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Hagel Opposed the Surge


Gawd, do I hate republicans in Democratic cabinets. If Chuck Hagel's appointment was supposed to be about 'bipartisanship,' it's a product of an out-of-touch WH political operation which completely missed the fact that republicans have long ago disowned the Nebraska moderate, or, worse; a clear portrait of a gag-worthy naivete of Barack Obama in expecting that republicans actually give a damn about the stuff they regularly rail against.

In many ways, the nomination of Hagel is a reflection of Barack Obama's impression of his own political moniker. In the lexicon of our nation's political class, Barack Obama is considered to be, at his heart, a liberal who aspires to the worst definitions of socialism. In practice and reality, though, he's a political pragmatist who regularly adopts positions and policies which reflect the more conservative limits of legislators he enlists to advance his Democratic agenda through the divided Congress than they do the aims of our party's sizable progressive membership.

The political and press establishment regularly portrays his compromises as liberal/conservative -- yet this president tends to bend toward the republican position more than often; assuming, as the establishment does, that he's already filled out the progressive card by the mere fact of that impression of him as some wild-eyed liberal.

Very rarely do his policies bend back to the progressive position, though; very often diluting initiatives, instead, to reflect the political landscape which is distorted by the republican obstinacy and opportunism.

In many ways, Barack Obama's selection of Chuck Hagel is consistent with the President's assumption that he already represents as much progressiveness on defense than the political establishment can bear, and still advance his policies and initiatives through the divided legislature. That may well be true. The republican party has shown little inclination to voluntarily abandon the remnants of the Bush doctrine of military interventionism and corporate-driven expansionism; and, Barack Obama has obliged them in retaining many of the architects and managers of that Bush policy to lead our military policy into the future.

Most of the results of the administration policy toward Afghanistan and Iran has been a weak sister of the last administration's approach. More of our troops were killed in Afghanistan on THIS president's watch than the last one; and, there's no evidence at all that this President's surge of force in Afghanistan made the killing of bin Laden a possibility. That killing of our nation's #1 nemesis is all they have to point to now there. It's a misguided policy in Afghanistan which assumes that our forces are more beneficial than they are disruptive, I'd like to see that reality faced up to and resolved with a massive pullback; immediately if they have the political will.

It is in that effort to reverse course and pull back from the counter-productive occupation that Chuck Hagel offers promise. He opposed Bush's 'surge' in Iraq; and, he also opposed President Obama's 'surge' of force in Afghanistan.

Hagel fleshed that out in an interview with Jacob Weisburg in 2011:

I've always thought, if you're a United States Senator, you have a -- you have a big job of thinking through these things and then ultimately making some decision on how you're going to vote. And there is not a more critical element of representative government for each of us who had the privilege of serving in those capacities than making a decision on war -- on whether you send your men and women to war and whether you get a country into war.

As I often used to say -- and we found out in Vietnam, we're finding out in Iraq, but every war -- easy to get into these wars, but pretty damn hard to get out of them, because you've got always the reasons why you can't leave: can't leave because all the dominos will fall in Southeast Asia or whatever it is.

Now, that said, go back -- steer back to your question. It wasn't just that. It was -- it was a lot of -- at least what I thought -- of unanswered questions. Where are we going here? What is the endgame here? On the surge, I remember asking -- I was opposed to the surge -- well, of course, if you flood any zone, any location in the world with superior American military -- and there's no, obviously, country in the world who can stand up to the superiority of our force. If you flood that zone with a superior American firepower, of course you're going to have your -- whatever your victory is, however you define that.

But I never thought Iraq, for example, was well thought-out. No one could ever take me through then what happens, then what happens, then what happens. I go back to the beginning of the first 12 months, and Jamie (sp) was at CIA, and there's some other people in the room who know something about this, were there at the time. I used to ask the questions of the witnesses that would come up about every dimension of this. And we had on record Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Natsios, who was USAID -- every one of the senior members. They would say things like -- and this is all on the record -- we'll have our troops out of Iraq by Christmas. This was the year we invaded. Certainly no more than 12 months.

These were generals -- four-star generals -- Tommy Franks, others. Natsios and Wolfowitz testified that the war would not cost the United States one penny. (Laughter.) So much oil.

They actually said this. This isn't my interpretation; this is all on the record. I never bought that. It was -- it was, to me, so much more complicated because I'd been in a war that was complicated. I'd seen the graft, I'd seen the corruption, I'd seen the death, I'd seen the misunderstandings, I'd seen the lack of clear policymaking that is just inherent in something like this. Have -- I used to say, have you thought this through? Is this going to be a classic 21st century nation building? Are we subject to nation -- and mission creep here? So it wasn't just my own emotional human pieces.

It's this type of critical thinking that can lead us out of the quagmire in Afghanistan. If President Obama can marshal all of the sentiment in the nation to break free from the politically-driven occupation, he can use Chuck Hagel as a consistent voice of reason as he redefines American's role and negotiated obligations there and in the region.

As they move to dismantle whatever remnants of Bush doctrine and policy that has kept us bogged down in Afghanistan, it should not be ignored that it has been the progressive position which has maintained the most credibility in recent matters of occupation and war. Even as Barack Obama reaches out to republicans with this nomination, he should be bending back to embrace his progressive following which has ultimately been proven correct in their protests and activism against continuing militarily in Afghanistan. We can't just assume that is already understood.

Two purples hearts, Chuck Hagel still has shrapnel in his chest ...

The Other Side Of That Victory Hug

from Julia Turner at Slate:

The Other Side of That Victory Hug: A New Photo Shows How Michelle Liked It

When Barack Obama won re-election, his campaign tweeted out a photo of him and Michelle hugging, along with the phrase “Four more years.” The image quickly went viral, breaking records on Twitter and Facebook, and last week Behold spoke to campaign photographer Scout Tufankjian about how she got that shot.

Tufankjian wasn’t the only one shooting at that August rally in Iowa. Photographer David Burnett was there too, shooting for People, and when the now-famous hug took place, he was standing on the far edge of the stage, opposite where Tufankjian was located. He snapped a photo that shows us the other side of the first couple’s embrace. (Luckily, Michelle looks just as happy as her husband to be seeing her spouse for the first time in a few days.)

. . . Burnett notes the serendipity of his shot: “Most often there are situations where photographers are standing almost next to each other, and one gets the picture, and the others don't. And even in places where there is a limit to how much running around you can do to find the best angle, there will be places, moments where ‘the picture’ happens and no one at the time is aware of it. … You need that combination of vision, reaction, and intuition to anticipate what might happen and how it will look. Therein lies both the joy and the sorrow.”

“One other note on this picture,” Burnett adds. “There were something like 10,000 people present at the rally, but it seems there is always the possibility of a picture which, while taken in the middle of a small town, looks as quiet and removed as if it were alone in the desert. That's the magic of photography, finding those telling moments amid the tumult.”

read: http://www.slate.com/blogs/behold/2012/11/16/most_liked_photo_of_all_time_michelle_and_obama_s_victory_hug_from_the_other.html

United In Nashua

The Obama Diary ‏@TheObamaDiary

United #Obama2012 (Nashua, Oct 27) http://vote.barackobama.com/en/ pic.twitter.com/Ct3CQ21i

The crowd says the Pledge of Allegiance before seeing President Obama speak at Elm Street Middle School in Nashua on Saturday, October 27, 2012. (nashuatelegraph)

Soak it up folks. For better or worse (likely for better) these are amazing times


We are on the verge of re-electing our historic and transformational Democratic president. History will look back with pride and with wonder at the audaciousness of our efforts: We'll look back with pride and satisfaction that we stood and fought, resolved, to propel our progressive destiny into the future; firmly behind this remarkable and capable man.

Whatever else that we win or lose, we've made our mark on American history in a way that will roil the tradition and practice of generations of political aspirants and enthusiasts to come. Despite our differences; despite our setbacks, failures, and disappointments; we're still united behind one principle; one guiding aspiration from our Organizer-in-Chief: Hope. Hope for the future, in all that we endeavor to accomplish in our advocacy, activism, and participation in the processes of government.

Here's to US, in these amazing times, DU! Cheers, and (in the days and years ahead) best of luck to us all!

Can we see the futility now in expecting our Democrats to get credit in these debates?


Having bought way into the media narrative about an Obama 'loss' in the last debate, there's no bottom; no end to the over-the-top criticisms of the president's 'performance,' and using that gripe to brush past the truth and substance of his remarks and responses to Romney's lies.

Now that we've had a clear rout of the pipsqueak, Ryan, by our experienced and seasoned VP Biden, it should come as no surprise that the second-half of the prevaricating republican ticket is given enough of a pass by pundits on his own obvious and easily proven lies to declare his performance equal with his weighty rival.

Folks who thought it was a good idea to give Romney ANY credit at all for that Greek dodge of a debate act of his, are stuck with Romney's media allies and apologists declaring that the excellent fight Joe Biden waged was some kind of 'damage control' for the last debate, instead of judging his debate with Ryan on its own merits.

Any fine point critics wanted to make about the President's debate -- or any fine point about the substance of Romney's myriad of lies and distortions -- will NEVER overcome the satisfaction the media and their conservative minions get from having folks (who are dead set against them and their republican nominees) running down their own candidate because of complaints about superficial issues and theatrics. Just listen to the right-wing critics complaining about the theater of VP's performance; all with the expressed purpose of obscuring the fact that Ryan couldn't hold his own on the facts of his own ticket's positions and initiatives; much less challenge Joe Biden on the actual substance of his responses.

Running our candidate down using theatrics and performance as benchmarks is a fools game designed by folks who are eager to distract from substance and truth. We should brush right past all of that and spend whatever window of opportunity we have to pass judgment on these debates criticizing the substance, rather than the cosmetics. Substance is what we want to be known for.

The theater will adjust itself according to the merits of our Democratic candidate's proposals; especially if we can manage to get behind them; brush past the petty criticisms; and add our voices to those actually care more about what was said, more than how it was delivered. Any other attitude by folks working to elect this President just surrenders that focus to the dilettantes and their deliberate fudging of the facts and truth of what's been said. The equalizing going on this morning of these two mismatched opponent's performances by the majority of the media proves that, without a doubt; joining their chorus is a fool's errand -- plain and simple.

The Press Can't Handle the Truth


What actual good is a press which treats folks they call liars as legitimate and credible?

There are plenty of good articles about the campaign of lies that the Romney campaign has adopted as its primary strategy against President Obama. In them, Romney's deliberate lies, half-truths, and other mendacious statements are detailed and confirmed. Yet, there isn't any real or obvious penalty in the press for lying to them. If anything, the prevaricating candidate is rewarded by even more coverage; more exposure, until the lies either fall from their promoted interest or the candidate is just allowed to move on to their next subject.

Romney and Ryan have found that politics creates its own reality for candidates which is directly related to the number of folks they're able to convince to go along with their distortions of the truth. If you can accept the lie, for whatever reason, that Barack Obama is a Muslim born in Kenya, you can help the liar perpetuate it by providing a bubble of support to lift them up and away from any accountability their opponents or detractors might provide.

That is why it is so important for their opponent to work as hard as they're able to convince a larger number of supporters to elevate their perspective and challenge of those lies by supporting a candidate who will represent their point of view in their campaign for office. Sadly, it's not always the truth which wins the day.

We saw George Bush buoyed by his Iraq lies, into reelection over the truth-telling John Kerry. Bush's lies didn't become true when he was elected, but, they were rendered operable; the elected official was able to carry those lies further -- into actual policy and practice.

As the press has found, it's not nearly enough to point out that a candidate is a liar; they need to actually convince someone to call them that for the liar to experience or suffer any sort of consequence. There is simply no mechanism to actually call these candidates on their lies, outside of voting them down with a majority of ballots. The electoral college makes that public accountability even less certain.

That's all a very real measure of the daunting task for President Obama and VP Biden in this race against two practiced and professional prevaricators; two republican, political liars looking for a voting public pass to continue their mendacious representations of their policy and initiatives into office. That's the next obvious step. The press can holler till they're blue that the emperor has no clothes, but until the public puts their scorn into the form of some kind of political action, the pretenders have room and incentive to carry on.

So, here's a hope that the VP, tonight, and the President, in the subsequent debates, convinces enough voting Americans that Romney and Ryan are inveterate liars; enough folks to vote them down. That's the challenge for our Democratic candidates in the remaining moments of this election. That's the only real accountability and consequence these candidates will actually experience for the way they handle the truth.

It might be kind of an elephant ~ Or a funny kind of kazoo!

(bigtree original)

more: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021489698

And that's why I never abbreviate Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Nicholas Kristof ‏@NickKristof 31m

Congrats to Philippines for peace deal with MILF rebels. If it sticks, that's a huge advance for a lovely country!


Catherine Warrick ‏@CatWarr

And that's why I never abbreviate Moro Islamic Liberation Front.


Barack Obama in Cleveland, OH - October 5th

Photograph by Scout Tufankjian for Obama for America

I just have this feeling that I'm being followed

(bigtree original)
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