Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Positives" from Iraq?


Oh those crazy guys over at Investors Business daily (IBD) are at it again. Once again they are reporting those facts out of Iraq that we all suspect the Mainstream media (MSM) knows about but just haven’t had the opportunity or the right time slot to run the story themselves. In today’s issue in the “Issues & Insights” section, (located in paid section so unable to link to story, subscription is well worth it) there was information on the “positives” happening in Iraq that the MSM just seems to ignore.

“Our schools, government services, businesses and offices were closed”, wrote Najim Abdullah Abid Al-Jubouri. “Our streets were silent, and no one dared walk them. Our people were barricaded in their homes out of fear; death awaited them around every corner. Terrorist occupied and controlled the only hospital in the city.”

In a report presented to Congress by Gen. John Abizaid, some of the good work being done by our troops was duly noted:

* Over 3,600 schools have been rehabilitated, and over 47,000 school teachers and administrators have been trained.

* Approximately 240 hospitals and more thean 1,200 clinics have reopened.

* Baghdad’s three sewage plants, which serve 80% of the city’s population have been rehabilitated…

A recent visit to the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Iraq by several U.S. Senators found: “During their “Occupation,” the team had built a generating plant for a town that never had electricity, built a school to replace a mud structure and dug wells to provide fresh water to a town were children were being sickened from filthy, contaminated water”.


zen said...

While I commend you on finding some encouraging news as this I find it impossible to ignore the glaring, telling details in what you present.
* Over 3,600 schools have been rehabilitated, and over 47,000 school teachers and administrators have been trained.

* Approximately 240 hospitals and more thean 1,200 clinics have reopened.

* Baghdad’s three sewage plants, which serve 80% of the city’s population have been rehabilitated…

Notice the words "Rehabilitated" and "Reopened" and ask yourself if getting things back to pre-war, pre-invasion levels is necessarily progress. While it can be seen as a step forward, there were obviously a couple of steps back that came before. There are still many places that still lack stable electricity and water services that were present before the war.

And I may be wrong but it seems that you are not seeking 'fair and balanced' media coverage, rather one that just leans in the opposite direction of what you perceive presently. So rather than honest news good or bad, you desire a pro-war spin...but spin just the same.
Like I said I could be misinterepting you, but what are your thoughts to my point?

zen said...

Also, and for example, do you not find it at all misleading that the image you posted of construction workers is obviously not from Iraq?

Bubba said...

Looks like stock construction photos to me. Any actual real photos of the work from over there are gonna have copyrights attached to them from the photographers or newsagency that took them most likely.

And as far as the rehabilitated/rebuilt and levels pre and post war go.......I'd just like to see the media show something that is good so that people know that we are doing things there other than getting attacked by insurgents and blown up by IED's. The level is really not that important as far as I am concerned. Progress from a current state is progress none the less. Who knows what the state of the facilities were previous to the war? One thing is for sure if we needed to train 47,000 teachers/administrators then you can bet that there was not much there pre attack. Overall this has been a "civilian friendly" war if there can be such a thing. Imagine what would have happened without smart weapons and precision attacks....

Good for IBD bring on the good news.

zen said...

Yeah it seems like a double edged blade. How 'good' can news be if it's not even safe enough to go out and cover it? We need to be aware of the nuance between good/bad news and good/bad press. Good/bad press would be editorializing (spin) and good/bad news is explicit and obvious in it's objective nature.
Also worth considering is do we manipulate the appearance of balance between good/bad news and good/bad press? And if so how? Do we attach a positive or negative value to each story? How many positive 'points' is a story about a rehabilitated hospital worth? How many 'negative' points is an IED story? Is the death of a terrorist 'good' news? What if 3 civilians die during the attack that kills 5 insurgents?
As you can see that would be assinine and insulting. But where does that leave us? I find it hard to believe that the media have a defeatist agenda. I recall the 'guns and glory' rallying that was being trumpeted by the media in the early days. I also remember the nonstop coverage and celebrating when the statue of Saddam came down. I'm not at all saying that the media often fails us and has tremendous problems, but to say that they are stuck in a left biased mode is proven wrong merely on their record.

For instance, Iran. In late 2005 a NIE was released that said Iran is about a decade away from building a nuke. This is the National Intelligence Estimate. We spend untold billions on gathering intel, and this is what those fortunes has come back with. Yet, unlike Iraq and the 'slam dunk' intel that the admin, among others, pointed to as justification...they have remained completely elusive of pointing to the NIE as the angst builds against Iran.
If the media were lefty, or I'll go so far as to say competent and serving as a watchdog of the government, then this disparady would have been asked of Bush or the WH in general. Instead the media is playing along with the hysteria, not for the benefit of the left, Democrats, themselves or anyone else apparently.

SWAC Girl said...

Perhaps Zen should check out, the website begun in January 2006 by Iraq and Afghanistan military veterans in an effort to get the word out about the War on Terrorism. They had become frustrated at how the media had politicized and reported the war to the homefront.

Executive Director of the group is Wade Zirkle of Shenandoah County. Perhaps Zen should talk with Wade, a Marine Lieutenant who served two deployments to Iraq. He lost seven comrades whose families still firmly support the mission in Iraq.

Wade said veterans need to share the successes and advances being made everyday on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said, "If the American public could hear these stories – of roads being rebuilt, schools being opened, towns being secured – they would see the importance of this mission. This understanding will turn the tide against our enemy. With a well-planned and well-organized platform, and by using our experience and our credibility, Vets for Freedom was born to turn the tides of public opinion on the Iraq War and maintain public support for the war in Afghanistan. We can succeed in Iraq. It is the primary objective of Vets for Freedom to regain popular American support for the Iraq War mission by providing the veterans' perspective and highlighting the positive and negative issues that need to be examined to succeed."

As with most things in life we should listen to the men who have been there and done that. They are more credible than 1,000 Zens who pontificate about something with which they have no first-hand experience.

RightsideVA said...


Thanks for pointing out the photo not being from Iraq, for I did that in a hurry and used it for effect. It has since been removed and will be replaced with a photo from Afghanistan. “Army engineers from Alaska-based Company C, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, level a portion of the nearly completed 117-kilometer TK Road, stretching from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.” How bout that? We are actually doing some good in Afghanistan and the mainstream media missed that one also.

I do admit using that photo that was obviously not from Iraq and I admit doing it, not like Dan Rather who still has not admitted to using a bogus memo in a report against President Bush…

Also big thanks for pulling me back from the extreme vast right wing conspiracy that I was dwelling in with that positive info that I posted. Bubba was probably right when he questioned how well those clinics, schools, and other offices were ran by Hussein’s government. It is interesting that the women are at least able to attend school now and not have to walk around in the head to toe canvas covers they used to wear.

Lean to the Right? Yes. Guilty to that one also. Probably has something to do with the blog name “RightsideVA” and like I said prior I lean that way to counteract all of the left leaning media that is out there including my local Newspaper. Please answer this. Is CNN or MSNBC in the middle? Are they bias in anyway that they report?

Also mentioned before I said that I have been dealing with the local newspaper here in the VA Valley that is in Staunton. The NewsLeader paper sent a reporter this past Saturday to a “anti-war” rally held by the Augusta Coalition for Peace & Justice and I was part of the group that the paper called “Pro-war”. Now that makes it sound like I am looking for a war, only want war, desire war, and just want to destroy anybody who does not agree with me… Actually I don’t think anybody wants war but at times we must stand for what is right and that is something we have, and will continue to debate. Unfortunately the reporter from the Newsleader did not print many facts and some of the obvious facts that everybody could see. He claimed later that he was only given limited space so could not do much. The editorial board wrote an editorial without talking to the reporter or any of the board actually going to the rally. I am still waiting a reply to my e-mail which went to all on the board. So yes I “Lean” to the right for those who are so tired of the bias to the “left”. Would love to get to a point where we could stand in the middle and talk topics as they are…

Bubba said...

Well, if you are gonna look at the media then you can take Iraq completely out of the picture. Look at our own is a first had experience. My dad was a Richmond Va figherfighter for 30 years and much of his time he served in an area of the city called "Church Hill" which was for lack of a better term a ghetto. There was never anything good in the news about that area of town and the only news you saw from there was after the police had gone in and cleaned up the gore. The area was so bad at one time that the residents would set fires just to shoot at the fire trucks when they responded. In many ways it is the same as what happens in a war zone. But, does that mean that no good ever hapened? NOPE! And by the balance of the reporting news and press became the same because the stories were reactionary to the environment and not representative to the location. The same thing happens in Iraq. (But, if the military started offering guided press tours wouldn't the spinners have fun getting out the old propaganda mill OP-ed pieces.)

Look at it this way: the press is like a local reporter driving through a trailer park....there are lots of good people and lots of good stories, but the reporter will only notice the lot that has a domestic assault and battery case in progress (that he just heard over the police scanner). Why? because the the press report events not news and most of the events that draw attention are negative. In a situation like a war though the mode should change to allow total event coverage, but the media is stuck in local gossip and police blotter mode!

zen said...

Swac: I have read some of that site, and it includes a unique voice and perspective. A good reason why one must get news from a variety of sources. It does one no good to get all of their news from sources that they already agree with. Preaching to the chior. Yet how many people in today's world do that? Very few.
So frankly it's not that this site has more accurate news, it is just covered with a different view. I have a recommendation for you, a film called "Control Room." It explores how different perspectives of the same events can both contain an element of truth.
But I wonder if listening to the people that have been there and done that, you include the many reporters that are in Iraq, that are embedded with the troops, or even the military reporters. Are these individuals not there and in it as well? Again, I'll remind you that over 70 journalists have been killed and dozens more kidnapped, some still missing. Proportionately it seems that it's even more dangerous for journalists than troops. Do you not beleive this takes them from mere observer to active participant?
Further I do not present thought provoking questions as a threat to your tightly held beliefs, rather to illustrate that a world of black or white simplicity is not a true reflection of reality. I challenge your assertion that ponificating and giving thought to these difficult issues is of no value. If war is being conducted in my name as an American, and with the taxes I pay, then I do have validity to my voice.
Further, it seems that your issue is not with the use of propaganda and spin as techniques. Rather you take issue only when it is at odds with your views. You don't seem to desire any objectivity, only your prefered subjectivity.

Rightside: A number of things just to touch on:
First that new photo is awesome. Very cool. Thanks for sharing it.

As far as how the infrastructure in Iraq was run before we arrived...who cares? We did not go into Iraq to give people water and electricity. Yet we should fix it if we destroyed it. And those who would know are 'those poor Iraqi people' that we are there to help. They are the people who lived and worked in these cities. They should know what the pre-war levels were. And if we are there at their request and benefit, then we should at the least believe them. It is apparently they whom we are here to liberate, and any deceit should be restricted to the old regime. Follow?

Next. CNN and MSNBC are the networks you have problems with? Do they have bias? Sure, is it anti-Bush or anti-war, not in my opinion. I'll point you to my remarks prior that address the rush to war, the statue falling etc. Instead I see a 'sensationalism' bias. This can go against liberal causes just as easy. (Clinton impeachment, Gary Condit, Dick Durban's out-of-line comments, etc.) It's more about what's exciting and provacative, and not what's best to inform people. Fox and conservative talk radio has the same flaw, but to the extent that they play the absurd 'victim' card, when in reality they have the most popular programing in the country. Yet you don't seem to take issue with their flaws, but instead just call for more and louder voices yelling. What good is that? That's not balance and fair reporting, that's who best competes for the biggest sensation. When if you truly think that these 'good' stories from the war need to be heard, then are they best served by screaming them? Can these more subtle, less exploitive, less sensational stories compete for headlines when the nature of how news is covered is more of the issue than an agenda? I think no.
Further, do you expect the networks to bite the hands that feed them. MSNBC for example, is owned by a military contractor, is greatly benefiting on the contracts they get to build war machines. What sense does it make to cut off that revenue stream? How liberal can they really be? Again it is the 'sensational' factor. Where's the next nissing, pretty, white, woman?

Finally, I get the NewsLeader. You must know that they also endorsed W for office. Wow, some harsh spin. I don't get it. I've read many LTTE and the new call-in features that staunchly support the war and president. I find it hard that somehow you would be the target of their cesorship based on these opinions. Rather if your methods are angry and offensive (I have no idea), then I can understand you not getting ink.
Anyway, good luck on pushing your views into a public forum. But just as we all have the right to express our opinions, that does not obligate others to listen.

Bubba: Your insights are enlightening and appreciated.

SWAC Girl said...

The majority of news sources are liberal-leaning. I refer to the main networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC, cable (MSNBC, CNN), NPR, print media, and more. I grew up on that stuff so there is no need to preach to me about hearing the other side of issues -- I hear them all day every day. I'm a news junkie and, believe me, I blessed the day Fox News, Rush, and Sean Hannity came on the air. Thirty years of having liberal bias shoved down my throat was enough.

Ironically, liberals like to accuse conservatives of "getting all their news from one source" when, in reality, that is usually what they themselves are doing. I find it amusing they always sling the accusations freely that, turned around, apply exactly to them. Now that conservatives have a choice and a voice in the media the liberals can't handle it - and the attacks are angrier and screechier.

Zen brings back the tired old argument of "having a voice" in the decision of war: One more time - please listen closely so maybe you'll get it this time - no one is questioning your right to speak out against the war. We question your decision in the WAY you protest the war because it is detrimental to the men serving overseas and to their families here at home. Read your history about Vietnam.

Have you talked with any military families? I talk with them almost daily and I've heard the negative backlash against the media because of the way the are reporting the war. There was an excellent letter to the editor last week in the News Leader from a military wife telling how those who propose to "support the troops" can do exactly that - and it didn't include standing on the streets with anti-war signs.

Having some local lawyer dress up as the Grim Reaper and protest in downtown Staunton shows me someone with no thoughts of how children of military families will react to something so tasteless. Exactly HOW is that supporting our troops?

News Leader: Don't even get me started. Hell must surely have frozen over the day they endorsed George W. Bush in 2004. I talked with several of the editorial board members who said three out of five endorsed W and the op-ed editor had to write the piece. Considering he was probably one who opposed the President I am awed that he was able to write something so powerful. That is the true definition of "debate" - something I know a little about since I debated in high school.

The Shenandoah Valley is predominantly conservative and many have stopped subscribing to the N-L because of the constant rants against conservatives. If they were more in line with the community they would probably double their subscriptions ... but since they're owned by Gannett I supposed they're subsidized by that media giant.

Bottom line: RightsideVa is a conservative blog. Zen has obviously chosen to surf into our neighborhood to "enlighten" us. But before accusing us of being closed-minded, why he needs to surf some of the liberal blogs and see what they are saying ... and perhaps he will notice the civil discourse here as opposed to the profanity-laced, closed-minded comments there. Disagree with them ... and listen to how THEY respond.

Bubba said...


Zen, thanks for your kind words. I'll point out a few things that you aimed at SWAC from my perspective. Yes, the media assets on the ground could be considered a target because they carry an added bonus to the terrorists there: Direct acess to the mass media in the contries of their origin. Soldiers are there doing a job and for the terrorists on the ground killing a soldier is part of the ground stratagy, but bagging a reporter is a plus for them because when a reporter gets it; it ganders an immediate press reaction. If a Hummer with 5 SEALS and one reporter died in a IED attack the tag line would be something like Reporter X, our award winning field journalist who has reported on war time conflict for the past 3 wars, won umpteen awards for writting endless doucumentaries on untold topics died today in the explosion of a IED while traveling to some city to write another piece of journalistic history. The story would continue to state that reporter X left behind 12 children and a llama farm or something. The 5 SEALS could have all been congressional medal of honor winners that saved 500 civilians from a mass grave by overpowering unsurmantable odds and taking control of a town without reinforcements; And the rest of the story would mention that 5 SEAls also died in a related incident. My point is that reporters get bonus points for terrorists. Everyone over there is doing a job and whether they are terminating terrorists or filming the grand opening of a daycare center they have a job to do. What the dedicated reporters that are over there report on goes back to the news agencies that decide what gets aired. and that is where the agenda is applied. And yes both sides spin because they pick and choose which stories they buy from the freelance reporters that are there. Most of the Embedded network guys have come I believe.
As far as your right to voice your opinions goes you are absolutely right and Individuals should be encouraged to be active about how their tax dollars are spent, BUT the issue of discussion is not your individual views it is the larger media representation and how it affects the country. Unfortunately the masses are being like the typical consumer that makes decisions off of advertising campaigns not off of solid research and the media is fueling the dumbing down of our society. It ain't pretty to think about but it is true.

zen said...

Bubba, you are right on the money with the public being treated as consumers. It has become very obvious in campaigns. The fact that one person equals one vote has given way to one dollar equals one vote, and those with the most money have the most influence.
It is the problem with broadcast politics. The word itself describes casting far and broad. It is one sided and reduces the debate of important issue to who has the loudest voice.
In a 30 second TV spot or "headline" or "alert" it is much easier to slam the other side than sell what you're cooking. This system leaves no time for research or facts, only spin. Sell the message, the image, no matter what the reality is. The goal becomes focused on what is the best way to manipulate people to 'buy' us, so rather than debate truth when it comes out what happens? They attack the credibility of the critic.

Mind you this is not exclusive to any ideology or political leaning.

The effect has been the antrophy of concern, of participation. Most people tune out all together, as illustrated by consistantly poor voter turn out. And when they do happen to catch messages in the periphery of the flood of information, it is the easy, repititious, simple slogans and platitudes that tend to stick. The same way a product jingle sticks in one's mind forever.
I recommend a book called "The Revolution Will Not be Televised," by Joe Trippi. He was the campagin manager for Howard Dean. Now before you let that freak you out, one must realize that the Dean campagin changed traditional, broadcast politics forever, and the tactics and lessons learned and implemented by them was widely imitated. It takes the power from the voices yelling, to forums like this blog of "we the people" conversing, and connecting on a much more engaging level.

Bubba said...

Yup, the Dean campaign did change a lot of things and prove the old addage matter how you sell fruitcake you are still selling fruitcake.

zen said...

We'll sell fruitcake in Michigan, then we're going to sell it in Ohio, Then we're going to sell fruitcake in Texas...ARARARARGGGHHH!!

bubba said...

You know they do make pills for that........