April 06, 2015

Madame President and The 4th Estate

Secretary Clinton as she recently entered the United Nations in front of a tapestry copy of  Picasso's Guernica. Mrs. Clinton was appearing at a press conference explaining why she kept all her email correspondence on a private server contrary to very specific White House, National Archive, and her own Dept of State guidelines during her tenure as Secretary of State. The revelations that she has since deleted 30,000 emails, wiped the server clean, and had her top staff also use the private server has raised many questions with the Associated Press suing for access and Congressional hearings being planned. Her carefully parsed  and evolving explanations remind many of  the term Clintonian Denial.

The 2016 US Presidential Campaign is starting to ramp up and everybody in the world knows Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party with nobody even close to mounting a serious challenge...but I suspect this will change.  Over the weekend, she secured the pivotal Robert DeNiro endorsement which all but assures she'd be able to hold off any rival in the always hotly contested Tribeca precinct. This is supposed to be the year a woman finally becomes President and at this moment I may even cast my ballot for a woman as Leader of the Free World. While former Secretary Clinton has a great resume, don't expect her to coast to an easy nomination. I read the New York Times everyday and know something of their inner workings; albeit from a distance and The Grey Lady (as the NYT is often referred) is not going to be hosting a coronation as they did for Candidate Obama.  The NYT has already run some very unflattering articles on the Clinton Global Initiative and Maureen Dowd is apparently not a fan.  

HRC's ardent supporters have sent out a list of 13 words they say the press must not use to describe HRC warning they will be "watching, reading, listening, and protesting coded sexism." These vile words include: secretive, disingenuous, insincere, inevitable, polarizing, ambitious... Thus far the list of forbidden words doesn't include 'monsteras uttered by then Candidate Obama's Foreign Policy Adviser, and current UN Ambassador, Samantha Power describing HRC during the Presidential primary back in 2008. Maureen Dowd has wondered in several columns how the HRC camp can play the sexism card when HRC herself once instructed White House staff and confidantes to describe Monica Lewinsky to the press with words such as stalker and mentally unstable,

Katty Kay of the BBC thinks Bill Clinton got a pass on other sexual harassment and assault allegations that were credible and should have been investigated further and thinks they should still be fair game now. Let's not forget President Clinton's potentially problematic association with the very same Jeffrey Epstein that has Prince Andrew in at least a very embarrassing if not legally troublesome situation. Todd Purdum, who is married to Bill Clinton's former Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, wrote a very unflattering piece in Vanity Fair awhile back anticipating all this Jeffery Epstein type fallout and the shady cast of characters he ran around and did deals with that are enmeshed with the Clinton Global Initiative, do side business deals with Clinton and/or Foundation staffers, and all sorts of  potentially embarrassing questions or fallout even if of no legal impropriety. The Democrats are already asking themselves if they want the circus the Clintons and their enemies always seem to summon and whether they want to put themselves or the country through it again. Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, has wondered aloud if Clinton fatigue has already set in -at least with the press.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, is highly respected by Democrats and
Republicans alike.
One of GSL's fav Democrats, she could be a fine President although many may think her
 too old as she'd be 83 when taking office.

My instincts tell me the Democrats would love to dump HRC if they could field a viable candidate and the impressive Elizabeth Warren is being heavily recruited but thus far has been sincerely adamant that she doesn't want to run. I think Senator Dianne Feinstein would make a far better President than HRC but unfortunately she'd be 83 when taking office so many may think her too old to endure the rigors of the campaign. I'd like to see her run.

Former Senator from Virginia: Democrat Jim Webb.

As a Libertarian who leans Republican, I agree with George Will in thinking that our country isn't best served by having both Houses of Congress and the President from the same political party and currently the Republicans control both the House of Representatives and the Senate. My 'Dream Ticket' would be having Democrat Jim Webb (former Senator from Virginia, Secretary of the Navy under Reagan, and a genuine War Hero who doesn't overplay that card) and Republican Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett Packard, as his VP and run as Independents. A President Webb could effectively impose greater fiscal responsibility and trim the Defense budget with the necessary credentials to tamp down Republican and Military Brass opposition. I'd like to see Carly Fiorina succeed a President Webb and have a highly respected Democrat as her running mate.

Carly Fiorina would make a great future President. She is a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard whose tenure had it's ups and downs. Our best leaders are always the ones that endure failure, show the fortitude to persevere, the intelligence to learn and adapt, and then flourish with great examples being George Washington and Steve Jobs


  1. Hmmm, I hope we will still be friends after this. I don't think Hillary can get elected and I voted for her in the last primary and in every New York election for senate she was in. I like Jim Webb, a lot, I also like Mark Warner. Dianne Feinstein would never get the nomination, in a million years. And she's too old. In my defense, I did vote for Dianne for senator back when I lived in California! Elizabeth Warren would be an absolute disaster as a candidate, I just can't see it. I think the political landscape is so dismal on both sides, with those terrible Tea Party clowns making everything worse. I used to find presidential election years so entertaining but since 2000 they have gotten increasingly depressing and frightening. I will never ever be writing about this on my blog but I love seeing it on yours and will be curious what your take on things is in the months ahead. P.S. I despise Maureen Dowd.

    1. My dear Jill,
      Why is it nowadays that unless people are in lockstep in political ideology they can't be friends. That is certainly the tone of today's college campuses where Diversity is the holiest of shrines...except in thought. I have numerous friends I have fundamental political disagreements with and yes debates sometimes get heated but my mother taught me a little poem when I was about 4yo about Sticks and Stones...This seems to have missed the self deputized PC Mafia.
      I agree that Elizabeth Warren, while impressive on the Senate floor, would lose some of her glow on the campaign trail and her claiming she was of American Indian extraction to get on the Harvard Law faculty would have the Clinton Attack Dogs foaming at the mouth with her simultaneously proclaiming in that phony laugh and smile SNL so beautifully parodies that it's no big deal.
      Carly Fiorina is running and it'll be entertaining to watch how HRC's Feminist Loyalists treat a candidate who made a great success and viable Presidential candidate of herself not by who she married and not by playing a victim of all those mean Republican men who are just trying to keep women from achieving power.
      I'm really not a fan of Maureen Dowd but she is certainly useful to counter all the silly nonsense regarding sexist language as she cited Bill Clinton's "bread-pudding thighs" without anybody whining...

  2. There is something about thet US presidential elections which is the political olympics. Even though I can't vote I have always been interested in the elections though it now seems that a year long campaign is now au fait. It is funny about HC - some hate her with such a passion that it seems misplaced and then I wonder if misogyny is truly alive more than I thought bc I see people so venomous about her but rather non chalant about Mugabe. Odd...

    But it is getting scarier and meaner. I do think it such a shame that John Edwards had that scandal bc he was just ticked all the boxes...Interesting that Pelosi doesn't seem at all in the running. Perhaps bc she is more hated than HC?

    1. I don't think I've ever seen misogyny used in the correct context as it's stated definition is: "dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women" as HRC's fiercest critics are rabidly, and I think foolishly, supportive of Sarah Palin. I never heard misogyny mentioned with criticism of Margaret Thatcher or when her detractors pranced around and sang: "Ding-dong the witch is dead" when her death was announced.

    2. My dear Naomi, which box re John Edwards does this charming little vid tick?

    3. Nancy Pelosi is a highly skilled House Democrat Leader but better behind the scenes than if front of live cameras. You are right she is deeply disliked by many Republicans who think she far too often cites opposition to Obama/Democratic policies as racist or sexist when among those voices most fiercely opposing are black/Latino or female.

    4. The Presidential elections are always such a worry to the rest of the world as so much power is vested in your President - especially as the US is the last remaining super power of the old world order.
      It's difficult to be optimistic of a good outcome. Particularly after the election of George W Bush and his appalling presidency. A man who was elected well beyond his competence. It was written all over his face as he struggled to come to grips with difficult issues and make sense of them. Very worrying. He took his allies with him (including the UK and Australia) into the invasion of Iraq, a country which was subsequently found to have had nothing to do with September 11 and which had no weapons of mass destruction, as experts had tried to make clear beforehand. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a monster - but countries rarely invade another to remove monsters. Look at Zimbabwe and Mugabe. The invasion just served to strengthen the convictions of the Islamic extremists against the west and to grow their ranks. Iraq is now really a failed state - so many lives were lost and continue to be lost each day. It was no solution. It just escalated and widened the problems.

      Looking at all the comments here critical of the Clintons, I have to say that almost no-one in the rest of the world cared about Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. It's difficult for us to understand why such a third order issue should have blown up to such an extent that it became a major focus of his Presidency. Yes, it's disappointing and rather unsavoury but she wasn't a child and there was no suggestion of coercion. So many Heads of Government have affairs and the public doesn't take them too seriously, eg President Mitterrand - his wife and mistress both attended his state funeral. The French public knew about her and didn't care. Likewise the current French President has had more than his fair share of scandals too - but they don't preoccupy the press or public unduly.

      HRC's communication through the use of private emails was a serious error of judgement - but again this isn't a first order issue. The build-up over this seems to be part of a continuing prejudice and move against the Clintons because they're regarded as liberals. A term of praise in many democracies - but one that seems to strike fear and loathing into so many Americans who tend to attack the Clintons on other fronts beating up second or third order issues to discredit them. There are far more dangerous people. In particular: ignorance, stupidity, prejudice and xenophobia are very dangerous.

      The Australian public once elected a government led by a man who was an admitted alcoholic and womaniser. But he promised to abstain during his term in office and seems to have done so. He was a very astute and well educated man and on the whole a good Head of Government, in many ways much loved. We've recently lost to old age two former Heads of Government (from different sides of politics). They each had their own faults, but both had real vision, ideals, intelligence and integrity and came to be much respected and admired. Hard to imagine anyone feeling that way about George W. Even his own father.
      Fingers crossed for your elections. They matter around the world. Libby

    5. Welcome LIbby,
      Part 1

      To begin, I know many of my friends who share your views regarding Bush, Iraq, etc who also find his time in office appalling. I am not among them. First of all, Bush haters I have found tend to diminish everything that clouds the bumper sticker summary of "Bush LIed, People Died". And there have been a number of people come forward saying they knew all along that there were no WMD in Iraq prior to the US Invasion. According to this New York Times article from last October, 5,000 canisters of chemical weapons were discovered in 2008 and were apparently there before the invasion.


      I'll be the first to admit this isn't of the nuclear bomb potential mushroom cloud variety but weapons of mass destruction they surely are as President Assad of Syria has used them to kill tens of thousands of his people.

      Also, Senators Clinton, Feinstein, Kerry (now Secretary of State) and Biden (now VP) all authorized the use of force to invade based on the very same intel that the Bush Administration use to reach their conclusions. I know there were 'experts' that said after the fact that they knew were no WMDs (which the NYT times link above contradicts) so I know this is a popular refrain so which experts are you citing that the NYT now reports were mistaken and please direct me to info prior to the Iraq invasion when they were so sure and not their selective recollections. British, German, Jordanian, Israeli, Saudi, and Egyptian officials all were telling Bush and Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein had WMDs...now confirmed although no nukes as it turned out but the Duelfer report concluded he was trying to acquire them. I'm going to expand on this in a future post since you brought it up.

    6. Part 2

      You bring up points regarding first order, second order, third order, etc. Now I really have only a gossipy interest that Clinton was getting blowjobs from an intern which came out from one of the 3 other allegations of non-consensual sexual harassment or assault which Katty Kay of the BBC says Bill Clinton was given a pass on and should be fair game during the campaign. I'm not comfortable with a President using the powers of his office to destroy these women's reputation and careers...even if Republicans were providing legal counsel. That's abuse of power and why we impeached Nixon. The whole email business isn't to discover what other bimbos and groupies Mr. Clinton has been getting blowjobs from. We had an American Ambassador assassinated along with 3 other State Dept staffers (2nd or 3rd order issue?) and obviously an investigation followed with Mrs. Clinton acting Clintonian withholding information that impeded the investigation of what her actions were immediately following.

      When the Obama Administration overthrew the Gaddafi regime, HRC was a major proponent and driving force with claims that massive genocide was being perpetrated and Congressional Oversight committees are duty bound to oversee are entitled by law to see any relevant communications between staffers to see if this was actually the case. Libya has now been taken over by ISIS (2nd or 3rd order issue?) and loves executing infidels and those not sufficiently Islamofascist. These are actually matters of a very substantive nature that she has decided to unilaterally expunge her involvement in. You still OK with this? Now that the Wall Street Journal and NYT has reported that the Clinton Foundation didn't abide by the conditions her nomination was predicated upon that may have potential implications far beyond conflict of interest into possible corruption and really bad actors getting favorable treatment, those emails I suspect could shed troublesome light into this serious matter.

      LIbby, not everybody shares your same confidence in the Clinton's integrity and motives or think the assassination of an Ambassador and 3 staffers and the implosion and ISIS takeover of Libya are 2nd or 3rd order issues and that a very likely future President's involvement in these events isn't important or that covering up her involvement shouldn't raise red flags.

      Finally, as I mentioned in another comment that is often forgotten by fellow Americans. The US was designed to have 3 co-equal branches of government created in the first 3 articles of our Constitution. Congress is tasked to provide oversight. The motives behind the 3 co equal branches was to prevent tyranny so a President couldn't recreate a situation that evolves into a 1930s Germany or present day Russia. You may think the Iraq War foolish and reckless and a Bush folly but authorization following lengthy debate was passed by Congressional resolution.

    7. Not sanctioned by the UN though.

      Would put worsening terrorism, international security and prospects for world peace as higher concerns, ie first order issues, ahead of blow jobs any day.

      Yes, women can be seduced by power. But some women become so attracted by it and want to add these guys to their lists of conquests that they make the first moves, even when the man is singularly unattractive personally - if not for his important or powerful position (in cases I really know about - not speaking about Clinton). Familiar with numbers of these cases, eg former colleagues and powerful men. Don't want to go into the mechanics but seems fairly clear there was agreement by the women involved in Clinton's case. There never seemed to be any suggestion that what he did was actually by force/coercion, as in the case of Dominique Strauss Kahn. Like President Kennedy, Bill Clinton was clearly no angel and should have been counselled early by senior personnel. His difficulty in keeping his trousers zipped was a major personal fault but for their own sectional interests his opponents put the issue above national AND international security and economic issues. Some of his most "outraged" and sanctimonious opponents, eg Newt Gingrich, later were revealed to be just as culpable. Libby

    8. What the UN did sanction was the 'Oil for Food' program intended to keep the Iraqi people from starving while UN imposed economic sanctions to punish Saddam Hussein for being such a naughty boy. It only consolidated his power and was so corrupt it became known as 'Oil for Palaces' with Iraq getting over $87 Billion the previous 5 years and Saddam Hussein personally profited to the tune of over $10 billion in under the table illegal transactions.. Those providing the illegal funds included among many others the Russians and senior French officials. Kojo Annan, son of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, was a conduit for these illegal deals. The reason Saddam Hussein kept throwing out weapons inspectors and failed to comply with the cease fire agreement from the first Gulf War was because he knew the Russians, French, et al wouldn't support the Americans in military action because he would expose them as buying and selling his oil illegally.

    9. And the invasion was so successful in dealing with all this and stopping terrorism. Not.

      PS You haven't mentioned Dick Cheney (VP to George W) and his linkage with Halliburton and their motives and interests in Iraq? Libby

    10. I almost forgot. Thanks Libby. Halliburton and their subsidiaries were the private contractors that provided the Dept of Defense countless services over in Iraq and elsewhere in the world with revenues of tens of billions which every soldier: officer and enlisted wanted to work for. Dick Cheney is a former CEO. If they could have managed the entire war, the whole world would be better off. On Camp Taji where I was for several months (and where the WMD weapons cache your experts say never existed were found) they managed the food service, laundry, shuttles, etc and I marveled at how well managed they were. Just one example, In May 2008, a Stryker Brigade arrived with 5,000 soldiers creating a logistical nightmare the day they arrived. I had been in Iraq for a couple months by then and was disgusted by how poorly managed the Army was with everything always a big clusterfuck. I told a couple of the young officers: "You see how getting these 5,000 soldiers in has fucked everything up? In 2 days you'll see how the Halliburton Subsidiary actually managed the situation and make quick adjustments in how they allocate resources, gather data to locate bottlnecks, and make almost instantaneius adjustments to alleviate problems. All of this is alien to the Army. In 2 days Halliburton had the chow halls, laundry service, and shuttles running like a Swiss watch while the Army would send out 30 vehicle convoys to build concrete barrier partitions to segregate Sunni from Shiite and they'd forget to contact the unit with the offload equipment. I saw dumb shit like that every day.

    11. I think my point was that Halliburton (and Cheney) had much to gain from the decision to invade Iraq. The old conflict of interest situation, never acknowledged at the time. You see it from the point of view of a soldier. I see it quite differently.

      In regard to WMD, Saddam Hussein was indeed found to have a range of weapons (and was attempting to build/acquire more) at the time of his invasion of Kuwait. Twenty plus years later some of the old sites still existed with vestiges of what had once been there. But that was old news from the past.

      There's no doubt he was a dangerous and crazy autocrat playing a deadly game of brinksmanship, deliberately letting the west think he had again built up stocks. Early on he asked his Cabinet if anyone had any disagreements with his policies. When someone had the temerity to admit he had, SH asked him to discuss it with him in another room. They walked out together, a shot was heard and the man was never seen again. Just one example of the man/monster.

      Yet despite their hatred and fear of him, most Iraqis did not see the invasion as a liberation but as foreign aggression. Libby

    12. On your last point, I think is a result of the conventional 'wisdom' that developed with the news coverage. The foreign correspodents who bravely would emerge from the Green Zone hotel rooms every morning, head down to the lobby, compare notes with other like-minded journalists, talk to their stringers who knew what their bosses wanted to hear and tailored their viewpoints accordingly. That evening they delivered their report of more dire news from their hotel room balconys.
      Here is what I saw in December 2007-January 2008. We went on patrol from Combat Outpost War Eagle twice a day for 4+hour patrols at the various checkpoints now manned by Iraqis and check in at numerous market areas with the merchants. Every single day, we would be warmly greeted by thousands of NW Baghdad locals waving, smiling, little boys anxious to run next to the slow moving up-armored humvees to demonstrate their footspeed while chanting 'USA'...or they loved when we'd stop and watch an impromtu football match arranged for our visit. Young mothers emerged from their homes holding a child on their hip with both giving us a warm wave. One day we had a middle aged European AP reporter join us on patrol. By her cold demeanor, she was either having a bad day or hated being in our company. After witnessing what I just described for 4 hours, I asked her what she thought. Her reply: "You guys never even got out of the truck!!!" and then stormed off....

    13. ...as clearly the oldest soldier there, I was always assumed to be the highest ranking and a village elder type would always approach and give me a warm greeting when we walked through the market areas. Many spoke pretty good English and I asked them what they thought. Their reply was always a positive one with a variant of "please don't leave".
      On the day my platoon departed we held a little ceremony for our interpreter who lived in the area and came to War Eagle each day in disguise by circuitous route. If he was discovered by insurgents to be helping us he would be beheaded and his family killed. We presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation and some other knick-knacks. He was about 25yo and easily the largest Iraqi I'd ever seen (approx 6'5" 270lbs) and he cried like a baby and couldn't compose himself enough to express his words of gratitude....but we understood.

    14. It must have made you and your comrades in arms feel they were doing something worthwhile.

      But the situation was extremely complex and remains so.

      Outcomes of invasions need to be judged on the mid-longer term, not only on the more immediate results, eg the period when you were there. Neither are the downstream effects limited to the country where the invasion occurred, because spin-off effects extend to the region, and even wider. Analyse the situation now and do a cost benefit analysis of the outcomes (not only the removal and end of SH) in Iraq - and the region - and how effective it was in eliminating or reducing terrorism and establishing a functioning democratic state.
      Not so positive. And despite the more welcoming people in the streets you met up with, the more influential groups struggling for power in Iraq did not see it as a liberation but as a foreign invasion.

      It's probably a subject we can ever agree on because you see the invasion from the point of view of a soldier and my training and experience has been very different. Libby

    15. I suspect your training and experience would be quite similar to those Green Zone Lobby Boy Habitues and what their Iraqi National Stringers angling for an Oxbride/Ivy League Grad School/Fellowship posting and be trained how to sing from the same hymn sheet,
      Much of what you say has that same elegant symposium melody, I hear the Thomas Friedman types put Charlie Rose in a rapturous
      swoon replete with an Edward Said reference to give the viewers a self-congratulatory tingle of in the know fellowship as Flat-World Tommy is just in from an Iraq 'out in the field' visit where he stood in that same Green Zone Lobby met a few carefully chosen local intellectuals who nodded in compliance with Tommy's now confirmed suspicions and on the plane ride home he racks his brain for that next catchy metaphor that will make Charlie gush and soon be echoed all over Beltway DC, CFR events, NYT/BBC/Reuters Middle East Desks and thus Thomas Friedman, or his heir apparent, first introduced the academic-media complex echo chamber to "downstream" implications thus conveying his eminence grise EXPERTISE...

      Cost-Benefit analysis would vary greatly as we'd put different values on your "inflential groups" in the cultural capitals and the many thousands of young men that interpreter represents who has never heard of Edward Said, Thomas Friedman, or seeks a reference for Harvard.

    16. Back around 2010, I remember VP Biden crowing of how then stable Iraq was going to be one of the Obama Administration's achievements...and then we pulled completely out against the better judgement of Defense Sec Gates and former CI A incoming Sec Def Panetta.

    17. Sorry, I seem to have touched a nerve. I also guessed you'd come up with the argument: if only we'd not completely pulled out it would have been another story.
      Training and experience both completely different from what you suggest. Let's leave it there I think. Libby

    18. Libby,
      It's difficult to convey tone in this medium and my little mid-day energy drink fueled salvo was far more impish than I suspect you imagined. While I meant what I said, were we face-to-face I know I'd have elicited at least a smile if not agreement. Whenever I think of the UN, A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind: NYC and Port au Prince with the charming Kofi Annan, the darling of UES Society Hostesses and an adoring throng of the very tip-top upper crust and wonder at his tenure in Africa and what he was doing when 8,000 Tutsis per day were being slaughtered by the Hutus. How did he parlay that bit of inaction to the Grand Prize?

      Port-au-Prince circa January 2010 right after the earthquake. 5,000 UN troops on ground prior to earthquake absolutely hated by the local population...but not by the 'influential groups over at the embassy in for a bit of photo-op. How did this dichotomy come to be?

      Again, my dear Libby, I am not mocking you but I suspect you are at least familiar with the well intentioned and usually highly competent and honorable people that dit atop organizations that have no clue what's really going on. It's much the same in the Army too. I spoke to staff sargeants in Iraq at the end of their 3rd deployment with over 3 years in a combat zone and over 10 years of Army service and never even seen a 4-Star General in the flesh...

    19. A Certificate of Appreciation and a few knick-knacks for the young interpreter who risked his life to help you? Wow. He must have been totally over-whelmed by your generosity.Do you realise how incredibly patronising this sounds? Were they tears of rage or frustration? Claire

    20. Tears of rage? Absolutely not Claire as were rotating out and the 101st Airborne was rotating in. Our interpreter was only addressed by his alias, Chris, so as to protect his identity lest someone accidentally let it slip and he be discovered. I mispoke earlier as he came in for 3-4 days at a time and slept in our same quarters and he grew quite close to many of the soldiers. Being much older and not keen on those interests he shared with the young guys, we had limited but very amiable interaction. We had another 'terp' (interpreter) that switched out
      with him every 3-4 days. The interpreterss were paid approx what a mid-level Iraqi civil servent
      was paid so they always felt very well paid. At his request we provided countless services for the family, friends, and neighbors that he brought to our attention such as medical care, infrastructure repair, giving generators to those who lacked electricity, and he, along with the vast majority of the residents in our Area of Operation saw us as librrators who were grateful just as the French were when 82nd Airborne Paratroopers landed behind enemy lines on D-Day and helped liberate France.
      Claire, please turn East and look to Normandy and imagine you were there when paratroopers fell from the sky to liberate France and maybe help free some of your male family members that had been tortured, or imprisoned. I know how quantitatively focused you are so tell me what sort of compensation package would you have demanded before helping free your father and brothers from prison and getting your sick mother much needed medical care?

    21. Totally specious comparison. The D-Day scenario was absolutely different from the invasion of Iraq.
      The Allies (who were not just Americans!) invaded to defeat the German occupiers of France, et al. Any comparison with the Iraq situation is false. The French government had capitulated to the German invasion in 1939 and shamefully some (including Paris city authorities) participated in the holocaust through the Round-up of the Jews. France had been invaded and defeated by a more powerful force but many brave French people (men and women) went on to sabotage their conquerors through the Resistance.
      D-Day was the beginning of a real liberation of countries that had been taken over by an external aggressor. I don't think the French, Dutch, Belgians etc would in any way see themselves as having been in a similar scenario to Iraq.
      If you were trying to conceal the identities of your interpreters and others in Iraq, providing them with such visible benefits at that time as generators and other services would have made their linkages to the US clear to all. I've no doubt many Iraqis were relieved (initially at least) that SH was gone from power but apart from this they probably had quite complex attitudes. Some people might see the more enthusiastic Iraqis as "rice Christians".
      Had planned to bow out of this debate - but your emotive and specious arguments in response to Claire induced me to return. Libby

    22. Libby,
      You are always welcome to weigh in on any topic under discussion and I am familiar with WWII and it's participants. My allusion to D-Day was primarily due to Claire's close proximity as she's likely seen those very beaches where D-Day began. My comparison was also that from what I witnessed we were absolutely seen as liberators during the time I was at Combat Outpost War Eagle. It was likely different in other areas depending on the ethnic or sectarian makeup. Your comments regarding providing services and concealing identities and apparently trying to poke holes in it makes me think you doubt it's veracity? Well let me just say, that the situation evolved very dramatically from when I arrived in Iraq (March 2007) to when I departed Iraq (2008) as my 2nd Brigade was the first group in for 'The Surge' (they arrived early January 2007 and I joined them in March) which made things dramatically better with incidents of sectarian violence decreasing 70% so as time went on the locals felt more and more comfortable openly cooperating with American soldiers. The middle class that had fled and were refugees in Syria returned and since they were the civil servants, teachers, shopkeepers, etc. things made a dramatic turnabout in just a few months and we finally got people calling in and revealing who the bad guys were planting IEDs or who the Iranians were helping the insurgents. The interpreters were the ones always most at risk so we wouldn't let Chris even get out of the vehicle when on patrol as his great size would give him away. We'd bring whoever had info over to the vehicle.
      My emotive response was because I shut down my life and enlisted at a very advanced age specifically to go to Iraq and join the effort and the scene with Chris in that little impromptu ceremony with everyone trying to figure out how we say goodbye and with nothing really suitable to give him and how that was never what it was about anyway as he was just so overwhelmed with emotion. That is easily the most powerful memory I have and seeing a snide comment made belittling our appreciation of him of course didn't sit well. As Claire didn't know the backstory, I tried to place her in a scenario with a perspective similar to Chris's.

    23. GSL, coming from a military family going back generations, I don't need any tutoring from you on the realities of war. I've known real heroes who have operated in horrendously dangerous situations and risked and sometimes sacrificed their lives for others. None of them ever mentioned their experiences with the frequency that you do. You spent a short time in the military and have had limited experience of what those on the frontline in war zones actually experience, yet you write about it as if you'd done it all and seen it all. You say you 'shut down your life' but I suspect there was little going on in your life at the time so it was hardly a great sacrifice. Did you leave behind a wonderful career, a wife, children? Probably not. Yes, you were in your 40's but so what? You keep harping back to this brief era in your life, which puzzles me. Do you feel that this is your only achievement? I suspect you want to be thought of as a brave, patriotic, old soldier but I've met enough of those in real life to know that they are both modest and discreet about their experiences. Claire

    24. Claire,
      i'm in the middle of a tedious day doing things generations of your family's men never ever spoke of yet you gained intimate knowledge oapperently through osmosis.
      You've given me quite a giggle as I now must issue a GSL bare bottom spanking for such a ridiculous rant...and don't worry, my intent will not be to wound (at least one of us outgrew that years ago) but a trademark surgical strike to enlighten and amuse.
      Carry on.

    25. Libby,
      Thanks for your input and as I am finally at a laptop and not using a smartphone on the run as I was last week. I didn't properly address or answer your Cheney/Halliburton question and it is a most valid one. But in the US, everybody knew of the Cheney association as Halliburton as notorious and virtually synonymous with Cheney which is why I jumped in to give my perspective on Halliburton as being such a stark contrast (although very lavishly compensated) to how inept the Army managed their affairs. I mentioned that concrete barrier mission because erecting those barriers preventing freedom of movement post curfew cut violence down 50-70% virtually overnight and they made what should have been a 3 day project last over 3 weeks causing me extreme frustration as I was anxious to be part of something turning the corner. Thanks for putting the time and thoughtful effort into expressing your views. I have many close friends and my own mother who would stand and cheer at what you said here.

    26. Claire,
      Where to begin at those broadsides. I hope you can take a deep breath and see that I only brought up my time in Iraq after several exchanges with Libby and only when she made a very good point re Cheney/Halliburton which I had actual first hand knowledge to give a differing perspective. Did it strike you as casting myself in a heroic spotlight? Have I really made a big spectacle of my military service in a self-aggrandizing way? The trip to Haiti was Humanitarian Relief, I have spotlighted a 98 year old man who has donated 3 days a week to veterans for 33 years. He wears a medal everyday and talks quite a bit of his service so I hope you won't think less of him. I have chosen this forum, where I am essentially anonymous with a handful knowing my actual identity, where I can often with a bombastic alter ego occasionally allude to it because I almost never do in real life. I actually hate talking about it yet see the Middle East and especially Iraq unraveling but do so not to cast glory on an anonymous alter ego. At least one person we both know may recall asking what I thought of 'American Sniper'. I didn't use that opportunity to give all you 'civilians' this 'expert's' opinion did I? You actually did mention you'd like to hear more of my Iraq tour and I actually was approached about doing a book but that was the last thing I wanted to do. I hated being in the Army and wanted to get as far away as possible once my time was up. Several readers have asked me to write more of that brief but impactful period.
      Our little flirty banter makes mention but in obviously over-the-top blustery tone.
      You're right that I didn't have much in my life going on prior to enlisting. Since I had made so much pro Iraq War noise prior to enlistment eligibility and didn't have a wife and kids, I decided to walk my talk. A mutual friend may also recall, that I place the devoted parent(s) that provide a loving, nurturing home to a child as a far greater accomplishment that I will likely ever attain. I'll reveal this as an anonymous blogger that I am really most proud of my time in service. During night jumps often at around 3am, they would always need to fill chutes in other units since to send a plane up without the full complement of 64 soldiers was a big expensive no-no so they'd pick from our ranks to fill it out. You didn't get credit for it so nobody wanted to do it and you were out all night long. I told our leadership to give Pappy any slot that they were going to give to a father with a young child. I used to be afraid of heights!

  3. Interesting G! As a Canadian from an American family I watch all of the politics south of the border pretty closely. Mostly so I can understand my Dad's many crabby grumblings. ;) For the life of me I can't understand how HRC could ever win the election, I'm sure the Democrats would love a new name on that ticket, surely your instincts here are spot on.
    This HRC email business is very shady indeed, and feeds the perception that the Clinton's think they are above the law. If I was an American I'd be major pissed about it.
    Please keep writing about the election, I'd love to know how your thoughts progress.

    1. Dani,
      The whole HRC email business will absolutely be her undoing as you mention the Clintons have never thought they had to play by other people's rules and watch how quickly people abandon ship once their's blood in the water. The Obamas don't like the Clinton's (in a former NYT reporter's book, it was revealed that Michelle Obama and First Couple best pal/White House Rasputin Valerie Jarrett) privately refer to HRC as 'Hildabeast'...now if a male staffer were to hear this and giggle would he be a 'misogynist'....?

    2. No, he'd just be a tad ...effeminate. Hearing a man giggling would be like hearing a dog meowing. Do you giggle a lot yourself GSL? Claire

    3. My dear beguiling Claire,
      GSL's cackle is known as the 9th Symphony of Mirth and I rhink you'd find it's effects both disarming and disrobing...

  4. The only person who can get me enthusiastic again about the Presidency is Al Gore but he won't run again. I think any person is bound to fail because the system has grown so obstructionist in the guise of check and balance. So much grandstanding among the politicians to get their 10 minutes of fame. Any one who gets elected must be given a chance to run the country as he or she seems fit and will be voted off if unsuccessful at the end of the term. The media makes it worse, so many talking heads who think it's so easy to run a country if only they do this or that ....

    1. My dear Marie,
      I haven't seen Al Gore and 'enthusiastic' used together in a sentence that didn't include a dessert cart...he is getting larger than life isn't he. I have felt as you do but then must remind myself that our Founding Fathers designed the world's oldest Democracy of thus far astonishing durability specifically so that a President can't "run the country as she or he sees fit". Obviously this invites tyranny and why there are 3 coequal branches of government designed to protect against radical and potentially destabilizing shifts.
      A man in 1930s Germany was elected and re-elected democratically to run the country as he saw fit and these days the same is going on in Russia.
      I think the country needs far less career politicians and people who have seen how our society works and doesn't work from a variety of perspectives.
      The 24 hour cable news networks have helped usher in an era of superficial 'telegenic' politicians that are all about delivering a hyperbolic zinger of a sound byte that raises their profile but poisons the well of cooperation.and compromise.

  5. Oh, those Clinton's are as slippery as they come and have managed to slither their respective way thru so many scandals that I would not be surprised to see this latest email debacle become just a whisper,with time!
    So many issues to address here, G, both above and below the surface!
    Lest we forget that the Clinton Foundation is largely funded by foreign countries that they have both done "bidness" with...mind boggling at best!
    I would invite anyone interested to read the NYT article on Monica Lewinsky of a couple of weeks ago. It was an interview as she prepared for her TED talk. Read it,people!
    Btw,G, I enjoy Maureen Dowd, most of the time;-)

    1. It's the Foundation that scares the Democrats the most as details are emerging from the WSJ that these donations happened even during Sec HRC's tenure when the White House conditioned her service with that moratorium. Meanwhile, Bubba jets around collects mega-million speaking fees, millions for the Foundation, introduces a Jeffrey Epstein/Ron Burkle type to all kinds of Uzbeckistan-ish goverment officials/oligrachs who give some of the spoils they've looted from their homelands to Bubba's running buddies to park in investments above and under the table and everybody throw's Clinton a bone, cuts his wife a check, and gets fast-track access at the State Dept and with called in political favors in the Clinton Ally network. In Chicago, we refer to these insider quid pro quo crony capitalism under the table deals as 'kinky'.
      Bubba loves kink.

  6. Like I said ,"mind boggling at best"! Shakin' my head...
    This would all make for a great novel,perhaps penned by Jeffrey Archer! So very sad and frightening is that this is not fiction, but fact !

    1. As if we weren't warned; with hours to go in his Presidency back on January, 2001 he pardoned Billionaire fugitive Marc Rich wanted on a 47 Count indictment. His ex-wife songwriter NYC socialite personally lobbied Bubba so he pardoned him without even consulting his own prosecutor who was outraged. Our current Atourney General Eric Holder signed off on it. Jimmy Carter called it a disgrace. Meanwhile Denise Rich donated about $1/2 million to Clinton LIbrary tens of thousands to HRC's Senate campagin in addition to hosting fundraisers. Methinks there was far more untraceable money benefitting the Clintons.
      Denise Rich has since renounced her citizenship to dodge taxes being the patriotic American that she is...and we have recently learned this diehard Clinton Loyalist had $144 million parked offshore in the Cook Islands back in 2006....wonder if that had anything to do with her renouncing her citizenship...?

  7. My son and daughter will both get to vote in the upcoming election. It is quite fascinating to see one, my son, quite involved in the whole process. I have to keep telling him not to get too attached to any candidate for awhile. The other child, my daughter, could give a rats ass...it's basically between pig "A" and pig "B"...and I'd be surprised if she even voted. I am quite over both the Clinton's and the Bush's. Sigh, we shall see how it all shakes out soon. Hats off to you for talking politics.

    1. T,
      I think the country would be much better off moving on from the Bushes and Clintons. So much bad blood
      would never allow the most important issues getting a fair hearing. I think a consensus is forming around that opinion even among Democrats as Sen Feinstein, former HHS Sec Sibelius, Sen Boxer could barely contain their disgust when asked about HRC's email nonsense both at overzealous GOPers and a hungry for scandal press pouncing on it and why HRC did it in the first place and needlessly self-inflicted a circus that will go on and distract from far more meaningful business for months.

  8. I've always liked Hilary, though when i paid loads to see her talk a couple of years ago, she turned up VERY late and did not apologise.
    Hopefully she will have the confidence and feel the power to do what she thinks best and not yield to opinion or swayed by commercial interests.
    My friend who met her at a small lunch said she was very sweet and lovely, but seems to be very swayed by the people around her who are not always what she'd needs

    1. Hilary (and referring to her by her first name I see is now considered sexist) has the same problem that Jeb Bush has. Their names are toxic which won't allow them to capably lead. I think Jeb (I don't expect any scoldings for using his first name) is a good man, great track record, moderate in his views (like his father against the Iraq War which his brother and the Clintons were for) but his name brings about such a negative reaction it makes him unable to lead the nation. If the Democrats come up with an alternative, they'll get my vote because both Houses and the Presidency controlled by one party is a recipe for even deeper division.