An Update And Some Big Site News

[ Posted Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 – 17:19 UTC ]

I should mention right up front that I'm essentially punting on today's article. I had planned on doing this anyway, but then an appointment I had got cancelled at the last minute, so I at least now have the time to jot down a few things -- a news update and then some great news for the site. The first is just me patting myself on the back (again, I'm admitting this up front, in case there are cat videos or something else on the web which would be a better use of your time than reading this), but the second is a bit of personal news that I think regular readers will be almost as excited about as I am. But before we get to dessert, we've got to eat our vegetables.

Or maybe I should say before we get to dessert, we have to detour through the desert. Roughly a month and a half ago, I made a military prediction in this column. My initial plan for today's column was to merely re-run this prediction, titled: "Fallujah Will Fall Next," since that is now exactly what is underway.

Now, I have to admit in the interests of full disclosure that I am in no way qualified to make military predictions. The only experience I have with military tactics and strategies is through looking in grade-school history books and being fascinated by those maps with the little arrows showing how past wars have been waged. The closest I've gotten to battlefield experience was touring Gettysburg, over a century after the bullets stopped flying. So in general, my military predictions aren't worth the pixels they're printed with.

Still, when you're right, you're right. And in this particular case, I was. The Iraqi army has now begun the battle for Fallujah, and if they are successful (eventually -- nobody expects immediate success here), it will be a milestone readily apparent on the map. Here are the two links which prove this, from my previous article:

There are two maps worth looking at to see the progress being made in Iraq, one from a little over a year ago and one that is up to date. The recent one is posted on Wikipedia, and changes over time (people update it with recent developments). The historical one is from the Washington Post and was printed to a companion article about what was going on last February (the Kurdish forces were about to retake Sinjar).

What astounds me is how little the media pay attention to such maps. Last Sunday (could have been two Sundays ago, now that I think about it), I watched a morning political chatfest (ABC, if memory serves), which actually led their show with a good five minutes of war reporting. When it began, I turned to my wife and said "I'll bet you a dollar we don't see a single map." She didn't take the bet, because she is a smart cookie (among other reasons). There was the usual frontline reporting, complete with videos of artillery units and Iraqi army units firing at the enemy, and some discussion of strategies and tactics. But no maps. How is the public supposed to gauge the state of a war without seeing, you know, the actual state of the war?

But that's a rant for a different day. Right now, the news is the fight for Fallujah has begun. And also (showing some real evidence of strategic thinking), there was news that the Kurds in Syria are pushing a lot closer to the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa. Some fighting around Mosul is also taking place, but largely seems to be a feint at this point. Pressuring the enemy on multiple fronts tends to confuse the enemy (where will the next attack come from?) and also forces them to stretch their own forces thinner (it's hard to go on the offensive when you have to pull lots of fighters back to defend your own territory). So the simultaneous push in both places could be very effective.

In any case, I don't have much to add to my previous commentary other than to note the fighting has begun in earnest (this is why I was planning on just re-running that column today), so just go back and read what I had to say about it then -- my thinking on the subject hasn't changed much, if at all.


Big News

OK, with that out of the way, let's get to the tasty big news for -- we are going to the 2016 Democratic National Convention! Woo hoo!

Well, we might be going to the convention -- we still have to jump a few background-check hoops, but we're pretty confident they won't present much problem, since we passed them the last time around. We got our preliminary acceptance notice from the official Democratic committee in charge of press credentials for the convention, though, so we've already cleared the highest and toughest hurdle.

We have to say we're pretty downright excited about the prospect of covering the Democratic convention, as we certainly had a lot of fun in 2012 in Charlotte. I've toured Philadelphia as a kid (school trip), and know it is chock full of historical sites to see, starting with the birthplace of our nation, Independence Hall. Plus, the stairs from Rocky (of course)!

An important note: when I say "we" here, I am doing so not out of the normal conceit of "the editorial 'we'" (which we absolutely love to abuse here, every Friday, like clockwork), but instead to reference the fact that I won't be the only one blogging from the convention, as Mrs. Chris Weigant (as she is so affectionately known here in these pages) will also be providing her own unique perspective from the convention floor. So there's that to look forward to, as well. As I said, she's a smart cookie, and the last time around she also covered the convention for the Irish Times.

One bit of sad news needs mentioning, though. We optimistically also applied this year for press credentials to the Republican convention, in the hopes of seeing actual fistfights on the floor (this was back when it wasn't certain that Donald Trump would get enough delegates to become the nominee on the first ballot). We carefully picked some previous columns to submit (such as my eloquent defense of Sarah Palin, way back when), to try and prove our (to coin a phrase) "fair and balanced" nature. We were unsuccessful -- we were informed a few weeks ago that our request for Republican National Convention press credentials had been turned down. Perhaps they read a non-cherry-picked column or two from my recent offerings, or something (heh). Oh, well -- in any case, even without an actual floor fight (literal or metaphorical), this year's GOP convention would still have been fascinating to witness, but we will not have that opportunity, so you'll have to look elsewhere for first-hand coverage.

But starting a week afterwards, we will be covering the Democratic convention in all its glory, with our own slightly-cynical, often-snarky perspective. As previously stated: Woo hoo! See you in Philly! Cheesesteaks all around!

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


23 Comments on “An Update And Some Big Site News”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, at least you will be able to cover the fisti-cuffs of the Democrat Convention, eh???

    That's gotta be worth something... :D

    Congrats, CW :D


  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    If you had to get into one of them, I'm glad it's the Dem convention. The Repub convention will probably turn into some horrible reality-show bore. The rabid righties will be there cheering; the Repubs with consciences and some understanding of history won't be there at all; the go alongers who object to Trump but lack the character to walk away will be there trying to appear like they're somewhere else. They won't object or raise hell, they'll be a bunch of sad looking Chris Christies.

    Nothing, nothing, will surprise me more than if Sane Republicans try to do something to unseat the Donald. But my money's on the whole sad sack bunch lining up like they always do.

    The whole thing will probably feel like some ghastly gathering in a hotel where you listen to the salesman yap about the condo in Florida because you'll get the free gift when it's over.

    Donald will probably pay people to attend -- we'll find out about that after it's over and some schmo admits on Facebook that he applied through a temp agency and made $8.00 an hour to hang around and cheer when directed.

    Philly will actually be interesting and historic.

  3. [3] 
    Paula wrote:

    I remember the column about Fallujah, BTW. Good work!

  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    I am always interested in fisticuffs on a convention floor, no matter who throws the first punch.


    Paula -

    Good point about both the people who will stay away from the GOP fest, and about the "sad looking Chris Christies" -- heh.

    And thanks for the shout-out about the Fallujah column. When I get things right, I am absolutely shameless about pointing it out, I honestly have to admit...



  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Nothing, nothing, will surprise me more than if Sane Republicans try to do something to unseat the Donald. But my money's on the whole sad sack bunch lining up like they always do.

    Sounds like yer suffering from "lining up" envy... :D


  6. [6] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    Michale [101] Friday Talking Points 392 -

    Glad ta see ya!!! :D

    Thank you :-) I'm just a week out of hospital and still feeling very delicate but glad to be here. :D

    Posting this here so you see it, Michale. :-)

    CW -

    I also remember the column re your Fallujah prediction and add my congrats to Paula's - good work, very good work!

    Working on catching up with all the columns I missed while in hospital but I'm slow with everything at the moment so it's taking me a while. :-)

  7. [7] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "I have to admit in the interests of full disclosure that I am in no way qualified to make military predictions." -CW

    Military experience is over rated in terms of understanding, commenting upon and implementing military strategy.

    As historian/analyst and prolific war game designer Jim Dunnigan puts it: "Many of the most incompetent wartime leaders have been highly regarded peacetime military leaders." General George McClellan is a classic example.

    "Even in the most experienced armies, a large proportion, even 50 percent or more, of leaders will prove incompetent in wartime." - another Dunniganism.

    The secret to good analysis is to ask the right questions and follow the path of answers without fear or favor. Post Iraq War II, the US public has no interest in either activity , and nearly all the mass media press cheerfully meets this need.

    Good work CW.

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Military experience is over rated in terms of understanding, commenting upon and implementing military strategy.

    Says the people with no military experience.. :D


  9. [9] 
    Paula wrote:

    And Josh Marshall on the IG report re: email:

    A brief note on the State Department IG Report on the Clinton email issue. The ledes of a lot of stories present this as a rough hit for Clinton, bad news blah blah blah. Let's focus on the essential point: Despite the fact that there are some real questions about the impartiality of the IG, the report says the issues with the management of the Secretary of State's emails are of longstanding and go back with the last five Secretaries of State. The report also singles out Colin Powell, who had a similar set up. The criticism is there. It definitely wasn't a good arrangement. But to see this as a damaging report after the hyperbolic and frequently insane coverage of this issue is crazy. This was never more than some poor judgment overlayed by a big bureaucratic pissing match all slathered over by a thick layer of partisan game playing and media derp.

    Like most Clinton scandals, if there there hadn't been months, maybe more than a year of weird conspiracy theories, expected perp walks and general nonsense, one might read this and say, wow, that's disappointing. But after all that, it's just a big nothingburger. Like it almost always is.

  10. [10] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    My thanks, CW for re-posting the link to the Syrian war map on Wikipedia, since I didn't catch it first time around. Now if I could keep myself from looking at it every few hours....

    While you're in Philly, I have a question that requires personal investigation. How is an authentic Philly made?

    And will a call for decriminalization of pot make it into the (inevitably forgotten) platform? Or will that be shoe-horned out by DWS...

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    And Josh Marshall on the IG report re: email:

    Yea, and Clinton campaign spokes person says the report actually praises Clinton..

    I didn't ask if you read the spin from Clan Clinton..

    I asked if you read the report...


  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:


    Thank you :-) I'm just a week out of hospital and still feeling very delicate but glad to be here. :D

    Posting this here so you see it, Michale. :-)

    You take care of yerself, Mopshell...

    The more people we have around here that keep me on my toes, the better.. :D


  13. [13] 
    Michale wrote:

    Since Mohammed won't go to the mountain, I'll bring the Hill (get it? Hill?? Hillary??? wow... tough room :D ) to Mohammed...

    found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.

    The report says Clinton, who is the Democratic presidential front-runner, should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. Instead, Clinton provided those records in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office.

    Clinton used an inappropriate method of preserving her documents. Her approach would not have been approved if it had been requested by a more junior member of the State Department staff. The report also suggests that despite a Clinton aide’s insistence that the method of preserving her emails had been submitted to a legal review back in 2010, there is no evidence that such a review took place. And, here’s the kicker: Clinton refused to sit for a formal interview.

    That last point is very important..

    Clinton has said over and and over and over and over and (see where this is going??) over and over that she welcomes a chance to sit down and explain..

    Apparently that was ANOTHER lie...


  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:
  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:


    But hay, if you just want to talk about the spin, I'll be your huckleberry.. :D

    This was never more than some poor judgment

    OK, so we are in complete agreement.. Hillary showed poor judgement..

    And THAT poor judgement, as the HEAD of the US's entire diplomatic apparatus, disqualifies her from being President...


  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    From the report:

    Throughout Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the FAM stated that normal day-to-day operations should be conducted on an authorized AIS,147 yet OIG found no evidence that the Secretary requested or obtained guidance or approval to conduct official business via a personal email account on her private server

    The FAM is the Foreign Affairs Manual, the rule book for the State Department..

    Clinton has stated incessantly that she was "authorized" to use her private insecure home-brew bathroom closet email server.. Yet, she NEVER stated *WHO* authorized her to do this.

    We now know WHY Hillary never stated who gave her the authorization. Because NO ONE did..

    Hillary lied.. Constantly and knowingly lied...

    Now lying is a HUGE crime for a person with a '-R' after their name..

    I am CERTAIN that ya'all will hold Hillary JUST as accountable as ya'all held Bush....

    Right??? :D


  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Again, directly from the report...

    According to DS and IRM officials, Department employees must use agency-authorized information systems to conduct normal day-to-day operations because the use of non-Departmental systems creates significant security risks.

    No matter HOW you want to spin it, this OIG report is HUGELY damaging to Hillary Clinton's candidacy..

    Even if one goes with the milquetoast spin that all it showed was "bad judgement", such "bad judgement" in a PRESIDENTIAL position would likely cause GREAT damage to this country...

    Hillary is simply not qualified to be President, simply on the basis of her judgement alone..


  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hillary is simply not qualified to be President, simply on the basis of her judgement alone..

    Or, in Hillary's case, lack thereof...


  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    HILLARY CLINTON’S use of a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 has been justifiably criticized as an error of judgment. What the new report from the State Department inspector general makes clear is that it also was not a casual oversight. Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods, so as to make sure that her records were properly preserved and to minimize cybersecurity risks. She ignored them.

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hillary lied..

    It's THAT simple...


  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    More problems for Hillary...

    Every time something bad happens it's going to be Hillary who bears the brunt of the blame, not Trump..

    Why?? Because Hillary is The Establishment Candidate and Trump is the outsider...

    That means Hillary will take the blame for an Establishment who is more concerned about getting men into the women's bathroom then they are about making sure every American who flies can actually MAKE their flights...

    Every misstep, every bonehead move, every dumshit step made by the Obama Administration will mean hundreds of votes for Trump and hundreds less votes for Hillary...

    The Democrats' Big Blue Wall can't save them from the curse of The Establishment...


  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    Remember when Clinton said that she used a private insecure homebrew bathroom closet email server "for convenience"..??

    “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”

    Clinton lied..

    She used it because, AS I SAID AT THE BEGINNING, she didn't want her emails accessible...

    Clinton lied...

    There is NO other conclusion possible..

    And the media is ALL over this story...

    Clinton lied...


  23. [23] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "There was the usual front line reporting, complete with videos of artillery units and Iraqi army units firing at the enemy, and some discussion of strategies and tactics."

    Compared to previous wars in the media age, there has been virtually no front line reporting by journalists. What the public sees is basically "stock footage." There is virtually NO discussion of long term strategy or means to implement the strategy. There have been a lot of retired Generals on camera, but none of this is official and almost all of it is vague. Frankly, politicians, the military and nearly all the American Public seem delighted with this state of affairs.

    What does the end game look like? (End game is an arbitrary construct, but useful for planning purposes). A unified Iraq of the Saddam Hussein Era with Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions under the control of a centralized government in Baghdad? Something more federalized, or new boundaries and new nations? How does Syria fit in to the picture? Russia, Iran? There are a lot of spheres of interest bumping together, and not happily.

    It is good to see ISIS getting a thumping, but ISIS is really just old wine in a new bottle. They didn't take Fallujah, they already there. ISIS is militant Sunni mixed with the trappings of Wahhabism. It's centuries old tribal conflict. Like Northern Ireland. The tribes and the tribalism won't go away, they just go to ground and wait for outsiders to leave or get complacent.

    The British Empire was dealing with this problem prior to the First World War, during the First World War, and after First World War well into the '50s when their Empire basically ceased be.

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