Finally! A REAL War Against Terrorism . . .

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

CNN reports:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The U.S. military is planning a spring offensive against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, a senior Defense Department official has said.

Authorities have ordered troops, supplies and logistics into place to carry out the operation, the official said Wednesday, without detailing whether the new offensive would require more troops.

The news comes amid increased violence in Afghanistan and on a day in which the U.S. military said it thinks it will find Osama bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in eastern Afghanistan.

The manhunt for bin Laden is now in its third year but a military spokesman said confidence is high that he will be captured.

Call me jaded. Call me cynical. But I find the timing of this funny. If this were done a year ago (instead of Iraq), it would be "old news" by election time.

The Blame Game

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

It seems (for most of us, anyway) that the WMD question is resolved — Iraq had none. But other questions remain . . .

Was our intelligence bad? Or was our intelligence "messaged" by the Bush Administration in order to make its case to the American people?

Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institute (and author of "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq") examines this issue in this month’s Atlantic magazine. Highly recommended reading to all.

[For those too busy to read it, Pollack answers BOTH questions in the affirmative, but has much more to say on the subject]

Notes from New Hampshire

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

For what it’s worth . . .

I was raised in New Hampshire. My mother still lives there, and she’s just as much a political hound as I am. By way of background — she’s a registered independant, but always votes Republican (she’s a Republican of the McCain stripe, rather than the Bush stripe).

She’s just emailed me her take on the primary there, based on her political intuitions as well as those of her friends. She’s predicting a Dean victory. Not a victory in the sense that he will get more votes than Kerry, but a victory in the sense that he will come extremely close to Kerry. Within 3 or 4 points, she says. She also thinks Clark will do terribly.

Fox News Misinforms (Subtitle: Duh!)

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

According to a University of Maryland study:

Those who receive most of their news from Fox News are more likely than average to have misperceptions. Those who received most of their news from NPR or PBS are less likely to have misperceptions. These variations cannot simply be explained as a result of differences in the demographic characteristics of each audience, because these variations can also be found when comparing demographic subgroups of each audience

The study found that:

23% of the people who got their news from NPR or PBS were misinformed about the Iraqi War (for example, they believed that "most of the world" supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq)

55% of the people who got their news from CNN were misinformed.

80% of the people who got their news from Fox were misinformed.

The interesting stats come in when you factor out people’s political leanings. For example:

78% of Bush supporters who get their news from Fox were misinformed

whereas . . .

Only 50% of Bush supporters who get their news from PBS or NPR were misinformed.

The full study can be read here

This May Explain It . . .

Ken AshfordIraqLeave a Comment

Bush-ites are proud to point out that Bush’s military budget is strong and robust, compared to Clinton — who "slashed" it. The best response to that is to point out that even though Bush was CoC, it was essentially "Clinton’s" military that won the Iraqi War. That shuts them up (sometimes).

But there may be other reasons to explain the different budgetary priorities assigned to the military by Clinton and Bush. Although the military, under Clinton, researched ABM technology, they didn’t throw needless dollars into activating a pie-in-the-sky missile defense system that doesn’t work, as the Bush administration seems destined to do. As this article in the Washington Post points out . . .

Dean Implosion

Ken AshfordElection 2004Leave a Comment

After seeing Dean poke fun at himself on Letterman’s Top Ten list last night, I was willing to give Dean a pass for his histrionics Monday night, and suggest that the jokes about him are becoming a little unfair. But then I read this piece by MSNBC’s Howard Fineman, which begins:

Like the Challenger explosion, the faltering of Howard Dean’s campaign will occupy crash-site investigators for years, maybe decades. How did a guy who rose to front-runner with such a powerful message — the war is wrong, the political system needs profound reform — get so sidetracked between Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl?

The analogy to the Challenger explosion is appropriate. It looks like Dean, too, tends to implode when things get cold. Worse than that, Iowa doesn’t look like a fluke; Dean appears to have a fundamental design flaw — the guy just seems to be lacking an O-ring or two.

Read more of Fineman’s analysis