Posted: 15 Jul 2008 12:30 PM CDT
As the video above will show, Barack Obama stated in unequivocal terms on January 14, 2007, "We can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops: I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground."
There were some changes to Barack Obama's official website over the weekend, where his long standing criticisms of the troop surge have been removed and his claim that the surge would produce no progress has disappeared.
That video above also shows that in May of 2008, one year and 3 months after the surge, when results started becoming apparent to the point where military commanders were beginning to refer to the gains as "irreversible", David Axelrod, who is a top adviser to Barack Obama, claims that Obama never said that the surge would not make a difference on the ground in Iraq.
That was not the only time Obama made statements like that.
On January 10, 2007, on MSNBC, Obama stated, "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Those statements were repeated multiple times, even after General Petraeus testified and showed the surged was working as it was intended to work.
With violence down 90 percent in the last year, there is no doubt that the surge accomplished even more than the proponents of the surge had anticipated in just a year.
Politically, the Iraqi's have received satisfactory grades on 15 out of the 18 benchmarks set for them.
John McCain called for a surge in troops, repeatedly, long before the additional troops were sent, saying that the security in Iraq had to be improved before political benchmarks could be met. The surge was once described, by John Edwards, as the "McCain doctrine"
This last weekend, Barack Obama's official website was "purged" of his longstanding criticisms of the troop surge and replaced with other wording, to which his campaign, via an Obama aide, Wendy Morigi, says is normal activity to update the site as events and situations change.
(H/T to Gateway Pundit for the images)
The site still does not reflect the political progress that his been accomplished, nor does it acknowledge his previous statements about the surge having virtually no chance of working.
Barack Obama wrote an opinion editorial in the New York Times yesterday, where in his opening remarks, he quoted news reports that declared that the Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had called for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.
Reports came out last night, that the words of Mailiki from his audio never mentioned the word withdrawal, but that Maliki's office had replaced the word "presence" with "withdrawal".
As of right now, Obama still has not acknowledge that his speech held language that was never used by Maliki and he also has never acknowledged that his belief that the troop surge could not accomplish the goals it was meant to was wrong, to which John McCain criticizes by saying, "The major point here is that Sen. Obama refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong." McCain goes on to point out that Obama, "refuses to acknowledge that it [the surge] is succeeding."
The difficulties that the success of the surge is creating for Obama are shown in the latest polls.
Last year at this time the majority of Americans favored an almost immediate pullout, and yet since the news of the success the surge has produced has reached American families, the public is now evenly split between Obama and McCain's Iraq positions.
According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll released yesterday, while Obama leads in many domestic issues, 72 percent of respondents, even most Democrats, say that McCain would be a good commander-in-chief of the military while only 48 percent say the same about Obama.
The public is also split between the two men's proposals for how Iraq should be handled moving forward.
Americans are divided on which candidate has a plan for success in the region. Exactly half of those polled said they backed Obama's plan to withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. But 49 percent sided with McCain's position of opposing a specific timetable and letting events dictate when troops should be withdrawn. Among independents, who will be the key voting bloc in November, 53 percent oppose Obama's timeline.
On Iraq policy in general, 47 percent say they trust McCain more to handle the war, and 45 percent having more faith in Obama.
The problem with Barack Obama's op-ed, as well as his stated plans for withdrawal from Iraq are highlighted by the fact that he makes these statements before he makes his trip to Iraq. Obama has not been to Iraq in 919 days and counting. Obama has never sat down, one-on-one, with General Petraeus to find out the realities of what is happening in Iraq in present time.
This has brought out very harsh criticisms, not only from Republicans, but from a Democratic defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, Michael E. O'Hanlon, who describes himself as "livid" as he states for the Washington Post (linked above) "To say you're going to get out on a certain schedule -- regardless of what the Iraqis do, regardless of what our enemies do, regardless of what is happening on the ground -- is the height of absurdity. I'm not going to go to the next level of invective and say he shouldn't be president. I'll leave that to someone else."
John McCain will address that very point in prepared remarks for a speech he will give today at a townhall meeting in Albuquerque, where he will state his criticism about Obama's plans by saying, "Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan. And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy."
It is a valid point.
How can a person that has not been to Iraq in 919 days, has never spoken one-on-one with the commander on the ground in Iraq and has not yet gone on his fact-finding mission to Iraq, actually state what his plans for Iraq are?
Posted: 15 Jul 2008 02:52 AM CDT
Posted: 14 Jul 2008 08:33 PM CDT
The statement that was transcribed by Maliki's office and went to print was, "the direction is towards either a memorandum of understanding on their evacuation, or a memorandum of understanding on a timetable for their withdrawal".
This started a firestorm everywhere, from one end of the world wide web to the other and countries from all over used those words in their headlines..
The media jumped on the statement, bloggers and citizen journalists everywhere quoted from the reports and Barack Obama used those words in a piece he wrote as an opinion editorial in the New York Times, where he said, "The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated, and that is needed for long-term success in Iraq and the security interests of the United States."
One minor problem with the text versus the audio of Maliki's actual words.
He never used the word withdrawal and for over a week now, Iraqi officials have been trying to get that point across.
That was the version of Mr Maliki's remarks put out in writing by his office in Baghdad.
According to the BBC, the actual statement from the recording of his remarks that they listened to, was, "The direction is towards either a memorandum of understanding on their evacuation, or a memorandum of understanding on programming their presence."
Programming their presence instead of programming their withdrawal was the literal translation of Maliki's words and although no one has explained how or why the word was replaced when by his office.
After it was widely reported, the statement was reinforced by National Security Adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, who later said that no agreement would be reached without a specific date for US troops to withdraw. That was said after Maliki's words were misreported and after a meeting with the senior Shiite clerical eminence, Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
In statements following that al-Rubaie backtracked and said "timeline horizons, not specific dates", and said that the timing of any withdrawal would depend on the readiness of the Iraqi security forces.
Iraqi leaders will no doubt continue to make ambiguous statements. And US presidential contenders will no doubt continue to construe them to their own advantage.
The issue is controversial coming up to both the American presidential election and the Iraq provincial elections, but the Iraq government understands that their secuirty forces are not quite ready to stand on their own yet against the two serious key challenges that face them. One being "the Sunni radicals of al-Qaeda and related group" and the other being the "Shia militias which were partly suppressed in fierce battles this spring in Basra and Baghdad."
As the BBC states the Iraqi leaders know that their survival depends on the U.S. forces supporting them until the Iraqi forces are capable of standing alone.
Posted: 14 Jul 2008 07:28 PM CDT
Posted: 14 Jul 2008 05:42 PM CDT
President Bush lifted the presidential ban on offshore drilling today.
In an effort to reduce pressure on oil prices and increase supply of domestic oil, President Bush today lifted a ban on offshore drilling. But that does not mean drilling will start immediately. An order by Congress remains in place.
With rising gas costs, Americans in a variety of polls have shown by a majority they now want to explore offshore drilling, so this move will be popular among that majority and John McCain has been pushing for it as well.
Reported on June 26, 2008, the InsiderAdvantage/Poll, asks "Do you favor or oppose increased exploration and production of oil and natural gas off the coasts of Florida?"
Democrats in the House and Senate have been split with the far left putting up roadblocks on lifting the ban in Congress and moderate Democrats siding with Republicans in understanding the need to start producing our own supply to lessen our dependence on others.
This will not immediately create a supply, but you have to start to eventually get where you want to be and this is a great start.
Bush's speech below:
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Good going President Bush, now Congress.... get off your butts and do the same.
More from The Crypt and Power Line.
Posted: 14 Jul 2008 03:43 PM CDT
The journalistic ethics of old do not apply to the new guidelines over at the Associated Press. The new ethics are called "accountability journalism," and the new bureau chief, Ron Fournier, believes that the conventional press model, where both sides of an argument are entitled to equal weight, is exactly what journalists need to avoid.
This piece was written for Digital Journal by yours truly, hence the using of DJ as the example below in the piece.
The new boss at Associated Press thinks that a reporter's opinion is just as important as the news itself. Op-eds are old news and neutrality and equal treatment to all sides of an issue aren't what journalism should be about, AP believes.
Fournier believes those old journalistic ethics are what stops reporters from telling the truth as they see it.
The Society of Professional Journalists has the code of ethics here and the ones listed below are the ones that Fournier seems to take issue with.
**Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
**Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
**Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
**Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Fournier's predecessor, Sandy Johnson, wonders if Fournier's new brand of journalism is going to help the AP or destroy it? Granted he replaced her what is described as a "hard-feelings shake-up" in May, but his own ideology on journalism gives credence to her question.
The new boss feels that first-person writing and emotive language is acceptable to news reporting instead of being reserved for opinion editorials, he calls it, "cutting through the clutter."
So is scrapping the stone-faced approach to journalism that accepts politicians' statements at face value and offers equal treatment to all sides of an argument. Instead, reporters are encouraged to throw away the weasel words and call it like they see it when they think public officials have revealed themselves as phonies or flip-floppers.
Before Fournier took over the job as bureau chief, he himself wrote pieces which are being referred to as a "model" of the new brand of journalism he is encouraging from the AP writers.
One piece was titled, "Obama is bordering on arrogance", and was written as straight news, not opinion, despite the opinion that is explicit in the headline itself.
A frequent critic of AP and especially this new brand of "accountability journalism", is James Taranto, the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web columnist, who says, "The problem is that while you can do opinion journalism and incorporate reporting into it, you can't say you're doing straight reporting, and then add opinion to that."
In an AP internal newsletter dated June 1, 2007, Jim Romenesko wrote, "It's AP's goal this year (and henceforth) to make this accountability journalism a consistent theme in our coverage of public affairs, politics and government."
In that newsletter he supplied an essay written by Ron Fournier, who would later become the new bureau chief, for "expert advice on accountability journalism".
In that essay, a portion sticks out where it says:
Don't give equal weight to spin. Just because a public official says it doesn't mean you need to put it in your story or give his claim equal billing to what you know to be true. We have an obligation to write factual and fair stories, but we are not obliged to print attacks, spin or distortion under the cover of "fair comment."
This brings up the question of who determines what "spin", "distortion" and "fair comment" is?
Using Digital Journal.com and the writers and editorial staff as an example, would this mean that if the title of this piece had an opinion in the headline, such as "AP's dangerous practice of rewriting the Journalism code of ethics", naturally and the DJ staff can correct this analysis if it is wrong, but in all probability by using the word dangerous in the title, which would be an "opinion", they would agree with my labeling this piece as opinion had I done so.
Taking it a step further, if the DJ staff agreed that it was a dangerous practice, then according to the AP's "accountability journalism", then an explanation of why the AP officials considers it a good practice would not be needed for the sake of fairness and balance in the article itself and the article would not need the label opinion if the word "dangerous" were used in the headline.
Is this a slippery slope where journalism becomes not an outlet for news, but becomes an interpretation of said news?
"I think there's mixed feelings — there's reluctance," said an AP staffer. "The AP has always been a just-the-facts type of organization," the staffer added, where even star political reporters typically play a more behind-the-scenes role than those at other papers. And it was Johnson who hired the majority of reporters in Washington, meaning they're now following not just a new leader but a new agenda.
This has also brought up issues for other news outlets that use the AP's stories, such as Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, where Fournier worked as a reporter in the 1980s, and according to managing editor , David Bailey, he says the AP tries "to do more with dazzle and footwork these days than [stories] with real substance", and continues on to explain why his paper has an active wire desk to vet and edit the copy, and he continues with, "We almost never run an AP story as we get it on the front of the paper."
Still, he concludes by showing support for Fournier, by stating, "if the AP is smart enough to listen to what Ron will say, the AP will improve dramatically."
Some of the examples listed using Fournier's ""accountability journalism" being used by the AP, includes one article that Beth Fouhy wrote, where she used the first-person style of writing and started with her opinion, saying "I miss Hillary".
Another example listed at the end of the piece where a reporter, Liz Sidoti, wrote a piece on June 19, 2008, and titled it, "Barack Obama chose winning over his word".
Fournier comments on that piece, not labeled opinion by saying, "But boy, when we can cut through the clutter, and we can say 'Barack Obama put politics over his word' which he did — that's a fact. He did. He may not like the way Liz wrote it, but it is a statement of fact."
In reading many opinion editorials, (Examples of those articles at the link provided)labeled as such, many people agreed with Sidoti's title and her piece, but those other editorials made it very clear that was their opinion by publishing their pieces as opinion editorials, unlike the AP did with Sidoti's piece.
Another potential problem stemming from this new brand of journalistic ethics, is how to report on a story that the Associated Press originally wrote using Fournier's new style.
If the AP headlines with a opinion driven title, does that automatically make it acceptable for those using the AP as a source to use that opinion in their headlines without qualifying the piece as an Op-Ed?
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