President Obama Needs to Remind Us Why We Are There

“If anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight – our country – these people are lying to themselves. . . . More important, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”

Those were the words of Lieutenant General John F. Kelly, United States Marine Corps, who is Secretary Gates’ senior military assistant.  He went on to point out that less than one percent of the population serves in the armed forces currently, and there is a growing concern within the military community regarding their isolation in the America they are defending.  Not only are our men and women facing isolation at home, they are being left on the battlefield with little support by their countrymen stateside.

A recent poll was released by ABC News and Washington Post shows that a paltry 34% of Americans find the war in Afghanistan worth fighting.  Sadly, this poll came out the same day General Patraeus gave his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee asking his audience, Senators and informed Americans alike, to “remember why we are there in the first place.”

These statistics must be detrimental to anyone who has sent a family member or friend overseas; however, these statistics must be even more harmful for those serving overseas themselves.  America was founded with the military, but philosophically, as a commercial republic.  The two founders who shared the greatest vitriol were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.  Despite their differences, they agreed on founding a republic that was commercial in nature so as to avoid war.  Thomas Jefferson was the friend of the yeoman farmer, stating that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God…”  Hamilton hoped this commercial republic would “soften the manners of men, and [to] extinguish those inflammable humors which have so often kindled into wars…”  Until what can be considered fairly recently in the grand scheme of History, America never had a standing Army, opting to draft people when the occasion called for such measures instead.  Nevertheless, we find ourselves in a war at the present moment, but we also find ourselves regimented into thinking that a battlefield is where football is played, or where ideas clash in a boardroom, or where politicians vie for votes in an important election.  Even our professional athletes forget the difference between what they are, and what a true United States Soldier (or Marine) is.

America has faced large battles, and won.  What is the difference this time?

Marc Thiessen has a post over at The Enterprise Blog where he lays the blame at President Obama’s feet when he points out that public support for the war has plummeted since President Obama came into office.

“When Obama took office, a majority still said the war in Afghanistan was worth it. He lost majority support in July 2009, then regained it briefly when he announced the surge in December 2009, and then lost it again with a precipitous decline throughout 2010.”

Mr. Thiessen continues by addressing what he believes to be the crux of the problem, which is the failure of the President to defend his policies in Afghanistan.  Why hasn’t President Obama defended his endeavors overseas with the same zeal he defended his ill-conceived and unpopular health care legislation?  Mr. Thiessen does not go far enough, however, in condemning the commander-in-chief for abdicating his duties as the leader of our armed forces and making sure that the American public that is entirely separated from this war and its ramifications remembers why our men and women are over there in the first place.

Let us get something straight: President Obama never addressed the war in Afghanistan with the attention it deserved, and when he did, it was with a flaccidity that would excite an Urologist.  President Obama marched into the Oval Office with a view towards “slow[ing] things down” with regard to the military.  The military asking a sitting president for the tools necessary to defeat an enemy abroad was seen as a problem to be solved, but not the war itself.  As a matter of fact, most people have already forgotten that the president spoke with General McChrystal just once during the general’s first 70 days as commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and that was a via video teleconference.  Finally, in October of 2009, President Obama met with then-General McChrystal in Copenhagen while the president was lobbying to have the Olympics held in Chicago.  He met the then-general of coalition forces in Afghanistan for twenty-five minutes in the front of Air Force Once.

Finally, it got to the point where President Obama had to act on the general’s recommendation for extra troops.  As the Guardian reported, “Obama agreed to deploy an extra 30,000 troops but only after months of dithering that many in the military found frustrating.”

To claim the president displayed some sort of ambivalence regarding the war in Afghanistan is an understatement.  The one most powerful weapon at his disposal (or what used to be) was his rhetorical ability, and even then he chooses not to rally the troops around the Afghan cause.  In December of 2009, President Obama gave a lukewarm speech to West Pointers that earned him considerable scorn from the right.  Even during this year’s State of the Union, the president dedicated six sentences to a war costing the United States $100+ billion and hundreds of American lives a year.  Those six sentences gave way to 25 seconds of applause, the same length of time it took the president to deliver those sentences.

How can we expect our fellow countrymen to continue supporting an endeavor that our own president seems to treat as a mere thorn in his political side?  This recent poll can be reversed if President Obama dedicated more of his time keeping Americans in the loop about what we are doing over there, why we are there in the first place, and using some of his famous rhetorical gifts to re-energize our commitment to those who are so committed to our country that they continue to fight even though 60% of Americans are not standing behind them.

As Peter Wehner said, “this is not ‘Obama’s War,’ this is ‘OUR war.'”

-rj

Defending the Indefensible? Liz, McCarthy(s) and the GWOT

An old charge has been brought back from the grave and used against members of Keep America Safe, the political action committee dedicated to ensuring America’s benevolent hegemony abroad, as well as her safety at home.  The PAC was started by William Kristol, son of the late (great) Irving Kristol; Elizabeth Cheney (daughter of Dick Cheney); and Debra Burlingame,sister of Charles F. ‘Chic’ Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.”  It would behoove us to keep in mind the effort that critics of KAS take in singling out only Kristol and Cheney in their attacks.  Let’s be clear however, that members of both the Right and Left are calling all three Founders “McCarthy-ites” when they levy these charges of “fear-mongering” and borderline Neo-Nazism. 

What’s funny, is that being called a McCarthyite is extraordinarily mild compared to the perpetual reduction ad Hitlerum the left consistently employs against National Security Conservatives.  While Washington Post editorial columnist Jonathan Capehart dares not tread past the label “fear-mongering” in his quaint and insipid blog post about the matter of “The Al-Qaeda 7,” one of the members of his amen corner dares tread where… well, most liberals dare to tread:

The Rabid Reichwingers like Lizzy Borden Cheney, and Dick Adolf Cheney, are liken to Vampires. Once they get a taste of BLOOD, they want more.

They know by attacking these Lawyers, that their Reichwing Minions will pressure any Lawyer who would dare defend the Terrorist.

They assume everyone’s as Ignorant as their Minions, and won’t remeber all the court cases doing the Bush Error, concerning Terrorist.

In reality the real Terrorist America should be concern with are people like Lizzy B. Cheney and the ever increasing “RABID REICH”.

(Spelling mistakes in the original, due in part to modern liberal education I assume)

Andrew Sullivan also falls into the old reduction ad Hitlerum a number of times, one instance being his 2007 rant against President Bush’s enhanced interrogations.  How depressing, that an erudite student of Dr. Harvey Mansfield would resort to such empty hyperbole.  But I digress.

So liberals like to associate Republicans with a political party responsible for the extermination of twelve million plus fellow human beings; all of a sudden being called a McCarthyite doesn’t sting as bad.  One of these days, it is my hope that being called a Neo-Nazi, a Klansmen, a McCarthyist, et cetera will ring hollow, like the heads from whence they were spoken.  I guess this makes me an idealist. 

The fury is over a recent KAS add which addresses the hiring of nine attorneys in the Department of Justice, who also happened to have represented suspected terrorists in the past.  This matter is a bit unnerving for some as I am sure the ACLU would not be so inclined as to hire, say, Robert Bork; or how about the Southern Poverty law Center giving jobs to a handful of lawyers who represented Aryan Nations, the Klan, or real Neo-Nazis.  Does that mean that those people should not be hired?  Of course not, and by now anyone who has been keeping up with the news has heard all of the historical anecdotes where good Americans represented clients who went against America’s principles in the name of justice in the rule of law.  The most famous example being reiterated is that of John Adams’ representation of the English soldiers who opened fire on a crowd of Colonialists in Boston, Massachusetts in 1770.

The main point, however, is not that the Department of Justice hired people who used to represent suspected terrorists.  Perhaps this entire issue would have been avoided if Eric Holder, the Attorney general, had just given the names to the Senate back in November 2009 when they requested further information on the matter, as Marc Thiessen points out in the Washington Post:

 

In November, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Holder a letter requesting that he identify officials who represented terrorists or worked for organizations advocating on their behalf, the cases and projects they worked on before coming to the Justice Department, the cases and projects they’ve worked on since joining the administration, and a list of officials who have recused themselves because of prior work on behalf of terrorist detainees.

Holder stonewalled for nearly three months. Finally, two weeks ago, he admitted that nine political appointees in the Justice Department had represented or advocated for terrorist detainees, but he failed to identify seven whose names were not publicly known or to directly answer other questions the senators posed. So Keep America Safe, a group headed by Liz Cheney, posted a Web ad demanding that Holder identify the “al-Qaeda seven,” and a subsequent Fox News investigation unearthed the names. Only under this public pressure did the Justice Department confirm their identities — but Holder still refuses to disclose their roles in detention policy.

Andrew McCarthy also addresses the issue:

Only our terrorist enemies get the red carpet treatment. “Enemies” in this context is not hyperbole. We are at war under a congressional authorization. Nearly 200,000 young Americans are in harm’s way. But enemy operatives are returning to their jihad against our troops and our citizens thanks to the help of American law firms. Only lawyers demand immunity from the ordinary duties of citizenship in a nation at war. And they further demand to be above criticism for donating their skills to al Qaeda operatives (though American prisoners must represent themselves in habeas corpus actions). The profession would reinterpret “patriotism” in total relativism: some risk their lives to fight the enemy for us, while others litigate so the enemy may be freed to return to the fight. Americans are not buying – that’s why Liz Cheney’s common sense resonates.

 

As for Jonathan Capehart and the sycophantic left, I look forward to their confrontations with their peers about the way they treated Bush Administration lawyers who meticulously explored the issue of torture, enhanced interrogations, the War on Terror, and the law.  That was exactly what lawyers like John Yoo, David Addington, Jim Haynes, Steve Bradbury and other lawyers did when they wrote what are considered the ‘nefarious torture memos’ now.  Writing in-depth analysis into the heart and soul of security and the law warranted harassment by the fringe left at their private residences and even possible criminal indictments from Congress

In the end, Senator Grassley, Liz Cheney, Keep America Safe, and FoxNews were asking their government a question regarding the most important issue facing our Federal government.  This should be an issue that Conservatives and some libertarian-leaning friends can unite around, considering both consider the Federal government’s central role to be protecting citizens.  We have a right to ask questions regarding our safety; and the Obama Administration has a right to not answer us.  But don’t get your panties in a bunch when you get called out for promising transparency, and again fail to deliver on your campaign promise.  It’s politics.  Grow up. 

-rj

Is THIS what pwned means?

I have a good friend (well a couple, who would have thought it?) that is into video gaming and all of the online sophistication that our dear editor Nick is into.  Some time back, I noticed the use of the term “pwned” which my friend Andrew pronounced as “Poned” with particular stress on the P.  Over drinks at a favorite stomping ground in Maryland (Fingers & Claws – plug!) I attempted to gain a good understanding of the proper context in which to use “pwned”, which is about the same as using “owned” which I use.  However, I guess techies got bored and had to invent a new word during the downtime they acquire from “hours” of mindless stimulation (I kid, I kid!). 

I found two really good examples of when someone can use the term “pwned” which entails being destroyed by a superior power

Over a week ago, Jon Stewart was ‘pwned’ by John Yoo, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under George W. Bush.  Stewart is a smart cat, of course, but when engaged in this really good, thoughtful discussion on enhanced interrogation he gets beat by someone who obviously thought this out fully and not as half-heartedly as liberals would have you believe (bear in mind, Stewart should decide sooner or later if he is going to be a legit news reporter or journalist, or when he gets called out for being extremely biased, if he will continue to cower behind the now hackneyed “I’m an entertainer!” argument). 

[Video from HuffPo here which includes the three clips]

Last night, Marc Thiessen, author of the new book Courting Disaster, could be said to have “pwned” Christiane Amanpour (and whoever the tool box on the TV was as well).  Once again, the Conservative is trying to have a down to Earth discussion about a serious topic and the two left-leaning-friends take it to eleven and try to not even let the man talk.  In the end, Christiane should have felt embarassed if such a sentiment still exists in a CNN “reporter’s” lexicon. 

[Marc Thiessen pwnes CNN part one]

[Marc Thiessen pwnes CNN part two] – “They’re only doing training as you know” Great demonstration of ineptitude.

-rj