Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"He has told us what he thinks when it can make a difference, and for that we should be grateful."

This piece by Jon Meacham is a bit old, but I just saw this the other day, and I thought it was on-point:

The McChrystal incident raises an interesting question: if commanders cannot speak their minds in such a forum—and the general was the very model of reason and grace—then what are the rules for commanders to engage in public debate? Many liberals have suddenly discovered Article II of the Constitution, arguing that civilian control of the military means soldiers should not express their views outside the chain of command. There is much to be said—in some senses, everything to be said—for officers restricting their comments, but I suspect the left would be taking a very different view of McChrystal's speaking his mind if the general were arguing a position with which it agreed.

In politics and in war, truth can be elusive; often all we can do is muddle through, trying to make the best of things. McChrystal knows better than anyone the complexities of what he faces, and if you read the whole speech he delivered in London you see that he was at pains to make the difficulties at hand as clear as possible.

He goes on:

History is not very helpful on this point. Douglas MacArthur is a bad example. He defied a president; McChrystal has not yet even disagreed with one. Still, the cultural imperatives within the armed forces are clear. As our longtime defense correspondent John -Barry notes, the tradition in the American military is captured best in Gen. George C. Marshall's dictum that commanders should present their views in private and then resign if they disagree sufficiently with the decision of the political leadership.

The issue is complicated, but then most issues of significance are. McChrystal appears to be a good man trying to do a nigh-impossible job. At least the general in whose hands lie the lives of thousands of soldiers and in whose success may lie our own national security chose to be clear now, in real time, when it matters, rather than waiting for a book contract. He has told us what he thinks when it can make a difference, and for that we should be grateful.

Full disclosure: I support staying the course in Afghanistan. That being said, I don't think Obama is "dithering," by waiting a bit to see how the elections turn out. I also think it's outrageous that certain being are suggesting that Gen. McChrystal should STFU, or that he is somehow undermining his CiC. McChrystal was handpicked by Obama, and gave his assessment of the situation. He has made clear that he will follow whatever orders are given. He has not disagreed with the President's decision, because the President hasn't made a decision yet, and that final decision will be ultimately up to President Obama.

As to the larger debate, I think it behooves everyone to take McChrystal's recommendations seriously. As far as the politics are concerned, I've no doubt that if McChrystal had argueda position they disagreed with, plenty of righties would be in an uproar, and Lefties would be hailing him, as opposed to hurling insults. Partisan politics has become war by other means. Nevertheless, suggesting that a general who does his job by giving his commander-in-chief true counsel is doing anything but his duty is disgraceful. The fomentation of division between the President and his generals, by either side, to score political points, or to further personal agendas, is even more so.

"I'm sorry about the lack of balance there. If I had control, that wouldn't have happened."

Yeah, Shep, I believe you.

Wow, indeed.

Not A Maoist, But A Moron

There is a new controversy of this brainfart by Anita Dunn, in which she appears to be praising Mao. The usual suspects have piled on, but like Andrew Sullivan, I sense that this is one of these kinds of situations. I submit that Dunn is not a Maoist, but a moron. A first-class moron.

ADDED: I mean, of course she was joking*, but who in their right mind jokes like that about Mao? Not only is it dumb politically, considering the optics, but it's downright disgusting. Ugh.

Oh, BTW, I used Media Matters purely for the links, via Andrew Sullivan

*I stand corrected. She wasn't, and those other links don't really mitigate the situation.

Cross-posted from Stubborn Facts

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Still, how can people be so stupid. And 50 people can push one man out of the way. As they should have done, after the first hurl."

Althouse, on the avoidable tragedy of the sweat lodge deaths at the Angel Valley resort:

A channeler is reporting that the people who died voluntarily crossed over into the next world during the ceremony, decided they liked it, and chose to stay. Dead.

Clearly there is a lawsuit in the works. And Ray has a good big pile of money. You can see the competing stories about whether his followers chose to stay or were blocked when they tried to leave. Whether they fell for his idiotic explanations or tried to prevent escape, he should have to pay. Still, how can people be so stupid. And 50 people can push one man out of the way. As they should have done, after the first hurl.

Bad ideas can kill you. After the first hurl, one ought to have fled. Certainly, after Ray told them they couldn't leave, they ought to have forced their way out. Big heaping pile of red flags. Bad ideas can kill you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Barack Obama Is The President Of The United States.

I point this out, because I've started to wonder if he occasionally forgets. I'm starting to wonder if he doesn't need for someone to gently whisper in his ear from time to time, "Sir, you arethe President." I'm probably overreacting, but I think that may go a long way in preventing displays like this:

“Why is it four years after Katrina we’re still fighting for money to repair our devastated city?” asked Gabriel Bordenave, 29, a Loyola law school graduate. “I expected as much from the Bush administration. But why are we still being nickeled and dimed?”

The president, in a rare moment on the defensive in a format that is usually friendly to him, said many people in New Orleans were “understandably impatient” and said he had inherited a backlog of problems.

“These things were not all going to be fixed tomorrow,” Mr. Obama said. “So we are working as hard as we can, as quickly as we can.” He added, “I wish I could just write a check.”

When someone shouted, “Why not?” Mr. Obama replied, “There’s this whole thing about the Constitution.”

He added that “we’ve got to go through procedures” in assessing, for instance, how much to reimburse for the damage done to Charity Hospital in New Orleans. But he said his administration had freed up $1.4 billion in aid and told the young man, “That may not sound like a lot of money to you, but it’s real money.”

Now, that's just lame. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that President OBama doesn't care about the people of New Orleans, but after four years of delay, and nine months into his Administration, after billions of bailout dollars to AIG, are you telling me that the same Congress that passed Cash for Clunkers can't cut a check, if you leaned on them? And why say it like that? Oh, and then leave after a couple of hours, and jet to a 30 grand a plate fundraiser, in San Francisco!? WTF?

I'm probably overreacting, but I just think, when Obama won the Nobel Prize, and said it was to be a "call to action?" That means less of this, and more of actually getting things done. Remember. You are the President. You are the President.

cross posted from Stubborn Facts.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Giving the award to Obama is kind of like giving that junior professor the Teacher of the Year award -- it dooms their chances for tenure."

That's Daniel Drezner, with the inside scoop on how Obama got the Nobel:

MEMBER A: Fine, no one else likes Neil Patrick Harris at this table, I get that. What about Roman Polanski? That would make a statement.

CHAIR (looks at watch): Fine, whatever, we're way past deadline. (Points at MEMBER B). Write up the explanation. (Points at MEMBER A). Contact Neil Patrick Harris and put him on "standby" in case Obama can't make it for the acceptance speech.

MEMBER B (scribbling furiously):'s this? "Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened."

CHAIR: Hmmm.... no actual achievements other than Not Being George W. Bush in His First Term, but it sure sounds good! OK, we're adjourned

MEMBER C (looking through nomination letters): I can't believe that professor from Tufts nominated Salma Hayek again. Doesn't he know that this is a serious award?!

Ha! Read the rest. Oh, and I made this clear elsewhere, but let me say here that this in way reflects poorly on President Obama, who has handled this pretty well. More on that later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize, and the Wartime President

In the continuing discussion over Obama's Nobel Prize, there has been much talk of what this means for Afghanistan. Certain people are wondering if Obama, as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, will continue the fight in Afghanistan. According to Bob Kerrey, he has to:

Then, against all reasonable predictions, President Bush chose to increase rather than decrease our military commitment. The "surge," as it became known, worked. Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.

From what I have seen, President Obama has the same ability to step outside the swirl of public opinion and make the right decision. While success in Afghanistan may not look the same as it does in Iraq, I believe there is a very good chance that a stable democracy can survive there. If it does, it would be good for the Afghan people, good for the security of the region, and good for the United States. The heroism of Afghan voters who turned out this past August in spite of the Taliban's violence should inspire us to stand by their side until security and stability are established in their country.

He continues:

Afghanistan is also not Iraq. No serious leader in Kabul is asking us to leave. Instead we are being asked to withdraw by American leaders who begin their analysis with the presumption that victory is not possible. They seem to want to ensure defeat by leaving at the very moment when our military leader on the ground has laid out a coherent and compelling strategy for victory.

When it comes to foreign policy, almost nothing matters more then your friends and your enemies knowing you will keep your word and follow through on your commitments. This is the real test of presidential leadership. I hope that President Obama—soon to be a Nobel laureate—passes with flying colors.


HT: Althouse

" the prevailing Democratic "logic," this means that Obama supporters yesterday were casting their lot"

"...with Communist dictators."

Glenn Greenwald, in a must-read rebuke to the DNC, and the far-Left, over their hypocrisy in criticizing the critics:

What's particularly bothersome about yesterday's attacks is the premise that it's improper, unpatriotic and even Terrorist-mimicking to do anything but cheer -- have a "national celebration" -- when Obama is awarded the Nobel Prize. Whether Obama is actually pursuing policies of peace happens to be an extremely legitimate topic of debate. The same is true for whether he's done anything meaningful yet to merit the award. Numerous liberals in good standing objected to Obama's award -- from Ezra Klein ("It is undeserved. It is a bit ridiculous") to The Nation's Richard Kim ("I woke up, read the New York Times website and thought I had come to the Onion instead . . . Obama doesn't deserve the prize, yet") to Naomi Klein ("disappointing, cheapening of the Nobel Prize"). While there are arguments to make in his favor -- I even made some myself yesterday in the first two paragraphs of what I wrote -- there is something unquestionably bizarre about awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a leader who did not merely "inherit," but is advocating, actively prosecuting and escalating, a major war that is killing large numbers of civilians with no plans to stop, while at the same time building prisons to house people who will have no due process.

Unquestionably, those are and must be legitimate topics of debate. Some smart people yesterday made some reasonable arguments for Obama's Prize. But to insist that it's the patriotic obligation of every American to stand and cheer -- and that those who don't are "casting their lot with the Terrorists" -- is creepy and repugnant. It's also a very dangerous game to play.

And this:

If George W. Bush had won the Nobel Peace Prize as Klein suggested he might deserve, would it have been the solemn obligation of every American -- including liberals -- to stand up and cheer, to hold a "national celebration," to congratulate and express support, happiness and patriotic pride? Or would it have been appropriate even for Americans to make arguments about why that Prize was wrongly awarded? If Bush had won, surely the Taliban and Hamas would have objected, just like they did yesterday with Obama. Would Bush critics have been guilty of "casting their lot with the terrorists" if they echoed those objections? Karl Rove and Fox News would have done so, but would Media Matters have condemned liberals who questioned Bush's Nobel Peace Prize as "unseemly and downright unpatriotic." Please.

Indeed. I guess all the liberals who criticized the decision are casting their lot with the terrorists as well? What putrid nonsense. Over the last nine months, many on the Right have accused Obama supporters of trying to stifle dissent. Most of the time, that charge has been off target, but in this case, it's true. Shame on the DNC.

It is never unpatriotic to question the President. Even in wartime. Even when he's a Democrat. Even Barack Obama.