Thursday Reads: Bitter White Men, the Petraeus Affair, and GOP CluelessnessPosted: November 15, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Discrimination against women, Monsanto, morning reads, U.S. Economy, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Benghazi attacks, David Petraeus, Diane Feinstein, Eric Cantor, Frederick W. Humphries III, GOP conspiracy theories, Jill Kelley, John Derbyshire, Kevin MacDonald, meritocracy, military and women, mind control, Noam Scheiber, Paula Broadwell, Rosa Brooks, White nationalist groups, White supremacists 55 Comments
Following on Dakinikat’s post about the bitter old white men who can’t handle four more years with a black president, I recommend you read a scary article by J.M. Berger at Foreign Policy on “Why white nationalists are thrilled with Obama’s victory.” Several white supremacist leaders are quoted in the piece; I’ll just give you a couple of examples.
Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.
White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….
It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?
The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.
Then there’s John Derbyshire, who was fired from National Review earlier this year.
When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.
He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”
Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.
Disgraced General David Petraeus will testify before Congress on Benghazi today “behind closed doors,” according to the Washington Post.
He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.
“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.
Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.
Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.
Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”
[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.
Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with
…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….
What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)
It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.
Rosa Brooks has written another serious article on the Petraeus affair at Foreign Policy: Sex and the Modern Soldier. Brooks asks:
Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?
Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”
The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”
The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.
This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.
Yuck. Read all about it at the link.
Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.
The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.
The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.
“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”
Humphries says that the shirtless photos were sent to Jill Kelley long before the Petraeus investigation and were simply a “joke.”
I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign. Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:
In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”
The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.
Finally, this one is for JJ. Check out this article at Mother Jones: Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot.
President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.
On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”
There’s much much more insanity at the link.
Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?
Generals Gone Wild Open ThreadPosted: November 13, 2012 Filed under: open thread | Tags: David Petraeus, Jill Kelley, John Allen, Paula Broadwell 28 Comments
These two generals should become the poster boys for cutting defense spending. This story is getting stranger by the minute too. I thought I’d put up a few late breaking updates for your late night enjoyment.
So far President Obama is standing behind General John Allen, who is being investigated for sending masive numbers of “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, a married socialite in Tampa, Florida who enjoys entertaining military brass at lavish parties. But Fox News reports that the general’s e-mails to Kelley were “like phone sex.”
The investigation focuses on emails between Allen and Jill Kelley, a close friend of the Petraeus family. Kelley was the woman who originally notified the FBI when she received threatening emails from Petraeus’ mistress Paula Broadwell — and that investigation later uncovered the affair.
One senior defense official initially described the nature of the communications between Allen and Kelley as “flirtatious.” However, two U.S. officials later told Fox News that Allen’s contact with Kelley was more than just general flirting. One official described some of the emails as sexually explicit and the “equivalent of phone sex over email.”
Another official said Panetta would not have referred this matter to an internal investigator without knowing the devastating impact this would have on war efforts and on Allen and his family.
“This was a serious enough matter that those who examined the emails thought it should be referred to the secretary of defense, and the secretary made the decision to turn it over to the inspector general,” the official said. “He would not have thrust this into the limelight without good cause.”
Allen’s friends are shocked by the revelations about Allen, who was previously known as a “warrior monk.”
The four-star general, who succeeded General David Petraeus last year as head of the International Security Assistance Force, is known for his ability to work with tribal sheikhs, a skill that helped him turn the tide against al Qaeda in Anbar Province in Iraq five years ago and has served him well in Afghanistan.
So the news that Allen, a 36-year veteran of the Marine Corps, had been snared in the same investigation that prompted the resignation of Petraeus as CIA director last week was greeted with surprise at the Pentagon and elsewhere in Washington.
John Ullyot, who served under Allen at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 1993, said he was all about “setting the example” for those under him and it was “hard for anyone who ever served under Allen” to believe he had been pulled into the probe.
Allen, who is married and has two daughters, “was known as a kind of warrior monk,” said Ullyot, who was a spokesman for former U.S. Senator John Warner, a Republican who chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Apparently the attraction to Kelley wasn’t based on her brainpower. My Fox in Tampa reports that
Media from around the world have convened on the two-story Bayshore Boulevard home of Scott and Jill Kelley. Jill is the socialite mother of three whose FBI complaint about harassing emails eventually led investigators to uncover the CIA director’s affair with his biographer and is now linked to the name of a second top general.
The Kelleys have kept a low profile since news of the scandal broke, and had to request police help to chase people from their yard.
Two 911 calls were made from the Kelleys’ home on Sunday. In the first recording, a man whose name was redacted says there is someone at the door who won’t leave his property. The second caller, who identifies herself as Jill, says there’s someone lurking in their yard.
As the call ends, she makes an apparent reference to her role at MacDill Air Force Base, which the Associated Press has described as an “unpaid social liaison.”
“You know, I don’t know if by any chance, because I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property. I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well,” she told the 911 dispatcher, who agreed to pass the information along to police.
Meanwhile the media is dealing with their intense grief and disillusionment following the resignation of General David Petraeus because of his extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. At New York Magazine, Joe Coscarelli describes The Media’s Five Stages of David Petraeus Grief
Beneath the mess of sexy messages and shirtless FBI agents in the David Petraeus affair sits another fractured relationship: the one between the retired four-star general and the fawning press. For years, Petraeus represented an ideal American form, both brains and brawn, winning over not just Paula Broadwell, but many of the reporters and pundits charged with covering him, using his go-to moves like frequent e-mails and five-mile runs. Since the myth of his character was shattered on Friday, journalists have squirmed their way through incomplete, intertwined answers to the questions “How could he do this?” and “How could we not have known?” Their grief has followed a predictable pattern.
Read all about it at the link.
You may have hear that Paula Broadwell’s 40th birthday last Friday. She and her husband celebrated with a romantic weekend at an inn in Virginia. They were eating dinner when the news broke that Paul was the mystery girlfriend of General David Petraeus.
The most amazing detail about the Petraeus affair, which continues to serve up bizarre amazing details by the hour. According to Washingtonian magazine, Paula Broadwell and her husband Scott did in fact enjoy their romantic Friday night dinner at the Inn at Little Washington, following a romantic weekend out of an ad for the Virginia tourist association: hikes, bike rides, and a room at the romantic Middleton Inn. Have I used the “romantic” enough times? Having gotten engaged there myself, I can assure you that the Inn at Little Washington is a factory of “romantic,” with its intimate booths and lovely herb garden and paths outside and very personal treatment. (In fact, if I recall correctly, my husband and I had menus which listed our places of employment up top, which is maybe only a Washingtonian’s idea of what might turn a couple on.)
Just to get the timeline straight, Slate broke the name of Petraues’ mistress on Friday evening, just around the time when the couple would have been sitting down to dinner. It’s possible that they made a rule to keep their phones back in the room of another inn where they were staying, and had no idea her name had become public. If not, how could they possibly have made it through dinner without someone emailing Broadwell and telling her what was up? Its possible she did see a text or email and yet somehow made it through dinner. (Fellow diners who’d seen her at breakfast that Friday morning described her as texting throughout.)
It’s possible, and maybe probable, given these details that her husband found out along with the rest of the world. The Washingtonian also reports that when they checked into the inn, her husband had a bottle of Champagne and a bouquet of pink roses and white lilies waiting to mark her 40th birthday. And then they checked out “earlier than expected” on Saturday morning and Scott Broadwell was described as “not talkative.”
Perhaps it was after leaving the Inn that Paula lost her driver’s license. Or perhaps she lost it while running with her husband. What will happen next in this endlessly fascinating unfolding scandal?
What have you heard?
Tuesday ReadsPosted: November 13, 2012 Filed under: 2012 elections, morning reads, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barbara Walters, brain mutations, Callista Gingrich, CIA, David Petraeus, FBI, Gerald Crabtree, Harvard School of Government, Indianapolis explosion, Jill Kelley, John Kerry, Newt Gingrich, Paula Broadwell, Scott Brown, Stanford University, Susan E. Rice 63 Comments
You may have heard this already, but last night the Washington Post reported that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is being considered for the post of Defense Secretary.
President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.
Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
John O. Brennan, Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, is a leading contender for the CIA job if he wants it, officials said. If Brennan goes ahead with his plan to leave government, Michael J. Morell, the agency’s acting director, is the prohibitive favorite to take over permanently. Officials cautioned that the White House discussions are still in the early stages and that no decisions have been made.
That’s a surprise about Kerry. The bad news would be losing a Democratic Senate seat and giving Scott Brown another chance to run as a replacement. Let’s hope Massachusetts Democrats have someone who can beat him.
You also probably heard that there was a huge explosion in Indianapolis over the weekend. It leveled four houses completely and seriously damaged eighty more. The explosion was so powerful that homes 2-3 blocks away in all directions were affected–garage doors were blown open, windows broken and so on. So far there no cause for the explosion has been announced. The latest speculation has been that a gas furnace or some other appliance blew up. From NBC News:
With no hint of a problem in advance, in particular no tell-tale smell of a gas leak, authorities and residents in a southern Indianapolis neighborhood are trying to make sense of an enormous blast that obliterated two homes and made dozens more uninhabitable.
Fire officials expressed amazement that only two people died in the late Saturday explosion so powerful that the devastation spread for blocks from its epicenter. Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate their Richmond Hill homes, some never to return. Windows and doors were blown in. The blast rocked several houses entirely from their foundations and was so loud it awoke people three miles away. A fire burned for hours, engulfing dozens of homes.
“We have done initial testing throughout the neighborhood and have not found any gas leaks,” Dan Considine, Citizens Energy spokesman, told IndyStar.com Monday.
“We are still doing additional testing of the gas main and the lines to the homes on Fieldfare Way,” he said. “We have not at this point found any problems with any external gas lines.”
This is so strange. I did hear that authorities have determined that the explosion wasn’t caused by a meth lab or by explosives.
There are some new developments in the Petraeus episode. Yesterday morning ABC News’ Martha Raddatz explained why the FBI investigation of Petraeus wasn’t revealed to the White House earlier.
The FBI withheld its findings about Gen. David Petreaus’ affair from the White House and congressional leaders because the agency considered them the result of a criminal investigation that never reached the threshold of an intelligence probe, law enforcement sources said today.
The sources said agents followed department guidelines that generally bar sharing information about developing criminal investigations. The FBI is also aware of its history under former director J. Edgar Hoover of playing politics and digging into the lives of public figures. As one official said, the rules are designed to protect people (both private and elected officials) when negative information about them arises in the course of a criminal investigation that is not a crime.
The FBI’s focus was on whether laws were broken, in this case whether federal cyber-harassment statutes were violated. The sources emphasized that Petraeus himself was never the focus of the investigation, nor did it turn up evidence he broke any law.
The focus was on his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he had the affair that ended with his resignation as CIA director last week.
Then last night the Wall Street Journal reported that:
A federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus was barred from taking part in the case over the summer due to superiors’ concerns that he had become personally involved in the case, according to officials familiar with the probe.
New details about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggest that even as the bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus’s personal life, the agency had to address questionable conduct by one of its own…
As Dakinikat said the other day, this is sounding more and more like a Lifetime movie as time goes on.
The FBI agent who started the case was a friend of Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who received harassing, anonymous emails that led to the probe, according to officials. Ms. Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation.
However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials.
The FBI officials found that he had sent shirtless pictures of himself to Ms. Kelley, according to the people familiar with the probe.
These are the same people who are setting up stings to entrap young men into planning “terrorist acts.” Do you feel safer now?
Last night on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell reported that this FBI agent may have had political motivations and wanted the information made public before the election. According to the WSJ story, this was the FBI source who contacted Rep. Dave Reichert, who in turn passed the information to Eric Cantor.
The story also gives more detail on the so-called harassing e-mails that Broadwell sent to Kelley:
The accusatory emails, according to officials, were sent anonymously to an account shared by Ms. Kelley and her husband. Ms. Broadwell allegedly used a variety of email addresses to send the harassing messages to Ms. Kelley, officials said.
One asked if Ms. Kelley’s husband was aware of her actions, according to officials. In another, the anonymous writer claimed to have watched Ms. Kelley touching “him” provocatively underneath a table, the officials said.
The message was referring to Mr. Petraeus, but that wasn’t clear at the time, officials said.
I’m getting the feeling that Broadwell is not going to get her Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Government, especially not after this from the Charlotte Observer: FBI team searches Broadwell home.
Three days after Paula Broadwell entered the center of national controversy, FBI agents Monday evening entered her family’s Dilworth home and appeared to be searching both floors.
The four or five agents brought cardboard boxes used for carrying papers and were on both floors of the home for the search, which began shortly before 9 p.m. About two dozen members of the local and national media gathered. It wasn’t immediately clear what the agents were focused on.
The agents appeared to start their search in the rear of the house in the kitchen and began turning on lights as they moved into different rooms. As the agents reached the two-hour mark, lights in most rooms appeared to be turned on.
Broadwell’s apparent affair with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, who is married, led him to resign Friday as CIA director. Broadwell’s Charlotte neighbor Sarah Curme said Monday that Broadwell, her husband and two young sons were doing pretty well considering the circumstances. Broadwell marked her 40th birthday over the weekend with family in Washington, D.C.
Still, Amy Bishop managed to get her Ph.D. from Harvard.
UPDATE: Overnight it came out that another four-star general, John Allen, is under investigation for exchanging massive numbers of inappropriate e-mails with Jill Kelley. From CNN:
The spiraling scandal that took down former CIA Director David Petraeus has apparently ensnared another powerful general, as authorities announced that Gen. John Allen is under investigation for allegedly sending inappropriate messages to Jill Kelley, a woman who has been linked to the Petraeus scandal.
Allen, who is the commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, has denied any wrongdoing, a senior defense official said.
What the hell is going on with these generals?
Some details about Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, came from an overnight statement by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, while he was on his way to Australia.
“On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (or ISAF) in Afghanistan,” part of the statement said. “Today, the secretary directed that the matter be referred to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense for investigation.”
A defense official told CNN there is a “distinct possibility” that the investigation into Allen is connected to the investigation that led to the resignation of Petraeus.
Allen had been nominated to be the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, but that appointment is now on hold.
I’ll put any further updates in the comments to this post.
You’re gonna love this. Callista Gingrich talked to Barbara Walters about the Petraeus story, saying that “affairs are ‘painful’ for the family.”
The woman who married former House Speaker Newt Gingrich after cheating with him while he was married to his second wife says that former CIA Director David Petraeus’ extramarital affair is “sad” and “painful” for his family.
“I think it’s personally very sad for he and his family,” Callista Gingrich told ABC’s Barbara Walters on Monday. “I think he did the right thing by resigning. But this is painful and they’ll have to work together through this as a family. And that will take some time.”
Maybe Barbara should have talked to Newt’s previous wives to find out what being cheated on really feels like. But I suppose Callista will find out eventually. Maybe she’s preparing herself for the inevitable.
I’ll end with something non-political. According to research by Stanford Professor Gerald Crabtree, humans are becoming less intelligent with time because of mutations in the brain.
A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities.
Gerald Crabtree, lead author of the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics, claims the brain drain has been going on for centuries.
Crabtree, a professor of pathology and developmental biology, suggested our intellectual peak came when humans were mostly nonverbal and were stressed out trying to think of ways to not get eaten by wild animals.
He said survival was once a driving force for intelligence. But the development of agriculture and the rise in urban living has probably weakened the natural selection towards intelligence and made us less smart.
Humans are slowly losing their cognitive capabilities as adverse genetic mutations fail to be weeded out by evolutionary pressures, according to a bold hypothesis put forward by Dr. Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University.
“I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues. Furthermore, I would guess that he or she would be among the most emotionally stable of our friends and colleagues,” the leading geneticist began his article in the scientific journal Trends in Genetics, adding the same could be said of the “inhabitants of Africa, Asia, India, or the Americas.”
Crabtree explained that human intelligence and emotions relied on thousands of genes, which acted together as links in a chain rather than individual components. A mutation to any of one of these genes can produce intellectual or emotional disability — and research has found that most of these genes are particularly susceptible to mutations.
Under the harsh circumstances that ancient humans endured, even a slight reduction in cognitive abilities could doom an individual. Those with lower cognitive abilities were more likely to die before reproducing, leaving only those with more refined cognitive abilities to pass on their genes.
Could this explain the development of the Tea Party?
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading and blogging about today?
Saturday Reads: Petraeus and Broadwell, Romney’s “Concession,” and the Race-Based CampaignPosted: November 10, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, John McCain, misogyny, Mitt Romney, morning reads, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics, War on Women | Tags: Benghazi attacks, CIA, concession speech, David Atkins, David Petraeus, FBI, Holly Petraeus, Mary Elizabeth Williams, Michael J. Morrell, Paula Broadwell, race baiting, Racism, Scott Broadwell 66 Comments
I guess the biggest story of the day is the resignation of General David Petraeus as head of the CIA, although the aftermath of the election is still my main focus–yes, I’m still wallowing in it! Anyway, on Petraeus, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that:
CIA Director David H. Petraeus, the retired four-star general widely commended for his oversight of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, resigned after an FBI investigation uncovered evidence of an extramarital affair.
The affair was discovered during an unrelated Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into whether one of Petraeus’s computers was compromised by someone else using his e-mail account, according to three U.S. officials who asked not to be named because the matter involves classified information.
Like Petraeus, the woman in question, Paula Broadwell (am I the only one who can’t help smirking a little at that name?), is married–to Scott Broadwell,
For the record, Petraeus has been married to a woman named Holly Petraeus for over three decades, while Broadwell is married and has two kids with Scott Broadwell. He’s a specialist in interventional radiology in Charlotte, N.C. The couple has two sons, Lucien and Landon. They met in Germany while training to become ski patrollers and are “adventure junkies,” according to Paula.
Newsweek/The Daily Beast published a piece by Broadwell just last week called General David Petraeus’s Rules for Living. There isn’t anything on the list specifically about cheating on your spouse, but there is this:
5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rear view mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.
In today’s The Daily Beast, Isabel Wilkinson called the book “glowing” and “fawning.”
Broadwell is the author, with Vernon Loeb, of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, a glowing 400-page biography of Petraeus, for which she was granted almost total access. After it was published in January, some said it read more like a love letter to the general than a biography. In a review for Rolling Stone, Michael Hastings called the book “a work of fan fiction so fawning that not even Max Boot—a Petraeus buddy and Pentagon sock puppet—could bring himself to rave about it.”
Ugh. She also provides more background on Broadwell.
Broadwell, 40, is a research associate at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership–as well as a PhD. candidate in the department of war studies at King’s College in London. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist. They live in the upper middle class Dilworth neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons, Landon and Lucien. She grew up in North Dakota, and attended West Point, the general’s alma mater, where she graduated with honors. She has worked for the U.S. Special Operations Command and an FBI joint terrorism task force. Beyond that, her list of accomplishments is long: she earned an MA from The University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies; an MPA from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and served as the deputy director of the Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts.
Physically, Broadwell is tall and stunning, with long dark hair and green eyes. According to her biography, she has been a “sponsored ½ Ironman triathlete” as well as a “female model/ demonstrator” for KRISS, a manufacturer of .45-caliber machine guns. (On LinkedIn, she lists her current employer as Equipe Broadwell, LLC, seemingly a part of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, a veteran’s organization in Charlotte.
Broadwell first crossed paths with Petraeus in 2006, when he gave a lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she was pursuing her master’s degree. According to the preface of All In, she introduced herself after that lecture and told him about her academic research. He gave her his business card and offered to help. “I took full advantage of his open-door policy to seek insight and share perspectives,” she writes in the book. And so began an alleged relationship, which, if sources are to be believed, eventually led to the general’s resignation from the CIA on Friday.
Petraeus is 60. I guess that’s enough about the tawdry affair. We’ll probably find out a lot more than we ever wanted to know in the days in weeks to come. This will all be tied in with the right wing nutters’ endless Beghazi conspiracy theories too. Sigh…
According to Politico, acting CIA chief Michael J. Morrell will testify in place of Petraeus next week.
The resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus came less than a week before he was scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
A spokesman for the committee said acting CIA Director Mike Morell would testify Thursday in place of Petraeus, who resigned Friday after admitting to an extramarital affair.
Now I’d like to return to something that has been bothering me post election: Mitt Romney’s pathetic concession speech. I thought it was utterly classless. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since Romney’s entire campaign was awful–filled with lies, race-baiting, and embarrassing gaffes from beginning to end.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone in my reaction to the brief speech that Romney hadn’t even bothered to write until after the election was declared for President Obama. Mary Elizabeth Williams’ piece about it at Salon speaks for me: Romney’s concession speech was not gracious. No, it was not at all gracious, but many writers said it was anyway. Williams:
It is a venerable tradition in American politics that no matter how ugly a bloodbath the campaign that preceded it may have been, on election night, the defeated candidate steps up and gives an elegant concession speech, thanking his supporters and pledging his loyalty to the victor. In return, the winning side politely vows to reach across the aisle, and lauds the loser’s “graciousness,” thereby assuring that no one can accuse the victorious side of anything resembling gloating.
Sure enough, after Mitt Romney’s five-minute parting words Tuesday evening – which actually came in the early hours of Wednesday morning – the governor was perfunctorily summed up in the punditsphere by the adjective of choice: The “Today” show declared that Romney’s speech was a “short but gracious” end to his six-year quest for the White House. Our own Salon staff called it a “gracious” speech. Even BuzzFeed called it “gracious,” pointing out its most “conciliatory and statesmanlike moments.” New York magazine, meanwhile, said that Romney “concedes with class.” Now, it may seem nitpicky to mention this while the door is still hitting the guy’s ass on his way out, but are you kidding me?
Here’s a bit of Williams’ reaction to the “speech” itself:
It’s true that when Romney took to the stage at last in Boston, right before 1 a.m., he didn’t kick over the podium, rip off his shirt and throw a chair into the audience. He didn’t spend the long minutes between victory being called for Obama and his acquiescence of the race hopping on a plane to Chicago so he could bum-rush the president’s victory speech. And he may not have spent that time holed up in a bunker with his advisers, making women cry.
Instead, he came out before the nation, put on his game face, and expressed his gratitude. He said, “We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” Good for him. He also sighed that his wife, Ann, “would have been a wonderful first lady,” and, in a statement that would not have been out of place coming from a partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, thanked his “sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and … their wives and children for taking up their slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.” Seriously.
She then contrasts Romney’s concession to Obama with McCain’s graceful one in 2008. Please go read the whole thing.
The Washington Post’s David Beard talked to historian and author Scott Farris about Romney’s concession. Farris, the author of Almost President: The Men Who Lost The Race But Changed The Nation, said it barely “cleared the bar.”
Farris said Romney’s speech didn’t reflect the urgency of healing a divided nation: “While he congratulated Obama, he never really validated the result by saying ‘the people have spoken’ … Praying for the president is nice, but it is not the same as validating the election.”
Farris added that Romney did not expressly address unity. “He talked about putting aside partisanship, but he also said he had hoped to lead the nation in a different direction and remained concerned about the nation’s future. He also did not define what his campaign was about, except for a vague reference to “principles,” though he didn’t fully identify what those were. The reflections on the importance of teachers, pastors and parents hinted at something, but it was all implied, not explicitly stated.
“It was a speech that sounded as if he did not emerge from the election with much respect, let alone affection, for the president. He sounded as if he really expected to win and was immensely disappointed in the result — even more so than usual.”
And that’s exactly the case. Romney expected to win, despite the hundreds of polls that showed he was losing to a man that he sees as just one of “the help.”
I want to end with the most horrifying part of this election for me: the return of blatant, overt, up-front, out-in-the-open racism to the political sphere. Has it been there all along, and I just didn’t notice it? In 2008 I was shocked by the open misogyny that was unleashed against Hillary Clinton. This year, we’ve had both the Republican war on women and blatant race-baiting from the Republican nominee and his surrogates–most of all the detestable and repulsive John Sununu.
At DailyKos, David Atkins (AKA thereisnospoon) wrote a wonderful post about the racism, titled “Did they really think only old white men would hear the dogwhistles?”
Atkins suggests that racism is exactly the reason why Mitt Romney and his advisers didn’t believe that Barack Obama would win reelection, why they didn’t believe Democratic voters would be enthusiastic about going to the polls or that African Americans and young people would vote in the numbers they did in 2008. And I would add–the reason Romney didn’t bother to write a decent concession speech or show any respect for the man who soundly beat him. Atkins writes:
The question is, why did they believe this?
Despite the craziness of Sarah Palin, it’s important to remember that John McCain and most of the GOP establishment didn’t go hard after the Nixonland race card in 2008. Sure, there was some of that. But they knew that if they pushed it too hard, it would backfire on them.
In the intervening four years, the Republican message against Obama has been nothing but one long racist tirade.
Muslim. Kenyan. Foreign. Hussein. Doesn’t share our values. Not Christian. Wants to cut the work requirement in welfare. Obamaphones. “Holder’s People.” Black Panthers. “Moochelle Chewbacca Obama.” “The White Hut.” “Entitlement society.” “Makers versus takers.” Recovery, not dependency. Parasites….
Did they think African-Americans wouldn’t notice? Did they think only white people could hear those dogwhistles and outright racist primal screams?
Did they think Latinos wouldn’t hear the last four years of vitriol thrown at them and their families by Fox News and the fever swamps on the AM dial? That they could celebrate Jan Brewer’s and Joe Arpaio’s sick sadism and that Latinos wouldn’t take heed?
He includes visual aids too. I hope you’ll click the link to see and read the whole thing.
I want to end on a happier note, so I’ll return to Mary Elizabeth Williams’ blog at Salon: Let the post-Sandy election gloating continue!
Yes, you’re right, we’re gloating. You caught us. Maybe you’ve noticed it from our unstoppably gleeful tweets about what Christopher Hayes calls “overdosing on Schadenfreude” or the way we might have let it slip that, as Lindy West admits, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum.” Perhaps you find it unseemly – you, the defeated but dignified Republican, or you, the Democrat who thinks this kind of whoop-whooping is beneath our kind. Bur bear with us. You see, some of us recently had a hurricane blow through our lives.
This election was nail-biting enough when it was just about Obama vs. Romney. But then it became more than just a big fat “Oh, phew!” regarding having a president who won’t actively try to sabotage our reproductive rights or marriage equality or the middle class. It became about not getting a guy who was pretty gung-ho on cutting federal funding for disaster relief. It became about simply not being able to bear another blow.
Again, Williams speaks for me. I intend to keep gloating as long as I possibly can.
Now it’s your turn. What are you reading on this fine Saturday morning?