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Glenn Reynolds "Murtha's in trouble".
Internet problems delayed my completion of a promised post last night, and kept me from listening to CJ's radio program - but it didn't stop me from callling in to say howdy to CJ, Toby Nunn, Troy Steward, and the gang. (Online archive of the program available at the link.)
Hey - I don't need no steenkin' Fairness Doctrine.
Here's Barack Obama backer Bruce Springsteen singin' about his days killin' yellow men in 'nam, and how tough it is to be a vet:
And here's one from Tunnel of Love - my favorite Springsteen album.
Saw Springsteen in concert in Germany a few years back. Don't know if it's because he figured it was because no one would understand him, but he spent the whole show singing, didn't even introduce his songs. A great show. I was going to buy a t-shirt, but they were 50 bucks American. A bit out of my price range.
Bonus video for Obama backers:
Walk this way, talk this way...
Aerosmith has generally left the politics to bands like U2 and the Dixie Chicks, but axeman Joe Perry says national security and economic woes have prompted him to split from the rest of the entertainment world and throw his support behind John McCain....just gimme a kiiiiiiiis, like this.
“We pretty much stay out of it, but seeing so many people come out for Obama, I just felt like ‘What the hell, I might as well raise my hand for this side,” Perry said from his Duxbury home.
The Bay State rockers have done a few fund-raisers for the Kennedy family over the years, but Perry’s endorsement of McCain marks a first for the platinum-selling guitarist/songwriter. A lifelong Republican, he said he was inspired to come forward because of ringing McCain endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I’ve been a hardcore Republican my whole life,” he told the Herald. “My mother and father drilled into me from the very start that if you work hard and be positive, you’ll get what you’re working for. I guess I’m living proof of that.”
Hope Joe doesn't mind his tax returns being examined with excrutiating detail for the rest of his life.
And before it's banned forever, Republicans everywhere will appreciate this little number, with a special guest guitarist joining Joe, Stevie, and the boys for a little tribute to Elvis.
And here's one featuring Joe:
Bonus vid - one of Greyhawk's hundred or so top ten songs of all time.
Rock on.All done!
You might not have heard this week's news from Iraq:
Coalition troops formally handed over control of Iraq's Wasit province to the Iraqi government Wednesday.A side note, missed in the media coverage I've seen: Wasit was home to the Georgian Brigade up until Russia invaded that country.
On Thursday, Iraqis assumed control of Babil province. And last month, coalition troops handed over Anbar province to the Iraqis.
The other provinces that have shifted to Iraqi security control are Duhuk, Irbil and Sulaimaniya in the Kurdish region, and Karbala, Najaf, Qadisiya, Muthanna, Thiqar, Basra, and Maysan in the Shiite south.
Baghdad, Diyala, Salaheddin, Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces remain under U.S. control.
Following the handover, US forces are to retreat to their bases and participate in security operations only at the request of the provincial governor.And here's a story from earlier this week on the handover of Babil Province:
Rubaie announced that "within weeks" Baghdad would go on to take control of the northern oil-rich but ethnically volatile region of Kirkuk and of Salaheddin, the Sunni home province of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
The US military also remains in control of Baghdad, Nineveh and Diyala.
Nineveh and Diyala are Al-Qaeda strongholds where security forces have launched a series of military sweeps targeting the jihadists.
Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin, the number two commander of US forces in Iraq, said Wasit was once a route for "enemies to move weapons ... to attack Iraqi and coalition forces."
"Till seven months back, Wasit saw 16 to 18 attacks each week. Now the province frequently has reached zero attacks largely due to high level of cooperation between all security units."
Increased professionalism within the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and intensive US targeting efforts have helped to degrade the presence of extremists in Iraq's south-central 'Triangle of Death' - part of the province of Babil that was handed over to Iraqi government control on 23 October.Yup. I spent some time in both Provinces last year.
Babil, south of Baghdad, became the 12th of Iraq's 18 provinces to be returned to Iraqi government control, after efforts to corral or eliminate extremists on either side of the 'sectarian fault line' that divides the province between Shia (south) and Sunni (north). A small section of the north gained notoriety as the 'Triangle of Death' and the battlespace has featured Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other Sunni extremists, as well as Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) and other Shia militants.
Dawn Patrol readers are well aware of the transfer of Babil Province a few days ago. Mrs G found a few stories, and even video of the handover of one base from a unit of the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade Combat Team to Iraqi forces.
Ironically, as stories of Afghanistan as "the forgotten war" appear more frequently in the media Iraq is vanishing from view. Those Wasit and Babil stories were far from the front pages - as were the stories of how we got to the point where they were possible. But prior to departing Iraq the Third Infantry Division prepared this video for the soldiers to have something to use to tell their stories to the folks back home. In it you'll see the story of progress throughout 2007 and early 2008 in Babil and Wasit Provinces, and elsewhere in their Area of Operations.
This video is probably not up to network or cable news standards, so I don't think you'll see anything like it there.
But by "standards", I mean it tells how we won the war.
That's the big picture. Later today I'll have a more personal story to tell. I hope you can join me.
In the meantime, feel free to embed this video on your site - just copy and paste the following code (change dimensions as desired):
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AcLbOAA" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="270" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>
"Seems to be a Taliban ambush. There's a lot of fire going out"
That's a quote from journalist Nick Meo, captured in his own video made in the immediate aftermath of an IED attack that flipped the armored vehicle in which he was traveling. Watch it for yourself - count the rounds you hear fired, it debunks the characterization in so many media reports of massive, indiscriminate fire as the doctrinal response to such an attack.
But Meo's written and spoken claims contradict his own video evidence:
Crouching between the vehicles, I watched as infantrymen poured fire into the night. ...Heavy machine-guns and grenade-launchers were hammering furiously in what the Americans call suppressive fire, to keep the enemy's heads down.That would be an impressive video, indeed. What reporter wouldn't love to be the guy that had captured such an event? Thunderous concussions from the heavy machine guns combined with continuous bursts from multiple M4s punctuated by occasional grenades - while the muzzle flashes from thousands of rounds turn night into day.
The British would have regarded this level of fire as excessive, and perhaps even trigger-happy. Thousands of rounds must have been used.
Damn shame Meo doesn't have such a thing.
During Meo's posted 4+ minute video - much of which was taken as he "crouched between the vehicles" you'll hear less than 50 rounds fired. It's certainly possible he stopped filming when the action became too intense and missed the other 1,950 (at least) rounds that would qualify his claim as accurate, and if not it's likewise possible that the Telegraph chose not to provide the portions of the video that support Meo's description of what happened that night. Why? I certainly can't say - but neither possibility could be described as "good journalism".
But Meo goes on to describe why it's important that you believe what he says - not your own damn lyin's eyes:
It dawned on me that there could be Afghan homes out there. I thought of all the villages I have driven past on this road when it was safe for journalists to travel in a taxi.At least he couldn't bring himself to lie about the presence of villages or homes and contented himself with suggesting there could have been some that he didn't see.
Meo maintained and expanded his claims in a follow-up report - that also includes the video:
The vehicle I was in was hurled into the air and landed on its roof, killing the top gunner and injuring two soldiers. The small unit then fired thousands of rounds blindly into the night – from automatic rifles, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns — in an area where there are many villages, as well as Taliban guerrillas.But there's not one single incident of a weapon being fired on fully automatic captured on Meo's video.
Following an ambush it is standard US military procedure to switch weapons to fully automatic and pour out rounds.
Of which he says: "such footage of what happens in the aftermath of a bomb attack is rare." In fact, such footage doesn't exist at all, except in the fevered imagination of Nick Meo.
There are numerous other lies, inconsistencies, contradictions, omissions and instances of disgusting and cowardly behavior contained in Meo's two brief reports. See Bouhammer and Blackfive (also here). I choose to keep the focus here on this specific example.
Why? Because as in Iraq, "insurgents" in Afghanistan aren't content to simply attack Americans :
A suicide attacker in a police uniform blew himself up inside a police station in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan on Monday, killing two American soldiers and an 8-year-old boy, Afghan officials said.But Meo's report is designed to "prove" that trigger happy, panicked Americans are no better.
The blast wounded several other people, including one American soldier, officials said.
Baghlan is a relatively peaceful province, and there is said to be no active insurgency there. But it was the scene of one of the bloodiest suicide attacks last year, in which as many as 72 people were reported killed, including 5 lawmakers and more than 50 schoolchildren.
In fact, in his first report Meo indicated his belief that "the Taliban" limits their hostility to soldiers:
I suddenly realised what could happen if we fell into the hands of the attacking Taliban. With dread, I recalled what I'd read about the fate of Red Army prisoners.Most likely they would have beheaded him in the road, and used his own camera to capture the moment for internet posting.
I wondered if I would be able to explain that I was a journalist if men in turbans dragged me out of the crippled vehicle and I tried to recall a few phrases of Pashtun. I hoped they would understand "journalist" if I waved a notebook at them, but decided that it probably wouldn't help much.
Such horrors inflicted on the population by al Qaeda-type "foreign fighters" in Iraq ultimately led to the "awakening" movement there, and hastened their defeat. But while bogus or exagerated reports of American atrocities couldn't fool the people actually on the scene, they did enhance enemy foreign recruiting, erode support for coalition efforts, and lengthen the duration of hostilities.
With Iraq at least temporarily considered "lost" (or too hostile) to the potential holy warrior, Afghanistan is increasingly seen as the more attractive destination - some of the rise in hostilities there can be attributed to this factor. They are fanatics - driven to frenzy by tales of the brutalty of the crusader. Their motives are known, their actions unsurprising. Unfortunately, their media wing appears to be ready and eager to do their bit, too.All done!
Don't miss The War Briefing tonight.
(But if you do miss it, you can watch it online at that first link.)
"The discrepancy could not immediately be explained"Immediate answer: Probably. (I know - you're shocked...)
That headline is an interesting observation from within this Associated Press report:The Syrian government statement said eight people were killed, including a man and his four children and a woman. However, local officials said seven men were killed and two other people were wounded, including a woman among the injured.Gosh, I know I'm sure stumped. Anybody got any ideas?
Families buried loved ones Monday who they said were killed during the attack. During the funerals, angry residents shouted anti-American slogans and carried banners reading: "Down with Bush and the American enemy."
An Associated Press journalist at the funerals in the village's cemetery saw the bodies of seven men -- none of them children. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained.
And if this story stays "hot" will that eyewitness detail be forgotten?
CNN's Nic Robertson doesn't seem shy when questioning Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Mouallem about the attack...
...but if he was aware of "the discrepency" he chose not to seek clarity.
And the report from CNN's Situation Room didn't point out the eyewitness account of the funerals either:
However, the Syrian foreign minister says witnesses saw four U.S. helicopters arrive at a farm five miles inside Syria, that two landed and American forces emerged and opened fire, killing at least seven civilians.That went unchallenged.
WALEED MOALLEM [Syrian Foreign Minister]: They killed four of one family, the father and three children. They killed the guard of the farm and his wife. They killed also a fisherman who was fishing from the Euphrates River outside the farm.
Fox News (Special Report With Brit Hume) blew a chance for some good journalism, too:
GRIFFIN: But the Syrians say the U.S. raid targeted civilians.Perhaps none of the reporters quoted above were aware of that on-scene AP report. Too bad, because asking for an explanation of the discrepency would have made for some outstanding television, says I.
IMAD MOUSTAPHA [Syrian Ambassador to U.S.]: We characterize it as an act of sheer terrorism.
GRIFFIN: These are the first pictures released from Syria’s official news agency of those killed in the U.S. raid. The names of the dead: Dahud Mohammed al-Abdullah (ph), his four sons, and Ahmed Khalifeh Ali Abbas al-Hassan (ph) and his wife.
MOUSTAPHA: None of them were al Qaeda operatives. They were ordinary Syrian citizens.
GRIFFIN: Will this raid jeopardize thawing relations between Syria and its neighbors? The Syrian foreign minister, on a visit to London, told Fox his country was shocked by the U.S. raid.
Lets review that AP report again: "An Associated Press journalist at the funerals in the village's cemetery saw the bodies of seven men -- none of them children. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained." Note that's an Associated Press journalist - not a U.S. government/DoD spokesperson - countering the Syrian claim.
Meanwhile, in today's news:
A raid into Syria on Sunday was carried out by American Special Operations forces who killed an Iraqi militant responsible for running weapons, money and foreign fighters across the border into Iraq, American officials said Monday.All done!
American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the raid said the mission had been mounted rapidly over the weekend on orders from the Central Intelligence Agency when the location of the man suspected of leading an insurgent cell, an Iraqi known as Abu Ghadiya, was confirmed. About two dozen American commandos in specially equipped Black Hawk helicopters swooped into the village of Sukkariyah, six miles from the Iraqi border, just before 5 p.m., and fought a brief gun battle with Abu Ghadiya and several members of his cell, the officials said.
It was unclear whether Abu Ghadiya died near his tent on the battlefield or after he was taken into American custody, one senior American official said.
One United States official described Abu Ghadiya as Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s “most prominent” smuggler of foreign operatives crossing the Syrian border into Iraq, and in February the Treasury Department named him as one of four major figures in that group living in Syria.
A general (okay - an Attorney General) rescues the troops:
Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell issued an opinion yesterday in the dispute over absentee ballots used by members of the armed forces, saying that they must be counted.The Virginia absentee ballot issue was part of my larger "military vote" story at Pajamas. With over 120 comments it seems that larger issue is of some concern to at least some Americans.
Last week, the Fairfax County registrar said about 100 of the federal ballots, which are used as backups to local absentee ballots by citizens abroad, did not comply with a state law that requires that they carry the signature and the address of a witness.
As a result, he said he could not count them.
McDonnell (R) said a federal law that governs overseas military voting took precedence.
Speaking of Generals, here's one General speaking:
“I think what you’re seeing is kind of an evolution of thinking,” said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff. “We still need to participate in the political process, and maybe the young guys especially think it ought to be a little more public.”
That's from a NY Time article headlined Back From War, And Increasingly Into The Political Fray, in which we hit the campaign trail with milblogger/Vets for Obama chairman Phil Carter, Vets for Freedom co-founder David Bellavia, and others.
No scientific polls of the military or veteran vote have been conducted. And while Senator John McCain of Arizona is expected to carry the demographic, young Iraq veterans are working tirelessly for both parties, and with groups promoting policies that fall in between.The numbers are smaller than in 1944...
Attitudes of service members show as wide a variety of opinions as those expressed by their congressional representatives. A naval officer in the Pacific wrote a letter to Newsweek in which he stated the majority of Sailors on his cruiser showed little interest in voting. However, many planned to run for office themselves upon their return. This prompted the officer to write “I am certain that no one but a veteran–probably those who have seen active service–will hold any job after the war, from Constable to President.”...but from all indications vets will certainly not be absent from the political scene in the coming years.
Defense firms see more profit, shares riseThis past weekend
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Aerospace and defense companies Raytheon Co, L-3 Communications and Goodrich reported higher profits and forecast strong performance next year as the sector promises to hold up relatively well against the onslaught of the credit crisis and global economic downturn.
The results, which helped push their shares sharply higher, come after strong numbers from Lockheed Martin Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp earlier this week, marred only by rising pension liabilities after an abysmal few months in global investment markets.
"With the underlying defense business still doing well for most industry participants, pension is probably the biggest risk facing the defense industry," said Macquarie Research analyst Robert Stallard.
Yesterday:In a meeting with the editorial board of The Standard-Times, Rep. Frank, D-Mass., also called for a 25 percent cut in military spending, saying the Pentagon has to start choosing from its many weapons programs, and that upper-income taxpayers are going to see an increase in what they are asked to pay.Lot's of folks are outraged, outraged I tell you, over Frank's stated desire to implement what would amount to lethal cuts in defense spending in time of war.
Frank further clarified: "We don't need all these fancy new weapons. I think there needs to be additional review."
[But] Frank's goal is more short-term: damage defense stocks on the market.
Morgan Stanley cuts US aerospace, defense sector
Oct 27 (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley downgraded the U.S. aerospace and defense industry to "in-line" from "attractive" and said it prefers to be on the sidelines in defense ahead of the presidential elections.
Aerospace and defense sector has outperformed the Standard & Poor's for eight of the last nine years, and a recovery rally for defense stocks looks less assured in the first quarter this time, Wood wrote in a note to clients.
Wood also downgraded Rockwell Collins Inc, aerospace electronics company and Raytheon, the U.S. No. 5 defense contractor that makes Patriot and Tomahawk missiles, to "equal-weight" from "overweight."
I'm not a market forecaster, but if defense stocks do fall, this will be a likely turn-around point:
"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."And if the bad economy doesn't result in a boost in military recruiting, there's always the draft. All done!
Did New Hampshire Democrat Party Chairman Ray Buckley make a false claim of being a Vietnam veteran to a Gold Star mom? Or is it all just a "misunderstanding"?
If accurate, is that the worst thing he ever did?
From the milblogs conference at Blogworld Expo:
Your humble scribe moderates a distinguished panel of folks who've been there, done that - insights and stories from about ten deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2004-2007 from milbloggers Toby Nunn (Toby Nunn's Briefing Room), Troy Steward (Bouhammer), and J.P. Borda (Milblogging.com), along with Christian Lowe of DefenseTech and military.com - a reporter with several trips to Iraq under his belt.
(And thanks to C.J. for the video.)
If you're interested in seeing the full version of Bad Voodoo's War you can watch it online here.
If you'd like more information on that bus ambush story you can find it here.
I'd also urge readers to order a copy of Toby's book, detailing his first tour in Iraq with the Strykers in Mosul. (A bit of intel/trivia I picked up from talking to Toby at the conference: the same Brigade that included a young milblogger named Colby Buzell. Small world, eh?)
Inside the Surge: 1-5 Cavalry in Ameriyah, a Small Wars Journal article by Lieutenant Colonel Dale Kuehl, US Army. Lt Col Kuehl commanded the 1st Battalion, 5th US Cavalry in Ameriyah from November 2006 until January of 2008. If you want first-hand reports by (and informed opinions of) the guys who ran the show at street level, Small Wars Journal is a must-read.
And while the singular accomplishments reflect great credit, etc., the reality is that this story was repeated all over Iraq in 2006 and 2007. It would be nice to see those stories repeated (in a different sense) all over America. Better late than never...
Old news -
Amariyah, a wealthy Baghdad district that butts up against the US military's sprawling Camp Victory, which includes the Baghdad airport, is a testament to the ease with which Sunni Arab extremists can take over an established neighborhood and use it as a base of operations.November 2007:
And over the past six months, the Baghdad neighborhood of shaded gardens and hulking villas once popular with Mr. Hussein's entourage has become synonymous with gruesome, anonymous death, as have other Sunni neighborhoods like Dora and Adhamiya. They are all examples of the ongoing battle occurring throughout Iraq to loosen the grip of the insurgency - and the tough fight facing the Iraqi Army and US forces to dislodge them.
Twilight brings traffic jams to the main shopping district of this once-affluent corner of Baghdad, and hundreds of people stroll past well-stocked vegetable stands, bakeries and butcher shops.All done!
To many in Amariyah, it seems little short of a miracle.
Just six months ago, this mostly Sunni neighborhood was one of the centers of al-Qaida in Iraq operations. The district in western Baghdad was hit by more than a dozen bombings and shootings some days. Few people dared to venture onto the streets.
On Tuesday, women shopped and men drank tea in sidewalk cafes. Occasionally, U.S. soldiers walking the streets were greeted with salaams and smiles.
Reports: A US Special Forces attack in Syria "targeted the network of al Qaeda-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq"
Iraqi Government spokesman: the area where the raid occurred "is a theater of military operations where anti-Iraq terrorist activity takes place."
A Syrian government statement said eight people were killed, including a man and his four children and a woman.
The Associated Press says: "An Associated Press journalist at the funerals in the village's cemetery saw the bodies of seven men -- none of them children. The discrepancy could not immediately be explained."
I'm sure it will all be resolved soon...All done!
I added the following as a comment to my own article at Pajamas Media. As noted, to do this story justice would take much more space than available - and even much more than I've taken here. But I'm re-posting this here so it doesn't become lost in what's turning out to be a very large comment section - consider it a companion piece to the main article.
The WWII US Military was an anomaly in our nation’s history - large and demographically similar to the nation as a whole. There was bipartisan opposition (and support) for a voting act that would have simplified the enormously complex problem of ensuring each and every service member on battlefields around the world got their chance to vote. Valid arguments of federal encroachment on State’s rights were raised in opposition, but also often masked other motives ranging from purely political (Republicans feared Roosevelt controlled all information flow to the troops and would receive their blind obedience) to unimaginably vile (southern Democrats’ desire to maintain Jim Crow laws).
Still, more than a few military members voted that year (50 percent of military personnel requested ballots and 30 percent succeeded in casting ballots) even with the associated logistical problems. While the military vote might have tipped New Jersey from Republican to Democrat, Roosevelt was reelected in an electoral landslide, and neither the Senate or House composition changed appreciably. I’m not sure many military members (well aware of the logistics involved) were very much outraged over the outcome of the voting effort or the election.
But I like this quote:
Attitudes of service members show as wide a variety of opinions as those expressed by their congressional representatives. A naval officer in the Pacific wrote a letter to Newsweek in which he stated the majority of Sailors on his cruiser showed little interest in voting. However, many planned to run for office themselves upon their return. This prompted the officer to write “I am certain that no one but a veteran–probably those who have seen active service–will hold any job after the war, from Constable to President.”More here and here. All done!
Barney Frank on defense in a home state paper:
In a meeting with the editorial board of The Standard-Times, Rep. Frank, D-Mass., also called for a 25 percent cut in military spending, saying the Pentagon has to start choosing from its many weapons programs, and that upper-income taxpayers are going to see an increase in what they are asked to pay.Lot's of folks are outraged, outraged I tell you, over Frank's stated desire to implement what would amount to lethal cuts in defense spending in time of war.
Frank further clarified: "We don't need all these fancy new weapons. I think there needs to be additional review."
Here's the defense budget, in billions of dollars:
Operations and maintenance-----------------------------$179.8
Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation----------$79.6
Resolving and Management Funds---------------------------$2.2
Total Base Spending-----------------------------------------$515.4
Eliminate 100% of procurement - eliminate every American job making armor and bullets and "fancy new weapons" in multiple House districts across the country - and you've reduced that budget by 20% - five short of Frank's goal. Of course, there's no further need for that R&D spending (15%) any more (or that silly "personnel" and "operations" waste...)
But frankly folks, that's not what Barney wants to do. The budget was just passed this month. President Bush signed it into law on October 15th (with 5 billion in pork - America was too distracted by the financial crisis to notice...) - it's so new that some numbers above might be incorrect. (It also already includes the suplementals for Iraq and Afghanistan) But if Frank wanted it lowered, he missed his big chance.
So if destroying the nation's military isn't his goal, what is?
While cutting the 8.8 billion dollars spent on missile defense (at nearly two percent the largest "fancy weapon" piece of the defense pie) sounds great to folks who know what they'd do with that money, Frank's goal is more short-term: damage defense stocks on the market. (Gasp! Surely you can't be serious? Investors certainly won't respond to threats of falling stock prices and higher taxes on those falling profits, will they?)
Yes. This little market assault is well-disguised as a slap at defense spending - an always popular tactic in economic downturns except among greedy Wall Street tycoons and, um, those Americans who earn their paychecks in defense plants. But they're a real minority, and the number of folks who know what they'd do with that money is far larger (though their odds of getting even a tiny piece of it are microscopic). So neither that slap or the market fall will hurt Frank (or his Party) at the polls. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ironically, that boost will drive those stock prices down even more - etc., etc., etc...
Later, when they're in full control, they can do what they want with defense spending (within the confines of Barack Obama's pledge to pull some - but not all - troops from Iraq and put them in Afghanistan). That will be none of your damn business, by the way, because they've got a mandate, and who gives a damn what long-forgotten comment Barney Frank said in October - he isn't even on a defense committee.
Besides, he'll be much too busy (as House Banking Committee chairman) in his efforts towards fixing this damn housing mess Bush got us into:
He said he also wants some effort placed on building affordable rental housing, since there are a great many people for whom home ownership is either out of reach or doesn't make sense for other reasons. That would be a departure, he said, from the Bush era emphasis on home ownership to the point where people were given mortgages they could not afford to pay.What's that you say? You didn't know that was all Bush's fault? It's not - in fact, many would argue Barney Frank bears much more of the blame. But that matters little - like determining the defense budget, assigning blame and rooting out the Ephraimites is part of the mandate, the sort of thing the next congress will get to do. (I suspect they'll tackle both tasks with gusto. And if you can't say "affordable rental housing" without shedding a tear or cracking a smile, you are indeed an Ephraimite.)
But don't worry, if all else fails on economic rescue, the Goodwar will do the trick (and pssst, you didn't hear it from me, but look how cheap these defense stocks are...) and defense spending can be ramped up much faster than you can say "buy Northrup!"
It's a win-win.
By the way, I don't give stock market advice - don't consider the above to be that in any way. But I will offer this advice to those of you - male and female - under age 30: start doing some pushups, situps, and running now. It's good for you no matter what, but it will make basic training (and forget about using that "I'm gay" option to avoid the draft) a lot easier if you get the call.
So that's a win-win for you, too.All done!
Disclaimer up front: There's an ad in the sidebar for this program. However, this post is not part of that deal, and I don't gain revenue for "click throughs". (Though no doubt advertisers are aware of them and appreciate them.)
Ive seen no more of the program than what's available on the preview videos at the site, but from that brief look I'm impressed that interviews with Lt. Col. John Nagl and David Kilcullen are included in the program - that's enough to convince me to tune in.
Beyond which, this admittedly brief quote captures what's likely to be the enormously complex strategic challenge facing the U.S. and it's allies in the region now and in the coming months:
Even with more troops, any progress in Afghanistan will be hostage to developments just across the border. As long as the Taliban and Al Qaeda are able to launch attacks from their sanctuaries in the lawless tribal areas of neighboring Pakistan, any policy is likely to fail. But cracking down on the insurgent safe havens in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas presents enormous challenges of its own.And while Afghanistan and Iraq are "back burner" issues to the economy right now (or even seen as a drain on that very economy) anyone with any knowledge of history should be concerned with (or at least aware of) the potential for a "good war" - if it's big enough - to reverse a downward economic spiral.
In recent months, special forces have mounted ground assaults on targets inside the tribal areas without the consent of the Pakistani government, prompting growing tensions with the Pakistani army and its new civilian leaders. “The United States does not have the right to go into a sovereign country that is its ally without permission and approval and consent of that ally,” Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, tells FRONTLINE. Vali Nasr of the Council on Foreign Relations adds: “This was an early and decisive success we had [against the Taliban] after 9/11. If eight years later it collapses before the very force that we defeated and kicked out of Afghanistan, then the symbolism is tremendous. It would be a major morale booster for extremism across the Muslim world.”
I don't know if that aspect of the situation confronting the world today is covered in the program - but as Nagl points out in the video below, Afghanistan is already "the good war".
Fortunate, then, that whoever takes charge in the White House next year will have a "spine of steel", eh?All done!
In the mail: Sheriff of Ramadi by Dick Couch.
The book "details the once secret role of the Navy SEALs in the battle of Ramadi".
Couch was in Ramadi. He expected to write a narrative of courage in a losing battle - the orchestra on the deck of the Titanic. Instead he discovered a success story in the war against al Qaeda - the first real, sustained success since the 2003 invasion."When we arrived in al Anbar the conventional wisdom was that the province was a lost cause - unwinnable". I've discussed that with those who were there, they've told me that acceptable success at the going-in stage could be described as merely "keeping a lid" on the violence. (And the anticipation of achieving that success could be described as "slim".)
It was a battle won with a strategy of deploying SEALs alongside regular forces in a combined joint operation, which also included Iraqi security forces and the people of the al-Anbar province, to fight against terrorists in the urban war zone of Ramadi.
Among the many examples of this extraordinary brotherhood is the story of Petty Officer Michael A. Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery during the battle of Ramadi.
"When we arrived in al Anbar the conventional wisdom was that the province was a lost cause - unwinnable," said then-Colonel Sean MacFarland. "I never believed that, and now we see that is not true."
They exceeded expectations. I've written extensively here on how that happened, but I'm looking forward to expanded discussion on the special forces component of the battle detailed in Sheriff of Ramadi.
A French national archive has posted online extended footage of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain being interviewed as a bedridden prisoner during the Vietnam War.
French reporter Francois Chalais conducted the interview. His widow says the online release this week of 4 minutes, 33 seconds of footage is the fullest distribution of the interview since it first aired four decades ago.
At times, when speaking of his family, McCain's lower lip trembles and his voice breaks.
"I was on a flight over the city (Hanoi) ... and I was bombing and I was hit by a missile or anti-aircraft fire, I'm not sure which," he said, adding that his plane "went straight down."
After landing in the lake, McCain said he "was picked up and taken to the hospital, where I almost died."
In the interview, McCain said he was treated well by his Vietnamese captors. Asked about the food, he told his French interviewer, "It's not like Paris ... (but) I eat it."
The exact date of the interview is not clear, but it appeared to be taken in late 1967.
The French national audiovisual archive INA is posting the interview on its Web site, http://www.ina.fr, for one week. It was first broadcast on French television program Panorama in January 1968.
Over the last 72 hours there has been a strange melange of cryptic messages leaked from world political leaders about what could be in store for America over the next few months.
These predictions of impending doom come from England, France, Australia and the United States. In each case there has been a press releases or news expose’ predicting huge and building threats emerging from faceless enemies in shadowy places.
Crisis will lead to unpopular decisions by Barack Obama
That is if Barack Obama wins.
Joe Biden warned those at a Seattle fund raiser last Sunday about an “international crisis” a "generated crisis" that will test Barack Obama’s Presidency should he be elected. “I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate".
Does he know something he's not telling us? it's possible.
Madeline Albright says there is a "massive crisis on the horizon" and Biden was simply making a “statement in fact.”
“The problems will always be there and there’s going to be a crisis which will come along on the 21st, 22nd of January that we don’t even know about right now.” Powell told Meet the Press.
Meanwhile in England where the House of Lords forced the Government to abandon plans to extend detention without trial for terror suspects to 42 days...
Lord West, adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on national security says, “There is another great plot building up again and we are monitoring".
"The threat is huge. It dipped slightly and is now rising again within the context of 'severe'.
"There are large complex plots. We unravelled one, which caused damage to al-Qaeda and the plots faded slightly.
"However, another great plot is building up again, which we are monitoring.
"We have done a great deal to protect ourselves and to look after our water supplies, our resilience, underground trains, our preparedness and communications.
"We have done all the things that we need to do, but the threat is building - the complex plots are building."
Lord West like Biden, Albright and Powell does not elaborate on the precise details of the threat or the source of this intelligence information just that the situation is dire.
Here's my scenarios:
If Obama is elected, Israel is going to strike Iran with Nukes. (reasoning follows)
If McCain is elected, Iran will make an attempt on Israel. (no reason just because)
If Israel attacks... Obama will have to make a decision that many of us will be extremely uncomfortable with... Let Israel die at the hands of Iran, Russia and the rest of the world or fight with Iran, Russia maybe China too.
He will, side against Israel in order to avoid WW3. But at what concequence?
McCain has made his decision, knowing full well that we have the capacities, he will support Israel and take on our enemies, because he knows if we act first, we actually can win this...
But Obama, won't do it, he will take the easy route and avoid becoming unpopular and hated and let Israel fry and make friends ... even though most Americans are pro Israel.
"he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."
If Obama wins, Israel knowing all this, is going to launch Nukes on Iran. It's do or die.
I think England, France, Australia are speculating this, but I could be wrong.
Just like Biden, I could give at least four or five more scenarios.
What do you predict the impending doom is (aside from Obama winning this election)?
Dan Quayle will have “POTATOE” etched on his gravestone. But how many times have late-night comedians and cable shows replayed the video of senior statesman and six-term Sen. Biden’s own spelling mishap last week while attacking McCain’s economic plan?And then there was that moment in the VP debate when he couldn't explain the job of Vice President as defined by the U.S. Constitution. But hey, that's wacky ol' Uncle Joe right?
“Look, John’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the No. 1 job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.”
No, Joe. “D’-O-H” is a three-letter word.
Nightly news shows still haven’t tired of replaying Palin’s infamous interview with Katie Couric. But how many times have they replayed Biden’s botched interview with Couric last month — in which he cluelessly claimed: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.’”
Er, here’s what really happened: Roosevelt wasn’t president when the market crashed in 1929. As for appearing on TV, it was still in its infant stages and wasn’t available to the general public until at least ten years later.
And besides, that story isn't important. And for every media outlet that tells you what the Constitution says, you'll find ten to tell you what it means. And wacky ol' Uncle Joe knows what it means - he's got experience, and that's what matters in a Vice President.
This is wacky ol' Uncle Joe too, speaking to campaign supporters at a Seattle fundraiser:
"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."A bit hyperbolic, but probably right. But here's where he unleashes wacky ol' Uncle Joe (or maybe not):
"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. "And he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."Those comments weren't made for TV (Biden has been avoiding reporters for two months) so it's unfair that they got out - and John McCain used them in an vicious attack. And to teach that mean ol' nasty John McCain a lesson MSNBC pulled a quick, slick, switcheroo
Mark my words, within the next -- first six months of this administration, if we win, they're going to -- we're going to face a major international challenge, 'cause they're going to want to test him, just like they did John Kennedy, they're going to want to test him, and they're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine.So there. (Also here) And now that that's been unsaid, let's get our attention back to the Palin Threat. Byron York, in NRO:
Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above.CNN "reporter" Drew Griffin to Governor Palin:
GRIFFIN: Governor, you've been mocked in the press, the press has been pretty hard on you, the Democrats have been pretty hard on you, but also some conservatives have been pretty hard on you as well. The National Review had a story saying that, you know, I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt or all of the above.But that doesn't mater either, because she can't even afford her own damn clothes. And if that fact doesn't prove that Palin isn't "just regular folks", then gosh, I don't know what will.
But anyhow - wait a farkin' minute. Since I'm a military guy I really want to know exactly wtf this is all about: ""I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities." Because to me that sounds like something requiring a military solution. I'd also note that a diplomatic solution would be better, but I'm also fairly certain that Obama/Biden supporters would agree. But whatever solution Biden has in mind, he anticipates his supporters aren't going to like it - not his detractors: "we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."
It's not like Obama and Biden have to request support from their supporters - they get it automatically and without reservation. (If Biden says Roosevelt was president in 1929 and appeared on television to explain how article one of the constitution gives everyone a j-o-b-s jobs then no big deal because - hey, Sarah Palin can't afford her own clothes!)
But what bothers wacky ol' Uncle Joe isn't a scenario where Barack Obama is challenged or America is threatened, it's a scenario he can envision wherein Obama supporters would withdraw that support - a scenario that campaign '08 gives every indication is not very freaking likely.
So are we going to find out any (purely hypothetical, of course) specific scenarios Joe Biden feels would alienate his supporters before the elections or after? (Or never? McCain could win...)
I apologize - I'm kidding - I don't want to make fun of wacky ol' Uncle Joe. It's down right mean. Hey, did you know that Sarah Palin can't afford her own clothes!?!All done!
Where should we start.
How 'bout A cowardice act by a reporter in Afghanistan
Nick Meo was an embed journalist from the UK who was recently in the Khandahar area embedded with PMT and ETT mentors of TF Phoenix. I have been alerted to some terrible articles he wrote about that experience. Articles full of lies, slander and twisted truths. Articles that pump his own ego and try to make him seem more than he is, but at the same time show him as a coward by jumping on a medevac helicopter to leave the combat area rather than ride back, and he was not even wounded..
BlackFive does not mince words about this reporters incompetence
I received the real reason the soldiers wanted Nick's video. He was filming the dead and the dying. When being treated for non-existent wounds back at Kandahaar, Nick Meo denied having that footage. When pressed, he recanted.
No wonder the soldiers were angry with him. I can only imagine if a parent or friend of the Fallen soldiers had seen that footage.
I received a note from a soldier who arrived on the scene 20 minutes after the IED hit the cougar.
After asking about the above soldier's claim that Meo was never listed as KIA (after all, he was there), I received word from the ARSIC PAO that Nick Meo was listed as WIA. Of course, he wasn't wounded, but WIA status allowed him to bug out on the medevac with the wounded and Fallen.
The whole Post-It Note thing was a lie.
AND, when offered to attend the ramp ceremony for Corporal Diamond, Nick Meo refused to attend if he couldn't videotape the event.
Our men and women, citizen soldiers, are fighting for a greater cause than themselves.
Journalist just cannot report on the military without showing their [fill in the blank]
In other news, Bob Krumm points out Dan Rather’s two-fer
How bad was the coverage surrounding Joe Biden’s, If you elect him, they will bomb remark? Even Dan Rather recognizes the media double standard.
Notice also this remark from Rather about how he expects the Biden-gaffe story to get more traction on the internet
But notice NBC and MSNBC are using a completely different statement made by Biden. They’re juxtaposing a line Biden said at some other time about Obama having “steel in his spine” with criticisms Not the video where Biden gives us this warning.
Here’s the audio from the Seattle fund-raiser:
Biden: "Mark My Words"
The LA Times refuses to release video of Obama toasting close friend & Jew-hater Rashid Khalidi--
Khalidi and the Obamas were great friends in Chicago and often spent time at each other's homes.
Khalidi was also best friends with Bill Ayers.
The Meridian asks : Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights? HT: Glenn
Editor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.
An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. ...Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?
I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."
Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.
It's no wonder Drudge has this to report.
Our house is a very, very, very fine house...
But what is it worth?
Back in part one we mentioned that Fred sold his house to Ernie. Fred had an asking price, but Ernie offered him a little less. The went back and forth a couple times, but eventually agreed on $35,000. (Remember, this was the 1970's). It's a small house in a nice neighborhood. It was Fred's first house, but he's had it for several years and his family is growing and he's making more money now and he's ready for something bigger. But it's just right for Ernie.
So anyhow, there's the simplest explanation for what anything is worth - it's worth what the buyer is willing to pay the seller. In the real estate market if the buyers outnumber the sellers it's a "seller's market" - he can get a higher price than when the sellers outnumber the buyers (a "buyer's market"). But here in Yortown supply pretty much equals demand, and Bob the Builder keeps it that way.
Now Ernie doesn't have $35,000 in his pocket - or even in the bank. So he asked for a loan from the bank. After they determined he was likely to pay the loan back (he had a good job working at Joe's Widget Mill and a history of paying his debts) the bankers wanted to know what the house was worth. So they had an appraiser check it out. She looked at the house inside and outside and measured the rooms and looked at the type and quality of construction and material and compared it to other houses that had sold in the area and determined it was worth the agreed upon price. Since Joe was also using some of his savings as a down payment this meant the bank was fairly safe in making the loan - so they did.
After the deal was complete, Fred paid off his loan to another bank and used most of his profit (he only owed $16,000) as a down payment on a bigger $50,000 house Bob was building over in the nice new Avon Park subdivision.
So everyone was happy.
Now, we already know from part one that the bank is going to send that mortgage off to Fannie Mae and get money to offer more mortgage loans. Fannie Mae, in turn, is going to offer that mortgage on the "secondary market".
But that begs a question: "What is the mortgage worth? And if you think about it for a minute, you'll know that's a very different question than "what is the house worth?" Here are a few reasons why:
Ernie's mortgage is designed to be paid off over 30 years. If he makes the scheduled payments on time whoever gets those payments will get a large sum of money - their profit will be the interest Ernie pays. (However, those payments will look pretty small in 20 years time compared to new mortgages if housing values keep going up...)
But if Ernie makes larger payments he might pay the loan off sooner with less interest accrued.
But he might also do what Fred did and sell the house to someone else and pay off the entire loan after only a few years.
Or he might fall on hard times and not be able to make his payments at all. If his loan was guaranteed or insured then once again the principal would be covered, but there would be no more interest received and whoever guaranteed or insured it gets the house. If not, whoever Ernie owed the money to gets a house. And what is that house worth? How long has it been since Ernie bought it? How much did he still owe? What will it cost the company to sell the house? How long will that take?
So the best answer to "what is the mortgage worth" is "something". That uncertainty means there's quite a bit of risk involved in buying a mortgage, making it more difficult for buyer and seller to agree on a price . If you deal in a high volume of mortgages to qualified borrowers you reduce that risk, but frankly anyone willing to assume that risk is probably better off originating mortgages (what the bank did for Ernie) in the first place.
But we already explained in part one why a secondary market for mortgages is desirable. So how do you go about creating one?
Here's a simplified explanation of how it was done in America. The Emergency Home Finance Act of 1970 established new standards for mortgages, and reduced or eliminated regional and local variations. This allowed Fannie Mae (and other Government Sponsored Enterprises) to "pool" several similar mortgages. Then, instead of trying to sell one mortgage worth "something" they had a large block of mortgages that had a more definable value.
While you can't predict with great certainty what one mortgage will be worth over time, you can statistically predict what a thousand will (especially if they were generated using the same applied standards). Some percentage will be paid off on time, another percentage will default, another will be paid off early, etc. etc. This doesn't eliminate uncertainty (risk), but it does reduce it.
And to further lower risk, instead of trying to sell that large pool to one investor, Fannie Mae (or anyone else in the business) could get multiple investors to purchase a portion of the pool. Those "portions" are called "mortgage backed securities". There are numerous complex variations, but the bottom line is that these securities facilitated the growth of the secondary mortgage market - and a way for investment firms that weren't in the industry to cycle money through it, keep mortgage generation possible, and make a profit. With the system "backed" by property (collateral), insurance, guarantees, (and in many cases the United States government); along with a widely accepted premise that real estate would gradually increase in value over time (albeit with fluctuations), an assumption of generally accepted "safe" lending practices in loan origination, and assumed fiscal responsibility throughout all levels of the process it seemed like a safe bet. Lots of pension funds, insurance companies, and other financial institutions "bought in".
In fact, it was a safe bet. "The system" even facilitated that gradual increase in property values that it needed to thrive.
But the key word, as we all know now, is "was".
More to follow...All done!
I know a young man who is in desperate need of help. His name is PFC Hunter Levine. He is 20 years old and hails from Houston, TX.
He was in my company and was wounded on 9 May, 2008 while conducting combat operations in East Baghdad. He received a very serious injury to his face, resulting in the loss of his entire bone structure, mouth, nose, and vision.
He was evacuated to Walter Reed Hospital where the doctors performed numerous surgeries to repair his face.
Hunter was then transferred to a VA hospital in California, where the best care for his vision would be available. He is a true fighter with a heart of gold.
Unfortunately, I received some bad news from the hospital doctors. Lately, he has been resisting treatment and being somewhat combative with the hospital staff. He has had a few outbursts and the staff is real worried about him. It seems like a serious case of depression is setting in.
Although his wounds on the outside may look bad, they may never compare with the wounds he has on the inside.
He has a long road to recover and can use some of our support and if you ever wonder “what can I do for our wounded warriors”, send a card of encouragement to guys like this to eMail Our Military Rhey'll get them to those in need.
Soldiers Angels is another great place to start if you're looking for a military support program.
Tammi at Honor, Duty, eMail brought the attention to this soldier and has info on how you can help or if you'de like to send cards or letter of support, and encouragement she has the contact info. She's also looking for volunteers.
But where, exactly, does it lead?
"Generals will always be the last ones to acknowledge the war is over, and the losing General (when there is one) usually gets to go first. This particular war is more complex because there is no opposing General."
Mr. Uzzaman was transferred to Corregidor in late 2005. Mr. Chacka followed a couple of months later. They both found a base under such threat that it was completely engulfed in darkness at night. For good reason: It was smack dab in the middle of a war zone.Iraq, October 6, 2007:
Rounds of fire from rocket-propelled guns struck guard towers. Tracer-fire criss-crossed the sky. U.S. warplanes bombed insurgent targets just outside the base. "All my guys were looking at me. They said: `What's happening? Where are we?'" Mr. Uzzaman said, recounting his first day there. So great was the mortar threat that until last month soldiers wore armoured jackets and helmets around the base.
There is more optimism about success among the battlefield soldiers than present with analysts in Baghdad. The sudden decrease in violence has left many units stunned that Iraqis who used to try to kill them are suddenly volunteering information about terrorists and landmines, and clamoring to join the joint security force. Usually those behind the desk are the optimists, the soldiers who die the pessimists. But instead there is genuine feeling on the front that after four frustrating years of ordeal, at last there are tangible signs of real, often radical improvement.Me, from Iraq, October 16, 2007
We've won the war.Fallujah, October 20 2007:
In Fallujah, enlisted marines have complained to an officer of my acquaintance: "There's nobody to shoot here, sir. If it's just going to be building schools and hospitals, that's what the Army is for, isn't it?"Baqubah, April 19, 2008:
I'm not the only one feeling the boredom, on one of our patrols we paid 4 donkey cart drivers to race, the stipulation, one soldier on the back of each donkey cart. My donkey lost, it tried to kick it's driver.Mike Yon on Iraq, July 2008:
So is this what we've been waiting for in Iraq? Or is this silence just the prelude to more attacks and violence? In Baqouba I can say that I think this peace will last, at least while my unit is here.
The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.Me, July 2008:
There's a reason Mike didn't realize until now that we had won the war, and it's a pretty good one. Mike likes to be where the fighting is, and throughout his last visit to Iraq there was fighting, and he could find it. This time last year he was reporting from Baqubah where intense battles were ongoing - but had he wanted he could have been telling the same stories from many other locations, especially the neighborhoods of Baghdad and points south that were then referred to as "the belts".Michael Totten, July, 2008:
...from the perspective of the combat reporter, the war in Iraq is over. There will still be combat, but the odds of being embedded with the right unit at the right time have dropped from slim (as it was at best outside the early surge ops or the major city battles - unless you were willing to spend a significant amount of time with one unit) to none - or at least prohibitively long.
Independent reporter Michael Yon has spent more time in Iraq embedded with combat soldiers than any other journalist in the world, and a few days ago he boldly declared the war over...Milblogger Joe Honan from Iraq, August 16, 2008
I’m reluctant to say “the war has ended,” as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true.
Him: “Can we leave now?”Milblogger Buck Sargent, from Iraq, September 01, 2008:
Me: “No sir, the flight isn’t going to leave until later tonight. We need to bus you all to the landing zone after dinner.”
Him: “Well, can you just let us out at the gate? We’ll find our own way back.”
Me: “…..O.K…. how many of you Sunni leaders want to get left in the middle of Baghdad to find you’re way to Ramadi instead of flying with an armed escort?”
Him: “Oh we’ll all go and rent a couple of cars.”
Me turning to Gunny: “You know, I think this war is officially over.”
In case you needed any more on-the-ground evidence, the war as we knew it is over. Finished. Kaput. Yes, pockets of enemy activity still persist, but their cells are so fractured and hounded daily by us and the newly confident Iraqi Security Forces that these rogue elements are in full-on survival mode. We have resoundly kicked their tails and they know it.Me, responding:
I've always maintained that the Iraqis themselves will tell us when it's safe for us to talk about finally withdrawing, and now that is actually happening.
I said a year ago that we'd won - but I also have repeated since then that "we've won" doesn't mean the same thing as "it's over." You guys are starting to convince me that it's indeed over.Milblogger "Big Tobacco", 27 September 2008
...the thing that kept me from saying "it's over" is simply the knowledge that the Iraqi security forces remained essentially untested. We Americans had demonstrated our ability and resolve to the point that the average Iraqi believed it - or at least knew they had something to gain from working with us - in spite of opposition in Iraq and America. But our Iraqi partners in uniform hadn't yet done the same. I don't fault them for this - too much had been expected of them by too many too soon. In spite of events in Basra, Diyala, Maysan, and Mosul this year I don't know if they're there yet. In fact, I know they aren't. (If nothing else, logistically.)
But I'm willing to accept that they are past a tipping point by which you guys (in Iraq) are willing to say "it's over" in much the same way we were far enough past one last year that I could confidently say "we've won."
We won, didn’t we?Ramadi, October, 2008
It’s my birthday today.
I’m 34 now and I’ve come to realize something.
This war isn’t supposed to end.
The next stop was Ramadi, Anbar's capital and formerly the capital of the insurgency. Al Qaeda in Iraq fighters once openly controlled the streets here, while U.S. Marines said prayers every time they ventured beyond the fortified walls of their bases.All done!
Now the Marines walk freely through the markets without body armor, though they try to keep a low profile because the province was handed over to Iraqi control last month.
Read this entry, too, in which good advice can be found: "Not sure what the final product is going to be from this trip. I never even attempt to script or plan the war."
There are certainly enough people doing that already. (At least, more than there are reporting how it's going.)
...from Army of Dude.
I experienced a minor "flashback" to Iraq this past weekend myself. Minor but disconcerting (perhaps "a strong sense of deja vu" might be a better term), though it had nothing to do with combat or threat or even mere stress, and it didn't leave me unable to function. But it did leave a lingering after effect that it took me a while to shake - if not completely forget.
If a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is "an agreement which defines the legal position of a visiting military force deployed in the territory of a friendly state" can we make them with countries where we are at war?
Should John McCain lose the election "economic issues" will definitely (and rightfully) bear much of the "blame". (Though there will be plenty of "blame" to go around.) Oddly enough - and perhaps maddeningly frustrating to the McCain campaign - this will be so in spite of the fact that McCain's position was fundamentally correct (I'm not talking nth details here). And just as (if not more so) with his position on Iraq (and a thousand smaller issues) his main problem wasn't the fierce opposition from across the aisle, it was from within his own Party.
I'm a believer in free markets and small governments. But that can't be taken to a point of absurdity; a do-nothing government that stands in silent witness to economic collapse will in turn collapse shortly thereafter. Thus the questions on our current situation boil down to
"How close were we to economic collapse a few short weeks ago?"
"On what scale?"
"How fast did/do we need to act?"
and "how close are we to collapse now?"
The answers to questions one, three, and four are "very". The answer to question two is "global". My answers come from my own research over the past several weeks, in which I've attempted to draw as much as possible from material published "pre-crisis" to avoid as much post-mortem spin as possible. I'll be sharing what I've found in this ongoing series, and you can draw your own conclusions from that. But one undeniable conclusion is that no one who hadn't done some amount of research could provide a quick answer to what was going on.
And anyone who had blind faith in the market to correct itself was dangerously wrong. But that was the knee-jerk reaction from a lot of talk radio (and other) pundits, who were dismayed (if not surprised) to discover John McCain didn't share their views. It may be that McCain should have followed the Obama example and kept his hands clean on the whole affair, and simply offered encouragement and assurance from the sidelines while those in the trenches praised his leadership and connectedness. But with a sizable percentage of Republicans (but not John McCain) wrongly convinced that "nothing" was exactly what congress should do, that option was perhaps perceived as off the table.
If it isn't obvious, I parted ways with many Republicans on the answer to question three above. If you were convinced - as I was - that the answer is "very" then you also must accept - as I did - that the solution will be far from perfect, involve much compromise and shifting of positions, and utlimately require additional solutions. (And if you're cynical as I am, you'd expect it to be loaded with previously unobtainable pork.) It was all that. The Democrats scored mightily in keeping their presidential candidate "above the fray" (even if in congress there really wasn't much of one after all). Republicans shot themselves in the foot (if not the head) by rapidly demanding exactly where their candidate should lead them. (Though McCain's initial claim that "the fundamentals of our economy are sound" may have been perceived as a rally point that moved drastically upon their arrival.)
What's done is done, what remains to be seen is whether those dirty hands are actually perceived as a plus or minus in the eyes of voters. After election night - even though the current conventional wisdom is that there is "much blame to go around" on the current crisis and no time now for finger pointing (beyond blaming "greed") - it will be decided exactly who will bear that blame (and personify "greed"). Unless one believes in "statesmanship" one shouldn't expect the designated deciders to accept their fair share. Likewise, unless one believes in freedom of the press one shouldn't expect much help from that quarter. So it may turn out that blame falls squarely on only a few.
Perhaps you.All done!
A cautionary tale of the past, present, and (possible) future. (And a tip of the hat to Mr. Artie Blair...)
1984: It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate.
"I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year," Wurzelbacher said. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"1984: The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck.
And for the record, Obama gave a long, thoughtful answer that indicated he understood that Joe was talking about business revenue - not personal income ("if your revenue is above 250 – then from 250 down, your taxes are going to stay the same") - but that boils down to "yes". And this is the bottom line - at least, it's the reason Obama gave Joe for raising taxes on his business: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
And for the record, here's what I said about that yesterday: "...Obama [has reached] a point in the polls where he can tell a plumber to his face that he's going to raise his taxes to give the money to others without fear of alienating the Great Independent American Center."
All three presidential debates are now history. With just 20 days left until the election, judging from the polls and Sen. John McCain's overall sub par performance Wednesday night in which he needed a knockout but failed to get one, it looks as though Sen. Barack Obama is well on his way to becoming the 44th President of the United States. That is of course barring any acts of terrorism, widespread election fraud and/or large-scale racism.1984: The Hate had started.
As a post-mortem to the debate, I have some questions for McCain:
1. Who the fuck is Joe the Plumber, and why is he so important to have been mentioned 21 times by you? And, why is he the only American you referred to the entire evening?
2. Is Joe the Plumber a $40,000 per year working stiff or the wealthy owner of the plumbing company? In your repeated populist references to him, you implied that he's just your average blue-collar worker, yet all of your tax and health policy examples clearly had him as the more affluent entrepreneur in control of his workers' fates.
3. Who the hell cares about William Ayers and Acorn? Did you not see the new NY Times/CBS News poll indicating that voters are utterly fed up with your dirty politics and smear attacks on Obama?Dave01
Something else I just heard about "Joe the Plumber", granted it came from Obama supporter, Robert Gibbs, but "Joe the Plumber" was already going for McShrub BEFORE Obama knocked on his door over the weekend.
So Joe the plumber was already a McCain supporter. Like I said, this came from an Obama supporter, but if that is true, he wasn't going to be swayed no matter what. The voters that both candidates are going for at this point are NOT their base, it is the "undecided" voters - if there really are such people at this point.
Posted 12:50 AM on 10/16/2008proreality
"Joe the plumber" is a tool and a Republican plant. He is part of a family owned septic business. Him and his wife maxed out in donations to phil grams PAC. His brother is Charles Keatings son in law. When will the MSM get tired of being made a fool of?
Posted 02:14 AM on 10/16/2008xrepublican
this guy has the same (very unusual) last name as someone tied into the Keating 5 and is already owner of more than one business
and is - real shocker - NOT registered to vote.....
you can't make this stuff up.... reality - the ultimate farce
Posted 02:16 AM on 10/16/2008jsob
"Joe the Plumber" is Joe Wurzelbacher (mispronounced by McCain). He is, as you should know, someone Obama spoke with while campaigning in Ohio (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/15/joe-the-plumber-speaks-it_n_135065.html). Asking "who the f**k is Joe the Plumber" is disrespectful and uncalled for. You may question the relevance of McCain"s fixation on Joe, but you can and should do that with the same consideration Obama showed Joe when they spoke. Joe is not saying who is voting for, but he did make the effort to speak with Obama. Your poor choice of words won't help Joe and others like him decide to support Obama.
Posted 02:33 AM on 10/16/2008XME
No. Obama was knocking on doors in his neighborhood and he was out in his yard so went to talk to him. Pretty sure he's pure-bred Republican though!
Posted 02:57 AM on 10/16/2008Shashi0224
I think he's a plant.....how else would mcsame get the story? Even if this "Joe the Plumber" just happened to see Obama in his neighborhood........why would he think to get the conversation to mcsame and who did he know to get it high enough in the chain of command for it to make it to the debate at such speed? Also, the guy is obviously a mccain supporter as he was regurgitating all the right-wing talking points.
Problem here right-wing, we're not a gullible as we were 8 years ago. Americans have grown up and we smell a rat.
Posted 02:57 AM on 10/16/2008nvegrl
I just listened to the Joe's audio with Katie Couric. He said that Obama was in his neighborhood. This is something that really hit home with me. He didn't go out and seek Obama, Obama was there. I seriously doubt that McCain would be caught dead talking to the public in their neighborhoods. I've never heard of a presidential candidate door knocking. Not in recent history anyway.
Posted 07:09 AM on 10/16/2008Shashi0224
Just asking here.....how did the TRANSCRIPT of "joe the plumber" get to the mcsame campaign unless the guy is a plant for the mcssame campaign? There's something not kosher here.
I'm counting on the media getting to the bottom of this. The dirty campaign tricks of Karl Rove are stinking up the system again.
Posted 08:35 AM on 10/16/2008
As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust.
Mr. Wurzelbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wurzelbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.1984: Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party -- an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it.
"When you have guys going out there with no training whatsoever, it’s a little disreputable to start with," Mr. Joseph said.
"This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America," Mr. Joseph said.
The association has endorsed Barack Obama, according to Mr. Joseph.
The premise of his complaint to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts. Contrary to what Mr. Wurzelbacher asserted and Mr. McCain echoed, neither his personal taxes nor those of the business where he works are likely to rise if Mr. Obama’s tax plan were to go into effect, they said.1984: He was abusing Big Brother... he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought...
Host Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate, began by saying that if John McCain wins, he'll largely have Mr. Wurzelbacher to thank.1984: Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room.
"Hopefully they'll have me to thank for it as far as telling people to get out and find their own answers," Mr. Wurzelbacher said.
The media's worried about whether I paid my taxes, they're worried about any number of silly things that have nothing to do with America. They really don't. I asked a question. When you can't ask a question to your leaders anymore, that gets scary. That bothers me."
Actually, he's "Sam The Guy Who Does Plumbing," technicallly.2008:
"Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher."
His voter registration application misspells his name, btw. ("Worzelbacher.")
Patrick Levine Rose, an election attorney and appellate law specialist in East Lansing, MI asked these questions on Rick Hasen's election law listserve:Wouldn't it be ironic if Joe the Plumber lost his vote due to this mismatch in how his name appears in the voter database?
His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes back taxes, too, public records show.1984:In its second minute the Hate rose to a frenzy.
According to public records, Mr. Wurzelbacher has been subject to two liens, each over $1,100. One, with a hospital, has been settled, but a tax lien with the State of Ohio is still outstanding.
On Friday, the East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune in Arizona reported that Mr. Wurzelbacher's Arizona driver's license was suspended in May, 2000, following nonpayment of a court-imposed fine for civil traffic violations. He lived in Arizona from 1997-2000.1984: People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen.
During last night's presidential debate, we heard a lot about "Joe the Plumber," also known as Joe Wurzelbacher, an average (ahem) Joe, who is really worried that a President Obama might raise his taxes. But does Joe really need to worry? Because if he's the same Joe that ABC News identified as Sam Joe Wurzelbacher, also of Toledo, Ohio, he doesn't always bother to pay his taxes.1984:The little sandy-haired woman had turned bright pink, and her mouth was opening and shutting like that of a landed fish.He beats his wife, too, so he likes Palin just as much as he likes McCain (Note: not to beat Palin, but because Palin enables wife-beaters)
by DemocraticLuntz on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:02:34 AM PDT
1984: Even O'Brien's heavy face was flushed. He was sitting very straight in his chair, his powerful chest swelling and quivering as though he were standing up to the assault of a wave.Exactly.
Joe the Plumber is this officially week's Sarah Palin.
P.S. What are the odds this whole episode was coordinated by the McCain campaign from the beginning?
The Book of Revelation is not a foreign policy manual.
by Dont Just Stand There on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:37:08 AM PDTWoman's health
...what is that anyway..? (-McCain)
Congratulation McCain, you eff up big time. With this Joe wife beater cum political plumber.
But wait until the Keating 5 drama becomes fully known.
(so we have corruption, housing, scandal... all come back into same corruption, housing, scandal)
by wittg1 on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:33:19 AM PDT
1984: The dark-haired girl behind Winston had begun crying out 'Swine! Swine! Swine!' and suddenly she picked up a heavy Newspeak dictionary and flung it at the screen. It struck Goldstein's nose and bounced off; the voice continued inexorably.Get this crap off of here. You've got the ex-wife's address.
Let's get just a little smart folks.
You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody. - My Dad.
by briefer on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:11:11 AM PDTNo I don't; that's 10 years old. Nobody lives there anymore.Alright; can we blur it anyway?
Who knows who lives there now?
"Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton
by jbeach on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 11:32:56 AM PDT
1984: In a lucid moment Winston found that he was shouting with the others and kicking his heel violently against the rung of his chair. The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary.Take your point about specific address info
I am sick and fucking tired of being told that, because I live in California (used to be SF), that I am somehow LESS of an American than these "average Joe" types.
Every time you scratch the surface of one of these media stereotypes in real life, they are scum.
I am a patriotic American who loves the Constitution, ideals of freedom and succeeding on merit.
And I'm sick, as an educated, gay, urban-dwelling American, of being unfavorably compared to these fake, lying, wife-beating, tax-cheating, racist, immigrant-hating frauds.
Fuck him. Fuck them. It's my America, too.
by Penman on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 10:23:51 AM PDT
No detail about the divorced father of a 13-year-old boy was too small: Was he a registered voter? Did he have a plumbing license? Whom will he vote for?1984: A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.
"He's trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for," Obama said. "How many plumbers you know that are making a quarter-million dollars a year?"
So Joe (whose name is Sam) the Plumber (who isn't a plumber) was used by McCain to attack Obama's tax proposal, though Joe/Sam actually pays less tax under Obama (if he actually got around to paying his taxes.)
Brought to you by the same people who think character attacks are more important than issues.I am John McCain and my plumber is a wife beater.
by wittg1 on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 05:12:29 PM PDTAnd I approved this idiot in 6 seconds just like I vetted my running mate.
by MrSandman on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 04:48:04 PM PDTSam the Scam Artist
One fraud shilling for another fraud. I once met a young skinhead who looked just like him except that he had swastikas tattooed on hi knuckles.
The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake
by beltane on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 04:49:27 PM PDTThe 3 or 4% undecided are the ones who decide elections. They are undecided because they haven't been paying attention and have no training or capacity for critical thought. This message,"Obama is going to tax decent folks and give it to lazy coloreds", will resonate with them. Because these Archie Bunkers are the same people who gave us Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Chimpy.
by Anthony Segredo on Thu Oct 16, 2008 at 04:53:33 PM PDT
Certainly one "Joe the Plumber" is about to get his fifteen minutes of fame, whether that focuses attention on the real issue or not will determine if the millions of Joe (or Josephine) the Plumbers (and carpenters and mechanics and IT guys...) across America won or lost this last debate.I was off by thirteen minutes - but there are more of us than in Andy Warhol's day, and less time to spare. So perhaps in the future every American, like Joe, will be the subject of a two-minute hate. All done!
...or "Dude, where's my economy, stupid?" In which your humble scribe begins to explain the current financial crisis while attempting not to overwhelm or bore you with economic jargon or political double-speak, as he is neither an economist or a politician and honestly doesn't care a whit whether or not you are impressed with his knowledge or vocabulary.
Welcome to Yortown, USA. It's a growing community. We've got our share of issues, but life is simple and prosperous with good schools, plenty of stores, a couple of small factories and a well run bank with a great sense of civic responsibility serving as the economic center. People deposit their money there and are offered an interest on those deposits. By loaning that money at a higher interest rate to qualified borrowers the bank is able to meet that obligation and turn a profit that keeps the bank operating.
Joe wants to open a widget factory. He lacks the funds needed, but Joe is a widget expert and the demand for widgets exceeds supply. He's been a member of the community for some time, has been diligent in repaying some smaller loans over the years, will be investing some of his own funds in the enterprise, and can secure the loan with the property and equipment he will purchase with it. There is still risk involved, but the bank determines that risk is low enough to make the loan. They do, Joe starts the business, it succeeds, and he makes scheduled payments as required.
Joe also creates ten new jobs. The people he hires work hard to help make the company grow. Their pay increases with the success of the factory. They spend money in the local community, other businesses benefit. They deposit money in the bank. They - like Joe - establish themselves as worthy of credit. They each accumulate sufficient funds for a down payment on a house. One by one they apply and are approved - in addition to good jobs and credit history that down payment represents a willingness to reduce the risk borne by the bank. Since the property serves as collateral for the loan, the bank is assured of receiving something worth more than the amount they've risked if the borrower fails to pay them back. (The bank doesn't want that to happen, however, because if the loans are repaid as scheduled they're going to make a lot more.) Money circulates, builders are paid to build houses (and they use some of their profit to buy widgets), Fred sells his house to Ernie and buys a larger one, furniture and appliances are purchased, the store hires new workers, etc. etc. etc. Times are good, and everybody is happy.
Except for Steve. Steve was the tenth of Joe's widget makers to go to the bank and apply for a loan. When he got there he was told, "Gosh, Steve, we'd love to help you, you're exactly the sort of person we want to loan money to and we're confident we'd profit from the transaction but nine other folks just got approved and we've exhausted our supply. But come back in a few months and try again."
Steve contacts Bob the Builder, with whom he'd been discussing building a house. "Sorry Bob, I won't be buying a house after all. The bank has no more money to lend."
"Uh oh," thinks Bob. "I'd better cancel that order for 5,000 widgets if people aren't going to be buying houses." He does. Joe realizes he in turn will have to cut back on hours at the factory. "Oh no", reply nine of his best workers, "we just bought houses!"
"I'll be okay," thinks Tom, "my wife works at the appliance store. So we'll get by."
But "I can make my mortgage payment," thinks Bill, "but I won't be able to buy Helen that new washer and dryer I promised her..."
Etc., etc. etc...
Fortunately, there are reasons that Steve's experience at the bank doesn't actually happen here in Yortown. One of the main reasons is that the bank doesn't actually keep all those mortgages and wait all those years to re-acquire the funds - they can sell them. In fact, they sell most of them to this big company up in Washington D.C. called Fannie Mae. And then they can take the money from Fannie and loan it to Steve.
And Bob the Builder doesn't have to cancel his widget order, and instead of cutting hours Joe has to hire another guy.
Etc., etc., etc...
"What's this Fannie Mae?" You ask. Well, back during the Great Depression times were tough. Money wasn't circulating, and the Federal Government took a lot of steps to try and fix the problems. Lots of folks here in Yortown had differing opinions on how much of that was right and how much was wrong, but one thing is for certain - Franklin D. Roosevelt kept getting re-elected.
Anyhow, one of those New Deals was the creation of The Federal National Mortgage Association, which folks shortened to Fannie May.
Early HistoryWe'll look into what secondary markets are later. Most of that information above is just background for now anyway. The bottom line for now is that Fannie Mae had been purchasing and guaranteeing FHA loans since 1938 and VA mortgages since 1948. Then in 1968 it got out of the guarantee business and just purchased and sold FHA and VA guaranteed home loans. But that relatively limited role didn't last long. The next big change came in 1970...
The FHA Administrator chartered Fannie Mae on February 10, 1938. The impetus for creation of Fannie Mae was twofold: the national commitment to housing and the inability or unwillingness of private lenders to ensure a reliable supply of mortgage credit throughout the country. The primary purpose of Fannie Mae was to purchase, hold, or sell FHA-insured mortgage loans that had been originated by private lenders. After World War II, Fannie Mae's authority was expanded to include VA-guaranteed home mortgages.
1968 Charter Act
The 1968 Charter Act split Fannie Mae into two parts: Ginnie Mae and a reconstituted Fannie Mae. Ginnie Mae would continue as a federal agency and be responsible for the then-existing special assistance programs, and Fannie Mae would be transformed into a "government-sponsored private corporation" responsible for the self-supporting secondary market operations. The reconstituted Fannie Mae was to be stockholder-owned and managed. Fannie Mae retired the last of its government stock on September 30, 1968, and transformation to a government-sponsored private corporation was completed in 1970.
Emergency Home Finance Act of 1970So by then Fannie and Freddy could purchase conventional mortgages - those that were not guaranteed by the FHA or VA. But Fannie and Freddy had to adhere to very strict standards, which meant they would require any bank that wanted to sell them mortgages to do the same.
The Emergency Home Finance Act of 1970 created Freddie Mac and authorized it to create a secondary market for conventional mortgages. Parallel authority and limitations to deal in conventional mortgages were given to Fannie Mae.
To alleviate credit concerns raised by acquisition of conventional mortgages (that lack federal backing), several eligibility restrictions and/or risk sharing requirements were imposed on the mortgages Fannie Mae could buy.
Anyhow, here's part of the reason for the changes made in 1970:
The inflation of the late 1960s brought about a new crisis in mortgage lending, second only to the Great Depression in the 1930s. Interest rates to borrowers increased while government regulations limited the interest payable on investments in depository institutions. As a result, investors, seeking a higher return, moved funds out of savings institutions when mortgage money was at a premium.So...
Inflation, high interest rates, the increasing cost of land and building materials, and a shortage of mortgage money made the price of a new home unaffordable for many families. In 1970, the average home was financed with a conventional (as opposed to a government-backed) mortgage amount of $32,000; five years earlier the average mortgage amount had been $27,000. Likewise, the average monthly payment for the 1970 house was $271 per month; the 1965 homeowner had paid $187 per month. Most troubling of all, the average interest rate increased from 5.5% in 1965 to 8.75% in 1970.
The "money squeeze" was the primary cause of the high cost of mortgages. Potential depositors, attempting to maximize the return on their money, were "investing in corporate and Government securities that offer[ed] higher interest rates than [did] mortgages, leaving a shortage of funds for home loans." FHA and "G.I. Loans," which allowed for lower down payments, did not solve the problem entirely because these loans carried higher monthly payments.
An additional cause of the tight money was the numerical discrepancy between the generations. In 1970, the baby-boomer generation entered the home-buying age. The savings on deposit in banks and savings and loan institutions typically came from the investments of older and more financially established members of the middle class. However, the sheer multitude of new homebuyers created a demand for mortgage money that overwhelmed the ability of the older generation to save. This was not, however, the entire story: the unusual inflation of the late 1960s and the higher prices paid by lending institutions to borrow money must bear the brunt of the blame. But it is clear that the generational discrepancy exacerbated the already difficult situation.
A mortgage credit crunch ensued, and the emergency brought about congressional action. The Senate Committee on Banking and Currency examined one proposal that contemplated expanding the purchasing power of FNMA to include conventional mortgages in addition to its power to purchase FHA and VA insured loans, thus expanding the secondary market. An investment revolution flowed from this simple proposal. Within twenty years, mortgages became marketable commodities, and mortgage financing became a multi-trillion dollar international industry.And that kept things pretty nice here in Yortown, USA. Steve got his house, and so did a lot of other folks. Bill bought Helen that washer and dryer, and Tom's wife not only stayed on at the appliance store, she eventually became the manager.
There were some lean times, too, of course. But mostly it seemed like there was nowhere to go but up.
For a while.
More details to follow in our next installment, and we'll keep it simple as we can. (But it is the economy, stupid.)
Ayers is scheduled to deliver a keynote address Nov. 15 during a weekend celebration of the 100-year anniversary of the founding of UNL’s Teachers College, now called the College of Education and Human Sciences.Some folks aren't happy.
The other day I listed the top five military supporters. A few blogs have picked it up and I have seen some great feed back. (Dirty Harry's Place, Free Republic) I have to say I agree with them that Gary Sinise should have been ranked higher.
I mentioned that I would like to have put him in the top five but there just was so much competition. However, since getting the feedback I have done more research. I knew he had done a lot for the troops but I didn't realize it was this much. So let's acknowledge that moving forward he should have been in the top five. Let's call it tied with Toby Keith for second place.
I also see a lot of folks have heartburn about Al Franken. I get it. It caused me physical pain to put him in the list. But here is my reasoning. It's easier to show your support for the military while their work generally supports your world view. This is not to diminish the work of the celebs who support the war against Islamic extremism in principle.
But knowing that in the case of Franken, he absolutely disagrees with everything about the Bush administration, conservative philosophy, and the War on Terror, the fact that he still does so much for the troops earns him bonus points. Besides, if conservatives are going to complain about all the liberal celebs who don't support the troops, they should give credit where credit is due (and yes I consider myself a conservative but not doctrinally so, I supported Fred Thompson for the nomination but I was probably closer to Guiliani in my political positions).
You Served - Veteran and Military Blog and Military Podcast, hosted by CJ Grisham has someone from IVAW talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the war on terror, Winter Soldier, the upcoming elections, and what makes an IVAW Soldier. They also have a phone in interview from Iraq with blogger Big Tobacco.
Sometimes when the Mrs and I are watching a movie, I'll see a familiar looking actor in heavy makeup who I can almost (but not quite) recognize. "Who is that guy?" I'll ask, "I know him, but can't quite...."
"It's [correct name]" she'll reply.
"How could you tell, with all that makeup?" I'll respond, in honest amazement.
"It's the eyes." She answers. "I can always tell by the eyes."
Not everyone shares that talent (obviously me, for instance). Which brings us to this new mailer from the Republican Party of Virginia:
On the flip side, this close-up of eyes emphasizes the slogan "America must look evil in the eye and never flinch"
Some might be outraged at the "scare tactic" (after all, America hasn't been hit by a terrorist strike in years...), but over at Talking Points Memo, Greg Sargent has a different visceral response: Ohmygodohmygodohmygod - those are BARACK OBAMA'S EYES!!!!!
Here, for instance, is a new mailer from the Republican Party of Virginia that has to be seen to be believed. It hits Dems -- and by extension, Obama -- for wanting to appease terrorists and rogue leaders.And on the site's front page, the link to the story reads:
But the key is the last page, which displays a man who looks like Obama but with the same dark and sinister aspect as the bad actors depicted elsewhere in the mailing.
We asked Virginia spokesperson Gerry Scimeca whether the likeness to Obama was in fact the Illinois Senator, and he said he couldn't immediately say. Asked to defend the mailer, he said: "It's about the fact that the world is evil," he said, referring to the multiple bad actors that populate the planet. "Choosing a president is about standing up to them."
The last page of a new mailer from the Virginia GOP appears to show a close-up of Barack Obama overlaid with the text:But adds in an update, uh.... ooops:
AMERICA MUST LOOK EVIL IN THE EYE AND NEVER FLINCH
With a reader's help, we think we may have found the picture the state party started with, and it's not an Obama photo but an Osama bin Laden photo. We'll have both pics here side by side in a moment so you can compare.Yup. It's Obama - not Osama. So, now that he's been busted for pretty much acknowledging that "those darkies all look the same to me", how does Sargent respond? "...note that in the flyer's reproduction, the skin is darker, the words artfully cover up the nose, which is faded, and the beard appears much lighter, so that it's like a facial shadow" and "it seems fair to at least wonder if this is an Osama pic shaded to ambiguously resemble Obama."
Or maybe they just used Osama's eyes to emphasize the "America must look evil in the eye " quote, and a lot of people read way too much into it.
Or maybe Republicans are just evil. Certainly Sargent's response is an improvement over these "before and after" comments from other lefty bloggers.
Raising Kaine ("Virginia's Online Progressive Community") before:
The last image, of a brown-skinned man who looks very much like Barack Obama, with the words "America must look evil in the eye and never flinch" superimposed over his face, is vile. Whether or not it IS Barack Obama - and it's close enough that a lot of people could reasonably conclude that it is - this is basically arguing that anyone with skin darker than baby powder is a potential threat.After:
In short, what we have here is an intentional blurring (or maybe a mashup?), through which "a subconscious connection is made, which is exactly what is intended." Verrrry clever...if you're Jeff Frederick and the RPV, that is. Except it appears to be too clever by half, because we can see right through it. Nice try, though!Which, in turn, is an improvement over Jazz from Hell. Before:
Check out this post on Brad Friedman's site. It's all from a local Republican elections mailer sent out in Virginia. Let me preface this by acknowledging Brad as one of the best and most important bloggers/investigative journos out there.After:
The back of the envelope features a pic (above the words "AMERICA MUST LOOK EVIL / IN THE EYE / AND NEVER FLINCH") that Brad says is Obama...
I showed the image to a colleague of mine who also thought it was Obama at first, no doubt overtly influenced by the sepia tint. By his and Brad's--and surely the intended recipients'--erroneous IDs, a subconscious connection is made, which is exactly what is intended.Perhaps the quoted bloggers deserve credit for at least being honest about how the world looks through their eyes.
Clever trick, righty ratfuckers. And an old one too. You bastards never quit, do you?
As noted yesterday, Joe the Plumber is an unlicensed plumber - not approved by the government or The Union:
Mr. Wurzelbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wurzelbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.Actually, he's been working for six years - so in Joe's case experience isn't an issue.
"When you have guys going out there with no training whatsoever, it’s a little disreputable to start with," Mr. Joseph said. "We’re the real Joe the Plumber."
Not so in other cases. Meet Joe Shanks, "a licensed master plumber and owner of Joe's Plumbing Service"
Shanks, an independent voter, said he's supporting Republican Sen. John McCain, citing the official's career experience in office as the deciding factor for him. . . . Shanks likened the decision to a homeowner in need of a plumber - would you hire the guy who just got his trade license, he asked, or a seasoned professional?"Could it be possible that plumbers aren't a monolithic voting block - or that some would defy the Union?
...the way the pro-Obama media and bloggers, and Obama himself, have responded to Joe has got me nearly shaking with rage. They are attempting to destroy a man — a private citizen — who had the audacity to ask The One a question. Mind you, Joe was on his front lawn playing football with his son when Obama strolled up to give him his hopenchange spiel. Obama approached Joe, not the other way around. And Joe asked Obama an honest question. And Obama gave him an honest — and very, very revealing — answer. Again, mind you, the embarassment was on Obama's end, not Joe's. It wasn't a gotcha question.So once again prompting me to ask: Down the memory hole? Gosh, who could have seen that coming? (But then, I'm an experienced blogger...)
And yet, for that Joe is being pilloried, every aspect of his private and professional life being sorted through and exposed. To prove ... what? What does that have to do with Obama's answer? What does Joe's situation have to do with Obama's philosophical answer — that he wants to "spread the wealth"? Obama's answer goes down the memory hole while the nation concentrates its fire on obliterating Joe the Plumber.
But now that I think about it, this issue: "And yet, for that Joe is being pilloried, every aspect of his private and professional life being sorted through and exposed. To prove ... what?" ...is probably equally important, and equally revealing.
Of course, pointing that out is an "attack", right?
Update: Senator Obama ridicules: "How many plumbers do you know makin' a quarter million dollars a year?"
Actually, that's not what Joe said - and the Senator knows it:
I was impressed by the honesty (not the sentiment) of the Senator's unscripted answer to Joe (Obama: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody"). But I suspect it's not polling well."I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year," Wurzelbacher said. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"And for the record, Obama gave a long, thoughtful answer that indicated he understood that Joe was talking about business revenue - not personal income ("if your revenue is above 250 – then from 250 down, your taxes are going to stay the same")
"Yesterday I worked on a water main break for a gas station and that's why I didn't give any interviews."
He also said he was "proud of what the U.S. military has accomplished in Iraq".
Yeah... it all comes together. I'll bet with a bit of digging they could discover that the guy might have fixed a broken faucet at a bank, too. Maybe even unclogged a toilet for a guy with a sub prime mortgage - and made him pay for it.
Updates below - the scandal grows!
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., said Thursday morning that the Democratic ticket is more worried about "Joe the gas station owner" than Joe the plumber because, unlike Joe Wurzelbacher, the plumber who stole the show at Wednesday's presidential debate, most "Joes" are not making $250,000 a year.Maybe Biden is worried that Joe the (non-union) Plumber (see below) overcharged that gas station owner to fix that water main. But whether that's true or not, Joe never said he made 250,000 a year - he said he wanted to run a business that made that much. Joe the Biden should pay closer attention.
"We're worried about Joe the guy who owns the gas station, the barber, the grocer," the Democratic vice-presidential nominee told Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer. "Ninety-eight percent of the small business people in America make less than $250,000 a year, and they're going to get a real break under our plan. Joe the plumber, whose making over $250,000, is not going to get any more additional tax cuts with us."
But that's not important: "Look, John’s last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs." That's not Joe the Plumber counting - it's Joe 'College' Biden. (And is he really trying to say that black people can't count?)
Update 2: Joe is his MIDDLE NAME! IT ISN"T EVEN HIS FIRST NAME! WHY THE HECK WOULD ANYONE WANT TO GO BY THEIR MIDDLE NAME??!!?? Crap, if everyone went by their middle name the election would be between "Sidney" McCain and...
HEY, that's why he used his middle name - SO PEOPLE WOULD THINK OF OBAMAS MIDDLE NAME! RACISM! RACISM!! RAAAAAAACISSSSSMMMMMM!!!!!.
Update: Looks like Joe (the plumber - not the racist college guy) has made some enemies...
Mr. Wurzelbacher said he is working on taking the Ohio plumbing contractors’ license test.So once again, the issue that really matters will be completely lost in the asinine commentary that will soon follow. Gosh, who could have seen that coming? All done!
Mr. Wurzelbacher’s notoriety has raised the ire of Tom Joseph, business manager for Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, who claimed that Mr. Wurzelbacher didn’t undergo any apprenticeship training.
"When you have guys going out there with no training whatsoever, it’s a little disreputable to start with," Mr. Joseph said. "We’re the real Joe the Plumber."
Mr. Joseph said Mr. Wurzelbacher could only legally work in the townships, but not in any municipality in Lucas County or elsewhere in the country.
"This individual has got no schooling, no licenses, he’s never been to a training program, union or non-union, in the United States of America," Mr. Joseph said.
The association has endorsed Barack Obama, according to Mr. Joseph.
Frank Garren is tough guy. The 6-foot, 4-inch former Army sergeant was awarded a Purple Heart after surviving a roadside bomb while deployed in Iraq in 2004. He knows about combat and quick reactions.It wasn't enough.
Animals. That's all I can say right now.
One year ago today I wrote this post from Iraq at milblogs, repeated below in its entirety.
We've won the war.
...may be the big loser in last night's debate. (I know - he's officially been declared the winner, but follow along.) Since Senators Obama and McCain agree to disagree on "Joe the Plumber", and since the issue really does represent a definable difference in what each man stands for, shouldn't clarity on the Joe the Plumber issue be of benefit to Americans?
Or should Joe just go away?
Let's start from a position of clarity (that likely will be lost in coming days). You might hear or read that Joe is going to be making over $250,000 a year. He won't. This is what Joe told Senator Barack Obama: "I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year." Joe won't be pocketing that cash - he's concerned Obama wants to take the money he'd use to grow his business, buy tools, hire more employees, repair vehicles etc. and use it elsewhere. So he asked him if that was true:
"I'm getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 to 280 thousand dollars a year," Wurzelbacher said. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?"And for the record, Obama gave a long, thoughtful answer that indicated he understood that Joe was talking about business revenue - not personal income ("if your revenue is above 250 – then from 250 down, your taxes are going to stay the same") - but that boils down to "yes". And this is the bottom line - at least, it's the reason Obama gave Joe for raising taxes on his business: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
And for the record, here's what I said about that yesterday: "...Obama [has reached] a point in the polls where he can tell a plumber to his face that he's going to raise his taxes to give the money to others without fear of alienating the Great Independent American Center."
And that candor is a good thing. If that's what the majority of Americans want, they'll vote him in as president. He's being up front and honest. He might not want to use the term Socialism, but call it that or Obamanomics or anything else, if it's what America wants it's what America will get. If the Senator didn't think that represented a view of a majority of Americans he wouldn't have explained it so unequivocally.
Senator McCain believes that's not a position supported by a majority of Americans, so he mentioned Joe as many times as he could during last night's debate. He didn't mischaracterize his opponent's position, and rather than deny his position Senator Obama responded by comparing Joe the Plumber to Exxon:
McCain: I would like to mention that a couple days ago Sen. Obama was out in Ohio and he had an encounter with a guy who's a plumber, his name is Joe Wurzelbacher.After the debate, the talking heads pounced on the "Joe the Plumber" comments. I've already seen a dozen debate clips, edited down to nothing but McCain saying "Joe the Plumber". The spin is that McCain is obsessed with Joe the Plumber, and the message is that America doesn't want to hear about Joe the Plumber. And on MSNBC (the channel I watched post-debate) the sneering at Joe the Plumber (and his non-existent $250,000 salary) began early and was repeated often.
Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes.
You were going to put him in a higher tax bracket which was going to increase his taxes, which was going to cause him not to be able to employ people, which Joe was trying to realize the American dream.
Now Sen. Obama talks about the very, very rich. Joe, I want to tell you, I'll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and be able -- and I'll keep your taxes low and I'll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees.
And I will not have -- I will not stand for a tax increase on small business income. Fifty percent of small business income taxes are paid by small businesses. That's 16 million jobs in America. And what you want to do to Joe the plumber and millions more like him is have their taxes increased and not be able to realize the American dream of owning their own business.
Schieffer: Is that what you want to do?
McCain: That's what Joe believes.
Obama: He has been watching ads of Sen. McCain's. Let me tell you what I'm actually going to do. I think tax policy is a major difference between Sen. McCain and myself. And we both want to cut taxes, the difference is who we want to cut taxes for.
Now, Sen. McCain, the centerpiece of his economic proposal is to provide $200 billion in additional tax breaks to some of the wealthiest corporations in America. Exxon Mobil, and other oil companies, for example, would get an additional $4 billion in tax breaks.
What I've said is I want to provide a tax cut for 95 percent of working Americans, 95 percent. If you make more -- if you make less than a quarter million dollars a year, then you will not see your income tax go up, your capital gains tax go up, your payroll tax. Not one dime.
And 95 percent of working families, 95 percent of you out there, will get a tax cut. In fact, independent studies have looked at our respective plans and have concluded that I provide three times the amount of tax relief to middle-class families than Sen. McCain does.
Now, the conversation I had with Joe the plumber, what I essentially said to him was, "Five years ago, when you were in a position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then."
And what I want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn't yet have money, I want to give them a tax break now. And that requires us to make some important choices.
The last point I'll make about small businesses. Not only do 98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000, but I also want to give them additional tax breaks, because they are the drivers of the economy. They produce the most jobs.
McCain: You know, when Sen. Obama ended up his conversation with Joe the plumber -- we need to spread the wealth around. In other words, we're going to take Joe's money, give it to Sen. Obama, and let him spread the wealth around.
I want Joe the plumber to spread that wealth around. You told him you wanted to spread the wealth around.
The whole premise behind Sen. Obama's plans are class warfare, let's spread the wealth around. I want small businesses -- and by the way, the small businesses that we're talking about would receive an increase in their taxes right now.
Who -- why would you want to increase anybody's taxes right now? Why would you want to do that, anyone, anyone in America, when we have such a tough time, when these small business people, like Joe the plumber, are going to create jobs, unless you take that money from him and spread the wealth around.
I'm not going to...
Obama: OK. Can I...
McCain: We're not going to do that in my administration.
Obama: If I can answer the question. Number one, I want to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. Now, it is true that my friend and supporter, Warren Buffett, for example, could afford to pay a little more in taxes in order...
McCain: We're talking about Joe the plumber.
Obama: ... in order to give -- in order to give additional tax cuts to Joe the plumber before he was at the point where he could make $250,000.
Then Exxon Mobil, which made $12 billion, record profits, over the last several quarters, they can afford to pay a little more so that ordinary families who are hurting out there -- they're trying to figure out how they're going to afford food, how they're going to save for their kids' college education, they need a break.
So, look, nobody likes taxes. I would prefer that none of us had to pay taxes, including myself. But ultimately, we've got to pay for the core investments that make this economy strong and somebody's got to do it.
McCain: Nobody likes taxes. Let's not raise anybody's taxes. OK?
Obama: Well, I don't mind paying a little more.
McCain: The fact is that businesses in America today are paying the second highest tax rate of anywhere in the world. Our tax rate for business in America is 35 percent. Ireland, it's 11 percent.
Where are companies going to go where they can create jobs and where they can do best in business?
We need to cut the business tax rate in America. We need to encourage business.
Now, of all times in America, we need to cut people's taxes. We need to encourage business, create jobs, not spread the wealth around.
Schieffer: All right. Let's go to another topic.
The reality is that Joe the Plumber represents a significant fault line upon which the campaigns have bet their future. Buoyed by the knowledge that the majority of Americans don't own small businesses, Senator Obama is confident that his position is shared by that majority of Americans. Senator McCain is convinced the opposite is true. Both have offered clear explanations on the topic. Team Obama's media reps have already launched the initial "move on, nothing to see here" response that seems to follow every claim by McCain that his policies differ from Obama's. Historically McCain's continued explanations of policy differences beyond his opponent's dismissal (or "additional clarification") have brought charges of "out of touch" (at best) from a media that does indeed move on - seemingly as ordered. Will that happen this time? Certainly one "Joe the Plumber" is about to get his fifteen minutes of fame, whether that focuses attention on the real issue or not will determine if the millions of Joe (or Josephine) the Plumbers (and carpenters and mechanics and IT guys...) across America won or lost this last debate.All done!
Conventional wisdom/generally accepted truth: To secure a party's nomination, a candidate has to appeal to "The Base" throughout the primaries. BUT - part of that appeal must be a perceived ability to appeal to a significant majority of the independent center in the general election. (At least this is true of any candidate who isn't an incumbent.)
Here's how that played out in 2008.
Republicans nominated a Senator with a long history of "centrist" politics (or at least a long history of compromise with those to his left, often to the extreme consternation of those to his right). Democrats nominated a guy with relatively no history on the national stage - at least, the shortest record of any of his opponents in the primary. (I consider Washington "experience" neither a plus or minus - I prefer focus on the candidate and issues.)
And the general election is on. The race, of course, is to the center. It always has been and always will be. One would think Obama would be at a disadvantage - McCain could merely point out that he'd been standing in the center for years and hadn't noticed Barack Obama there before. It's a double win for McCain - it emphasizes both Obama's relative inexperience and that he is decidedly left of center. But "I'm a centrist" doesn't endear McCain to the Republican "base", and instead he uses "I've served my country for my entire life, as a Navy Officer who was once a POW and then in the House and Senate" as his theme.
Team Obama's response is that being a POW doesn't qualify you to be President of the United States (in fact, it's cause for concern...). Obama's campaign theme is "hope" and "change" and declarations of support of "working Americans" and "the middle class". The remainder of his strategy has been "McCain is Bush". This too is an "appeal to the center", or at least an attempt not to alienate (or appear threatening to) the center while simultaneously keeping "the base" on board. (They can nudge-wink one another about what he really meant...)
Enter Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. McCain's VP pick is a good one - she appeals to conservatives (that base McCain has rattled repeatedly before and after he secured the nomination) and isn't another "old white guy". But many Republicans aren't happy with McCain's VP choice because they had hoped he would make Obama's lack of experience the central point of his campaign (rather than his own depth of experience). Biden, on the other hand, is also a good pick - he's reassuring to old white guys that Obama has nothing against them (oddly, the media doesn't pick up on that in their coverage of McCain's transparent attempt to lure Hillary voters who he obviously thinks are too stupid to vote based on anything other than their uterus...)
From this point, the Presidential candidates themselves stay "above the fray" and let others make the argument that the opposition is nowhere near the center. The attacks on Palin are immediate and in many cases extreme. Perhaps amazingly, team Obama focuses their official attacks on Palin's lack of experience. The unofficial attacks are among the most disgusting in the history of American politics. But the focus of each and every one of them can be boiled down to this message to the independent center: "she's not like us". In fact, she might be dangerous - and McCain's choice demonstrates his poor judgement. A unprecedentedly large team of campaign workers and reporters heads to Alaska to see what they can discover about this right wing nut job.
The McCain camp responds - but only after McCain's response to financial crisis alienates his base yet again and his poll numbers begin to tumble. Palin becomes the standard bearer on the attack (a traditional VP candidate role) and uses Bill Ayers as the first shot. The goal, of course, is to demonstrate that Obama's association with Ayers demonstrates he's not part of the independent center (he's not like us and might be dangerous and demonstrates poor judgement...).
[Meanwhile, though not picked up by major news outlets or touted by the McCain campaign, disturbing videos of Obama supporters begin to appear on the web. Children singing praise, young men marching and chanting...]
But team Obama responds to the Palin "attack" ("attack" in this case is the term the media used): her implication that Obama is "not like us" is clearly a racist attack. The Great Independent American Center isn't racist (she's not like us - there are a lot of racists out there who are a threat and she is one of them). Suddenly, people yelling at McCain/Palin rallies are newsworthy (never mind that voter registration cards weren't checked at the door...) and equally suddenly Obama - the Obama in the newspapers and on TV - is a victim of ugly attack politics, and crowds at McCain/Palin events are getting out of control...
Meanwhile, in the wake of McCain's response to the financial crisis a significant sector of the actual conservative American right becomes completely dispirited by the realization that they have a choice between a centrist and a leftist. They aren't impressed with attempts by team McCain to portray Obama as a guy significantly to the left of center because they know very well that Obama is exactly that.
And Obama reaches a point in the polls where he can tell a plumber to his face that he's going to raise his taxes to give the money to others without fear of alienating the Great Independent American Center.
And that brings us to tonight's debate. Some of my fellow milbloggers and I will be liveblogging it, and you can join in. Hope to see you there.
By the way, I should add that this distinguished liveblog panel is also composed almost entirely of two-time winners of Time Magazine's Person of the Year award (2003: "The American Soldier" and 2006: "You" - online content providers) but we aren't elitists, and welcome all those who've only won once to join in.
Milbloggers live blog the debate again tonight at Chuck's. We had a good time last time - in spite of the fact that the debate itself was far from "fun".
The best thing about the live blog there - you can join in and chat right along with us. And together we can gauge the success of this mission:
Bob Schieffer, host of 3rd presidential debate, will seek specifics...and whether Bob Schieffer cares about specifics of the same things average Americans do.
“By now we’ve all heard their talking points,” he said. “We’ve heard the general outlines of what they are talking about. The time has come to be a little more specific.
It's a free for all - so anything could happen. Chuck says the "pregame will start at 2000 eastern". See you there.
By the way, I should add that this distinguished liveblog panel is also composed almost entirely of two-time winners of Time Magazine's Person of the Year award (2003: "The American Soldier" and 2006: "You" - online content providers) but we aren't elitists, and welcome all those who've only won once to join in.
Update: Okay, go to the link above for the liveblogging - but click "continue reading" and you can watch the debate live right here...
Unnamed Pentagon officials discuss prospective presidents in the LA Times:
Some officials privately express a degree of enthusiasm for Obama, hoping for better relations with allies and an improved U.S. image in the Muslim world. Toward that end, they said, the Democrat is more likely to appoint Pentagon leaders who would actively engage potential adversaries, as well as allies.I think "better relations with allies and an improved U.S. image in the Muslim world" would be fine (though I'm not certain why Muslims would prefer Obama and the Times doesn't provide details). But perhaps "leaders who would actively engage potential adversaries, as well as allies" could be better employed in the State Department, and the military could be used only in those cases where diplomacy fails.
"We need some folks in here who are not responsible for getting us where we are today," a senior Army official said.
Fans of McCain -- and there are many, especially within the Navy -- believe he is best-equipped to reform the business of the Pentagon, changing how weapons systems are selected and paid for. "I don't see him as coming in and cutting programs," a military official said. "He sees how this building gets taken advantage of by contractors, and [he] is troubled."
But others expect that McCain would insist on changes in the way the military chooses and builds airplanes, ships and tanks. "He has a deep love for the military and understanding of the culture," an officer said. "But he is not at all afraid to be critical of how we spend our money."
At first glance the headline of the piece somewhat confusing: "Pentagon divided over John McCain". That's an odd description - the headline "Pentagon divided over Barack Obama" would be equaly true. Likewise a headline "America divided over Barack Obama" (or John McCain) would, too. But the Times finds it interesting that not everyone in the Pentagon supports McCain just because he's a veteran.
But in fact, that's what bothers "many":
McCain, a former Navy officer and prisoner of war, would arrive in the White House with more military experience than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. But he also would bring a long congressional career as an outspoken critic of the Pentagon -- prone to harsh assessments of its spending practices, weapons programs and military leaders.
As a result, defenders of some of the Pentagon's biggest weapons systems are worried that if McCain is elected, he will order sweeping changes, killing a number of big-ticket programs. Perhaps unlike other civilian leaders, McCain would be able to draw on his experience and knowledge of the military to reject the advice of generals and admirals.
"He is more feared in the Pentagon because he is impervious to the usual methods the military uses to roll the civilian leadership," a senior Defense official said.
In other defense-related campaign news, Senator Obama explains why women should have to register for the draft:
"There was a time when African-Americans weren't allowed to serve in combat," Mr. Obama said. "And yet, when they did, not only did they perform brilliantly, but what also happened is they helped to change America, and they helped to underscore that we're equal.So for all you women who need help understanding that you've got obligations to this country, help is on the way.
"And I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."
Some might find that headline debatable.
In fact, that's what it is - a topic for an actual debate. For the motion: Frederick Kagan, General Jack Keane (ret.) Against the motion: Charles Ferguson, Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
Keane and Kagan are generally credited as "architects of the surge".
Ferguson is a millionaire who made a propaganda film about Iraq:
When a guy hits it big in software and then he sells his company to Microsoft for more than $100 million and then he decides that he wants to start making movies, there is a tendency to think well maybe here’s another rich guy with a vanity project on his mind, except that the movie that our next panelist made, his name is Charles Ferguson, it’s a documentary on the US experience in Iraq. It premiered last year and was almost universally reviewed as superb and serious and ultimately became a contender for an Oscar award. Though he did not oppose the invasion of Iraq initially, the title of his film tells you where he stands now, very quickly, it is called, No End in Sight.And...
Sir Malcolm Rifkind has held the post of Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom and Defense Secretary, a combination that, in this country the only figure I can think of to have comparably held the positions of state and defense would be George Marshall. You can tell me, Fred, if I’m wrong on that. He is a friend of the United States as a member of the Conservative Party who’s been in politics for 40 years, a supporter of many American policies and the special relationship, but when it came to Iraq, he said no. He was against going in, he is against staying in now, and he will be arguing against the motion, Sir Malcolm Rifkind.Transcript here.
Bush to blame... details at 11....
ABC News: Exclusive: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans. (Americans in Iraq, by the way - not your grandmother in Boise.)
The story is told by two "whistleblowers" - former enlisted troops who were stationed at the National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia. You're not likely to hear any detailed response from the 'accused', whatever service they perform is the sort generally explained by the official answer "no comment."
But here's what Adrienne Kinne and David Murfee Faulk say was going on behind those closed doors:
ABC: "...hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators..."If that's so, I'd counter that phone calls were intercepted, and until they were heard there was no way to know who was holding that phone or what they were going to say. But some might argue it's wrong on principle to throw a wide blanket over a war zone and intercept as much communication as possible.
Kinne "These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones,"... Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism." ... She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
Arguably, the question becomes "what do you do with the innocuous calls once you've determined they aren't useful?" Here's Faulk's answer:
Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.Even if "some colonel" was using a military phone with the full knowledge that he could be monitored, that sort of stuff sucks, says I.
"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.
Oddly enough, ABC doesn't report it, but there are also claims that at least one operator was reprimanded for ignoring a fax that "that purported to provide information on the location of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction" and "contained types of information that required that it be translated and transmitted to President Bush within 15 minutes" and instead was "eavesdropping on two nongovernmental aid workers driving in Iraq ". According to Adrienne Kinne that operator was Adrienne Kinne - more on that (including the source) shortly.
First, let's acknowledge that Faulk expresses his remorse for his actions regarding "phone sex":
Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.Some might accuse Faulk and his pals of being creepy little assholes abusing the system with which they're entrusted - but ABC wants you to know who the real villain in this story is. Here's their lead paragraphs on the story:
"I feel that it was something that the people should not have done. Including me," he said.
Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.Thanks only, of course, to the hard work and tireless efforts of the investigative journalists at ABC, right? Wrong - on that topic either ABC is lying, or their subjects are lying to them. And David Swanson is righteously pissed:
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations "extremely disturbing" and said the committee has begun its own examination.
"We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration," Rockefeller said Thursday. "The Committee will take whatever action is necessary."
On Thursday, ABC News reported a big new break in the story of illegal and unconstitutional spying that our government has engaged in for years now, except that there was nothing new in the story and the important parts were left out.You can follow the links at that link for details. What you'll discover are fairly unexciting claims that the NSA intercepts phone calls from Iraq, there were no mass quantities of WMDs found in Iraq, Kinne's explanation that she was finally speaking out in 2007 because of her opposition to the surge, and her claim that she was reprimanded in 2003 for ignoring a WMD document while eavesdropping on aid workers. As the angry author acknowledges, only the phone sex angle got this story on ABC.
The ABC News announcer began the video report thus:
"This is the first time any of the actual intercept operators, the people who listen in and record phone calls on behalf of U.S. intelligence agencies, the first time any of them has come forward."
But this would have been revealed as blatant nonsense by simply googling the names of the two operators, Adrienne Kinne and David Murfee Faulk. I reported Kinne's story on July 1, 2007, on a website that is read by hundreds of thousands of people every month, including quite a few Congressional staffers. The very popular radio show, Democracy Now!, reported on one aspect of Kinne's story on May 13, 2008.
I first reported Faulk's story on May 19, 2008. He contacted me because he had read the story I'd written about Kinne. That point is of interest because the report posted online by ABC News on October 9, 2008, reads:
"The accounts of the two former intercept operators, who have never met and did not know of the other's allegations, provide the first inside look at the day to day operations of the huge and controversial US terrorist surveillance program."
This is absolute nonsense, since Faulk learned of Kinne's story by reading it on my website in May.
Wait - you'll also learn that Kinne is a member of IVAW (IVAW on Mudville, IVAW on MilBlogs), another fact that ABC didn't include in their story. And you'll learn that every round fired by every tank in Baghdad in April 2003 was somehow controlled by the NSA. (Or maybe just one, and it was used to kill journalists...)
This detail has Swanson pissed, too:
When I reported on Kinne over a year ago, I reported that Senator Patrick Leahy was ignoring her requests. Now, in response to ABC News picking up the story, Leahy is pretending to be interested in the matter.Or maybe he's just looking at an election year calendar this year.
As for ABC's motivation, it might be the many, many fabulous prizes they could win for "investigative journalism"
Asked for comment about the ABC News report and accounts of intimate and private phone calls of military officers being passed around, a US intelligence official said "all employees of the US government" should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and "information assurance."...or they might just be trying to sell books:
"They certainly didn't consent to having interceptions of their telephone sex conversations being passed around like some type of fraternity game," said Jonathon Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has testified before Congress on the country's warrantless surveillance program.
"This story is to surveillance law what
Abu Ghraibwas to prison law," Turley said.
Both former intercept operators came forward at first to speak with investigative journalist Jim Bamford for a book on the NSA, "The Shadow Factory," to be published next week.That book will be published by Doubleday - a company that I can reveal here for the first time ever has a super top secret exclusive deal to distribute Mickey Mouse books for Disney - the company that OWNS ABC!!!!!!
Maybe, maybe not...
Franklin Raines, the former top man at Fannie Mae, bought a three-bedroom, seven-bath penthouse condominium in the West End’s Ritz-Carlton Residences for $4.9 million. The condo has a rooftop terrace with a hot tub, a butler’s pantry, and three parking spaces. Raines, director of the US Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton, was CEO of Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2004.From what I hear it's a real buyer's market out there these days. Likewise from what I hear he could pay cash if he wanted.
(And I'm no politician, but I will promise a free education to anyone who follows the 11 links in that last line.)
Unbidden, Petraeus discussed whether his strategy in Iraq — protecting the population while cleaving apart the insurgency through reconciliation efforts to crush the remaining hard-core enemies — could also work in Afghanistan. The question has particular salience as Petraeus takes over U.S. Central Command, which will put him at the helm of all U.S. troops in the Middle East and South Asia, thereby giving him a large role in the Afghanistan war.
“Some of the concepts used in Iraq are transplantable [to Afghanistan] while others perhaps are not,” he said. “Every situation is unique.”
Petraeus pointed to efforts by Hamid Karzai’s government to negotiate a deal with the Taliban that would potentially bring some Taliban members back to power, saying that if they are “willing to reconcile,” it would be “a positive step.”
In saying that, Petraeus implicitly allied with U.S. Army Gen. David McKiernan, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. Last week, McKiernan rejected the idea of replicating the blend of counterinsurgency strategy employed in Iraq. “The word that I don’t use in Afghanistan is the word ’surge,’” McKiernan said, opting against recruiting Pashtun tribal fighters to supplement Afghan security forces against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. “There are countless other differences between Iraq and Afghanistan,” he added.
Or is Spencer Ackerman reading too much into these remarks?
Update: Greyhawk here, with a few added comments.
1. The headline on the linked piece is by far the most vile, disgusting attack on General Petraeus I've ever seen - lower than the "General Betrayus" shit from MoveOn and New York Times. The General is not involved in the political campaign. He does not and will not "bolster" either candidate.
2. Since Obama and McCain both promise more troops for Afghanistan (the only concrete promise Obama made during this week's debate was that he would kill Osama) and only one of them has already said he would personally tell Petraeus how to fight a war (actually, how he will conduct a retreat), how exactly does Petraeus "bolster" Obama?
3. Ackerman is either the most ignorant, ill informed person to ever write about military strategy and tactics I've ever read or he believes that his readers are. McKiernan wants three (beyond what he's been promised already) additional combat brigades, aviation and UAV assets, and associated support troops in Afghanistan ASAP. But he doesn't want to call it a "surge". The only thing "unsurgelike" about it might be the duration - he seems to imply they will be there for much longer than the length of Iraq's surge. In the good old days, reporters would wave a righteous bullshit flag for any general blowing that kind of smoke up their assess. How about you be the
guy stooge who personally explains the "not a surge" stuff to the troops who will go to Afghanistan, Spence? While you're at it, come up with the catchy word you'd mandate they use to define their next twelve months downrange. As for my either/or at the start of this paragraph, my answer is "both". Spencer Ackerman has no busines writing about military issues. This blithering idiot is a Scott Beauchamp fanboy. No serious publication will ever feature Spencer Ackerman writing about military issues. His qualifications begin and end with "ability to type."
4. As for strategy, McKiernan's - as described during his last visit to the States - is identical to Petraeus' at the outset of the surge. The words used are the same, the core concepts are identical. There will be adjustments for terrain, weather, population, and other conditions as explained by Sun Tzu and others who came later. (See link below...)
5. Additional details here. I hate to repeat myself, but for whatever reason, ignorance gets repeated endlessly and if left unchecked people like Spencer Ackerman start believing themselves.
6. I think it's possible that never before in history have a presidential and vice presidential candidate team had as little combined knowledge and experience (zero. zip. nada. At least Dukakis was an Army vet...) as Joe Biden and Barack Obama. (Biden was a sickly youth with five medical deferments during the Vietnam era, and although Obama "thought about" joining the military he didn't because "The Vietnam War had come to an end" and "we weren't engaged in an active military conflict". ) But they do have ideas, that can't be denied. (And those ideas appeal strongly to people like Spencer Ackerman, that can't be denied either.)
I'm so proud.
Time to bring back this item from '04:
But please, one each.
The non partisan veterans group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has ranked members of the House and Senate based on their votes on troop support issues. Like several other milbloggers, I was notified of this via email from Phil Carter, a founding member of the non partisan group who is now serving as the Obama campaign's Veterans Director.
Additional discussion, along with tabulated scores for the Senate from the 2006 and 2008 score cards can be found here.
I expect the unexpected.
Why is Barack Obama so afraid to tout the "improvements" these guys teamed up to bring to Chicago schools? If it's less than flattering, he can point out he was only 30-40 something when Ayers was training kids to be good young communists with the money he funneled to him.
CNN: Neocons! Neocons!! Neocons!!! (Or maybe just more Americans who are not happy with what's happened to their retirement plans - and are tired of pretending.)
One of the rapacious couples featured in the skit was Herbert and Marion Sandler (portrayed by Darrell Hammond and Casey Wilson). Unlike the other composite figures, the Sandlers are a real-life couple.
Also lampooned: Left-wing billionaire George Soros.
As Todd Thurman at Heritage notes, the Sandlers are left-wing moguls who built “a mortgage company whose major product was subprime mortgages and they sold it to Wachovia for $24.2 billion in 2006. And what do the Sandlers do when they are not peddling subprime garbage? They are busy writing checks to leftist groups like the Center for American Progress, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). Yes that ACORN.”
The Sandlers are seething over the skit. And George Soros must be livid as well. Anyone else smell a legal threat behind the disappearance of the vid?
Update: For your viewing pleasure.
Embed Code: Share it.
<embed src="http://blip.tv/play/AdHiOI3NKg" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="320" height="270" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed>
And in case this also gets yanked Patt Dollard also has it on his server.
More - The Sniffington Post: NEOCONS! NEOCONS!! NEOCONS!!!! YEAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!
UPDATE: Video removed from Blip. Blip suport emails : I'm sorry, but I had to remove one of your videos from blip.tv because it violates our Terms of Service regarding copyrighted material.
January 28th, 2007, the SF team members had no clue they were racing into a 24-hour battle, vastly outnumbered and outgunned by a heavily armed militia of about 800 cult-like Shiite warriors (‘Soldiers of Heaven’) willing to fight to the death.
But our guys closed the gates to heaven and opened the gates to hell.
The battle has since been reconstructed in some media accounts ,but the fight against the Soldiers of Heaven remains little known outside the circles of those who were there.
This is their story...
The call to Special Forces came at 7 a.m. from Iraqi soldiers and policemen who had come under fire from a surprisingly large force of insurgents. Within minutes, the insurgents had killed 18 Iraqi troops and sent the rest fleeing.
Capt. Eric Jacobson was team leader for Operational Detachment Alpha 566, 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, a token U.S. presence in Najaf province that worked closely with scout platoons from an Iraqi army battalion based nearby. It was one of those scouts who called him for help.
After alerting an SF team from 1st Battalion in the area for possible backup, Jacobson headed to the fight with his team of 10 U.S. soldiers. Small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenade rounds greeted them on arrival as dozens of insurgents blasted away from entrenched positions atop 15-foot sand berms.
“We immediately were engaging 50 to 60 people at a time from a berm position to our front and we helped our scouts get back,” Jacobson said.
Undetected by U.S. or Iraqi forces, hundreds of fighters had somehow managed over a period of several months to set up protected fighting positions and a command and control complex within a large compound six miles north of Najaf. Iraqi forces had stumbled into the hornet’s nest earlier in the day when they went there thinking they would be arresting a group of about 30 men.
Enemy fire quickly disabled the SF team’s three Humvees. Master Sgt. Raymond Lancey, Master Sgt. Petter Jacobsen and Staff Sgt. Gregory Keller jumped out and organized support-by-fire positions to help Iraqi soldiers pinned down by enemy fire.
RPG fragments hit Keller in the face, but he and the other SF troops continued to fight alongside their crippled vehicles with the 25 remaining Iraqi scouts out of a force of about 40; the others had been killed or were too wounded to fight. The only people still in the Humvees were the SF soldiers manning .50-caliber machine guns.
The U.S. and Iraqi soldiers blasted away many of their attackers, but fresh waves of fighters came in behind the dead and wounded to take positions on the berms.
The Americans and Iraqis did not realize it then, but they were battling the so-called Soldiers of Heaven, a radical cult led by a man whom the fighters believed to be the 12th Imam, or the rightful heir to the prophet Muhammad. Followers hoped to install him in the Najaf shrine.
Succeed or die trying — no other options existed for them in this mission.
Though based less than four miles away from the clandestine camp, the battalion of Iraqi soldiers remained unaware of the slow build-up of insurgent forces, supplies and weaponry inside the 3-square-mile camp surrounded by 15-foot sand berms.
“Absolutely no one knew about it,” Jacobson said.
A look at post-dated satellite photos, he said, revealed trenches and tunnels, tree lines and a cluster of buildings inside the walled area.
In that redoubt, the insurgents had armed themselves for an apocalyptic battle, with hundreds of AK-47s, PKC machine guns, a variety of automatic weapons, at least 500 RPGs and 50 launchers. They also manned larger crew-served weapons, such as the Soviet DShK, and three vehicle-mounted heavy machine guns.
The U.S. Army awarded more than 100 combat decorations for bravery that day, including at least eight Silver Stars and a Distinguished Flying Cross.
October is here and it's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Your click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button helps fund free mammograms, paid for by site sponsors whose ads appear after you click and provided to women in need through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation to low-income, inner-city and minority women, whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited.
It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window below). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising. Their goal marker is 500 mammograms. If clicks totals reach 500 mammograms in October, Bare Neccesities (their premier sponsor) will fund an additional 200 mammograms.
They can meet and beat that goal with your help. Please tell your friends about the Pink Ribbon Challenge and keep clicking!
To help fund breast cancer research at the Mayo Clinic (every donation is matched!), and use Pink Ribbon Search to help fund more mammograms.
Consider a secure, online contribution to our charity partner, National Breast Cancer Foundation.
For a long time now we've had a link to the Breast Cancer Site on our sidebar. That link is in place in honor of my mother and Greyhawk's sister, both of whom are survivors because of early detection.
A commenter has reminded us, self examiniations are the most important tool in early detection.
A Black Conservative Tells It Like It Is.
Why He’s Voting for McCain/Palin
It's 9.5 minute long but worth every minute.
However since this video he was invited and banned in the same day by the conservative website, Free Rebublic. Why? See here
More of his videos can be found here
HT: The Anchoress
Is there a difference between forming a political party that wants to use the ballot to achieve it's goals and forming a terrorist organization that prefers to use bombs? At TPM Election Central the answer appears to be "no".
Will the name Joe Vogler start appearing in the mainstream media alongside Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers? He's the founder of the Alaskan Independence Party, and certainly an interesting character - to say the least. He died a couple of years before Todd Palin joined AIP, but you can hear a lengthy interview with him here, and visit the Party's web page here. They're libertarian in nature, which probably explains why Democrats would consider them a threat, compare them with the Weathermen, and believe that all properly indoctrinated Americans would share those feelings.
If (or when?) the AP, CNN, NY Times et al start following the TPM lead and publish moral equivalence stories conflating these folks with terrorist groups, third-party (or independent) voters should become very worried about their future.
Update: For those who might have missed it, here's Vogler's position on Alaskan Statehood, from segments 15 qand 16 of the linked audio: "We're seeking a plebescite, in which there'll be three choices, with Alaskans voting on it. That is our prime motive, just we want a vote. We'll live by the results of it."
Barack Obama has assured his supporters that Republicans will attack him because he's black.
The AP has found an example of just that - headline: AP: Palin's Ayers Attack "Racially Tinged". Here are the first paragraphs:
WASHINGTON — By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.It's a long article - but to find the hidden racism you'll have to plow through a history of dirty campaign tactics (swiftboating, for example) and speculation that Palin is attempting to turn attention away from the lousy economy to finally reach paragraph 21 - in which we learn that
And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.
Palin's words avoid repulsing voters with overt racism. But is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists while assuring a predominantly white audience that he doesn't see their America?Let me abbreviate why the AP feels Palin's attack is racist: "Anyone who holds a different opinion ('not like us') than Barack Obama on anything is a racist."
In a post-Sept. 11 America, terrorists are envisioned as dark-skinned radical Muslims, not the homegrown anarchists of Ayers' day 40 years ago. With Obama a relative unknown when he began his campaign, the Internet hummed with false e-mails about ties to radical Islam of a foreign-born candidate.
Whether intended or not by the McCain campaign, portraying Obama as "not like us" is another potential appeal to racism. It suggests that the Hawaiian-born Christian is, at heart, un-American.
See your future?
Update: Here's a screen capture of results from a google search for the headline:
The first two returns are from the Huffington Post and Daily Kos, but the remainder feature the headlines over the story from New York Newsday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the Baltimore Sun - and all feature the "racially tinged" headline.
Follow any of those links now, however, and you'll find those headlines have been re-written: "Analysis: Palin, propping up a sagging campaign, uses words that could backfire on McCain".
The bizarre claim that associating Obama with a white terrorist is actually a super-secret racist tactic to associate Obama with darker-skinned terrorists is still intact.
More - As long as we're on the topic, this is 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta:
(Actually it's just a picture of him, sorry if anyone was frightened). Do you think it's possible that the leftists will ever abandon their ridiculous insistence that Arabs/Muslims are dark skinned? [Hint: No, because reality doesn't fit their agenda.] I'd put up a picture of the very Caucasian appearing (relative to Barack Obama, at least) Saddam Hussein here too, but I don't want to be accused of associating him with a 9/11 hijacker.
"Postcript: "Policemen's lives were lost"
It occurs to me that some folks might not be familiar with Bill Ayers. Short version: he's the founder of an "ineffective" terrorist group who only wanted to mostly blow up institutions but also killed a few cops but who escaped prosecution because the pigs did an illegal wiretap on him, man:
Mr Ayers, now 63 and a respectable professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago, helped to found the Weather Underground in 1969. During the Days of Rage, at the height of the Vietnam War, it launched ineffectual bombing attacks on the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. Most were against institutions rather than people, but policemen's lives were lost.
Mr Ayers went on the run, but all charges against him were dropped in 1974 because of illegal wiretapping by the FBI. His [September, 2001] memoir, Fugitive Days, opens with a quote from the author: "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough."
The above passage is from a recent article. But back before they chose Barack Obama as the next president the media wasn't afraid to write about Bill Ayers:
He walked out of jail and into his first teaching job, at a daycare center in Ann Arbor. Soon he was the 21-year-old director of the place. It was there he met Diana Oughton, a beautiful and accomplished young woman. They fell in love and attended SDS conventions together. As the war dragged on and U.S. politics became more polarized, some of the war resisters—including Ayers, Oughton, and Dohrn—turned more militant. They started a group called the Weatherman, a name inspired by the Bob Dylan song lyric "You don't need a weatherman / To know which way the wind blows."But he bounced back:
In 1970, a bomb that was apparently being built in a Greenwich Village townhouse, occupied by at least five members of the Weatherman, accidentally exploded—killing three of the group, including Ayers's beloved Diana Oughton. In Fugitive Days, Ayers tries to imagine what happened. Maybe Diana tried to stop the others from their path? Maybe they all drank too much coffee and smoked too many cigarettes?
Maybe Diana saw that this bomb, packed with nails and screws, would have exacted a heavy human toll if it had ever reached its destination—a New Jersey military base. Could she have, in a gesture of sacrifice, crossed the wires herself? "I'll never know what happened," he says. "That's the price I have to pay."
One of the Weatherman leaders was Bernardine Dohrn, a smart, magnetic figure who, in part because of her penchant for miniskirts and knee-high boots, was dubbed "La Pasionaria of the Lunatic Left" by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. After a bomb exploded accidentally and killed three of their colleagues, Ayers and Dohrn "hooked up," in the parlance of the day, and, since 1982, they have been married. This—violence, death, and white-hot rhetoric—is his past and Ayers insists he has no regrets.Oh, by the way...
Three of his confederates, including his then girlfriend Diana Oughton, were accidentally killed when the explosive they were building to Ayers specifications (Ayers was a bomb designer) went off during construction. As noted in Ayers' Discover the Networks profile, the explosive had been a nail bomb. Back when Ayers was being more honest about his intentions, he admitted that the purpose of that bomb had been to murder United States soldiers:Yeah - you don't pack a bomb with nails because you want to drive nails into an "institution".
That bomb had been intended for detonation at a dance that was to be attended by army soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Hundreds of lives could have been lost had the plan been successfully executed. Ayers attested that the bomb would have done serious damage, "tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too."
During the April 16 debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, moderator George Stephanopoulos brought up “a gentleman named William Ayers,” who “was part of the Weather Underground in the 1970s. They bombed the Pentagon, the Capitol, and other buildings. He’s never apologized for that.” Stephanopoulos then asked Obama to explain his relationship with Ayers. Obama’s answer: “The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense, George.” Obama was indeed only eight in early 1970. I was only nine then, the year Ayers’s Weathermen tried to murder me.And I think this is a good question:
Here is the thing that eats at me. What did Ayers see in him [Obama]? How did such a young man come into Ayers circle and why was he embraced? Dorhn, Ayers, Wright all saw something in Obama that made them want to be with him and promote him? These are not people who like promoting pro-America candidates.But the only answer we'll get is that Ayers is a "respectable" teacher of your children now, and Barack Obama has nothing to do with him. At least, nothing you need to worry about, racist.
What do they know about Obama that we don’t?
Her reference was exaggerated at best if not outright false. No evidence shows they were "pals" or even close when they worked on community boards years ago and Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career.Daniel K. Douglass, the AP "analyst" who came up with this Palin is a racist theory, asks (as support for his racism claims)"is there another subtext for creating the false image of a black presidential nominee "palling around" with terrorists"? Since it's not actually false (for instance, the event Douglass describes as "Ayers hosted a political event for Obama early in his career" was actually the launch thereof) I'd answer "Yes - so that we can judge him on the content of his character".
Obama, who was a child when the Weathermen were planting bombs, has denounced Ayers' radical views and actions.
But maybe that makes me a racist, too.
Late Update: CNN brings the story forward. It's not about how young Barack Obama was when Ayers was building nail bombs - it's about now:
"Improving schools"? Why is Barack Obama so afraid to tout the "improvements" these guys teamed up to bring to Chicago schools?
Welcome Instapundit readers! If you don't care to comment below or check out the rest of the news here, I offer this quck link back to Glenn's page, via his email from my fellow MilBlogs author Maj (P) John Tammes.All done!
...from Joe Biden in the VP debate?
"The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge -- the surge principles used in Iraq will not -- well, let me say this again now -- our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan"The Washington Post and CNN call it a "fact".
In an odd coincidence, shortly after posting this entry I read a passage from Bing West's The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics, and the Endgame in Iraq. In it, he describes a September, 2007 meeting in Anbar Province, hosted by the governor and presided over by Iraq's deputy prime minister. By that time the Awakening movement had turned the tide of the war in Anbar, and economic recovery and rebuilding were next on the agenda for what had been the deadliest quarter of Iraq. But while the purpose of the meeting was economic planning, West says "the real guest of honor was Sheik Sattar" - the Iraqi leader of the movement.
But someone else was in town, too - and he wanted to send the Sheiks a message on behalf of the American people: "Not good enough".
Senator Joseph Biden, who visited Iraq frequently, then took the podium to issue a blunt warning. "The American people can't want peace more than the Iraqi people", he said. "It's encouraging to see central government assisting you in Anbar. In America we are waiting to see how extensive that cooperation will be. If it is [extensive], you can count on America to stay. If it is not, you can say goodbye now."
After the meeting, the sheiks mingled, nibbling on chicken and pita bread. Several were puzzled by Biden's lecture. They had expected to be congratulated for having thrown out al Qaeda. When I chatted with [Iraq's] Deputy Prime Minister Salh, he was annoyed. "It took your country thirteen years," he said, "to get a constitution and a set of laws. Why are you talking defeatist?"
Probably just a "gaffe", I'm sure.
Within a few days of that event, Sattar was assassinated, a tragedy the AP declared had "dealt a setback to one of the few success stories in U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq".
Still, the loss of such a charismatic leader is bound to complicate efforts to recruit more tribal leaders in the war against the terror network. Two Pentagon officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the matter, said the assassination sent a chilling message about the consequences of cooperating with the Americans.In reality, neither murder or Joe Biden's mouth could stem the tide against al Qaeda in Iraq.
It does remind one of their attitude on the Iraq war: every set back was gleefully trumpeted and every minor advance was dismissed. They never much cared how their rhetoric or votes might embolden the enemy or unnerve our ally. The sole consideration was domestic political gain. If they didn’t want to lose they certainly gave every indication it was low on their list of priorities. Bashing the President, rallying their base and positioning themselves for the next election was clearly more critical.Harry Reid's (no doubt also inadvertent) shock to the insurance industry doesn't ease my concern one bit.
Nor does the actual cornerstone tactic expressed by Schumer and Reid back in 2007, when they confidently predicted they could accomplish their goals because Republicans lacked sufficient political courage to take them on:
Democrats know they might lose this month's showdown with President Bush on legislation to pull troops out of Iraq. But with 2008 elections in mind, majority Democrats says it is only a matter of time before they will get their way. Senior Democrats are calculating that if they keep the pressure on, eventually more Republicans will jump ship and challenge the president - or lose their seats to Democratic contenders.Now, of course, the war isn't an issue - after all, we all knew all along our boys could get 'er done.
"It's at least my belief that they are going to have to break because they're going to look extinction, some of them, in the eye," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., of his Republican colleagues.
Added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.: "We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war."
It's the economy, stupid.
Update: More happy thoughts, featuring Joe Biden and his traveling mouth.
Here's a new idea...
The role of regional power broker may seem far-fetched for Iraq — a devastated land best known for car bombs, death squads and suicide attackers.... at least it's new to the Associated Press.
Still, countries of the Middle East cannot ignore the potential role of a resurgent Iraq, a nation of 28 million people, bordering Iran to the east, Syria and Jordan to the west and sitting on one of the world's major pools of oil.
But lest ye be confused by that apparent late endorsement of one of President Bush's top stated reasons for taking out Saddam by force, here's something for the Orwell in us all:
The Middle East has long confounded forecasters, and the rosy predictions from the Bush administration that Iraq would emerge as a beacon of Western-style democracy in the Arab world have been long discredited.I'm not exactly sure how a discordant and seemingly deadlocked government composed of opposing factions elected by the people but acting primarily in their own self-interest over national unity while condemning the other side for the same behavior is anything other than "western style democracy", but there you go.
Yesterday the Senate confirmed General David D. McKiernan as Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. General McKiernan was already serving as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) there. In what some might view as needless complexity, there are some U.S. forces in Afghanistan independent of the international (NATO) coalition that also includes U.S. forces. McKiernan's new position reflects an effort to reduce that complexity, solidify and clarify the command structure and improve coordination of efforts, as explained in this brief White House statement:
For Immediate ReleaseThe General was in D.C. for confirmation and meetings with the President, and gave a press conference while in town in which he stressed - among other things - the need for additional U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan. That led to headlines like this one from the L.A. Times: "More U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan 'quickly,' general says", and stories like this one from the AP:
Office of the Press Secretary
October 2, 2008
Statement by the President on Senate Confirmation of General David D. McKiernan as Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan
Today, the Senate confirmed General David D. McKiernan as Commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. This newly created position and realignment of the command structure provides General McKiernan authority over nearly all U.S. forces in Afghanistan, ensuring greater coordination in operational planning and execution. General McKiernan will continue to serve as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force.
General McKiernan's new responsibilities will strengthen both U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan. I congratulate General McKiernan on his confirmation and commend the Senate for its quick action on this important nomination.
General: Urgent need for troops in Afghanistan nowThe International Herald Tribune chose to use "the 'S' word" in their coverage:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and its allies should rush more troops "as quickly as possible" to Afghanistan, the top American commander in that country said Wednesday, warning that the fighting could worsen before it get better.
U.S. general urges troop surge in Afghanistan...but the Washington Post reported McKiernan would rather not use that term - "The word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge' ".
WASHINGTON: The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday that he needed more troops and other aid "as quickly as possible" in a counterinsurgency battle that could get worse before it gets better.
Some less charitable observers might question that semantic argument (old school reporters would have hammered the General for that), but I can't pretend to know why the general wants to avoid the exact word. Immediately after the announcement of the Iraq "surge" congressional Democrats began debates in which they exclusively used the term "escalation" for the president's proposal (a term that harkened back to the Vietnam-era but didn't catch on in this century), so one could infer the mere choice of simple terms - usually agreed to as expediant for expressing an idea - is now politicized to the point the general isn't comfortable using one that could potentially lead to accusations of political bias. On the other hand (and more likely) the General could be trying to avoid giving the impression that fixing Afghanistan is simple - we just do exactly what we did in Iraq over the past year and a half. No one is making that argument, but likewise the general consensus is that we do need more troops in Afghanistan, and their primary mission will initially be (as in Iraq) counterinsurgency.
Which brings us to the Vice Presidential debate - an event that occurred within hours of McKiernan's Senate confirmation and press conference.
PALIN: OK, I'd like to just really quickly mention there, too, that when you look back and you say that the Bush administration's policy on Afghanistan perhaps would be the same as McCain, and that's not accurate.McKiernan wants an increase in troops, but doesn't want it called a "surge". Since neither campaign is arguing against additional troops in Afghanistan, the argument apparently comes down to what exactly they will be doing there - or what exactly a "surge principle" is. Palin's explanation is "not the exact strategy but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq". Biden offered no additional clarification. A debate moderator could have pressed both for details, but that opportunity slipped away last night. One thing is certain - now that the issue is "politicized" we're not likely to hear General McKiernan explain which candidate is correct.
The surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan, also. And that, perhaps, would be a difference with the Bush administration.
Now, Barack Obama had said that all we're doing in Afghanistan is air-raiding villages and killing civilians. And such a reckless, reckless comment and untrue comment, again, hurts our cause.
That's not what we're doing there. We're fighting terrorists, and we're securing democracy, and we're building schools for children there so that there is opportunity in that country, also. There will be a big difference there, and we will win in -- in Afghanistan, also.
IFILL: Senator, you may talk about nuclear use, if you'd like, and also about Afghanistan.
BIDEN: I'll talk about both. With Afghanistan, facts matter, Gwen.
The fact is that our commanding general in Afghanistan said today that a surge -- the surge principles used in Iraq will not -- well, let me say this again now -- our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, not Joe Biden, our commanding general in Afghanistan.
But we do have the transcript of McKiernan's press briefing. Here are his comments regarding how the additional troops would be used and additional strategies that may be adopted:
It's not just additional boots on the ground. It's enablers to go with them. But at the same time, I would tell you that it's not just a question about more soldiers. It's a question about more governance, about more economic aid, about more political assistance for the government of Afghanistan, as well as military capabilities.Those "principles" - securing the population first, developing the indigenous security forces to take over, and "reconciliation" issues, all of which are the needed first step to enable the Afghan government to become fully functional (because the solution isn't 100% militay) - are exactly the playbook used for "the surge" in Iraq. Specific application to Afghanistan will vary, but these are the fundamentals of counterinsurgency operations.
But what we need is additional military capabilities to provide security for the people in Afghanistan. And until we get to what I call a "tipping point," where the lead for security can be in the hands of the Afghan army and the Afghan police, there's going to be a need for the international community to provide military capability.
Q Thank you. This is actually a follow-up to Jennifer's question. Secretary Gates last week expressed some skepticism about whether more U.S. troops were really the answer in Afghanistan. He said that the answer may be -- in his mind was building up the Afghani army rather than having more U.S. troops. Is there a gap in thinking between you and the secretary?
GEN. MCKIERNAN: No, I don't think there's a gap at all. I think we're totally in agreement that ultimately what we want to do -- winning this campaign -- is about building Afghan capacity and capability. So recently there's been a -- an international support to increase the size of the Afghan army. We need to increase the size of the Afghan police. We need to continue to reform the Afghan police. But until such time as we get to a capable Afghan security organization that can provide security for the people, there's going to be a reliance on international forces. So I don't think the idea is incompatible at all.
Q General, President Karzai has spoken in recent days about the fact that he's reached out to Mullah Omar, he's enlisted the Saudis as mediators in that, and called on him basically to try and work to create a stable Afghanistan. How do you judge those efforts? Is that compatible with the NATO or U.S. objective, to reach out to someone who gave shelter to Osama bin Laden?
GEN. MCKIERNAN: Well, the idea of reconciliation certainly needs to be a government of Afghanistan-led effort. What I have said -- as a military officer, I've said that the -- ultimately the solution in Afghanistan is going to be a political solution, not a military solution. We're not going to run out of bad guys there that want to do bad things in Afghanistan.
So the idea that the government of Afghanistan will take on the idea of reconciliation, I think, is appropriate, and we'll be there to provide support within our mandate. It won't be a military-led operation.
So where does the General's conops for Afghanistan diverge from the Iraq lessons of the past two years? He's actually clear on that point in the briefing:
Q Thank you, sir. I'm wondering if any thought was being given to migrating the lessons of the Iraq Awakening to Afghanistan to get some of these tribal leaders to have their fighting forces work with you, either because it's the right thing or just for the money, or is the situation so different that that's not applicable?So there you have it. But while the awakening movement was critical to progress in Iraq, it wasn't a planned component of the "surge" -related strategy. It was an independent development begun by shieks but facilitated by U.S. forces in Anbar in late 2006, then adopted by the additional troops deployed in other areas as a result of the surge.
GEN. MCKIERNAN: Well, I think the similarity is the fact that we need to leverage the tribal system in Afghanistan as was done in Iraq, as -- for a community, bottom-up based approach to security and connection with the government. That part's the same.
What I find in Afghanistan, however, is a degree of complexity in the tribal system which is much greater than what I found in Iraq years ago.
And I also find that of the over 400 major tribal networks inside of Afghanistan, they have been largely, as I said earlier, traumatized by over 30 years of war, so a lot of that traditional tribal structure has broken down.
But the question and the need to engage the tribes, to engage tribal authorities and use those values at a local level to enhance security, governance, needs of the people to be able to express grievances with the government of Afghanistan, I think, is an important concept and one that we have to continue to work in support of the government of Afghanistan.
Q And are you considering or looking into a program that would be similar to the Sons of Iraq, where you would actually start paying some of the tribes, that the U.S. money would go to some of the tribes to get --
GEN. MCKIERNAN: No, the difference in Afghanistan is that needs to be an Afghan-led effort to engage the tribes. And there is a program called the Afghan Social Outreach Program which President Karzai is -- tasked one of his ministers to lead. But one of the real differences, again, between Afghanistan and Iraq was, if you recall, Afghanistan was in the midst of a civil war when we intervened. And that potential is still there, so this needs to be an Afghan-led effort on how to engage the tribes and what the incentives are and how to use the traditional tribal authorities to help with community security and community assistance.
Q General, a question on this concept of some sort of Afghanistan awakening.
You said that the goal in this would be getting the Afghan government to empower these local tribes. But to some extent too, when you talk to folks they say, well, this is a strategy that was to some extent rejected early on because, you know, how would this impact the central government, empowering these local tribes; would that lead to decentralization. And, I mean that gets into issues of governments, and you said you're more of a security guy, too. So I guess the security question is, you know, would that be a security issue?
GEN. MCKIERNAN: First of all, I've never used the term "Afghanistan awakening." So don't -- please don't ascribe that to me.
What I've said, though, is that there is a traditional tribal structure in Afghanistan out in the rural areas, and that's 70 percent of the population. And it seems to me that with the lead of the government of Afghanistan engaging those tribes and connecting them to governance, whether it's at the provincial level or the district level, seems to be a smart thing to do to assist with the security of a huge country. But that has to be, again, a -- we are in support of the government of Afghanistan doing that. We don't do that. ISAF doesn't do that.
In fact, Democrats have been arguing that the Awakening Movement is the only reason for reduced violence in Iraq. Biden's argument ("the priciples won't work") in the debate might be based on his Party's interpretation of the cause of our success in Iraq, though he might be a bit confused as to what that has to do with the surge (Party line: nothing whatsoever).
Update: Facts is facts ...but these are opinions, passed off as "fact checks" in mainstream media reviews of the VP debate.
Sarah Palin on AfghanistanCNN:
Showing off her foreign policy credentials, Sarah Palin jumped into an argument with Biden about a recent statement by the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, suggesting that an Iraqi-style surge would not work in that country. Palin referred to the Afghan commander three times as "General McClellan," when, in fact, his name is General David McKiernan. (There was a Civil War general named General George McClellan, who was fired by President Lincoln for not taking the fight to the enemy.) McKiernan called for an increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but argued that the key to victory lay in a long-term counter-insurgency effort "that could last many years" followed by a political solution. Biden summed up the general's statement more accurately than Palin.
The Statement:So, McKiernan says he wants three additional brigades, associated aviation (including UAV's) and suport assets in Afghanistan ASAP - but doesn't want to call it a "surge". Biden claims the General said the surge principle wouldn't work in Afghanistan, and CNN and the Washington Post declare those two statements mean the same thing.
Sen. Joe Biden said at the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate that "our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan."
Gov. Sarah Palin, who lauded the successes of the "surge strategy" in Iraq, asserted in the debate that "the surge principles, not the exact strategy, but the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan."
But Sen. Joe Biden disagreed, saying "our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan. … He said we need more troops. We need government-building. We need to spend more money on the infrastructure in Afghanistan."
Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was quoted on Oct. 2 in The Washington Post as saying that "no Iraq-style 'surge' of forces will end the conflict" in Afghanistan, even though more U.S. troops are needed to take on a growing insurgency.
"Afghanistan is not Iraq," McKiernan said in Washington on Oct. 1. He also said "the word I don't use for Afghanistan is 'surge.' " He called for a "sustained commitment" leading to a political and not just a military solution.
He said Afghanistan is a "far more complex environment than I ever found in Iraq." The newspaper paraphrased him as citing the country's "unique challenges" — "the mountainous terrain, rural population, poverty, illiteracy, 400 major tribal networks and history of civil war."
The Verdict: True.
Not only is that wrong, but in his D.C. press conference that day McKiernan very carefully spelled out how the principles of the surge would be applied in Afghanistan, too - though the specific applications would vary to meet the unique requirements of that country. Not only that, but he also carefully explained (three times) why one of the Democrats' favorite talking points on the "real" reason for success in Iraq would not work there. Admittedly you've got to be sharp enough to spot a "principle of the surge" when you see (or hear) one, but In short - pretty much exactly what Governor Palin described.
Given that there might be some interest,
That second option would also be filled with "now it can be told" additional details. Either would also have the history of milblogs interwoven through the narrative.
There's an unwritten third option, of course - you don't vote and just click away. But that's a vote, too (at least it sends a message to me).
Update: Geesh - just saw the poll in Firefox - it's illegible (Bad poll code! Bad!). So if your browser has similar issues, here's what's in the box:
Which book should Greyhawk write first?
1. Collection of Mudville posts from Iraq tied together with "now it can be told" additional details
2. The complete history of erroneous (or blatantly false) media reports from Iraq
Update ll: Mrs G to the rescue, ok it's not perfect but it should be legible. Firefox folks go below the fold.
|Which book should Greyhawk write first?|
|Collection of Mudville posts from Iraq tied together with "now it can be told" additional details|
|The complete history of erroneous (or blatantly false) media reports from Iraq|
|pollcode.com free polls|
Not surprising news - the San Francisco school board wants to ban JROTC from the city's high schools:
If a school board decision stands, San Francisco would become the first city to remove a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.Will they succeed? If so, it won't be due to a lack of opposition to their efforts:
Supporters view the elective course as valuable self-improvement — teaching them discipline, responsibility and leadership skills they say they do not get in other classes.And who are these supporters? They are actual high school students - who are actually taking on the powers that be, attempting to circumvent the board's destruction of their program by fiat using the power of democracy:
Even as the debate went on and board members held their ground, students and their parents gathered enough signatures to put an advisory measure on the ballot asking voters to show their support for keeping JROTC.The AP story also points out that "enrollment in San Francisco's JROTC has declined by about two-thirds in the past year." If the remaining third is "90 percent minorities" one could infer that the program has seen an exodus of "non-minority" students, leaving behind a group for whom the board feels no urgent need to support. Kudos to those students for taking it to the streets and taking on the man rather than passively submitting to the whims of a school board more concerned with their own political statement (or perhaps more concerned at the thought of a group of disciplined, self-motivated and hard-working kids in their school system) than with the future aspirations of a minority of students who don't subscribe to their worldview or don't "know their place" in the grand scheme of all that is San Francisco.
"It's helped me stand up for myself, have more confidence, and to fight for what I want," said Trina Mao, 16, standing on a corner in Union Square passing out fliers about the program.
They also say the arguments about the war in Iraq and the Pentagon's policy toward gays miss the point: The program in San Francisco is inclusive, with 90 percent minorities and 40 percent women, they say.
Some gay and lesbian student groups have come out in support of JROTC and the ballot measure, saying some of their members have found a home in the program.
Perhaps unaware that a new administration will be in place in Washington before they can eliminate the program, one San Francisco school board member explained the reasoning behind the programs pending demise:
"It's a broader issue about the Bush administration and military recruiting through JROTC," said board member Eric Mar.But as the story also makes clear, "If the aim is recruitment, however, JROTC in San Francisco is a failure. Only two of the 1,465 cadets there signed up for the armed forces after graduation in 2006-2007, the latest year for which numbers are available."
However, a more interesting statistic isn't provided. That would be how many Junior ROTC students went on to ROTC in college. While many JROTC students learn by experience that the military is not for them - a much better way to learn than by enlisting - many others take advantage of the college scholarship/stipend money available to qualified students, a consideration that may at least get them in the door of an academic institution they otherwise could not afford. Once established there, they can still opt out of ROTC later without incurring a service commitment should they so choose. Meanwhile, those who graduate college and pursue a military career will earn the new GI Bill - a benefit that will easily allow them to obtain an advanced degree upon completion of their military career.
Which is one reason why - outside of San Francisco - "...participation in JROTC has climbed steadily around the country, with additional funding approved by Congress. The program reached 3,351 schools and 503,306 cadets in 2006 — the latest numbers available from the Pentagon — and there is a waiting list of more than 700 schools that have requested JROTC."
For actual military recruiting news, we turn to the other coast:
Nine young men and women joined the Army Wednesday in a Times Square ceremony - just days before the Defense Department announces it reached its recruitment goals for a third straight year.
Two brothers from the Bronx enlisted together at the Times Square Recruiting Station, amid the hubbub of whizzing cars and hordes of pedestrians.
"It's a family tradition for us - we wanted to become something more," said Javier Rios, 23, who joined with his 19-year-old brother, Joseph.
Yosero Kim is a 17-year-old senior at Half Hollow Hills High School in Dix Hills, L.I. He'll head straight to basic training after he graduates.
"I want to serve my nation," he said.
The feds are expected to release enlistment numbers for fiscal year 2008 next Friday, but Army officials at Wednesday's ceremony said they've reached their goal of 169,500 for active Army, reserves and the National Guard.
A progress report from Iraq in the LA Times:
Iraq Takes Control Of U.S.-Backed Sunni FightersA previous entry on the topic here, with longer background on the "Sons of Iraq" here.
The transition is the first step toward integrating 100,000 militiamen into public life, which the Shiite-led government hopes will ease sectarian tensions.
BAGHDAD — The Shiite-led Iraqi government Wednesday took command of 54,000 Sunni fighters here in the capital in a U.S.-backed effort to ease sectarian mistrust and offer Sunnis a stronger stake in the country's future.
The fighters, known as the Sons of Iraq, were the first wave of what is expected to be 100,000 Sunni Muslims nationwide to join the army, police and other government agencies. Many fighters, however, feared that they would be marginalized and discriminated against in a nation with a high unemployment rate, rigid sectarian allegiances and a Shiite Muslim majority.
Right now, Squidoo is doing something super special. A simple click of the mouse can get Soldiers' Angels a chunk of $80,000.
Here's how it works: Squidoo has been saving 5% of their total income since they got started. It's part of their mission to do so, and now they are asking for OUR help in giving some of it away.
All Soldiers' Angels Supporters need to do is go to http://www.squidoo.com/squidoo-charity-giveaway and click on SOLDIERS' ANGELS. For each vote a charity gets, Squidoo will donate $2 up to $80,000 or through October 15th.
No joke, no gimmick. Just a few quick rules:
1. Feel free to invite as many people as you can to vote.
2. It's entirely possible that one non-profit could get the lion's share of the donations. It's all up to you.
3. Yes, it's ok to blog about this. In fact, tell everyone. Think website announcement, email list, press releases, etc. The more word you get out, the more potential donations you'll receive.
(And just for the record, everyone gets one vote only. We'll delete votes from duplicate accounts, and block the accounts.)
Don't delay! Remember, this only runs through the first 40,000 votes or October 15th.
Make it an awesome week!