Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Afghanistan: The Last Straw: Every American Who Remains Silent And Impotently Compliant Will Have Blood On Their Hands.

Afghanistan: The Last Straw: Every American Who Remains Silent And Impotently Compliant Will Have Blood On Their Hands.

We Are A Nation With A Troubled Soul Spiraling Down Into The Hell Of The Bottom Of The Bottle And A Nation In Decline.

I could not agree more with Ralph and I have suggested to him, given our national psychosis that we ought to adopt a new National Anthem” posted below!

Fire Insubordinate McChrystal Now! Civilian Government!

by Ralph Lopez

Elected by no one, without the approval of the civilian government, "military officials" are at it again, predicting anonymously because they are "unauthorized" to speak for the president, that Obama will announce another 35,000 troop increase in Afghanistan. This is even as civilian officials confirm today that "Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve."

"Administration officials said Obama has not made a final decision about the number of troops he would approve. Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the president's plans, said they expected the total to be between 32,000 and 35,000."

This is a WTF moment. Continuing to try to paint the president into a corner and infringing on the president's prerogative to shape his own foreign policy is serious insubordination, and the leak and spin wars now conducted by "military officials" could not be more in the open. This is after the UK Telegraph reported this month:

"Tensions between the White House and the Pentagon over the deployment have already bubbled to the surface. Senior presidential advisers have accused generals of leaking the misinformation that Mr Obama has all but decided to dispatch more than 34,000 additional troops, in a bid to force his decision"

The only thing more unacceptable is the irresponsible reporting engaged in by AP in agreeing to float the "unauthorized" military officials' speculations, in the face of clear rebuttal by the White House, and even under the clearly misleading headline, based on a general's words, "Obama expects support for more Afghanistan troops". It is hard to imagine the "military officials" are not part of the McChrystal faction, if not McChrystal speaking off the record his very self.

McChrystal has already implicitly challenged the president in public by saying not granting his troop request "risks failure," which is when Obama should have fired him. At any rate he could be fired for that alone and be made an example of. An underling does not constrict the president's options by hinting at treason ("failure" would mean more terrorist attacks) in public. How they fight it out behind closed doors is another matter.

In the run-up to the president's decision on what he will do in Afghanistan, a Constitutional crisis has reared its head. Will Obama tolerate this insubordination? Or will he do a Harry Truman?

Truman, when asked what he would do about General Douglas MacArthur's public disagreement with Truman's decision to stop advancement into North Korea at the 38th parallel, answered to reporters "I'm going to fire the son-of-a-bitch." And he did, the very next day. Truman understood that his decision-making could not be hemmed in by insubordinate generals. MacArthur threatened to, and for a while did, explore a presidential run. He quickly quit it, finding out that it wasn't so easy to gain support when it relied on give-and-take rather than issuing orders.

It's not as if it's not important. A major troop escalation could determine a footprint in the country which will harden Afghan perceptions of imperialist ambitions, and turn this into a real shooting war, If you think Afghans have even begun to fight, they haven't. If the administration wants something leaked, that's what "unnamed administration sources" are for. A general's job is to give his best advice, in private, to his commmander-in-chief, await what he decides, and then follow through with his orders faithfully. Just do it, Mr. President. Fire the son-of-a bitch.

Forward this post to White House. "Fire McChrystal now!"

Early Word: Afghan Rollout


President Obama is finalizing his decision on how to proceed in Afghanistan. Now, he gets to explain it.

As The Times’s David Sanger reports, Mr. Obama will be reaching out over the next week with “multiple messages to multiple audiences: voters at home, allies, the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the extremists who are the enemy. And as Mr. Obama’s own aides concede, the messages directed at some may undercut the messages sent to others.”

One of the messages the president will roll out, Mr. Sanger finds, is a “reassuring if somewhat contradictory signal” — that adding roughly 30,000 troops will allow the U.S. military to exit Afghanistan quicker. The president will use that argument with, among other groups, skeptical Democrats, including those on Capitol Hill.

For their part, The Times’s Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt go a little deeper into the decision itself, following Mr. Obama’s remarks Tuesday that he intends to “finish the job” in Afghanistan and his suggestion that his way forward would be a break from the Bush administration.

“While the troop levels he orders will go a long way toward defining his position, the White House has stressed that Mr. Obama’s review has gone far beyond the numbers to better define the military and civilian-aid components of the effort in Afghanistan, how they fit into efforts to combatAl Qaeda in Pakistan and how to ensure that the American commitment in the region is not open-ended.”

State Dinner: As you may have heard, the president also held his first state dinner on Tuesday night, with the honored guests being Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, and his wife, Gursharan Kaur.

At the event, Mr. Obama cited both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., telling his guest that they were “the reason why both of us can stand here tonight.”

The Times’s Rachel Swarns has this report on the state dinner, which included the use of bipartisan china (from both the Clinton and George W. Bush collection).

Politico’s Carol E. Lee also reviews the Obamas’ first crack at the state dinner, finding “the first couple applied their formal-but-comfortable style to a social event with international implications.” The dinner, for example, did not have a head table, with the president and the first lady hosting their own table. (Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill, did the same.)

For those interested, The Times’s Jeff Zeleny has a breakdown of the hundreds of guests attending Tuesday night’s event. And The Times’s Anahad O’Connor examines how organizers did not exactly dot every i and cross every t.

Presidential Daybook: On Wednesday, Mr. Obama moves on to another presidential tradition: pardoning the turkey. The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz has the back story on the two North Carolina-bred turkeys that made the trip to Washington — Courage and Carolina. The two birds will later serve as grand marshals at a Thanksgiving parade at Disneyland, then retire to a Disney-owned ranch.

Later in the day, the First Family is scheduled to participate in a service event in Washington.

For his part, Mr. Singh is scheduled to hold a morning press conference a stone’s throw from the White House.

Climate Chasm: The latest Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 72 percent of respondents believe that global warming is occurring — a drop of eight percentage points over the last year.

According to The Post’s Juliet Eilperin, the findings suggest “an increasing political polarization around the issue, just as the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are intensifying efforts to pass climate legislation and broker an international global warming pact.”

Kerry Comeback: The Times’s Mark Leibovich profiles Senator John Kerry’s bounce back from what Mr. Leibovich terms his “humbling spiral” to his current role as influential “legislative bridge builder, international troubleshooter and party elder statesman.”

One cute little nugget: Mr. Kerry, not previously known for his personal relationships with colleagues, shares a love of Pink Panther movies with Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican. And, as Mr. Leibovich put it, “this Pink Panther alliance recently grew into a partnership on energy and climate change that many see as the best chance of any bipartisan success in passing an energy bill.”

Military Suicides: The Wall Street Journal’s Yochi J. Dreazen examines one family’s push to get rid of what the White House calls a longstanding policy of not sending condolence letters to troops who commit suicide.

The family of Chancellor Keesling, who committed suicide in Iraq this summer, “are running up against a longstanding institutional belief within the military that suicide is a sign of weakness and that troops who take their own lives shouldn’t receive the same military honors accorded to troops who die in combat or from accidents in the war zones,” Mr. Dreazen writes.

Hoffman Stands Down: With Election Day three weeks in the rear view mirror — and with the final count of the ballots in — Douglas L. Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate in the special House election in upstate New York, released a statement on Tuesday to “re-affirm” that Democrat Bill Owens had captured the seat.

Mr. Hoffman, if you remember, had conceded on Election Night to Mr. Owens, who was sworn in quickly enough to vote for the House health bill later that week. Mr. Hoffman later rued that concession once he found out that he had a slight chance of winning the race after provisional ballots were counted.

In the end, Mr. Owens won by roughly 3,500 votes — or around 2.3 percentage points. Mr. Hoffman has already announced plans to seek a rematch next year. (Check out the Watertown Daily Times for more on the race’s aftermath.)

Unprecedented Use of Unprecedented: Politico’s Carol E. Lee also takes a look at the Obama administration’s wide-ranging use of the word “unprecedented,” which has drawn some snickers from, among others, veterans of the George W. Bush administration.

Impeachment Move?: The Times’s Shaila Dewan takes a look at the latest Mark Sanford developments in South Carolina, where lawmakers started a process that could impeachment for the governor.

Economic Indicators: Federal agencies are scheduled to release a slew of reports on Wednesday morning. The Commerce Department is set to drop October figures on durable goods, personal income and new home sales. The Labor Department is expected to release its weekly numbers on initial job claims.

Education Talk: Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor who has made education reform a cornerstone of his administration so far, discuss education in the 21st century Wednesday morning at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice If American Marshalls Swooped Down On AIG…etc.?

Iceland's Special Prosecutor Raids Byr and MP Bank

Iceland Review

Employees of the office of the Special Prosecutor, responsible for investigating the banking collapse, searched the headquarters of savings bank Byr and MP ...

Quick Fact: Drudge, Washington Times Falsely Claim Allegedly Hacked Emails Show Global Warming Is Not Real

The Drudge Report suggested that global warming is "junk science," by linking to a Washington Times editorial that falsely claims a series of emails that were reportedly stolen from the UK's Climate Research Unit [CRU] show that global warming is an "unproven theory." In fact, the validity of climate science is not hinged on the contents of these emails, some of which conservative media have taken out of context; reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading scientific body for assessing climate change research, are the product of thousands of scientists worldwide.

Quick Fact: Varney claims apparently hacked CRU emails suggest that "scientists are fudging data to make their case for global warming"

Fox News' Stuart Varney touted the emails that were apparently stolen from the UK's Climate Research Unit (CRU), claiming the emails suggested that "scientists are fudging data to make their case for global warming." Varney distorted statements from two of the emails and took them out of context to claim that one showed that "evidence isn't really there" for global warming and the other suggested scientists were "deliberately changing the data to suit your way."

From the November 24 broadcast of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

VARNEY: Climategate set to break wide open. New developments today involving those hacked emails from Britain suggesting scientists are fudging data to make their case for global warming. Republican Senator James Inhofe is calling for a full investigation. And he joins me now by phone from Oklahoma.

Senator, you've seen these emails at length. Do you believe that the climate scientists are trying to conceal evidence that works against global warming?


VARNEY: Well Senator, I know you've seen the emails, but for the benefit of our viewers who haven't, I'm just going to read brief excerpts from three of them. Here's the first, number one, says, look, "We can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."

Well that's self explanatory. That's really suggesting that the evidence isn't there. We don't know what's going on with this.


VARNEY: Number three, a little bit more complex, but listen to this. "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (IE, from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith to hide the decline."

That seems like deliberately changing the data to suit your way.

Fact: Trenberth's email references his article on an "incomplete explanation" of short-term climate variations, which maintained that "global warming is continuing"

In the email in which he wrote, "We can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't," Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, was referring to his article in which, as Wired's Threat Level blog reported, Trenberth discussed how "global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise." Indeed, his article covered what Trenberth described as an "incomplete explanation" of short-term climate variations, while maintaining "that global warming is unequivocally happening."

Fact: Jones' email Varney read was distorted, "pulled out of context"

As explained, the "trick" that Phil Jones, head of the CRU, referred to in hisemail referenced a method for making the "context of the recent warming ... clear" and isn't "problematic ... at all." also explained that Jones' mention of "hiding the decline" refers to a method that is "completely appropriate." wrote that Jones' email would be an "example" of "cherry-picked and poorly-worded 'gotcha' phrases" that would be "pulled out of context."

Fact: NASA scientist: Emails do not show that "global warming is a hoax"

NASA's Gavin Schmidt: Critics "are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way." Wired's Threat Level blog reported on November 20 that Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said: "There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax. ... There's no funding by nefarious groups. There's no politics in any of these things; nobody from the [United Nations] telling people what to do. There's nothing hidden, no manipulation. It's just scientists talking about science, and they're talking relatively openly as people in private e-mails generally are freer with their thoughts than they would be in a public forum. The few quotes that are being pulled out [are out] of context. People are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way." Schmidt is a contributor to the Real Climate blog, which has stated that some of the stolen CRU emails "involve people" at Real Climate.

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