Free Markets, Free People

John McCain


John McCain: Isn’t about time for him to retire?

If anyone ever put the “E” in “establishment GOP”, it is John McCain.  “Maverick” my rear end.  He’s the archtypical establishment Republican and as such, he’s a member of a group that is almost as bad as the Democrats.

The House passed a bill to defund that abomnination called “ObamaCare”, a travesty foisted upon the public by the Democrats.  Republicans, McCain included, decried the bill, decried the money it would cost and frankly said they’d stop it if they could.

That was then, this is now.  Apparently you’re not supposed to remember all that rhetoric, and if you do, you weren’t supposed to believe it.

So, speaking of “now”, this his how the old lady of the establishment GOP is addressing an opportunity in the Senate to try to defund ObamaCare:

In the United States Senate, we will not repeal, or defund, Obamacare. We will not. And to think we can is not rational. I will again state unequivocally that this is not something that we can succeed in, and that’s defunding Obamacare, because we don’t have 67 Republican votes in the Senate, which would be required to override a presidential veto.

So they won’t even try – which is essentially what he’s saying.  They won’t bother to make the symbolic attempt and build a ground swell for it’s eventual defunding or, perhaps, enable an GOP candidate to build a campaign on the attempt.  They won’t try to pass it make the President veto it.

Nope.  It’s not ‘rational’.

And you wonder why there’s a Democrat in the White House right now?

All I have to say is this brings in focus how awful a choice the people of the United States had in 2008.

~McQ


GOP Senators prepare to cave on unnecessary gun control legislation

Let me preface this by saying there is absolutely no need for new gun control legislation.  None.  Nada. Zip. Zero.

The claims by the left that gun control legislation will solve problems of violence are nonsense. Period.

But that likely won’t stop the usual suspects among GOP Senators from helping the left in their incremental but determined efforts to limit your 2nd Amendment rights. Apparently “Congress shall make no law” has a different meaning to some people:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has emerged as a key player if Senate Democrats are to have any chance of passing legislation to expand background checks for private sales of firearms.

McCain and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) are at the top of a list of Republicans considered most likely to sign on to legislation expanding background checks after talks with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) stalled earlier this month.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has signaled he will likely support the yet-to-be-finalized proposal he negotiated with Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to expand background checks to cover private gun sales, according to Senate sources.

Of course we’ve been assured by some that this is really of no big consequence and we should relax and let it happen.

Uh, no.

Like I said in the beginning – there is absolutely no need for new gun control legislation – none. The fact that some in the GOP seem poised to make that happen anyway should tell you all you need to know about certain members of that party and their professed claim to believe in your Constitutional rights all while negotiating parts of them away.

~McQ


Benghazi: McCain essentially says “what does it matter now?”

If it weren’t for the old ladies of the GOP, you might get some answers to some very compelling and yet unanswered questions as well as force this administration to be transparant.

But then there’s McCain and the continued capitulation of the GOP:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that the White House’s response to his and other Republican senators’ questions on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya was satisfactory. The senior Arizona senator said he is now ready to find a way to end the filibuster that is holding up the confirmation vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, CNN reported.

“I think it was an adequate response, yes,” McCain said. “We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done.”

Yes, that’s right, nothing to see here, move along now, move along.

The Great and Powerful John McCain (I will celebrate when this yahoo shuffles off to retirement) has decided that Beghazi is over and we must, must have an incompetent buffoon for Sec. of Defense.

Must!

Parodies that write themselves come in the guise of our politicians.

~McQ


Hillary jumps under the Obama bus … or was she pushed?

Seriously.  After spending 8 years holding Bush responsible for everything from 9/11 (it was an “inside job”) to a Pelosi’s hangnail, we now have the left settling on “it’s Hillary’s fault”?

Truman’s “buck” stops at the State Department now?

The point, of course, as any good commander in the military knows, is that everything that happens or doesn’t happen while you are in command is your responsibility.

So this doesn’t cut the mustard:

“I take responsibility,” Clinton said during a visit to Peru. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”

Hillary, for political reasons, is trying to fall on Obama’s sword for him.  Someone has to take the blame (and Bush is unavailable for this one) so Obama can once again seem faultless. He does no wrong, you know.  And besides, he has a debate tonight and he wants someone to point his finger at when the subject is inevitably brought up.  Now he has her.

Jumped?  Or pushed?

This episode illustrates how spot on Eastwood’s empty chair metaphor really is.  John McCain, the stopped clock that is right twice a day, actually gets this one right:

“The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander-in-chief. The buck stops there.”

Of course the left first tried to blame it on the GOP claiming they’d cut millions from State’s security budget.

Here’s the bottom line on that line of attack: If you have a security contingent of Marines in the Embassy at Barbados, but not Tripoli or Benghanzi, your problem isn’t “funding”.  It’s resource allocation and politics.

Secondly, when something like this happens, you don’t act like a politician, you act like a leader.  IF you’re a leader.

This past weekend we were treated to the spectacle of David Axlerod avoiding answering Chris Wallace’s direct question about whether or not Obama met with his national security advosors and State in the aftermath of the murder of the US ambassador in Libya.

We all knew the answer before Wallace finished the question.  And Axlerod’s non-answer answer confirmed it.

Hell no, he was late for a political fund raiser in Las Vegas, and besides, these are just “bumps in the road”.

Leadership?

While Clinton’s attempt will seem courageous and loyal to some, it is pure, calculated politics.  Hillary knows that by 2016 this will be well behind here and, actually, an advantage, since she’ll have stepped up into the leadership void and acted like a leader.  Obama?  Not so much.

And make no mistake, as the state of the world and our foreign policy have announced loudly this past month – we are indeed suffering from a leadership void.

The empty chair we now have must be filled.  We, nor the world, can afford 4 more years of it remaining empty.

~McQ


Quote of the Day: McCain says more dumb things edition

In a recent rant about money in politics, a still bitter Sen. John McCain, had this to say about billionaire Sheldon Adleson’s 10 million dollar donation to the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future.

"Much of Mr. Adelson’s casino profits that go to him come from his casino in Macau, which says that obviously, maybe in a roundabout way foreign money is coming into an American political campaign," McCain said in an interview on PBS’s News Hour.

"That is a great deal of money, and we need a level playing field and we need to go back to the realization… that we have to have a limit on the flow of money and corporations are not people," he said.

That is one of the stupidest attempts to tie money to a foreign government I’ve yet seen.  And make no mistake, that’s precisely what McCain is trying to imply here.  There is no other reason to bring up the source.  It’s a bit like saying that if Adelson had casinos on the French Riviera that he would be funneling French money into the election.

Hey, McCain, he also owns half of Las Vegas.  Oh, and the “profits”  from “Macau”?  They come from people who have lost money there (and, btw, they’re not all Chinese).

McCain still can’t get over the fact that his attempt to stifle free speech was found to be unconstitutional. 

McCain called the decision "the most misguided, naïve, uninformed, egregious decision of the United States Supreme Court in the 21st Century," and money would be playing a dominant role in American politics for the foreseeable future.

"There will be scandals, there’s just too much money washing around Washington today… I’m afraid we’re for a very bleak period in American politics," he said. "To somehow view money as not having a corrupting effect on elections flies in the face of reality."

His reasoning is a bit like the gun grabbers reasoning that it is guns that are the cause of violent crime, not people.  He believes that if the means of corruption is removed, there’ll be no corruption.

Really?  What is naïve, misguided and uniformed is thinking like that, not to mention repeated attempts to control political speech by this man. 

If there is a Tea Party in Arizona, please, do a Dick Lugar on this guy.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Public opposes further defense cuts which may jeopardize national security

As the Supercommittee’s deadline quickly approaches and their ability to reach an agreement diminishes, a new Battleground poll reveals the public’s strong opposition to more defense cuts.  Already under the gun to make $450 billion in cuts, the failure of the Supercommittee to reach agreement would mean additional across the board cuts in all areas of the Department of Defense.

When asked for their opinion about further cuts, 82% were strongly or somewhat opposed to those cuts (59% strongly opposed).

There is, it appears, a dawning realization that we as a country are again about to put ourselves in serious trouble if we don’t maintain our military edge that has served us so well since WWII.

Recently, in a reply to an inquiry into the effects of the across the board cuts that will be mandated by a Supercommittee failure, Senators McCain and Graham asked Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to detail them.   In his reply he noted some very disturbing results of further cuts.  The mandated cuts would amount to about an additional 20%.  According to Secretary Panetta, that sort of reduction would mean major weapons systems, designed to ensure our national security for decades to come, would have to be cut:

•         Reductions at this level would lead to:

          o         The smallest ground force since 1940.

          o         A fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915.

          o         The smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.

All exceedingly dangerous developments.  All developments which would limit our ability to respond to a national security crisis and certainly effect our ability to deal with more than one.  Reducing our levels to those cited by Panetta would be extraordinarily short-sighted.

For instance, reducing our tactical Air Force to record levels puts one of our major force projection (along with the Navy) means in a position of not being able to fulfill that role.   Today the tactical airframes our pilots fly are decades old and worn out.   They’ve reached the end of their service life.  It is critical that the next generation of fighters continue to be developed and fielded.  In a letter to Rep. Randy Forbes, 7 retired Air Force generals of the Air Force Association outline the risk:

The Air Force now finds itself in a situation where another acquisition deferment will lead to the eventual cessation of key missions. Accordingly, while the recapitalization list is generally considered in terms of systems, it really comes down to a question of what capabilities the nation wants to preserve. Does the United States want to retain the capacity to engage in missions like stemming nuclear proliferation, managing the rise of near-peer competitors, and defending the homeland?

Leaders need to fully consider the ramifications of the decisions they make today as they seek to guide our nation through this difficult period. Just as our legacy fleet has enabled national policy objectives over the past several decades, our future investments will govern the options available to leaders into the 2030s and 2040s. Investing in capable systems will make the difference between success and failure in future wars and between life and death for those who answer the call to serve our nation. When viewed in those terms, failing to adequately invest in the Air Force would be the decision that proves "too expensive" for our nation.

Those two paragraphs outline the criticality of the need for continuing to fund the weapons systems of the future.   We may be able to get away with not doing so right now, but we guarantee that our options will be severely limited and our national security capabilities degraded significantly 20 to 30 years down the road if we do so today.

And there’s another reason to resist the temptation to make further cuts at DoD that is particularly significant at this time.  Professor Stephan Fuller of George Mason University testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the cancellation of weapons systems would have a profound negative effect on both the economy and unemployment such as:

– A loss of 1,006,315 jobs (124,428 direct, 881,887 indirect)

– Raise the unemployment rate by .6% (9% to 9.6%)

– Drop GDP growth by $86.46 billion (25% of the projected growth in 2013)

No one is arguing that DoD is or should be a jobs program.  But it is obvious the impact would be severe not only among DoD prime contractors but even more so downstream.  Ironically, one of the reasons our politicians justified their bailout of the auto industry was downstream job losses in a time of economic turmoil.  That turmoil still exists today.

If the cited poll is any indicator, the public has come to realize the dangerous waters we’re navigating with these possible cuts.   They’re realizing that what guarantees our peace is our strength and our strength is maintained by keeping the technological edge over potential enemies and developing weapons systems to deploy that technology.  Without that ability to guarantee our national security, all the other things we treasure are jeopardized.  Additionally, our military demise will only encourage the bad actors in the world to increase activities which are detrimental to both peace and our national security.

While it is certainly a time to look for all legitimate means and methods to cut government spending, sequestration as demanded by the Supercommittee’s failure to reach agreement isn’t one of them.  Mindless cuts into that which guarantees our safety today and in the future will come back to haunt us if we allow them.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Opposing “dumb war” is now “isolationist”?

As badly as I wish Obama wasn’t president, I constantly try to look at the bright side of things and remember neither is this guy:

Former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took aim at his party for what he called its growing movement towards isolationism, chastising the current GOP presidential field for not supporting U.S. military intervention in Libya and calling for speedy troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

"This is isolationism. There’s always been an isolation strain in the Republican party, that Pat Buchanan wing of our party," McCain told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "But now it seems to have moved more center stage."

That’s the most absurd bit of argument I’ve seen in some time.  Libya is a “war of choice” and a “dumb war” – two things Obama was supposedly against.  You can give him grief for getting involved, but it is obvious that John McCain has never met a war he didn’t like and, my guess is we’d be involved in even more if he had succeeded in capturing the White House.

Being against Libya has absolutely nothing to do with “isolationism”.  It has to do with involving ourselves in yet another military action at a time when our current military is stressed with a seeming unending deployment cycle, spending money we don’t have for something that has no connection whatsoever with our national interest and letting the UN and NATO dictate our participation instead of Congress.  Not to mention the fact that this is actually a real, live “illegal war” as opposed to the unfounded claim that Iraq was illegal.

Those four things alone are more than sufficient to oppose the war in Libya on sound principle.  

It is also apparent that John McCain is a fan of perpetual nation building, even while the nation we’re “building” is resisting it.  At some point, perhaps, it is time to reassess the situation and, like the mother bird to the baby bird, push the little blighter out of the nest.  If you can’t get a country to stand up on its own after 10 years, chances are it isn’t going to happen.   Iraq may not be the model of democracy or stability, but it at least is functional after the years we spent there.  And we went in there later than Afghanistan and we turned it all over to the Iraqis in a reasonable amount of time.

Again, pointing that out doesn’t make one an “isolationist”.   It makes one a realist.   Something with which John McCain has been acquainted.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


McCain– Palin can beat Obama

Someone, somewhere has to understand that whatever John McCain says, one should bet their house on the opposite:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said he thinks Sarah Palin could defeat President Obama in next year’s presidential election, but he’s far from certain that she will actually jump into the race.

The GOP’s standard-bearer in 2008 also shrugged off his former running mate’s poor standing in many polls, saying she would have the opportunity to turn that around if she did make a bid for the White House.

If Newt Gingrich has more baggage than Delta Airlines, Sarah Palin isn’t far behind.  Not necessarily because she earned all the baggage, although she’d done her fair share of contributing to the pile, but right or wrong, she’s loaded with it.   While she is and can remain a force in GOP politics, the presidency isn’t in her future.  And that’s especially so if John McCain, whose campaign was instrumental in helping the woman begin her baggage collection with the inept way she was handled, says so.

Frankly I’d love to see someone on the Republican side drive McCain to an early retirement (ok, not so early, certainly not early enough, how about just retirement).  He’s had his day and needs to be out of the scene.   A man more concerned with “campaign finance laws” than free speech has no business in government in a free country. 

As for Sarah Palin – rabble-rouse lady, make the left squirm, do all the things you do so well right now.  You do that well and  I love to see them prove almost daily that they embody what they claim is endemic to the right.   The irony is sweet.   But run for President?  That type of movie is still running in Washington DC as we speak and I don’t care to see a sequel. 

Somewhere out there in this great land there has to be someone better than the present GOP field, with or without Sarah Palin.  Adding her  to it doesn’t improve it one bit.  John McCain saying she could beat Obama is as ignorant as many of the other things he’s said in the past, to include saying he prefers clean government over free speech.

Why anyone would give it credence at all is beyond me.  All I can figure is Palin must have some pictures she’s holding that has McCain by the short and curlies. 

I don’t know of a single well constructed poll anywhere which gives Palin even a ghost of a chance against Obama.  So all one can figure is McCain pulled this out of the place his head usually occupies.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


DADT

I think it should be obvious – even to Sen. McCain – that DADT is going to be repealed at some point whether anyone likes it or not.  That repeal can be a purposeful one, implemented in a way in which the military can decide on a timeline and methodology by which to do so, or it can be by a court order that will end it immediately and not allow the military any control of the transition.

The Pentagon’s DADT study was recently published and it essentially concluded that most troops really don’t care about gays serving openly. That sentiment mirrors what most of the country feels as well.  The Pentagon report concluded that the threat to the force of repeal is “low”.

As I’ve said for years, when the dominant culture concludes sexual orientation isn’t relevant to job performance, that would eventually filter into the military.  If the Pentagon’s study is to be believed, that’s happened.

I’m reminded of one NCO who essentially boiled down the issue in a way that best reflects my feelings.  I’m paraphrasing, but he said that in the military there are two types of soldiers – those that are squared away and those that are dirt bags.  If a soldier is squared away he wants him, and he doesn’t really give a rip what his sexual orientation might be.  If he’s a dirt bag he wants him gone, and again that means straight or gay.

The top leadership in the military seems prepared to make the change.   The majority of the military, as reflected in the study’s numbers, seem prepared to make the change.  The experience of other nations, to include Israel, seem to indicate little risk in its implementation.

One of the things both sides have trotted out at various times in an effort to score political points when considering military issues  is  we should “listen to the generals”.  In this case I think that’s exactly right.  Repeal it and let them implement what is necessary to make the transition as painless as possible.  Refusing to do so leaves only the courts as an alternative.  And the courts aren’t going to give a rip about “transitions” or “time lines”, etc.  They’re going to order it stopped now.

John McCain said he was “open” to abiding by what the Pentagon study concluded.  That was apparently when he believed it would conclude something completely different than it did.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re making official something that has been the military’s dirty little secret for centuries.  That is we who have held command in the military have always pretty much done precisely what the NCO I paraphrased above said.  If you’ve been in the military for anytime at all, you’ve been in units in which gay soldiers served.  You knew it.  Everyone else knew it.  They knew you knew.  But as long as they showed up every day, in proper uniform, did their job to the utmost of their ability – i.e. “soldiered” – no one cared.

That should be the only standard by which we judge our soldiers, and we should make it the sole standard as soon as possible.

~McQ


McChrystal wasn’t the problem in Afghanistan

Of course the irony is thick – Gen. David Petraeus, the man the left labeled "General Betrayus" and then Senator Hillary Clinton essentially called a liar about Iraq, has now been called upon to pull the presidential bacon out of the fire in Afghanistan.

If winning in Iraq was a tall order, winning in Afghanistan is a giant order. We’re not much closer now than we were 9 years ago, we’re operating under a strategy that takes time and massive manpower, yet we’re dealing with a “firm” withdrawal date of next year, and the civilian team in country has been less than successful.

It is on that latter point that I wish to dwell. Before going there though, as I stated yesterday, changing “firm” to “conditions based” will go a long way toward heading off dissent and disillusionment by the Afghan people and government. The massive manpower, of course, has to come from the Afghan government (and army/police). There’s no reason for an Afghan to join those security forces if we’re leaving next June. The commitment from our government to their cause has got to be what is “firm” – not a withdrawal date.

If we’re not able to make that commitment, then we need to withdraw – completely.

But assuming our goal there is to leave a relatively intact, democratic and functioning country, that in-country civilian team needs to be challenged to do a much better job than it is or be replaced. And that begins with Amb. Eikenberry.

The basics of COIN say the military/host country forces clear/hold/protect. That protection is key and the obvious goal of the military is to turn that job of clear/hold/protect over to the ANA. However, the civilian side of things comes into play during and after that military goal has been accomplished.

First a functioning national government must be in place. The job of the civilian side of the house in the sort of nation building COIN calls for is to be intimately involved in helping the national government function properly.

The one way you don’t do that in an honor/shame society, is go on yelling rants against the president of the country as it has been reported both Eikenberry and Biden have done. Whether or not one thinks the man is corrupt or not doing enough is irrelevant – once shamed like that, his cooperation has been lost. That is the sort of toxic relationship now existing there.

Gen. Petraeus, other than his military success in Iraq, had a very close working relationship with Amb. Crocker. It was that relationship, plus the military side of things (plus the awakening and surge) that spelled success in that country.

McChrystal and Eikenberry had a very hostile and adversarial relationship (Eikenberry is not lamenting the fact that McChrystal is gone). It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the same sort of relationship begin to develop between Petraeus and Eikenberry, given the latter’s mode of operation. If that happens, it would be Eikenberry who would likely go down. Obama can’t afford to change generals again and Petraeus is seen by the vast majority of Americans as a winner.

Anyway, back to COIN – once clear/hold/protect is in place, government has to be extended into those areas and the people have to see the benefit of that connection. Enough so that they reject the insurgent once and for all.

That’s a very difficult and so far unobtainable goal for the civilian side of the house. Marjah is the perfect example. “President” Karzai is really the mayor of Kabul. Until he or the leader of a subsequent government is seen as and acknowledged as the president of the country in the outlying provinces of Afghanistan, the “country” will always be a collection of tribal areas, overlaid with a single religion and no real governing power.

That’s the civilian side of the house and apparently there’s a move afoot within the Senate to use the Petraeus hearings to address that problem. This is probably the most pressing need to address at the moment.

“The civilian side, in my view, is completely dysfunctional,” said Graham.

Lieberman said the magazine article “revealed what we have known, that there is not the kind of unity in Afghanistan between our civilian and military leadership” that is necessary.

Though none of the senators would name specific civilian leaders who should be replaced, McCain suggested “re-uniting the Crocker-Petraeus team,” a reference to former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who served in Baghdad while Petraeus headed up military operations in the country.

The current ambassador to Afghanistan, retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry, had a notoriously rocky relationship with McChrystal.

If this situation isn’t addressed and addressed quickly and forcefully, it isn’t going to matter much what the military does in Afghanistan. If the civilian team isn’t functional and working in harmony with the military toward the commong goal, then that goal won’t be reached.

Obama made the right decision about McChrystal, but not for these reasons. Now he needs to listen to the Senate, review the progress, or lack thereof, on the civilian side of the effort, and sack and replace those who aren’t serving him well in the critical positions there. And that would include Amb. Eikenberry.

~McQ