War In Error

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Failsauce

It’s starting to really shape up that the criticism of the Obama Administration regarding the attack on the consulate at Benghazi is a lot of outrage about….the Obama Administration even existing. I was astonished that then-Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, chose to opportunistically seize on the deaths of four Americans because it was the sort of flail a losing campaign with a candidate who neither seemed to know or care to understand much about foreign policy might launch. Astonished that no one called it off—not astonished that it occured. The point being—I could remember exactly that sort of fail-flail occuring with a candidate who attempted to grandstand on an issue—the economy, which was not his known strong point, in exactly the same point in his campaign;

The candidate was Senator John McCain, and the event was the nonsensical suspension of his campaign and the further subsequent flail of calling together a group of his peers to try and hash out a plan. From then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s version of the events:

It was brilliant political theater that was about to degenerate into farce. Skipping protocol, the president turned to McCain to offer him a chance to respond: “I think it’s fair that I give you the chance to speak next.”

But McCain demurred. “I’ll wait my turn,” he said. It was an incredible moment, in every sense. This was supposed to be McCain’s meeting—he’d called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate’s wishes. Now it looked as if McCain had no plan at all—his idea had been to suspend his campaign and summon us all to this meeting. It was not a strategy, it was a political gambit, and the Democrats had matched it with one of their own.

...

Finally, raising his voice over the din, Obama said loudly, “I’d like to hear what Senator McCain has to say, since we haven’t heard from him yet.”

The room went silent and all eyes shifted to McCain, who sat quietly in his chair, holding a single note card. He glanced at it quickly and proceeded to make a few general points. He said that many members had legitimate concerns and that I had begun to head in the right direction on executive pay and oversight. He mentioned that Boehner was trying to move his caucus the best he could and that we ought to give him the space to do that. He added he had confidence the consensus could be reached quickly.

As he spoke, I could see Obama chuckling.

McCain had nothing, then, and got called on it, just like Mitt Romney had nothing when, during the second debate, he stepped into the trap (“Please proceed, Governor”) that invited the moderator to actually perform an act of journalism and check the factual record, acknowledging that Obama from day one did consider the Benghazi assault an act of terror.

How is it then, that right after Mitt Romney’s notable shellacking in the election, that Senator John McCain decides to jump on the Benghazi bandwagon with both feet, so eager to publically smear Obama that he calls a potential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State “none too bright” whilst he is literally blowing off a briefing to potentially get the kind of answers that he was seeking?

How does one shriveled human actually contain so much bitterness?  I don’t even know. In his wake, the wingnuts who were in mid-flock are caught spouting gibberish by journalists who smell a rat.

This leaves me with the happy thought, espoused by Booman, that just like this was a non-story, maybe this means John McCain is finally persona non grata.  I, too, have longed for the time when McCain inserted his platinum card to draw from the old Bank of American Trust, and finds it declined (hell, he should get a bill with penalties for being well and truly overdrawn). But I treat this non-story as a bloggable event in much the way a doctor is interested in symptoms—“He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.”  I’d like to see the symptoms abate—and yet, I am watchful in the event that the screamers on the right will try to actually get their “Watergate-style” hearings—facts be damned!  They see the ghosts.

They need them. Or they would have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration’s greatest success is in not really being fuck-ups.

(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 11/17/12 at 12:10 AM
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eric Cantor, Magnificent Backstabber

My brilliant co-bloggers have covered the Petraeus affair with their characteristic brilliance.  The one thing I have to add to the commentary concerns the role of the Republican party’s resident Iago/Starscream...

Consider, if you will, the strange case of General David Penetraeus.  When he was heading up the counterinsurgency in Iraq, Petraeus was the fair-haired boy who stood up to quisling Democrats regarding war policy, any criticism of him was considered treasonous by right wingers.  To the Republican true believers, General Petraeus was seen as the great hope for Republican party since Bush was a failure (for a hilarious sample of butthurt, check out this fawning video).  The hero-worship for Petraeus wasn’t limited to his biographer/comare.

The most bizarre feature of the current Petraeus adultery scandal is the source of the leak.  A teabagging FBI agent got wind of Petraeus’ affair and concocted a theory that the press was conspiring to hide the affair to, get this, protect President Obama.  The teabagger contacted fellow teabagger Eric Cantor, who informed the director of the FBI.  The conspiracy theory is now that Petraeus was forced to resign before he could testify about the attack on the consular office Benghazi.  Yeah, this is an Obama Administration scandal, even though all of the principals are Republicans.  Now, the conspiracy mavens on the right just might impeach the president for another man’s infidelity (the specter of Clinton’s penis yet again looms over the office of the presidency).

If Eric Cantor stabbed David Petraeus in the back in an attempt to embarrass President Obama, it would not be the first time that he stuck it to a fellow Republican.  During last year’s debt ceiling negotiations, Cantor bucked Boehner’s authority as Speaker of the House.  Eric Cantor is a false-friend worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy or a mafia movie.  Part of me thinks that he might be engaged in a deep-cover Alinskyite plot to undermine the GOP from within (and then I come to my senses).  It would be fun to spread this rumor in order to undermine Cantor, the man who single handedly prevented David Petraeus from rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it to victory (bonus hilarity at the link- d00d thinks Scott Brown should run in a 2013 special election if John Kerry becomes Secretary of State).

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 11/15/12 at 11:55 AM
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Krauthammer on Critical List: Obama Derangement Syndrome Suspected

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Let me open this by saying that I have nothing in particular against Charles Krauthammer.  Indeed, I have a lot of respect for his career achievements—the man has racked up most of the “serious journalist” credentials that any writer can.  But, Mr. K is human and, as such, subject to emotion and occasional error and, apparently, the results of the 2012 Presidential Election were shocking enough to derail even a “serious man” like Charles Krauthammer.

Krauthammer’s first foray into the post-election “light” was to reassure Republicans that they had gotten nothing wrong outside of subtlety, perhaps, and that their candidate, Mr Willard Romney was a generally swell fellow who would have made a generally swell Chief Executive.  Seriously?  Mr. K has also hastened to reassure the GOP that President Obama’s win means nothing, in the grand scheme of things.  Obama has no mandate, he has no plan and he’ll be over before they know it. SNAP!

Close on the heels of that nugget of political “good advice,” came Mr Krauthammer’s rather patronizing opinion that Hispanics are just a big happy crowd of wanna-be-Republicans in brown-face who will follow you anywhere if you shout “Amnesty” at them.  The basis for Mr. Krauthammer’s estimation that Hispanics are “natural Republicans” is that they are hardworking, family oriented people with “traditional” values, unlike the rest of us.  His conceit is that the Republican Party holds the moral high ground in the country and therefore should be the tent that “all the best people” flock to.

One might expect that Krauthammer could have worked out most of his Obama-animus with those screeds and exited with a portion of dignity still intact, but he wasn’t finished with Obama by a long shot, because his nose for a “BIG story” led him right to the Petraeus Affair—and his absurd little conspiracy theory about how the Obama administration blackmailed and then sacrificed the god-like Petraeus to cover up Obama’s “incompetent” handling of the Benghazi attack.

read the whole post »

Posted by Bette Noir on 11/15/12 at 07:55 AM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsBedwettersElection '12NuttersOur Stupid MediaWar In Error

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Am I Missing?

Semi-related to Bernard’s post on Petraeus below, I’m wondering if y’all can explain to me how this Obama conspiracy to blackmail Petraeus to give false testimony to Congress on Benghazi is supposed to work. The theory was put forth by Charles Krauthammer yesterday and eagerly taken up by the usual suspects today. Here are the underlying suppositions:

1. The Benghazi affair is more politically consequential than Watergate, Whitewater, Iran-Contra, Chappaquiddick, the Keating Five and the Teapot Dome scandals all rolled into one, and Romney totally would have won the election if it had been covered properly.

2. President Obama must’ve ignored warnings infinitely clearer than the 8/6/01 Presidential Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” which was obviously not worth investigating after 3K civilians were killed on Bush the Lesser’s watch.

3. The only way Obama could cover his ass in the Benghazi affair was to orchestrate a scandal to compromise the country’s most prominent general, and he fiendishly used a wingnut FBI agent’s obsession with a seemingly flaky Tampa socialite to kick off an investigation that would lead down paths those two pawns could not foresee.

4. Obama further used Jedi mind-tricks to silence noted political opportunist Eric Cantor after Cantor was briefed on the scandal before the election, thanks to the aforementioned wingnut FBI agent.

5. Petraeus is either, A) such a dummy that he was willing to lie to Congress on 9/13 to buy a short reprieve from the announcement of the scandal, which he knows will then engulf him and destroy his career, or B) such a dupe that he will keep lying about Benghazi even after Obama has betrayed him and destroyed his career.

I don’t believe wingnut conspiracy theories since I’m not deranged, but I can usually at least follow their logic down whichever rabbit holes it leads. Not this time. Am I missing something? In what universe does any of this shit make sense? I don’t get it.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 11/14/12 at 12:29 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBarack ObamaElection '12War In Error

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Director of the CIA Probably Shouldn’t Have A Comare

I felt a little blind-sided yesterday by the news that General David Petraeus resigned in a fast hurry when it was it was going to be revealed (because his resignation was the first I heard about it, how about you?) that he had an extra-marital affair with his biographer, whose book was fascinatingly enough titled All In: The Education of General David Petraeus—and if you can’t write your own joke about that book title, I will not help you. After all, it is inappropriate to make an off-color sexual joke about another person’s personal indiscretions, and also—duh, she is pre-wrote, the joke.  No, really, the breach of two marriages, the ignominious capper to a pretty legendary military career, and a sex scandal are all a bit sad and personal—

For which reason this story is journamilism gold. I’m pretty sure the ship on this not becoming grist for a number of very high-volume mills has sailed, and the results of that voyage will be a mixed as my metaphor.  I know that if I were a more serious person, I would concentrate on how Petraeus’s sudden resignation appears with respects to the Obama Administration’s transition to the second term, or the degree to which the individual most responsible for the Bush-era story about mobile biowarfare trailers in Iraq and was a major proponent of the not-especially successful surge in Afghanistan strategy because it had apparently worked so well in Iraq, but why kick a neocon in the slats when he’s down, except to guarantee he never rises again, am I right?

Here’s the main scoop: the guy who got promoted to a highly critical and sensitive position in US intelligence was susceptible enough to flattery to let an admiring biographer get skin-close to him and possible compromised his communications. She, in turn, was caught out because she used email to threaten some other woman (or was it women?) to harass her (them) in the event that they would a) spill or b) hone in on her territory. And also, he used email to literally try and contact her thousands of times.  Oh, and did I mention she might have had access to his emails? Because that’s a possible security breach.

I don’t even want to get into the whole “and now he doesn’t have to testify about Benghazi” thing, because—seriously?  The small, nasty gossip-monger side of me is like “thousands”? He emailed her “thousands” of times? Is that twoo wuv or did she have hold of some information he was all desperate about no one finding out, like something other than her nickname for him being “Peaches”?

I just do not know.

(X-Posted at Strangely Blogged)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 11/11/12 at 12:13 AM
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Categories: PoliticsBedwettersBushCoNuttersWar In ErrorSkull Hampers

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Waiting in the Wings: Dick Ryan

I’ve been taking some time out from blogging in this last week or so before the Poll To End All Polls.

This was partly out of deference to the savage storms whose aftermath some of you folks are going to have a hard enough time living through without some anonymous smartarse from Scotland looking out his window and muttering, “60 m.p.h. winds and horizontal rain—barbie weather!”

It also took a while for Ms. YAFB to rev up on the runway at Glasgow airport through one canceled flight and eventually jet stateside to visit her own version of Republican Mom/Lefty Daughter Hell, with Thanksgiving and eventual escape a long, LONG way away when you’ve the prospect of no heating, phone, Internet, or lights. She’s now safely landed, picked her way over of the NY State relics of the storm and people’s livelihoods and dreams, and miraculously somehow managed to have power restored to her mom’s house within an hour of arriving, so some of our Brit can-do stiff upper lip has obviously rubbed off over the years. If you get a GOTV phonebank call from an excitable jetlagged woman with a faint Scottish burr, a tendency to profanity, and a pathological distaste for Mitt Romney, treat her kindly.

I’ve also been wary of reenacting the Guardian‘s infamous Clark County Project of 2004. This predictably disastrous experiment in transatlantic diplomacy rallied well-meaning lefty readers to write to undecideds in Ohio in the hopes of drumming some British common sense into them along the lines of “Quit voting for Bush, WTH are you thinking?!”, garnering reactions ranging from “Have you not noticed that Americans don’t give two shits what Europeans think of us?” through “Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI,” to “KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!” and beyond.

Oh, I’ve still been keeping apace with what I can glean from various online resources, and from what I can see from that limited perspective, Mitt & Co. look like they’re resignedly scaling the first steps of the Kübler-Ross model. But a lot of what’s been cooked up in the way of late gamechangers from the Mittens camp and hangers-on is just desperate replays we already covered a month or more ago, like Fox news’s Benghazigate drive, all of which have been overshadowed by meteorology and President Obama opportunistically acting all presidential and competent and hanging out with his BFF Chris Christie. Indeed, other than a few flurries of stupidity that have leaked out from some public speeches, it looks like Romney and Ryan have largely been trying to keep their heads down, presumably for fear of forgetting which of the policy positions they once proclaimed they’re now abandoning because they’re running for election, for Pete’s sake.

In among all this, I’ve been marveling at what a total damp squib Ryan’s been on the stump, given the rapturous welcome that greeted his pick as the HAWTNESS on the ticket. Last I looked, even Free Republic was back to revolting against the Yoke of Mittness. With just a few longer-form interviews as support from his running mate, Mitt’s been driven to serve as his own attack dog throughout, slinging zingers and recycled lies from his windy vantage point on the roof, and ostentatiously dispatching stocks of his own hot Groundhog Day fudge to the needy in New Jersey and points west where echoes from his denunciation of FEMA are drowning out his recent sudden change of heart. If I compared being attacked by Ryan or Romney to being savaged by a dead sheep, I’d not only risk angering flyover country, I’d be underestimating the viciousness of zombie sheep (not to mention ripping off one Denis Healey).

It’s probably been a frustrating few months for Ryan, doomed to beta male groupie status and hampered by a near total lack of charisma in trying to shake off the utter rout that was his VP debate performance. He’s been seeking succor by doodling on napkins what the future might hold if his prayers are answered and he finally escapes the deadend daily drudgery of serving as the Republican Party’s fiscal boy wonder among the grizzled congressional rabble, as the gloriously named Trip Gabriel at the NYT managed to shake out of nameless gabby “aides” yesterday:

... if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney’s under President George W. Bush.

Now THAT’s what I call a lede! They’re going to be hiring White House caterers, by the sound of it:

Mr. Ryan would dedicate most evenings to dinners with senators and House members of both parties, aides said, as he steps into the role Mr. Romney promised: architect of a Romney administration’s drive to enact a budget that shrinks the government and overhauls programs like Medicare.

In Lundtspeak, of course, “shrink” translates as “render totally inoperable and thus irrelevant” and the “overhaul” is likely to resemble my babyhood tendency not to consider any toy truly played with till I’d reverse-engineered it into a messy pile of component parts destined for the trash. But where did that Dick Cheney comparison come from? Are we in HuffPo headline territory here?

read the whole post »

Posted by YAFB on 11/04/12 at 10:09 AM
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Rombot Inc Issues Newest Mittkins™ Collectible

          I R SO NOT W

PeaceOut Bobblehead Mittkins™ is the most trustworthy Mittkins™ yet! Just like a real beauty contestant, he wants world peace and knows where the cool Syrian beaches are, sort of.  Peaceout Bobblehead Mittkins™ loves Barack Obama’s foreign policy THIIISSSS MUCH.  Stand him on your shelf next to Primary Mittkins™, Offshore Mittkins™ and Massachusetts Mittkins™.  No collection is complete without him!

Each Mittkins™is fully positionable. Binders, bayonets and beliefs sold separately.

Posted by Mrs. Polly on 10/23/12 at 09:39 AM
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Categories: ImagesKnee SlappersMessylaneousPoliticsElection '12MittensWar In Error

Friday, October 19, 2012

Darryl Issa’s Latest Dikileak

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Full-time Hearing-Haver  and thoroughgoing ding-dong Congressman Darrell Issa, not satisfied with exposing the Benghazi consulate’s CIA connections a week or so ago, decided he would helpfully dump a ton of CIA documents onto the web, thereby exposing the names of Libyans working with the U.S. Government and endangering the mission and their lives today. Hoo-Rah! He might have said in his youth, from the dock, after stealing his mess-mate’s car a little, but somehow he was never prosecuted, just as he won’t be prosecuted for being a Plaming hypocrite now. Isn’t it marvelous that a man exists who could make us miss the decency and wholesomeness that was Tom DeLay?

Posted by Mrs. Polly on 10/19/12 at 10:09 PM
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Categories: ImagesMessylaneousPoliticsWar In ErrorSkull Hampers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Standing on the Corpses of Giants Part III: The Transcript Truthers

Having invested so much effort in seeking to exploit the tragic deaths during the 9/11 Benghazi US consulate attack over the past few weeks, Mitt Romney and his followers thought he had president Obama cornered last night during the second Presidential Debate. It ... didn’t work out so well (transcript from TPM).

MR. ROMNEY: ... I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.

MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.

MR. ROMNEY: I – I – I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.

MS. CROWLEY: It – he did in fact, sir.

So let me – let me call it an act of terrorism – (inaudible) –

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)

Now, for some reason, after the event moderator Candy Crowley felt she had to walk back her devastating factcheck of Romney’s claim.* Media Matters has already covered the flailing post-debate pushback about this issue from the usual suspects—Malkin, the Breitbartlets, Fox News, Romney’s own camp—calling them “Transcript Truthers”. Judge for yourself.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.

read the whole post »

Posted by YAFB on 10/17/12 at 12:43 AM
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Standing on the Corpses of Giants Part II: Politician Takes Responsibility—Republicans Astonished

You can’t wander far online right now without encountering fistpumping jubilation among rightwingers that four diplomats were killed and three wounded in Benghazi last month—just in time for their October Surprise!

Mitt Romney, from the Mother Jones “secret video”:

... in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we have hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean that’s—that was—that was the focus, and so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I’m afraid today if you said, “We got Iran to agree to stand down a nuclear weapon,” they’d go hold on. It’s really a, but…by the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.

YAY! Something of that nature happened! Dead Americans! Opportunity!

Form of a human—Mittbot transform!

Romney Chokes Up Recalling Fallen Navy SEAL

Mitt Romney shared a remarkable story at a campaign rally in Iowa today, his voice wavering and cracking slightly as he described the tragic death of a former Navy SEAL he’d met years earlier.  The young man was from Massachusetts; he died in Benghazi during the September 11 terrorist attack against the American consulate that claimed the life of US Ambassador Chris Stevens.  Here is Mitt’s stirring and moving tribute:

Pesky humans:

Romney was visibly emotional during the story, and the video of the speech was repeated throughout the day on network and cable news.

But one of Glen Doherty’s best friends remembered Doherty’s impression of this meeting much differently.
...
Ellefsen said Doherty recalled meeting Mitt Romney years ago, but the account was much different from what the Presidential candidate retold in Iowa.

According to Ellefsen, Romney introduced himself to Doherty four separate times during the gathering.

“He said it was very comical,” Ellefsen said, “Mitt Romney approached him ultimately four times, using this private gathering as a political venture to further his image. He kept introducing himself as Mitt Romney, a political figure. The same introduction, the same opening line. Glen believed it to be very insincere and stale.”

Ellefsen said Doherty remembered Romney as robotic.

“He said it was pathetic and comical to have the same person come up to you within only a half hour, have this person reintroduce himself to you, having absolutely no idea whatsoever that he just did this 20 minutes ago, and did not even recognize Glen’s face.”

The mother of Glen Doherty, a Navy SEAL who was one of four Americans killed in the Sept. 11 attack in Libya, told a Boston TV station that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney shouldn’t politicize her son’s death.
...
“I don’t trust Romney,” she said. “He shouldn’t make my son’s death part of his political agenda. It’s wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”

read the whole post »

Posted by YAFB on 10/16/12 at 08:38 AM
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Biggest WTF? Moment in Mitt’s VMI Speech

Bette Noir has a good overview of Mitt Romney’s VMI Speech, but I feel I have to mention one weird moment that had me scratching my bald pate in puzzlement:


The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916. I will restore our Navy to the size needed to fulfill our missions by building 15 ships per year, including three submarines.


The veracity of this statement can be determined with a little bit of research.  In terms of the number of ships, the current U.S. Navy has forty more ships than its 1916 counterpart.  Of course, this raw number doesn’t address the fact that the firepower packed by today’s navy is dramatically greater than that of 1916’s navy. Today’s navy includes eleven floating cities of doom that would have been inconceivable in 1916- each of these carriers forms the nucleus of a sophisticated mini-fleetModern military technology allows our current navy to project power at a much greater range than that of the early 20th century navy.

Mitt’s claim, characterized by CNN as pointless, represents another unforced error- it was a stupid claim, easily fact-checked.  The fact that Mitt included it in an allegedly “major” foreign policy speech reveals the depth of his ignorance and the breadth of his arrogance- did he not think that someone would research this issue?

Personally, I think Mitt came across his skewed view of the navy while researching pop culture in a hopeless attempt to seem hip.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 10/10/12 at 06:26 AM
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Categories: PoliticsBedwettersBushCoElection '12MittensWar In ErrorSkull Hampers

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Trash Talk is Not a Strategy

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Mitt Romney was busy morphing into Foreign Policy Mitt, yesterday, delivering a foreign policy speech to Virginia Military Institute cadets.  Having listened to that speech, I realized that there is so much “daylight” between “back-room” Mitt and “podium” Mitt, you could haul a double-wide through it.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this—it was supposed to be economy! economy! economy! and jobs! jobs! jobs! until improvements in the economy this year sort of let the air out of that balloon.  It was supposed to be a referendum election, now it’s a choice election.  It was supposed to be a Romney “gimme” election . . .

Throughout the campaign year, Romney hasn’t had much to say about foreign policy and when he has, those efforts haven’t been unmitigated successes.  His foreign policy advisors are a sort of microcosm of the “battlin’ buttheads” that populated the Bush administration—an oil and water mixture of neocon warmongers and “pork hawks”  with a smattering of “we can’t solve all the world’s problems” realists.  Also too, Romney doesn’t get the same faraway moon-eyed look over foreign policy that he does over domestic economic policy.  A couple of his national security advisors have groused, anonymously, that they seriously doubt that he’s even read any of their carefully crafted position papers. 

The New York Times reported a few days ago that:

. . . some of these advisers, in interviews over the past two weeks in which most insisted on anonymity, say they have engaged with him so little on issues of national security that they are uncertain what camp he would fall into, and are uncertain themselves about how he would govern.

In some respects, there were no surprises today, unless you’re one of those folks who is still surprised every time Romney gives a big, substance-free speech.  Romney’s latest foreign policy brainstorm is “tread heavily and carry a very big stick” and all of the bumper-sticker jingoism that goes with that mentality—phrases like a New American Century, “confidence, clarity and resolve,” and “peace through strength” abound.  Daniel Larison coined the phrase “omnidirectional belligerence” to describe Romney’s position—IMO it does quite nicely.

When describing the current administration the coin is flipped to:  “leading from behind”, and “hope is not a strategy.”  But neither is cowboy rhetoric a strategy, Mr Romney.  One of the most glaring revelations is the fact that there is actually little-to-no “daylight” between Obama’s national security and foreign policy and Romney’s, as far as I can see.

Under Obama, the US has provided Israel with record levels of security assistance, including aid for rocket defenses, and our defense and intelligence cooperation has never been better.

Obama has forged an international coalition that is punishing Tehran economically and isolating the Iranian government effectively.  Romney promises “new sanctions” on top of the historically draconian sanctions that Obama has imposed.  Obama has never taken a military intervention to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon off the table.

A few days ago, Michèle Flournoy, Colin Kahl and Marc Lynch, co-wrote a CNN Op-Ed that very accurately describes Romney’s penchant for a disastrously muddled foreign policy approach:

He [Romney] has tacked between supporting “freedom” and fanning fears of Islamism, without giving any sign that he understands the complexities of this volatile region. His criticism of the president is similarly erratic: sometimes accusing Obama of not doing enough to support emerging democracies, and, at other times, seemingly critiquing him for doing too much to support democracy in places such as Egypt.

Romney’s declarations on the Middle East have been heavy on bold declarations of “leadership” but light on explanation. Romney’s claim that his brash rhetoric will restore order to the region is naive, if not dangerous. Indeed, the last time the United States enjoyed his brand of “leadership,” we found ourselves trapped in Iraq, besieged by record levels of anti-Americanism and confronting an ascendant al Qaeda.

And this stinging indictment:

The fact that Romney’s approach to the Middle East is all swagger and no substance should come as little surprise. After all, Romney backed the war in Iraq, the biggest foreign policy disaster in a generation, and his advisers—the people who would populate the national security establishment in a Romney administration—are a Who’s Who of the war’s architects. Not only did that war cost more than 4,400 American lives, leave more than 32,000 Americans wounded and cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion—it empowered Iran and Syria and undermined U.S. credibility in the region and around the globe.

The Obama administration has spent the past four years trying and, in many cases, succeeding at repairing some of that catastrophic damage.  Romney has shown no evidence that he is anything more than a demogogue with an uneven skill set.  The man should be on the speaker’s circuit not serving as Commander-in-Chief.

Posted by Bette Noir on 10/09/12 at 08:35 AM
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Categories: PoliticsElection '12MittensWar In Error

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Romney/Ryan Foreign Policy Preview: The Big Brass Balls Approach

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President Bill Clinton, speaking at this year’s Democratic Convention, voiced many sentiments about the Republican Presidential Campaign that Democrats were all longing to hear.  Among them was this hands-down winner:

When Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as “the biggest, coldest power play,” I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Key cuts that $716 billion is exactly to the dollar the same amount of medicare savings that he had in his own budget. It takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.

Undeterred, Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan gave a speech in Colorado yesterday that is no less “brassy.”  Ryan’s job, yesterday, was to talk up Romney/Ryan foreign policy expertise (Oxymoron Alert) and bromance the military at the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson.  Here’s what Paul’s been keeping under his “foreign policy hat” . . .

Ryan cited the protests in the Middle East as evidence that Obama’s foreign policy has failed there, saying it “looks like Tehran in 1979, but in about a dozen capitals throughout the world.” (Can’t get away from that Jimmy Carter meme).

You can turn on the TV and look and see how the Obama foreign policy is blowing up in our faces.

In Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, Ryan promised:

We’re going to rebuild this military and stop apologizing for the greatness of this country.

Now I wonder why the Greatest Show Military on Earth would need rebuilding . . . ?  Could it be that some Republican Commander-in-Chief and his merry men embroiled the military in not one but TWO neocon wetdreams that wound out for a decade? squandering blood and treasure and global credibility?  Chickenhawk Ryan has big brass ones and a very short memory.

I’m no policy wonk but it’s pretty obvious to me that some of these “costs of war” resulting from our neocon escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan might, possibly, have contributed to anything that’s “blowing up in our faces” today . . .

Here are just some of the “costs of war” tabulated by costsofwar.org, as of January, 2012:

• Putting together the conservative numbers of war dead, in uniform and out, brings the total to 286,006.  A more realistic minimal estimate is 298,000.

• Indirect deaths from the wars, including those related to malnutrition, damaged health infrastructure, and environmental degradation, may far outnumber deaths from combat. While these deaths are difficult to count due to factors such as lack of comparable baseline mortality figures, a 2008 survey by The Geneva Declaration Secretariat estimates that assuming a ratio of four indirect deaths to one direct death in contemporary conflicts would not be unreasonable.  This would put the death toll at five times 181,000, or 905,000.

• Millions of people have been displaced indefinitely and are living in grossly inadequate conditions.  As of March 2012, the number of war refugees and displaced persons—7,424,780—is equivalent to all of the people of Connecticut and Oregon fleeing their homes.

• The wars have been accompanied by erosions in civil liberties at home and human rights violations abroad.

• The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades, some costs not peaking until mid-century. Many of the wars’ costs are invisible to Americans, buried in a variety of budgets, and so have not been counted or assessed.  For example, while most people think the Pentagon war appropriations are equivalent to the wars’ budgetary costs, the true numbers are twice that, and the full economic cost of the wars much larger yet. Conservatively estimated, the war bills already paid and obligated to be paid as of June 2011 are $3.2 trillion in constant dollars. A more reasonable estimate puts the number at nearly $4 trillion.

• As with former US wars, the costs of paying for veterans’ care into the future will be a sizable portion of the full costs of the war.

• While we know how many US soldiers have died in the wars (over 6,500), what is startling is what we don’t know about the levels of injury and illness in those who have returned from the wars.  New disability claims continue to pour into the VA, with over 675,000 disability claims registered with the VA as of September, 2011. [2]  Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been identified.

• The ripple effects on the US economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases, and those effects have been underappreciated.

• While it was promised that the US invasions would bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq, both continue to rank low in global rankings of political freedom, with warlords continuing to hold power in Afghanistan with US support, and Iraqi communities more segregated today than before by gender and ethnicity as a result of the war.

Now.  Tell me again whose fault this is? and how you and Stench plan to make it better?  Through strength?  How manly . . .

Americans, if you have a heart or a mind or a soul or a conscience or anything left in your bank account, make sure, on Election Day, that the only way these clueless amateurs ever see the inside of the Oval Office is with a Visitor’s Pass.  PLEASE!

*****UPDATE*****

Just in from Bloomberg:

Americans have more confidence in President Barack Obama to deal with a crisis in the Middle East than they do Republican Mitt Romney, though they are losing faith in the president’s handling of terrorism.

By a margin of 49 percent to 38 percent, respondents to a Bloomberg National Poll say Obama would be better suited to cope with unforeseen events in the volatile region.

The poll, coming two weeks after Romney assailed Obama’s response to protests in Libya and Egypt, offers little evidence the Republican’s foreign policy critique is boosting his candidacy.

Romney is seeking to capitalize on turmoil in the Middle East, ranging from strains in the U.S.-Israel alliance over a showdown with Iran to violent protests in the once-authoritarian countries that embraced democracy in the “Arab spring.”

Posted by Bette Noir on 09/27/12 at 06:24 AM
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Categories: PoliticsBedwettersElection '12MittensPaul RyanWar In Error

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Give up the 9/11 Mythology

Typically, nobody makes a big deal about an eleventh anniversary.  Last year, I put up a post on the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  My great and good friend Ned, whose “9/11 connection” was so much more intimate than mine (I was at work, about twenty miles north of Manhattan, on that morning, but the plume of smoke and debris was visible from my Yonkers home, just north of the city) always puts up a post discussing the attacks from an engineering standpoint and links to a heartrending piece written by a friend of his.

This year, I’m not going to be nice…

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Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 09/11/12 at 06:17 PM
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Categories: PoliticsBushCoWar In Error

Once a Dick, Always a Dick

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Since the Democrats effectively disarmed the Republican lock on an image of toughness in the face of terrorism, the old PNAC crowd and their allies haven’t been able to do much other than gripe from the margins and express their desire for further foreign piratical adventures to anybody who’s still listening.

This has been reflected in Francophile draft-dodger Mitt Romney’s tendency to slip into his public pap-burblings his wish to oversee an “American Century”—most recently in an interview today for the Daily Caller:

In foreign policy, I am guided by one overwhelming conviction: This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world.

Form an orderly queue over there for the dancing rainbow-farting ponies dole-out.

Given that the GOP are flailing for issues to belabor President Obama with at the moment, total waste of spare parts Dick Cheney chose to mark the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on American soil ever by displaying that whatever else has been jury-rigged under his hood, he still has brass balls:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney took a shot at President Barack Obama late Monday night after it was reported that the president has attended fewer than half of his daily intelligence briefings.

I dunno. It seems to me that if you have a competent staff, actually bothering to, you know, read daily copies of these briefings and listen to their advice rather than chortling over books on goat husbandry and dismissing those advisers with “All right. You’ve covered your ass, now” is probably a step up the scale of administrative competence, but what do I know? Dick has the track record—amirite? Boggle now as he performs a double pike with full pirouette to segue into another hoary campaign talking point:

“If President Obama were participating in his intelligence briefings on a regular basis then perhaps he would understand why people are so offended at his efforts to take sole credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Cheney told The Daily Caller in an email through a spokeswoman.

I won’t respond to such blatant trolling by expressing my wishes for the just fate to befall this revolting shameless war criminal, but it can’t come to soon.

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Posted by YAFB on 09/11/12 at 11:34 AM
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