Insight. Antics.

Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Bummer: Live-Blogging The President’s Remarks.

In Economy, Government, War on August 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

The country’s first-ever credit downgrade. Stocks tanking. 30 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to speak shortly, presumably about all of these topics. So, I’ve come out of hibernation for some impromptu live-blogging. Let’s see if I have anything useful to say…

Behind Schedule | 1:47 p.m. It’s 47 minutes past the announced start time. The Dow appears to have taken this into account and gone down another 47 points. Or is it 147?

The Walk Out | 1:54 p.m. Obama came out in a brisk, solemn walk, and got right to the credit rating issue, pushing back on the S&P hard.

Details | 1:58 p.m. He is speaking to specific things we can do (not many with Congress’ hand-tying) to spur economic growth: payroll tax credits and such. He is pretty stern.

Unusual Wording | 2:00 p.m. As part of a stanza to remind and inspire us of our self-worth, he said that the U.S. has “some of the most productive workers” in the world. He, and other politicians, usually say something along the lines of, “We have the best workers in the world,” so this stuck out for me. Will some Republican presidential candidate criticize him for this? The more important thing is that he is right: it seems to me that while our workers are great, so now are those of the other countries we hear about frequently: India, China, et al.

Let’s Be Army Strong | 2:04 p.m. Obama pivoted from our tough economic situation to the grim news in Afghanistan, honoring the commitment and sacrifice of those we lost. He said that soldiers put aside their differences for the sake of a vital mission, and that we should do the same. He used it is a rallying cry for the country to live up to the best of what they fought for.

That’s It | 2:11 p.m. The comments were over in a fast 10 minutes. There was no real news here it seems, and little concerted effort to lift us up. Perhaps that is part of the problem.

Useless | 5:10 p.m. Re-reading confirms: this is my most useless post ever.

Been Laden, With Bullets.

In Global Politics, Media, War on May 3, 2011 at 5:03 am

Sunday night, when President Obama came to the podium, the world learned that America has killed Osama bin Laden. And Americans learned that their tax dollars really work, save the ones that go to aid for Pakistan.

I’ve been reading so much I can barely tell if I have anything original or nuanced to say on the matter, but I think in order to process it all, I have to put some of this down…

The Administration needs to release evidence of bin Laden’s death, and soon: I have zero doubt that Osama bin Laden is dead. However, I am not a conspiracy theorist, or a citizen of a Middle Eastern country with uneasy feelings towards the U.S. When Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed, graphic images of them were released within a few days to show the people of Iraq. Bin Laden is a bigger deal, an almost mythical figure, and if this story is to resonate accurately through the Arabic and Islamic worlds, we need to deliver the goods. This story could also take on even greater meaning when juxtaposed with the movement towards freedom and democracy that is percolating in the Arab world, but not if they perceive some sort of cover-up. So, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and I agree on this one: we need pictures. You can’t expect everyone to take it on faith.

Read the rest of this entry »


In Politics, War on January 6, 2010 at 5:39 am

Bloviate (v.)  \ˈblō-vē-ˌāt\

to speak or write verbosely and windily

Just when you thought it was out… it pulled you back in! What better time for the triumphant return of the Bloviator than a new decade? For previous editions, click here.

I took a bunch of Advanced Placement classes back in high school, but somehow “AP Yemen” was not an option. What can I say, it was a public school.

This left me with a lot of research to do in the aftermath of the botched terror plot on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, when the Nigerian perpetrator, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, claimed training and support from a group in Yemen. He smuggled 80 grams (frightening that’s all he would have needed) of the explosive PETN onto the flight, in his briefs. Or was it boxers? Either way, I hope he singed his bollocks.

If there is any justice in life, it is that he will forever be known as the “Underwear Bomber.”

Like most Americans until now, my knowledge of Yemen had pretty much come from episodes of The Unit. Suffice it to say, I had some catching up to do.

My key takeaway can best be expressed in the form of a pitch to the Yemeni board of tourism: “Yemen: it’s like Afghanistan, with waterfront property.”

What else came out of my crash course on Yemen? Here we go. (Disclaimer: I read a lot. This may get boring.) Read the rest of this entry »

Marching Orders: Live Blogging Obama’s Afghan Speech.

In Media, Politics, War on December 1, 2009 at 9:10 pm

President Obama is giving a much-awaited announcement on his intentions for the conflict in Afghanistan tonight from Eisenhower Hall at West Point. I am following along with commentary:

The Commander-in-Chief Emerges | 8:03 p.m. To a substantial, sustained, but not striking applause, Obama emerged, waving with a staid smile to a sea of gray-uniformed cadets.

Past is Prologue | 8:11 p.m. He’s just finished summarizing the history of Afghanistan’s relationship to 9/11, our deployment in the region, and how the war in Iraq has withheld resources from it, without placing blame, but acknowledging the controversy of that war.

30-Large | 8:15 p.m. The official number leaked earlier has now come out of his mouth: 30,000 troops will head to Afghanistan by this summer, “the fastest possible pace.”

Three Means Justifying Three Ends  | 8:23 p.m. He hasn’t mentioned any metrics for the outcomes in the speech, but he outlined each of his objectives: to deny Al Qaeda a safe haven, reverse the Taliban’s influence, and strengthen security forces and the sovereign government. The intended means to accomplishing these are a military effort, a civilian surge, and an effective partnership with Pakistan.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can’t ‘Stan Ya!

In Media, Politics, War on October 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

Spc. Zachery Boyd, wears pink 'I love NY' boxer shorts in a firefight with Taliban militants after rushing out of bed to join his fellow platoon members - Photo by David Guttenfelder/AP

There are two massive debates going on in this country right now. One is health care insurance reform. I’ve spent a lot more time on it than the other: Afghanistan.

To that point, there was a striking documentary by Richard Engel called Tip of the Spear that aired in relative purgatory last Saturday night on MSNBC. It should have aired on NBC. In prime time on Tuesday night. It’s online and worth watching, at least a segment or two if you’re strapped for time. In addition to the recent feature on Gen. McChrystal on 60 Minutes, it adds useful context to the issue.

It follows a group of soldiers in the Korengal Valley, a 30-square mile area with a mere 150 servicemen. The area has been nicknamed the Valley of Death because of its barely passable topography and deft Taliban presence. It’s much, much harder than Death Valley Rally. Its terrain is worse than the Aggro Crag.

The focus narrows on a remote outpost called Camp Restrepo, an apparent strategic high point in the area, manned by 20 guys. The conditions and supplies (aside from tons of mortars) leave something to be desired, but the guys are hardcore. They average a firefight with Taliban insurgents about 1.5 times a day. This includes the story of the soldier who ran to his post during a firefight in his “I Love NY” boxers.

On one day, Engel follows a troop as he heads out into the hills to a town, to be seen by Taliban. He’s live bait. He’s hoping for an ambush. The plan is to be attacked! This will lure hostiles, so that his American comrades can pop out of hiding and turn the tide. It’s utterly brave. Read the rest of this entry »

An Officer And A Congressman. (1 of 2)

In Politics, War on May 13, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Sestak and Sanchez - 5/5/09

Sans Snuggie, I caught a few other interviews recently.  Nope, not Elizabeth Edwards and Oprah.  Or Sarah Palin lounging with the dudes from American Chopper on a grizzly bear blanket.  Actually, the ones I am thinking of have been with Joe Sestak, another Congressman, of whom I didn’t know anything about beforehand.  And I feel like I should have.  He is rational and slow-to-judge on-air, definitely a fox (in the intellectual sense) in my book.  His background is unique and distinguished: he was a three-star admiral in the Navy, which makes him the highest-ranking military man ever to serve in Congress.  How has that not gotten a bit more press?

Sestak represents Pennsylvania’s 7th district, which gives him dominion over the King of Prussia Mall.  He’s been on TV saying a few smart, possibly popular, possibly unpopular things lately.  Compared to these shenanigans, it’s like the difference between listening to Brian Williams and Lauren Conrad explain current Russian-Georgian relations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Day-trip To Afghanistan.

In War on April 27, 2009 at 4:09 am


This is incredible: it transports you to the frontlines (if that term even applies anymore) and colors in the things we haven’t been hearing or seeing about Afghanistan.  It’s far from being just caves and disorganized hostiles, by any stretch of the imagination.  As one of the soldiers says in the audio track, “It was a pretty complex ambush on their part.”  The troops are inspiring.  The terrain is brutal.  It also happens to be oddly beautiful.