Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Is America Safer Under the Leadership of President Obama?
America Obama Nation!
Watching from the Sidelines...
Insurgents struck at the heart of the Iraqi government on Wednesday in two huge and deadly bombings that exposed a new vulnerability after Americans ceded control for security here on June 30. Nearby American soldiers stood by helplessly -- despite the needs of hundreds of wounded lying among the dead -- waiting for a request for assistance from Iraqi officials that apparently never came.
"As much as we want to come, we have to wait to be asked now," said an American officer who arrived at one site almost three hours after the blast.... At one blast site, American soldiers snapped pictures of the devastation before ducking out of the streets.
It's tempting to look at this and conclude that the sky is falling. That would be wrong, and here I humbly part ways with Tom Ricks's ongoing predictions of an "unraveling." Violence, as Peter Feaver has argued, is an unreliable metric for measuring success or failure. Just because terrorists can carry out a few coordinated, spectacular acts of carnage does not necessarily mean that they are a growing or reemerging threat to the Iraqi state. What's more, the attacks were surely made easier to carry out by what is an undeniable sign of progress: the removal of blast walls from the Baghdad streets. This says less about the capabilities of Iraq's enemies than it does about the increasing normalization of life in the country (though risks do come with that). And by all accounts, the Maliki government responded to these attacks as well as could be expected.Let's not forget either that attacks like these still remain outliers in a far larger trend: Iraq's emergence as a normal country, with normal politics, a growing economy, and an increasingly capable government.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Necessity or Choice?
Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday:
PHOENIX — President Obama on Monday defended his decision to increase American involvement in Afghanistan, calling it a “a war of necessity” and warning an audience of military veterans that Al Qaeda was still plotting to attack the United States and would not easily be defeated.
With the Pentagon assessing strategy and troop deployments in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama made no specific policy announcements. But he did address the criticism that he would get bogged down in Afghanistan, allowing that war to turn into a second Vietnam.
“We must never forget,” he said. “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans.
“So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.”
The speech, to an audience of 5,500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their families, was in pointed contrast to Mr. Obama’s frequent criticism of the war in Iraq as “a war of choice.” The president on Monday repeated his pledge to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011, saying, “And for America, the Iraq war will end.”
As a commander in chief who has never served in the armed forces, Mr. Obama is still working to establish his bona fides with the military. His predecessor, George W. Bush, typically received wildly enthusiastic receptions from military audiences; Mr. Obama’s speech was interrupted only occasionally by polite applause.
1. The president reiterated the “war of necessity, war of choice” distinction which, as I have argued before, just does not stand up to rigorous scrutiny. It is short-hand for “wars I support, wars I do not support.” Serious security studies specialists argued against the Afghanistan war from the outset and even more argue that we should walk away from Afghanistan now. I do not endorse their views, but I say that they are an existence proof that the necessity vs. choice distinction is more rhetorical than real. It may even be misleading, since we have lots of choices ahead in Afghanistan and it is entirely possible for us -- either the president or the public or both -- to get those choices wrong.
2. Calling the fight in Afghanistan necessary was as far as he went in terms of rallying the American people to the war. I would have liked to hear a bit more rallying than that. I suspect the speechwriters were also very deliberate in using the word “success” rather than “win” or “victory” in terms of Afghanistan. Doubtless, they have heard that our NATO allies believe that there is a meaningful distinction -- “success” being much less demanding than “victory.” Personally, I find the “success” vs. “victory” argument strained, and I have yet to see much systematic polling evidence that shows the public draws that nuanced a distinction. For what it is worth, in the academic work I did with my Duke colleagues Chris Gelpi and Jason Reifler, we treated “success” and “victory” as largely synonymous.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Flopping Aces Author Major Chris Galloway dead at 36
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Flopping Aces Rapid Response Ad to the DNC Rabid Attack Ad
Amazing that the DNC believes their ad to be a winning strategy: Let's characterize and flippantly dismiss concerned Americans on both sides of the political aisle as nothing more than torches-and-pitchforks-style rabble-rousers. Brilliant.
Thanks to skye for use of her photos and apologizes to Dana Loesch for pillaging her photos like the uncouth, ill-mannered mobster, that I am.
Read more »
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Translation: "StFU, America!"
So much for "reaching across the aisle"....
So much for wanting a robust debate...
...So who are the folks "who created this mess"?
Friday, August 07, 2009
Britain's "Last Tommy"
Harry Patch died last month at the age of 111. He didn't speak of his war experience until more than 80 years after...
When the television documentary makers started to interview the small corps of centenarian veterans at the turn of the 20th century they found that several retained vivid memories of the trenches. But Patch was the one who burned with the strongest indignation - at the constant danger, the noise, the rats, the lice and the biscuits that were too hard to eat at Passchendaele.
He remembered the fear and bewilderment of going “over the top”, crawling because walking meant the certainty of being mowed down by the German machine guns. As his battalion advanced from Pilckem Ridge, near Ypres, in the summer rain of 1917 the mud was crusted with blood and the wounded were crying out for help. “But we weren’t like the Good Samaritan in the Bible, we were the robbers who passed them by and left,” said Patch.
As his unit came across a member of the regiment lying in a pool of blood, ripped open from shoulder to waist, the man said: “Shoot me”. But before anyone could draw a revolver, the man died with the word “Mother” on his lips. “It was a cry of surprise and joy,” recalled Patch, “and I’ll always remember that death is not the end.”
When they reached the enemy’s second line four Germans stood up, and one ran forward pointing his bayonet at Patch who, with only three rounds left in his revolver, wondered what to do. He then deliberately fired at the man above the ankle and above the knee.
At 10.30pm on September 22 his five-man Lewis gun team was crossing open ground single file on the way back to the support line when a shell exploded, blowing the three carrying the ammunition to pieces. Patch was hit in the groin, and thrown to the ground. Waking in a dressing station he realised that, although very painful, his wound was little more than a scratch
The following evening a doctor explained that he could remove a two-inch piece of shrapnel, half an inch long with a jagged edge, but there was no anaesthetic available. After thinking over the prospects Patch agreed to have the sliver removed, and had to be held down by four men as it was extracted with tweezers. The operation took two minutes, during which he could have killed the doctor.
The son of a master stonemason, Henry John Patch was born at Combe Down, near Bath, on June 17, 1898, and educated at the local Church of England school. On leaving at 15 he was apprenticed to a plumber. One of his brothers, a sergeant-major in the Royal Engineers, had been wounded at Mons, so young Harry knew enough to have no wish to go when he was called up at 18.
Sent for six months to the 33rd Training Battalion near Warminster, Wiltshire, he learned to lock up his kit after his boots were stolen, and earned his crossed guns badge for marksmanship, which came with an extra 6d a day.
On landing in France in June 1917, Patch became a Lewis machine-gunner with C company of the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry at Rouen, and he was in the trenches on his 19th birthday. Although he did not go into action that day, he saw the Yorkshires and Lancashires climbing out of their dugouts to be mowed down before reaching the German line.
While watching through his firing aperture two dogs scrapping for a biscuit, he found himself wondering why he was fighting for “19d a flipping day”.
Nevertheless there were some compensations, such as the comradeship and learning to smoke with his pipe upside down so that there was no glow at night, or by getting under a groundsheet to ensure no smoke showed by day.
He would receive occasional parcels from home, though one containing a slice of his brother’s wedding cake and an ounce of tobacco had became so jumbled that they had to be thrown away. There was also the respite offered by Talbot House behind Ypres, where there was a sign “Abandon all rank ye who enter here” and the Reverend “Tubby” Clayton offered games and led the singing.
After being evacuated to England, Patch was sent to a series of hospitals; he met Ada Billington, his future wife, when he knocked her over while running past a cinema at Sutton Coldfield. By the time he was full fit again, the Armistice had been declared, and he only wanted to forget.
He never watched a war film, or talked about his experiences, even to his wife, with whom he had two sons. Instead he concentrated on returning to plumbing. He did not go back to his old firm because the foreman insisted that he must complete the final two years of his apprenticeship, though a lawyer told him that the contract had been broken when the firm failed to release him from his indentures in 1918. After flirting with the idea of joining the police, Patch spurned an offer of his old job back at a full rate and worked on a housing scheme at Gobowen, Shropshire, before being invited to work on the Wills Memorial Tower being built at Bristol University.
With financial help from his boss, he passed the exam to become a member of the Institute of Sanitary Engineers and was made manager of his company’s branch in Bristol, to which he cycled 12 miles each day from his home during the General Strike. After 10 years he bought his first car, an Austin Seven, and set up his own business.
At 41 Patch was too old to be called up for the Second World War, but he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service in Bath, and was trained to use a Vickers machine-gun if the Germans arrived. In 1942 Patch found himself called to deal with the results of the “Baedeker raids” and found himself fighting fires all night, not only in Bath but also in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare. The pumps ran out of water because the drains were fractured, and he found himself diving under his fire engine as it was sprayed with bullets from a low-flying plane.
After three of his plumbers were called up, he sold his business and moved to Street, in south Somerset, after seeing an advert for a sanitary engineer to service military camps. He bought a partnership, and found that the job meant that he knew about all troop movements, except the launch of the Normandy invasion. Returning to one camp the next morning he found plenty of food and the fires still burning. The Americans had left behind large amounts of equipment which, after finding no-one prepared to take it, he sold.
Starting up again after the war he had charge of 10 plumbers and 18 fitters when he reached 65, but was adamant that he was going to work no more. He and his wife enjoyed 10 years of retirement before she died, and a few years later he married Jean with whom he was asked to to visit the Normandy battlefield by a friend who had two seats going in his coach. He was driven to tears on Omaha Beach, thinking of the Americans he had known, and had no desire to go again. But at 92 he was asked to don a hard hat and dungarees to guide geologists from Bath University underneath Combe Down, where the disused quarries have been causing increasing concern about safety. He had not been down for 70 years, but was able to lead the way to one, which had been completed forgotten by the local council.
It was after his second wife’s death and his admission to an old people’s home, aged 100, that the light outside his room prompted, as he lay in bed, a recurring nightmare about the flash of the bomb that hit his unit.
By now there were television crews eager for interviews. While agreeing to appear in Richard van Emden’s The Trench, in which veterans talked about their experiences and a group of today’s young men relived their hardships, he still voiced doubts to the camera: “You can make the programme, you can imitate a shell burst by a thunderclap firework ... you can improvise everything, except the fear.”
Roundly declaring that anybody who claimed not have been afraid at the front was a liar (pronounced in his defiant West Country burr), he expressed thanks that he had never killed a man. No war was worth the loss of a couple of lives, let alone thousands, for what was nothing but “a family row”, he said, though he admitted he would have shot the Kaiser and Hitler to save millions of lives.
As one programme followed another Patch became a new phenomenon of our age, a centenarian celebrity. He had a cider, Patch’s Pride, named after him, and was awarded an honorary degree by Bristol University, where he had worked on the Wills memorial 80 years earlier. He also received the Legion d’Honneur from the French government and was induced to meet an Alsatian who had fought on the German side at Passchendaele. He found him “a very nice gentleman”; they exchanged gifts of a bottle of cider and Alsatian biscuits, then attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate.
His second wife and the sons of his first marriage died. When he went into the old people’s home he found a girlfriend in her eighties but the thought of the fuss the press would make put him off marrying again.
It was the loss of his three friends on the night of September 22 almost 90 years ago that haunted him. “Those chaps are always with me. I can see that damned explosion now,” he would say.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
64th Anniversary of World's first A-Bomb
DNC Rabid Response Ad Attacks Ordinary Americans as fringie wingnuts with pitchfork and torches
Not a good strategy, imo. Painting your average citizen of being manipulated by the RNC attack machine, as if Americans on both sides don't have legitimate concerns. It's out-of-touch condescension. As Hugh Hewitt suggests, we should be paying for this ad:
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Happy Birthday, Mr. President!
Barry Soetoro, or rather Barack Obama as he is commonly known, turned 48 today.
Eugene Robinson for the WaPo begins:
If there's been a more clinically insane political phenomenon in my lifetime than the "birthers," I've missed it.
Scott Malensek for FA writes a list of "clinically insane" conspiracy phenomenon, mostly pushed by those on the left, the last 8 years:
why do the Birthers make the left wig out so much if they’re so irrelevant? I believe it’s because it reminds the left that their entire political motivation for the past 11 yrs has been based on conspiracy theories that were as weak or infinitely more weak than that of the Birthers’.
It reminds them of all the conspiracy theories they’ve bought since 98;
the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (not a bj from an intern)
the election stolen by Fox News and big oil payoffs to Supreme Court
Bush was AWOL and Dan Rather has docs to prove it
Bush wasted a govt surplus when he took office
911-inside job to provide excuse for invading Iraq
911-Bush Knew and let it happen
911-no plane hit Pentagon
911-explosives not fire melting steel
911-the Joos did it
911-Building 7 was blown up to cover up the evidence of the U.S. attack on the U.S.
Bush LET Obama get away in Tora Bora
Iraq- 17-month Rush to war
Iraq-never a WMD threat
Iraq-Bush knew there were no stockpiles of WMD
Iraq-Bush wanted to avenge daddy
Iraq-Bush was told by God to invade Iraq
Iraq-3million civilians killed; mostly by trigger happy, racist, redneck grunts who cling to guns and God when they get home
Iraq-no ties at all to AQ
Iraq-nothing to do w War on Terror
Iraq just blood for Daddy’s oil friends
Iraq-a Dick Cheney/Haliburton retirement fund gimmick
Iraq-gonna draft if Bush is re-elected in 04
Iran-Bush is gonna bomb Iran in June 05 if re-elected (thank you Scott Ritter)
Iran-has a right to nukes, doesn’t have nukes, doesn’t want nukes, and could be trusted w nukes
Iran-Bush will invade because Joos control him and want to use him to takeover the world
2004 Bush refused to sign Kyoto so 4 hurricanes in 1yr are his fault (saw a billboard of this one in Fla)
2005 Bush did nothing for New Orleans when Katrina hit because he hates black people
2006 Democrats will end the war in Iraq
2006 Democrats will end deficit spending
2006 Democrats will balance budget
2006 Democrats will fix healthcare
2006 Democrats will lower gas prices
2007-2009 everything is Bush’s fault even though he’s a lame duck
I believe President Obama is more than thrilled to fan the flames of birther conspiracy, because it provides a distraction and a cover as he tries to shove radical healthcare reform up our rectums....which, incidentally, is in itself a conspiracy theory.
Labels: Barack Obama
Monday, August 03, 2009
G.I. Joe.....not American?!
"Our starting point for this movie is not Hollywood and Manhattan but rather mid-America," Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said. "There are a group of people we think are going to respond to the movie who are normally not the first priority. But we're making them a priority."I didn't grow up with the small G.I. Joe action figures; but I did grow up in the era of G.I. Joe "dolls"- the ones with the Kung Fu grip being the most memorable classic. And they were American soldiers.
Yet overseas, where big action films often earn 60% or more of their ticket sales, rah-rah American sentiment doesn't play well. So those references have vanished from the advertising.
European marketing, rather, focuses on action sequences set in Paris -- where the Eiffel Tower collapses -- Egypt and Tokyo, and emphasizes that G.I. Joe is an international team of crack operatives and not some Yankee soldier.
When it comes to selling "G.I. Joe" outside the U.S., the message is "this is not a George Bush movie -- it's an Obama world," director Stephen Sommers said. "Right from the writing stage we said to ourselves, this can't be about beefy guys on steroids who all met each other in the Vietnam War, but an elite organization that's made up of the best of the best from around the world."
In the era of Reagan and Rambo flag-waving,
it was reborn in comic books, a TV cartoon and toys, with the tag line "A Real American Hero," as a special military unit of the U.S. government that does battle with an evil organization known as Cobra
I don't mind having an international team of super-agents or a "United Federation of Planets" for some utopian future earth...but it kind of sticks in my craw to take an American concept and give it a politically-correct makeover. I suppose the dollar speaks louder than patriotic sentimentality.
I'm not a "hard-core fanboy", as I'm a product of the 70's G.I. Joe and not the comics and storylines of the 80's/90's era. Nor do I plan on seeing the movie. Unless they bothered to spend a sizable chunk of the movie's budget on storyline and character development.
"You can never win with those guys," Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, producer of both "Transformers" films and "G.I. Joe," said of the San Diego convention. "They feel they're the keepers of the fanboys flag and have a deep childhood association with many of these properties. And we know the hard-core fans are already coming to see the movie."