Wednesday, 6/23/10, Public Square


Filed under The Public Square

62 responses to “Wednesday, 6/23/10, Public Square

  1. Take a look at this Kansas politician.

    Kevin Yoder, as far as we know, does not have children. So Pitch found it odd that a new campaign video shows him walking through Kansas fields with his wife and four children.

    This, of course, is nothing new for Yoder, who has a history of passing off other people’s children and even dogs as his own.

    But what Pitch didn’t notice, but we at DOTR did, is that while the ad has plenty of other people’s children, Yoder also gathered some of his favorite lobbyists to play “real people” for him to “meet” in a “diner.”

    The blog entry (worth reading!) ends by saying:

    Now, if you’re a lobbyist or anti-tax advocate and you didn’t make it into this ad, don’t worry. It is a long time until November, so Jeff Glendening, Art Hall and Derrick Sontag there’s still hope for you in the sequel!

    If you have kids that you wouldn’t mind loaning to Kevin through November, even better.

    Don’t worry about loaning a bull, though. He already has plenty.

  2. What’s everyone thinking about McChrystal?

    I’ve heard many people comment that his recent actions aren’t like him. So I wonder if he is suffering mental health effects of his job. Then I read this isn’t the first time he has spoken out, been critical of superiors, etc. I remember his involvement in the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman and the controversy surrounding that.

    I’ve read UCMJ Section 888 – 88 “Contempt towards officials.”

    “Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

    I read that he was stranded with the Rolling Stones reporter because of the volcano closing air space, that some drinking was involved. I understand that tongues get loose…

    If a 4-star general can easily break the rules why should we expect anyone else to follow them?

    I think he must either be fired or his resignation (if proffered) accepted.

    • WSClark

      I feel that Obama should accept an apology and allow him to continue, but McChrystal has left the White House ahead of the normally scheduled meeting that he was to attend, so it looks like he is out.

    • So you think the decision has been made.

      Perhaps. Is it possible input from others who will attend that meeting will be heard. Maybe McChrystal will return for that meeting and the entire affected group discuss the situation?

      • WSClark

        The war strategy meeting has already begun without McChrystal – he’s out – by all indications. The question now is whether he will be reassigned or is his career over?

        My guess is that he will be reassigned.

        That’s my take.

    • Freebird1971

      I think if Obama fires him he will be undermining his timetable for withdrawl. The offensive coming up was planned by McChrystal his chain of command is in place and his subordinates know what to expect from him and what is expected from them. His firing would pretty much move everything back to square one. Everyone is entitled to make a mistake,let this be McChrystal’s.

      • WSClark

        Personally, I am more concerned about the Rules of Engagement that McChrystal has employed than having McChrystal himself replaced.

        That having been said, McChrystal himself showed very poor judgement in agreeing to an interview, with staff, by Rolling Stone, and allowing parts of that interview to be done on the record, while partying on a bus.

        I will agree, this is very bad timing – it couldn’t be much worse.

  3. tosmarttobegop

    I am getting ready for a week trip to Okla. Painting a relative’s rental house and I know when I get down there I will discover something I have forgotten.

    I also today will be finalizing a surprise for my wife that is no surprise since she had to sign some paperwork in order to get it.

    She deserves the world but I can not give that to her. But this I can and she said she is excited and nervous at the same time. Hee got you wondering now what it is don’t I?

  4. Two more deaths as a result of the gulf oil spill


    the cap is off, so the oil is spewing freely once again.

    • It appears from a brief scan of the “blurb” on that 1 died while swimming; the other wasn’t clear, the blurb stating “a boat operator”. The cap was removed due to a robotic vehicle bumping it, closing one of the vents.

  5. Freebird1971

    WASHINGTON – A senior administration official tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama has accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and is replacing him with Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command.

    • I know there are lots of opinions, but I personally saw no way for McChrystal to stay. If Petraeus takes on the responsibilities I don’t see how anyone can question whether the mission will continue under capable hands.

      • WSClark

        To be honest, I am sure that General McChrystal is a fine officer, but I have much more faith in General Petraeus.

      • President Obama is paying great respect to not only McChrystal but to every enlisted man and woman expected to follow rules of conduct.

  6. Remember when there was great discussion about the long-time White House reporter, Helen Thomas, going out on a low note but we all agreed she brought it on herself? I don’t see this differently. McChrystal was a four-star general who should have understood he couldn’t ask of others what he wasn’t willing to do himself.

  7. itolduso

    Just one question… Did accepting the resignation of the General in charge in Afghanistan, just prior to a major confrontation, hinder or aid the military actions in Afghanistan. AS CIC, that should have been the ONE consideration.

    I understand he had the right to fire the General, or accept his resignatin. I doubt that what he said what enough for court martial, but it did show a slip if judgement. However, in the case of the military, Obama, and every President, must FIRST decide for the military’s best interest, not political territory.

    • I don’t know. What does your crystal ball tell you?

      • I do not think the President had any choice. See, e.g., Truman/McArthur for one precedent. I think, btw, that the decision was not political; it was in reaction to the remarks so publicized, and, as in the situation with Korea, had to be done for “good order and discipline”. See also §88, UCMJ.

      • I agree, 6171. It wasn’t a decision President Obama wanted to be faced with, it wasn’t an easy one, but I saw no choice either. He handled it with dignity for all involved.

        Going forward there will be all kinds of differing opinions on what affect this had on whatever comes next. No one will ever know for sure, but most everyone will have an opinion.

  8. itolduso

    I don’t know. What does your crystal ball tell you?

    I don’t know either. It is just a question that needs to be asked.

    “See also §88, UCMJ.”

    I understand the UCMJ very well. I have lived it. I do not believe the remarks attributed as direct quotes of the general by the reporter made it to the requisite level. I could always be wrong. As I said, it was stupid. It was stupid to let a Rolling Stone reporter get than close, it was even dumber to let himself, or his staff, say anything that might be of that nature.

    • I also lived it (re: §88, UCMJ) and can tell you (from my experience with USAF JAG (1973-1977) that remarks concerning then President Nixon and Watergate, possible impeachment, etc., which to me were less egregious than those attributed to the general now, were handled, if that is the correct term, by Article 15 (no, no courts-martial) on multiple occasions. Whether the remarks made by the general rise to the requisite level, that decision, of course, is left to the Convening Authority.

      • And, (addition to prior response) in one memorable case, led to the resignation of an AFA graduate who was a doctor.

      • itolduso

        “Whether the remarks made by the general rise to the requisite level, that decision, of course, is left to the Convening Authority.”

        Of course.

        Understand, I am not condoning the General’s behavior. My one concern is the troops in Afghanistan and carrying on of the mission there.

        If relieving the general of his command aids in the mission, and that includes the overall morale of the military, fine.

        If it has a zero sum effect on that mission, that’s fine also.

        If it has a negative effect on that mission, I think that other methods should have been used.

        That is all

  9. itolduso

    “I agree, 6171. It wasn’t a decision President Obama wanted to be faced with, it wasn’t an easy one, ”

    I agree completely.

    “but I saw no choice either”

    I think there might have been. Again, my ONLY consideration is “Did the removal of McChrystal aid or hinder the military operations in Afghanistan?”

    • tosmarttobegop

      It aids it, the commanding officer who’s responsibility it is to fulfill the course set by the CIC.
      But is showing such distain for his CIC is undermining . Either with intent or without intent is undermining the entire mission.

      By the nature of battle, there is always a question of intent and judgment. It would be a crazy person who would not question the sanity of charging a machine gun! But in order for the military to operate and fulfill their mission that can not question. That is something that every person who raises their hand and takes the oath understands. That does not change once achieving rank.

      If anything it is something that a officer uses every time they give an order. Like wise with the commander in chief.

  10. itolduso

    If what was stated was so grevious as to limit the ability of the CIC to command, then the President did the correct thing.

    If it did not, and it negatively impacted the Military action in Afghanistan, the CIC did the wrong thing.

  11. Back before I became a bum part of my duties were writing employee handbooks. I resisted writing down rules until it was absolutely necessary. Once a rule was written it had to be enforced across the board and exceptions couldn’t be made. If exceptions to rules were made, it made the rule moot.

    It was usually the same situation in parenting. I always tried to stay on the fence post and keep the discussion open. I liked it best when my children suggested the proper discipline if discipline was called for. I knew once I came down on either side of that fence or was forced into a hard and fast decision I better be really sure that was a good decision on my part. I better have thought it through and weighed all the options.

    The military expects their rules will be followed by everyone in the military. Today the CIC made sure every enlisted person knew they were.

    • wicked

      If Obama had let it go, we’d hear jeering by the right that he was weak.

      Rules are rules. The General knew them as well if not better than those serving under him, yet he chose to say what he did and to whom he said it. Not the wisest choice. How many other unwise choices might he make?

  12. itolduso

    “The military expects their rules will be followed by everyone. Today the CIC made sure every enlisted person knew they were”

    You have obviously never been in the military. comments as shown in the Rolling Stone article are made by people up and down the chain of command. They always have been, and always will be. The general certainly showed poor judgement in allowing his guard to drop in the prescence of a reporter. However, to state that the CIC made sure that every enlisted person knew they were is incorrect. They now know to not cross Obama publicly. They also know that the aides that said many of the things quoted, were not called to the White House, or resigned.

    All that being said….. The General knew better. He wasn;t a damned boot, he was a 4 star general. I don’t feel any “sympathy” for him. My one question is still…

    Does it aid or hurt the Military action in Afganistan. That must be the one and only one question

    • There is no answer to your one question. You’ve admitted you don’t have the answer.

      I am sure President Obama considered the entirety of the situation. I am equally sure there are people who hold a different opinion. President Obama made a decision that was his to make. There will be disagreements about his decision, but it wasn’t the responsibility of anyone but him. I haven’t seen him shirk any of his responsibilities. He made the decision, he announced it publicly, he will remain in the position of making that and other difficult decisions because he was elected by the majority of voters to the office of POTUS.

      Criticism of him and his decisions is everyone’s right. But the fact that those decisions are his to make is fact.

    • WSClark

      I don’t mean to demean General McChrystal in any way – he is a fine man and an excellent officer – but personally I believe that selecting General Petraeus is actually a step up and one of the better moves than President Obama could have taken.

      I would be quite upset if General McChrystal were to face courts-martial and any other action taken. I believe that he will be reassigned or allowed to retire gracefully.

    • Certainly President Obama praised General McChrstal in his public remarks and treated him with great dignity.

    • No, to me the one and only question is whether the remarks of the general allegedly made to a reporter from Rolling Stone were in fact made. If they were, the results follow.

      Personally, I believe the current military situation facing the U.S. and its NATO allies in Afghanistan to be totally untenable. I make no apologies for my further belief that the actions of the prior administration in invading Iraq to the detriment of the actions in Afghanistan contributed to this.
      While history is replete with repeated failures of invading forces in that country to “win” (whatever that meant at the time) the delay in providing materiel and troops to Afghanistan in the quantities now being provided sealed the ultimate failure of the U.S. (and its allies) in the mission, although it may be said that there was success in causing al Quaeda to leave the country (albeit to reform in Pakistan) and to remove the Taliban (at least temporarily) from governing.

      • itolduso

        “Personally, I believe the current military situation facing the U.S. and its NATO allies in Afghanistan to be totally untenable”

        If true, we need to leave now, before losing any more troops.

        “the delay in providing materiel and troops to Afghanistan in the quantities now being provided sealed the ultimate failure of the U.S. (and its allies) in the mission, ”

        Again if true, we need t o leave now.

      • Yes, I agree the U.S. and its allies need to be drawing down the forces now. This would, I believe, accelerate the happening of the inevitable from some point in 2011 or thereafter to a point more close to the present time.

        From all indications, this isn’t going to occur. Part of the reason, I believe, is political: both domestic and international, with emphasis upon international. As the Soviets learned, there was nothing to be gained by its attempts to occupy and control Afghanistan, but the way in which its troops were withdrawn (rather abruptly, as I recall) contributed to a worsening of the situation in that country, which eventually led to the events of 9/11 (Saudis, for the greatest part trained in Afghanistan) and to the invasion, etc. While there is no immediate benefit to remaining there longer, IMHO, it is arguable that a structured withdrawal over additional time as I understand is contemplated will be beneficial in the longer term. We shall see, of course; but mark me as dubious.

      • How do you say to our military personnel: We quit. Or, maybe, our mission is lost. Or, we didn’t succeed. We could have done this, but we didn’t. Or perhaps there wasn’t anything that could have been done.

        Do you also say that means all the lives lost, all the injuries suffered, all the lives effected for all the years into the future meant nothing? There was no hope, there was no reason they died?

        Or maybe someone can just say, pack your bags, we’re leaving NOW. And nothing else needs to be said.

      • Maybe we should also say to all our military personnel that some have no respect for the chain of command. That should make sense to those who espouse a strong military.

        (rolling eyes)

      • wicked

        Shades of Vietnam?

      • fnord, your point is noted. While I’ve no direct knowledge in that I’m neither there nor do I have anyone in my family there, I suspect the personnel “on the ground” for the most part just want to get out of there in one piece, as soon as they can. I further suspect that many of them recognize the futility in continuing the operations currently ongoing. Ultimately, it is the Afghani (and Iraqi) people who must decide their fate; not us, not anyone else. My concern is that in both instances, the U.S. actions in remaining in the countries have weakened, rather than strengthened, their ability to so do, particularly in Iraq.

      • Wicked, I’ve resisted the facile analogy. With respect to Afghanistan, I fear it is much too apt.

      • fnord, it is my thought that some of those who espouse a strong military chafe under the Constitutional concept of civilian control of the same. I know this was true during my years in the USAF, and don’t have any reason to believe any differently now.

      • It is my thought that some who ridiculed Kerry for throwing his medals may be the same ones who find McChyrstal didn’t disrespect authority. Same ones who think President Obama is committing atrocities when his actions are the same ones they praised under bush.

    • “You have obviously never been in the military.”

      I haven’t ever been in the military. I suppose I could have attempted to make your opinions on other subjects we’ve discussed in the past less meaningful by making such a statement as you make.

      So unless a person has been in the military they aren’t able to form opinions about someone who is in the military? Does this mean if you’ve never been a woman you shouldn’t have opinions of women’s rights? Does it mean if you’ve never been POTUS you shouldn’t have opinions about someone who is?

      • I don’t personally think any attempt to minimize another person’s opinion strengthens mine. In fact, I think that is rude and creates a less than friendly atmosphere in which to hold conversations.

        You and others may disagree with me, I’ll still have my own opinions whether they’re agreed with or not, whether YOU think I have the best understanding, and I don’t plan to point out that you may or may not have as great an understanding as anyone else. I just plan to allow everyone the right to state their opinions and respect all who do.

  13. June 23, 2010
    Rose Garden
    1:43 P.M. EDT

    THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country.

    I’m also pleased to nominate General David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan, which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership that we need to succeed.

    Over the last nine years, with America fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s finest soldiers. That reputation is founded upon his extraordinary dedication, his deep intelligence, and his love of country. I relied on his service, particularly in helping to design and lead our new strategy in Afghanistan. So all Americans should be grateful for General McChrystal’s remarkable career in uniform.

    But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.

    The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.

    My multiple responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief led me to this decision. First, I have a responsibility to the extraordinary men and women who are fighting this war, and to the democratic institutions that I’ve been elected to lead. I’ve got no greater honor than serving as Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in uniform, and it is my duty to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they are carrying out.

    That includes adherence to a strict code of conduct. The strength and greatness of our military is rooted in the fact that this code applies equally to newly enlisted privates and to the general officer who commands them. That allows us to come together as one. That is part of the reason why America has the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

    It is also true that our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals. That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command, and respect for civilian control over that chain of command. And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy.

    Second, I have a responsibility to do what is — whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan, and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don’t think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change. That, too, has guided my decision.

    I’ve just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together. Doing so is not an option, but an obligation. I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division. All of us have personal interests; all of us have opinions. Our politics often fuels conflict, but we have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibilities to one another, and to our troops who are in harm’s way, and to our country.

    We need to remember what this is all about. Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere. We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan security from within, and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world.

    So make no mistake: We have a clear goal. We are going to break the Taliban’s momentum. We are going to build Afghan capacity. We are going to relentlessly apply pressure on al Qaeda and its leadership, strengthening the ability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to do the same.

    That’s the strategy that we agreed to last fall; that is the policy that we are carrying out, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    In that effort, we are honored to be joined by allies and partners who have stood by us and paid the ultimate price through the loss of their young people at war. They are with us because the interests and values that we share, and because this mission is fundamental to the ability of free people to live in peace and security in the 21st century.

    General Petraeus and I were able to spend some time this morning discussing the way forward. I’m extraordinarily grateful that he has agreed to serve in this new capacity. It should be clear to everybody, he does so at great personal sacrifice to himself and to his family. And he is setting an extraordinary example of service and patriotism by assuming this difficult post.

    Let me say to the American people, this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy. General Petraeus fully participated in our review last fall, and he both supported and helped design the strategy that we have in place. In his current post at Central Command, he has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan. He has worked closely with Congress. He has worked closely with the Afghan and Pakistan governments and with all our partners in the region. He has my full confidence, and I am urging the Senate to confirm him for this new assignment as swiftly as possible.

    Let me conclude by saying that it was a difficult decision to come to the conclusion that I’ve made today. Indeed, it saddens me to lose the service of a soldier who I’ve come to respect and admire. But the reasons that led me to this decision are the same principles that have supported the strength of our military and our nation since the founding.

    So, once again, I thank General McChrystal for his enormous contributions to the security of this nation and to the success of our mission in Afghanistan. I look forward to working with General Petraeus and my entire national security team to succeed in our mission. And I reaffirm that America stands as one in our support for the men and women who defend it.

    Thank you very much.

    END 1:51 P.M. EDT

  14. itolduso

    Decent speech. I hope it works out as well as predicted.

  15. On another topic, one which should be of interest to all, but I’m sure I may be the one most interested therein.

    As you may be aware, there is (under existing law) no federal estate tax imposable on the estates of decedents who die in 2010. Additionally, for Kansas residents there is no Kansas estate tax on estates of decedents who die in 2010 or thereafter. The first case is a result of the so-called “Bush tax cuts”; the latter is due to the repeal of the Kansas Estate Tax effective January 1, 2010 under a law enacted several years ago by the Legislature.

    The federal estate tax, IIRC, represents a bit less than 5% of the gross revenue received by the federal government. I don’t know what percentage of gross revenue to Kansas the Kansas Estate Tax represents. Gov. Parkinson sought reinstatement of the Kansas tax this last session. No action was taken.

    Unlike the Kansas Estate Tax, if Congress takes no action, in 2011 the “exemption equivalent amount” reverts to $1 million (2009: $3.5 million) and the maximum rate returns to 55% from 45%.

    As the state and federal governments need money, I expect something to happen. Negotiations are rumored to be ongoing in Congress concerning an “exemption equivalent” credit amount between $3.5 to $5 million for federal estate tax purposes. Given that 2010 is an election year, there is a thought that if the GOP gains enough seats to hold a 60 seat majority, there will be an attempt to pass a total repeal of the tax.

    There was a populist part to the Estate Tax when first adopted in 1912 or so, namely discouraging the formation of a “landed gentry” in the U.S. Thus, in honor of the blog, the question: What should the respective levels of government do? Discuss.

  16. I agree with those who in 1912 knew it was important to discourage a landed gentry.

    WOW! The uber wealthy must be having conniptions! At least since bush the lesser made sure the gap between the uber wealthy and everyone else was greatly increased there aren’t so many having conniptions. And there is a limit to how much they may give away, isn’t there? Or is that limited to an amount to a single entity?

  17. itolduso

    Just a little note in History.

    Kerry didn;t throw away his medals. He threw away someone else’s

  18. Currently, one person (donor) may give $12,000/year (present interest, i.e., immediate possession and enjoyment) to as many individual recipients (donees) as the donor wishes without touching the donor’s lifetime exclusion ($1 million in taxable gifts). Exceptions: inter-spousal gifts (unlimited) and to qualifying charitable organizations (those exempt under §501(c)(3), Code) (unlimited, but deductions for income purposes limited) without incurring any gift tax liability and without adversely affecting the $1 million exclusion. Must be a real gift, i.e., no retained interest, delivered to donee, etc.

    This applies to inter vivos (during life) gifts.

    • Forgot: liability for the gift tax is that of the donor, not the donee.

    • wicked

      My ex’s grandparents each gifted their grandson and me individually to save us being taxed later. That included the house they owned that we lived in and the land it was on. There may have been more, but I don’t remember details.

      • Sounds like that occurred during the time that Kansas had an inheritance tax (repealed in 1996, IIRC, replaced by the Kansas Estate Tax, and at the time resulted in a large loss in revenue to the state). FYI, the exemption your ex would have had was $30,000, then the tax rate would have started at 3% and increased as the value inherited increased. Same would have applied to you as his spouse (assuming the testamentary gift would have been done the same as the inter vivos one).

      • wicked

        I know it’s terrible of me, but I don’t remember.

  19. itolduso

    My interest in the whole McChrystal/Obama thing and whether or not it helps or hinders the military action in Afganistan? I have a brother there. It is highly personal to me.
    I will have to take his word on it for now, that he examined the whole issue as CIC, and not a politician.

    I pray to God he made the right decision.

  20. itolduso

    Later, I ‘m out

  21. My Life as a Gay Officer
    by Anonymous

    You don’t know me. I’m in my early 40s, a career army officer, born and raised in the South. For the last 10 years, I’ve been in a committed relationship. But revealing who I am would mean breaking the law and risking getting fired, despite 18 years of service to our country, three combat deployments, promotions and a presidential commission to lead troops.

    As I write this, it’s just past 11 p.m. on Tuesday night in Afghanistan, a day that started like most other days. Yet, today was different. Today, I read that the White House struck a compromise with military leaders, gay advocacy groups and Congress in a deal that could—just might—make ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ a memory by Christmas.

    Throughout the day, family and friends called and emailed to ask me how it felt.

    I didn’t know what to say because I think that, on some level, I just felt numb. And here in Afghanistan, it was something I couldn’t share with anyone, and so I just went back to work.

    continued —