Friday, September 16, 2011

"When you tell Dakota he can't do something, he's is going to do it."

There's a damn good reason Sgt. Dakota L. Meyer got himself a Congressional Medal of Honor.  The text  comes from (of all places) Gizmodo. And in case you're wondering (courtesy of the above video), Meyer did get that beer with the President.

I want you to imagine it's September 8, 2009, just before dawn. A patrol of Afghan forces and their American trainers is on foot, making their way up a narrow valley, heading into a village to meet with elders. And suddenly, all over the village, the lights go out. And that's when it happens. About a mile away, Dakota, who was then a corporal, and Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, could hear the ambush over the radio. It was as if the whole valley was exploding. Taliban fighters were unleashing a firestorm from the hills, from the stone houses, even from the local school.

And soon, the patrol was pinned down, taking ferocious fire from three sides. Men were being wounded and killed, and four Americans — Dakota's friends — were surrounded. Four times, Dakota and Juan asked permission to go in; four times they were denied. It was, they were told, too dangerous. But one of the teachers in his high school once said, "When you tell Dakota he can't do something, he's is going to do it." And as Dakota said of his trapped teammates, "Those were my brothers, and I couldn't just sit back and watch."

The story of what Dakota did next will be told for generations. He told Juan they were going in. Juan jumped into a Humvee and took the wheel; Dakota climbed into the turret and manned the gun. They were defying orders, but they were doing what they thought was right. So they drove straight into a killing zone, Dakota's upper body and head exposed to a blizzard of fire from AK-47s and machine guns, from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Coming upon wounded Afghan soldiers, Dakota jumped out and loaded each of the wounded into the Humvee, each time exposing himself to all that enemy fire. They turned around and drove those wounded back to safety. Those who were there called it the most intense combat they'd ever seen. Dakota and Juan would have been forgiven for not going back in. But as Dakota says, you don't leave anyone behind.

For a second time, they went back — back into the inferno; Juan at the wheel, swerving to avoid the explosions all around them; Dakota up in the turret — when one gun jammed, grabbing another, going through gun after gun. Again they came across wounded Afghans. Again Dakota jumped out, loaded them up and brought them back to safety.

For a third time, they went back — insurgents running right up to the Humvee, Dakota fighting them off. Up ahead, a group of Americans, some wounded, were desperately trying to escape the bullets raining down. Juan wedged the Humvee right into the line of fire, using the vehicle as a shield. With Dakota on the guns, they helped those Americans back to safety as well.

For a fourth time, they went back. Dakota was now wounded in the arm. Their vehicle was riddled with bullets and shrapnel. Dakota later confessed, "I didn't think I was going to die. I knew I was." But still they pushed on, finding the wounded, delivering them to safety.

And then, for a fifth time, they went back — into the fury of that village, under fire that seemed to come from every window, every doorway, every alley. And when they finally got to those trapped Americans, Dakota jumped out. And he ran toward them. Drawing all those enemy guns on himself. Bullets kicking up the dirt all around him. He kept going until he came upon those four Americans, laying where they fell, together as one team.

Dakota and the others who had joined him knelt down, picked up their comrades and — through all those bullets, all the smoke, all the chaos — carried them out, one by one. Because, as Dakota says, "That's what you do for a brother."

Dakota says he'll accept this medal in their name. So today, we remember the husband who loved the outdoors —Lieutenant Michael Johnson. The husband and father they called "Gunny J" — Gunnery Sergeant Edwin Johnson. The determined Marine who fought to get on that team — Staff Sergeant Aaron Kenefick. The medic who gave his life tending to his teammates — Hospitalman Third Class James Layton. And a soldier wounded in that battle who never recovered — Sergeant First Class Kenneth Westbrook.

The Today Show Interview with Joe McGinnis, author of "The Rogue" (VIDEO)

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There was a time when James Carville was considered smart, right?

More from the same, epic Bob Shrum piece (shudder!).

I never thought I'd live to see the day when I thought James Carville was a useless sack of crap, but here we are:

My friend James Carville [argues] in a pyrotechnic CNN piece that yes, the White House should "panic." There is no more time for "explanations" — although it usually helps to think things through before making what Carville calls "a complete change [in] direction." And what does that change consist of? "Fire a lot of people" — which Obama won't and shouldn't do. So thus, the "geniuses" of 2008 become the scapegoats of 2011. Playing a hasty game of musical chairs would turn Obama's ship of state into the Titanic. It's a reflex, a gimmick — and it's ahistorical. As Bill Clinton's campaign chief in 1992, Carville didn't panic — he certainly didn't fire himself — in the early summer of that year, when Clinton was in last place, at 22 percent, in a three-way race with Ross Perot and the first George Bush.

Carville also wants Attorney General Eric Holder fired — boy, that will set off a popular pro-Obama groundswell. And the Ragin' Cajun recommends that the Justice Department "indict people," presumably a host of people and presumably on Wall Street — a white hot populist gesture that could cripple or crash financial markets. In any case, Obama wouldn't debase the law to score political points; we had enough of that in the last administration. In this one, indictments have been made and will be — but on the merits.

Carville is on target about one thing: Obama has to "make a case like a Democrat." But that's what this president is doing now. Day after day, he is drawing the dividing lines. He does have to keep at it — and show as well as say that he's the one fighting for ordinary, hard-working, and out-of-work Americans. That's been the right course for some time — and with Obama on course, he doesn't need to be told, "Fire. Indict. Fight." It's a catchy aphorism, but it's only one-third right.

Bob Shrum explains what happened in the New York 9th Special Election...

Is THIS what it comes down to?  Me agreeing with Bob Shrum??!?  (BOB SHRUM for pity's sake!!!)

The GOP reaction was predictable: This was a referendum on Obama and a portent of doom in 2012. After all, here was the first Republican elected from this district since 1923. (Actually, that's a sloppy factoid, echoed in the media, to make it easy to blame Obama first; it's a fact in the Brooklyn rump of the district, but not in Queens, the district's predominant swath, where Forest Hills and other neighborhoods sent Republican Seymour Halpern to Congress in the 1960s and 1970s.)

Al Smith, the master of the sidewalks of New York, in a characteristic phrase, might have called the Democrat in this special election "a bum." At the least, David Weprin was a bumbler. He confidently offered up a figure on the national debt; he was off by 10 trillion (with a 'T') dollars. He skipped out of a debate, citing the threat of Hurricane Irene; the storm had already passed. He didn't go on the attack until it was too late; he never brought Gov. Andrew Cuomo into a district where he is overwhelmingly popular.

James Carville would have the president play a hasty game of musical chairs that would turn Obama's ship of state into the Titanic.

Weprin fled any identification with the president after former New York Mayor Ed Koch urged voters to retaliate against Obama's Mideast policy by rallying to the Right. Koch, whom I was proud to help defeat for re-election in 1989, has a record of exploiting ethnic tensions and turning on his own party. He race-baited Jesse Jackson in the 1988 presidential primary — and in the past, he's endorsed Rudolph Giuliani, the state's last Republican senator (Alfonse D'Amato), and George W. Bush.

Never mind that Weprin is an Orthodox Jew, an undeviating rubber stamp for Israeli policies, with relatives living in that country. And never mind that Obama's position is the same as Bush's, Bill Clinton's, and the peace deal Israel offered in 2000 and 2001 — a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps. And never mind that as Israel's self-ordained champion, Koch in reality endangers the increasingly isolated Jewish state with his knee-jerk support of a Netanyahu regime that subordinates the strategic imperatives of national survival to the political survival of his own extremist-infested coalition. To cite Abba Eban's famous phrase, it's now Netanyahu who "never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity" — say, to avert a dangerous break with Turkey — and there are "friends" of Israel like Koch who are there with him every lurch of the way.

Koch undoubtedly hurt Weprin; but there's little doubt that other, stronger Democrats — including former District Attorney and Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman — would have won anyway. But Democratic bosses outsmarted, or more accurately, out-dumbed themselves by ruling out a primary in favor of picking a patsy who would compliantly disappear after redistricting eliminated one of New York City's congressional seats. They got the patsy they wanted, only he inconveniently disappeared 14 months early.

Randi Rhodes said all of this on her show like on...Wednesday.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Memo to Liberals: Being taken seriously involves actual work

From Ta-Neishi Coates' piece: Liberal Sorcery:

The other day Tavis Smiley made the point that president's job plan didn't go far enough. I'd bet a lot of progressives concur and I think pushing the point is healthy, legitimate, essential and fair. But it's also healthy, legitimate, essential and fair to then ask, "What would make more progressive legislation possible?" That line of thinking has to confront the kind of statements and action by Democratic Senators who evidently feel little or no pressure from their progressive base.

One of the reasons why I've harped on the "flying while brownish" series is because I think liberals are much more comfortable attacking whoever seems to hold the most power, and much less comfortable examining the power of the "weak," as well as the power that they, themselves, wield. Power confers responsibility. In evading the notion that citizenship in a democracy confers power, you also evade the notion that it confers responsibility. It's comforting to believe in a narrative of liberal "betrayal," to argue that the game is rigged in such a way that the Hippie-punchers always win.

It's also pretty cynical.

Tom Carper [mouthing off that the best Jobs bill is a bill that reduces the Long-term deficit] from the comfortable environs of blue Delaware is a failure of Team Commie to be regarded as serious political force. People who talk of primarying Obama need to pick smaller targets--and thus elicit bigger results.

But being taken seriously involves actual work. It means a poverty tour that doesn't just bark (Obama the black mascot) but bites (voter registration in swing districts.) If you don't like the current iteration of America, you need to remember that you are America. The failure to build a more progressive America isn't merely a testimony to dastardly evil, it's a testimony to the failure of progressives.

Matt again:

If you're a progressive and you feel that the political system isn't doing what you want, it's misguided to look at this as a personal failure of elected officials. It's, if anything, a personal failure of you and people like you. Justice and equality doesn't just happen because it's nice, people need to make it happen. If it's not happening, then its advocates are failing.

Somehow we got in our head that the Civil Rights movement happened because Martin Luther King was a really nice guy. We don't really talk about the movement as an actual force, as applying force. We don't think about what SNCC was really trying to do when they were risking their lives to register voters in the delta. When we think about people trying to kill them we think about evil, but we should think about power and fear.

Let me make my stance clear, in case it isn't already. I love Liberalism. I love its ideals.

Liberals, on the other hand...

Happiest words of the day: Scott Walker has lawyered up...

This is from another Steve Benen story, and it brings joy to my heart:

About a dozen law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, raided the home of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday as part of a growing investigation into whether county employees did political work while at their jobs.


There’s also this tidbit of news.

There was no comment Wednesday from Governor Walker, who has retained legal counsel, although he claims not to have been personally contacted by federal agents.

Now, there may be nothing to this, but when a sitting governor retains outside counsel as part of a growing corruption investigation, and FBI agents are paying visits to his former top aides, it would appear Scott Walker has a bit of a problem.

It’s worth emphasizing that the allegations, according to local media accounts, are focused on potential misdeeds committed before Walker became governor — the accusations focus on whether county staffers did political work for Walker when they were supposed to be doing official work for the public — but the controversy can still do some real damage.

Walker, best known for picking a huge fight over stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights, is already unpopular in his home state, and the threat of a recall election still looms on the horizon. It makes this story something to keep an eye on.

"There will be no Social Security in the recommendations..."

Social Security and a raise in the Medicare age are off the table. Why? Because the GOP burned the President one too many times:

And even Huffington Post (the worthless Huffington Post, for pity's sake!) agrees:

Jilted by Republican leadership during the deficit-reduction talks that accompanied the debt ceiling debate, the Obama administration is now pulling back an offer to put Social Security reform on the negotiating table.

The president will not include changes to that program in the series of deficit reduction measures that he will offer to the congressional super committee next Monday, administration officials confirm.

This was all caught by Steve Benen first this morning, who follows up with:

And what about the possibility that the president might recommend raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67? Both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal report today that the White House doesn’t intend to recommend this, either. It’s more likely Obama’s plan will call for cuts to providers and/or higher premiums for wealthier recipients.

In other words, President Obama, burned by Republicans who rejected his outreach, apparently intends to keep up the fighting spirit we saw last week with the introduction of the American Jobs Act. If the reports today are accurate, the White House’s debt-reduction plan will be largely in line with what much of the left has wanted him to do all along.

Oddly enough, perhaps the most important progressive victory of the summer came when House Republicans turned Obama’s Grand Bargain offer down. Nevertheless, it appears the president learned a lesson from the ordeal, and isn’t inclined to make the mistake again.

I am not one of the Obama supporters who believes that the President is a Jedi, or a guy who's playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. No, the President is smart. He's the smartest guy in the room, but he's not Yoda (Obi Wan, maybe). He is super intelligent, and this intelligence gives him an ability to react better and more quickly to situations than most other people.

This is a long way of saying yes, he actually believed in a Grand Bargain. He was genuine in his offer. It was not a feint or a double-move, or thinking ten moves ahead. He wanted a deal, and when the GOP rejected that deal, he was able to quickly and smartly change tactics to deal with the situation.

But the strategy remains the same: Get re-elected and leave the country in better shape than you found it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The President's American Jobs Act Tour comes to Columbus, OH (VIDEO)

The President's American Jobs Act Tour comes to Raleigh, NC (VIDEO)

How President Obama helped to save six Israelis with a phone call...

First caught by Andrew Sullivan.  This was an interesting read, but as an Obama fan I'm glad the President did what he did, I'm just not sure why this was "historic" as the author keeps suggesting.  For the record, the guy doing the speaking I don't believe is a native english speaker. He's also the former head of the Mossad, Efraim Halevy. That might explain some of the blocky usage you're about to read.

During [last Friday night], as you know, [the Israeli] embassy [in Cairo] was surrounded and was on the verge of being stormed. And [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] went to the special command center in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and from there he actually ran and commanded this operation of trying to extricate our staff from the embassy. And, at the end, there were six people left, six people of the security detail of the embassy. They were there inside the last room, which had been the ultimate room in the embassy. And, they had one steel door, which was between them and the mob.

And the Prime Minister took many very, very important decisions that night. Successful decisions, very responsible decisions. And for that he has been lauded, and rightly so I think by the public in Israel and by the population at large for his cool and his measured way of handling this crisis.

But one of the decisions he had to take in the end, he wanted to take, was to find ways of extricating his people, our people, out of that embassy. And he turned to one man, to the President of the United States, and he spoke to him. And the president of the United States, without having much time to consult with Congress, and with the media, and with the analysts and with all of the other people who have to be consulted on major and grave decisions. He took a decision to take up the telephone and get on the line with the powers that be in Egypt, and get them to order the release of these six people, and the detail of the Egyptian commando forces entered and saved them.

I think that this decision by President Obama was a unique decision in many ways. Because I don’t have to tell you, and this was just said time and time and over again this afternoon/this evening, that the United States is not in a position the way it was many years ago in the Middle East, it has its problems, it has its considerations, and rightly so. But I believe the leadership that the President of the United States showed on that night was a leadership of historic dimensions. It was he who took the ultimate decision that night which prevented what could have been a sad outcome—instead of six men coming home, the arrival in Israel of six body bags.

The rest can be found here. Like I said, I don't know about "historic". The United States and Israel are allies, and this is what allies do for one another.

And let's keep in mind that our non-interference in the Egyptian Uprisings also helped out a lot.  Because we don't go in as strong (as McCain and Graham always suggest), we don't screw up relations with the new Egyptian Government, so there is someone willing to take our call and listen.  And I also doubt Obama ordered the Egyptians to do anything.  It's not his style, and he wasn't in much of a position to order anything.  He picks up the phone, and makes a simple request, laying out how a non-violent resolution helps everybody.  The Egyptians listened, said sure, and sent their own Commandos in to save the Israeli Security personnel.  Done.  All in a night's work.

I appreciate the story, and this is pretty much what I voted for in 2008.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Lawrence's Interview with Howard Dean... (VIDEO)

Howard's had his ups and downs in my eyes, but ever since William Daley was named Chief of Staff, I've noted a lot more positive tone from the good Doctor:

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The President answers questions on the American Jobs Act...

...and by the way, it should be passed right away.


Funniest moment, the President takes a question from an Atlanta-based reporter...and drops some smack about the Bears-Falcons game the day before.