ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, April 29, 2005

Gannon

Yes, they're still talking about Jeff GannonGuckert out there... The Raw Story has this exclusive article from earlier this week:

Guckert made more than two dozen excursions to the White House when there were no scheduled briefings. On many of these days, the Press Office held press gaggles aboard Air Force One—which raises questions about what Guckert was doing at the White House. On other days, the president held photo opportunities.

On at least fourteen occasions, Secret Service records show either the entry or exit time missing. Generally, the existing entry or exit times correlate with press conferences; on most of these days, the records show that Guckert checked in but was never processed out.

In March, 2003, Guckert left the White House twice on days he had never checked in with the Secret Service. Over the next 22 months, Guckert failed to check out with the Service on fourteen days. On several of these visits, Guckert either entered or exited by a different entry/exit point than his usual one. On one of these days, no briefing was held; on another, he checked in twice but failed to check out.

“I’d be worried if I was the White House and I knew that a reporter with a day pass never left,” one White House reporter told RAW STORY. “I’d wonder, where is he hiding? It seems like a security risk.”

Others who have covered the White House say not checking in or out with the Secret Service is unusual, especially in the wake of Sept. 11. The Secret Service declined to comment.
The Constant Vomit Blog (how charming) sees scandal, scandal, scandal....
Is it Aprils Fools Day Again?

One would think so after reading the new twists in the Gannon/Guckert, male prostitute softball throwing reporter with major whitehouse access in the post-911 world story.

Apparently Gannon/Guckert checked into the white house on a couple of occassions and never checked out. There were 14 times they he didn't check in with the secret service upon entering the white house, but did check out. Oh and on many of these days the white house was not holding a press conference. Hmmm when will Gannon/Guckert's [...] khaki pants be used as evidence?
Course, Raw Story admits that there may have been briefings other than Presidential ones which Gannon may have attended... Raw Story promises that they'll get back to us.

I'm sure TCVBlog will keep his/her powder dry while the evidence rolls in...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Exactly

From Cox & Forkum...




Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Health Insurance

JustOneMinute calls out Professor Krugman for some of his sloppiness... Oh, and from a guy who champions free markets & free trade when in academia, he's certainly slipping closer and closer to the Stiglitz model that he previously derided.

I agree wholeheartedly with JustOneMinute's post... And think that Heathcare Savings Accounts are a step in the right direction.

Now, here are the grim statistics:

Over a 12-month period, 41 percent of the uninsured were unable to see a doctor when needed because of cost; 56 percent had no personal doctor or health care provider.

Now, maybe I am wrong, but isn't this survey telling me that 59% of the uninsured were either not interested in seeing a doctor or not deterred by the cost, and that 44% had a doctor or health care provider? And is that "totally at odds" with the Administrations use of the word "many"?

Just wondering.

On the broader theme, I am not inclined to leap to the defense of our current system for delivering health care. However, I have serious reservations about the concept of "insurance" as it is bandied about here.

To illustrate my concern with an example - homeowner's insurance covers catastrophic losses because they are infrequent and (for most of us) unaffordable. An easy way to think about it - homeowners each put aside a small amount in a reserve which is paid out to the rare unfortunate who experiences a fire. This turns a large, unpredictable, unaffordable expense into a small, predictable one.

But homeowners insurance does not cover the cost of re-painting the home - that expense is predictable and affordable (or not). Furthermore, if it were covered by insurance, there would be a tendency to "overconsume" - some people would change the color of their home every summer at the expense of the other participants in the "paint insurance" pool.

Similarly, auto insurance covers accidents but not oil changes.

Yet health insurance is in crisis if folks don't have coverage for routine visits to the doctor? I can see a role for catastrophic insurance. I can even admit that encouraging folks to consume a bit of preventive health care now may save money later (and we should quit smoking and start exercising). But this is not a simple issue.
Unfortunately, it all comes down to the SNL skit of the '92 ('96?) Presidential election, when a voter asked clinton repeatedly, "Where's MY STUFF???"


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Meanwhile, in a blogosphere far, far away.... The Darthside

Thanks to Ace of Spades for pointing me to The Darthside, the online diary of one Darth Vader.

Here's a sample

Calgon, Take Me Away

Darth Vader and the stinking, rotten, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Do you ever have one of those days where you find yourself asking, "Hey, I know I'm bad, but what did I do to deserve this?"

Have I mentioned before that I am surrounded by idiots? Let me cut to chase and just tell you up front: the rebels got away. All of them. General Veers, bless his heart, must have destroyed two dozen armed speeders and and an entire line of infantry -- but those were just ants. We failed to take Mothma, Organa, Rieekan, Skywalker or even the traiterous fish Ackbar.

You might be thinking some fruit would come of our ensnaring the Millennium Falcon as it fled Hoth. You would be a damned fool optimist. My elite squadron of StarDestroyers proved itself utterly incapable of a securing a single unescorted freighter travelling less than the speed of light.

I mean, come on.

I've seen drills that were more challenging. And yet, they escape. I have worked among these men this past generation and I have always known them to be, with only a few notable exceptions, truly outstanding military professionals. A galaxy quails before them because they are efficient, effective and keen.

...You try to be an effective manager, you weed out the bad apples like the late Admiral Ozzel -- only to find that an insidious culture of incompetence has somehow transformed your deadly pan-galactic armada into a fleet of spaceballs.

To demonstrate a more appropriate level of Imperial resolve I have commanded all wings to follow the freighter through Hoth's asteroid belt. We are sustaining massive losses due to asteroid impacts and subsequent complications, but I feel confident that this will serve as an important object lesson to the surviving staff.

Let the Force sort out who is to live and who is to die. I know my destiny does not lie here.

Posted by Darth Vader at 04:25 125 comments
;-)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Not So Perky

Commentary on Katie Couric and The Today Show's falling ratings from Myrna Blyth on National Review Online. I won't get into Katie's dress or her disposition behind the scenes, since I feel those are a little off-mark and petty (how many TV personalities aren't jerks when the camera's not on them?)

However, the following passage is what I think is the true issue for Katie... Her "I'm just like you" meme is played out and married women don't connect with her, especially politically:

: "But what I think has contributed to Katie's major loss of appeal is that millions of women have finally caught onto the liberal bias in much of her reporting. Katie, like many women in media, just assumed that all women — just because they were women — agreed with them about issues such as gun control and abortion. She has always been at her sharpest, interviewing those with conservative points of view while throwing softballs at her political favorites. And Katie's attitudes and opinions did have considerable influence with women. That's because for years she has come into millions of women's homes on a daily basis, seemingly so concerned about their needs, able to both dish diets and criticize the government's policy in Iraq, swoon over celebrities and swoon over Hillary.

Katie marketed herself like a friend — a sophisticated girlfriend — and women want to agree with their friends — up to a point. In the last election the majority of married women with children, exactly the Today Show's typical viewers, voted for President Bush. Many participants in AOL's chat room yesterday complained about Katie's obvious bias and said they had departed to Fox and Friends, Fox News's morning show, or Good Morning America, where Diane Sawyer shrewdly seems to hide her own opinions behind, in Stanley's words, her 'poised, creamy insincerity.'"
My wife loved Katie and in the past probably didn't give too much thought to Katie's biases on the issues... She recognized that Katie probably was to her left, but still "connected" with her. However, she's become increasingly critical of things that Katie says each day, the softballs she throws to Lefties, the cheapshots at Conservatives... Not sure whether this is because I've been screaming at the TV in the background as well, the fact that we've got two kids now, or because The Perky One just isn't so Perky anymore. Who knows (and who cares)?

The net-net is that Today's problem really is Couric, but I think she'll drive the show into the ground until it's too late (ala Dan Rather and the CBS Evening News). Just my two cents.

BTW, for alternative AM programming, I always turn to Squawk Box on CNBC, Fox & Friends, or even C-SPAN's American Journal (when I want to hear the latest ridiculous rantings of liberals). That is, when I'm not listening to my local 97.1 FM Talk, which just makes the 50,000 watt KMOX seem like sleeping pill. (Rush should really get off of KMOX, which pre-empts his programs for Cards games 3 hours before gametime... Without Rush, KMOX's ratings would only stay afloat due to baseball.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Air America Radio

I don't know what I was thinking, but I decided to tune into Air America Radio this AM to see what they were talking about....

Well, after 15 minutes, my brain turned to mush and I had to turn it off. But, one thing I did learn was the Democrats' "big" idea for fixing Social Security and specifically the problem of people not saving enough for retirement. So, this post is Part 8163 of my SoshSecurity dialogue monologue... (Part 8162 here)

Here's the "big" idea, as expressed by Jerry Springer.... ready??

Are you sure??

According to Jerry: Most companies that offer 401k's require the worker to "sign up" and many do not. What if 401k participation was mandatory as part of employment and people had to opt out if they didn't want to participate? The Wharton School [of Business? or is he talking about his local elementary school here?] estimates that participation in 401ks would jump from 13% to 80%.

Now, Jerry's a great spokesman for Democratic values.... As is everyone on Air America. But, this argument came right after Jerry whined about working class Americans not having a lot of net income in their paychecks (after taxes, FICA, etc, etc). Jerry's solution for this is to for a bigger bite out of their check.

How about this, Jerry? Why don't you give working class Americans an immediate 12% pay increase (by eliminating the SS tax) and have THOSE funds moved into a low risk mutual fund (with low fees). Instead of taking a bigger chunk of their paycheck and forcing them to save for retirement, why not take the amount you already take out and have them save THAT for retirement. Oh, and if you want it to be "progressive," we can propose different percentages of current contributions... So low income workers would get 12% of their income that they could contribute and wealthier Americans would only get 4% to 6% of their income (up to the cap) to save for retirement?

I'm sure that Jerry is really looking for an additional Federal Program which would end up forcing employers to add 401k's to their compensation plans (sure to be a great boon to small businesses)

Where are the ideas from the Left? I mean, other than overthrowing our current system of government....

***UPDATE***
Caller into Air America: We need more people paying into Social Security... we have plenty of people in America, so let's get more people to pay in. Let's not raise the SS taxes... let's just get more people to pay in. (I'm not sure where these people will magically appear to resolve the demographic problem of 2 workers to 1 retiree come 2030, but I'm sure that's just a technicality.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

SoshSecurity, Part 8162

This report in The Hill could be embarrassing for Senator Reid...

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has resurrected a bill Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sponsored when he was in the House more than 20 years ago that would have kept members of Congress out of the Social Security program.

RNC researchers contend that the 1983 bill belies Reid’s repeated claim that Social Security is the “most successful program in the history of the world.”
[...]
Reid described his relationship with Bush in personal terms during yesterday’s reporters’ breakfast, referring to him as “this guy” and describing meetings with Bush at the White House as lectures. He lamented that Bush takes up most of the meeting time discoursing on foreign affairs and leaving Democratic leaders little time to ask questions.
Ummm, Senator.. the reason that Bush doesn't let you take up the entire meeting with your questions is because YOU ARE THE MINORITY PARTY!!! Oh, and your questions are idiotic. I mean, if I were Bush, I'm not sure I'd even have a meeting with you... Especially when you're out there talking about my plan being DOA.

;-)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Monday, April 25, 2005

More, Please

H/T InstaPundit, the ueberblogger of the blogosphere.

John Temple, the managing editor of the Rocky Mountain News, has started a blog and includes this exchange between Dave Kopel (funny guy who occasionally writes for NRO, too) and John Farrell, a columnist for the News.

This particular blog post is a string of internal emails regarding the perceived (real) bias of Mr. Farrell, as seen by Dave. It's a great insight into the discussion regarding bias in a major newspaper... unfortunately, I would be surprised if similar discussions were taking place in the monolithic newspapers such as the NYTimes, the St Louis Post-Dispatch (can anyone say People's Weekly World ;-)). If they were, I suspect they'd go something like this:

---- Original Message -----
From: "Johnson, Kim"
To: "Johnny Johnstone"
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 4:37 PM

> if i am "right" you are not impartial. kj

And Johnny responded:

-----Original Message-----
From: Johnny Johnstone [mailto:johnny@nytimes.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 6:19 PM
To: Johnson, Kim
Cc: Whoever; The Boss
Subject: Re:

Dear Kim,

If you can't recognize that your columns have a very noticeable rightward tilt,
you have serious problems with self-awareness. I mean, you wrote a piece about Iraq and didn't refer to it as "Mr. Bush's adventure" or at least mention Vietnam a couple of times...

And when the subject of Private Retirement Account scheme came up, you failed to mention call it a "scheme" and also failed to mention that Senator Reid has already called the plan dead, dead, dead. If that's not partisanship on your part, I don't know what is.

Visit our good friends at Common Dreams, Democratic Underground, and DailyKos for some perspective as to what's really happening out in the country. That's where the buzz is and the action... that's the next movement in American politics that has significant traction. I mean, remember those MoveOn.Org ads? They had a HUGE effect on the election. Certainly made Ohio close, although the Bushies made sure their chimp won, eh?

Just a thought... get in touch with "real people" that are out there.... DU and DailyKos are great tools to make that connection.

Best wishes,
Johnny
NYTimes

-----Original Message-----
From: The Boss
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2005 10:37 AM
To: Johnson, Kim; Johnstone, Johnny
Cc: Everyone
Subject: RE:

Dear Kim,

Of course you're on the right... I mean, you covered that one abortion story and actually used the term partial-birth abortion instead of the company approved "dilation & extraction" phrase for that procedure. I realize that when you used the term "partial-birth abortion" you were quoting someone and did use the quotation marks, but we made it very clear in our editorial reviews that we would not allow offensive langugae in our columns.

We're just asking you to balance things out... give just as much credibility to the arguments of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as you would Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). I mean, Bernie's not that far to the left of Nancy... Certainly a good representation of middle class values that we try to espouse here at the Times.

The Boss
Editorial Page Editor
NYTimes

---- Original Message -----
From: "Johnson, Kim"
To: "Johnny Johnstone"; The Boss;
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 4:37 PM

Thanks for reminding me of those transgressions. It won't ever happen again. I've visited Eric Blumrich's site as well as DailyKos and my head is suddenly clearer.

Thanks to everyone for setting me straight! kj
All names/writings above are fictional...

If they even have a discussion about bias (which I doubt that they have, given their coverage day in & day out), that's probably the objectivity you'd see....

;-)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

SoshSecurity

I guess we should all just give up and let Social Security crash and take down our country's economy with it.

I mean, Harry says it's dead, so what's the point?

President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security is dead, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a visit to Pittsburgh yesterday.

Reid along with Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate's Democratic Policy Committee, and Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, came to Coraopolis for a town meeting about Social Security.

Afterward, Reid told the Post-Gazette editorial board that he had enough votes in the Senate to block President Bush's proposal to introduce private savings accounts as an alternative to the existing federal retirement plan. "It's dead," Reid said. "The president just hasn't acknowledged it yet."
In related news, Harry Reid's Democratic Party has no future, they just haven't acknowledged it yet.

Brian adds: To paraphrase the movie Top Gun, directed at Bush and the RNC, "It's time to do some of that politickin shit..."

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Vermont after Jumpin' Jim

From this WaPo story, which has an interesting blurb about Dean trying to poll what happened with values voters in the Midwest... (With a clueless guy like this headin the DNC, the GOP won't have an troubles. I could tell him what the prob was for about 1/10th of what he paid the pollsters.)

Anyway, it looks like MoveOn.Orgers want Rep. Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) to run for Senate and he's up for it if the Dems will consent.

Vermont Battle Takes Shape

The liberal group MoveOn.org wants to flex its muscles in the U.S. Senate seat that opened up last week when Vermont's James M. Jeffords (I) unexpectedly announced his retirement.

In an e-mail message, Vermont MoveOn members were asked to weigh in on whether the group should support Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), who has said he will run and has the blessing of a number of Democratic leaders.

The message said he has been "a hero on many of MoveOn's issues" and argued that, if Sanders becomes the consensus progressive candidate and raises money quickly, "he could make Republican contenders think twice before jumping into the race."

Perhaps, but Republicans see an opportunity to pick off a seat in Vermont, and among those thinking of running is Gov. Jim Douglas, who has won two tough elections in a row and could frustrate Democratic hopes of winning.
Yeah, just what the Dems need.. an ueber-leftist Senator with a Socialist Party USA label after his name, parroting their slogans and message. Let's be honest, here. Is there really any difference between the libs (ala Boxer, etc) and Bernie Sanders or the CPUSA? They certainly take similar positions on the issues....

Brian adds: Oh please, please, please! Pretty please with sugar on top? Run Bernie, run! I'll bet we'll have Bernie's ads (and Moveon.org endorsement of him) running in every Red-state senate race as well. Nothing will tarnish the "conservative dem's" having to run in red states more than having to defend the Democratic party actively supporting the socialist candidate. And one that looks like a loon at that.

St Wendeler adds:I'm sure it'll make our friendly neighbor Down With The Left DownLeft in Carbondale, IL proud to be a whackjob Lefty... "Finally, a Socialist Progressive in the Senate!" I just love (his/her?) list of links... it's a who's who of the Moonbats:
Circumvent the corporate media
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
Alternet
Common Dreams
Democratic Underground
FAIR
Air America Radio
Democracy Now!
I must be part of that corporate media... or perhaps too buried in the Matrix to grasp reality. Or something like that...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Journalism Today

This NYTimes article discusses the equipment shortages expieriences of the Marines after they took over from the FL National Guard unit in Ramadi. Based on what I've seen of the units in Iraq on TV coverage, the NG units were the poorest equipped and least able to handle serious threats. So, this NYTimes story caught me by surprise (how could a Marine Company be less prepared than a NG unit?)

Bloodied Marines Sound Off About Want of Armor and Men
By MICHAEL MOSS

On May 29, 2004, a station wagon that Iraqi insurgents had packed with C-4 explosives blew up on a highway in Ramadi, killing four American marines who died for lack of a few inches of steel.

The four were returning to camp in an unarmored Humvee that their unit had rigged with scrap metal, but the makeshift shields rose only as high as their shoulders, photographs of the Humvee show, and the shrapnel from the bomb shot over the top.

"The steel was not high enough," said Staff Sgt. Jose S. Valerio, their motor transport chief, who along with the unit's commanding officers said the men would have lived had their vehicle been properly armored. "Most of the shrapnel wounds were to their heads."

Among those killed were Rafael Reynosa, a 28-year-old lance corporal from Santa Ana, Calif., whose wife was expecting twins, and Cody S. Calavan, a 19-year-old private first class from Lake Stevens, Wash., who had the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis, tattooed across his back.

They were not the only losses for Company E during its six-month stint last year in Ramadi. In all, more than one-third of the unit's 185 troops were killed or wounded, the highest casualty rate of any company in the war, Marine Corps officials say.

In returning home, the leaders and Marine infantrymen have chosen to break an institutional code of silence and tell their story, one they say was punctuated not only by a lack of armor, but also by a shortage of men and planning that further hampered their efforts in battle, destroyed morale and ruined the careers of some of their fiercest warriors.

The saga of Company E, part of a lionized battalion nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is also one of fortitude and ingenuity. The marines, based at Camp Pendleton in southern California, had been asked to rid the provincial capital of one of the most persistent insurgencies, and in enduring 26 firefights, 90 mortar attacks and more than 90 homemade bombs, they shipped their dead home and powered on. Their tour has become legendary among other Marine units now serving in Iraq and facing some of the same problems.

"As marines, we are always taught that we do more with less," said Sgt. James S. King, a platoon sergeant who lost his left leg when he was blown out of the Humvee that Saturday afternoon last May. "And get the job done no matter what it takes."

The experiences of Company E's marines, pieced together through interviews at Camp Pendleton and by phone, company records and dozens of photographs taken by the marines, show they often did just that. The unit had less than half the troops who are now doing its job in Ramadi, and resorted to making dummy marines from cardboard cutouts and camouflage shirts to place in observation posts on the highway when it ran out of men. During one of its deadliest firefights, it came up short on both vehicles and troops. Marines who were stranded at their camp tried in vain to hot-wire a dump truck to help rescue their falling brothers. That day, 10 men in the unit died.

Sergeant Valerio and others had to scrounge for metal scraps to strengthen the Humvees they inherited from the National Guard, which occupied Ramadi before the marines arrived. Among other problems, the armor the marines slapped together included heavier doors that could not be latched, so they "chicken winged it" by holding them shut with their arms as they traveled.

"We were sitting out in the open, an easy target for everybody," Cpl. Toby G. Winn of Centerville, Tex., said of the shortages. "We complained about it every day, to anybody we could. They told us they were listening, but we didn't see it."

The company leaders say it is impossible to know how many lives may have been saved through better protection, since the insurgents became adept at overcoming improved defenses with more powerful weapons. Likewise, Pentagon officials say they do not know how many of the more than 1,500 American troops who have died in the war had insufficient protective gear.

But while most of Company E's work in fighting insurgents was on foot, the biggest danger the men faced came in traveling to and from camp: 13 of the 21 men who were killed had been riding in Humvees that failed to deflect bullets or bombs.

Toward the end of their tour when half of their fleet had become factory-armored, the armor's worth became starkly clear. A car bomb that the unit's commander, Capt. Kelly D. Royer, said was at least as powerful as the one on May 29 showered a fully armored Humvee with shrapnel, photographs show. The marines inside were left nearly unscathed.
Read the whole thing, but first - can someone please explain to me why this NYTimes reporter gets paid for this unreadable pap? I mean, how many single sentence paragraphs does this joker use? And the timeline of the story is all over the map - I can't tell if it's Aug 2004, April 2005 or Aug 2003 at times. The excerpt above is better than the rest of the story... The quality of writing just declines steadily, as if the writer knows that no one will read past his first few paragraphs where he pushes the "not enough armor" meme.

As with many stories in the Times, they organize the story in a muddled way in order to highlight the aspect that they're interested in (troops didn't have enough armor) while confusing the reader about other aspects (production of armored humvees increased while these guys were in the field, the troops got better at spotting IEDs, but were caught by surprise initially). Also, they leave out aspects of the story that they either didn't bother to investigate (if the Marines faired worse than the NG, what did the NG do that was more effective) or decided might detract from their agenda.

ARC: Brian points to this blog post from Countercolumn, from one of the FL NG soldiers that was relieved by the Marine company (referred to as 2/4 in the blog post). While he uses acronyms, etc, I'd have to say that his writing is much more coherent. The problems experienced by the Marine company that relieved his unit might be explained by the Marine company's leadership (or lack thereof), as demonstrated here:
4.) Why it is that the 2/4 took such a large number of dead after we left is a constant topic of discussion around the 1-124th's officers and NCOs, still. My own assessment - and this assessment is shared by most people I talk to in the 1-124th, as well as my sources on the First Brigade, 1st Infantry Division staff who are still in contact with me - is that the 2/4's problems began with the collapse of the super human intelligence network that the 1-124th was able to build over the months.

Our Bn S-2 was very proactive at working with and through the Iraqi police and some of the other tribal heads. Our company commanders were also building sources at the grass roots level, and we even had informants coming to the gates asking for platoon leaders and NCOs. They didn't want to tell information to anyone else, other than the officers and NCOs these informants had relationships with and had built up a level of trust.

Well, because of the abbreviated relief in place operation, the deep personal connections the 1-124th had built up were lost when the follow on unit came into town. Plus, the Iraqi Police Chief, Chief Jarda'an, had a close working relationship with the 1-124th's battalion commander, LTC Hector Mirabile, who is himself a career police officer in the Miami-Dade police department. The two spoke a common language. Chief Jardan also had a good relationship with CPT Rick Roig.

When the new unit came to town, though, Chief Jardan came calling. The 2/4 sent him away. He had lost his connection to the Americans. And when he lost his connection to the Americans, he lost his power base and his leverage with his constituents. And so he was forced to cut deals with the insurgency in order to survive. The 2/4 got wind of these and were forced to arrest the police chief themselves.

The transition also hurt the redevelopment effort deeply. One of the blessings of going to war with a Guard unit is that all of us have day jobs and careers in the real world. Since LTC Mirabile is a city cop, and Treasurer of the Miami Dade Police Department, he had a very keen understanding of how municipal politics work. He also read up a lot on Iraqi tribal society in the early weeks of the war, and drew heavily on that knowledge. Our front man for running the reconstruction effort was a Captain with over 20 years in the Army who was also a construction project manager in civilian life. Between the two of them, they knew how to keep constituents and crews happy.

As a result, the contracts were carefully divided up among the different clans, so that each clan was dependent upon the others to play ball in order to continue performing the services. If my neighbor's clan screws up with the foundation, I don't get to build the brick walls, and my cousin's clan doesn't get to do the painting, etc.

Each sheikh therefore had a vested interest in maintaining peace and order in his neighborhood. If his area became inoperable, he would lose out on his ability to provide money and jobs for his people. And so when there was trouble in a given sheikh's area, we could go to him and say "Someone's making trouble for you. Find out who he is, and drop him on our doorstep within three days."

And very often, that's exactly what happened.

When the 2/4 came in, though, they regarded the 1-124th's system--well imbedded in municipal politics in the U.S., to be unethical, and forced an open-bid system.

Penny wise and pound foolish. Yes, they saved a bit of money, but at the cost of freezing out the smaller clans who got frozen out of the work. Boom. Vested interest in success gone. These clans became prime targets for terrorist recruiting, and their areas became nearly inoperable within weeks of the 2/4 taking over.

Further, the Marines operated in smaller elements. A couple of them were actually overwhelmed before the marines could bring effective reinforcements to bear. The Army traveled and operated in groups not less than a platoon.

Also, when we were briefing the 2/4's leadership on the rotation and manpower requirements we were using to man the front gate and the outposts on the bridges, some Marine officer looked at our S-3 and said "We can do that whole thing with five Marines."

Well, that caused a bunch of snickering among the Army troops in the TOC.
Interesting that the NG units seemed to have a better understanding of how to make sure the various tribes in the city had to rely on each other - and that the Marines just let that collapse once they took over responsibility for the city. Read the whole Countercolumn post for additional insight (and criticism of the Times' article).

I have a feeling that the number of casualties experienced by the Marines isn't totally due to their inability to engage the local tribal chieftans, nor the lack of armor (as they were similarly or better equipped than the NG troops they replaced). It was likely the result of increased activity in the area by the insurgents in addition to these factors. It's a shame that the New York Times can't provide the depth of coverage that one would expect from a newspaper... They wonder why their readership is in decline... hmmmm

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler