The Mix

Can anyone be this dumb?

Lovely downtown Istanbul, Iraq?
Josh Marshall, Will Bunch and some of the commenters at Kos have been a bit … suspicious of the sunny travelogue photo of Baghdad (shown left) that Howard Kaloogian -- an eccentric wing-nut millionaire running to replace fallen rent-a-legislator Duke Cunningham in the House -- ran on his website.

Kaloogian's among the legion of dispirited hawks who have taken to mindlessly lashing out at the media for not reporting every wall that gets a fresh coat of paint in the middle of their disastrous and bloody war. The caption on the photo reads:
We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq. Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism.
Another rapier-like intellect hungry for the House. Just what we need.

But the funny thing is that -- and this hasn't been confirmed -- it looks like the photo wasn't taken in Iraq at all, but in Turkey. You know, where there's no bloody insurgency day in and day out.


Note the signs; the Roman alphabet -- with cedillas -- and the lack of Arabic characters. According to Marshall, "CARSI" -- in the blow-up on the right side of the photo -- is Turkish for "market," and one of his readers noted that "Edo" -- on the left side of the frame -- is a Turkish ice-cream company.

It struck me that this may well have been taken in the Kurdish areas in the North of Iraq, but that's neither here nor there (Kaloogian claimed it was Baghdad, which it pretty clearly isn't). The obvious question if it turns out that this is a case of the old switcheroo is: how dumb is Kaloogian to think he could get away with it?

And speaking of dumb, it continues to amaze me that the war's boosters -- as well as its architects -- really seem to believe that they can spin away what's going on in Iraq. If only they could implement a better media strategy, they think, everything could be swept quietly under the rug. The truth is they can say whatever they want and they can try to shift the blame to whomever they want, but the American people are just not buying. Not anymore. Once you've lost credibility, who cares what you have to say?

PS: The General's been doing some volunteer communications work for Kaloogian's campaign on the side:

Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.