The Villagers are still nattering on about excepts from retired defense secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir Duty, which will be released on January 14.
The DC media is focused on Gates’ criticisms of President Obama and how they will embarrass the administration and negatively affect Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016. What has impressed me so far in the excepts I have read is that Obama was wary of the military and willing to stand up to them. Some examples from an e-mail I received from Foreign Policy Magazine yesterday:
Gates on what Biden did to poison the military well: “I thought Biden was subjecting Obama to Chinese water torture, every day saying, ‘the military can’t be trusted.’”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”
On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”
On Obama and Bush: “During my tenure as secretary, Bush was willing to disagree with his senior military advisers on the wars, including the important divergence between the chiefs’ concern to reduce stress on the force and the presidents’ higher priority of success in Iraq. However, Bush never (at least to my knowledge) questioned their motives or mistrusted them personally. Obama was respectful of senior officers and always heard them out, but he often disagreed with them and was deeply suspicious of their actions and recommendations. Bush seemed to enjoy the company of the senior military; I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”
On Obama as an ice man: “I worked for Obama longer than Bush and I never saw his eyes well up. The only military matter, apart from leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military that Obama successfully pushed to repeal.”
On an oval office meeting that deeply pissed him off: “…Donilon was especially aggressive in questioning our commitment to speed and complaining about how long we were taking. Then he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a room full of people whether Gen. Fraser was competent to lead this effort. I’ve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment; nor was I ever closer to walking out of that historic room in the middle of a meeting. My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didn’t need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self discipline to stay seated on the sofa.
Every one of those quotes made me like and respect Obama and Biden more. I’m sure I’m not alone in that reaction.
A couple more “criticisms” quoted in The Atlantic: Robert Gates: The Iraq War Undermined U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan.
President Bush always detested the notion, but our later challenges in Afghanistan—especially the return of the Taliban in force by the time I reported for duty—were, I believe, significantly compounded by the invasion of Iraq. Resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan. U.S. goals in Afghanistan—a properly sized, competent Afghan national army and police, a working democracy with at least a minimally effective and less corrupt central government—were embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive compared with the meager human and financial resources committed to the task, at least before 2009.
Who doesn’t agree with that? Well, sure some right wing nut jobs, but the majority of Americans have completely soured on the Iraq war, according to many polls over the past few years.
Wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. Those who ask about exit strategies or question what will happen if assumptions prove wrong are rarely welcome at the conference table when the fire-breathers are demanding that we strike—as they did when advocating invading Iraq, intervening in Libya and Syria, or bombing Iran’s nuclear sites. But in recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents. Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort.
So Obama’s approach might have kept us out of Iraq, right? I don’t see that as a problem. I want my president to be wary of the military and hesitant to go to war. I want my president to get teary-eyed over granting rights to people who have been historically discriminated against and stay dry-eyed and rational when contemplating “military matters.”
So let Gates have his day in the sun. Today some in the media are already questioning whether his book may damage his reputation. From Foreign Policy again: Did Bob Gates’ New Book Just Trash His Golden Reputation?
Gates, 70, has unmasked himself as just another former Washington official writing just another kiss-and-tell in the soon-to-be-released Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, in which he takes shots at a sitting commander-in-chief, his top aides and Congress, an institution with which he often expressed frustration – but also respect. Gates was known for being discreet and sharp-minded, loyal to the office he occupied and careful about what he said in public. So deliberate were his public pronouncements about wars or national security policy or budgets that he became the E.F. Hutton of the Pentagon — everyone leaned in every time he had something to say.
But now his brand seems diminished by the scrappy, petty nature of many of his criticisms — even though some are substantive and legitimate — and a legacy he seemed quietly determined to protect may be permanently reduced to something less than what it once was.
We’ll have to wait and see. It’s also possible that the furor over Gates’ memoir will fade quickly, because another book is coming out on January 21, and it looks to be a lot more entertaining–the tell-all book about Fox News’ Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, by Gabriel Sherman. Excerpts started leaking out yesterday and they are wild! Check these “key revelations” from Gawker:
- During a salary negotiation in the 1980′s, Ailes offered producer Randi Harrison an additional $100 each week she would agree to have sex with him whenever he wanted.
- He also privately thinks of Bill O’Reilly as “a book salesman with a TV show” and Brian Kilmeade as “a soccer coach from Long Island.”
- During a 1990′s power struggle with NBC executive David Zaslav, Ailes was accused of making an anti-Semitic remark involving an obscenity and “the words ‘little’ and ‘Jew’.” NBC’s chairman and counsel believe “he probably said it.”
New York Magazine has published a lengthy except from Sherman’s book and it is the most fascinating and horrifying thing I’ve read in ages. Ailes is far weirder than I ever imagined. The article opens with a description of how Ailes moved into a rural town in upstate New York, hoping to return to his small-town roots, but instead bought the local newspaper and tried to transform it into a mini-Fox News. It’s a riot! Just a small except to whet your appetite for the bizarre:
As summer turned to fall, political issues began to arise. Alison Rooney, the copy editor, at first found reasons to be optimistic about the ownership change. She liked using the new computers to put out the paper and looked forward to the newsroom moving into a renovated two-story building on Main Street. But that honeymoon ended when Rooney laid out a press release from the Garrison Art Center that described a work invoking the “mythological story” of the Virgin Birth. After the release was published, the priest of Our Lady of Loretto wrote a letter to the editor, and Beth Ailes lit into Rooney. A few weeks later, Rooney got another dressing-down as she formatted a promotion of the high school’s upcoming production of Urinetown, this time from an editor who found the language offensive and removed the title of the show from the headline.
Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.
Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”
Soon afterward, Turton learned that Maureen Hunt had resigned, and Ailes continued his quest to bring “fair and balanced” to Philipstown.
Since I’ve been discussing new books so far, I guess I might as well continue. On Tuesday, The New York Times published interviews with some of the activists who broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971 and stole a massive number of files. They took the files to a remote location, studied them for ten days, and found evidence of the illegal FBI domestic spying program COINTELPRO. Unlike Edward Snowden, the burglars swore to keep their identities a secret so that the story itself would get all the public attention. From the Times article:
They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups….
The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.
“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”
That’s heroism in my book. They revealed real government abuses that had been almost unknown until they found the proof. Now one of the reporters who helped get the story out, Betty Medsger, has written a book called The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI. It came out this week, and I’m dying to read it.
By contrast Snowden and his PR man Glenn Greenwald have so far revealed very little that we didn’t already know or suspect about NSA domestic spying and have spent most of the seven months since they began rolling out their revelations 1) publishing articles about the NSA spying on foreign countries and their partnerships with foreign countries who have few espionage resources; 2) giving self-aggrandizing interviews and bragging about all the secrets they have; 3) Defending Snowden’s decision to defect to Russia. At the same time Greenwald has sold book and movie rights and worked on a media start up funded by libertarian E-bay and Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. I haven’t heard anything about Greenwald sharing his earnings with Edward Snowden either.
Fortunately some in the media are beginning to point out inconsistencies in Snowden’s and Greenwald’s behavior. Here is an op-ed by Doyle McManus that lays out the case very well. Edward Snowden, in shades of gray I agree with just about everything he wrote.
Debate over the renegade computer technician who leaked thousands of secret National Security Agency documents is too often reduced to that deceptively simple choice.
But it’s the wrong way to pose the question, because Snowden is both of those things at the same time. Yes, he’s a whistle-blower, and if that were all he had done, he would deserve our thanks for forcing a debate over the NSA’s swollen powers.
But he’s also a scoundrel who deserves prosecution and public condemnation. That’s because his leaks no longer seem focused on protecting U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights or toughening safeguards on the NSA. Instead, Snowden’s disclosures have expanded far beyond those laudable aims to exposing U.S. intelligence-gathering operations that appear not only legal but legitimate in the eyes of most Americans.
McManus is referring to revelations about the NSA doing it’s job, which is gathering foreign intelligence to protect national security. A little more:
“…most of those disclosures, from Merkel to Al Qaeda, have nothing to do with Americans’ right to privacy. Snowden has acknowledged that his ambitions go far beyond limiting what the NSA can do at home. “I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European or Asian,” he told the Guardian in June.
Well, OK. But that makes him, by his own description, a global crusader against NSA spying anywhere, not merely a whistle-blower against potential abuses inside the United States. It means some of his disclosures have made Americans safer against government prying, but others have probably made us less safe.
And for a man who proclaims himself a fighter for universal rights, accepting asylum in Russia and praising his hosts for their devotion to freedom does not strengthen his claim to consistency, let alone nobility.
I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today. Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a great Thursday!
The same news is dominating the cycle. Republicans have gone crazy attempting to circumvent the democratic process in order to instill the religious right’s anti-abortion views on the country. People are still playing ‘Where’s Snowden?’ Every one is hashing over the new SCOTUS decisions and watching to see if Trayvon Martin will find justice and his parents will get peace. The Supreme Court’s term this year has brought up speculation about Ruth Bader Ginsberg and possible retirement.
At age 80, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, says she is in excellent health, even lifting weights despite having cracked a pair of ribs again, and plans to stay several more years on the bench.
In a Reuters interview late on Tuesday, she vowed to resist any pressure to retire that might come from liberals who want to ensure that Democratic President Barack Obama can pick her successor before the November 2016 presidential election.
Ginsburg said she had fallen in the bathroom of her home in early May, sustaining the same injury she suffered last year near term’s end.
“I knew immediately what it was this time,” she said, adding that there was nothing to do but take pain killers and wait out the six weeks as her ribs healed. Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said on Wednesday that the day after the May 2 incident, Ginsburg was examined at the Office of the Attending Physician at the Capitol and then went about her regular schedule.
I’ve been so tired of all the assaults on women, minorities, and the GLBT by the religious right in this country that I’ve nearly taken to leaving the TV off and limiting my time looking at the news. Here’s some of the things these folks have to say about women.
Women are made to be led, and counseled, and directed. . . . And if I am not a good man, I have no just right in this Church to a wife or wives, or the power to propagate my species. What then should be done with me? Make a eunuch of me, and stop my propagation. –Heber C. Kimball, venerated early LDS apostle (1801-1868)
· A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. –Official statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)
· The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. — Pat Robertson, Southern Baptist leader (1930–)
The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands. –James Fowler, Women in the Church, 1999.
· Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture. –Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill nondenominational mega-church franchise. (1970–)
Here’s a great little bit of information that relates today’s shrill TeaBots to the real Boston Tea Party Patriots? What would the founders have done with today’s group?
The fact is, the Founding Fathers would have hated the Tea Party – misspelled signs and all.Yes, you heard that right, they would have despised the ammo-hoarding sycophants of AM talk radio for a number of reasons, and would have likely lined them up in front of a firing squad or fitted them for a noose if this was the 18th century.
First of all, the original Tea Party was a protest of being forced to pay taxes on imported goods for which there was no competition. The East India Trading Company had the cozy relationship with the British government that allowed them to have a monopoly on tea and other items. Imagine Walmart being the only store from which you could buy and they dictated both cost and taxes on everything. The real Tea Party wasn’t about mentally unstable rants about oppressive government and imagined Muslim takeovers, it was about actual oppressive government in which there was no representation for the colonists.
In the modern United States, we do have representation and theoretically, everyone can vote. The American Revolution used bullets because ballots weren’t available and the East India Tea Company had too much power in government. Now we have ballots and so-called “patriots” are trying to take away voting rights, talking about using bullets if they don’t get what they want, and supporting corporate power in government via Citizens United. You know, the opposite of what the Founding Fathers and the real Tea Party were all about.
After spending weeks dealing with the fallout from the IRS targeting scandal, Tea Party groups are starting to focus their energy on the immigration bill — a development that could imperil President Obama’s hopes for a speedy approval.
Before adjourning for the Fourth of July holiday break, the Senate easily approved its version of the legislation. The bill now rests with the House, where Republicans say they will take up their own version.
Obama, during his Africa trip, called on the House to “get this done” before the August recess.
But House lawmakers already are hearing conservative calls to slow things down. And if the debate leaks into August — when Congress takes a nearly month-long recess — the prospects could get even more wobbly. The Tea Party, during the 2009 August recess, famously helped stall ObamaCare by storming town hall meetings and other events.
Tea Party groups may be preparing to again mount demonstrations during the summer break. And even if the House passes a bill this month, it’s unlikely the two chambers would be able to agree on a unified piece of legislation by August — leaving the work unfinished going into recess.
While Tea Partiers await that opening, they’re already beginning to stir the pot.
Earlier this week, dozens of conservative groups including the Cincinnati Tea Party sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to declare the Senate package “dead on arrival.” They complained that the Senate bill, by virtue of giving up to 11 million illegal immigrants a shot at legal status, would make life harder for U.S. workers “struggling to reach the bottom rung of the economic ladder.”
I have exciting news this morning! Former great Republican hope Scott Brown has been hired as a Fox News contributor! You just knew Fox had to find another pretty face to replace Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods (h/t Charles Pierce). Brian Stelter wrote about it in yesterday’s NYT Media Decoder:
Fox News on Wednesday added the former Republican Senator Scott Brown to its contributor ranks, two weeks after Mr. Brown decided against another run for a Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Mr. Brown will make his debut as a paid pundit on Wednesday night’s edition of “Hannity,” the channel’s 9 p.m. program. “I am looking forward to commenting on the issues of the day and challenging our elected officials to put our country’s needs first instead of their own partisan interests,” Mr. Brown said in a statement.
Politico reported last week that Mr. Brown was in talks with the network. His hiring is the latest in a series of contributor changes Fox has made this winter; last month the network renewed Karl Rove’s contract and parted ways with Sarah Palin and earlier this month it declined to renew Dick Morris’s contract.
Mr. Brown became something of a hero to Republicans in 2010 when he won a special election for the seat formerly held by Edward M. Kennedy, thereby becoming the first Republican senator to represent Massachusetts since 1972. But his time in the Senate was brief: he lost to a Democrat, Elizabeth Warren, last November.
Hey, two years in the Senate, two years as Governor of Alaska–just auditions for Republican politicians who want to sell out to the right wing noise machine.
Brown made his Fox News debut last night on Sean Hannity’s show. The Boston Globe reports:
Former senator Scott Brown made a transition from potential comeback politician to pundit in just two weeks, making his debut as a contributor to Fox News on Wednesday night in an appearance also billed as an “exclusive” by host Sean Hannity.
Fans and skeptics alike saw the move as a plush landing pad for Brown, a telegenic former model who used his regular-guy appeal to great effect in his campaign for US Senate and whose upset win in 2010 was championed and chronicled on Fox….
Wearing a suit with an American flag on his lapel, Brown started off his appearance on the “Hannity” show smiling uncertainly, but he soon hit his stride with campaign-style talking points.
Asked by Hannity why he did not run again for “Kerry’s seat,” Brown said, “Well, it is the people’s seat, as you remember,” echoing the phrase he coined in the 2010 election to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Ooooooh, isn’t he brilliant? Politico has more of Brown’s clever remarks for those of you who–like me–who missed the scintillating interview last night. Brown shared with Hannity the reasons for his decision not to run for another of “the people’s seats” as well as his evaluation of President Obama’s SOTU:
“To do five races in six years and raise another $30-$50 million and then and participate in a Congress that’s really dysfunctional and extremely partisan — I felt I could make a difference being on this show and doing other things,” Brown said. “I plan to stay involved certainly, but, you know, I’m going to continue to work and be part of the election process back home and other elections around the country.”
“We welcome you to the program and the network,” Hannity said. “Thanks so much for being here.”
Brown and Hannity then discussed the State of the Union, with the former senator saying he felt Obama proposed “things that we can work on, but the key is to do it together.”
“There weren’t too many olive branches being passed out to the members of Congress, especially the GOP, but there certainly were things that I felt have some promise, for example the trade with Europe and trying to develop jobs, but the problem is, everything he’s laid out — and he certainly laid out his priorities very clearly — how are you going to pay for them?” Brown said.
According to Politico, Hannity ended the interview by telling Brown, “Welcome to the family.”
The NYT’s Brian Stelter (linked above) says that Brown might still run for Governor of Massachusetts; but I think he’s dreaming, and so does Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan, who knows a thing or two about Massachusetts politics: Scott Brown can’t lose as top Fox hunk.
Scott Brown isn’t running for governor next year. That’s my bet.
Fox News, where he debuted last night, is a terrific paycheck. Good for him.
But you just don’t help your political career in the bluest of blue states by working for Fox, which spent the past election cycle bashing immigrants, Obamacare, higher taxes for billionaires, the Rev. Wright, our “socialist” president — and any tighter gun control laws because they would be an outrageous, unpatriotic, unconstitutional assault on Second Amendment rights.
Poor Massachusetts Republicans. They’re still pining for their main squeeze, the guy they hoped would run for U.S. Senate. And now Brown could become a regular on “Geraldo at Large.”
You have to go read Eagan’s piece–it’s priceless. Here’s just a tiny bit more:
I for one expect that Brown will do for the men of America what he did for the boyos of Massachusetts: He’ll make them swoon.
That alone could prove a ratings bonanza. Fox News may have thought they could never, ever find a contributor better looking than Sarah Palin. Now they have.
After I heard the news yesterday, I decided to do a little research on Scott Brown’s past, and I came across this October 2012 Boston Globe article by Sally Jacobs: Modeling years gave Scott Brown an early boost
It was approaching midnight inside a throbbing Studio 54, New York City’s nightclub extraordinaire and nocturnal epicenter of excess in the 1980s. As bartenders naked to the waist filled goblets of champagne, club cofounder Steve Rubell, famous for plucking favored guests from the surging crowd outside, was showing off his latest “pick.”
His name was Scott Brown. But Rubell, who recognized the 22-year-old Massachusetts man, who had recently won Cosmopolitan magazine’s 1982 “America’s Sexiest Man” contest and posed nude for its centerfold, promptly dubbed him “the Cosmo boy.” When Rubell spotted R. Couri Hay, The National Enquirer celebrity columnist and stringer for People magazine, he led Brown toward him, hoping his guest’s sudden renown might garner the club a mention.
“Rubell introduced me to Brown,” recalled Hay. “He said, ‘Here’s the Cosmo boy . . . How cute is he!’
Ah… the ’70s. Hays wasn’t all that impressed, but Brown managed to turn his Cosmo spread into a 7-year modeling career.
Brown was awarded a $20,000 contract by Jordache jeans, and his muscled body was splayed on a billboard overlooking Times Square in New York. For one of many sweater shoots, he stared moodily at the breaking surf on a Fire Island beach curled up in the lap of model Julianne Phillips, later the wife of Bruce Springsteen….
And when Boston columnist Norma Nathan dubbed him one of “Boston’s Most Eligible Bachelors” in 1982, Brown did not hold back. “ ‘I’ve always felt that I’ve done well with older women,” says Scott, who scores sex as ‘very important,’ ” according to the accompanying write-up. “ ‘I have the appetites of a 22-year-old man. It’s very important to me to satisfy a woman I am with.’ ”
Finally, Brown’s hard work has been rewarded with an opportunity appropriate to this “talents.” Maybe he’ll even get his own show! Margery Eagan suggests that our former two-year Senator would look good on a morning program next to “drop-dead stunning and really smart” Megyn Kelly.
I ask you, Fox fans, who’d you like to wake up to every morning: Gretchen Carlson or Megyn Kelly? Steve Doocy or Scott Brown? So what if Brown lacks edge. Leave that to Megyn. Just sit back and stare.
I’m not sure who those people are, but as long as Brown is out of the running for Massachusetts Governor I’ll be happy, so I hope his Fox Noise career will be a long and successful one.