Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Afternoon Roundup - Loose Lips Lead to Pink Slips

This was the week of the big McChrystal story, in which the Obama Administration's answer to McArthur proved to have some of the same problems. The irony is that McChrystal had barred access to Michael Yon, and banned FOX News from playing. He namedropped voting for Obama.

All of this should have bought him enough liberal cover, except he forgot that liberals still hate the military. And a Rolling Stone piece on him by the author of I Lost My Love in Baghdad, was never going to go swimmingly. To be fair, the actual impact of the Rolling Stone piece is overblown.

The most damning remarks in the piece that were quoted over and over again came from aides, sometimes unattributed. There were only two problematic quotes directly from McChrystal, and one of could be read as non-derogatory. The other about Jones would fall under the category of flattering, considering that James L Jones is a good deal worse than just a clown. The quotes were gathered in Hasting's words, "they were getting hammered". The article does more to praise McChrystal than to damn him, even as the author clearly disdains the whole war. McChrystal is described as a talented and dedicated general.

Military officials charge that Hastings broke interview ground rules

But the command has concluded from its own review of events that McChrystal was betrayed when the journalist quoted banter among the general and his staff, much of which they thought was off the record. They contend that the magazine inaccurately depicted the attribution ground rules for the interviews.

"Many of the sessions were off-the-record and intended to give [reporter Michael Hastings] a sense" of how McChrystal's team operated, according to a senior military official. The command's own review of events, the official said, gleaned "no evidence to suggest" that any of the "salacious political quotes" in the article were made during a series of on-the-record and background interviews Hastings conducted with McChrystal and others.

The official, one of many subject to a Pentagon advisory not to discuss the situation without authorization, spoke on condition of anonymity. He said he was motivated by what he described as untrue claims made by Rolling Stone.

Two others with direct knowledge of the command's dealings with Hastings offered similar accounts.


Some commentators have questioned why McChrystal and his aides were being pilloried for complaints about Washington commonly heard in diplomatic and military facilities overseas. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Thursday that the atmosphere of disrespect for civilian leaders that McChrystal tolerated was grounds for dismissal regardless of the context in which the offensive comments were made or who made them.

The lesson here is that you are never off the record when dealing with hostile media. The Post piece also discredits Rolling Stone and Hasting's claims that the article was vetted by McChrystal, the only things vetted were a short list of background facts.

David Brooks accurately points out that the more incendiary parts of the piece were basically the matter of fact friction that goes on in every branch of government.

So every few weeks I find myself on the receiving end of little burst of off-the-record trash talk. Senators privately moan about other senators. Administration officials gripe about other administration officials. People in the White House complain about the idiots in Congress, and the idiots in Congress complain about the idiots in the White House — especially if they’re in the same party. Washington floats on a river of aspersion.

The system is basically set up to maximize kvetching. Government is filled with superconfident, highly competitive people who are grouped into small bands. These bands usually have one queen bee at the center — a president, senator, cabinet secretary or general — and a squad of advisers all around. These bands are perpetually jostling, elbowing and shoving each other to get control over policy.

Amid all this friction, the members of each band develop their own private language. These people often spend 16 hours a day together, and they bond by moaning and about the idiots on the outside.

And you can be certain that similar conversations go on in the White House every day.

Hastings responded with predictable pettiness on Twitter
david brooks to young reporters: don't report what you see or hear, or you might upset the powerful.

But had the McChrystal interview run during the Bush Administration, liberals would have gotten behind him, blaming Bush. Since it ran under the Obama Administration, he was quickly purged

Newsweek had no problem not reporting a story about Bill Clinton and an intern. A paper sat on the Al Gore/Masseuse story for years too. Even had Hastings been driven by pure careerism to go forward, Rolling Stone would never have run a piece that ran counter to their political interests. It was precisely because the piece is geared at attacking the War in Afghanistan that Rolling Stone both ran and promoted it, and because it saw McChrystal as a key proponent and a man who had some liberal cover-- that he became an even bigger target.

Despite whatever McChrystal's political views might be, his limited success in getting Obama to sign on to a limited campaign in Afghanistan made him a target. Rolling Stone just found itself in place to deliver the bomb. Meanwhile Hastings has lost no time in retweeting attacks on Petraeus and the war effort as a whole (just in case you were confused about where he really stood.)

Toby Harnden at the Telegraph meanwhile has some analysis of why Obama really fired McChrystal

As often happens, however, some curious details do emerge that inadvertently give some genuine insights into the President.

The first is that Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, argued for McChrystal to be kept in post. Gates is widely regarded as perhaps the most impressive member of the Obama administration. He is also a man with a track record of firing people, including McChrystal’s predecessor, an Army Secretary and a head of the US Air Force. So the fact that he believed McChrystal should have stayed is significant.

The second thing is that, according to the NYT, “after scanning the first few paragraphs of the Rolling Stone article – a sarcastic, profanity-laced description of General McChrystal’s disgust at having to dine with a French minister and brief him about the war – Mr Obama had read enough”.

So what were those first few paragraphs? They’re pasted below, with all words and gestures by McChrystal himself bolded up by me. OK, it’s not great. It’s unseemly. It should never have taken place in front of a “Rolling Stone” reporter or anyone else outside McChrystal’s closest circle. But it’s banter. It’s the way soldiers speak when they’re letting off a bit of steam.

It’s an interesting insight into Obama that a few swear words and juvenile jokes about the French in an account of a scene penned by an anti-war Rolling Stone reporter was, for him, enough to justify firing the four-star general he had entrusted with conducting a war.

Wouldn't surprise me one bit.

And all this loosely ties in with the other scandal of the week involving Dave Weigel and the Washington Post. Like McChrystal, Weigel was fired for off the record comments. The difference is that Weigel's comments raised questions about whether he could do his job, which was covering conservatives.

A right wing paper that hired someone to cover the liberal scene, who pathologically hated liberals, would be subject to plenty of pushback. Weigel was supposed to be some sort of balance for Ezra Klein, which of course he wasn't. The Post could have brought someone on board who was willing to honestly report on what was going on. Weigel on the other hand used his vote for Ron Paul as his only credential. But even as Weigel seemed to focus a lot on Ron Paul, he threw in the occasional put downs, even if he tended to pump Ron Paul more at Reason, while sneering at him more in the Guardian.

I'll close with Yisrael Medad's blog which gives the correspondence between Jacob Shrybman of the Sderot Media Center and the Nation in attempt by a to present a pro-Israel article to Copy Chief Judith Long at The Nation. Shrybman seems to have successfully placed op eds in the LA Times, but The Nation is not a crackable market.

In response to the article's submission:

Thank you for thinking of The Nation. Your proposed article is diametrically opposed to our opinion on this blockade, so we will be unable to take you up on your offer of this article.

Author's response to the editor:

Hi Jl,
That is a very interesting email. Never before have I ever been told that a news website or publication wouldn't publish an article of mine because they oppose my point of view. How does your response and refusal to publish my article, based on political reasoning, fall in line with The Nation's founding prospectus?

"The Nation will not be the organ of any party, sect, or body. It will, on the contrary, make an earnest effort to bring to the discussion of political and social questions a really critical spirit, and to wage war upon the vices of violence, exaggeration, and misrepresentation by which so much of the political writing of the day is marred."

It seems to me you are diametrically opposing your own prospectus?

All the best,
Jacob Shrybman

The Nation editor's response to that:

We are a journal of opinion--usually dissenting opinion. You espouse the run-of-the-mill mainstream views that we are here to correct, as they are based on misinformation/propaganda. It doesn't need repeating.

Jacob's response:

The funny thing about opinion is, if you ask me I would say your view is "run-of-the-mill" and that is the one I am here to influence. That's how opinions work, everyone has one. So you should be ashamed that you call your site a "journal of opinion" when you don't allow for opinions other than the decided upon stance to be represented.

Interestingly enough while The Nation was always liberal, it was not always anti-American or anti-Israel. It became so. In doing so it adopted a more "mainstream" radicalism and bigotry. But the Katrina vanden Heuvel era of The Nation set its radicalism into stone. Katrina vanden Heuvel, like so many America and Israel bashers, including the recently deceased Jose Saramago, had a soft spot for the USSR. Limbaugh has called Heuvel and her husband, Communists. I think they fall more into the fellow travelers category, as much of the liberal left did. Though Heuvel and her husband seem to have a good deal of affinity for the Soviet Union, and he did write a book essentially arguing that the Soviet Union need not have broken up.

All that however is mostly beside the point. The point is that the left insists it's countering the mainstream, even when it has a death grip on the culture and what opinions can even be expressed. It isn't interested in equal time, and its capacity for obnoxious behavior is unlimited.

It's amazing when you watch former governor Spitzer doing his CNN piece with Glenn Greenwald, to see that Spitzer comes off looking marginally civilized, while Glenn Greenwald shouts that he's a mouthpiece of Israeli propaganda, that Israel is a dictatorship and Hamas is the democratically elected legitimate government. Because the more you go to the left, the worse the dementia becomes.

Speaking of Saramago, here's Frum's piece on him, "Death of a Jew-hater"

In 1969, he joined Portugal’s clandestine Communist Party. But so long as it was risky to speak, Saramago kept quiet.

The dictatorship collapsed in 1974, replaced by a left-wing military junta. For a few months, it seemed that Portugal might lurch from one dictatorship to another. During this period, Saramago was installed as assistant editor of a formerly pro-regime newspaper. He promptly transformed the paper into an instrument of communist propaganda, dismissing employees who would not follow the party line. Happily, democratic forces prevailed. Elections were organized, the communist militias were dispersed and Portugal joined the European Community.

Saramago later described Portugal’s turn to democracy as a day of “blackness” for him. He was fired from the newspaper in his turn.

...just an excerpt. More on Saramago and Israel and those damned Jews is available here.

Continuing the roundup, Gates of Vienna circulates a translation of a travel guide which shows what the world would be like, if what was good for the goose was also good for the gander

Travel Guide for a Westerner

Want to really experience something? Have a real adventure? Then get ready for a journey you couldn’t imagine in your wildest dreams.

So: Travel illegally to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, or Syria. Don’t worry about visas, international laws, immigration regulations or other silly rules.

As soon as you have arrived, demand that the local authorities provide you and your family with free medical care.

Insist that all employees of the health agencies speak your language of choice -- German, Greek, Spanish, Hungarian, English, Polish -- and that the clinics where you may be admitted prepare food for you just as you have it at home, in Germany, Greece, Spain, Hungary, USA, Poland.

Insist that all forms, questionnaires, and documents be translated into your language.

Reject any criticism of your attitude by stating emphatically: “That has to do with my culture and religion. You understand nothing about it.”

Categorically maintain your original identity. Hang the flag of your Western country in your window. (And don’t forget a bumper sticker for your car.)

Make sure that you speak only your own language at home and that your children do the same.

Of course liberals incessantly stereotype Americans abroad this way, but demand it as a right for third worlders coming to America.

Omri Ceren has Israel's vuvuzela revenge

At Boker Tov Boulder, another 700 million wasted on winning the hearts and minds of Islam

But apparently that's not how you do that sort of thing. That's because the Islamic world is a little hard to relate to. Case in point:

SAUDI ARABIA: Women threaten to breastfeed drivers if they aren't allowed to drive

Many were stunned when Saudi cleric Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan recently issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, calling on women to give breast milk to their male colleagues or men they come into regular contact with so as to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes.

But a group of Saudi women has taken the controversial decree a step further in a new campaign to gain the right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom, media reports say.

If they're not granted the right to drive, the women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers to establish a symbolic maternal bond.

"Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?" a Saudi woman named Fatima Shammary was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

Obeikan argued in his decree that if the women give their drivers their breast milk, the chauffeurs would be able to mingle with all members of the family without having to worry about violating Islamic law. Some Islamic scholars frown on the mixing of unmarried men and women. Islamic tradition, or hadith, stipulates that breastfeeding establishes a maternal bond, even if a woman breastfeeds a child who is not her own.

Drawing from the cleric's advocacy, the women have reportedly chosen a slogan for their campaign that translates to, "We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners."

Remember this is a culture where family dinners usually involve the women remaining out of sight in the kitchen. Saudi Arabia has a surplus of employed foreigners to do the menial work, but banning women from driving is about control. Under Islam, women are property. And you don't let property off the reservation. Driving or even being driven is a form of independence. And that's not in the cards here.

Meanwhile via the 7th Rangers Mechanized Blog, here's a look at how Hamas really does business

And when reading the previous news story, keep in mind that those who have power also have privilege. Gaza tunnels aren't just used for smuggling weapons, but also for sex trafficking. And Iran has clerics perform very temporary marriages as a form of prostitution.

At The Warrior Class a post on Rabid Sheepdogs

I am a Warrior. I am a Police Officer (retired). I am a Soldier. I am a Sheep dog. I recognize danger and I recognize threat and I recognize when it's time to growl and when it's time to kill.

There are no excuses. There is no justification. There can be no doubt. Such men deserve neither pity nor mercy for what pity or mercy did they show their victims? If we as a society can mandate death for the heinous killers among us how can we exclude these men?

Finally Square Mile Wife is covering TD Bank and Bud Lite's sponsorship of a Toronto Gay Pride parade with anti-Israel and pro-Terrorist propaganda in the mix.

Enjoy the weekend.


Anonymous said...

This thing with General McChrystal and the lefty rag RS reminded me of something General William T. Sherman said way back. Here you go.

LOVE your stuff btw. Keep on blastin Sultan!


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