Monday Mashup (1/21/13)

January 21, 2013

murrow_0

  • I give you some recent lessons in journalistic priorities from the Bucks County Courier Times:
  • On today’s front page, the banner headline has to do with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court, which isn’t even today (the decision was handed down on January 22, 1973). That takes up the most real estate on the page.
  • Slightly below the middle fold is a reference to the fact that today is the observation of the holiday and day of service for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Way, waaay down in the lower left corner is a wire service article reminded us that, oh yeah, President Obama is being sworn in for a second term today.
  • The banner headline and story on the front page yesterday had to do with a home invasion and killing in Hilltown Township, which of course is tragic and merits front-page treatment. Immediately beneath the story, though, is an article about all the pro-gun rallies on Saturday January 19th, with a picture of a woman taking aim at a target presumably on a firing range (the image and words communicate the impression that what you might call the gun culture is something to be admired…um, if they wanted to communicate that, couldn’t they do it some other way that juxtaposing it with a story about a murder on the front page?).
  • The fourth estate freak show drags on…

    Update 1/22/13: To be fair, I should note that the inauguration got the “full spread” front page treatment today, including a nice pic of the Obamas walking down Pennsylvania Avenue.

  • And I suppose it’s logical, then, to turn to this item from Mikey the Beloved (the story is dated from last April, but this definitely is a familiar refrain)…

    Members of Congress average annual salaries of $174,000 per year, according to the government.

    Taxpayers spend an estimated $111,000 per year on each lawmaker’s fringe benefits, medical coverage and pension.
    But all of that could be put on hold indefinitely, under a bill whose 40-plus co-sponsors were joined last week by Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.

    Fitzpatrick on Wednesday scheduled a media teleconference to urge passage of the proposed No Budget, No Pay Act.

    And the author of this gimmick, IMHO, is House “Democrat” Jim Cooper of Tennessee.

    However, since this Courier Times story comes from someone who is apparently an actual reporter as opposed to Mikey’s stenographer Gary Weckselblatt, we also learn the following…

    The federal government has several proposed budgets. The problem is no one can agree on them.

    In February, President Barack Obama released a proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. Republicans balked at the size of government programs and proposed deficit spending.

    In March, Republicans in Congress released their plan. The White House sharply criticized proposed changes to Medicare, Medicaid and food stamp programs.

    Last (April), U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad signaled that no action was likely on any budgets until after the November election.

    So what could be wrong with Mikey’s “No Budget, No Pay” advocacy? Well, for starters, it could potentially violate the 27th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as noted here.

    As Constitutional law professor Adam Winkler tells us…

    “The answer is unclear because the 27th Amendment has never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court,” Winkler said in an email. “Yet it seems almost certainly unconstitutional. Withholding pay effectively ‘var[ies] the compensation’ of lawmakers. The amendment doesn’t say only raises in pay are invalid. It refers to ‘varying the compensation.’ Just as a ‘bonus’ would vary lawmakers’ compensation, so does withholding money. This logic applies even if the pay is ultimately delivered to lawmakers. By outlawing ‘varying the compensation,’ the 27th Amendment prohibits laws that change when lawmakers receive pay, not just the amount they receive.”

    I see this whole thing ending up on the docket of Hangin’ Judge JR one of these days, and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen after that; wonder if he’d be in the mood for payback by letting the Repugs be dumb enough to cut their own pay, as well as that of everyone else in Congress, when you consider that Roberts has sparred with Congress (and the White House) over judicial funding, as noted here?.

  • Further, I give you the following absurdity from The Weakly Standard (here)…

    Since becoming the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama has delivered 699 speeches using a Teleprompter, according to statistics compiled by CBS reporter Mark Knoller. That number includes campaign speeches, State of the Union addresses, and everything in between.

    All told, according to Knoller, President Obama has made 1,852 speeches, remarks and comments.

    Obama’s given 35 “speeches in which he referred to Slurpees.” He’s held 58 town halls.

    The president’s gone golfing 113 times, playing 52 times close to the White House at Andrews Air Force Base.

    And Obama’s taken 13 vacations, which all told have spanned 83 days.

    These are the priorities for our corporate media as well as movement conservatism these days, my fellow prisoners: counting the number of times President Obama has gone golfing, how many slurpee references he has made in speeches, and how many times he has used a Teleprompter (And yes, I know “fluff” pieces like this are not unexpected for the inauguration, but let’s hope it doesn’t get any lower than this, OK?).

    And vacation days? Really?

    As noted here

    President Bush spent 32% of his presidency on vacation.

    Bush passed Reagan in total vacation days in 2005 with three and a half years left in his presidency. Reagan spent all or part of 335 days in Santa Barbara over his 8 year presidency. Bush spent 487 days at Camp David during his presidency and 490 days at his Crawford, Texas ranch, a total of 977 days.

    When you add the days President Bush spent at Kennebunkport, Maine, he spent a total of 1,020 days away from the White House — close to 3 years. At 1,020 days, Bush was close to being on vacation more days than President John F. Kennedy’s total days in office (1,036). Representatives at the Nixon and Johnson Libraries indicate those two Presidents were on vacation less than 1,000 days during their terms.

    President Obama has been on vacation (now 83) days from 2009 to (2013). At the three year mark into their first terms, George W. Bush spent 180 days at his ranch in Crawford, Texas and Ronald Reagan spent 112 vacation days at his ranch in California. Of course, staff was around all three Presidents on vacations and all White House aides argue that the commander-in-chief is never “out of touch” with work.

    Sure, Dubya and The Sainted Ronnie R were never “out of touch” with work. Of course not.

    Yes, I know I’ve pointed this out before. Yes, I have no doubt that it will be brought up once more and I’ll have to repeat it again since the shame impulse is nowhere to be found within right-wing media (and when it comes to golf, who can forget this infamous Dubya moment?).

  • Finally (and speaking of the prior Bushco regime and our corporate media), this tells us the following…

    Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has joined CBS News as a contributor — just in time for inauguration coverage.

    Rice, who served as secretary of state during President George W. Bush’s second term, made her debut on the network’s “Face the Nation” program Sunday and will be included in inauguration coverage on Monday.

    CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and president David Rhodes made the announcement Sunday, saying Rice “will use her insight and vast experience to explore issues facing America at home and abroad.”

    Steve Benen does a good job of reminding us about what kind of a job Rice did on behalf of Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, but I think it’s important to recall the following also:

  • Here, she was accused by Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, defendants in an espionage trial, of being complicit while AIPAC allegedly dictated US foreign policy from 1999 until the middle of the last decade at least (the post also links to a Think Progress post where Rice admits that Iraq is “a stain on her legacy” – ya’ think?).
  • Here, she “dressed down” a jewelry store clerk because Madame Rice thought he received less than stellar service (typical for the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch).
  • As noted here, she was in the process of buying designer shoes while Katrina hit (terrible optics, if nothing else).
  • Condi and Defense Secretary Robert Gates met (in March ’08) with some of the Kremlin’s political opposition, but did not meet with its most vocal opponents, notably chess legend Garry Kasparov, as noted here.
  • Here, she gave, at the very least, a willing ear to Henry Kissinger, one of history’s most notorious liars, on the question of allowing troop withdrawals (or even the discussion of that topic) while Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia continued to disintegrate.
  • Rice said here that she had no interest in Mideast diplomacy to maintain “the status quo ante” while she was in the process of doing just that (here).
  • And yes, as alluded to earlier, Rice had a lot of company in her “hoocoodanode” mea culpa about 9/11, possibly her worst foreign policy failure of all (here).
  • It’s probably thoroughly naïve of me to feel compelled to point out that it’s not just any media organization that has agreed to give a pay check and air time to another Bushco accomplice, but the Columbia Broadcasting System (which was once called “the Tiffany Network”). CBS, which once employed the man who spoke the following words:

    If we confuse dissent with disloyalty — if we deny the right of the individual to be wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox…then hundreds of millions…who are shopping about for a new allegiance will conclude that we are concerned to defend a myth and our present privileged status. Every act that denies or limits the freedom of the individual in this country costs us the … confidence of men and women who aspire to that freedom and independence of which we speak and for which our ancestors fought.

    No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

    American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.

    We cannot make good news out of bad practice.

    We hardly need to be reminded that we are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short supply.

    Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

    murrow_0
    Even though I’m curious to find out what he would have said, I’m still glad that Edward R. Murrow didn’t live to see any of this.

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    Monday Mashup Part One (6/7/10)

    June 7, 2010

    I have some leftover items from last week I couldn’t quite get to until now.

  • 1) To begin, I give you the latest in the slow-motion train wreck that is the NJ gubernatorial administration of Chris Christie (here)…

    All seven members of an advisory panel charged with reviewing nominations to New Jersey’s Superior Court resigned Wednesday, with six saying they objected to Gov. Christie’s decision not to renominate Justice John Wallace Jr. to the state Supreme Court.

    The members, all appointed by former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, had letters hand-delivered to Christie’s office.

    “The panel has understood a judge serving honorably and effectively, with competence and integrity, will achieve tenure in judicial office,” states one letter signed by six of the members. “This understanding is supported by the intent of the framers of our constitution and is firmly grounded in our traditions and history, and has been followed consistently for over 60 years by all governors of both political parties.”

    “You have expressed publicly a profoundly different view of the governor’s appointive responsibilities,” the letter continues. “This was exemplified by your actions and remarks in refusing to reappoint Justice John Wallace to the Supreme Court, a jurist who indisputably exemplified all the qualifications for honorable judicial services. It is a view that is inconsistent with an independent judiciary.

    “Because of our abiding commitment to the independence of the judiciary, we cannot in good conscience continue to serve on the Judiciary Advisory Panel.”

    The six members were retired state Supreme Court justices James H. Coleman and Stewart Pollock, the cochairmen, and Alan B. Handler and Deborah T. Poritz; a lawyer in private practice, Carlos G. Ortiz; and a university professor, Susan Lederman.

    The seventh, retired Appellate Division judge Harold B. Wells III, a Republican, sent a brief, separate letter saying he had resigned for “personal reasons.”

    This is kind of interesting I suppose, given that Christie, a former U.S. attorney, is assumed to have a respect for the functions of the judiciary over that of partisan politics. Clearly, though, the latter holds sway with him, which should be no surprise I know.

    Oh, and did you also know that Christie wants to put the State Commission on Investigation’s budget under the Office of the Comptroller, thereby putting the state’s investigative agency, which should be independent, under Christie’s purview (here)?

    Lastly, this Inquirer editorial tells us today that Christie and his State Education Commissioner Bret Schundler brokered a deal with the New Jersey Education Association that addressed key issues – such as merit pay, which the union has long opposed. However, that deal is now off the table because Christie and Schundler apparently weren’t “on the same page,” which could end up costing the state millions of dollars in federal education funds.

    I hope all of those Democrats who sat on their hands during the NJ gubernatorial election last year are proud of themselves (to say nothing of Repugs and independents who supported this thug).

  • 2) Also, I tried really, really hard to avoid saying anything over the Gore divorce last week (I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a whole bunch of more important stuff going on), but it just got so thick that I had to weigh in (one pundit somewhere said something like divorce may be a defining “baby boomer” moment, or something…as Atrios says, our discourse is ruled by fools).

    And this column by Linda Chavez was the proverbial last straw…

    I know it’s wishful thinking to hope that the Gores will reconsider their decision. But they have already survived many ordeals that would challenge even the strongest of marriages — their son’s near-fatal accident, myriad political campaigns, including the 2000 presidential election whose outcome dragged on forever, Tipper’s battle against depression and who knows what private disappointments, slights, and pains.

    The Gores, like most couples, made a vow when they married to remain together “until death do us part.” Couples make those vows in front of family and friends and with the blessings of religious institutions and the state. They are not private promises; they are public affirmations. So if the Gores decide to break those vows, they’ve hurt all of us, not just each other, and they’ve chipped away at the very institution of marriage. Let’s hope they don’t move from separation to divorce, for all our sakes.

    Oh, please…

    What is sad here is that Chavez actually makes some good points about the effect of divorce on kids, but for her to claim that the Gore’s divorce “hurts all of us” is pathetic.

    Well then, do infidelities of public figures “hurt us” also? What about David Vitter (who, for some reason, always seems to get a pass on this subject even though he’s been “busted” at least twice)? John Ensign? Mark Sanford? Mark Souder (for whom Michael Gerson unctuously asked for “grace” here)? And yes, to be fair, John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer (and of course, Bill Clinton)?

    At least the Gores realized that it was time to part, and they have done so. There are a myriad of reasons why couples stay together and a myriad of reasons why they don’t. And as long as moral scolds like Chavez feel like it’s their duty to pass judgment, how about giving the Clintons some credit for enduring all they have and raising a daughter for whom they should be proud?

    This is all beyond a joke anyway when you consider that Chavez, as noted by Bob Somerby here, once said that Gore gave a “confusing” speech in 2002 in which “Gore said that a unilateral War on Saddam (Hussein) would hurt the ongoing War on Terror, because it would alienate various nations on whom we must rely for intelligence” (and fellow Beltway hyena Mort Kondracke dutifully echoed Chavez also).

    Like almost everything else Al Gore has said, the passage of time has proven these words to be damn prescient as well. And Chavez’s ridicule has “hurt all of us” a lot more than the Gore’s divorce ever could.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the late Irving Kristol’s boy here…

    So the one part of government the Obama administration—which is spending unprecedented amounts on every domestic department of government—has decided to squeeze is the military. This is outrageous and pathetic—taking money out of the already inadequate baseline defense budget to pay for a domestic spending spree.

    The linked New York Times story from last week tells us the following…

    The goal is to force all of the Defense Department agencies and organizations, and all of the armed services, to save enough money in their management, personnel policies and logistics to guarantee 3 percent real growth each year, beyond inflation, in the accounts that pay for combat operations.

    Current budget plans project growth of only 1 percent in the Pentagon budget, after inflation, over the next five years.

    “Given the nation’s fiscal situation, there is an urgency to doing this, rather than shifting more of the nation’s resources toward national defense,” William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said in an interview.

    (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates’s spending orders offer a considerable incentive to the armed services. Each dollar in spending cuts found by a military department would be reinvested in the combat force of that branch, and not siphoned away for other purposes.

    Senior officials acknowledge that powerful constituencies are expected to line up in opposition to cuts of favorite programs — with criticism anticipated from the defense industry, Congress, military headquarters, Pentagon personnel and retirees.

    “We will need to address the reasons things are in the budget in order to be able to reduce overhead,” Mr. Lynn said. “We are going to have to be engaged in dialogue with industry, with Congress, with other agencies, with the White House and inside the Pentagon — all the stakeholders.”

    The new directives are aimed at three distinct areas of spending.

    The first is management and personnel, overhead, logistics and base operations, and support missions.

    The second is the war-fighting accounts themselves. Major targets for the next fiscal year already identified by the Pentagon leadership, and supported by the White House, include canceling a program to buy an alternative engine for the F-35 warplane and ending production of the C-17 cargo aircraft. Officials said a range of lower-priority programs would also be under review.

    The third area is Mr. Gates’s own Defense Department staff and agencies.

    And in case you were wondering how much this country spends on defense, this tells you that this country’s spending isn’t even close to any other in the world.

    There is only one good thing I can say about Kristol Mess’s post, and it is that he uses hyperlinks effectively (would that the Philadelphia Inquirer decided to follow suit one of these days).

  • Update: And heaven forbid that this falls under the “budget axe” also…


    Patrick’s Lesson In Service For The Teabaggers

    May 4, 2010


    I haven’t had much to say about our PA-08 Dem congressman Patrick Murphy for a little while, but this post from Above Average Jane tells us that Murphy…

    …was at Levittown’s Windowizards on Monday highlighting the potential new HOMESTAR Energy Rebate program to create jobs and save homeowners money. Murphy was joined by local homeowners and David Goodman of the Levittown-based window company to tout the program that, if passed by Congress, will provide rebates to consumers who invest in making their homes more efficient. The program offers homeowners money back on the purchase and installation of specified energy efficiency products, and it offers incentives to those who undertake retrofits to their homes that demonstrate a reduction of 20% or more in energy consumption.

    In addition to lowering energy costs, the bill will create jobs for those hardest hit when the housing bubble burst, including builders and contractors, construction material manufacturers, and hardware store owners. According to the HOME STAR Coalition – a group of 700 manufacturing, retail, construction and environmental groups – the program will put an estimated 168,000 skilled Americans back to work in these sectors.

    “Providing rebates to families for making their homes more energy efficient not only saves homeowners money; it stimulates job growth as well,” said (Murphy).

    “As a small business owner, I truly appreciate Congressman’s Murphy support for job creation programs like HOME STAR, which would be huge for expanding my company and helping me hire new workers,” said David Goodman, President of the Levittown-based company Windowizards.

    This tells us more about the so-called “Cash for Caulkers” program; as usual, a House version of the bill is proceeding along smoothly…

    On March 24 an Energy and Commerce subcommittee, chaired by Representative Edward Markey, approved the bill with a handful of Republican amendments, and Markey predicts there soon will be Republican co-sponsors as well. “This is the kind of energy savings program that Republicans can support,’’ he said.

    Sometimes called the “cash for caulkers’’ program, but addressing far more than just leaky windows, the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act is supported by the mother of all coalitions, including the Steel Workers Union, the Sierra Club, Home Depot, and Dow Chemical. Even the US Chamber of Commerce is on board.

    The Boston Globe article also tells us that “Late last month the Senate introduced a $6 billion plan to retrofit 3.3 million American homes for energy efficiency — and create 168,000 jobs in the process. The bill’s sponsors include Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, no lapdog of the administration, along with energy committee chairman Jeff Bingaman and others.”

    Gee, I can hardly wait for the next Frank Luntz-approved talking point on this one which will lead Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao at first, and then all other Senate Repugs, away from this common-sense legislation (a “big government socialist takeover” of our sewer lines and hot water heaters?).

    Also, even though Defense Secretary Robert Gates appears to have put the brakes on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Murphy is still trying to remedy this horrific mistake which has driven a huge number of individuals from our armed services (here), including linguists fluent in Arabic (and why on earth would we possibly need them?).

    To contact Congressman Murphy, click here (and to reward good behavior, click here).

    And meanwhile, as the Courier Times tells us here today, the individuals vying to run against Patrick pretended not to care about getting the oh-so-coveted “teabagger” endorsement (you all just keep squabbling among yourselves while the grownups get things done, OK?).

    Update 5/6/10: By the way, kudos to Patrick for this.


    “Governor Hottie” Gets Blown Off By Bushco

    October 17, 2008

    This Newsweek story tells us that John W. McBush, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden were called by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Our Gal Condi Rice for an Iraq troop briefing this week…

    The calls this week were part of the Bush administration’s campaign to line up political support for a compromise deal with Iraq that cedes some authority over U.S. forces, and a courtesy to the presidential hopefuls on whose watch the deal would take effect.

    “We are keeping them informed about activities and remember, certainly, they have committee assignments and things like that as senators as well,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said Friday. “One of them is going to win the election, and they will be taking over and having to deal with these issues … So it’s only prudent for us to make sure that we get them the information that we think they need.”

    As to why the “Alaska Disasta” wasn’t included…

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters: “If you hadn’t noticed, she’s a governor, not a senator or congressman.”

    Well, this prompted me to go searching, and I found the following headline from this New York Times story dated 40 years ago (subscription only)…

    JOHNSON TO BRIEF NIXON AND AGNEW ON TALKS IN PARIS; Republican Nominees to Fly to Ranch Today — Will See Rusk, Vance and Helms TRIP TO SOVIET IS OFF Presidential Candidate Will Visit Party Chiefs in States That Opposed His Bid Politics: Johnson to Brief Nixon and Agnew Today on the Talks in Paris on Vietnam CANDIDATE’S TRIP TO SOVIET IS OFF Presidential Nominee Plans to Visit Party’s Leaders in States That Opposed Him

    By WARREN WEAVER Jr.Special to The New York Times
    August 10, 1968, Saturday
    Page 1, 1015 words

    And the story tells us the following…

    The Republican nominee for President was invited by President Johnson to take Gov. Spiro T. Agnew with him to the L.B.J. Ranch for a meeting with Secretary of State Dean Rusk; Cyrus R. Vance, one of the negotiators in Paris, and Richard C. Helms, Director of Central Intelligence.

    And just for the record, Agnew was the governor of Maryland at the time.

    Hey, I don’t like Palin either, but fair is fair, right? And it serves McCormack right for being a typical Bushco smartass.


    Petraeus Splits From Iraq With His Rep Intact

    September 17, 2008

    (Please “mouse over” for photo attribution.)

    As noted here, Gen. David H. Petraeus has left Iraq to assume his duties stateside as commander at USCENTCOMM in Tampa, Florida, overseeing all Middle East operations.

    Based on this prior post, though, I have some questions…

  • Do either Gen. Petraeus or his successor, Gen. Raymond Odierno, have an exit strategy for Iraq prepared for the day when we, at long last, leave the pit of Mesopotamia?
  • Given Petraeus’ quote that “a successful counterinsurgency strategy could take 9-10 years,” about where are we now in that timeframe?
  • Can either Gen. Petraeus or Gen. Odierno provide a status on Mosul, which Petraeus once described as “a textbook case of doing counterinsurgency the right way,” even though the mayor of Mosul defected to the insurgents?
  • Does Gen. Petraeus have a clue as to what happened to the $2.3 billion that we provided to train and expand the Iraqi Army that somehow ended up in foreign bank accounts (Petraeus oversaw the training program)?
  • Is the Pentagon now keeping track of fatalities by car bombs and sectarian assassinations, questions that were raised by That Ad against Petraeus last September (I noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would probably be the better person to answer that, but I’d ask Petraeus anyway)?
  • Can we look forward to another glowing Op-Ed on Iraq from Petraeus timed for just before the election similar to the one he wrote in 2004 (here)?
  • And given the preceding question concerning the September 2004 WaPo editorial which reeked of self-promotion and image enhancement, I would ask that you consider the following from the recent profile of Petraeus in The New Yorker by Steve Coll here…

    Indeed, because of the reductions in Iraq’s violence, General Petraeus has been cast in the Presidential campaign’s emerging narrative as a sort of Mesopotamian oracle, one that must be consulted or honored by the two remaining candidates. In July, Senator Barack Obama went to Iraq and saw the General; he was rewarded, courtesy of Petraeus’s energetic press aides, with an iconic photograph, printed in many dozens of newspapers, which showed the Senator aboard a command helicopter, smiling confidently at the General’s side. A few weeks later, Senator John McCain, while speaking at a nationally televised forum hosted by the evangelist Rick Warren, invoked Petraeus as one of the three wisest people he knew; McCain called the General “one of the great military leaders in American history.” Afterward, on the campaign trail, the Republican Senator attacked Obama for not being as staunch an acolyte of Petraeus as McCain has been.

    And, as noted here, Senator McBush and Holy Joe both basically wanted to turn over the Congressional oversight function of the war to Petraeus (though, as I noted here earlier, I was disturbed by Petraeus’ analysis of a wave of suicide bombings in July of last year; he called the wave a “mini Tet,” which to me showed a blatant disregard for the fact that, at the time of Tet, most of this country still supported the Vietnam War, though support for Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Middle East Adventure basically evaporated long ago).

    Finally, I have to seriously question the timing of Petraeus’ departure; though I do not mean to cast aspersions on Gen. Odierno, I think leaving shortly before the planned “laying down of arms” by the Sunni Awakening councils to the al-Maliki government shows, to some degree, the desire to “beat it out of Dodge” while the getting is good – it would be more logical to have the person whom many regard (rightly or wrongly) as the main reason for the “success” of the “surge” to remain and ensure as smooth a transition as possible (assuming anyone can “ensure” anything in Iraq).


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