Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Greetings From Sunny Baghdad Istanbul!"

Howard Kaloogian is GOP candidate running to replace Duke Cunningham in San Diego. He has a post up on his campaign website chiding the US media for over-portraying the violence in Iraq. As proof, he offers a photo he took of a calm, peaceful Baghdad street...

Caption from website: "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."

The only problem is that appears NOT to be Baghdad, but a city in Turkey.

Roman- not Arabic-based alphabet...Turkish ice cream chain (edo)... Western wear on the woman... a freaking UPS delivery van(!)... The folks at Kos are all over this one.

That UPS van is the clincher for me. I am pretty certain that in a city where Westerners of any identifiable stripe are at risk of kidnapping, and Iraqis that work for US or Western companies are murdered, there are no guys driving around in UPS vans wearing brown uniforms and casually delivering packages.

Of course the real issue here should be that a snapshot of any moment in time is not any more proof that Baghdad is a Shangri-la, any more than a carbomb photo means it is a constant warzone (which it hapens to be). That this clown would try to make this point even with a genuine photo of Baghdad is ridiculous enough, but when he uses a photo from another country and references it as proof of his point, he's not just disingenuous, he's a fucking liar.

If there is any justice, this will finish his political career.

UPDATE: Adding to the preponderance of evidence... Check out the taxi in the foreground and the booth at the parking lot entrance here.

And compare the planters in this photo of Istanbul with the ones in the "Baghdad" photo.

UPDATE AGAIN: Case closed. From an intrepid commenter at Kos:

It is indeed a street in the bustling Istanbul suburb of Bakirkoy:

Wow. That only took half a day. I imagine Kaloogian will attempt to explain this by throwing the web designer or a staffer under the bus. "So-and-so accidentally posted the wrong photo from the trip..." It's bullshit. It may very well be a photo from the same trip when they went to Iraq (and stopped over in Turkey?). Kaloogian seems to be very active on matters related to Armenia, and may go to the Middle East often, resulting in countless photos. I don't know, and I don't care. This is inexcusable. If you are going to offer a photograph as damning evidence that the media is lying about Iraq, it behooves you to make sure the photo you are using is what you say it is. There is no "honest" mistake here. It is either a deliberate lie, or rank incompetence. Either way, this guy deserves to be the laughingstock on tonite's late night talk shows and finished in serious politics.

[h/t to The Other Steve who brought this to my attention in an unrelated thread at John Cole's.]

Kaloogian Blames Iraq Photo Error on Staffer
By Justin Rood - March 29, 2006, 1:06 PM


Howard Kaloogian, a leading GOP candidate for Randy "Duke" Cunningham's seat in Congress, posted a photo on his Web site of a quiet Turkish suburb. No problem there -- but his site said it was of Baghdad, taken during his trip there. He called it proof that Iraq was calmer than the media was reporting.

Josh tells the story at TPM of how the blogosphere rounded up a posse and proved the pic was a fake -- or rather, the pic was real, but the caption was hooey.

We reached Kaloogian by phone moments ago. Here's what he had to say:

[O]n the way back from Baghdad some of the crew stopped in Istanbul as a layover. We turned all the photographs [from the trip] over to the webmaster, and it appears he took one from the stopover and not from Baghdad. If a mistake happened, we'll correct it.

Kaloogian noted that he brought back "hundreds and hundreds" of photographs from the trip. He declined to identify his webmaster's name, saying only that he was "a member of my staff."

Yeah, well it's your campaign website, and you were probably still the idiot that thought it was a good idea to post a Baghdad photo to start with. Whether or not somebody posted the wrong photo shouldn't obscure the fact that the whole thing displayed poor judgement and an attempt at misleading propaganda.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE UPDATE: It seems's "Daou Report" is linking here (thanks CB), and that is generating some traffic. That's exciting, and I hope people look around at some other stuff while they're here. But I want to point out that all I did here was compile the info from an 800-comment thread over at Kos and add my opinion. The real "Where in the World is Carmen (Would-be Representative from-) San Diego" detective work was done by the folks in that thread. Especially Jem6x. Josh Marshall has also been on this, and it seems Will Bunch was one of the firsts.


tim maguire said...

It might be better to tone it down a bit until you find a smoking gun--which you haven't. Freely shifting from "appears to be" to "is" as though they meant the same thing is a prescription for embarrassment. How do you know that's a UPS van? All I see is a brown van.

Agreed, though, the premise (that a snapshot can tell you how calm and safe a city is) is as stupid as you say. And the planters--great catch.

But still, best not to act like it's confirmed before it's confirmed.

Mr Furious said...

Yeah, I know. You are probably right. But I feel pretty good about this one.

I imagine we'll find out that "the webmaster posted the wrong picture, but it was the same trip" or some such mistake. A mistake that could be an honest mistake, but honestly, when you are using a photo as your own "smoking gun" you better make sure it's right.

If I am wrong, I will freely admit it. Will Kaloogian?

(Click thru to the dKos thread, 750+ commenters, many with photos and anectdotal "evidence" that is fairly damning.)

The Other Steve said...

It's a Slam Dunk!

Mr Furious said...

When should Kaloogian expect his Medal of Freedom?

S.W. Anderson said...

This is an incredible gotcha. I expect Kaloogian is probably six shades of purple about it — and all the publicity it will surely get beyond the DailyKos hubbub. I
expect it will at least be on MSNBC's "Countdown."

You're right about it being especially egregious coming from someone who's bashing the media as inaccurate. Even so, if the guy owns up to an embarrassing mistake, it's probably just as well to accept that and walk away snickering.

The reason I say that is because honest, embarrassing screwups are a bipartisan phenomenon.

Otto Man said...

You really are so smart. Well played.

That looks like a subway in the lower right corner, underneath the billboard with the girl's picture. Does Baghdad even have one of those?

Otto Man said...

You also nailed his I-Didn't-Do-It! defense:

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that this is a "honest, embarrassing screwup".

Rather, it demonstrates Kaloogian's lack of respect for people's intelligence. He figured that the average voter would not know the difference.

He got caught! How delicious!

Check out "Penraker" on the right side of the Daou report. Yet another example on how the right-wing is desperate to saddle the Democrats and the MSM with the responsibility for the Iraq (and soon Iran) fiasco. Notice that comments are not allowed.

tim maguire said...

Having called you out on premature gloating, I must now say: well done! (Has this loser never heard of the internet?)

As for your response to me above, $100 says you're right--some lowly staffer will walk the plank. The weasel.

Middle Aged Veteran said...

Great Journalism Work! The Bloggers did the kind of deadline getting-to-the-bottom that newspaper reporters are SUPPOSED to do instead of being stenographers (I say that as a former reporter who did some of both, sadly).
And speaking of newspaper, will the San Diego Union-Trib' carry this tomorrow? Voters in the San Diego area who aren't on the blogs and should know about this!
And speaking of the Union-Trib', I admire the fact they went after the tale of Cunningham's house went nobody in Congress would!

Jaimie said...

"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."

Journalists are opposed to the effort to fight the terrists? Where's his proof? What a nasty and irresponsible thing to say about those men and women who are brave enough to risk their lives over there.

Mr Furious said...

Yeah, so opposed they figured they'd fly halfway around the world and put themselves in harm's way...

I read today that more journalists have died in Iraq than during the entire Vietnam War.

It's that kind of bullshit that incites the zero-forgiveness factor for dicks like Kaloogian.

Anonymous said...

It’s always something. Busting politicians is fun. Can’t wait for the excuse, and that deafening silence from his “side”.

Pooh said...

What does it say about you if your staffers don't notice minor details like "Latin characters/Lack of arabic"?

Mr Furious said...

It's says they are a bunch a shithead Republican drones.

The candidate/boss says, "Grab one of those Baghdad picture sfrom the trip and throw it up on the website to blame the media for the bad news in Iraq. I don't care which one—just pick one that looks good and peaceful—but make sure you mention that I was there..."

And the drone just grabs one and figures, "foreign city, arabic-looking people. Looks good." [types in assigned MSM=traitors caption] "I'm going to lunch."

Mysticusque said...

Classic. Yes, the taxi is a Turkish taxi. The word "noter," in the sign, means "notary" in Turkish.

Of course, I've had many tell me of the peaceful places in Iraq that you don't hear about on the news. But the thing is, as someone else pointed out elsewhere, kids went fishing not a mile from many of the worst battle sites in the American Civil War. Why are they trying to win a propaganda campaign in the US? It's not going to change the outcome over there one bit.

Kivanc said...

Hah! I've just surfed over to this Kaloogian fiasco, and as a Turk I have to say I've enjoyed it immensely. I mean the guy takes a pic of Istanbul and tries to pass it on as Baghdad. Priceless..

Of course the sad part is that as I read some messages on bloggs, some people thought it could have been the Turkish quarter of Baghdad or some Turkmen place in Northern Iraq.

There are no Turkish quarters in Baghdad, why would any sane person immigrate to Baghdad anyway. And Turkmens are busy being oppressed by the Kurds up north to have any kind of peaceful normal lives.

So here is the question the person running against this guy should ask. Do you have any pictures of Baghdad that do show it is peaceful? I'm betting he doesn't since any Arab city, however oil-rich, will never even come close to looking like that famous picture. They're more like Arkansas without the trees and roads.

Anonymous said...

I perhaps should inform you that Istanbul is everything but 'calm'! This could even be perceived as an insult for some Istanbul residents :)

Someone from Baghdad.. oops Istanbul