Phil's Observations

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mass Media & Political Funnies

Sometimes, I just can't resist laughing out so loudly. Good thing people already know I am nuts, and are used to it.

Courtesy of Image hosted by

Liberal activists at have yanked an anti-war ad blasting the administration for leaving U.S. troops in Iraq over the holidays after the Pentagon pointed out it used British soldiers to represent Americans in Iraq. The picture appeared as the ad's narrator says, "A hundred and fifty thousand American men and women are stuck in Iraq."

But a Pentagon spokesman tells Cybercast News that American men and women wear darker fatigues with a different pattern and don't have shorts as part of their combat uniforms. After trying to fix the error by doctoring the original photo to darken the uniforms and put long pants on the soldier in shorts removed the ad from its Web site.

The four activists kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq are part of the anti-war group Christian Peacemaker Teams and you might think the organization is furious with their captors, but you'd be wrong. Instead, the peace group is blaming the U.S. and Britain for the abduction, saying, "We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people."

The group's Web site reveals that it's a left-wing organization that has also stood with Palestinians against "Israeli occupation," and with illegal Mexican immigrants against harsh "U.S. immigration policy."


Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman who just returned from Iraq, defended U.S. efforts there in Tuesday's Wall Stree Journal and a subsequent news conference on Capitol Hill, saying the military has "a good plan" for victory in Iraq, that progress is "visible and practical" and warning that such progress could be turned back by a premature withdrawal.

But the major media that played up Democratic Rep. John Murtha's call for withdrawing U.S. troops largely ignored Lieberman's remarks. Neither ABC nor CBS mentioned the senator in their nightly newscasts while NBC aired a short sound byte. And The Washington Post, New York Times, and USA Today ran not a word of Lieberman's praise for U.S. efforts in Iraq.

Kicknit 11/30/2005 | 1 comments |

Friday, November 11, 2005

Soldier's Story Praised, then Found Not To Be True

Courtesy the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

WASHINGTON — For more than a year, former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey has been telling anybody who would listen about the atrocities that he and other Marines committed in Iraq.

In scores of newspaper, magazine and broadcast stories, at a Canadian immigration hearing and in numerous speeches across the country, Massey told how he and other Marines recklessly, sometimes intentionally killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Among his claims:

• Marines fired on and killed peaceful Iraqi protesters.

• Americans shot a 4-year-old Iraqi girl in the head.

• Tractor-trailers were filled with the bodies of civilian men, women and children killed by American artillery.

Massey's claims have gained him celebrity. Last month, Massey's book, "Kill, Kill, Kill," was released in France. His allegations have been reported in nationwide publications such as Vanity Fair and USA Today, as well as numerous broadcast reports.

This year, he joined the anti-war bus tour of Cindy Sheehan and he's spoken at Cornell and Syracuse universities, among others.

News organizations worldwide published or broadcast Massey's claims without any corroboration and in most cases without investigation. Outside of the Marines, almost no one has seriously questioned whether Massey, a 12-year veteran who was honorably discharged, was telling the truth.

He wasn't.

Each of his claims is either demonstrably false or exaggerated — according to his fellow Marines, Massey's own admissions and the five journalists who were embedded with Massey's unit, including a reporter and photographer from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and reporters from the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.

Massey, 34, of Waynesville, N.C., was with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. The unit went to the Middle East in January 2003 and participated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Massey was discharged in December 2003, shortly after returning from Iraq, due to depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

He began turning up in news stories last spring with accounts of military atrocities. Massey's primary claim has been that Marines from his battalion — some of whom, he told a Minneapolis audience, were "psychopathic killers" — recklessly shot and killed Iraqi civilians, sometimes, he said, upon orders from their commanders. During a hearing in Canada, Massey said, "we deliberately gunned down people who were civilians."

The Marine Corps investigated Massey's claims and said they were "unsubstantiated."

From the beginning, Massey misled reporters.

In early interviews, he told how he had lost his job at a furniture store because of his anti-war activities. But when asked about the incident in an Oct. 19 interview with the Post-Dispatch, Massey said that he had quit his job but never felt pressure to leave.

"I left on good terms," he said.

He also backtracked from allegations he made in a May 2004 radio interview and elsewhere that he had seen tractor-trailers filled with the bodies of Iraqi civilians when Marines entered an Iraqi military prison outside of Baghdad. He said the Iraqis had been killed by American artillery.

He told listeners the scene was so bad "that the plasma from the body and skin was decomposing and literally oozing out of the crevices of the tractor-trailer bed."

He repeated the story during the Post-Dispatch interview. But when told that the newspaper's photographs and eyewitness reports identified the trailer containing all men, mostly in uniform, Massey admitted that he had never seen the bodies.

Instead, he said, he had received his information from "intelligence reports." When asked if those reports were official documents, he answered, "No, that's what the other Marines told me."

The details of Massey's stories changed repeatedly.

For example, he almost always told his audiences and interviewers of an event he said he'd never forget: Marines in his unit shooting four Iraqi civilians in a red Kia automobile.

In some accounts, Massey said Marines fired at the vehicle after it failed to stop at a checkpoint. In another version, he said the Marines stormed the car.

Sometimes he said three of the men were killed immediately while the fourth was wounded and covered in blood; sometimes he said the fourth man was "miraculously unscathed."

Sometimes he said the Marines left the three men on the side of the road to die without medical treatment while the fourth man exclaimed: "Why did you shoot my brother?" In other versions, he said the man made the statement as medical personnel were attempting to treat the three other men, or as the survivor sat near the car, or to Massey personally.

There is no evidence that any of the versions occurred.

Massey told a version of the story before an immigration hearing in December in support of an American soldier trying to flee to Canada. The Seattle Times reported Massey's allegations in a story about that hearing. Then, Massey said he and the Marines killed four of the demonstrators. In other interviews, he said the Marines shot at 10 demonstrators and killed all but one that he let crawl away.

In interviews with more than a dozen 7th Marines and journalists who were in the military complex that morning, none can recall such an incident.

The Marine Corps readily admits that some of its men shot civilians, but not intentionally, they said. The Post-Dispatch reported on the second day of the war that Marines in one battalion had mistakenly shot and killed members of a British-based television network while shooting at Iraqi attackers.

When Marines moved into Baghdad a month later, the Post-Dispatch reported two separate automobile-related incidents in which Marines from Massey's battalion inadvertently shot and wounded 12 civilians. All of the passengers survived following treatment by medical personnel.

One of the checkpoint shootings is apparently the basis for one of most shocking recollections claimed by Massey in numerous speeches and interviews: The shooting of a 4-year-old girl in the head.

While touring with Sheehan in Montgomery, Ala., he told of seeing the girl's body. "You can't take it back," he said, according to the local newspaper.

But in the interview with the Post-Dispatch, Massey admitted that he had never seen the girl.

No 4-year-old died in the incident or was even wounded, according to witnesses, including a Post-Dispatch photographer at the scene who filed photos of the incident that were published in the newspaper.

Someone has been following the Mary Mapes philosophy on what journalism is: Let's tell a story, even if it isn't true!
Kicknit 11/11/2005 | 1 comments |

Mary Mapes ... What a Sham

Courtesy of GMA on ABC ... Brian Ross interview... on the "Memogate" scandal ...

"No one has proved that the documents were not authentic," Mapes says on this morning's "Good Morning America." Um, ya dumb ass journalist ... isn't it your job to verify accuracy of a story before reporting it?

"If you're talking about an investigation that basically gutted a news organization, and turned people one against another and made people afraid of each other and really scooted the country's most experienced anchor out of his chair . . . I didn't do that," she says. Yeah, right.

What Mapes doesn't dispute is the fact that she called a member of John Kerry's presidential campaign before the 60 Minutes II report was aired. Why would a journalist contact the opponent of the other canidate before the damn show aired? Something smells like fish ...

"I don't think I committed bad journalism. I really don't," she says. How do you define bad journalism, dumbass??

Mapes believes that Rove masterminded the public attack on the CBS guard story. It came out in September 2004, during the heat of a presidential election campaign. Umm, I think average Americans with a sense of what is right and what is wrong is why the public attacked, not because of Rove. This just goes to show you what she really thinks of the viewing public.

"For some reason, we've gone through this incredible period of media self-flagellation. We have become much more comfortable attacking and taking each other apart than we've been asking this administration tough questions." I'll tell you what, doorknob, bring something credible, and maybe there will be a real discussion among the American people.

Mapes tells ABC News she is continuing to investigate the source of the controversial documents. But she insists she had no journalistic obligation to prove their authenticity before the "60 Minutes II" report.

"I don't think that's the standard," she says. I thought that was what journalism was all about!

I think that says about all I need to say about Mary Mapes.

Kicknit 11/11/2005 | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 03, 2005

NASA Prioritizes

Courtesy of Image hosted by

NASA's top priorities are a replacement for the space shuttle and completing the international space station, and some other programs are being cut or deferred to concentrate the agency's resources, NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin said Thursday.
"NASA cannot afford to do everything on its plate today," he told the House Science Committee. Funding priorities required the agency to cancel several programs that "we either did not need or did not need right now," Griffin said.
For example, it seemed like putting the cart before the horse to continue life science studies about how people respond to being in space before the agency was sure it could put people back in space, he said.
In addition to life sciences, another affected program is nuclear systems technology, Griffin said.
That program is designed to provide power to an outpost planned for the surface of the moon. But that won't be needed until after 2018, so the work is currently being deferred, he said.
The agency has adopted a "go-as-you-can-pay" approach, Griffin said.
That focus on two primary areas should serve as a warning of potential cuts for the rest of NASA, Rep. Bart Gordon (news, bio, voting record), D-Tenn., commented.
Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., expressed support for Griffin but added that "NASA cannot use aeronautics and science as a piggy bank to fund human space flight."
Griffin said the next flight of the space shuttle is still planned for spring, adding that while the agency was surprised by problems with the foam insulation on the last flight, a lot has been learned from that.
NASA has been developing the new crew exploration vehicle, which is intended to fly to the moon but also can replace the space shuttle when it goes out of service.
Delaying that work could result in the United States being out of the manned spaceflight business for a few years after the shuttle is retired, at the same time other nations are increasing their space programs, Griffin said.
In addition, he said, NASA is encouraging private industry to submit proposals to carry cargo and crew to the space station.

Phil's Observations
It's about frickin tim NASA prioritized its projects. I'm all for space exploration, but com'on folks, we have to determine which projects are more or less important than others.
Kicknit 11/03/2005 | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tax Reform Panel Reports

Well, the tax code needs to be fixed, that is for sure. What I am not sure about is the recommendations that have been presented to the Secretary of the Treasury. I hope this leads to a massive, evolutionary change.

President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform Final Report

Check it out for yourself. If you pay taxes, it's important you understand the proposals and it's important that you tell your government what you think.

Personally, I think our current tax system is in shambles. Here's my proposal:

  1. Eliminate all income taxes and start from scratch.
  2. All persons with income two times the poverty rate and below are exempt from paying income taxes.
  3. Everyone else pays x percent of their income. My suggestion is 15-19%.
  4. Everyone else pays the same damn rate - no exceptions.
  5. There are only two exemptions to the income tax:
    • A deduction for purchasing your first home.
    • A deduction for charitable contributions up to 25% of your income
That's it folks! Nice, simple, clean, and fair. What do you think?
Kicknit 11/01/2005 | 1 comments |