Right, so General Petraeus is telling us that the surge in Iraq is work­ing, which is inter­est­ing, since Rummy (who I thought was irrel­e­vant even before he left office) has said Iraq is being “ham­pered” by fail­ures in its gov­ern­ment, but Afghanistan is a suc­cess.1

Meanwhile, accord­ing to a poll of Iraqis — you know, the peo­ple who actu­ally live there — the surge is a fail­ure.

These are mixed mes­sages, and it’s under­stand­able that one would won­der how to inter­pret them; con­ser­v­a­tively, given the Bush administration’s track record on facts for the last seven years, I think the last thing we want to do is accept as valid any­thing they — or their mouth­pieces — claim to be true.

Thus we have no rea­son to believe that Petraeus’s assess­ment of Iraq is in any way valid. He’s not offer­ing any sort of doc­u­men­tary evi­dence to back up his claims; he’s only mak­ing claims and expect­ing them to be accepted because he says so. That’s not good enough with Bush; why would it be good enough with any­one else?

As for Rumsfeld: He thinks Afghanistan is a suc­cess. Whatever else he has to say on any sub­ject after an asser­tion of that kind can­not be taken as valid. If Rummy tries to tell you the sky is blue, you’d bet­ter get out a col­orime­ter and dou­ble check it, on the wild chance it turned orange when no one was looking.

That leaves us with the peo­ple we’re sup­posed to be giv­ing “God’s gift” of free­dom to: The Iraqis them­selves. And 70% of them believe the surge is a flop; and 60% believe that vio­lence against US troops — which, remem­ber, are viewed as invaders — is valid, accept­able and even desir­able. Nearly 1 in 2 believe that the US should with­draw immediately.

Meanwhile on the home front another kind of reli­gious purge is tak­ing place — this time in prison libraries, where the NY Times tells us chap­lains have been qui­etly remov­ing mate­ri­als for the last sev­eral months.

Apparently the Fed — in bla­tant dis­re­gard of the estab­lish­ment clause — is ban­ning some reli­gious titles on the grounds that they incite violence.

The iden­ti­ties of the bureau’s experts have not been made pub­lic, Ms. Billingsley said, but they include chap­lains and schol­ars in sem­i­nar­ies and at the American Academy of Religion. Academy staff mem­bers said their orga­ni­za­tion had met with prison chap­lains in the past but was not con­sulted on this effort, though it is pos­si­ble that schol­ars who are acad­emy mem­bers were involved.

Anonymous cen­sors, huh? I can think of another group of anony­mous “rec­om­menders” whose up-​​or-​​down vote wields dis­pro­por­tion­ate power in the US — another group of indi­vid­u­als whose for­ma­tion was a bad idea, and which should be dis­banded as soon as pos­si­ble. But one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that some ideas, no mat­ter how shitty they are, seem to per­sist long after they have out­lived their pur­pose or value.2

And as to the ques­tion of reli­gion incit­ing vio­lence — I have a ques­tion for the Fed: Have y’all jack­asses both­ered to pay atten­tion to the kind of shit that gets piped in on the god­damned tele­vi­sion?

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1. Apparently the upswing in opium pro­duc­tion in Afghanistan, as well as a resur­gence in the Taliban, is regarded as tol­er­a­ble to Rumsfeld.

2. The Electoral College is one such example.

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