In his July 5 press briefing, FBI director James Comey spoke 2,341 words explaining his decision not to recommend criminal charges over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to transmit, receive and store classified information during her tenure as US Secretary of State. He could have named that tune in four words:
“Because she’s Hillary Clinton.”
Comey left no doubt whatsoever that Clinton and her staff broke the law: “[T]there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. … any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
Continue reading “Hillary Clinton: More Equal Under the Law Than Others”
“The White House said Tuesday [June 7] that President Barack Obama will veto the Senate’s version of the annual defense policy bill,” Richard Lardner of the Associated Press reports. Why? Lardner cites provisions that would prevent Obama from shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay and limit the number of “national security” functionaries he can put on the White House payroll.
Deeper in the story, however, we find meatier objections: The $600 billion bill “denies the Defense Department’s request for a new round of military base closings” and Senate Armed Service Committee chairman John McCain (R-AZ) “plans to propose an amendment that would add nearly $18 billion to the defense budget to pay for additional ships, jet fighters, helicopters and more that the Pentagon didn’t request.”
If Obama, who doesn’t face re-election, follows through on his veto threat House and Senate Democrats will likely join Republicans in overriding that veto so long as they get their share of that $18 billion and the bases in their districts remain open. What gives? Nothing. It’s politics as usual.
Continue reading “Got Milked? US ‘Defense’ Spending 2017”
“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong – no Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”
With those pointed words, Muhammad Ali explained his opposition to the US war in Vietnam and justified his refusal to submit himself to the draft. He declared himself a conscientious objector. After declining three times to step forward for induction into the US Armed Forces in April of 1967 in Houston, Texas, the reigning world heavyweight boxing champion was arrested, stripped of his title and state boxing licenses, and thrown into a three-year legal battle ending with his exoneration (on technical grounds) by the US Supreme Court.
No one ever seriously doubted the physical courage of Muhammed Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. in 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky). An Olympic gold medalist and winner of eight Golden Gloves titles, he became the youngest man ever to unseat a reigning heavyweight boxing champion at 22.
Continue reading “Muhammad Ali: A Profile in Moral Courage”
For a columnist or pundit, there’s no greater temptation than to get something written – Quick! Now! – about the latest, greatest, deadliest catastrophe. After all, if it bleeds it leads.
I felt that urge the night of the Paris terror attacks. For once, I resisted. I wanted more information. I wanted to see how the usual suspects responded. I wanted to see whether or not my own immediate assumptions and predictions would hold up before I held forth.
Unfortunately, my assumptions and predictions turned out to be spot-on. The American and European political classes didn’t bother waiting for the bodies to cool – or, for that matter, to even be counted – before commencing their triumphant dance on the graves. The attacks may have been unexpected, but they certainly weren’t unwelcome. The political class immediately pivoted from a pro forma parody of normal peoples’ heartfelt condemnation to special pleading for more power.
Within hours, prominent War Party mouthpiece (and former US ambassador to the United Nations) John Bolton rushed out a piece on “four important lessons we must learn” from the attacks. Predictably, “never trust John Bolton with any decision more consequential than ordering pizza, and even then be watchful lest ye end up with anchovies” didn’t make the cut.
Continue reading “Paris: No Grave Too Warm for the Political Class to Dance On”
In The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam quotes US president Lyndon Baines Johnson on his desired qualities in an assistant: “I want loyalty! I want him to kiss my a– in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.”
Nearly every “major party” presidential candidate this year and in past election cycles seems to have taken that advice to heart, but in an odd way. They come off less as applicants for the presidency of the United States than for the position of personal aide to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The second Republican presidential primary debate looked a lot like Macy’s window at high noon:
Jeb Bush: “[T]he first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel …”
Carly Fiorina: “On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.”
Continue reading “They Want to Talk About Israel. OK, Let’s Talk About Israel.”
On August 2, 1990, the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, a tiny Persian Gulf emirate. Three days later, US president George HW Bush fielded questions from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. The key line from, and substance of, those remarks: This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.
Two days after that, Operation Desert Shield commenced with the arrival of US troops in Saudi Arabia. Desert Shield transitioned into Desert Storm a short, sharp, successful air and ground attack resulting in the ejection of Saddam Husseins troops from Kuwait.
The early days of this military adventure were marked by spirited debate on its merits and trepidation over the possibility of large-scale chemical warfare and mass US casualties.
But by late May of 1991, when I returned home from my tour of duty as a Marine infantry NCO, the war seemed an unqualified success. Saddams forces had been routed with fewer than 300 Americans killed and only 800 wounded.
Parades were held. Medals were awarded. Returning troops in uniform got free beer at airport bars. Yes, really I drank my Budweiser on layover at OHare International Airport in Chicago. And I drank the Kool Aid that followed, too: Desert Storm had blown away the dark cloud cover of Vietnam and looked set to go down in history as a good war not unlike World War II.
Continue reading “Twenty-Five Years Later: A Look Back at ‘The Other Good War’”