"Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did."
Barack Obama today:
Q: Just very quickly, do you wish you had left a residual force in Iraq? Any regrets about that decision in 2011?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that wasn’t a decision made by me. That was a decision made by the Iraqi government.
The truth of the matter is that Obama and the drooling idiot of a vice-president that he put in charge of the negotiations with Iraq in 2011 kinda sorta wanted some advisers to stay, but completely botched it.
The Obungler then proceeded to prattle on about how Americans needed immunity from Iraqi prosecution, and they truly did, but the Iraqis wouldn't grant it. What he didn't talk about is how the Bush administration finessed the same issue in the 2008 SOFA.
Nobody seems to remember it now, but in that agreement American troops actually were subject to Iraqi prosecution. The catch was the Iraqis could only prosecute US servicemembers for crimes committed while they were "off duty" and "off base." I know this is a difficult question for the Think Progress crowd, but from 2008 through 2011, how many American servicemembers were ever both off duty and outside the wire?
And the trees whisper a gentle..."none." I have seen no evidence that the same sort of deal could not have been negotiated again with Iraq.
President Obama invested minimal personal capital, abandoning the leader-to-leader-cultivated relationship that the Bush administration prioritized.
The administration lead was Vice-President Biden, a person of considerable stature, but who had to overcome an especially high hurdle before he could win the trust of the Iraqis because of his earlier proposal to divide up Iraq.
Obama's initial country team in Iraq never achieved the unity of effort of the Petraeus-Crocker team.
Once a competent negotiating team was assembled, the administration appeared to undercut it with deliberate leaks about the likely failure of negotiations.
The theory that convincing Iraqis we would leave would elicit cooperative behavior proved flawed. Prime Minister Maliki was even less cooperative with the Obama Administration than he had been with Bush.
The State Department never adequately resourced nor planned for the daunting post-war mission its own strategy required.
The sdministration talked only of ending the Iraq war, and made little effort to mobilize political support at home or abroad for any follow-on policy to secure the gains that we and the Iraqis had together won at great cost.
Finally, some would argue that the president did not really want to leave meaningful numbers of troops in Iraq and so the administration never seriously pursued a SOFA, only going through the motions.
Dexter Filkins, no fan of the war or Bush, recently wrote in The New Yorker:
By 2011, by any reasonable measure, the Americans had made a lot of headway but were not finished with the job. For many months, the Obama and Maliki governments talked about keeping a residual force of American troops in Iraq, which would act largely to train Iraq’s Army and to provide intelligence against Sunni insurgents. (It would almost certainly have been barred from fighting.) Those were important reasons to stay, but the most important went largely unstated: it was to continue to act as a restraint on Maliki’s sectarian impulses, at least until the Iraqi political system was strong enough to contain him on its own. The negotiations between Obama and Maliki fell apart, in no small measure because of a lack of engagement by the White House. Today, many Iraqis, including some close to Maliki, say that a small force of American soldiers—working in non-combat roles—would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from Iraq. Sami al-Askari, a Maliki confidant, told me for my article this spring, “If you had a few hundred here, not even a few thousand, they would be coöperating with you, and they would become your partners.” President Obama wanted the Americans to come home, and Maliki didn’t particularly want them to stay.
Dealing with Maliki in Iraq was and is no doubt every bit as difficult, distasteful, and disgusting as dealing with Karzai in Afghanistan. It was the same for the Bush administration. The difference between Bush and Obama however, is Bush kept his eye on what was important, commonly known as America's interests, and President Petulant Pants focused on what was important to him, namely him.
Another round of thunderstorms is slamming the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota this morning. The weather service has recorded 3.47" as of 9:45 AM and with the ground already saturated from the wettest spring since 1871, nearly all of that is eventually going to find its way to the Mississippi. Flood gauges along the river from Brainerd to Dubuque were near or over flood stage before this latest torrential rain and there's more still to come this week. Heck, they're talking another 1-3" yet this morning and judging by how hard it is raining as I type this it will be closer to the 3" mark.
I haven't seen any warnings about major flooding on the Mississippi, yet, but there was a definite surge of water heading south already and it will get a big boost from today's storms, and the heavy rain in the forecast for the overnight. And there's at least a chance of thunderstorms every day for the next week. If those materialze and produce more heavy rains I can't believe there won't be a significant impact downriver.
No need to panic, but flood-prone communities along the Mississippi in Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri should start paying attention.
Mom's straw bale gardening project this year has not exactly gone by the book. She followed all of the directions to the letter, but the composting process never kicked off the way it was supposed to. We decided the heck with it and went ahead and got seeds and plants in last week:
I believe it starts with a pumpkin plant on the lower left which will be trained down to the ground on the other side of the bales. Then two bell pepper plants. Then a squash plant that will also be trained to the ground alongside the pumpkin plant. That's followed by a cucumber bush and an "Early Girl" tomato plant that will both be caged or trellised somehow. Finally, the bale we put top soil on where Mom planted some onions, kale, and beets. I'll see what it looks like after a week when I get back.
Split Rock Lighthouse from a nearby scenic overlook:
The June moon the other afternoon:
I would like to play around with taking some more moon pics with the camera tonight, but these are what await me:
It was nice on the deck, down on the rocks, or anywhere else that was sunny today. However, the minute you stepped into the woods or just some shaded area the mosquitoes were ferocious. Some Deep Woods Off kept them from biting when I went fishing this morning, but they still swarmed to the point of aggravation. The problem is that spring came late and there's been plenty of water and now the first big hatch is in full swing along the North Shore. Just have to deal with it.
I may still give some photos a try...or I may just drink. It's a tough call.
When I saw the following I wasn't sure if I should laugh or blurt out "I'll kick your ass" like some sort of Hank Hill of the North, so I did both:
Retailers are starting to push a new trend in menswear: the short suit.
The ensemble looks like a regular suit from the waist up, with a sport coat over a button-down shirt and sometimes a tie or bowtie. Instead of trousers, however, the suit's bottoms are cropped at the knee.
Here's a helpful image, as if the description itself isn't horrifying enough:
I would hire a guy who showed up for a job interview wearing a short suit...just so I could fire him.
Maybe this will become the groomsman's version of the despised bridesmaid's dress.
Somewhere right now a 70-something man is thinking a short suit is kind of a spiffy, but it really needs a pair of black socks to complete the look.
Then there's the Barneys New York version with chiffon panels. On that, words escape me.
I was driving along and wondering what to post to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day when Dennis Prager made it easy for me by playing the following clip on his radio show:
I believe that clip is from 2007.
Listening to Charles Durning speak I got at least a glimmer of the terror and horror he felt that day. All those thousands of young men and the thousands more who would follow in their footsteps for 11 more long months.
The courage and devotion it took to step forward into that probable death is staggering, but that's what 150,000 men did that day. They rode in gliders, stepped out of airplanes, and stormed the beaches. And they prevailed.
Most of the survivors of that day are gone now. Charles Durning passed away on Christmas Eve of 2012. But their sacrifice and achievement on D-Day will be remembered as long as there is a United States of America.
The script is now all too familiar: Take a difficult situation and write in a cover-up and a healthy dose of lies. Confuse the audience with misdirection and half-truths. Finally, hire a cast and crew of nitwits and presto, we have another major motion clusterfuck from the directorial hands of Barack Hussein Obungler.
And that's my nice summary of the Bowe Bergdahl mess. Here are a few thoughts on what has quickly devolved into a sorry and embarrassing spectacle.
-Bowe Bergdahl deserves his day in court and to have his side of the story heard. In fact, he damn well better face a court martial, not just for the good of the US Army, but also for his own sake. Either he will clear his name or he will be held accountable if found guilty of desertion and/or, God forbid, collaborating with the enemy.
Obama and his team have already failed once to understand the powerful emotions around this issue. If they stupidly decide that, as one person put it, "Bergdahl has suffered enough," and they bypass military justice, the fury that will be unleashed will make the current storm look like a light summer shower. And Bowe Bergdahl will get directly caught up in it as well. Somebody will kick his ass if not worse. That's not a threat from me by any means, just a frank assessment of what the future will hold for Bergdahl if Obama botches this part too.
-Innocent until proven guilty is important, but that doesn't make the evidence so far any less damning. From public statements by his former platoon mates to leaked official assessments going back 4 years it seems pretty certain that he deserted his comrades, not just during wartime, but in a war zone itself. That's one of the worst things a soldier can do short of fratricide.
There are rumors that Bergdahl actually collaborated with the enemy, but I haven't seen any solid evidence for that yet. Certainly not anything like the evidence of desertion, which is bad enough.
-They knew that Bergdahl was almost certainly a deserter back in 2010, if not the day after he went missing, but they covered it up for over 4 years. The government claims it was for Bergdahl's safety, but that doesn't ring true to me. If anything, confirming that he was a deserter would seem to me to assure the Taliban that he was sincere in not wanting to fight them. This should have been handled in a straightforward manner from the beginning.
-If they knew he was a deserter then why the hell was he promoted, twice? This fact burns me up almost as much as the desertion itself. I worked hard to earn my sergeant's stripes and it meant something to me to become a non-commissioned officer. I didn't get that rank just by putting in time and neither should Bergdahl, particularly as he appeared to be a goddamned deserter right from the get go. I'll bet the vast majority of current and former NCOs feel the same way. The people who signed off on that need to be fired if they are civilians and run out of the service if they are military. It's inexcusable.
-Susan Rice going out on a Sunday talk show and saying Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction" was every bit as clueless or mendacious as her Benghazi performance. I would have left Washington in shame after the latter, but Susan Rice has proved she has no shame. None. Anybody who takes anything she says at face value is an idiot.
-Ditto for Chuck Hagel. He served with honor in Vietnam, but Washington has turned him into just another asshole.
-Right now all I want is the truth. For once just give us the damn truth.
I'll have more a bit later, but right now I have some stuff to do.
*Unless and until he is exonerated I refuse to recognize any rank for Bergdahl other than that of private.
The gardens are finally starting to take shape, but yesterday's deluge cut work off a little too soon. Between yesterday afternoon and this morning there was a good 3" of rain at my house and I think some of my seeds were washed away. More thunderstorms are on the way this evening and these might have some big winds too. Last night we just got the heavy rain and some house-rattling thunder. Hopefully it will clear up again tomorrow and I can get a look at what needs to be redone. It's been a tough spring for gardening up here.
I have mixed feelings on the Bowe Bergdahl news. It is, of course, good to hear that any American is released from the grip of the Taliban, let alone an American soldier. That's tempered, however, by questions around the circumstances that led to his capture in the first place. There is the strong possibility, I would even call it likelihood, that Bergdahl deserted his fellow soldiers in a combat zone. If that is the case it is a grave offense, one that can be punished with death under the UCMJ. No, I don't want to see Bergdahl get the death penalty, but if he is a deserter he must be held to account. In the name of good order and discipline within the finest military in the world this must not be whitewashed. We will see where the truth leads us, hopefully.
The Twins managed to take their second series in a row against the Evil Empire on their home turf today. Phil Hughes got his sixth win, which also has to have the bonus effect of annoying the heck out of Yankee fans. Hughes is now 6-1 and has dropped his ERA to 3.12 since his very rocky start. Could the Twins actually be fun to watch again? For a below .500 team I mean.
I watched one of the videos that had ultimately led to the police visiting that Santa Barbara shooter a month ago. Had the cops seen it I don't think they would have been so casual with the guy. I don't believe the spin that nothing could have been done. It's true that there's no guarantee it would have stopped the lunatic in the long run, but I'm convinced there's an opportunity to learn something about identifying and intervening ahead of a massacre, or at least some of them. the press seems to be in "Nothing to see here, move along" mode though, so I don't think we will.
Jay Carney has resigned his gig as White House press secretary. As I commented over at PJ Media, my sources tell me he has landed a lucrative contract with a fertilizer plant in Iowa, where his job on the line will be to continuously speak into 50 lb. bags.