Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sucking the Pacifier

("A compact 45 year old with a shaved head and an easy manner." - Bowman describing Col. H. R McMaster, 4/28/08 , ATC)

"The best beat in town" Tom Bowman was on ATC last night to present "hard charging colonel with a Ph.D.," H. C. McMaster.

Michelle Norris opens this Pentagon script: "In military circles Army Colonel H. R. McMaster is a celebrity. In the 1990s he had a new Ph.D. and a widely read book...but he's not simply an academic, he's also proven himself on the battlefield. Two years ago as a combat commander McMaster pacified Tal Afar...now he has a new job...to help make Iraqi government ministries run more efficiently." (Seems like he's a celebrity in NPR circles, too.)

Bowman is on to tell us how his (Mc)Master is going to fix Iraq: "Now he's putting the finishing touches on a report: a string of recommendations on how to make Iraq work." Where you might ask, does McMaster's expertise come from? Why from the miracle of Tal Afar of course! The siege of Tal Afar was off limits to the US press, but some news did leak out and it wasn't pretty. But Bowman won't let that get in the way of telling the story according to McMaster/Bush (seriously):
[McMaster] "...one of the lessons of Vietnam is that you really have to pay attention to the local conditions." [Bowman] "He brought Tal Afar under control with those lessons. A mixture of aggressive combat power and essential services. The city was an ethnic sectarian cauldron...President Bush devoted an entire speech last year to what Tal Afar was like [Bush blabbing]...then the President talked about how Tal Afar had changed [more Bush fantasy]. Iraqi forces helped McMaster take control of Tal Afar, but countywide they were too green. To clear hold and rebuild other Iraqi cities more American troops would be needed in what would later be called a Surge."
That this regurgitation of unverified, unsubstantiated Pentagon, White House, McMaster spin is presented as "news" does boggle the mind. Has Bowman ever been unembedded in Tal Afar, interviewed refugees from Tal Afar, worked with unembedded locals from Tal Afar? Has he done one whit of independent reporting on Tal Afar at all? That would be so tiresome, and complex, and he might have to drop such great lines as the following from his reports: "What McMaster accomplished in Tal Afar came through a good plan and sheer force of will. To acheive the same thing across Iraq will take far more than a hard charging colonel with a Ph.D."


Porter Melmoth said...

That guy looks like a real doofus! Any baby with any taste at all would puke on such a pacifier! And his name: McMaster! No doubt selected from a James Bond wannabe novel, as his real name (probably something like Irving Schicklgruber) just wouldn't make it. (After all, John Wayne's real name was Marion Michael Morrison.) And anyone in Academia knows that a PhD can be faked as easily as a phish fry on the internet.

Bowman's man-love for a character like this is a direct ripoff from Chris Matthews. But we need heroes today, don't we? It's comforting to know we have so many fine examples to choose from.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

Haha, and the widdle NoPR infants go ga-ga.

George King said...

This bloger and the related commentors might benefit from spending five minutes research before condemning someone like HR McMaster who represents one of the finest Americans of his generation, in any discipline. It's disgusting to see armchair liberals taking shots at an individual who has consistently sacrificed his own safety and comfort over many years and evidencef competance in an organization where this isn't always evident. Perhaps if you had read his fine and bold book on Vietnam, which is critical of the U.S. military, you might have a different opinion, but I doubt it because extremists of your persuasion aren't interested in or capable of reason. Maybe you consider Wikepedia biased, but in any case, the following is a brief excerpt from its entry on HR:

"Col. Herbert Raymond McMaster is best known for commanding Eagle Troop of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (then as a captain) at the Battle of 73 Easting in Operation Desert Storm. During the battle, Eagle Troop overran and destroyed Iraqi Republican Guard units which significantly outnumbered it, in conjunction with other 2nd ACR units."

Anonymous said...

If my name was Porter Melmoth I would make fun of others names too. His PhD was from UNC. Harper Collins then published his dissertation titled Dereliction of Duty. Maybe if you did some reading other than James Bond you might sound some what intelligent. It might even open your mind. Although it may be too much of an academic read for you. You know the ones with the big words.

Suck on that Porter

Porter Melmoth said...

Well, I guess I'd better respond in order to defend the illustrious name of Melmoth. Provenance: 'Melmoth the Wanderer', an 1820 novel by the Irish writer Charles Robert Maturin; Balzac, impressed by the work, wrote a novel, 'Melmoth Reconciled'; Oscar Wilde, in search of a pseudonym, chose 'Sebastian Melmoth'. I do not claim kinship with this line, only inspiration.

Maybe it's 'Porter' that comes across as preposterous.

Perhaps readers are unaware of the tone of satire that I attempt to bring across in some of my contributions to this blog. Satire is a touchy subject because appreciating it is a matter of taste. I don't pretend to deliver sterling material, but I had to laugh when I saw the picture that introduces this blog entry. When a head, any head really, is attached to a binky, well, I guess that's satirical or sardonic or droll or wry, or just kind of funny - but to some it's an insult. Don Rickles made a whole career out of insulting people, and sometimes he was thought to go too far. On the other hand, most were mature enough to consider the source. Mytwords, who runs this blog, is an insightful and credible mind. His entries are the ones to pay attention to. His levity is playful but never below the belt Attempting satire is a way some of us use as a coping mechanism in light of what we witness in current events. I guess this deserves to be explained.

On the non-satirical side, the problem with someone like McMaster is that, despite the nobility that might be assigned to him, he is involved with a war that is increasingly being exposed as action made under false pretenses. Therefore, that opens him up to a different kind of scrutiny. If his deeds are unimpeachable, a more discerning report on NPR's part would have been helpful. Instead, the report sounds like hagiography, which Mytwords rightfully points out, is somewhat suspect in its incompleteness.

If the illegitimacy factor of the Iraq War is to be eschewed by some, McMaster and his associates will be heroes in any case. It is also very possible that his apparent talents are being exploited by others higher up, as he might make them look good.

In closing, I would imagine that McMaster himself might be man enough to laugh off my pipsqueak ramblings without too much of a problem. I presume his toughness is multifaceted and adaptable.

George King, CPA said...

Mr. Melmoth at least displays a facile use of the language and intuits that HR McMaster (of whom I have personal knowledge) would not be at all upset by his rantings. Whether one agrees with the poorly conceived policies of the Bush administration, hopefully any rational viewer will conclude that the American military establishment has finally learned to produce some first rate leaders. Mr. Melmoth is clever enough to understand that most of his readers would not have recognized the allusion to Schicklgruber (the bastard father of Adolf Hitler) which for me was a slam too hard to swallow.

big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

"... the American military establishment has finally learned to produce some first rate leaders"

Could you define "first rate" in this instance?

(nice job on the retort, Port. And you didn't have to resort to deploying any adversarial "buzzwords" as did your opponent)

George King said...

First rate:

Suggest you read HR's book on Vietnam, view his biography on Wikepedia or other source, watch one of his presentations on Tal afar which can be found on various internet sources. Otherwise, you should speak to anyone among the thousands of U.S. military who have had any connection to H.R. McMaster and see whether they would call him a first rate leader. I apologize for belittling the thought process of your crowd, but I fail to have any respect for those who denigrate military for performing their tactical functions failing to distinguish them from the strategic goals which are set by otherse in the political sphere.

Porter Melmoth said...

Thanks for your civility, Mr. King. Speaking for myself and no doubt others here, our prime purpose is to critique NPR at this blog. If that spills over into other issues, that's natural, but we pretty much keep it within an NPR context.

I never think about aping 'The Daily Show', but sometimes we burlesque NPR and its offerings, maybe because we're just not the types to sit there and buy everything that we hear. That's a great American tradition, and Mark Twain is one of many names I could invoke. Plus, I personally expect more quality from a news service that supposedly is couched in terms of 'intelligent' reporting. Indeed, I find NPR a gross disappointment and indeed, a misnomer as far as a 'public' service is concerned.

I think our critiques in their various forms are extremely healthy, as they are aimed at an important part of the media that enjoys a pretty easy ride as far as criticism is concerned. My verdict: NPR deserves to be criticized, and the considerable evidence gathered on this blog justifies it. Remember, this is all done on a voluntary basis, so the results, especially compared to what the professionals should be doing as far as getting to the truth of things, is pretty respectable, if you ask me. As you invite us to peruse certain resources, I suggest you scan the archives of this blog if you are interested in NPR issues. I think you will find them well thought out and helpfully-referenced.

While the debate you entertain concerning military issues is certainly valid, perhaps you might wish to establish your own blog on the subject. As we all know, there is no shortage of web outlets to take advantage of in this respect.



big!pink!fuzzy!bunny! said...

"performing their tactical functions"

(psst, don't mention Haditha)

Joe Marquardt said...

Here's what happened in Tal Afar in January of 2005--complete with Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros' haunting photos:


Then tell me if McMasters is a hero.


Porter Melmoth said...

Just one of the reasons to keep the pressure on NPR and those they represent. Thanks Joe.