Guest Post by Daphne Holmes
Each President marks his term with a leadership legacy that defines his administration. For Barack Obama, one of the hallmark characteristics of his time at the helm is unapologetic pursuit of policies that help the country. While this may seem like a given, under the circumstances, Obama’s tough stances on some issues has nonetheless sparked heavy resistance from the political right.
In order to set his own pace, however; the President has had to first clean up many of the lingering issues that predate his administration. In addition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Obama has faced a hornet’s nest of residual domestic policy that has also required strong leadership to rectify. As a result, the President has maintained an unwavering commitment to tackle tough issues – both here and abroad.
Real Issues At-Hand
Effective leadership requires proactive approaches to public policy, but it also relies on the ability to react quickly, in response to issues that arise. President Obama was thrown into the fire immediately upon securing the position, forcing him to reconcile very real issues facing the country. From domestic economic concerns to multiple foreign wars, the current administration has been elbow-deep in major policy reform since taking control of the executive branch of government.
To some; the President’s actions are off-putting, due to the decisive and unapologetic strategies he has implemented. But when held-up to the alternatives, it becomes clear that the President’s responses to some of this century’s most challenging realities have been tough, yet prudent.
Ineffective International Organizations
In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama’s administration has faced vexing foreign policy concerns elsewhere; including aggression and human rights atrocities in Syria and Russia. And while international support is put-forth by organizations like the United Nations, Obama’s policies have had to account for the fact that help from the UN and others does not always sway outcomes significantly. As a result, bold U.S. strategies and foreign policy decisions made by the Obama administration illustrate the tough stances the President has adopted to protect American interests.
The recent global recession and meltdown of important U.S. markets took its toll on the country and the world. Unemployment, home mortgage foreclosures and other important indicators illustrated never-before-seen economy turmoil that eventually reached every sector of the U.S. economy. Even so, the President understands the economic might at his disposal and operates accordingly on the world stage. Bold moves Obama made to correct the housing market downturn and Wall Street waffling show how the President’s tough policies have led to productive outcomes.
Public Support Drives Policy Decisions
While each President exhibits autonomy in his leadership role, policy outcomes are also influences by prevailing public opinion. In the case of health care reform, Obama took a tough position, which didn’t align with the beliefs of the political right. Tea Party protests and other displays of dissent followed, but the prevailing need for public health care overshadowed the misgivings of a few citizens clinging to the status quo. Though tough, the President’s initiatives would have been dead in the water, if not for the support of forward-thinking Americans lending their voices and activism to the collective cause.
Obama’s Personal Style
The President’s style has been characterized as “inflexible” and “unwavering”, so Obama has left his indelible mark on policy outcomes of the past 6 years. While ideological gains are a part of each presidential administration, Obama’s bold actions eclipse some of the cronyism seen in prior administrations. As a result, what some see as overly rigid or inflexible pursuits are actually a reflection of the President’s personal style. Whether from working within the Chicago political machine, or gleaned from years mobilizing support for grass roots issues, the current President is not afraid to adhere to his core beliefs.
Strong leadership cues from President Obama lead detractors to call him out for being too tough, at times. In reality, however; the President’s track record of decisive moves is simply a reflection of the issues he has faced and the prevailing public support for his policies.
Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from www.ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think back to when I first read one of his posts at Salon during the end of the Bush administration. He was railing against Bush at that time and I was certainly sympathetic to that sentiment. But as I read his pieces, I noticed that he exaggerated an awful lot and took leaps with his conclusions and that didn’t sit well with me. I was all for attacking Bush, but because I am a political junky and was pretty informed on things, I noticed the exaggerations and in some cases, blatant lies. I didn’t join in with others in praising his “journalism”.
It was many years later that I learned that Glenn Greenwald hadn’t always railed against President Bush. In fact, he supported Bush and the many horrible things he did in the wake of 9/11 including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as supporting Bush during the time when the Patriot Act was passed. In light of what he is saying now, it should speak volumes about his integrity. Glenn has written about those of us who point this out and his attempt to dismiss his support for Bush is pretty lame. Ben Cohen from The Daily Banter wrote about this, go read it and have a laugh at Greenwald’s expense. Ben gives Glenn way too much credit, in my opinion.
Like Ben, I’m happy that Glenn finally opened up his eyes and realized the error of his ways. A little context though, Glenn wasn’t exactly a young, naive lad when he “had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration”, or “gave the administration the benefit of the doubt” or felt that President Bush was “entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to”. No, Glenn was 36 years old in 2003, when the bombs started falling on innocent people in Iraq, a war that I marched against.
So Glenn’s dishonesty and tendency to exaggerate and mislead his readers turned me off immediately. But that isn’t the main reason I write about Glenn Greenwald so frequently.
Glenn Greenwald is a bully. I hate bullies!
If you want to read more about his journalistic brutality, go read this post, or this one, or this one. Or just go to Google and search, there are many examples out there besides the ones I’ve written about.
How Can Greenwald Be So Wrong, So Much Of The Time
Glenn Greenwald loves hyperbole. Decades from now when scholars write about The Age Of Hyperbole that we are currently living in, Glenn Greenwald’s picture will surely be accompanying the journal articles.
“The objective of this is to enable the NSA to monitor EVERY SINGLE CONVERSATION AND EVERY SINGLE FORM OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR!”
“The National Security Agency is currently devoted to the objective of creating a worldwide surveillance net that allows it to monitor what all human beings are doing and how they’re behaving and interacting with one another.”
I know there are a lot of paranoid people in this world who love that kind of talk, it feeds their paranoia and makes them feel like they are not alone. Any thinking, reasonable person who isn’t consumed with hatred or paranoia can read those words and realize they are completely over the top and can not possibly be true.
How many NSA employees do you think it would take to “MONITOR every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”? You see, Glenn doesn’t just think that the NSA is gathering meta data on who is calling who, after getting a warrant from a the FISA court (as dysfunctional as it is) because of intelligence on a suspected terrorist. No, Glenn thinks that there are people monitoring “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior”.
Bob Cesca has been keeping track of Glenn’s NSA “journalism” better than anyone and has coined the term “the 24 hour rule”, which basically says we should wait for the other shoe to drop before believing what ole Glenn Greenwald says.
Last week, Glenn made several statements to Christine Amanpour in an interview. Here are two of his long-winded, never stopping for a breath, answers. (My transcription and emphasis)
Answer 1: Let’s just use our common sense when analyzing the claims of political officials when they say that. Ever since 9/11, British and American officials have screamed terrorism over and over and over every time they get caught doing bad things they shouldn’t do – from lying to the public about invading Iraq to setting up a worldwide torture regime to kidnapping people and taking them around the world to be tortured – they just want to put the population in fear by saying the terrorists will get you if you don’t submit to whatever authority it is that we want to do. And that is all they are doing here, it’s the same tactic they always use. Let’s just use common sense, every terrorist who is capable of tying their own shoes, has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can. That isn’t new, we didn’t reveal anything new to the terrorists they didn’t already know. What we revealed is that the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world. That is what was not previously known and that is why American and British officials are so angry because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is from the people at whom it’s directed and that is the only thing that is new in what we reported.
Answer 2: Well first of all a lot of people like to ask why is there so much anti-American sentiment around the world all you have to do is listen to that tape of Mike Rogers to understand it. He basically is going around telling the world that they ought to be grateful that without their knowledge, we are stealing ALL THEIR COMMUNICATIONS data and invading their privacy (Amanpour nods in agreement) None of this has anything to do with terrorism. Is Angela Merkel a terrorist? Are sixty or seventy million Spanish or French citizens terrorists? Are there terrorists at Petrobras? This is clearly about political power and economic espionage, and the claim that this is all about terrorism is seen around the world as what it is, which is pure deceit.”
I’ll get to the latest “24 hour rule” moment in a bit, but first let’s take a look at his penchant for hyperbole.
As with most of Glenn Greenwald’s rants, it isn’t necessarily the broad, populist, quotable punch line that is the problem, but what he says leading up to it. Make no mistake, Glenn is probably a great trial lawyer, although I’m sure a good opposing lawyer would be screaming “I object” an awful lot.
What stood out to me in Glenn’s response to Christine was the tainting of the jury along the way. I laughed out loud when I heard him say “Let’s just use our common sense” as he started. See the above part about how many NSA people it would take to monitor “every single conversation and every single form of human behavior” as you listen to Glenn talk about common sense.
Glenn starts his twisted reasoning by appealing to common, shared perceptions to get people nodding…like Amanpour herself…by, among other things, saying that U.S. and British officials always “scream” terrorism when they get caught doing “bad things”. He lists some of these bad things, starting with “from lying to the public about invading Iraq”…whoa, whoa, whoa…Glenn was supporting that group that was lying at the time and I know he is oh so sorry about that, but he fell for the bullshit none-the-less. There were a lot of us who didn’t. It speaks to his judgement at the tender age of 36.
Greenwald then gets bold and says “to setting up a worldwide torture regime”, which is clearly directed at his paranoid, conspiratorial readers. Because it isn’t just a few places where our government and allies take prisoners to be held and questioned, and yes, sometimes tortured too…which of course, I don’t approve of, but to Glenn, it’s labeled a “worldwide torture regime”. Oh, that hyperbole must make him tingle.
A little bit further on in his rant, he uses a pretty slick tactic when he says that “Every terrorist…has long known that the U.S. government and U.K. government is trying to monitor their communications in every way that they can” and then claims that this is “nothing new”. Except, uh, Glenn…you told the terrorists “how” they are being monitored and that IS new.
Glenn then proceeds to his real thesis that the “spies” aren’t out to get terrorists, they are out to get innocent, little ole YOU! This thesis occurs frequently in his writings and is much more pronounced in his TV appearances, because he can’t go back and edit his words once they’ve flown out of his mouth and he can’t add “updates” to Christine Amanpour’s program like he is known for in his hyperbolic writing. This is what he said, “the spying system is largely devoted not to terrorists but is directed at innocent people around the world.” He really believes that the target of all this spying is innocent people. He has strayed from what most people probably think – that in the effort to get terrorists, innocent people are being “monitored” and having their rights trampled on. Glenn sees it as a fiendish plot to go after YOU, run hide, build a bunker, buy some guns…they are coming for you. A little later he claims that it is “because they wanted to hide what the true purpose of the spying system is”, once again, referring to “innocent” people, just like you.
In the final sentence of his interview, Greenwald says “This is clearly about political power and economic espionage…” in reference to the accusations of the NSA spying on Germany and France. Well the “24 hour rule” destroys Glenn’s hyperbolic proclamation. Turns out the intelligence agencies in each of those countries shared that information with the U.S. government and the cooperation was geared towards tracking down terrorists. From of all places, the Guardian…
The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.
I’m sure all of that is appealing to the paranoid, conspiracists and the narcissists who think the whole damn world revolves around them and don’t have any problem thinking they are so damn important that the U.S. government is paying someone lots of money to monitor them and steal “ALL YOUR COMMUNICATIONS DATA”. Cue the Twilight Zone music!
Part of the problem with the current state of our politics and media is that it is loaded with narcissists, nihilists and conspiracy loons. Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Greenwald all know who their target audience is and Glenn has just sliced off a piece from the left flank of that crowd.
I wish more of the national media would listen more carefully to Glenn Greenwald or wait for the other shoe to drop before running with one of his stories, but I’m sure many of them just don’t want to deal with the other thing Glenn is good at…the bullying.
Bob Cesca has been doing amazing work lately in keeping track of the massive misinformation campaign orchestrated primarily by The Guardian, a publication that has gone full anti-American with the help of Wikileaks and other anarchists. Cesca wrote a brilliant article that points out many things I’ve been thinking as well. From Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter…
And, yes, the government also collects relatively minor bits of your internet data (with multi-layered oversight, warrants, anonymization, minimization and deletion) in its efforts to track down enemies.
Liberals ought to be far more suspicious of for-profit corporations handling our private data than the government’s handling of considerably less of it. But that doesn’t appear to be the case, and this is where everything gets wacky.
NSA, and the U.S. government in general, isn’t interested in our Instagram pics of our disgusting dinners or our Wonka memes or our goats-that-scream-like-men videos. But Facebook is. Google is. Corporations are exploiting nearly everything you type and following you wherever your browse. They’re compiling it. They’re distributing it. They’re sharing it. They’re using your data to determine which products you might want to purchase. They’re censoring your breast-feeding pics and perhaps even threatening you with prosecution if you download an episode of Game of Thrones from Bit Torrent.
And people are wailing and chest-thumping over inadvertent government metadata collection with strict rules that prohibit infringements on Fourth Amendment liberty? That’s rich.
You should go read Bob Cesca’s entire article, he points out that most websites have “trackers” built in that gather more information than the NSA on each of us. Bob also points out, “For what it’s worth, Glenn Greenwald’s XKEYSCORE article on The Guardian contained 27 trackers, including PRISM participants Google and Facebook.”
I’ll leave you with my favorite paragraph from Bob’s article…
How shall we explain the disparity between the Great Fear of the government collecting minimal data and the almost unspoken reality that corporations have compiled massive data clouds about every user and every customer? I don’t know for sure. It could be a result of pissy-pants disillusionment over the Obama presidency based on overblown idealism, political ignorance and unrealistic expectations. It could be the consequence of an onslaught of fear-mongering from news outlets posting cavalcades of scare-headlines and misleading articles about NSA surveillance. Or it could be an increasingly evident paradigm shift in which the far-left is blending into fringe libertarian territory. I never thought it likely given libertarianism’s small government, states’ rights posture, but there it is.
Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.
The officials did not describe the charges in detail because they’ve been filed under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The documents are not publicly available.
According to officials, charges accuse Snowden of violating federal espionage laws by sharing classified documents with people who were not cleared to receive them. Charges also accuse him of stealing government property.
If only someone had told Edward Snowden that books have been written about what the NSA does. It’s a damn shame to see him spend years in prison for such ignorance.
The Patriot Act was signed on October 26, 2001 and this is what Glenn Greenwald wrote in the preface to his own book – his words, not mine…(emphasis IS mine)
This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance. [...]
During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.
While I was screaming at my TV and marching in the streets in protest of the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan War and later the Iraq War, Glenn Greenwald “was ready to stand behind President Bush” and wanted to “exact VENGEANCE on the perpetrators.” And he “believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to”, which of course included the passage of The Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.
So yeah, Glenn Greenwald, why exactly should I listen to him now?
The only decent copy I could find of this is from RussiaToday. For the record, I am not a communist.
The pundits can talk all day long, but they can’t dry up the sweat that was pouring out of Romney’s head as he choked, babbled and shook that Etch-A-Sketch yet one more time.
H/T to Little Green Footballs
UPDATE: Not intended to be an accurate photo! As Romney said, “Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” LOL
Here is a screen grab I did of the actual debate, I wish I could find the couple of times that Mitt sucked the sweat off his upper lip. I’d like to make an animated GIF out of it. :)
The long and detailed New York Times piece entitled “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will” is causing a lot of stir on the left and the right.
As I was reading it, I didn’t have a hard time imaging what the reaction from some on the left would be. The person that always comes to mind is Glenn Greenwald, whose sentences almost always include “a noun, a verb and drones”.
As a liberal, I have a lot of problems with our country’s use of force, whether it’s a Democratic or Republican administration. I do, however, trust Democrats much more than Republicans when it comes to executing our foreign policy. And yes, I wish that Democrats were less militaristic, and I let them know that whenever I get a chance. I fill out their surveys and I write letters to Democratic leaders telling them so. I also protest new military actions when it looks like we are heading towards a war. But I’m still going to vote for Democrats, because I really don’t want Teapublicans getting their hands on our vast, powerful military again. We’re still cleaning up the mess left by the last group of Republican bullies.
In my advancing years, I’ve come to realize that all presidents are tasked with the thankless job of protecting America from those who want to do us harm. It’s incredibly easy for us keyboard warriors to opine about what the government should do, but we aren’t reading those daily briefings and aren’t privy to the intelligence that career officers are gathering. Because of that, I no longer have a knee-jerk reaction to all the actions our government takes when it comes to military action.
Can You Keep A Secret?
The title of the piece in the New York Times points to the first issue I will discuss in this post, the idea that the “kill list” is “secret”. Of course it’s secret, it’s based on sensitive intelligence that any person who is intellectually honest, knows hasto remain secret. If a person is so mired in ideology that they don’t appreciate the role of keeping sensitive intelligence secret, well then the conversation
is pretty much over at that point. I’m amazed at how many people think our foreign policy and intelligence should be an open book, as if our enemies reading it is no big deal. Often, it seems like some people don’t think we have enemies or they appear to be siding with our enemies by defending them.
The “secret kill list” to which the NYT piece refers is the list of terrorists that our intelligence services have deemed large enough threats to our nation, that they should be captured or killed when found. When President Bush created his morbid deck of cards with terrorists on them, I became sick to my stomach upon hearing it. It is one thing to keep a list of people, (the FBI has its top ten list) but it is quite another thing to put them on “playing” cards, which in my mind trivializes their importance and turns the very serious business of national security into a fun game for the masses. People actually started collecting them as I recall. That’s fucking sick.
Whereas the media had fun with that deck of cards, they now want to get serious and call it a “secret kill list” and I imagine they hear scary music when they write about it. The word “secret” is meant to trigger a specific response in some readers.
The Buck Stops With President Obama
Unlike his predecessor, President Obama takes responsibility for his decisions. From the NYT article:
Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be. [...]
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
So whether you agree with President Obama’s position or not, the man deserves credit for standing up and taking responsibility for what our military does when targeting terrorists and the potential collateral damage that our strikes may cause. I’m glad that the person we elected is making the call instead of some career military person who hasn’t gone through the grueling process of winning the presidency, during which candidates are put under the microscope and damn near every move they have ever made is analyzed. Would you rather John “bomb, bomb Iran” McCain was making that call? I didn’t think so.
I know that the people suffering from Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) will find little comfort in the above, but really, do they ever feel comfort? That group seems to be able to find the black cloud in every silver lining.
Ignoring Congress Is So Convenient When Slanting A Piece Of Journalism
You may notice when reading the NYT piece that the authors slip in some memes that many on the Professional Left have nurtured and embraced. From the title of the piece, to the many memes sprinkled throughout, the authors knew exactly what buttons to push.
They describe a paradoxical leader who shunned the legislative deal-making required to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, but approves lethal action without hand-wringing. [...]
When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
In one sentence, the authors imply that POTUS is responsible for Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo) still being open, which is one of the flagship memes of the PL and it isn’t true. Go read my post on it if you missed that whole mess when it happened. They go on to imply that the President has no moral reservations about “lethal action”. It’s one of those sentences meant to be plucked out by the likes of Greenwald and Scahill. Nevermind that the authors also go into detail about how seriously President Obama takes this task much later in the piece, after the ODS sufferers heads have already exploded. Here is the nuance surrounding the “American cleric in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. (emphasis mine)
The president “was very interested in obviously trying to understand how a guy like Awlaki developed,” said General Jones. The cleric’s fiery sermons had helped inspire a dozen plots, including the shootings at Fort Hood. Then he had gone “operational,” plotting with Mr. Abdulmutallab and coaching him to ignite his explosives only after the airliner was over the United States.
That record, and Mr. Awlaki’s calls for more attacks, presented Mr. Obama with an urgent question: Could he order the targeted killing of an American citizen, in a country with which the United States was not at war, in secret and without the benefit of a trial?
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a lengthy memo justifying that extraordinary step, asserting that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process applied, it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.
Mr. Obama gave his approval, and Mr. Awlaki was killed in September 2011, along with a fellow propagandist, Samir Khan, an American citizen who was not on the target list but was traveling with him.
If the president had qualms about this momentous step, aides said he did not share them. Mr. Obama focused instead on the weight of the evidence showing that the cleric had joined the enemy and was plotting more terrorist attacks.
“This is an easy one,” Mr. Daley recalled him saying, though the president warned that in future cases, the evidence might well not be so clear
As you can see, the details of Awlaki’s case paint a picture of someone who had gone “operational” and was doing more than just talking. When the President said “[T]his is an easy one,” according to Daley, and then went on to say that in future cases, the evidence might not be so clear, the President was showing that this case was special. Smartypants has an excellent post that delves further into the details about what Awlaki was up to and the direct threat he posed to American citizens.
Let the Awlaki case be a warning to Americans, if you renounce your citizenship, move to Yemen, go on Youtube and call for violence against Americans and plot terrorist attacks against the U.S. — you might get visited by a drone. We have freedoms in America, but the freedom to plot and encourage terrorism isn’t one of them, from what I’ve read. And wrapping yourself in the “Freedom of Speech” argument makes no sense, we already have limits to that freedom, yelling fire in a crowd is the one everyone always cites. Something makes me think that encouraging and plotting terrorist attacks against Americans might be one of those exceptions.
The authors later in the article return to the Guantanamo Bay issue by first brushing past the real reason it didn’t get closed, lock-step opposition from Republicans and way too many Democrats. They moved right to the blame Obama game.
But it was too late, and his defensive tone suggested that Mr. Obama knew it. Though President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican candidate, had supported closing the Guantánamo prison, Republicans in Congress had reversed course and discovered they could use the issue to portray Mr. Obama as soft on terrorism.
Admittedly, the first couple of years of President Obama’s term were a learning curve. He learned that Republicans would abandon bills they once supported, and in some cases even sponsored, in order to not give the new guy any wins. With both the former Republican president and the 2008 Republican candidate supporting closing Gitmo, President Obama naively assumed it would happen. The unprecedented opposition from Republicans turned all politics in Washington on its head. Many people who were working off conventional wisdom and the word of Senators and members of Congress got burned in the first couple years, it wasn’t just the President and his people.
Recently, it was revealed that Republicans devised a plan on the day President Obama was sworn in to thwart any progress in the next 4 years.
Democrats have rounded on revelations about a private dinner of House Republicans on inauguration day in 2009 in which they plotted a campaign of obstruction against newly installed president Barack Obama.
During a lengthy discussion, the senior GOP members worked out a plan to repeatedly block Obama over the coming four years to try to ensure he would not be re-elected.
Do you remember the dire straights that our economy was in at the time. This event alone is enough to run every Republican out of town in 2012.
Using Former Bushies When It’s Convenient For Furthering The Meme
This next passage is very revealing of the techniques used throughout the piece to appeal to the “both sides are the same” crowd. It details the concern that President Obama has for innocent people.
Just days after taking office, the president got word that the first strike under his administration had killed a number of innocent Pakistanis. “The president was very sharp on the thing, and said, ‘I want to know how this happened,’ “ a top White House adviser recounted.
In response to his concern, the C.I.A. downsized its munitions for more pinpoint strikes. In addition, the president tightened standards, aides say: If the agency did not have a “near certainty” that a strike would result in zero civilian deaths, Mr. Obama wanted to decide personally whether to go ahead.
The president’s directive reinforced the need for caution, counterterrorism officials said, but did not significantly change the program. In part, that is because “the protection of innocent life was always a critical consideration,” said Michael V. Hayden, the last C.I.A. director under President George W. Bush.
Do you see how that works? President Obama clearly wants to minimize and ideally eliminate innocent civilians being harmed by the pinpoint strikes and made major changes to accomplish that. Yet the authors very quickly pivot to a quote from a former Bush administration official, Gen. Michael Hayden (retired), who although better than his predecessor, was still working for a corrupt administration that led us into war on false pretenses. I actually do have some respect for Hayden for turning away from Cheney and his gang when he took over as Director of the CIA in 2006; my problem here is that the authors use Hayden’s quote to diminish the actions President Obama took to further minimize civilian casualties.
What The Hell, Let’s Throw In The “Caved” Meme Too
When they return to the Guantanamo Bay issue later in the piece, the authors push another meme of the Professional Left, the “OMG, he caved” meme. I’ll send you to my piece on Guantanamo Bay again, in case you didn’t click the first time. It shows the circumstances that the newly elected president faced from both the right and his own party in trying to close Gitmo.
No amount of waving his magic wand by President Obama was going to get these spineless politicians to let those scary terrorists be transferred to their states. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was one of the people leading the charge against transferring Gitmo prisoners to his state along with many other Democrats. That put the Republicans in the drivers seat and created the odd coalition of former VP Cheney and Sen. Schumer. What’s wrong with that picture? Forget the fact that our maximum security prisons house some of the worst and most violent criminals the world has seen. These terrorists are, cue the scary music, “muslims”…dunt duh duh.
Here is one illustration of the “caved” meme that was sprinkled in the NYT piece.
When the administration floated a plan to transfer from Guantánamo to Northern Virginia two Uyghurs, members of a largely Muslim ethnic minority from China who are considered no threat to the United States, Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf denounced the idea. The administration backed down.
That show of weakness doomed the effort to close Guantánamo, the same administration official said. “Lyndon Johnson would have steamrolled the guy,” he said. “That’s not what happened. It’s like a boxing match where a cut opens over a guy’s eye.”
The characterization of the Uyghur incident ignored a hell of a lot that transpired during that time. It wasn’t just a matter of ” Virginia Republicans led by Representative Frank R. Wolf ” who started jumping up and down about transferring those two prisoners. An assault began on the President and his attempt to dismantle Bush’s hideous practices. Once again, Republicans who once supported the release of the Uyghurs turned on the President, not wanting him to get any “win”.
The Uyghur’s high-profile champion in Congress, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher, wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in June of 2008 requesting that the 17 Uyghur detainees be released from Guantanamo into parole into the US.
Rohrabacher also called on the US government to provide an apology and perhaps compensation for any abuse the detainees had endured.
The Uyghurs – and the Republicans’ principled position on the issue – fell victim to the conviction of top Republicans that it was of vital importance that the Obama administration suffer a conspicuous setback on an issue that the GOP still sees as political gold: terrorism.
In a recent newspaper column, Newt Gingrich, a key Republican strategist, burned the Republicans’ bridges to the Uyghur cause with an inflammatory and misleading attack on the 17 Uyghur detainees at Guantanamo.
It didn’t take me five minutes on Google to find the above reality of what happened with the case of the Uyghers; you would think a couple of New York Times writers would know how to use Google and find it themselves. But, of course, that wouldn’t fit with their “OMG, he caved” meme.
As my fellow blogger Rkref pointed out to me, Lyndon Johnson had a Senate with 68 Democrats and a huge wind at his back after the assassination of President Kennedy. The country pulled together and Johnson took advantage of it.
The idea that every time a president reaches a compromise or doesn’t succeed in achieving a goal is “caving” is just juvenile. Whenever I have an exchange with one the “cave dwellers” on Twitter, that immaturity is usually revealed pretty quickly. Context has no place in their minds, everything is black and white, for or against, with us or against us, he said, she said…pick your metaphor.
The Reality Of The Violent World We Live In
As I wrote at the beginning of this piece, I have a lot of problems with our government’s use of military force. I’ve always thought that violence begets violence. If you look at the long-standing conflicts in the world, many of them go back centuries and a revenge mentality gets passed from generation to generation. I’ve always tried to be a positive person and in my younger years — I’m 50 now — I was much more idealistic about what could be accomplished in our society. But over the years, I’ve witnessed a culture that keeps embracing and glorifying violence. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that doesn’t appear to be changing.
I can only imagine what it must be like for President Obama, or any president, to receive the daily and weekly briefings about threats to our nation. Having read both of President Obama’s books and watched and read almost all his speeches, debates and interviews, I am damn glad that he is the leader of our country. I know that he cares about people and wants all Americans to be safe and have opportunities to live happy, productive lives. He has done an amazing job of representing all Americans as president, much to the dismay of partisans on the left. As one of those people on the left, I accept it. And even though it sometimes means I don’t get exactly what I want, I’m happy that I have a president that is looking out for the safety of all Americans.
Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles
Official White House photos by Pete Souza
Anwar al-Awlaki photo by Muhammad ud-Deen, Wikimedia Commons
I remember very well how during the Bush administration, the mere mention of pulling our troops out of Iraq made people like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Vice President Cheney and his minions go nuts and start ranting about how leaving Iraq would be admitting defeat, as if just staying there for the rest of time would somehow turn it into winning. Their reasoning has never made any sense, but neither was their reasoning for getting us in there in the first place.
The Iraq war will go down in history as the most stupid venture our country ever entered into and the most costly by every measure. The evolving justifications for the war just got crazier as time went on. It was, of course, just one of the giant messes that was handed to President Obama when he was sworn in and one that he vowed to bring to an end and yesterday, it officially happened.
THE US flag was lowered in Baghdad today in a ceremony to mark the end of the Iraq war after almost nine years.
American military operations have been wound up and Barack Obama marked the milestone with a speech to troops in the US yesterday.
The president applauded the soldiers who served, the 4,500 who died and the thousands wounded.
Speaking at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he said: “Iraq’s future will be in the hands of its people. America’s war in Iraq is over.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, I’m proud to finally say these two words: Welcome home.”
President Obama did an amazing job at winding down the operation and making it possible for us to exit the country as he promised. It is one of the reasons why I voted for him and I am extremely glad that I did.
I’m going to just ignore the idiots like Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill who will surely try to distract people from this monumental day; they were out on the Twitterz this week completely ignoring the President’s accomplishment and obsessing about the NDAA, which roadkillrefugee covered the other day. For all the digital ink that people like Greenwald spilled on the mistake that was the Iraq War, you would think he would be singing the Presidents praises from high atop his perch at Salon.com — now that the war is over. I don’t visit that site anymore, but I can say with confidence that GG isn’t doing that.
There will be a lot of “yeah but what about…” coming from this camp in the near future. Some of the articles I scanned on this monumental event had “yeah buts” in the very first sentence of the article. They can’t even write one goddamn sentence of fact without qualifying it with negativity. Here is the first sentence from a story at the New York Times on the end of the Iraq War…
BAGHDAD — The United States military officially declared an end to its mission in Iraq on Thursday even as violence continues to plague the country and the Muslim world remains distrustful of American power.
Anyone remember Judith Miller and her role in selling the war back in early days of Bush/Cheney? I do. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the line the NYT’s takes fits right in with the hawks like McCain and Graham who seem to love them some endless wars and apparently think the only good war is the one that never ends.
My feelings on both wars that were handed to President Obama has been that much of the violence in both countries stems from us simply being there and occupying and destroying their land. It’s one of those vicious cycles the Republicans got themselves into. It’s like painting a giant target on your back and then wondering why people are shooting at you.
It’s over, done, finished….we’re out of there. And I think we should all stop and take a minute to be thankful that President Obama fulfilled his promise to get us the hell out of Iraq.
Now, let’s get the hell out of Afghanistan too.
The People’s View has a great post up about “The Base” of the Democratic Party and it ain’t that place that is on fire, has a dog and lives on a lake.
The People’s View also has a new post from Tien about the split on the left. It speaks to the disaffected Obama supporters and how to bring them back into the fold. I don’t think it applies to the people trying to inflame that group. I was going to do an entire post about that, so please go read it instead.
Allan at Angry Black Lady Chronicles lays out why Republican game playing with the debt ceiling is the height of hypocrisy, I know, say it ain’t so…Republican’s being hypocritical.
I hope the President goes all 14th amendment on the Republican’s who are trying to destroy our economy for their political gains. Check this out and follow some of the links, I knew the president had a way to protect us from those un-American asshole Republican’s.
The Only Adult In The Room has this take on Mark Halperin’s comment and subsequent suspension from MSNBC and it’s a good one. And it led to the next link below.
Tom Joyner, who I respect a lot because he was awesome enough to do a piece on my documentary last summer, which crashed our website because of traffic, a good problem to have. We had to triple our bandwidth to accommodate. :) A big thanks to Roland Martin as well, it was his segment. Joyner has this great piece that uses Halperin as a jumping off point to Tavis and Cornel. Go read it!
Smartypants has a great summary of the week in debt ceiling fun and how the Democrats have a few tools in their box.
Joy Reid at The Reid Report has a great piece on the DSK developments. Rich guys get to rape and assault women, didn’t you know that?
For the record, I didn’t support either the Afghanistan or Iraqi Wars and still don’t “support” any war. They are against what I believe in, peace, love and understanding. But I also live in reality and realize that once we’ve created a mess, we can’t just walk away without at least attempting to clean it up. At this point, I feel like I need to remind anyone on the right or left who was sleeping during the Bush Administration that President Bush started those two foolish ventures, NOT President Obama. It’s unfortunate that I have to remind people of that, but with so much revisionist history and subtle meme generation going on, I feel it’s necessary.
The head-in-the-sand critics on the left who seem to blame President Obama for everything, whether he was responsible or not (DADT), seem to think he should have just packed up all the troops on January 21, 2009 and brought them home, leaving much bigger messes for those two countries than when we invaded their world. The callousness of that thinking is astounding, really. How can these people really justify abandoning these countries that we ripped apart. Regardless of whether you were for ripping them apart or not, we couldn’t just leave them in the rubble. Part of me wishes that he had done just that, but the responsible part of me knows that we can’t just bomb the shit out of a country and then high tail it out of town. My preference, of course, was that we never go in to begin with.
I’ll post, once again, the speech by President Obama where he said what he was going to do as a candidate. It is for those on the left who have convinced themselves that he broke some promise when he ramped up the actions in Afghanistan. Isn’t it great that we have Youtube and Google so we can remember what he actually said, instead of the revisionist history so many use to their benefit.
The reason President Obama shows his strength and leadership with this decision is because unlike the Republicans who see any sort of winding down of a war as “losing”, this President has the confidence and maturity to know that “winning or losing” a war isn’t cut and dry. Especially when the enemy is some amorphous “ism” that can’t be identified at all. It is a concept, not an enemy, so it allows the Republicans who love to feed the military industrial complex with new wars, a way of having perpetual wars. Already this morning, I saw Sen. Cornyn on MSNBC wetting himself because we are actually doing what Republicans can’t seem to do, get the hell out of a war zone. He also spewed the nonsense that I’m sure the media will take and run with, that the President doesn’t have a plan. Give me a freakin break, the military loves them some plans, they draw up plans for imaginary wars, do they really think that we don’t have a plan? It’s a freaking propaganda game he is playing, he’s probably seen the plan himself.
So once again, our very qualified, measured, intelligent president has stepped up to the plate and made the tough decisions that a President of all the people has to make. He didn’t start those wars, but he sure as hell is going to end them in a responsible way. Bravo Mr. President for being the strong leader that you are and dealing with a mess that was handed to you.