“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Our generals have grown worse as they have been lionized more and more by a society now reflexively deferential to the military.

General Failure

Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two.

On June 13, 1944, a few days after the 90th Infantry Division went into action against the Germans in Normandy under the command of Brigadier General Jay MacKelvie, MacKelvie’s superior officer, Major General J. Lawton Collins, went on foot to check on his men. “We could locate no regimental or battalion headquarters,” he recalled with dismay. “No shelling was going on, nor any fighting that we could observe.” This was an ominous sign, as the Battle of Normandy was far from decided, and the Wehrmacht was still trying to push the Americans, British, and Canadians, who had landed a week earlier, back into the sea.
Just a day earlier, the 90th’s assistant division commander, Brigadier General “Hanging Sam” Williams, had also been looking for the leader of his green division. He’d found MacKelvie sheltering from enemy fire, huddled in a drainage ditch along the base of a hedgerow. “Goddamn it, General, you can’t lead this division hiding in that goddamn hole,” Williams shouted. “Go back to the [command post]. Get the hell out of that hole and go to your vehicle. Walk to it, or you’ll have this goddamn division wading in the English Channel.” The message did not take. The division remained bogged down, veering close to passivity.
American troops were fighting to stay alive—no small feat in that summer’s bloody combat. One infantry company in the 90th began a day in July with 142 men and finished it with 32. Its battalion commander walked around babbling “I killed K Company, I killed K Company.” Later that summer, one of the 90th’s battalions, with 265 soldiers, surrendered to a German patrol of 50 men and two tanks. In six weeks of small advances, the division would use up all its infantrymen, requesting replacements of more than 100 percent.
General Collins removed MacKelvie on the very same day that his tour revealed no fighting in progress. Collins instructed the 90th’s new commander, Major General Eugene Landrum, to fire the commanders of two of the division’s three regiments. One of those two, the West Point graduate Colonel P. D. Ginder, was considered by many to be a disaster. One man, a mortar forward observer, remembered that Ginder “almost constantly made the wrong decisions.” He had been in command of his regiment for less than a month when he was replaced.
MacKelvie’s successor, Landrum, was given a few weeks to prove he was an able commander, but by midsummer he too was judged to be wanting. Before he was relieved, Landrum fired the assistant division commander he had inherited, Sam Williams, with whom he had clashed. “I feel that a general officer of a more optimistic and calming attitude would be more beneficial to this division at this time,” Landrum wrote. General Omar Bradley, the senior American general in France at the time, concurred. He topped off the dismissal by demoting Williams to colonel.
Within a few weeks, Bradley relieved Landrum as well, and sent Brigadier General Raymond McLain, whom he had brought from Italy to England to have on tap as a replacement when someone was fired, to take over the 90th Infantry Division. “We’re going to make that division go, if we’ve got to can every senior officer in it,” Bradley told him. Two days later, McLain gave him a list of 16 field-grade officers he wanted out of the division.
The swift reliefs of World War II were not precise, and while many made way for more-capable commanders, some were clearly the wrong move. Nonetheless, their cumulative effect was striking. The 90th Division, for instance, improved radically—transforming from a problem division that First Army staff wanted to break up, into “one of the most outstanding [divisions] in the European Theater,” as Bradley later wrote. Retired Army Colonel Henry Gole, in his analysis of the 90th Division, directly credits the policy of fast relief:
Because incompetent commanders were fired and replaced by quality men at division and regiment, and because the junior officers of 1944 [who were] good at war … rose to command battalions in a Darwinian process, the division became an effective fighting force.
Generalship in combat is extraordinarily difficult, and many seasoned officers fail at it. During World War II, senior American commanders typically were given a few months to succeed, or they’d be replaced. Sixteen out of the 155 officers who commanded Army divisions in combat were relieved for cause, along with at least five corps commanders.
Since 9/11, the armed forces have played a central role in our national affairs, waging two long wars—each considerably longer than America’s involvement in World War II. Yet a major change in how our military operates has gone almost unnoticed. Relief of generals has become so rare that, as Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling noted during the Iraq War, a private who loses his rifle is now punished more than a general who loses his part of a war. In the wars of the past decade, hundreds of Army generals were deployed to the field, and the available evidence indicates that not one was relieved by the military brass for combat ineffectiveness. This change is arguably one of the most significant developments in our recent military history—and an important factor in the failure of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Relief of generals has become so rare that a private who loses his rifle is now punished more than a general who loses his part of the war.

To a shocking degree, the Army’s leadership ranks have become populated by mediocre officers, placed in positions where they are likely to fail. Success goes unrewarded, and everything but the most extreme failure goes unpunished, creating a perverse incentive system that drives leaders toward a risk-averse middle where they are more likely to find stalemate than victory. A few high-profile successes, such as those of General David Petraeus in Iraq, may temporarily mask this systemic problem, but they do not solve it.
Ironically, our generals have grown worse as they have been lionized more and more by a society now reflexively deferential to the military. The Bush administration has been roundly (and fairly) criticized for its delusive approach to the war in Iraq and its neglect of the war in Afghanistan. Yet the serious failures of our military leaders in these conflicts have escaped almost all notice. No one is pushing those leaders to step back and examine the shortcomings of their institution. These are dangerous developments. Unaddressed, they could lead to further failures in future wars.
Generals are born, and generals are made. The promotion from colonel to brigadier (or one-star) general is one of the largest psychological leaps an officer can take. It is richly symbolic: the promoted officer removes from his or her uniform the insignia of an Army branch (the crossed rifles of infantry, for example, or the tiny triple-turreted castle of engineers) and puts on a single star. As brigadier generals, the newly promoted officers are informed that they no longer represent a part of the Army, but now are stewards of the entire service. They are expected to coordinate and control multiple branches, such as artillery, cavalry, and engineers—that is, to become generalists.
These people are given powers we accord to few: to save and take lives; to advise presidents on our most fundamental national issues; to shape their own institution by deciding how to select and groom their successors.
During World War II, top officials expected some generals to fail in combat, and were prepared to remove them when they did. The personalities of these generals mattered enormously, and the Army’s chief of staff, George C. Marshall, worked hard to find the right men for the jobs at hand. When some officers did not work out, they were removed quickly—but many were given another chance, in a different job. (Ginder, Landrum, and Williams were all given second chances, for instance—and all, to varying extents, redeemed themselves.) This hard-nosed but flexible system created a strong military, not only because the most competent were allowed to rise quickly, but also because people could learn from mistakes before the results became crippling, and because officers could find the right fit for their particular abilities.
In World War II, the firing of a general was seen as a sign that the system was working as planned. Yet now, in the rare instances when it does occur, relief tends to be seen, especially inside the Army, as a sign that the system has somehow failed. Only one high-profile relief occurred during the American invasion of Iraq, and the officer removed was not a general but a Marine colonel. Relief has become so unusual that even this firing made front-page news.
How did this transformation occur? Why has relief become so rare, and our military leadership rank so sclerotic? The nature of the wars the nation has fought since World War II is one reason. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were all small, ambiguous, increasingly unpopular wars, and in each, success was harder to define than it was in World War II. Firing generals seemed to send a signal to the public that the war was going poorly.
But that is only a partial explanation. Changes in our broader society are also to blame. During the 1950s, the military, like much of the nation, became more “corporate”—less tolerant of the maverick and more likely to favor conformist “organization men.” As a large, bureaucratized national-security establishment developed to wage the Cold War, the nation’s generals also began acting less like stewards of a profession, responsible to the public at large, and more like members of a guild, looking out primarily for their own interests.
In Vietnam, the consequences of this shift in Army practices became painfully evident. Almost no generals were fired in that war, and those few who were removed were only the top men, ousted by civilian leaders in Washington—generals did not fire other generals. Not coincidentally, appropriate risk-taking diminished (the art of combat pursuit was almost lost in Vietnam), and a “cover your ass” mentality took hold.
These corrosive tendencies were reinforced by a new policy of officer rotation after six months in command, which encouraged many leaders to simply keep their heads down until they could move on—and likewise encouraged superior officers to wait out the tours of bad officers serving beneath them. Instead of weeding out bad officers, senior leaders tended to closely supervise them, encouraging habits of micromanagement that plague the Army to this day. Mediocrity also led to mendacity: Almost forgotten now is that an Army investigation of the 1968 massacre of hundreds of Vietnamese villagers by troops of the 23rd “Americal” Division concluded that 28 officers, including four colonels and two generals, appeared to have committed offenses in covering up the incident. Even after the extent of the massacre and the subsequent cover-up were revealed, Major General Samuel Koster, who had commanded the Americal and who had been implicated in the cover-up, was allowed to remain in uniform for another 23 months, and was never brought to trial (although he was eventually demoted).
The Army famously rebuilt itself after the Vietnam War ended. It improved training; reequipped itself with a new array of tanks, helicopters, and armored vehicles; and, most significant, learned how to live without a draft, relying instead on a more professional “all volunteer” force. These developments, combined with a successful offensive in the 1991 Gulf War, led to a resurgence of American pride in the military, and a newfound veneration for military leaders.

Yet despite this otherwise magnificent rebuilding effort, the Army did not change its approach to generalship. The generation of leaders trained in the 1980s and ’90s were smart and energetic, but also conformist and relentlessly tactical, conceiving their role narrowly. Relief remained exceedingly rare.
Nor did the relationship between an officer’s battlefield performance and his or her subsequent promotions grow any stronger. As an American civilian official then based in Afghanistan put it in 2007, “The guys who did well didn’t get treated well, and the guys who did badly didn’t get treated badly.” One-year rotations meant officers came and went without seeing the consequences of their actions, enabling almost all to claim that they presided over progress.
Many Americans remember the Iraq War as a string of mistakes by the Bush administration—from overestimating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein to underestimating the difficulty of occupying the country. While that perception is correct, it hardly tells the entire story. In 2007, Philip Zelikow, who had been the State Department’s counselor as the war in Iraq descended into chaos, told me, “I think the situation is worse than people realize, and the problems are primarily with the military.” Discussing American generalship in Iraq over the course of the war, he added: “I don’t think people realized how bad this was … The American people believe the problem is, the civilians didn’t listen to the generals. This is very unhealthy for the Army.” The U.S. Army in Iraq, Zelikow said, reminded him of the French army before World War I: “The military is venerated. It is the inheritor of Napoleon. The general is decorated with gold braid—but there’s no ‘there’ there. There is an aversion to deep thinking.”
The failures of the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan were not the failures of frontline soldiers. American troops deployed to these wars fit and well trained. However, training tends to prepare one for known problems; it is the job of military leaders to prepare for the unknown, the unpredictable, and the unexpected. Many of the generals leading the Army were not mentally prepared for the wars they encountered.
“The troops were good at what they were told to do, from day one,” observed retired Army Colonel Robert Killebrew, a longtime student of strategy and leadership, in a correspondence we had about Iraq. “Had counterinsurgency been invoked on day two, [the soldiers] would have adapted.” For an example, Killebrew pointed to the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, which in 2003, under General Petraeus, moved quickly to a counterinsurgency strategy and kept Mosul surprisingly quiet for almost a year. The problem everywhere else in Iraq, Killebrew continued, was not the troops but the senior leaders, who were unable to tell their soldiers how to counter an insurgency. “As is often the case in war, the question is not whether the troops can adapt, but whether the leaders can. The troops, as always, paid the price of educating their leaders.” In Iraq, it took more than three years for Army leaders simply to begin listening to units on the subject of what wasn’t working—that is, about as much time as the U.S. military spent fighting World War II.
American generalship in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was too often a tale of ineptitude exacerbated by a wholesale lack of accountability. Both wars began badly, with General Tommy R. Franks failing to understand what he was wading into. In many ways, Franks is the representative general of the post-9/11 era. He concerned himself principally with tactical matters, refusing to think seriously about what would happen after his forces attacked. “I knew the President and Don Rumsfeld would back me up,” he wrote in his memoir, “so I felt free to pass the message along to the bureaucracy beneath them: You pay attention to the day after and I’ll pay attention to the day of.” Franks fundamentally misunderstood generalship, which at its topmost levels must link military action to political results.
Most generals get the opportunity to lose, at worst, one war. Franks, who from mid-2000 to mid-2003 oversaw the U.S. Central Command, the headquarters for operations in the Middle East, bungled two. Warning signs began flashing in late 2001, with his tepid effort to capture Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, about 90 miles southeast of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Coming just three months after the stunning attacks of 9/11, the Tora Bora fight provided the best early chance for American forces to kill or capture the al‑Qaeda leader. Yet Franks seemed inattentive, almost as if the battle were someone else’s problem. The Centcom commander did not see bin Laden’s capture as crucial to his campaign, or as a goal for which he should risk casualties and a messy fight. He was content to provide air power, which dropped 700,000 pounds of bombs in the area of Tora Bora over a few days in December 2001.
Ironically, our generals have grown worse as they have been lionized more and more by a society now reflexively deferential to the military.

The CIA officer in charge at Tora Bora was certain he had bin Laden cornered, though his team remained outnumbered on the ground. He repeatedly requested a battalion of Army rangers to help press the attack and seal the escape routes into Pakistan. But Franks declined the requests, citing several reasons, among them his desire not to inject more troops, the time it would take to send them, and his sense that the intelligence on bin Laden’s location was less reliable than the CIA believed. The best evidence indicates that bin Laden walked south into Pakistan in mid-December 2001, perhaps wounded in the shoulder.
Four months later, Franks made a similar mistake during Operation Anaconda, declining to provide adequate artillery support to light-infantry units that had pinned down several hundred al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the Shah-i-Kot Valley. Again, the al-Qaeda men escaped into Pakistan. “I thought it was a very successful operation,” the general said afterward. “I thought the planning that was done was very good planning, and I think the result of the operation was also outstanding.” He seemed to believe that it was a net strategic gain to push the Islamic extremists from Afghanistan into neighboring Pakistan, a far more populous country that suffered from a shaky security situation—and possessed a nuclear arsenal estimated to contain scores of warheads.
Not long after the Anaconda battle, Franks spoke at the Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island. A student heard his talk and then posed the most basic but most important sort of question: What is the nature of the war you are fighting in Afghanistan? “That’s a great question for historians,” Franks said. He then went on to discuss how U.S. troops cleared cave complexes. It was a sergeant’s answer, not a general’s. Franks “really was comfortable at the tactical level,” concluded an officer who was in the audience that day.
Privately, Army strategists agreed with that verdict, according to an after-action review of the first part of the Afghan War, completed at the Army War College the following summer. Franks’s headquarters suffered from “many disturbing trends,” including “a short-term focus,” the report stated. “The lack of a war plan or theater campaign plan has hindered operations and led to a tactical focus that ignores long-term objectives.”
If Afghanistan hinted at Franks’s shortcomings, Iraq revealed them fully. Historically, thinking about war and then arriving at actionable conclusions has been the core task of generals. Yet Franks seemed to believe that thinking was something others did for generals. In his memoir, he refers to his military planners, with a whiff of good-old-boy contempt, as “the fifty-pound brains.”
Part of the problem was Franks’s personality. He was a military version of Donald Trump, both dull and arrogant. His memoir, with its evasions and omissions, is not reliable as a historical record, but it reveals the man well. In it, for example, Franks claims that the troubled aftermath of the Iraq invasion “was actually going about as I had expected—not as I had hoped, but as I had expected.” Yet this assertion contradicted the formal planning documents produced by his subordinates before the war. For example, one classified PowerPoint briefing given shortly before the invasion stated, under the heading “What to Expect After Regime Change”:
Most tribesmen, including Sunni loyalists, will realize that their lives will be better once Saddam is gone for good. Reporting indicates a growing sense of fatalism, and accepting their fate, among Sunnis. There may be a small group of die hard supporters that [are] willing to rally in the regime’s heartland near Tikrit—but they won’t last long without support.
Not long before the invasion began, General Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, expressed concern that the U.S. force lacked sufficient troops to occupy Iraq. When I asked Franks in August 2004 about Shinseki’s concerns, he dismissed the question, saying that Shinseki “didn’t provide anything that all of us didn’t already know.” Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, who took over the Iraq War from Franks, states in his own memoir that Franks told him in June 2003 that American forces would be out of Iraq later that year.
In his book, published in 2004, Franks dwells on the variety of ways he had devised to start the Iraq War, but he has little to say about how he thought it should end. He insists that he did a lot of hard thinking about post-war Iraq, but a chart he proudly reproduces in the book, outlining his “basic grand strategy,” shows nothing to support that claim—it is all about attacking, nothing more.

Franks and his staff devoted almost all of their energies to the mission of removing a weak regime and almost none to the more difficult task of replacing it. This omission became disastrous, because no one in the Bush administration was focusing on the problem either. In 2004, an official Pentagon review led by two former defense secretaries, James Schlesinger and Harold Brown, unambiguously concluded, “The October 2002 Centcom war plan presupposed that relatively benign stability and security operations would precede a handover to Iraq’s authorities.” The following year, the head of the Rand Corporation sent a memorandum to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stating that after extensive review of internal documents, his researchers had found that “post conflict stabilization and reconstruction were addressed only very generally, largely because of the prevailing view that the task would not be difficult.”
Despite the large strategic costs of his leadership in two separate wars, Franks retired, not long after the fall of Baghdad, to enjoy the American version of a Roman triumph, going on the road to make speeches for large sums and issuing his preening memoir. He passed command of the Iraq War to Ricardo Sanchez, a fellow Texan and the Army’s newest lieutenant general, who understood the conflict perhaps even less than Franks did. “I came away from my first meeting with [Sanchez] saying ‘This guy doesn’t get it,’ ” recalled Richard Armitage, who was the deputy secretary of state at the time.
Sanchez was a tragic figure, a mediocre officer placed in an impossible situation. Iraq was boiling over, the Pentagon and the Bush administration were in denial, and he was operating within a confused command structure.
An inveterate micromanager, Sanchez sank into the details of his job, constantly correcting subordinates but failing to provide overarching guidance. Like many micromanagers, Sanchez also tended to criticize harshly in public. “He would rip generals apart on the tacsat”—the military’s tactical satellite-based communications network—“with everybody in the country listening,” an officer who served on his staff told me in 2005.
Sanchez inherited no real war strategy from Franks or the Bush administration, and he did nothing to remedy that deficit. This lack of any coherent strategy manifested itself in the radically different approaches taken by different Army divisions in the war. Observers moving from one part of Iraq to another were often struck by the extent to which each division was fighting its own war, with its own assessment of the threat, its own solutions, and its own rules of engagement.

In western Iraq’s Anbar province, the 82nd Airborne and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment got tough fast, violently confronting local opposition. The 4th Infantry Division, based in Tikrit, in north-central Iraq, operated even more harshly, rounding up thousands of “military-age males” and probably turning many of them into insurgents in the process. Baghdad was its own separate situation, exceedingly complex and changing from block to block. Meanwhile, in far-northern Iraq, Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division made a separate peace, ignoring many of the anti-Baathist rules promulgated by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad and conducting negotiations with the government of Syria to provide electricity to Mosul.
One reason for such distinctly diverse approaches was that conditions were very different in each of these areas. But another reason was that each division commander received little strategic guidance from Sanchez. Jeffrey White, a veteran analyst of Middle Eastern affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote early in 2004, “Some observers feel that the various U.S. divisions in Iraq have thus far waged more or less independent campaigns.”
Sanchez did not seem willing to learn from and adapt to the conflict. Some commanders at the tactical level took effective approaches, but these were ignored or even discouraged by Sanchez. For example, a Florida National Guard battalion stationed in Ramadi in 2003 was more adept at police work than most military units, because its ranks included many members of the Miami-Dade police force. It emphasized local policing, setting up an academy and an Iraqi force, and also helped cooperative sheikhs win contracts for reconstruction projects, as an Army intelligence officer who served in Iraq recalled to me in 2010. But, the officer noted, “the efforts of [the Guard unit] were consistently undermined at the theater level by military leadership that lacked a campaign plan,” as well as by the failings of the Coalition Provisional Authority. When General John Abizaid, who had replaced Franks as the chief of Central Command, visited Ramadi, he was so impressed with operations that he told Sanchez to go there and get the same briefing. Sanchez did so, apparently rather unhappily. “Sanchez came in pissed off that he’d been ordered to get a clue from [colonels and other field-grade officers] in the hinterland, and was in full attack mode,” the officer recalled. “He lit up the staff, told us we didn’t know what we were doing, and went back to Baghdad having learned nothing.”
Sanchez’s biggest failure was that on his watch, some units acted in ways that were not only counterproductive but also illegal. Not knowing how else to put down an insurgency, some divisions indiscriminately detained thousands of Iraqis and shipped them off to Abu Ghraib prison and other detention centers, where the Army lacked sufficient guards and interrogators to hold and sort them. Short-term thinking guided many of these decisions. “In the summer of ’03, we all thought we were going home by Christmas, so there was no consideration for the long-term consequences of locking up the wrong guys,” recalled Lieutenant Colonel Russell Godsil, the senior intelligence officer for the 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division. “Commanders just wanted all the ‘possible’ bad guys out of their neighborhoods until they left.” Where those Iraqis wound up was someone else’s problem.

When the world learned in the spring of 2004 that American soldiers had sadistically abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Sanchez treated the scandal as a breakdown of discipline among a few enlisted soldiers, rather than a problem caused by a series of leadership failures, most notably his tolerance of massive roundups. An Army intelligence expert later estimated that more than 85 percent of the detainees had no intelligence value.
During the Tora Bora fight, Franks seemed inattentive, almost as if the battle were someone else’s problem. He did not see bin Laden’s capture as crucial to his campaign.

Even if widespread detentions were the right approach—and to this day, some Army officers maintain that they were—Sanchez failed to ensure that he had a back office capable of processing all those prisoners. Because detainees were not sorted by political orientation, hard-core insurgents and al‑Qaeda terrorists were able to use the prisons as recruiting and training centers. Worst of all, Abu Ghraib was run by a small, undertrained, poorly led Army Reserve unit that amused itself by playing brutal games with prisoners. The revelation of its crimes was the biggest setback of Sanchez’s year of command in Iraq—a black eye for the American military and the United States, and a major boost for the insurgency.
In a 2009 study, a veteran Army intelligence officer, Major Douglas Pryer, reviewed Sanchez’s performance. “Perhaps most unforgivably,” he wrote, “based on his staff’s recommendations, Lt. Gen. Sanchez approved two interrogation policy memoranda that were, at best, poorly considered and poorly written.” The main cause of the Abu Ghraib scandal was not lack of resources or training, he concluded, but lack of ethical leadership. “The fundamental reason why interrogation abuse in Iraq occurred was a failure in leadership. The answer is that simple.”
After the scandal broke, Sanchez contemplated relieving Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commander of the American jailers at Abu Ghraib. But he did not do so, he said, in part because she was due to rotate home in less than two months.
Nor was Sanchez himself relieved, despite his dismal record. In a privately circulated essay on American generalship in Iraq, retired Army Lieutenant General John Cushman, a veteran commander and a leading Army intellectual in the post-Vietnam era, concluded that General Abizaid, Sanchez’s immediate superior at Central Command, should have relieved Sanchez of his post.
The military scholar Andrew Bacevich’s verdict on Sanchez’s performance in Iraq is harsh but fair:
When Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez assumed command of coalition forces in Iraq in 2003, the first stirrings of an insurgency had begun to appear; his job was to snuff out that insurgency and establish a secure environment. When Sanchez gave up command a year later, Iraq was all but coming apart at the seams. Security had deteriorated appreciably. The general failed to accomplish his mission, egregiously so. Yet amidst all of the endless commentary and chatter about Iraq, that failure of command has gone all but unnoted, as if for outsiders to evaluate senior officer performance qualifies as bad form. Had Sanchez been a head coach or a CEO, he would likely have been cashiered.
Given the record of his command in Iraq, it is startling that one of the preoccupations of Sanchez’s memoir is how the Bush administration failed to elevate him to four-star rank. The end of the book dwells not on the mess he helped make of Iraq, nor on the American troops who were stuck there, nor on the American and Iraqi dead, but on how he did not get a promotion he believes he was promised. As he was trying to salvage that promotion with officials at the White House in May 2004, Sanchez turned to an aide and uttered that most tired of Army lines: “Boy, am I glad to be leaving Washington. At least in Iraq I know who my enemies are and what to do about them.”
He was wrong, of course: Sanchez was even more out of his depth in Iraq than he was in Washington. In the spreading war in Mesopotamia, he had only a dim idea of who his foes were, and even less sense of how to deal with them. There is perhaps no clearer sign of how radically America’s military culture has changed since World War II than Sanchez’s entitled whine, which speaks not only to the decoupling of poor performance from consequences in the Army’s leadership ranks, but to the expectation, civil service–style, that promotion should follow from merely putting in one’s time.
Sanchez was succeeded in Iraq in mid-2004 by General George Casey, a deeply conventional man who tried to persuade the Army to operate unconventionally. Casey was an Army insider—a four-star general and the son of the highest-ranking American casualty of the Vietnam War, a division commander who was killed in a July 1970 helicopter crash. He knew the Army needed to start operating differently in Iraq. He developed a formal campaign plan, something Sanchez had never done. More significant, he asked two counterinsurgency experts, Colonel Bill Hix and retired Lieutenant Colonel Kalev Sepp, to review the actions of individual units and make suggestions. Sepp, a Special Forces veteran of El Salvador with a doctorate from Harvard, reviewed the commander of every battalion, regiment, and brigade in Iraq and concluded that 20 percent of them understood how to properly conduct counterinsurgency operations, 60 percent were struggling to do so, and 20 percent were not interested in changing and were fighting conventionally, “oblivious to the inefficacy and counterproductivity of their operations.” In other words, a vast majority of U.S. units were not operating effectively.
His misgivings confirmed, Casey started a Counterinsurgency Academy at the large military base in Taji, just north of Baghdad. There, he gave newcomers a one-week immersion course in the basics of irregular warfare. “Because the Army won’t change itself, I’m going to change the Army here in Iraq,” he told subordinates. Just capturing a known insurgent is not necessarily a tactical gain, the academy taught the students, if it is done in such a way that it creates new enemies. As the course’s textbook put it, “The potential second- and third-order effects … can turn it into a long-term defeat if our actions humiliate the family, needlessly destroy property, or alienate the local population from our goals.”
Even so, both Casey and the Army were slow to adjust. For example, a key tenet of classic counterinsurgency theory is that troops should live in small outposts among the local people, to better understand them and to deter the enemy from controlling them. Yet in 2005 and 2006, Casey was determined to close small outposts and move his troops onto a few very big bases. “By and large,” concluded Francis West, a counterinsurgency expert and Vietnam veteran who studied American military operations in Iraq, “the battalions continued to do what they knew best: conduct sweeps and mounted patrols during the day and targeted raids by night.”
Torn and confused, trying to change course while under assault by a sophisticated group of enemies who adapted constantly, the American military under Casey did not make progress in Iraq. In 2004, it recorded 26,496 insurgent attacks. In 2005, that number increased to 34,131. Casey hopefully announced that 2006 would be “the Year of the Police,” but it turned out to be the year of bitter urban fighting, as Baghdad was consumed by a small-scale civil war. Fighting in Iraq intensified in July, especially in and around the capital. That summer there were an average of 50 insurgent attacks a day just in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. By the end of the summer, the capital had been largely ethnically cleansed, with Sunnis reduced to a few embattled enclaves on its western side. Insurgents were detonating about 1,000 roadside bombs a week. An estimated 2 million Iraqis, most of them Sunni, had fled the country, and an equal number had been classified as internally displaced.
Casey and those around him did not seem to grasp how quickly the situation was deteriorating. Admiral William Fallon, the American military commander for the Pacific, visited Baghdad in midsummer. When he returned home, he called retired Army General Jack Keane, an influential figure behind the scenes in Washington. “Jack, I just came out of Iraq,” Fallon began. “Could you help me to understand what the fuck is going on? … Casey is up to his ears in quicksand, and he doesn’t even know it. This thing is going down around him.” (The following year, Fallon was reassigned to run Central Command, overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in early 2008 he was forced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to step down after making disparaging comments to a journalist about Bush-administration policy in the Middle East.)
Casey’s lack of awareness began to undercut his support at the top of the Bush administration. On August 17, 2006, during a video briefing to top national-security officials, he said he wanted to stick with his plan to turn Baghdad over to Iraqi security forces by the end of the year. Vice President Dick Cheney, watching from Wyoming, was troubled by that comment. “I respected General Casey, but I couldn’t see a basis for his optimism,” he wrote later.
In the wake of that briefing, the vice president began poking around for a different strategy—and different generals to lead it. Among those he met with was Colonel H. R. McMaster, the author of Dereliction of Duty, a book about the failures of top American generals in Vietnam. The colonel told Cheney that the U.S. government should abandon the view, held by Casey, that the American goal was to turn over control to the Iraqis as soon as possible.
In December, Casey was told to leave Iraq within weeks rather than in the spring of 2007, as he had planned. “I left not really understanding what the hell had happened,” Casey said. He was replaced by General Petraeus, who took a sharply different approach, moving his troops out to live among the people and getting insurgents to stop fighting Americans by putting almost 100,000 Iraqi fighters on the American payroll. Petraeus ultimately extracted the United States from Iraq, but hardly left behind a stable democracy.
Bizarrely, the tactical excellence of enlisted soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan may have enabled and amplified the strategic incompetence of the generals in those wars, allowing long-running problems in the military’s leadership culture to reach their full expression. The Army’s combat effectiveness let its generals dither for much longer than they could have if the Army had been suffering clear tactical setbacks. “One of the reasons we were able to hold on despite a failing strategy, and then turn the situation around, was that our soldiers continued to be led by highly competent, professional junior officers and noncommissioned officers whom they respected,” Sean MacFarland, who as a brigade commander in Ramadi in 2006 was responsible for a major counterinsurgency success, said at a 2010 Army symposium on leadership. “And they gave us senior officers the breathing space that we needed, but probably didn’t deserve, to properly understand the fight we were in.”
MacFarland’s point is rarely made, and worth pausing over, because its implications are far-reaching. Consider a U.S. military at the other extreme—tactically mediocre and manned with unmotivated troops. In such a circumstance, it is hard to imagine the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being allowed to meander for years without serious strategic review and redirection. Yet meander they did, at the cost of many thousands of lives—both American and Iraqi. Unless something changes at the top, it is not hard to see our future wars devolving into similarly rudderless messes, held together by the rank-and-file troops, who bear the heaviest costs.
A few reliefs might have broken the strategic logjam in Afghanistan and Iraq, but by now, even the vocabulary of accountability has been lost. A fine essay by Colonel George Reed on “toxic leadership” in the military, published in 2004 in Military Review, bravely analyzed the problem but tiptoed around the obvious solution, saying only, “If the behavior does not change, there are many administrative remedies available.” Similarly, a 2005 Rand study of Army generalship found many deficits and made many recommendations—but you will not find terms like firings or relief for cause within it. The report speaks vaguely and briefly of the need for more “performance departures.” And a study done at the Army War College by Colonel Steven Jones at about the same time pointed to persistent problems with rotation and officers’ unaccountability, as well as an assessment system that tended to reward abusive leadership—but, again, it never quite mentioned the need for firing such leaders.
The erosion of the Army’s performance culture—at least in its highest ranks—has not left the service devoid of talented leaders. But the Army continues to do too little to sort the average performers from the outstanding ones. That has long-term consequences for the caliber of military leaders. A recent survey by students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government found that good young officers have left the military in large part because of frustration with military bureaucracy and the sense that the armed forces do not have a performance-oriented system for managing personnel.
If George Marshall, the superlative Army chief of staff during World War II, came back today to run the Army, the first thing he would likely insist upon is accountability. And that would produce more-adaptive leaders, a necessity in the post–Cold War, post-9/11 world.
Almost certainly, Marshall would also restore the sense that the needs of the nation should come before the needs of the individual or even the service. No one should get to be a general because it is his or her turn. Leading soldiers is a privilege. Our military should abide by the belief that the lives of soldiers are more important than the careers of officers—and that winning wars is more important than either. This fundamental truth is all that needs to be expressed to justify a policy of rapid relief. As Marshall understood during World War II, instilling that attitude is healthy for a military that protects a great democracy.
Thomas E. Ricks writes the Best Defense blog for Foreign Policy magazine and is a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. This essay is adapted from his new book, The Generals, out this month.


  1. Will cut the bullshit on this Veteran’s Day. It is 99% pap anyway. The best thanks for any Veteran’s day is to work for the day where there are as few veterans as possible.

    This is a long post, but eye opening and well worth the time if you are concerned about defense and the curtailing of the military carnival of incompetence.

  2. Romney infamously said he liked to fire people.

    1. Fuck you, Dude, some people deserve it.

      After that comment, I'm having thoughts about you...
      Have you even read the 8,000 words above yet, DillWeed?

      ...I guess I'll give you a pass this time, given you're
      livin in Ideehohoe.

      Damn football team couldm't complete a pass against my ass...

    2. Romney famously said he liked to fire people.

  3. We have had 11 commanders in Afghanistan in 11 years.

    It took us longer to get our act together in Iraq than it took to fight WWII.

    There were 175,000 total members of the US military before WWII and 9.5million at the end of the war. That means WWII was won in four years with an overwhelmingly civilian force.

    The professional US military establishment is an economic and military disaster. You have to be blind or in a coma not to notice it. We would have a stronger military if we closed down 75% of the Pentagon. Wars are not fought by the Pentagon except to get another star.

    1. Yep, Farm boys that knew how things work, how to fix them, and how to get the most out of them... and they were strong as an oxe, or cow, if I misspelled ox.
      I was always blown away when a doctor friend of mine from Laguna Beach came up to his Ranch on the central coast and visit us at the farm.
      He'd always arm wrestle me, and I'd win so easily, I was sure he was setting me up, 'cause he was larger, looked better, surfed, ran etc.

      I'd say: How can that be?
      He'd say: You Work.
      It was true, our entire day, other than eating sleeping, maybe drinking now and then consisted of working and walking.
      A fourteen mile hike down the mountains to the coastal plains and back was nuthin.
      ...but my wife's 21 year old sister from the city just about died.

      Anyways, that's why I thought at the giddyup that our Army at the outset couldn't hold a candle to the boys back in WWII.
      ...then I saw from their performance what training and conditioning could do, and I was more than willing to admit my belief was not true.

      ...and we were assured that this would not be a repeat of Vietnam, with politicians and Desk Jockey Generals fucking up the works.
      That lasted a matter of weeks.
      The Special Forces on horses and SUV's were near faultless, and as soon as the B-52's came in, we saw how well the battlefield had been prepared, as the roaches scurried away like...

      Then came the Regular Army, and all the cool news feeds about how technology had transformed the battlefield, with real time data to the big guys, and brilliant decisions returned instantly to the commanders in the field.
      i.e.: Same old shit as Vietnam, but in real time, as if the lag time was what screwed us in the Nam.

      If Cheney, Rummy, and Generals like Garner had been at the controls, things woulda been a lot different.

      ...such was not the case, we were fucked, and the longer things dragged on, the more fucked we became, with some of the ROE's and PC crap that puts LBJ and Vietnam to shame.

  4. We weren't such 'nice guys' in those days. We didn't try to separate the innocents among the population and just get the 'bad' guys. We helped level Germany and leveled Japan, and dictated the peace. Now we just go after the bad guys. And the 'innocents' will always create new bad guys.

    Our Commander-Chief told us Afghanistan was the important war, the one we had to win. It doesn't seem to be working. Rufus told us all we're doing is hiking about, doing some shooting, after we are shot at, and it isn't going to work. He's right about that. Just use the place for target practice from afar, he said. Probably right about that too. Or, level it. We'd have to change the whole mindset, the whole culture, and their is no chance with what we are doing. I think it emboldens their culture the way we are doing this in the sense it's gives them a winnable struggle. The kind of thing so many of them seem to like to die for. And to top it off, we set a withdrawal date.

    But we do have a 'cool' Commander-in-Chief.

    1. Both Trish and Wretch defended our sacrificing a Marine and some wounded in a 7 hour (My guess) firefight with a single sniper in a minaret, instead of bringing in an Apache and blowing the motherfucker to kingdom come.

      So sensitive, so caring, so fucking stupid and IMMORAL.
      Had that been our son, the rest of my life would have been spent railing against such insane, immoral, crapola.

      Wretch pointed to troops sacrificed in WWII, but it was strategic, not one fucking sniper in a goddamed evil Minaret. Trish's explanation was so full of shit that I can't remember it.
      Lifer Brain Rot.

  5. Ole Maureen Dowd wrote an op/ed piece just for Deuce at NYTimes today.

    1. Thanks for the link.
      If you just paste in a line or two, we can select that text press our little mice buttons, and look it up w/Google for free.
      Unlimited pages, all at Pinche's expense.
      Will Ashley Wilkes, profession unknown, take the effort?
      Time will tell...

    2. ...oh, and I must give credit to Ash for the most enlightening link ever posted here or at BC:

      That NY Times video of the movie which outlined in bold contrast why we were fucked a month or two into Iraq, when Bremmer came in and kicked out Garner and the Colonel that was recruiting and paying Iraqi Troops as we had promised in our PreWar Propaganda, which is why most of them faded away.

      Then we doublecrossed them again (as did 41 and Powell) leaving several hundred thousand armed soldiers with nothing better to do than become the insurgency.'s been downhill ever since.

  6. At some point, you have to realize that you can't turn a moron into a Jonas Salk.

    1. My wife's family knew their family.

      ...and some of the Marx Brothers!

      ...and listened to their distant next door neighbor playing the Piano, some super talented writer of Music from the South, whose name I cannot now recall.
      I remember Buddy Larsen discussing and praising him back in the day at BC.

    2. Palm Springs then had a population of about 3,500.
      Same as my little Oiltown named after Wild Oats.
      Wild flowers were truly wild in the spring before the Sheepherders came in.
      California Poppies and Purple Lupine everywhere.
      One of two times I went to Palm Springs was one of those exceptional springs that had enough rain, to truly make the Desert Bloom.
      It was awesome.

    3. Meant to say:
      One of two times I went to Palm Springs with my wife...
      We stayed at her friend and Roommates folks place where behind their back yard were hundreds of square miles of pristine blooming desert.

    4. You were fortunate to have grown up there. While it may not be the pristine place of your memory, California is still the same beautiful place.

      You're a lucky man.

    5. Yep, There's Johnny!

      Wife said on warm evenings with windows open, they'd hear him playing the Ivorys.

  7. My Doc friend did a tour in 'Nam, by the way.
    He attempted once or twice to get my attention to what that meant he saw and did.

    I was too into my John Kerry mindset I got from the culture and UC to even think about it. Ft MacAurther in AIT, when week after week we would stand as all the KIA's from Nam from throughout all of SOCAL were honored, I stood there virtually brain dead.
    Reality was too unpleasant to experience, or admit to.

  8. The Five Stages of a Project.
    Stage One: Excitement - Euphoria
    Stage Two: Disenchantment
    Stage Three: Search for the Guilty
    Stage Four: Punishment of the Innocent
    Stage Five: Distinction for the Uninvolved

  9. 96. lc

    The bitch slap of the recent election left me feeling pretty down – I got my Hayek out the next day and started reading (chapter: “Why the Worst Get On Top”)…..

    “The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals.

    In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule; there is literally nothing which the consistent collectivist must not be prepared to do if it serves ‘the good of the whole,’ because the good of the whole is to him the only criterion of what ought to be done….

    Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, most of those features of totalitarian regimes which horrify us follow of necessity.

    From the collectivist standpoint intolerance and brutal suppression of dissent, the complete disregard of the life and happiness of the individual, are essential and unavoidable consequences of this basic premise, and the collectivist can admit this and at the same time claim that his system is superior to one in which the ‘selfish’ interests of the individual are allowed to obstruct the full realization of the ends the community pursues.”

    Hip, hip, HoofuckingRay for Obamacare.
    ...and the Donkey's Ass it rode in on:

    Barrack Hussein Obama.

    ...fuckin culture so dumb that they don't know it's "i" before "e", except when sounded as "a" as in neighbor and weigh.

    1. oops, I guess Barack Hussein Obama II, is sounded like "a"

      My bad...

    2. AND, I left out
      "except after "c"
      ...better start drinkin.

    3. "i" before "e", except after "c" or when sounded as "a" as in neighbor and weigh.
      ...and Hussein

      There, I did it.

  10. tell you what!

    They don't mess with me, I'm a wild man, son
    I got me my very own anti tank gun
    I got a jack rabbit with it, guess he was a mean one
    Yeah, I've always been a sportsman

    Now, there wasn't much left when I got to him
    Them big old shells didn't just go through him
    Just lumps of fur and that was it
    Guess you could say he sure took a hit, alright

    Yeah, you want to see my fire power, see my collection
    Cause that's my thing, man, perfection
    Now I'm talking power in the barrel of a gun
    I'll blow anything I want to kingdom come

    Ba ba boom
    Ba ba ba ba bomb
    And I'll blow anything I want
    To kingdom come
    [ Lyrics from: ]
    Yeah, all you got to do is squeeze on the trigger
    And a little bitty human get a whole lot bigger
    Cause there's a time for talking and a time to shoot them down

    And this mama-jama don't pussy foot around, alright

    Yeah, let them laugh, let them say we're strange
    Me and my buddies on the rifle range
    But you won't be laughing when it hits the fan
    You're going to want to be a survivor, man

    Yeah, you got to see my fire power, see my collection
    Cause that's my thing, man, perfection
    Now, I'm talking power in the barrel of a gun
    I'll blow anything I want to kingdom come

    Ba ba boom
    Ba ba ba ba bomb
    And I'll blow anything I want
    To kingdom come

    Ba ba ba ba boom
    I say we ought to drop the bomb
    Yes, and I'll blow anything I want
    To kingdom come

  11. I say we build 3,000 Ethanol Stills, and tell the Middle East to go fuck itself.

    1. Egads!
      I'm in shock, almost fracked, by the novelty, insight, and brilliance.

  12. Who was that claiming voter suppression in Florida?

    On Tuesday only one precinct had less than 113% turnout. “The Unofficial vote count is 175,554 registered voters 247,713 vote cards cast (141.10% ). The National SEAL Museum, a St. Lucie county polling place, had 158.85% voter turn out, the highest in the county.”

    The Supervisor of Elections, Gertrude Walker, had this to say concerning the 141% voter turnout: “They may have had something like that in Palm Beach County, but we’ve never seen that here.”

    So maybe Allen West wasn’t crazy to ask for a lock-down on the ballot boxes and machines in this county. According to the report given the day after elections, Allen B. West garnered 52,625 votes in St.Lucie county and Patrick Murphy 65,896 votes.

    This is a problem that must be addressed right away. There is no reason that there should ever be more than 100% turnout. This county alone could have cost Allen West his election. Voter fraud is real, and it is time that this be solved.

    1. That bullshit story has been totally debunked. See my link in the last thread.

    2. "Votes cast," and "Cards Counted" are Not the same thing. Get your head out of your ass. See my link in last thread.

    3. Upon further review....oops!

  13. Too bad that we are a nation of cultural illiterates. Had we an understanding of the cultures in the Middle East , we would be a few trillion better off, the original Trade Towers would still be standing and we would have hundreds of thousands less veterans, many maimed and scarred for life.

    The current wave of profound cultural ignorance is about the made up political group called “Hispanics”.

    South of the border, the term hardly exists. They are Mexican, Costa Rican, Colombians etc. Simply stated they have many aspects of the culture in common from the motherland Spain: The Church, the language, the law and paternalism.

    Most of the population in most of these countries, including all that send their surplus population to the US have a massive class of rural people that are poor, unskilled but hard working, family oriented and used to getting anything they have from their patron.

    Government benefits, for what they are, are paltry but necessary. To get US benefits is like hitting the lottery. The extension of welfare to their family members is a life goal as is the increased economic benefits of wealth creation.

    The Republican Party had its collective head up its collective ass by outsourcing everything to China instead of encouraging wealth creation in the Americas. They blew it big time as did the leadership class in the Democratic Party. The opportunities created throughout the Americas would have solved the immigration issue.

    So to the party of stupid listen up. Most every “Hispanic “ is going to be benefit hungry and will be as Republican oriented as Jews and blacks.

    The Republican Party should make a determined effort (late, but not too late) and develop an economic development program with the Americas and do so at the expense of the Chinese and the Democrats.

    1. Had we an understanding of the cultures in the Middle East...... the original Trade Towers would still be standing

      No, and this doesn't account for all the other bombings around the world at the time....

      This is kind of Stockholm Syndrome reasoning or something.

  14. Put'em to work producing ethanol.

    1. The minute we start to come out of this recession (again) the price of oil will rise, and put us right back into the soup (again.)

      We are at that point where we have to break the hold of the oil companies, or we are fucked into perpetuity.

  15. "The Republican Party had its collective head up its collective ass by outsourcing everything to China instead of encouraging wealth creation in the Americas. They blew it big time as did the leadership class in the Democratic Party. The opportunities created throughout the Americas would have solved the immigration issue."


    We should have left China to Mao, and Afghanistan to the Ruskies.

    I-Pads assembled in Mexico, Brazil, etc.

    ...and safe tourism up the Wazoo in Mexico had we not funded the cartels with our drug money via our refusal to secure the border.

    1. Well, the drug cartels will be pretty much "out of business" in Colorado, and Washington.

      The Colorado Governor (R,) who fought against legalization, is going nuts trying to get the Justice Dept to declare against the new law. Holder (Obama) is refusing. The "people" are going to win that one.

    2. The price advantage of Mexican dope is of no consequence? if growers here have unlimited time and energy to devote to tending the crops.
      Not to mention some of the more labor intensive drugs, like opiates.

      ...just like free labor, energy, fertilizer, land, etc to grow biomass for ethanol stills also run by free labor and free money.

    3. In the colorado law a couple would be allowed 12 marijuana plants in their back yard (or basement, or living room, etc.)

      If 12 ain't enough, you could always plant some behind gramps, and granny's house, I suppose.

      It's hard to get much cheaper than "legal/home grown," I would think.

    4. .

      Given the current makeup on SCOTUS, I expect the measure will be ruled down unless Obama chooses to ignore the federal law and not go after them.

      On the other hand, as far as cheap, I would expect that if there is ever large scale legalization of weed, the drug or tobacco companies or both will have their finger in it. Of course, they would only be in the business to assure the quality of the product and make sure the public is safe. The money would naturally only be a secondary consideration.

      At a minimum, just as with alcohol, there would likely be taxes associated with.

      So far, the internet has eluded them, but that doesn't stop them from trying. Can't see them letting weed production get away without someone, State, Federal or both, dipping their beak.


  16. Almost all races voted for BHO in the same numbers as Mexicans when screened to be in the same income range.

    Anybody know why orientals voted so strongly for BHO?
    Chinese, I understand:
    Delivering us to them.

    1. I have found most Orientals to be pretty uninterested in Christian Fundamentalism. They tend to respect "science, and technology," and be Socially liberal.

    2. I thought one of the more interesting results was "Californians voting to Raise their own taxes."

  17. uninterested in Christian Fundamentalism

    Oh Lordy, always the diplomat. I'm afraid I would have gone with "contemptuous of..."

    What was that other Rufism? Oh yes: the Fiscal Cliff, otherwise known as "Clinton-era tax rates."

    Re the subject raised by Jenny previous post "what men really want," I have to disagree. Women are diversionary cover. What real men (really) want is to kill a Democrat (or a Republican), preferably all of them.

    Rufus makes the objective policy case for the Washington Democrats under Obama. It's a good case, one that he (you) defend well. (It's a numbers-based case, which Americans only half get, if that, and one that the Democratic handlers may have bumbled, as noted by Rufus.)

    But the Taibbi argument laser syncs with a much larger segment of the Obama voters who didn't appreciate being labelled stoned potheads dissociated from responsibility and looking for nothing more than recreational abortions. "Grim and determined" demonization killed the Republicans. There was a "stealth vote" all right but it was against a rather substantive, not to mention defensible, conservative theme that got stretched out of the galaxy, if you will, into a place where a bunch of multi-hued and sort of normal people were not inclined to follow.

    Same thing with the Fiscal Cliff - magnified way out of proportion.

    The hyperbole of Christian Fundamentalist rhetoric acts as a playbook for reinforcing radicalization of messages that start as common sense.

    Nope. The one thing stronger than biology is hatred - the eternal life-death struggle. The Social Contract isn't going to come without a fight.

    (The Democrats didn't "do" China. The effort was initiated by Republicans, under pressure from business who kept the train running under Dem's as well. Whatever it takes. And "corporatization of American work culture evolved from the Cold War which was owned by the Republicans: As a large, bureaucratized national-security establishment developed to wage the Cold War, the nation’s generals also began acting less like stewards of a profession, responsible to the public at large, and more like members of a guild, looking out primarily for their own interests. Al of which is an eternity removed from the Tea Party philosophy that has parasitically consumed the public debate for about four years too long.)

    I see China will have a nuclear-powered sub in two years. While this country is still obsessed with Roe v Weed.

    God have mercy.

    1. And, this

      " "Grim and determined" demonization killed the Republicans. There was a "stealth vote" all right but it was against a rather substantive, not to mention defensible, conservative theme that got stretched out of the galaxy, if you will, into a place where a bunch of multi-hued and sort of normal people were not inclined to follow."

      is put just about as well as any mere mortal can "put it."

      Looking back on it, I'm beginning to believe that one ill-advised phrase by Todd Akin killed the Republican Party this time around. Everything seems to have "Cascaded" from that interview.

    2. Jenny seems to have a better understanding of the male/female dynamic.

    3. I think they're Both right. :)

    4. It is always nice to be right, but not always right to be nice.

      The fundamental problem for the right wing of the GOP is cognitive: they have been especially prone in recent years to the universal human problem of cognitive dissonance. All of us tend to downplay evidence that conflicts with our own beliefs. But the right wing of the GOP has just demonstrated a truly epic failure to acknowledge inconvenient data, as demonstrated by Karl Rove’s spectacularly public breakdown on Fox News.

      They really were shocked on election night. Just as they deny climate science, deny evolution, and suppressed a non-partisan study revealing zero correlation between cutting taxes on the rich and economic growth, it turns out the GOP ignored polling data that did not conform to the GOP model of political reality.

      Perhaps now we shall see a return of the Eisenhower Republicans who did such things as build the Interstate Highway system and desegregate schools

    5. But, what the hell do they do about the tea party/religious right?

      Talk about "Can't live with'em, Can't live without'em."

  18. It was an interesting election, and many interesting things are going to happen in the next four years as a result of it.

    But, it's a gorgeous day in Mississip, and I think I'll save the postulatin' on that for another day.

    Thoughts of "energy" flit across my severely diminished brain-pan, from time to time, but, otherwise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . it's just too damned nice a day. :)

  19. The "emailee" was "State Dept. Military Laison."

    Pictures will, surely, follow. :)

  20. Russia and her generals

    MOSCOW, November 11 (Itar-Tass) — In the last year, about 10 generals have been dismissed or denied promotion for submitting dubious income declarations, head of the Russian presidential administration Sergei Ivanov told the TV Channel One on Sunday.

    Ivanov, who is Secretary of the Russian Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission, explained that “declarations of officials and generals are considered behind closed doors” at the commission’s meetings. “In the last year, the declarations of some 10 generals have caused serious doubts, as a result of which some were fired and some denied promotion,” Ivanov said.

    “We do not have and should not have the untouchable persons,” he said.

    1. Unless his first name is Vladimir, and his last name is Putin, of course. :)

  21. Interesting, from Politico:


    About 342,000 votes could have swayed the election to Romney.

    He’s losing Florida by fewer than 50 thousand votes, Ohio by 100 thousand, Virginia by 106 thousand and Iowa by 88 thousand.

    You add those four state’s electoral votes to the 206 he got, and you reach 272.

    1. That might be a new metric.

      Care to make odds on the likelihood of a Court challenge?

      Probably low - have to do four states.

      The other interesting number(s) would be what percentage of the total votes in each state that represents.

    2. I looked up Iowa, here,

      Iowa Sec of State

      88,000 = 5.58% of the vote.

      5.58% of the vote looks like a lot larger number than 88,000.

    3. Virginia, you're looking right at 3% of the vote.

    4. Of course, another way of looking at that is, you only have to "Turn" 44,000 tossup voters in Iowa.

      53,000, approx., in Virginia.

    5. So, actually, turning 171,000 "Swing" voters in those 4 states would have done it.

      btw, that comes out to 0.00145 of the "National" vote.

    6. In a country this big, and diverse, we really do have amazingly close elections. :)

  22. Emailee's name is Jill Kelley. Married to a very wealthy Tampa Surgeon/inventor.

    No pikturs, yet. workin'

  23. Women are shoppers.
    Shoppers like free stuff.
    Dems offer free stuff.
    O wins votes of women.

    1. That's idiotic. Try Ace-o-Spades. They like that sort of comment.

  24. That was not me.

    I say that if it were not for women, men would still be living in caves.

    Jenny is absolutely right, the relationship is primal and hormone driven.

  25. That was me. Just playing with Rufus. Got the rise I expected too.

    If Rufus were a fish, and sometimes I think he has the brain of one, I could play him all day.

    Alas, there is some truth to it, which was gotten from some other blog.

    1. Romney did OK with what is often called 'the Christian fundamentalists', who actually don't like him well, as they don't consider him a Christian.

      I think Romney didn't connect with the working class whites in parts of Ohio, being upper crust, not being a cool dude, and that. A little stiff. Etc. They stayed home. Sarah would have gotten that section of the vote.

    2. "Jes playin' with Rufus"


      "alas, there is some truth to it."

      Like I said, "try Ace-o-Spades."

    3. Like the ethanol industry, and solar, and wind like free stuff.

      And the Indians like free Casino cash, and Vets the VA, and the farmers subsidies.

      Good Vets Days to you Rufus, and I mean it.

  26. The women in my family didn't want Anything from the government, except to stay the hell out of their uterii. And, they were damned serious about That.

    My daughter, one of those, as the Democrats so delicately put it, Sporadic Voters, was in line before the polls opened.

    The Romney/Ryan ticket was, in her words, "the two craziest sonofabitches to ever run for office."

    1. She was particularly impressed with Paul Ryan's "Rape is just another form of Conception" comment.

    2. Everyone who reads this blog knew I was dubious when a large number of "young, single women" kept making it through the IBD/TIPP "Likely Voter" screens.

      Well, it was an indubitable fact that they were "coming out."

    3. it's amazing the celebration of the erasing of the potential grandkids you might have had no telling!

  27. It's a non issue, in real world terms. Has been for a long long time now. Even if Roe were overturned, which it won't be, it would go back to the states. No one is coming after anyone's uterii. The dems did a good job of making it seem like a big deal, having nothing else to run on, parading people around dressed up like twats. A couple of not so astute to say the least Republicans made some damaging comments.

    The underlying issue as to whether a fetus has a value that should not be violated remains what it has always been.

    Obama is the only one that voted to kill a child that survived an abortion.

  28. The underlying issue as to whether a fetus has a value that should not be violated remains what it has always been.

    Rufus says it does not, that a fetus has no value that should not be violated.

    Then, someone might ask, what gives Rufus himself, or anyone else, a value that should not be violated?

    The act of birth?

    Obama denies this.

  29. All I know for sure is, that "no exception for a rape victim" set womenfolk in my family on fire.

    Then, of course, Romney said he would appoint a Supreme Court nominee that would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    If you don't think the GOP has a problem, here, then You Are the Problem (the GOP's problem, not the rest of the country's.)

  30. Is a fertilized egg a human being, even before it's attached itself to the uterine wall? Then, the birth control pill would have to be illegal - attempted murder would seem to be a rational charge.

    What about the fertilized egg after it's gone through a few doublings? When it's a small batch of amorphous, non-specific cells?

    What about the six-week period when those cells are starting to somewhat resemble the form that they will become?

    As you take it up the ladder, at what point?

    In most cultures it's a human being when it can breathe on its own. But what about the "preemie" that could be kept alive on a ventilator?

    I liked Joe Biden's answer. I would be sick in my heart if one of my children had an abortion; however, I recognize that it's not my call, especially when it involves someone else's family. I have to come down on "it's between a woman, and her Doctor."

    I can see no role to be played, here, for me, or for a legislator acting on my behalf.

    1. And, that is, absolutely, the last time I will adress That subject.

  31. Here you go; you want to find out what's happening in the U.S., you've got to read the British papers.

    P4 Squeeze numbah Two

    1. An "unpaid Social Liaison." An "honorary" ambassador to Centcom, or somesuch, who tended to drop the "honorary" part.

      His gals all look similar, and they're all batshit crazy. WTF?

    2. How did our Commander-in-Chief ever hire such a man?

    3. I'm all in with Numero Uno, myself. Though Dos has nice skin.

    4. One who, as a result of being given a cocktail hostess first class certificate, goes around calling herself "Ambassador."

    5. They both have that Kardashian thing going - minus the aircraft carrier-sized ass.

      Oh the possibilities. Jill has a twin.

    6. I might not be able to sleep tonight.

    7. Move over Hellboy.

      There's a new show in town.

      Door No. 2 looks more like Ron Perlman's type.

    8. :)

      maybe, batshit crazy isn't the exact description a nimbler mind might come up with, but . . . . . .

      :) eh

    9. Sons of Malarkey.

      Sounds like the next generation of Gray Hart's old boat.

    10. :) Monkey Business

      I'll never forget it.

      Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet irony.

  32. Well, there then, that settles it!

    I would like to point out, however, that you want the government out of your daughter's and everyone else's reproductive life, yet, you have no problem at all with putting the government squat in my life and the life of my family through ObanaCare even to the point of culling the elderly.

    Why don't you keep your hands out of my life as you ask me to do to you?

    You have a most beautifully illogical mind.

    1. It's that "culling" part that I consider a "feature."

      Especially as pertains to Idaho alfalfa farmers.

    2. I like the free abortion part myself, especially as it pertains to Mississippi hicks.

  33. You got to feel for Mrs. Petraeus.

    1. Yeah, she should be acquitted if she kicked all their sorry asses.

    2. We don't know if the Tampa woman was actually "involved" or only perceived to be a threat.

    3. Yeah, and you know what - I don' care. The whole bunch is bonkers. "unpaid social liaison?" That says it all for me.

      Our Military has been taken over by "The Theatre of the Absurd."

  34. Calls to boycott Applebee's after CEO threatens hiring freeze and layoffs over Obamacare

    Read more:

    1. The Twitter uproar is in response to a Fox News interview Thursday with Zane Tankel, chairman and CEO of Apple-Metro, which owns 40 New York-area Applebee's restaurants.
      "We've calculated it will [cost] some millions of dollars across our system. So what does that say -- that says we won't build more restaurants. We won't hire more people," Tankel said.

      Reaction: Tankel at a New York event last year
      Apple-Metro employs from 80 to 300 people at each of its Applebee's. Obamacare requires businesses with more than 50 workers must offer an approved insurance plan or pay a penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker over 30 workers.
      'If you have 40 or 50 employees at a restaurant, and the penalty is $2,000, and you're going to pay $80,000 or $100,000 penalty, there goes the profit in your restaurant.'

  35. The FBI and prosecutors in Florida and North Carolina began investigating the possibility of email hacking, because at least some of the emails sent by Ms. Broadwell to the other woman included contents of messages that appeared to come from Mr. Petraeus’s own account, these people said. The Justice Department and high-level officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, were aware of the investigation for months, having to approve certain parts of the investigation.....

    .....The White House says no one there knew about the Petraeus situation before Wednesday and the president himself was informed Thursday. But if the story had broken a week earlier, those headlines would have overtaken much of the president’s message about the middle class and his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Who made the decision to wait, and why, is going to be the subject of scrutiny as this scandal continues to unfold…

    Petraeus appears to have successfully kept the situation quiet for months, if not longer. He had known for all that time that he was violating the moral and professional code that he cited in his message to CIA employees Friday. And he knew for weeks that the FBI was looking into the situation.

    But something made him come forward now.

    Hot Air

    Something don't add up here. Holder knew, but Big O didn't. How could this possibly be?

    We will have to ask Rufus. He will know.

    1. Though he might not say, cause he wants it to 'blow over'.

      Next issue!

    2. :) Wants it to "blow over?"

      Helll no. I love it. It's the only entertaining thing going on right now. I hope there's a number 3, and 4, and 13.

      I'm wit Doris; I'm just prayin' that he "did" the twins. I can't quit smiling just thinking about it.

    3. I ain't in love with the booger, Bob. He's just a politician, not my bromance. The election is over.

      Look, I can't afford to leave my wife (I wouldn't if I could,) and it's impossible to "leave" your kids (they'll always track you down.)

      But, that's it. Everyone else is playing in a different ballgame.

    4. Thank fucking God, you atheist spawn from Hell!

  36. Which is the Darker Story, Obama's handling of Ambassador Christopher's safety, and
    The Coverup, or Damien, the Devil's Spawn in The Omen"?

    Christopher Stevens (April 18, 1960 – September 11, 2012) was an American diplomat and lawyer who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Libya

    The Omen - You Tube Full Movie, Part 1

    The Omen imdb

    Baboon Attack

    The Omen is a 1976 American/British suspense horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson and Leo McKern


    Robert and Katherine Thorn seem to have it all. They are happily married and he is the US Ambassador to Great Britain, but they want more than to have children. When Katharine has a stillborn child, Robert is approached by a priest at the hospital who suggests that they take a healthy newborn whose mother has just died in childbirth. Without telling his wife he agrees. After relocating to London, strange events - and the ominous warnings of a priest - lead him to believe that the child he took from that Italian hospital is evil incarnate.

  37. A few years go by, and then grisly deaths begin to happen. The child's nanny hangs herself and a priest is speared to death in a freak accident. It turns out the child is the son of Satan and can only be killed with the seven daggers of Meggado.

    At the age of five, Damien's nanny is hypnotized by a demonic dog and mysteriously hangs herself at his birthday party, claiming to have done it for him.

    Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton), a priest from Italy who was present at Damien's birth, warns Robert about his son and quotes an old prophecy about the Antichrist that Damien allegedly fills, but Robert will have none of it. Damien's new nanny Ms. Baylock, a demon from Hell, helps to guard him, along with the black dog. Soon, things begin to come together; Damien begins to tremble with terror when his parents attempt to take him to a wedding in a church. It is then said that he has never been sick in his life.

    When Katherine becomes pregnant with another child, Damien knocks her off a balcony with his tricycle and the unborn baby is killed. With the help of photojournalist Keith Jennings, who is eventually killed in a freak accident, Robert investigates Brennan's own mysterious death and accepts that Damien is the Antichrist, born from a jackal and placed in his care so that he would rise up through the world of politics. An exorcist in Megiddo, Israel named Carl Bugenhagen (Leo McKern) gives Robert seven ancient daggers he had inherited that could kill the Antichrist; Thorn brings Damien to a church to lower his influence, but police catch and kill him before Damien is harmed. Damien's enemies are dead and he's left in the company of the President.


    The child's nanny hangs herself

    "Look at me Damien, it's all for you!"

    Whereupon, at Damien's birthday party, in full view of the children and parents, the nanny, with a rope around her neck, jumps off the roof, crashing through one of the lower floor windows.


    Harland Williams plays this as part of his intro to all his free podcasts.

    In this episode, Harland explains the source of the soundbite.

    Gross out commercials, dog rescues, tip on flying, horror movie the Omen, Seafood fiasco, and an annoying visitor to the studio. Swirl my lima beans!!!

    ...Harland - one more crazy Canuckistanian.

    He faints at the sight of Blood!

  38. Seth_MacFarlane

    September 11, 2001 experience

    On the morning of September 11, 2001, MacFarlane was scheduled to return to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston. Suffering from a hangover from the previous night's celebrations,[118] and with an incorrect departure time (8:15 a.m. instead of 7:45 a.m.) from his travel agent,[119] he arrived at Logan International Airport about ten minutes too late to board the flight as the gates had been closed.[119] Fifteen minutes after departure, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked,[120] and at 8:46 a.m. it was flown into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, obliterating the airplane, and killing everyone on board.[121]

    In an interview with, MacFarlane said the following about his close call:

    "The only reason it hasn't really affected me as it maybe could have is I didn't really know that I was in any danger until after it was over, so I never had that panic moment. After the fact, it was sobering, but people have a lot of close calls; you're crossing the street and you almost get hit by a car... this one just happened to be related to something massive. I really can't let it affect me because I'm a comedy writer. I have to put that in the back of my head.


  39. After college, MacFarlane was hired at Hanna-Barbera (then Hanna-Barbera Cartoons) based on the writing content of The Life of Larry, rather than on cartooning ability. He was one of only a few people hired to the company solely based on writing talent.[3] He worked as an animator and writer for Cartoon Network's Cartoon Cartoons series.[19] He described the atmosphere at Hanna-Barbera as resembling an "old fashioned Hollywood structure, where you move from one show to another or you jump from a writing job on one show to a storyboard job on another." MacFarlane worked on four television series during his tenure at the studio: Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel, and Johnny Bravo.[20][21] Working as both a writer and storyboard artist, MacFarlane spent the most time on Johnny Bravo. He found it easier to develop his own style at Johnny Bravo through the show's process of scriptwriting, which Dexter's Laboratory, Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel did not use.[3] As a part of the Johnny Bravo crew, MacFarlane met actors and voiceover artists such as Adam West and Jack Sheldon of Schoolhouse Rock! fame. Meeting these individuals later became significant to the production and success of his Family Guy series.


    Political views

    MacFarlane is a supporter of the United States Democratic Party.[42] He has donated over $200,000 to various Democratic congressional committees and to the 2008 presidential campaign of Obama.[97] He has stated that he supports the legalization of cannabis.[98]

    Gay rights support

    MacFarlane came to support gay rights and gay marriage after a family member wondered aloud whether his gay cousin's homosexuality could be "cured".[42] The incident angered MacFarlane, who said in a 2008 interview in The Advocate, that such a statement "was fucking horrifying to hear from somebody that you love".[42] He credits his parents for raising him to be a logical person.

    MacFarlane is passionate about his support for gay rights.[42] He said it is "infuriating and idiotic" that two gay partners "have to go through this fucking dog and pony act when they stop at a hotel and the guy behind the counter says, 'You want one room or two?'". He went on to say, "I'm incredibly passionate about my support for the gay community and what they're dealing with at this current point in time".[42] MacFarlane continued, "Why is it that Johnny Spaghetti Stain in fucking Georgia can knock a woman up, legally be married to her, and then beat the shit out of her, but these two intelligent, sophisticated writers who have been together for 20 years can't get married?"


    Reportedly, you need a Bulldozer to push through his piles of money to get to his house to attend a screening in his backyard, where a gigantic video screen elevates itself out of it's subterranean storage area.

    1. Which is the Darker Story, Obama's handling of Ambassador Christopher's safety

      Obama's handling of the Ambassador's safety and the coverup, of course.

  40. Helll no. I love it. It's the only entertaining thing going on right now. I hope there's a number 3, and 4, and 13.

    Just heard on the Cunningham radio program it might be more than a love triangle, might be a quadrangle, maybe even a pentagon!

    So, you may get your wish. I admit to enjoying it a little myself.

    I think O'Cool told P4 to shut it about Benghazi. They were blackmailing him. Because something seems really amiss. Thus, he decided to out himself. And I hope he takes O'Cool for a real ride.

    At least, that's my take now.

    1. Such an outcome would redeem P4 and make him a Hero, in my eyes, at least.

    2. Well,Bob, that's all stating the obvious, isn't it.

  41. The real question about the election is the low white turnout.

    I guess nobody gives a shit anymore.

    1. Maybe we're only counted as 3/5ths of a vote.

      Reparations is fair play, ya know.

  42. Wayne Allen Root up saying it not possible, something is wrong, talking about 80% pub turnout in Ohio and elsewhere, where are the votes?

    They are talking numbers I can't keep up with. But the upshot is....something isn't right here.

    Two million less votes for Romney than is this possible? These two talkers are not buying it.

    1. Interesting discussion about the auto voter screens.

    2. Hell if I know. The base was motivated, then didn't show?

    3. Somehow, LewinskyGate now pales in comparison.

      ...I may be the only human alive to remember hearing her father at first calling Bill a misogynist, before he got back in line.
      ...wonder if that can be found on the internets?

      Good that 41 has been so helpful in rebuilding Bill's Rep.
      ...and that 43 was too compasionate to fire any of Bill's Crooks when he took office.
      ...their contribution of damaging leaks in the WOT against the ROP, helped set the stage for BHO's Immaculation.

  43. Wayne Allen Root is one of my very favorite self promoters. He is going to take on Reid next Senatorial election, he says.

    He did make a lot of sense on how the pubs should handle the women's issues.

  44. These negotiations will be a high-profile test of Mr. Boehner's leadership of his own party conference, a balky, hard-to-lead crowd. He is walking a tightrope between the party's large conservative faction that has put a premium on confrontation and its more pragmatic wing.

    He is asking his colleagues to give him latitude to size up and navigate the new political landscape—and for now, at least, they seem to be giving it to him.

    "The president won, and the tax cuts are ending, whether we like it or not,'' said a senior aide to one House Republican leader, describing Mr. Boehner's message. "So we have to figure out how to deal with it.''

  45. The democrats had a data mining operation they hired through the cable companies that tracked what people watch on cable TV. By knowing what programs people like they were able to estimate those new voters that might tend Democratic. They then contacted all these new voters while the Republicans were fighting things out in the primaries, got them signed up to vote and tried to make sure they did. This was going on in Ohio, according to what Cunningham is saying. He is out of Cincinnati, and seems to have a good understanding of how things went there in Hamilton County but is mystified as to the results, as the Republican turnout was easily estimated to be higher than it turned out to be. Maybe the evangelicals didn't support Romney as much as was thought.

    Meanwhile the whale Orca crashed.

    Things are not as they used to be.

  46. Broadwell: Petraeus Knew of Benghazi Plea for Help

    By Gil Ronen


    Military expert Paula Broadwell, who was allegedly improperly involved with resigned CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, confirmed in October that the CIA annex in Benghazi asked for reinforcements when the consulate came under attack on September 11. She also acknowledged that "there was a failure in the system."

    Broadwell was speaking at her alma mater, the University of Denver, on October 26. Her lecture, which is on YouTube under the title "Alumni Symposium 2012 Paula Broadwell," now has added value, because based on the recent disclosures, it can now be assumed that she indeed knew exactly what it was that Petraeus knew about the attack.

    Broadwell confirmed the reports on Fox News that the CIA annex asked for a special unit, the Commander in Chief's In Extremis Force, to come and assist it. She also said that the force could indeed have reinforced the consulate, and that Petraeus knew all of this, but was not allowed to talk to the press because of his position in the CIA.

    "The challenge has been the fog of war, and the greater challenge is that it's political hunting season, and so this whole thing has been turned into a very political sort of arena, if you will," she said. "The fact that came out today is that the ground forces there at the CIA annex, which is different from the consulate, were requesting reinforcements.

    "They were requesting the – it's called the C-in-C's In Extremis Force – a group of Delta Force operators, our very, most talented guys we have in the military. They could have come and reinforced the consulate and the CIA annex. Now, I don't know if a lot of you have heard this but the CIA annex had actually taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the attack on the consulate was an attempt to get these prisoners back. It's still being vetted.

    "The challenging thing for Gen. Petraeus is that in his new position, he's not allowed to communicate with the press. So he's known all of this – they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya, within 24 hours they kind of knew what was happening."

    Broadwell did give some support to the administration, however, for its initial version of events, which tied the consulate attack to protests in the Muslim world.

    "If you remember at the time, the Muslim video, the Mohammed video that came out, the demonstrations that were going on in Cairo, there were demonstrations in 22 other countries around the world, tens of thousands of people, and our government was very concerned that this was going to become a nightmare for us," she said.

    "So you can understand if you put yourselves in his shoes or Secretary Clinton's shoes or the President's shoes, that we thought it was tied somehow to the demonstrations in Cairo. And it's true that we have signal intelligence that shows the militia members in Libya were watching the demonstration in Cairo, and it did sort of galvanize their effort. So we'll find out the facts soon enough.

    "As a former intel officer it's frustrating to me because it reveals our sources and methods, I don't think the public necessarily needs to know all of that. It is a tragedy that we lost an ambassador and two other government officials, and [...] there was a failure in the system because there was additional security requested, but it's frustrating to see the sort of political aspect of what's going on with this whole investigation."

  47. Finally got to your Johnny Mercer, see comment there.
    Whata guy, both you and him, of course.

  48. Did you see my reparations reply above?

    1. :) yes and I just put a smiley and a heh

  49. Nobody had watched or known about the Video until the Administration appologized to the ROP about it!!!

    THEY lit the fuse!

  50. My pic today Doug of Old Faithful is over the large fireplace, or thereabouts, at Old Faithful Lodge, Yellowstone National Park.

  51. I posted the video and the extraordinary part after 3:30 on the next post.