Monday, March 06, 2006

Troop Poll/Ingersoll/Octavia Butler

(P1) Political

What The Troops Are Saying

Wondering how to support the troops in Iraq? How about just listening to them.
According to Nicholas D. Kristof who actually visits these places, "...unrepentant hawks (most of whom have never been to Iraq) have insisted that journalists are misreporting Iraq and that most soldiers are gung-ho about their mission...

"Hogwash! A new poll that was released Tuesday shows that U.S. soldiers overwhelmingly want out of Iraq-and soon...Zogby International and LeMoyne College...asked 944 service members, 'How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq

"Only 23 percent backed Bush's position that they should stay as long as necessary. In contrast, 72 percent said that U.S. troops should be pulled out within one year. Of those, 29 percent said they should withdraw 'immediately.'

"That's one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even troops on the ground don't buy into it-and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale...

"So what would it take to win in Iraq? Maybe that was the single most depressing finding in this poll. By a 2-1 ratio, the troops said that 'to control the insurgency we need to double the level of ground troops and bombing missions' And since there is zero chance of that happening, a majority of troops seemed to be saying that they believe this war to be unwinnable...

"..."It's time our commander in chief stopped stage-managing his troops and listened to them."

Because I wanted to make absolutely certain that this was a poll of troops serving in Iraq, I went to Zogby and found the following:

Nearly three of every four American troops serving in Iraq think the United States should withdraw all its troops and end the war within a year, according a Zogby-Le Moyne College poll released Tuesday.

Le Moyne faculty helped develop and word the poll's questions, which were given to troops in face-to-face interviews in Iraq, pollster John Zogby, of New Hartford, said.

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(P2) Philosophical

Wow! Robert Ingersoll

"Robert Ingersoll, "a glorious flame of free thought.' How can I do this genius justice in such a short space? I will try. He lived from 1833 to 1899 and was internationally known as the 'Great Agnostic', one of the most brilliant thinkers, lawyers, orators, debtors and authors of his day, or any day. Twelve volumes of his works are still available and are a collector's treasure. He lectured all over the United States and abroad to standing-room-only audiences. He spoke on many subjects, but thousands upon thousands turned out to hear him demolish the absurdities of orthodox religious dogmas, including Chriatianism. He found them repugnant due to the damage they did to the human mind and spirit. And yet, on a deep and profound level he had a sense of the Mystery that was breathtaking.

"I can tell you that, without exception, his funeral eulogies are the most beautiful that I have ever read in the English language.

"Walt Whitman, the poet laureate of the universe, said that only one man could speak at his funeral and that man was Robert Ingersoll...

"Mark Twain..wrote...Except for my daughter, I have not grieved for any death as I have grieved his. (Ingersoll's).

To read some of his words, press the link to the full William Edelen column titled Robert Ingersoll..."A Most Precious Treasure."

(P3) Poetical

In Memoriam

Octavia E. Butler
American Science Fiction Author

All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
Is Change.

-OEB 1993

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Anonymous said...

Hi Ed!

I'm assuming you cut and pasted a series of quotes from Kristof's column for this blog entry.

Did Kristof mention the Le Moyne College group was the "Center for Peace and Global Studies"? I got that information from the Zogby site. The original quote is "The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies...".

I may be too cynical, but does that sound like an oil company conducting a poll that confirms it's okay to drill for oil in ANWR?

My .02,


ed hagan the third of three said...

Being a veteran from another era I recall how I felt realizing that the older generation went through their own hell. Maybe worse than our generation. Definitly harsh, worse than any of my personal experiences, based on what they told me. I felt perplexed as to why they even talked to me. I was and am nobody. I didn't really want to talk with them. Only agree that war is hell. My country right or wrong, crap. I recall reciting to myself something like "I am an American". I guess I did that in case I was ever captured (unlikely given my assignments) or cornered during a conversation over a beer. Any of my own feelings I clouded with nods of the head. I had nothing to say. I felt I didn't know what was happening. I fixated on Star Trek reruns that were new to me. I drank until numb when I was out in public and didn't drink alone out of fear that I would become like my Father,(a disabled Army vet from WWII that mopped up on Guam) that was never sober when not working. I have been trying to understand the stymulus and response to those things that make me rage and withdraw from life as I contemplate what will be it's ultimate conclusion. Will anything have been important? Will anything make a difference a hundred years from now. The historians will grapple with this question. Eddie, your blogs will be part of that history. That's pretty neat. Nodd if you think so. (also please clean up my spelling and grammer - I hate not being abke to use the spell check! My hands don't type without accidently sending me to another paragraph or erasing everything I wrote! My personal tragedy is my hands are broken and don't work properly anymore).

Edward Coletti said...

Response to Paul,

Hi Paul. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I did include a few quotes from Kristof. Then I also put in the short piece from Zogby demonstrating that it was, in fact a poll of "in-country" troops in Iraq. But I don't understand your connecting any of this to ANWR. Please elaborate.


Edward Coletti said...

This response is to Ed Hagan.

Thanks Mr. Hagan. You're feelings are coming through beautifully without editing. Your typing mistakes are like psychic punctuations in my way of viewing things. It's not possible to edit the comments of others on here, and I'd prefer not to. By no means let that stop you. If you'd prefer, you can put in a parenthetical remark each time you send a direct entry - something like ("Readers, I do have a big brain but also broken hands. Please excuse the typos") OR, should you prefer, send to me as email, and I'll do the edits. Your call, great one!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ed!

I was trying to gently suggest that a group called "Center for Peace and Global Studies" might have created a skewed survey so that the results matched their viepoint.



Edward Coletti said...

Paul, Then why would Zogby participate? I'm sure that if you went to the poll itself, you'd be able to check the model. Having been in Vietnam in 1966-67, well before the facts were even suspected, I began suspecting. I returned to SF as an intelligence officer, and my suspicions turned to belief. Now, the troops in Iraq are far better able to study the facts than I had been in Nam. The internet alone gives them perspective. But nothing teaches better than the intimate proximity of hatred in the form of an artillery shell from the weapons cache that our wonderful government (in whatever persona) allowed to be stolen at about the same time they somehow lost track of how many billions of tax dollars funnelled into the country. That artillery shell was wired as a ground bomb and was detonated by a cell phone, and it went off right under the crotch of the polled soldier's buddy, and you still doubt that he thinks this war's a piece of pernicious political horeshit? Or do I read you incorrectly?


Katherine H. said...

Particularly like the essay on Robert Ingersoll, someone I was not familiar with at all. And within the essay, the comments on Jesus, the Bible. Question, though, parts of his creed, i.e., "to love the truth." What is "truth? And what is "genius?

ed hagan said...

This subject hasn't ripened yet. More time is needed. Hopefully not more bodies.

joe said...

Hi Ed -
Another wonderful post. I've "brushed up" against Mr. Ingersoll, a few times. From what I see here, he deserves much more serious attention. Thanks, too, for introducing me to Octavia E. Butler. In terms of the "content of that empty space," I think she's exactly right.

To Ed Hagan: Hi Ed. You know, if you acquire a "Google Toolbar" for your web browser, it comes with a spell check for just such spaces as these. I don't recall how I installed it, but they have directions on their site. Once it's in, there's a small spell check button up there. You click it, and in 5 seconds, or so, the background color changes to a pale blue, and any potential misspelled word appears in bold red, with an underline. You can "click" on it, and it gives you spelling suggestions, just as with a Microsoft Word spellcheck... I use it a lot, otherwise, I often spell even my name incorrectly.

And, I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of Zogby's poll.

Paul - your post seems to imply that the information you normally receive... I assume from mainstream TV news and from Newspapers - is objective and non-biased, not at all "skewed."
I can understand such a perspective, but it's absurd, almost alarmingly absurd. It's like a Soviet citizen in the 1960's, arguing that dissident literature MUST be biased, since it so profoundly contradicts the state's news agency, Tass. And, let me assure you, such a comparison is by no means an exaggeration.
Entirely without disrespect, I'd like to add - If you feel this assertion is in error, and that you'd like to engage in some serious debate, entirely free of ad hominem attacks, please let me know, and I'll give you my email address, and we'll get to it. Such an exchange would probably be educational for both of us...

Take care, everyone. Great posts, thusfar...
- joe carpenter

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed!

The point I was trying to make was that I found the results of the poll suspect because of the involvement of the Le Moyne College Center for Peace and Global Studies.

Are the results true? Probably. I find it hard to believe that any soldier would NOT want to come home as soon as possible. I just don't think it's remarkable that a peace organization did a poll and found that soldiers want to come home.

I have to dismiss Mr. Carpenter's assertion out of hand. The original posting questioned the results of a poll as reported by a mainstream media columnist in, presumably, a mainstream newspaper.

I have always questioned my media sources because of their inevitable bias (left or right). One of my biggest frustrations is unbiased information is very difficult to find.

However, I do admire the adroit ad hominems he presented in his comments. I hope he can find another forum to display his talent. My intent for posting here is to understand a different perspective.

I hope this clears up any confusion.

My .02,


joe said...

Hello, Paul -
You're right, of course, your post made me angry, and still does. However, I was attempting to contain it and - quite literally - to offer you the opportunity to debate.

Perhaps you're one of those rare folks who would have commented on the sources of a pro-business, pro-government, pro-war post, quoted from, say, the NYT. However, assertions of bias are almost universally leveled at whatever! - information might emerge from any "left-leaning" sources. I took your post to be cut from the same cloth. Perhaps I was in error. Was I?

Your initial post seemed to be saying that you researched Ed's post and found that the LeMoyne Center was a "left-leaning" group. I took your confession of cynicism, then, to reflect your perspective on work and information emerging from the LeMoyne Center, rather than on
the mainstream outlet in which the whole story appeared. In rereading the post, that still seems to be the case.

I'm not sure which perspective you're looking for, Paul, but I've not encountered much information, from any source, which can actually be called "objective." Everyone, every group and every institution, has an agenda. So do I. I got angry because I seemed to see one in your initial post - an agenda which seemed to conflict with mine.

One more thing - if, indeed, you felt I was attacking "Paul," and not Paul's ideas, I'm sorry, that was not my intention. Paul's ideas, as I read them, made me angry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe!

If Ed had posted something about a poll saying Bush is an idiot, I would have made the same comment. If Ed had posted something about a NRA poll saying gun ownership is beneficial, I would have responded the same as well. I think we can both agree there will be some bias in the above examples. So yes, I comment on both sides. If that is rare, then there is room for improvement in all of us.

Are all left or right leaning sources of information automatically biased? Maybe, maybe not. I prefer to do the research instead of choosing the kneejerk reaction. In this case the research hinted that maybe this poll had a bias and was just noise, not useful information.

I am a conservative voice on this blog. I know my comments may not be well received, but I think they add some richness to the conversation. Ed and I disagree on some things (not all things Ed!), but the wonderful thing about Ed is we can continue the conversation without the disagreement getting in the way.

I enjoy hearing your differening opinion, because it helps me understand you and clarify my own opinions.

The original question (paragraph 2 of original post) still remains unanswered. Did Kristof note in the column the name of the Le Moyne College group and did he note a potential for bias? I do not have access to the original column and am interested to see if he did.

I too long for sources of pure information, not the biased garbage that seems to spew from any and all sources. News is not 'product', it is information we need to participate in the process!

As for your last paragraph, when you imply the author of an idea is a mindless drone, are you still discussing the idea? I would like to think you didn't mean it that way. I look forward to learning and understanding your perspective in the future.



joe said...

Hi again, Paul -
Great response, thanks much.

I certainly can't speak for Ed, but whether I disagree with "ordinary" people, or not, I'm more or less at home in their company. I can't imagine that he'd be displeased by your honesty, either, no matter where it leads.

My own response, and the reference to "Tass," arose from my experience on a wide variety of leftist sites, during the last few years. Your post, unfortunately, bears strong resemblance to, literally, enormous numbers of posts in response to stories, essays, articles which approach life from a leftist perspective:

"Of course Howard Zinn's research 'reveals' that the US government places property before human life! He's a commie! Read a REAL book, why don't ya?"

"Of course Chomsky says that the US government placed Saddam in power and later gave him the very WMD's we're searching for! Chomsky's no scholar, he's a rabid America-hater!"

"Of course William Blum says the US has overthrown dozens of legal, legitimate, democratic governments around the world! He's a limp-wristed Lefty! Go right to the source, like I do - the CIA website!"

There are a myriad such posts and all take the attitude that, a-priori, leftist scholarship is without merit, leftist research is lethargic and myopic, leftist perspectives are fatally flawed - because they begin with a "leftist bias..."

I certainly did lump your post in with these remarks, and I apologize. You're an interesting fellow, Paul. Nice to meet you.

- jc

Anonymous said...

As much as I loathe discussing politics, I realize this subject is not exactly politics, it's about polls and information.
From my ignorance I have never heard of Lemoyne College or Zogby, so right off I'm skeptical. I have experience with polls and person to person research. Questions can be couched to elicit desired answers. Subjects can be selected to produce expected answers. Answers can be interpreted to produce desired results. This is of course the skewing that some of you have mentioned.
Let's see, there are about 160,000 military personnel serving in Iraq at present, I think. So you go over there and find 944 of them and ask some questions (we aren't told here what those were). Of those responding, about 680 said they want to go home. 680 out of 160,000? Sorry I'm too old, too cynical. If one poll shows 680 guys want to go home, you can also find another 680 who want to "stay the course".

During my 3 year hitch I met a lot of career officers and enlisted persons. A few I ran across were career because they felt secure in that life and certainly did not want anything to do with combat. If ordered into it, though, they would have obeyed. A very few who crossed my path I could categorize as being close to homicidal/psycopathic. They would not hesitate to volunteer for combat. There are people in the world who like to kill people and blow things up; they actually enjoy it.
The vast majority of career service people I met were fairly intelligent, sincere about their jobs, enjoyed the military lifestyle and to a person abhorred war. This "sample" of people that I personally knew ranged from middle rank enlisted to general rank. They all knew that they could get a new boss every four years and that any new boss could make decisions that they didn't agree with and would make their lives miserable. If you found one of those people in Irag today and asked him/her about the war policy, I'm sure he/she would follow the "company line" and grit his teeth while doing so. Some of these folks will stick out the situation until the new CINC comes along in '08. Some might, depending on the length of their careers at the time, quietly resign their commission or not reenlist at the next opportunity.
I know personally one young captain who wanted to make a career of the Army. He joined as an enlisted man, completed Ranger training, took the offered educational perq and got a BS from GA U, did the ROTC deal for the commission and was set for his career...until Iraq. He was sent over, did his year, got back to Germany and resigned his commission. He feels the war is nothing more than a Bush and Co. war for oil, that he was used as a pawn, that war has nothing to do with 9/11 or US security. Five captains resigned from his battalion at about the same time.

If you're a full colonel or one star with three years to a full retirement, and you think your CINC is an idiot, do you go public and say so? Or, do you gut it out and get what you've been working for all your life? Do you let an ignoramus ruin your career? Many of us might say, yes, stand up and do the right thing. Be courageous. Be outcast by your peers. Leave your lifelong career in an embarrassing flurry of publicity soon to be forgotten.

If you're a Spec. 4, standing in a tent trying to keep the sand out of your MRE and some civilian comes up to you and asks if you think the war is right or should we pull out, what are going to say?

I always try to put myself in another guy's shoes before I jump all over him.

I also think a sample of 944 out of 160,00 is ridiculous. The Neilson TV ratings sample 1000 homes and come up with a figure of 50 million or whatever watching the Super Bowl. Give me a break.