Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pictures Don't Lie. But Politicians Do.

It seems that San Diego Republican Congressional candidate Howard Kaloogian is trying to pull one over on the voters by posting a photo on his campaign website of what he says is Baghdad, but to most everyone looks more like Turkey. The photo shows a peaceful city, with people milling about enjoying a leisurely day. Kaloogian says this proves that the media is only reporting the bad news and that things in Iraq are not as bad as they are making it out to be.

Here's what the would-be congressman has to say about the photo on his web site:

We took this photo of dowtown [sic] 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 trouble is that everyone on the blogs has been picking apart the photo: the fact that the shops lack Arabic writing on their signs, the women are dressed in decidedly un-Moslem garb, one sign says "2.Noter", which is Turkish for Notary (the 2 probably means the business is on the second floor).

Josh Marshall has a good piece about it on his Talking Points Memo blog.

I can understand why the Republicans would want to push the idea that Iraq is improving (even if it isn't). They want to win an election in the midst of an unpopular war. But in their zeal to win, they've gone overboard on this one. Kaloogian did not need to post a bogus photo and claim it's Baghdad. I'm sure you can get some photos in Baghdad today that would look calm and peaceful (at least in the Green Zone anyway). There's no need to keep lying about things and cheating, though that seems to be the Republican way these days.

UPDATE: The mystery has been solved (now that didn't take too long, did it?) The photo was taken in Turkey, the Istanbul suburb of Bakirkoy. Here's the proof.

UPDATE 3-30: The Kaloogian saga keeps getting better and better. This clueless hack has now apologized for posting the bogus Iraq photo (he blamed it on a staffer who stopped in Turkey on the way beck from Iraq) and replaced it with one that shows how peaceful Baghdad really is. Check out the photo here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Something fishy is going on with his website. It's being redirected to another, unrelated site. I don't know if it's been hacked or it's intentional. Anyway, the posted photo is an aerial view of a section of Baghdad showing building and trees, no people, not even anything identifiable as Baghdad. There's some question as to whether this photo too is really of Iraq.

All I have to say is WTF!

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