-governing nation.) We know that soldiers, by their very nature, like to fight and win--those are the problems they like to solve "at work." Military men are, as a species, very straight-forward, loyal, open, optimistic, strategic, disciplined and rule-following. They tend not to be deceitful and manipulative. So is the military manipulating visitors to Iraq in some kind of sinister PR campaign? I think not. I think they see "the glass as half-full" and are portraying the sitution as they see it. At least the military leadership believes they are doing good in Iraq and has hope for the future.

Where we should be paranoid is something more subtle: We cannot trust our President or his civilian leadership. Republicans control the courts and the media, and can obstruct the narrow Democratic majority in Congress. They have demonstrated beyond any doubt that they are, in their current manifestation, secretive, partisan, ignorant, mean-spirited, deceitful and manipulative. Because of Republican leadership, the US is engaged in a war that should never have been started, a war that has so far helped our enemies more than it has helped us. Republicans like war because they view war as a political wedge to consolidate their power, dismantle government and enrich their cronies. They would like to extend the fight for an attack on Iran.

The soldiers, who I believe we can trust, have a natural desire to fight and win. The politicians, who we can't trust, have political motives to stay as long as possible. The thing we should be paranoid about, imho, is an unintended consequence of the Iraq war that the only compotent, trustworthy people in positions of power are military men with their natural desire to fight.

The USA desperately needs civilian leaders that we can trust who are peacemakers or we are going to loose the civil society for which our soldiers fight.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 3, 2007 at 5:01 AM | PERMALINK

"So should we be paranoid? My answer is yes and no."

"Where we should be paranoid is something more subtle: We cannot trust our President or his civilian leadership."

paranoia-A chronic mental disorder characterized chiefly by delusions of persecution or of one's own greatness.

In psychiatry: mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others. The disorder often exists for years without any disturbance of consciousness.

Posted by: majarosh on September 3, 2007 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

All I can say is this is about ten times the quality of your average trackback. So fact-based!

Posted by: Noumenon on September 3, 2007 at 8:13 AM | PERMALINK

Noumenon,

Thanks. I'm glad you approve, though that was not my reason for the post. Below are some more problematic quotes from PTate:

"We know that soldiers, by their very nature, like to fight and win--those are the problems they like to solve "at work."

"The soldiers, who I believe we can trust, have a natural desire to fight and win."

"...military men with their natural desire to fight."

I point these out simply to show the extent of delusion.

Posted by: majarosh on September 3, 2007 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

majarosh: "I point these out simply to show the extent of delusion."

Well, I am intrigued! Speaking of people with delusions, you think that soldiers in a volunteer army do not have a desire to fight and win?

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 3, 2007 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

"...their very nature, like to fight and win."
"...have a natural desire to fight and win."
"...their natural desire to fight."

"Win"?, absolutely, "fight"?, absolutely not. Fairly certain you've never been in combat. Fairly certain you haven't volunteered.
Now, any response to the "paranoid" post????


Posted by: majarosh on September 3, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

majarosh: ""Win"?, absolutely, "fight"?, absolutely not.""

Hmm, I wonder why they volunteered for military duty, then? Was it the terrific pay and benefits, the uniforms? The highly structured work environment with clear lines of authority? The opportunity to serve their country AND see the world? To be all they could be? The opportunity to handle really cool weapons?

I grant that those in the National Guard and Army Reserve--who volunteered to help their state governor deal with local emergencies such as flooding and ended up getting shot at by insurgents in Iraq--probably have less natural interest in fighting, in the art of war.

Seriously, having an interest in fighting--military strategy, leadership, seeking opportunities to use weapons, to defeat a person physically or defend oneself or others from physical threat--is different from getting a thrill from being shot at. I suppose I should have limited my comments to career officers like Gen Petraeus or Col. Boylan. It is probably less clear in enlisted men who are at the bottom of the command chain and the primary ones getting shot at.

My response to your "paranoid" post is that I am fairly certain you know nothing about psychology, and your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired as well. But I was astonished that you thought it was delusional to propose that soldiers have an interest in fighting. That's like claiming that cooks don't like food and carpenters don't like building things.

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 3, 2007 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't this prove Kevin's point? The Petraeus PR campaign is so micromanaged and detailed that they're monitoring and responding to BLOG POSTS?

Posted by: dday on September 3, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Words have meanings. Your original post never said "interest in."
Allow me to jog your memory:
"...their very nature, like to fight and win."
"...have a natural desire to fight and win."
"...their natural desire to fight."

You're the one who doesn't know the meaning of "paranoid" and you're fairly certain that I'm the one who knows nothing about psychology and it's my reading comprehension that leaves something to be desired!
So, tell me PTate, was I mistaken that you've never been in combat? Never volunteered for the military?
No need to answer, you probably should quit while your behind.

Posted by: majarosh on September 3, 2007 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Now, if I were a General intending to attack Iran, say back in 2006, I would re-enforce my dangerously over stressed troops in Iraq. Ah-ha. Another reason to "surge."

Posted by: rollingmyeyes on September 3, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh: "you probably should quit while your behind."

Yes, typically I don't feed trolls. Words do have meanings. Paranoid, for example, has meanings which you have failed to understand. I will stand by "nature" and "natural desire" since behavior geneticists have established that "interests" are strongly influenced by genetics.

I have never been in combat nor have I ever volunteered for the military. The military didn't allow women in combat back in my day. On the other hand, I come from a military family with lots of combat experience. I don't really see what that has to do with anything. People who have not been in combat don't get to have opinions anymore?

Now I am totally certain that you know nothing about psychology and have poor reading comprehension. Why do you think people choose to become soldiers then? They like working outside?

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 3, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see any other corrections on matters of substance besides the one Kevin mentioned up front, and I'm deeply unimpressed with the quality of his response to point number two. Enough so, that I was not well disposed to grant any leeway on the other points.

Posted by: s9 on September 3, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

PTate wrote,
"The thing we should be paranoid about, imho, is an unintended consequence of the Iraq war that the only compotent, trustworthy people in positions of power are military men with their natural desire to fight."

The meanings of paranoia are:

paranoia-A chronic mental disorder characterized chiefly by delusions of persecution or of one's own greatness.

In psychiatry: mental disorder characterized by systematized delusions and the projection of personal conflicts, which are ascribed to the supposed hostility of others. The disorder often exists for years without any disturbance of consciousness.

PTate asks,
"People who have not been in combat don't get to have opinions anymore?"

Of course they do. It's just that they are the only people who ever say that folks in the military desire or like it.
I believe it is incumbent on all, that when anyone expresses an opinion that throws a dirty blanket over any segment of society, that it should be pointed out for what it is, uninformed and bigoted.

PTate asks,
"Why do you think people choose to become soldiers then?"

Please, you don't really need me to give you dozens of reasons why people enlist, do you?

Posted by: majarosh on September 3, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

majarosh: "I believe it is incumbent on all, that when anyone expresses an opinion that throws a dirty blanket over any segment of society, that it should be pointed out for what it is, uninformed and bigoted."

And, thus, you prove my point about reading comprehension!

"Please, you don't really need me to give you dozens of reasons why people enlist, do you?'

heh. And you concede this one to me as well. Thank you!

ttyl...

Posted by: PTate in FR on September 3, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

OK, I apologize. It sure sounded like you said folks in the military desired and liked fighting (see previous quotes). If not, then I truly do not comprehend.

Perhaps my difficulty in comprehending your true meaning has more to do with your level of writing competence than my level of reading comprehension.

As to anyone conceding, it appears that you have conceded that you do need me to give you reasons why people would enlist in the military.

And, once again, you've choosen to ignore the fact of your repeated fallacious use of the word "paramoia."

Posted by: makarosh on September 3, 2007 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

[T]he whole point of the "politely worded email" was to promote the talking points of the RNC. That it was done in service of an unprovoked war of aggression makes it "fascist."
________________________

Right, the Public Affairs officer for MNF-Iraq takes his cues from the Republican National Committee. How big of an idiot does one have to be to believe that?

Calling his comments fascist because of the nature of the war is also factually wrong, of course. Even granting the premise, any political entity can begin a "war of unprovoked aggression." It is not solely a tool of fascists. You are prone to using terms you apparently don't understand, heavy.

Posted by: trashhauler on September 3, 2007 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

trashcan, I realize anyone can start an unprovoked war of aggression - just like George W. Bush did. But unlike you I do know that the merging of state and corporate interests, that is, the goal of the RNC, is the very definition of fascism. Did I leave out a phrase that would have explained it to your simple mind? Sure. Does that change the fact that a war started for the purpose of electing an authoritarian political party is fascist? Not a bit. And please don't pretend that the Republican Party isn't the party of corporate interests over those of the populace, you've already insulted our intelligence enough as it is.

As to your ignorance of the fact that the war on Iraq has been an RNC campaign commercial from the first moment Bush started dreaming up a way to sell it to the public, well, that's not my fault. Andy Card made it quite clear when he talked about when to roll out the campaign.

I would love it if we could get just one honest conservative who could answer the following questions:

  1. Among the options listed, which is the most likely cause of death for an American citizen living in the United States?
    1. Heart Attack
    2. Lightning Strike
    3. Terrorism
  2. Among the options listed, which is the least likely cause of death for an American citizen living in the United States?
    1. Terrorism
    2. Lightning Strike
    3. Heart Attack
  3. True or False: Iraq had real ties to Al Queda?
  4. True or False: Iraq had WMDs?
  5. Iraq had a mechanism for delivering WMDs to the United States?
The problem is, like trashcan, they spend too much time imagining themselves to be superior and demonstrating that they are supremely unqualified to discuss matters involving national security.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Good morning all.

Heavy wrote,
"...the merging of state and corporate interests, that is, the goal of the RNC, is the very definition of fascism."

The dictionary definition of "fascism":
a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation.

Heavy beckons,
"I would love it if we could get just one honest conservative who could answer the following questions:

1. Among the options listed, which is the most likely cause of death for an American citizen living in the United States?
Heart Attack
Lightning Strike
Terrorism
2. Among the options listed, which is the least likely cause of death for an American citizen living in the United States?
Terrorism
Lightning Strike
Heart Attack
3. True or False: Iraq had real ties to Al Queda?
4. True or False: Iraq had WMDs?
5. Iraq had a mechanism for delivering WMDs to the United States?"

Answers:
1. Heart attack
2. Terrorism-at least untill the next attack, which hopefully can be prevented.
3. As far as I know, False
4. True
5. False-assuming the question is referring to a sophisticated delivery mechanism.

Questions #1 and #2 use historical statistics and applies them to the future; i.e., "most/least likely," a method that often fails when trying to predict future events.

For the sake of comity, I will not comment on the closing paragraph.

Thanks

Posted by: majarosh on September 4, 2007 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

Well Mary, you got four out of five - which still makes you not quite smart enough to discuss national security.

As to your definition of fascism, it is incredibly poor. It is, in fact a definition of totalitarianism which may or may not be fascism. Buy a better dictionary.

Now while, as the brokerages say, past performance is no guarantee of future earnings, the smart money goes with the proven track record. Even in the worst year of terrorism in the United States - you know, the one where the Republicans controlled the government and failed to take any steps to prevent 9/11 - even car accidents killed more of our population.

Stop cowering in fear and deal with the real world.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and Mary, I gave you credit for one question because you got the answer right even though you got there the wrong way. On another question you suggest the jury isn't 100% in - it is. I've already dealt with the silliness of pretending terrorism is just this close to being a real cause of death in the United States.

Someone grading you on more than the mechanical answers and actually taking into account your rewriting of the questions couldn't give you more than 50% - which is fairly awful for a test based on hindsight and whose passing grade is 100%.

Easy questions in an open book test brook no failures.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry Mary, the fact that you are too stupid to understand the context of the test - Bush's unprovoked assault on Iraq and answer the questions correctly means that you got, at best 80%. Your Clintonian parsing may win you points in the RNC boiler room, but in the real world the question wasn't "did Saddam Hussein ever have WMDs?"

Your half-assed attempt at rewriting the questions was merely a way to pretend a sophistication you demonstrably do not possess and to soften the blow of having to state outright that the Bush administration's assault on the Iraqi people was clearly done without provocation on the part of Iraq.

Here's Eco's take on Fascism. You can have the last word Mary. Someone who can only get 50% and brags that they didn't have to open the book isn't interesting enough to warrant continued conversation.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

[Deleted]

Posted by: majarosh on September 4, 2007 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

[We are over our OSHA limit on trolls. Apply again at a later date.]


Posted by: majarosh on September 4, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: majarosh on September 4, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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