Archive for military

Four Star Female Admiral Michelle Howard: GO Navy!

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare
Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard. Image, Forbes.

Four Star Admiral Michelle Howard. Image, Forbes.

Admiral Michelle Howard was given the status of First Female Four Star Admiralty member this summer, a national first on two fronts: gender and ethnicity.

Those are some mightily impressive Firsts. The 239-year United States Navy had never before given four stars to a female. She is also the highest-ranking African-American woman in a male-dominated military that did not even allow the promotion of women to general or admiral (of any number of stars) until 1967.

Image, U.N.C. Greensboro Archives

Image, U.N.C. Greensboro Archives

As she told the New York Times, speaking of her early attendance of the newly-Co-Ed Naval Academy,

“There were angry men at Annapolis, but we got through it,” she said. “And there were issues on the first few ships because it was all brand new. Change is hard in society.”

femfist

Melissa Harris-Perry was among the first to congratulate the Admiral, on her weekend MSNBC program recently.

The New York Times ran an evocative piece on Admiral Howard's epic move, excerpted below.

WASHINGTON — Adm. Michelle J. Howard was looking for new insignia for her white Navy dress uniform when she ran into an unusual problem.

“I said, ‘I need to order a four-star women’s shoulder board,’ and there’s this silence,” Admiral Howard recalled. “Then the lady goes, ‘Um, I’m not seeing any in the system.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I thought that might be the case.’

“I didn’t know it was possible to grow up to be anything more than a one-star,” Admiral Howard, 54, said in a recent interview, referring to the rank of rear admiral. She said today’s sailors “have never known a life when there hasn’t been a woman admiral, women three-stars, women in command of ships, women in command of destroyers.”

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

"Fiscal conservatives": Shutting Down Gitmo Would Save a 1%er's Fortune

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

PicardHaveUForgotten
It's costing the American people about a billion per Guantanamo detainee.

Let that sink in.

President Obama was elected in part on his promise to shut that human rights travesty down, and as we finally look toward evacuating Afghanistan of most American troops, it is past time to close the Gitmo 'detaining' facilities adjacent to Cuba and move forward with justice.

Of course Fvx Nation disagrees. They are unaccountably fond of Gitmo, practice NIMBY religiously and of course oppose anything Obama might even consider.

penguingitmo

Up with Steve Kornacki, MSNBC's weekend early a.m. program, had a terrific panel this morning to hash out the predictably Coiffure On Fire reaction of the Tea-driven GOP to any discussion of Gitmo, non-military courts and sanity.

It included David Corn of Mother Jones and the admirable military vet slash ex-Representative slash cable reporter-pundit and host of his own Sunday show, Taking the Hill, Patrick Murphy. ['Cycle' co-host Krystal Ball is subbing for Steve, so don't think he decided to go on set in drag to celebrate Summer Solstice.]

 

For contrast, Fvx Noise ran endless loops of how dangerous the released, unreleased, hypothetically detained and utterly mythical 'prisoners' are our new greatest threat in the fictional War on Terror. Here 'ya go, Fox:

img_Cat-and-Mouse_REX-INTERSTOCK_ref~PH2309_mode~zoom

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

President Obama to speak on Iraq at 12:30 EDT

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

President Obama

President Obama will speak of the changes in Iraq in recent days at 12:30 pm EDT today.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Breaking News: Benghazi Attack Leader Captured By U.S.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Benghazi attack pic(AFP/Getty Images)

Oh, no. Now what will all those Republican Benghazi conspiracy theorists going to do? WWTGS -- What Will Trey Gowdy Say?

According to the Washington Post:

U.S. Special Operations forces captured one of the suspected ringleaders of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi in a secret raid in Libya over the weekend, the first time one of the accused perpetrators of the 2012 assault has been apprehended, according to U.S. officials.

The officials said Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured Sunday near Benghazi by American troops, working alongside the FBI, following months of planning, and was now in U.S. custody “in a secure location outside Libya.” The officials said there were no casualties in the operation, and that all U.S. personnel involved have safely left Libya.

This looks bad. Bad if you're a Republican who was counting on the Benghazi special congressional committee, the eighth committee to witch-hunt the terrible Libyan tragedy, to find something to tag onto Obama and Hillary Clinton. One of the major talking points is that Obama, who promised right away to seek out and find the culprits, has done nothing since the event nearly two years ago. Nobody had been apprehended. This was a GOP talking point on the lack of interest in the Benghazi attacks and the President's concern.

So much for that asshat argument. Obama said he'd take out Osama Bin Laden. He did. He said he'd bring to justice those responsible for Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American deaths in this Benghazi attack, and the round-up has begun.

Now what do you have to say for yourself, Speaker Boehner on your special committee? So Obama's been doing nothing, eh?

What have you been doing? Your job is to run the Congress. Where's the jobs bill, your alternative to the ACA, the long-term unemployment extension, the immigration reform bill, minimum wage increases, etc?

Seems if anyone's asleep at the wheel, it's the House of Representatives. You're the Speaker, Boehner. Maybe you should be doing the people's work like you're being paid for and let the President do his. He's showing results.  You? Not so much. You saw what the conservatives in Virginia's 7th district did to your right hand man, Eric Cantor. Don't think it can't happen to you.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

Pardoned Iran-Contra figure aided #Bergdahl hunt

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

the more you know msnbc Iran-Contra

The Sunday Los Angeles Times has a substantive report about now-freed Bowe Bergdahl's captors. It chronicles the events that led to his release and provides background on the groups involved with his imprisonment. They break down the timeline as best they can in the years-long efforts by the U.S. to find and rescue Bergdahl. It's interesting stuff, worth a read. One nugget in particular caught my eye: How U.S. officials relied on a private company in the search. And one of those hired by that company was a guy who was indicted for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal.

We paid Sunni militants for peace during Bush's fraudulent war, we paid private contractors to fight that war-- Blackwater. That ended well, didn't it?-- and then we paid a private intel group to aid in Bergdahl's recovery. And in turn, they paid local tattletales. We sure do have a lot of spare cash lying around:

The U.S. search for Bergdahl, and his ultimate release, involved an array of U.S. and foreign military and intelligence agencies.

It also included a private intelligence outfit called the Eclipse Group that was run by a former top CIA operations officer, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge.

In 1991, Clarridge was indicted on seven counts of perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before his trial was over. He has said he maintained a network of spies and informants in Afghanistan and Pakistan after he left the CIA.

A former Eclipse member said the group paid local informants to collect intelligence, which was passed on to U.S. military commanders searching for Bergdahl.

According to a senior member of the U.S. military who was part of the search for Bergdahl, the Eclipse reports included not only facts, but also rumors. In spite of the unreliability of some of the information, he said, "We take everything we can get." Even advice from an Iran-Contra perjurer.

The more you know.

funfacts

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

McCain Earns An Upside-Down Pinocchio

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

John McCain

Maybe John McCain should take his own advice. He certainly has plenty for National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

According to The Hill:

“My recommendation is that from now on Susan Rice stay home with her family and not go on any of the Sunday talk shows,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

McCain questions the veracity of her comments over the release of POW Bergdahl. He's entitled to his opinions, just not his own facts.

So if what's good for the goose is good for the gander, Senator McCain must also curtail his visits to the Sunday talkers due to his inaccuracies -- lies -- regarding the prisoner swap-gate.

HuffPo:

John McCain has spent much of the past week denying that he changed his position about exchanging Taliban prisoners for American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. So he probably wasn't happy on Friday morning, when the Washington Post's official fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, sided with the people who think McCain flip-flopped on Bergdahl.

McCain told Jake Tapper on Thursday that, although he previously expressed his willingness to exchange prisoners for Bergdahl, he would never have done so if he'd known exactly which prisoners would be exchanged.

What's really amazing is that McCain claims he never knew which prisoners were going to be exchanged. This potential deal had been discussed for two years. Maybe if McCain went to briefings on the subject instead of microphones and cameras complaining he wasn't getting informed, it might help. But in this case, to say that McCain didn't know which five Taliban were to be released, or that it was for Bergdahl (he was our only POW, the last one)  seems totally ludicrous to the point of being laughable.

But then he can’t object to the most important detail–the identity of the prisoners–that was known at the time he indicated his support. McCain earns an upside-down Pinocchio, constituting a flip-flop.

So, John "I talked while I was a tortured prisoner" McCain, it's time for you to refuse the politically motivated invitations to speak on the Sunday shows or else you'll be earning another upside-down Pinocchio, only this time with a big red cherry on top.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

The Perfect VA Secretary Replacement For Shinseki

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare

VA Veteran's Administration

Okay, there's a big job opening now in the Washington area -- a cabinet post. It's the position of running the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There's probably not a less desirable position right now as the scandals and systemic problems have blown wide open. There's trouble in this most important Veterans division and it's not going to be solved by the normal political appointment to someone who's been faithful to the president and gets tabbed onto the cabinet to fulfill a political favor.

This time it's different. Whoever takes this job is most likely going to fail. At best, he or she will be under such scrutiny that they'll be tested beyond most mortal breaking points.

Let's face it, the VA is on life support. Without a heart transplant, the patient will never recover.

So what's a president to do? Fortunately President Obama is getting a lot of suggestions. Here are the top five, according to a report from The Hill: (abridged)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal who was forced to resign from his position as a top commander in Afghanistan [because he couldn't control his personal staff], Retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli who served in the Obama administration as the former vice chief for the Army, Retired Admiral Michael Mullen who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff in both the Bush and Obama administrations and finally, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.

All of these folks are serious contenders to replace VA Secretary General Shinseki. And all of them are WRONG.

First off, the problems with the department are not military. They are organizational. They require a man or woman who can handle the demands of building a corporate structure from the ground up. The new leader doesn't need to know how to handle a weapon or understand the horrors of war. They need to understand a monetary bottom line and hospital administration. We saw what a stellar job General Shinseki did during his stint. He may have been a terrific military general and leader, but he didn't have a scintilla of skills in hospital administration. He was clueless as are the other military leaders on this list. So strike off McChrystal, Chiarelli and Mullen. Brave military personnel, sure. But knowing how to build a hospital's cost-effective flow chart, not so much.

That leaves Reed and Walz. Start with Reed. A lawyer, he might be able to see some of the issues but again, this isn't a legal problem, it's structural. And even more important, the control of the Senate is in the balance this year. No reason for another Democratic-held senate seat to be put in play. So Reed's out.

Finally that gives us Walz. He's a good guy, a military background capping out at sergeant. Hardly admiral or general, but again, rank isn't the issue here. This is a hospital and health care problem. When Walz wasn't in the army, he was teaching history. Good for him. And good for us. But not good for the job at hand.

So where should Obama turn? Why to the Republicans, of course. As this is a thankless job and there's really no one outside of the political realm with the skill set to handle it, there are two choices. One is grab a hospital administrator from a flourishing medical organization or... wait for it-- pick a sitting GOP senator. Even one not up for reelection this year. Put their seat into play to increase the chances for the Democrats to keep control over the Senate.

Here are a few names --Roy Blunt. Maybe take him out of the Senate and his state's Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon will appoint a Democrat there. Or how about a lady like Kelly Ayotte? Maybe this whole thing needs a woman's touch. And coming from New Hampshire, with a Democratic Governor, she could be replaced with a Democrat. Certainly John McCain and Lindsay Graham would be losing their shadow, but if it's for the good of the country they could never vote against her. The same could be said for Senator John Boozman from Arkansas or Mark Kirk from Illinois. Both their states have a Democratic governor.

Obama should see this opening as a legacy opportunity. He can save the back half of his second term if the Senate stays blue. The VA isn't going to be fixed over night, but with a Republican in the position of having to fix things, it's never going to work and yet the GOP won't be able to stymie any legit chances to make changes, even if it's going to cost money. Remember, 44 senate Republicans voted against increasing the VA's budget.  So this becomes a win-win for Democrats and more importantly, for our brave veterans.

Hopefully Obama and his advisers are listening.

FacebookTwitterRedditDiggStumbleUponTumblrLinkedInPinterestEmailShare