Thursday, February 28, 2008
Times Reports Internet Buzz
The NY Times continues in their partisan campaign to find ways to discredit or diminish Sen. John McCain as Presidential Candidate. This time, the always reliably partisan Carl Hulse was tasked to pound out a tendentious cloud of oblivious blather about whether John McCain is eligible to run for President.
Hulse begins with this howler of an assertion:
Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the
The worlds most quiet nagging, no doubt, and a “debate” so musty that it’s acquired over 200 years of dust since anyone’s seriously made the argument. No settled debate too archaic to escape the probing attention of NYT muckrakers, if a remote possibility exists that any of it will stick to their political opposition.
Blather, speculate, and cite academics who’d love to see the GOP candidate suffer any ill effects -- regular readers of the Times can imagine how the rest goes without needing to read further.
But in fairness, the NYT points to two pieces of legislation that directly clarify what little ambiguity stands in the Constitution:
Quickly recognizing confusion over the evolving nature of citizenship, the First Congress in 1790 passed a measure that did define children of citizens “born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States to be natural born.” But that law is still seen as potentially unconstitutional and was overtaken by subsequent legislation that omitted the “natural-born” phrase.
Mr. McCain’s citizenship was established by statutes covering the offspring of Americans abroad and laws specific to the
Nice touch. In the first case, Hulse notes the very early fix (within scant years from the Constitution’s adoption), but then invokes unseen and unidentified authorities who see the law as “unconstitutional” and “overtaken by subsequent legislation.” None of the serious Constitutional scholars weighing in today have attested to such views. (And how exactly does that work, where subsequent legislation overtakes, and in some fashion, invalidates what came before, without in any way refuting or rescinding?)
In the second reference, Hulse offsets statutes that held sway over the
Franck’s assessment is blunt:
The last line of the Times article, quoting the author of a long-ago law review article, is that "it is certainly not a frivolous issue." I think that's just what it is, Ptolemaic epicycles of abstruse constitutional reasoning to the contrary notwithstanding.
A child born abroad to a
My daughter was born in
The US State Dept. processed and issued the birth certificate as part of normal consular activities.
Hey, NY Times! Look what I was able to Google: a US State Department information sheet on documentation for US citizens born abroad.
Abroad Who Acquire Citizenship At Birth
The birth of a child abroad to
Because, of course, persons born to US Citizens abroad are automatically granted the status of natural born citizens. Much like spurious email chain letters, the NYT (and internet buzz) imaginings that question McCain’s eligibility rests on US citizenship documentation processes for US territories and possessions. Again, from the
NOTE: Consular Reports of Birth are not available for persons born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal Zone before October 1, 1979, the
The oddity in the case of McCain rests on an anomaly of how the birth of such
And nowhere in that process was there ever any process required to naturalize little Johnny McCain. No necessity at all, since he was a natural born
Monday, February 25, 2008
Obama Fact Checking
Presidential candidate and Commander in Chief aspirant Sen. Barack Obama apparently stood in a debate last week with competitor Sen. Hillary Clinton. During the debate, Obama used an anecdote provide him by an Army Captain, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, and wanted to share some criticisms of his deployment with Obama.
Here’s what Obama actually said:
“You know, I've heard from an Army captain who was the head of a rifle platoon -- supposed to have 39 men in a rifle platoon," he said. "Ended up being sent to
As anyone knowledgeable about the military might surmise, that set off a firestorm of criticism.
Many wondered in the Captain actually exists, or served in
Yes, he exists, and yes, he served as a Platoon Leader back when he was a Lieutenant, and yes, he and his platoon deployed with 24 out of a possible 39 soldiers. So thus far Obama’s purported source passes the same level of “existence” checks as Scott Beauchamp of TNR Diary fame.
Stephen Spruiell, writing at The Corner, did a good job capturing the other immediate, critical reaction several factual “features” of Obama’s little story. Their objections and calls of BS center on three features of Obama’s tale.
First, Captains don’t lead Rifle platoons. Lieutenants do, and usually 2nd LTs at that. Second, Platoons themselves don’t get split up for different theater assignments Companies are the smallest organizational chunk that ever gets farmed out, and even that’s extremely rare, and rarely in theater level assignments, unless they’re a rare combat service or service support company.
Third, critics savaged the notion that equipment and ammo shortages forced the CPT and his unit to scrounge, salvage or capture enemy equipment to make up the shortfall. Knowledgeable MILBLOGGERS and their readership have been vehement, and unanimous, that this hasn’t not happened in
For good reason, it turns out. ABC’s Jack Tapper scored an interview, courtesy of the Obama Campaign, with the Army Captain at the source of Obama’s anecdote.
Tapper rather blissfully states that “Obama’s anecdote checks out,” he must be using the same kind of fact checking methodology as TNR in their War Diarist debacle.
To return briefly to what Obama actually said, Obama stated that his Army Captain deployed to
Here’s what Tapper reports about the “ammo shortages:”
As First Sergeant of a National Guard unit which mobilized in 2004 and deployed to
Then, there’s the outrageous notion that soldiers needed to capture what they needed. When interviewed by Tapper, the Army Captain contradicted Obama, rather than “backed him up:”
"The purpose of going after the Taliban was not to get their weapons," he said, but on occasion they used Taliban weapons. Sometimes AK-47s, and they also mounted a Soviet-model DShK (or "Dishka") on one of their humvees instead of their 50 cal.
The underlying story behind Obama’s politicized anecdote, minus a few important details and with factual rearrangement, may be thought be some to “check out.” The unit was deployed without soldiers who had been transferred, there were ammo shortages, during training at
Obama, however, greatly elaborated on his storyline by: avoiding mention of when this took place and implying a currently existing state of affairs; falsely attributing causality between the shortage of soldiers to a shortage of ammo and equipment; and falsely depicting any relationship between any perceived weapons or equipment shortages and capturing weapons from the Taliban.
To a military reader, that falls far short of “checking out,” hence all the calls of BS and fabrication. But again, note that it was Obama, not the Army Captain whose fair criticisms he badly mischaracterizes, who has created the false fabric upon which the factual details are stitched.
Yes, the CPT's unit was short of ammo -- but only for range fire at
Yes, some of the soldiers pulled from the Rifle Platoon were reassigned to units that then were sent to
Then, the belated acknowledgement that the CPT did his Afghan tour in 2003. With two big deployments just underway, it took 1-2 more years before vehicle shortages caught up. Yet, Obama's anecdote certainly conveyed the impression of negligent under-equipping of our soldiers. Ask any of us whether we had too little, or too much equipment.
And read closely this account of WHY the CPT's soldiers captured or confiscated enemy weapons. He states clearly the reason WAS NOT that they didn't have enough of their own.
Obama's use of this anecdote was rhetorical flourish, to be sure, and such always contains more gas than solid. But in this case, he exaggerates an anecdote from 5 years ago, twists it to fit his political purposes, and conveys all manner of impression not supported by facts.
(Tapper interview via The Corner.)
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Partisan Times Slimes McCain
While indignant centrist to conservative critics taking on the NY Times for an obvious aged-and-saved hit piece on John McCain, Andy McCarthy offers counterpoint, writing at the The Corner.
No, he hasn’t echoed leftward critics, reliably chomping on the bait and spinning all manner of slurs and innuendo. Rather, McCarthy asserts that the primary reason McCain expressed disappointment in the Times, was that McCain has for years grown accustomed to more favored treatment as quo for quid:
Senator McCain appears to have been smeared by the Times. I'm sorry that happened, but if indignation is the order of the day, count me out. You see, I also feel sorry — really sorry — for the intelligence officers who've been maligned as torturers, for those who want the immigration laws enforced and are libeled as racists, for those who doubt the wisdom of campaign finance reform and are glibly scandalized as promoters of public corruption, and so on. Each of these Gray Lady smears has a common thread: John McCain has been only too happy to help, and to bask in the resulting glow: the Times' very own favorite Republican.
The Senator's reaction says it all: he's "disappointed in the New York Times." Of course, we can only be disappointed by those from whom we expect better. McCain expects better from the Times because he's accustomed to getting it, and he's accustomed to getting it because he's been very good about holding up his end of the bargain — especially when it comes to demagoguing the Right. The Times is a politicized rag and no one should take satisfaction in seeing McCain subjected to its journalistic version of waterboarding. I only wish I were convinced the Senator would learn the right lesson from this experience. I'm not.
If the political Left in
Yet somehow, for the ever-aggrieved progressives, reasoned, logical criticism of statements and positions gets labeled political attack, from evil origins, take your pick: racism, misogyny, corruption, militarists, faux-patriotic rogues, and so on.
J. Peter Freire, writing at American Spectator, explains the media bias back story for the Times piece:
Make no mistake: The Times story is thinly sourced, and heavy on already-reported information. Admittedly the former is necessary to investigative political reporting, and drives campaign teams up the wall (which makes it worth it). But the timing is key. According to Jonathan Martin and Jim Geraghty, this article had been leaked to Drudge in December, when it was to be published among other articles in a series ("The Long Run") about the candidates running in the primaries. At that time, the Times had already published a rather favorable piece about McCain as a father. The editors, apparently, decided to hold this story rather than run it earlier, with the bulk of the series, which places them (and not the reporters) squarely in the center of yet another bias controversy. Those flames were fanned by Matt Drudge's headline: "NOW THAT HE'S SECURED NOMINATION: NYT DOWNLOADS ON MCCAIN."
That would be the favored DNC political attack stratagem: build up and cozy with the candidate you least fear (and perhaps in the case of McCain, feel is easier to manipulate) before the opposition candidate emerges; then, when nomination looks secure, unload with the real ammunition.
In this case, how does the editorial behavior of the NY Times deviate in any way from that wished by media consultants for the Democrats? The NYT might as well be a DNC press release. (Though I’m surely not surprised.)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Signs of Progress in Iraq
The Washington Post commented today on the military achievements that have prompted Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to approve announced military draw down in
After meeting in
His judgment looks sound. The progress since last summer has been remarkable: In Baghdad, where a sectarian war seemed to be spiraling out of control a year ago, the number of attacks dropped 75 percent from June to last month.
Which then prompts the WaPo editors to ask what’s wrong with Democratic Presidential candidates, and why they aren’t keeping up with facts on the ground?
Thanks to Mr. Gates's readiness to adjust, it's more likely that President Bush's successor will inherit an
Surely there’s little good explanation for Clinton and Obama so studiously ignoring our stunning, if belated, successes in
Things have so stabilized in Iraq, that it’s time to normalize and formalize the status of our military in Iraq, in the same way the US has done for a century, in places like Korea, Germany, Japan, Italy, or even France. In Germany, US forces remain deployed under the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), just as they did when I served in Germany from 1984-87, and in the 1970s, 1960’s, and 1950’s.
Now, Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declare in a Washington Post editorial that it’s time to forge a SOFA in
Over the past year, we have seen that Iraqis are committed to affirming their own sovereignty. The Iraqi army and police are taking the lead in providing security over much of the country. Iraq is building relationships with other nations in the Middle East. The Iraqi people want to meet their own needs and control their own destiny. And they desire a more normal relationship with the
Our troops and diplomats have made untold sacrifices to help put
We don’t form SOFAs when we’re still fighting a war. The
UPDATE: Then there’s this analysis, from the always insightful Wretchard of The Belmont Club:
This measure is vital to institutionalizing the gains won by the Surge.
One of the key problems facing strategists of the Surge was to find a way to institutionalize the grassroots movement of the past year. Former insurgents would of course, be retrained and put under the discipline of the Army or Police. But what of the political leaders? The natural path was to encourage the leadership which emerged during the Surge to stand for office, which proved very difficult to do under the closed-party list system. They were dressed up with no place to go.
The impasse in
The new law is one of the most sweeping reforms pushed by the Bush administration and signals that
Passage of several pieces of legislation, along with a reduction in violence, were the primary goals of the
The more reason to inform the American public of the logic behind electoral reform and why it is so vital. Iraqi and American lives have taken the country back from the brink of civil war and on the approaches to normalcy. But the last steps are the most important. This is where it all pays off.
Lest we ever forget the axiom, left to its own devices, the UN will always make things worse. This most recent Iraqi legislative accomplishment seeks to undo (yet more of) the harm the UN has wrought. (With the best of intentions, of course!)
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Arthur Herman, writing at Journal Online, offers vivid reminder of an earlier era’s false picture of defeat, which he asserts “gave antiwar activism an unwarranted credibility that persists today in Congress.”
None of what Herman reports is new. Talk at any length with actual Vietnam Veterans, or with experts conversant with the history of US Military involvement in Vietnam, and you would have to conclude much of what many people think they know about the war is based on lies and distortions.
Much of Herman’s narrative corresponds to a slow process of historical “correction” now taking place, where the effluences of
Here’s the briefest of summaries of the real story, courtesy of Herman:
The Tet offensive came at the end of a long string of communist setbacks. By 1967 their insurgent army in the South, the Viet Cong, had proved increasingly ineffective, both as a military and political force. Once American combat troops began arriving in the summer of 1965, the communists were mauled in one battle after another, despite massive
The Tet offensive was
Tet was a particularly crushing defeat for the VC. It had not only failed to trigger any uprising but also cost them "our best people," as former Viet Cong doctor Duong Quyunh Hoa later admitted to reporter Stanley Karnow. Yet the very fact of the
That Tet was “spun” by the
As the Washington Post's Saigon bureau chief Peter Braestrup documented in his 1977 book, "The Big Story," the desperate fury of the communist attacks including on
Their editors at home, like CBS's Walter Cronkite, seized on the distorted reporting to discredit the military's version of events. The Viet Cong insurgency was in its death throes, just as
To quote Braestrup, "the media tended to leave the shock and confusion of early February, as then perceived, fixed as the final impression of Tet" and of Vietnam generally. "Drama was perpetuated at the expense of information," and "the negative trend" of media reporting "added to the distortion of the real situation on the ground in
The North Vietnamese were delighted. On the heels of their devastating defeat,
Yet thanks to the success of Tet, the numbers of Americans dying in
Flash forward 30 some years, and we have a pretty accurate assessment of how it is that the US Military has achieved success in
Fortunately, some features of the media landscape today are quite different from the 1970’s. Bloggers, especially MILBLOGS, with allies in other alternative and vibrant conservative media, make it impossible for media distortions to go unchallenged.
The sad part is, I don’t really think most reporters and journalists today are intentionally distorting war reporting, any more than they did then. People’s experiences prejudice their perceptions, and their prejudices influence every aspect of how they describe what they think they perceive, and what they think they understand about what they think they experience. (As an aside, trial lawyers can expound at length about the sworn but false testimony of eye witnesses, who remain adamant about the “facts” of what they’ve witnessed that are, nevertheless, quite untrue.)
And precisely what’s sad about that, is what would be apparent to aging activists, were they to stop and consider a more truthful picture of: 1) what caused our involvement in Vietnam, 2) the true and brutal nature of our enemies, and their intentions towards the people they sought to “liberate,” 3) the conduct of the vast majority of our military; and 4) the true results of US renunciation of our security (and moral) commitment to the South Vietnamese, both for them, and for others in the region.
If those who think they know what Vietnam was all about, what a “disaster it was,” how wrong we were to be fighting there, and how rightfully we retreated, really assessed Vietnam objectively, they would have to confront some very unpleasant truths indeed.
First, most everything they thought they knew about
I don’t expect such introspection from many, just as I won’t sit as mute witness to continued media malpractice in misreporting about
In a similar way, those of us who see the valid, media parallels between
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Vets on the Hill Event, April 8
Vets for Freedom announces another mission for
On April 8, 2008 in
SIGN UP HERE to be a part of "Vets on the Hill," the culminating event of the Vets for Freedom National Heroes Tour.
If you're a veteran of
Unlike our anti-war opponents, we will not stage protests, chant slogans, or impede the work of government. We will meet constructively with as many members of Congress as we can to express our first-hand experiences and explain why it is important that the sacrifices of our comrades-in-arms not be in vein.
Vets for Freedom will cover all travel expenses for the trip. So mark your calendar, sign up today, and tell your fellow veterans. For more details about the event, see the "What You Can Do" section of this email.
As many of you will recall, this isn't the first time we've done this. In September of 2007, Vets for Freedom brought 250
At the time, it was the largest single gathering of
On April 8th, 2008 we're going to do it again. And we're going to bring even more veterans to Capitol Hill this time!
And remember, if you're on active duty-you can still participate. Current DOD regulations allow you to participate as long as you are: 1) out of uniform; 2) not speaking on behalf of "the military"; and 3) not protesting. The same goes for National Guard and Reserve troops. Please join us.
What You Can Do!
1. Sign Up. Sign up on our web-portal, and within two weeks your travel will be arranged. Veterans will be flown in to
Ask any of the 250 veterans who joined us on Capitol Hill in September, and they'll tell you what a great trip it was-especially since we helped stop Congress from voting to undercut the troops. Don't miss your chance to do the same on April 8...on an even larger scale.
But we need you to sign up early. By signing up in the next two weeks, Vets for Freedom can schedule meetings for you with your Senator and Representative. In September we had hundreds of meeting, and we'll do so again.
There is no reason not to attend. You have 8 weeks notice, travel will be paid for, and our cause is just. Tell your buddies. Meet them in
2. Forward this Email. Send this email to everyone you know. Post it on your blog. Print it out and hand it out to friends. Get the word out, so we can get as many veterans on Capitol Hill as possible. Our goal is hundreds of veterans from all parts of our country.
This will be a must-see event. Don't miss your opportunity to join Vets for Freedom on Capitol Hill and do your part to support our fellow soldiers and Marines in
Move Out and Draw Fire!
Vets for Freedom
I signed up today. I missed the gathering in September, and I decided I can’t miss another. Given the uncertainties implied by this year’s presidential election, Vets need to make their voices heard – and not just the ones who want a handout!
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