During is Feb. 15 broadcast, the man commonly credited as the strongest voice in the Republican party spun his reality-bending spiel after suggesting that big-box retail chain Walmart lobbies Washington lawmakers to keep Obama from "nationalizing" them -- a statement that, if not a joke, can only be characterized as transparently false.
"The last time this happened was World War II," Limbaugh said. "But that was because there was a war on and it made sense. But there's no war on right now, other than the Taliban wing of the Republican party and its war against Obama and the Democrats."
Even as he declared "there's no war on right now," American and NATO troops waged a house-to-house campaign in the Afghan city of Marjah. In the month of January alone, 32 U.S. soldiers died from wounds inflicted by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, amid a dramatic spike in violence. A total of 317 U.S. soldiers died prosecuting the war in 2009; at time of this writing, another 43 had already been felled so far in 2010, according to iCasualties.org. In Iraq, while violence is down from years past, 4,376 American soldiers have been killed since President George W. Bush launched the war in 2003.
Obviously, there is a war on -- two, in fact -- and Limbaugh himself was once a big fan of both of them. Had someone on the left screwed up this bad, Limbaugh would dedicate a three hour show to it. It would be proof that the left is out of touch, that they never think of the troops in the field, that they don't understand, let alone appreciate, the sacrifices made on our behalf.
But Rush himself did it, so somehow, it'll be cool. It does point to one problem that almost no one is talking about; we've fought these wars for so long that it's become background noise. When the war in Iraq is officially over, it'll will become the second longest war in American history. The longest will be Afghanistan. War has become a constant in our lives, so much so that we've come to confuse our current state with peace. I'm not making an excuse for Limbaugh who, as a "pundit," is expected to know what the hell he's talking about. But I'm explaining how easily the mistake could be made by someone else. It's especially galling for Limbaugh to do it, after constantly attacking President Obama for ignoring the "War on Terror." The WoT is an actual, honest to goodness war, Limbaugh and others on the right argue. To drop that argument so easily and offhandedly shows you how much Limbaugh believes it.
But Afghanistan is a real war and has been called the forgotten war. All of our attention -- left and right -- has been on Iraq. But the war in Afghanistan roars on, whether we're paying attention or not.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and The Outskirts Of Marja, Afghanistan -- As U.S. Marines battled Sunday to consolidate their hold on the southern Afghanistan town of Marja, Western commanders reported the first serious setback of the 2-day-old offensive: the deaths of a dozen Afghan civilians in an errant rocket strike.
At least four of those killed were children, an Afghan government official said.
U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the deaths. The fatalities marked the first instance of large-scale civilian casualties since the start of fighting in Nad Ali, the district in central Helmand province where Marja lies.
"We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured," said Maj Gen Michael Regner. "Our combined forces take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened."
Allow me to make an argument that Regner -- or Limbaugh, for that matter -- would never make; those people were killed deliberately.
Not those very Afghan civilians, but some Afghan civilians. Follow me here; if you'd asked anyone who was in any way realistic about war if there would be civilian casualties, the only honest answer would be "of course." If you take a course of action that youknow will result in civilian deaths, you can't come back later and say you didn't mean to kill any civilians. Not honestly and logically, anyway. You did something that you were sure would kill civilians and you were right. You can say you didn't mean to kill these particular civilians, but someone was going to lose that backwards lottery and you knew it. People are dead and you knew it would happen.
To make matters worse, while all of this deliberate death is going on, we're busy pretending it's not. Maybe we're sick of war, but imagine how Afghans feel.
Of course, imagining how Afghans feel would require some compassion. Not to mention some admission of responsibility from fair weather war cheerleaders like Limbaugh. So that's not going to happen. What will happen is that people like Limbaugh will become so tangled up in their own denial and vitriol that they forget the killing is happening at all.
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