Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Emphasis" + unsworn testimony = no answers

It's hard to know what was actually said during Petraeus' testimony yesterday. The "testimony" was not sworn, and was not public. We are supposed to be satisfied with getting congressional spin and recollected "emphasis."

One assertion seems to be that the CIA's original assessment of the Benghazi attack was that Al Qaeda/affiliates were immediately seen as the perpetrators. But somewhere between the assessment and the dissemination to the public, the words were changed to "extremists," in order to not tip off the terrorists that we were on to them. 

Two problems:

1. Ok, so we see how "Al Qaeda" got left out, but how did "disgusting video" get in?

2. Who thinks the terrorists don't know we are on to them?

UPDATE: People are actually buying into the idea that specific names of terrorist groups could not be released because that would tip them off. Fine - that's not the issue. The issue is the narrative of completely discounting the fact that the attack was preplanned. It is insulting that the public was supposed to believe RPGs and mortars were part of a spontaneous protest. It's easy - all they had to say was that they didn't have enough information to make a clear determination. They went further in the wrong direction. Why? 

Israel's Iron Dome

"In four days of fighting against Gaza-based militants, Israel has used a missile-defense system called "Iron Dome" to intercept rockets fired at populated civilian areas. It says the new home-grown system has been a tremendous success. As of Saturday evening, the military said it had shot down some 240 incoming rockets, more than half the number of projectiles launched into Israel since Wednesday."
Here's a quick look at the system:
  • Operational since 2011. Shoots down rockets and artillery shells with ranges of up to 45 miles.
  • The system detects launches of rockets and quickly determines their flight path. If it is headed toward populated areas or sensitive targets, it fires an interceptor with a special warhead that strikes the incoming rocket within seconds. Rockets headed toward open areas area allowed to land.
  • Currently, five Iron Dome batteries are deployed in Israel. Most are located in the south near Gaza. A fifth battery was deployed outside Tel Aviv on Saturday, two months ahead of schedule. Hours later, it shot down a rocket headed toward Tel Aviv.
  • Missiles cost around $40,000 a piece. In 2010, the U.S. provided $200 million to expand development. Additional funding is currently being considered, with $70 million already allocated for the 2012 fiscal year.
  • Israel has also deployed its "Arrow" missile defense systems for long-range threats from Iran. The military says its new "David's Sling" system, being developed to stop medium-range missiles, will be activated by 2014.

Rockets Fired from Egypt Hit Israel

Report: Rockets Fired from Egypt Hit Israel

It appears no damage was reported in connection with the rocket fire from Egypt. Earlier today, the Egyptian prime minister visited Gaza to express solidarity with the Palestinians there.
This new front comes a day after a rocket landed near Tel Aviv and on the same day Israel's capital Jerusalem was the target of rocket fire. Those attacks were courtesy of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
"After Tel Aviv metropolitan area, capital under fire too: An air raid siren was sounded in Jerusalem and surrounding communities early Friday evening. After residents reported hearing blast sounds, security forces confirmed that one rocket had landed in the Gush Etzion area near a Palestinian village," Ynet reports.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great, I'm surrounded! Wait, am I included in that?

The Legal Field Attracts Psychopaths, Author Says; Not That There Is Anything Wrong with That
“Any situation where you’ve a got a power structure, a hierarchy, the ability to manipulate or wield control over people, you get psychopaths doing very well,” Dutton said.
Digital Spy listed Dutton’s top 10 most psychopathic professions:
1) CEO
2) Lawyer
3) Media (TV/radio)
4) Salesperson
5) Surgeon
6) Journalist
7) Police officer
8) Clergyperson
9) Chef
10) Civil servant

"Don't pick on the little lady"

"It's absurd and chauvinistic for Obama to talk about the woman he thinks should be Secretary of State of the United States as if she needs the big strong man to come to her defense because a couple of Senators are criticizing her.  
"Believe it or not, Rice isn't the first potential Cabinet nominee to be opposed by members of Congress up on the Hill.  Obama also left out the inconvenient detail that there is another senator who has Rice in the crosshairs:  Sen. Kelly Ayotte.  But perhaps a female Senator holding Rice accountable didn't sound menacing enough in the era of the "War on Women."

So much for the Arab Spring

"Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak signaled that Israel is ready to escalate its military operations against Gaza after at least one long-range missile was fired at Tel Aviv by Palestinian militants..... Barak said earlier this week that Israel may carry out a ground operation in Gaza. In December 2008, Israeli tanks and soldiers entered Gaza and more than 1,100 Palestinians and 12 Israelis were killed in the subsequent fighting.....Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas’s Fatah party in 2007, ending a partnership government a year after winning parliamentary elections. The group refuses to recognize Israel or any prior deals signed with it. The group’s political leader Khaled Meshaal said at a Islamic conference in Sudan today that “Israel’s days in Palestine are numbered.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Arms Race

 An article prompted by Paula Broadwell's arms:
"Are the arms the window to the soul?
"That’s the question the limb-obsessed are asking, as the General David Petraeus scandal unfolds. Do his mistress’s now-famous chiseled biceps send a message that goes beyond mere physical fitness?
“It takes a driven person,” said Teresa Winstead, who holds a Master’s degree in social research from University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of London. “And not only driven, but very deliberate.”
"As for the question, whose arms would you rather have, the first lady’s or Broadwell’s, the answer depends on what look you’re going for: “I’m fit” versus “look out.”
On the other hand (or arm), "the first lady has made it unacceptable for women to appear in public with covered arms. However innocently, however unwittingly, that is what she has done. Those bare, toned, elegant arms of hers have spawned an epidemic of sleevelessness, exposing arms, arms, arms, and not all of them toned and elegant."

Is Petraeus about to man up?

What will Petraeus say in his testimony tomorrow?

In David Petraeus’s final days at the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency, his relations with chiefs of other U.S. agencies, including his boss, National Intelligence Director James Clapper, took a contentious turn.
At issue was whether the CIA should break its silence about its role in Benghazi, Libya, to counter criticism that increasingly was being leveled at the agency and Mr. Petraeus, said senior officials involved in the discussions.
Mr. Petraeus wanted his aides to push back hard and release their own timeline of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi and a nearby CIA safe house, seeking to set the record straight and paint the CIA’s role in a more favorable light. Mr. Clapper and agencies including the Pentagon objected, but Mr. Petraeus told his aides to proceed, said the senior officials.
By all accounts, the driving force behind Mr. Petraeus’s departure last Friday was the revelation about his extramarital affair with his biographer. But new details about Mr. Petraeus’s last days at the CIA show the extent to which the Benghazi attacks created a climate of interagency finger-pointing. That undercut the retired four-star general’s backing within the Obama administration as he struggled with the decision to resign.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh, the irony

Mark Steyn:
On the one hand, a real ambassador at a real consulate under siege calls Washington for help and gets crickets chirping.
On the other, a fantasy ambassador who declares her own home her personal consulate gets untold hours of attention from the U.S. commander in Afghanistan and the director of the CIA, both of whom also have time to intervene in her twin sister’s custody case.

Another case of Opposite Day, By VDH

"One symptom of this entire tragedy (or is it dark comedy now?) is the shocking degree of casual sorta/kinda rules and protocols — strange (or rather predictable) in this era of vast bureaucratic rules. How exactly did national-security and military affairs come to resemble Keeping Up with the Kardashians?
"How can some individual just call up an FBI friend (?) and thereby instigate an FBI investigation? And how did that lead to an FBI agent photographing himself bare-chested and apparently infatuated with a married mother of three? How can a Ph.D. candidate, without any journalistic or historical credentials, become the public face of a four-star general and be privy to information to the point of hitting the lecture circuit to pontificate about a CIA annex in Benghazi? How did an early-middle-aged married mother of two suddenly morph into a court biographer who lectured on everything from military practice to leadership to national-security challenges? How can a Florida socialite by any stretch of the imagination merit a vast e-mail correspondence with the nation’s highest ranking warriors entrusted to conduct our most critical struggles? 
"What in the world is an “honorary consul general” and who extends such Alice Through the Looking Glass titles? Why do generals seek to go back stage to meet a Denzel Washington or have Angelina Jolie pop up for a photo-op?
"I think it is impossible that an attorney general who knew of the investigation and many of the details for months did not tell his president and close friend — but then on the other hand, given all of above, who knows?"

I concur

More cool election maps

2012 Election Maps

In making sense of scandal, one has to ask, "What rings true?"

That means, what makes sense? How could such events fit together? What circumstances would have to be present for all facts to be coherent?

We are getting closer to the truth on General Petraeus' actions regarding the affair with Paula Broadwell, and in so doing, we will learn the truth about Benghazi. Petraeus has agreed to testify, because, in the end, he is an honorable man. Ironically, and despite his moral failings, we may yet have one more reason to thank this man for putting the integrity of America above all else.

Here is pretty close to the truth, so far as I can tell:

Petraeus had an affair with Broadwell during and perhaps before the time he became CIA Director. The affair was discovered because Broadwell sent some strange, troubling emails to another woman, Jill Kelley, who happened to also be an acquaintance of Petraeus. The exact content and tenor of the emails is not known, but Kelley felt threatened by them and asked an FBI friend of hers to look into them. Probably as a favor, and not as matter of protocol, the FBI agent set off a questionable investigation which eventually revealed the affair between Petraeus and Broadwell. This information was passed to FBI Director Mueller, and Attorney General Holder several months ago and at the latest, over the summer to Holder.

It's laughable to say that the White House, including the President, did not know about this information. Ask yourself if you were the president, is this something you would expect/want your subordinates to tell you? Would you want to be in the position of not knowing about this when some reporter or fellow head of state says something about it to you? Perhaps the President is so well insulated that this could never happen, but as for me, I'd be furious if my staff kept this from me. There are only two possibilities: no one did tell the President, in which case they are completely incompetent, lack minimal expectations of judgment, and should be fired; or, they are lying. This has been the case for the other feigning of ignorance situations as well - Biden: "We didn't know they needed more security" in Benghazi; Holder: "I didn't know the details" of Fast and Furious gun walking to Mexico. It's complete B.S. Protocol my arse.

So now that we've established that people in high places did know about this, why wait to take any action? If they felt Petraeus was a risk, undeserving of the job, or whatever, there would have been many ways to have him quietly step aside without it reflecting poorly on the administration. This didn't have to come out. So you have to ask yourself, why did it?

This came out now because ultimately Petraeus is an honorable man. He knew he had stumbled, and he knew they knew he stumbled. Initially, he believed he would be able to keep his job, otherwise he would have crafted a much better exit for himself (see previous posts about Princeton). No, this explains his odd testimony on Benghazi, where he allowed the idea that the video may have sparked the attack to take hold. This was contemporaneous with reports from the scene that indicated this was a preplanned terrorist attack, discrediting any idea that a video was the cause of the violence. The only way to reconcile these facts is to uncover the motives for why Petraeus would have given such misleading information - he was under pressure to do so. This seems as out of character as the revelation that he had an affair, but we know that happened don't we?

He kept his job, but his conscience caught up to him. He knew he would continue to be pressured to give a certain kind of testimony in the hearings (to begin tomorrow). Instead, he decided to man up and he took away their ammunition. He couldn't repair the damage already done, but he could stop digging the hole. A true leader owns up to mistakes, and sets about mending the damage regardless of the personal humiliation. By all other measures, this appears to be what we've come to expect of the General. That would be in character.

The White House asserted pressure for Petraeus to give the testimony it wanted, and did not pressure him to leave the job. With this secret to hold over his head, it was in a good negotiating position. I believe it was his decision to resign, so as to call the bluff (President "Don't Call My Bluff" - remember that?). And I also believe that it has always been his intention to testify to set the record straight. The administration would probably be very happy if he did not, even though he has personal knowledge of what happened and would be the appropriate person to testify. I won't go so far as to say he will admit he perjured himself in his Sept.13 testimony, but I think he will clarify the intelligence, warts and all, regardless of who comes out smelling like a pig. He knows he will get muddied up, he's already stepped in it, so that's no longer motivation for him to withhold information. He is now free to give his perspective of the truth unhindered by selfish motives. I may be naive, but I think that's what he will do.

Now that the White House does not have Petraeus under its thumb, it has opened the floodgates on discrediting him and bringing down anyone else, not beholden to the administration, who might tell the truth. Hence, the inference that Petraeus gave Broadwell classified information, and that Broadwell was improperly in possession of unauthorized classified information.

Here is the problem with that - there is a strong likelihood that if Broadwell did possess classified information, she had been cleared to receive it. Don't forget she was a major in the Army Reserve and all officers have at least a general secret clearance. Perhaps that could have expired, or it could have been limited, but also don't forget that she was the official biographer to Petraeus and embedded with his unit in Afghanistan. She would have had to have proper clearances just for that job. Further, she maintained a professional relationship (as well as personal, but that's beside the point) with Petraeus and was granted entry to the CIA. She could have been granted access improperly, but the fact remains, on the face of it, she had approved access. I would bet she has a valid defense to having access to classified documents.

But none of that matters to an attention deficit public. What will be remembered? Petraeus had an affair, and improperly/illegally gave classified information to Broadwell. In this day and age, the affair alone would not be enough to discredit these individuals. Therefore more is required, such as . . .  a raid of Broadwell's home and a parade of boxes and computers leaving her house. The character assassination is complete, so no matter what actual truth does comes from either of these two, it will be suspect.  Crafty, no?

The Jill Kelley/General Allen situation is just a bonus for the administration. Another "Look squirrel!" distraction the White House can throw out there to get the public off the track of whatever went down in Benghazi. I'm sure poor Jill Kelley is kicking herself now that she ever tried to get special FBI treatment to find her harasser. Well, what goes around comes around. When is it going to be the President's turn?

2. Bastiat ~ What is the Law?

What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. 

Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

Why we should care about the sex lives of our intelligence officials

While the following essay centers around Anthony Weiner of Twitter pic fame, the same concepts are true today, in the midst of our most recent sex scandal. Even more troubling than the outing of a congressman's privates, er, private life, is the outing of a secret for someone in the intelligence community like General Petraeus. 

For those who don't know, a precondition to joining the agency (and continuing to be employed by the agency), is the passing of a lie detector test. Why is this test administered? To determine if an applicant is truthful, qualified, made of the right stuff? Yes, but also to determine whether the person has any secrets that might be used against him if he was in a situation where he could be blackmailed. If a person confesses to the almighty agency all of his unsavory adventures, then he no longer has anything to hide and he is no longer a security risk. However, if a person keeps secrets (of the kind that he would do extreme things to keep quiet), he is automatically a security risk. We don't want security risks in the position of being able to compromise our national security. For the intelligence officer, it is of utmost importance to be an upstanding, honorable person - one who can be trusted to make the right decision under the most dire of circumstances. If a person has nothing on his conscious, he is a better bet for security.

Congressman Anthony Weiner’s virtual debauchery is more consequential than just a marital wrinkle between newlyweds. His private actions have public implications that disgrace government, endanger our nation’s secrets, and waste taxpayer money.

Blackmail is a very real threat for those in power. Recently, several Turkish lawmakers were forced to resign when they were threatened with release of embarrassing sex tapes.  A Czech politician resigned a few years ago when he was caught in a plan to entrap his political rivals with compromising photos of their own. These types of scandals disgrace the government and undermine confidence in our elected officials. In higher stake scenarios, politicians with access to state secrets could be forced into divulging classified information to our enemies.

Frequently, the argument is made that this behavior is private and doesn’t affect the good work being done by the politician. Supposedly, poor judgment demonstrated in private will have no bearing on decisions made for the public. This rationalization is popular with those who want to have an excuse for their own bad behavior, or with the crowd who refuses to be seen as passing judgment on anyone else. But the truth of it is, these indiscretions cannot help but to affect every aspect of a politician’s life. Even if other actions are moral and respectable, the cloud of immorality damages credibility for the political leader on all fronts, harming his constituents in the process.

Loss of individual credibility is the least worrisome of the consequences, whereas more expense for taxpayers is the most frequent. Weiner recently announced his resignation, as have several past politicians caught up in similar scandals, but even this resolution costs taxpayers in the form of special elections. When resignations are not immediately forthcoming, bloated ethics investigations suck time and money away from the work of government.  

Tolerating this kind of behavior also allows depravity to gain the perception of normality. It’s not just kids that need role models anymore. With the widespread coverage of politician peccadilloes, the average Joe starts to feel like he is in the minority if he isn’t doing something perverted online. This behavior is becoming more accepted into the mainstream, as evidenced by some people’s reactions to Weiner’s behavior.  Despite his online advances, Congressman Weiner has been described as edgy and is popular with the younger demographic, even to the point of having his own action doll (to be fair, there is an option for the youngest purchasers to get the doll without the “Tweet This” message on the undershorts).

Ironically, there has been no better foil for this Weiner spectacle than the inquisition unleashed on Sarah Palin. In a week where Weiner probably experienced a rare desire to become invisible, Sarah Palin’s own electronic communications were ripped wide open, ripe for the inevitable scandals that would surely be brought to light. There were no surprises or confirmation of bad acts in Sarah’s emails, but why was the media so sure that there would be? Because they think everyone is a Weiner, if you go deep enough. 

Weiner’s judgment and behavior illustrates beautifully how real the threat of blackmail truly is. Any of the recipients of Weiner’s Blackberry snaps could have threatened the Congressman with release of these photos if he didn’t comply with their demands. In fact, one fellow sexter stated as much when she wrote, “u owe me big time for keeping this all quiet.” It’s not so farfetched to see that a Twitter follower could pose as an infatuated constituent in order to gain more than a late night exchange of dirty IMs.

Once Weiner mistakenly tweeted his infamous grey boxer-briefs to his thousands of unsuspecting followers, he was rightfully ashamed and recognized immediately the humiliation that was about to come crashing down on him. His reaction to this was to launch into supersized cover story mode, or in other words, lie. His bold, brazen, bald faced lies show how vulnerable Weiner could have been to a potential blackmailer.  If the enormity of his deceit is any indication of how far he would go to keep this secret quiet, it’s hard to imagine what line he would not have crossed to keep this information from jeopardizing his career. Making this case especially sensitive is that Weiner has connections to even higher level governmental officials, with his wife being a long time aide and confidant to the Secretary of State. Politicians like Weiner, who exhibit only sporadic morality, are not fit for public office.

Weiner’s predicament highlights the need to examine our elected leaders, beyond the image they wish to project. America needs politicians who live principled lives, even in private. Expect more, and expose every Weiner, for the good of America

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Soccer + Afghanistan = Happiness!

Some good news out of Afghanistan - a new soccer league and the televised broadcast of soccer:
The soccer league is a great example of Afghan entrepreneurship. Afghans are good soccer players and have fielded a national team off and on since 1948. Games were primarily played outside the country, so few Afghans saw them. The genius of the A.P.L. was to recognize that, with 60 percent of Afghans now having access to television, soccer games could be broadcast nationally on the new networks and a proper league could be supported. Football fever has ensued. Here are some new heroes at last; buff, handsome, polite sportsmen with colorful uniforms and gelled hair. (The A.P.L. does not sponsor a women’s team, but Afghanistan does have a women’s national team.) The TV production is state of the art: 10 cameras, slo-mo, instant replay, sharp graphics with stats, lively announcers.

Reaching people through enjoyable activities - I love it! Here's another commentary on why the medium of soccer is a potential goldmine for widespread change.

Now, stories are starting to diverge, but are they really worth the attention?

This much seems true:
  • Gen. Petraeus was having an affair with Paula Broadwell
  • they shared a private email account in order to communicate with each other
  • Broadwell sent some type of strange emails to Jill Kelley  from that email
    Federal officials who spoke with NBC News on condition of anonymity on Monday said it took agents a while to figure out the source. They did that by finding out where the messages were sent from -- which cities, which Wi-Fi locations in hotels. That gave them names, which they then checked against guest lists from other cities and hotels, looking for common names.That led them to Broadwell, they said, noting that the pattern coincided with her travel to promote her book.
  • Kelley brought the FBI in to it through connections she had
  • the FBI agent initially assigned got booted because he sent shirtless pictures to Kelley
  • there seemed to be little reason to continue the investigation, but it was
    Investigators uncovered no compromising of classified information or criminal activity, sources familiar with the probe said, adding that all that was found was a lot of "human drama.
  • the booted agent brought the investigation to the attention of (eventually) Eric Cantor, because he thought it was getting ignored. Cantor may have learned of this two weeks before the election; Supposedly he contacted FBI Director Mueller.
  • last night the FBI did some kind of full scale search on Broadwell's home, which seems way out of proportion to an investigation that was even questionable to go ahead in the first place
  • Now General Allen, top commander in Afghanistan is under investigation for some type of communications with Kelley.
    The official said 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other documents from Allen’s communications with Kelley between 2010 and 2012 are under review. He would not say whether they involved sexual matters or whether they are thought to include unauthorized disclosures of classified information. He said he did not know whether Petraeus is mentioned in the emails. 

    Stay skeptical - while there is likely a lot more to these stories, do you notice what we are not talking about? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

This is quite a mess.

Jill Kelley, friends with Petraeus for years, suddenly starts getting weird emails. She has connections, so she asks her friend in the FBI to check it out (whatever they did to check it out is unknown - was it within the law with the information they had?). After checking it out, they don't find anything criminal, but they keep going (did they authorization to do so? Apparently higher ups were aware of this too). Ultimately this ends up bringing down Kelley's long time friend, who just happens to be the Director of the CIA.
“I don’t know who this person is and I don’t want to keep getting them,” she told the FBI, as recounted by the source.
When the FBI friend showed the emails to the cyber squad in the Tampa field office, her fellow agents noted that the absence of any overt threats.
“No, ‘I’ll kill you’ or ‘I'll burn your house down,’” the source says. “It doesn’t seem really that bad.”
The squad was not even sure the case was worth pursuing, the source says.
“What does this mean? There’s no threat there. This is against the law?” the agents asked themselves by the source’s account.
At most the messages were harassing. The cyber squad had to consult the statute books in its effort to determine whether there was adequate legal cause to open a case.
“It was a close call,” the source says.
What tipped it may have been Kelley’s friendship with the agent. The squad opened a case, though with no expectation it would turn into anything significant.
And all of this, while interesting, is obfuscating the real issue that should be getting the attention: Benghazi. After that, who knew what and when, for all of this, needs major examination.

The Dark Romance of the French Foreign Legion

Very, very early in my military career, a fellow student told me if the Marines didn't work out, he was going to join the Legion. I had never heard of it before.

The Legion was created primarily to gather up some of the foreign deserters and criminals who had drifted to France in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. It was discovered that these men, who were said to threaten civil society, could be induced to become professional soldiers at minimal cost, then exiled to North Africa to help with the conquest of Algeria.
Is this the allure?
The real lesson here was not about combat tactics. It was about do not ask questions, do not make suggestions, do not even think of that. Forget your civilian reflexes. War has its own logic. Be smart. For you the fighting does not require a purpose. It does not require your allegiance to France. The motto of the Legion is Legio Patria Nostra. The Legion is our fatherland. This means we will accept you. We will shelter you. We may send you out to die. Women are not admitted. Service to the Legion is about simplifying men’s lives.
What?! No women? How un-PC. Gloria Steinham, you better get on that.

After one of the imagined helicopter landings, when a clumsy recruit dropped his rifle, the sergeant walked up to him and simply held out his fist, against which the recruit proceeded to bang his head.
Er, well, not so fast, eh?

They came from Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, and Ukraine. Seven actually came from France, but had been given new identities as “French Canadian.”
What?! No Americans? (More on this below.)

Watching him watch the recruits, I asked how the training was going. He answered that the boat was sinking normally.
I am so going to use that one on my students.
 He said, “You will learn French fast because I am not your mother.”
And this one too.

[T]he history of defeat encouraged a reactionary culture in the Legion, where, beneath an appearance of neutral professionalism, the officer corps today harbors virulent right-wing views. It is common at closed social gatherings to hear even young officers regretting the loss of Algeria, disparaging Communists, insulting homosexuals, and seething at what they perceive as the decadence and self-indulgence of modern French society.
Totally un-PC.
I asked him if there are national differences. Yes, he said. For instance, the Chinese make the worst legionnaires. Usually they angle for kitchen work—he didn’t know why. The Americans and British are almost as difficult, because they get upset about living conditions. They endure for a while, then run away. Not all, but most.
Why does this not surprise me?

Interesting stuff for the twisted mind. Read the whole thing. 
Also: movies for Legionnaire fans

Brainstorming The Plan

What is the best approach for our future, if we agree that part of the reason Romney lost the election is that half of the electorate are clueless, weak thinkers

As a result, I have a suggestion for the Republicans, one they won't hear from anyone else: give Barry and Company everything they want, without an iota of resistance. Let 'em raise taxes and the debt ceiling, gut the military, and run up trillions of dollars of additional deficits and debt. Then stand back, and let an utterly corrupt media chronicle the demise--without being able to pin an ounce of the ensuing socialist catastrophe on an "obstructionist" GOP. 

But this too requires one to believe that people will eventually wise up. There has been plenty of clear, even blatant, evidence that should already have provided more than enough support for a reversion to Founding principles. The usual conservative approach of presenting facts, and letting people decide for themselves, doesn't work anymore. So, is reeducation part of the plan? It is not a role I am comfortable with, and I suspect many feel the same. However, I am much more comfortable with a message of, "Let's learn about freedom and how to secure it," rather than a message of, "Here's what I can do for you," or worse, "Vote this way, because it's cool!" 

The message of "reaching out" to any particular group should not take hold and it is antithetical to the principles of conservatism. Freedom is something everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, can understand and should appreciate. I refuse to give up on that. 


With friends like these . . .

Apparently, the Petraeus family has long known, and socialized with, the Kelley family. Jill Kelley is the "other other woman" to Paula Broadwell's other woman status. She reported Paula's threatening emails to the FBI, who in turn discovered the origin of the emails, which eventually were traced to Petraeus. Could Jill have known she was bringing down her friend, the CIA Director? I doubt it, she doesn't sound that bright.

Unwittingly, I think this reveals much more about Petraeus than even knowing about the affair. These are the people he hangs out with:

Kelley — who has no government title — often called herself an “ambassador” after a coalition of countries at the military’s Central Command gave her an appreciation certificate calling her an “honorary ambassador.”
More recently, Kelley, a volunteer for the military, also boasted she was named “honorary consulate general to South Korea” and attended a breakfast at the White House, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
She and her husband were regular guests of events held at Central Command headquarters when the general was stationed there, a source said. In turn, Petreaus, 60, and his wife of 38 years, Holly, have attended social functions at the Kelley house, the source added.
Kelley, a Philadelphia native, lives with her surgeon husband, Scott, in a three-story brick home on a swanky block with their daughters, ages 9, 7 and 6 — across the bay from Derek Jeter’s house.
Kelley was seen yesterday pacing inside her $1.5 million home and talking on the phone as she flipped between news channels while a birthday party for one of her daughters took place on the front yard. At least 100 people attended the catered event, which included a full liquor bar, a DJ and an inflatable jumping pit for kids.

I don't mind so much the house, the DJ, the full bar, the catering, or the inflatable jumping pit - just the fact that she wasn't paying attention to her kid!

This is a good start.

Conservatives need a master plan. Jedediah Bila has one piece of it. The younger generation may be the most important target group right now. Think long term.

The message is not one of special interest groups, division or pandering. The message is one of opportunity based on freedoms. Make the connection and show how this works. The job is not easy-self-reliance v. Santa? Tough sell, is it worth doing? Or will we be content to live in the ever increasing nanny state?

Make a plan. It's going to be a long four years, but there's no time to waste.

Now this is more like it!

With the blockbuster news of the CIA Director resignation over an extramarital affair, the media is uncovering information left and right. Already, we know more about this, than what actually happened at Benghazi. The stories are not conflicting, and since Friday we learned the name of the affair co-participant, her shared email arrangement with the general (who wrote under a pseudonym), the name of the woman she threatened (though the nature of the threats are yet to be determined), and that this investigation began several months ago.  Maybe, maybe somebody out there wants a Pulitzer? This administration has the potential to make careers, people! Who says Obama is killing opportunity?!

Obama is, on average, proposing 68 new regulations per day. No wonder we can't keep up!

6,125 Proposed Regulations and Notifications Posted in Last 90 Days--Average 68 per Day |

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Charles Cooke on the election results:

The central problem is that America, knowing Obama, gave him a second term.
  . . . .
But, consider this: A president of the United States just ran a reelection campaign based on the promise of government largess, exploitation of class division, the demonization of success, the glorification of identity politics, and the presumption that women are a helpless interest group; and he did so while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the looming — potentially fatal — crisis that the country faces. And it worked.
Worse, as David Harsanyi has observed, “the president’s central case rests on the idea that individuals should view government as society’s moral center, the engine of prosperity and the arbiter of fairness.” This stunted and tawdry vision of American life was best summed up in his campaign’s contemptible Life of Julia cartoon, which portrayed the American Dream as being impossible without heavy cradle-to-grave government, and in which the civic society that Tocqueville correctly saw as the hallmark of the republic was wholly ignored — if not disdained outright. “Government is the only thing we all belong to,” declared a video at the opening of the Democratic National Convention. In another age, this contention would have been met with incredulity and confusion; in ours, it was cheered.
Read the whole thing.

Warning Shot

Israel says further attacks from Syria will "illicit a vigorous" response from IDF, send letter to UN warning Syrians to avoid spillover; Incident marks first time IDF has fired at Syria since 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The IDF fired a warning shot at the Syrian military on Sunday, after a Syrian shell landed in the Golan Heights for the second time in recent days. 

History of the Holidays: History of Veterans Day

Thank you, Veterans

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy