Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Five-Star Effort

The push is on among Washington's war hawks to give Gen. Petraeus a fifth star on his epaulets, the first time that would be done since Gen. Omar Bradley in 1950.

"The U.S. war against terrorism is now the longest war in U.S. history, and Gen. Petraeus has clearly distinguished himself as a leader worthy of the rank held by Gens. MacArthur, Marshall and Nimitz," Pete Hegseth and Wade Zirkle, of the group Vets for Freedom, wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Hegseth served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and is bound for Afghanistan. Zirkle, a Marine, deployed twice to Iraq.

They make the case that Petraeus deserves the higher rank and that others will benefit if he gets it.
"A promotion would properly honor his service -- and it would also honor the troops he leads and has led," they write. "Today's soldiers have fought as valiantly as any in American history, and they deserve recognition of their leaders. Congressional approval of a fifth star would demonstrate the nation's commitment to their mission."

Hegseth aid Thursday that the response to their suggestion has been overwhelmingly positive. He laughed off a question about whether he had heard from Petraeus himself, saying he didn't expect to.

"We're just hoping to gain some traction," Hegseth said. He said congressmen already have volunteered to push the promotion forward, although he said he could not provide names.

A spokesman for Petraeus would not discuss the idea with CNN.

I'm kind of torn over this.  On one hand, Hegseth is right:  this is the longest war America has ever fought and Petraeus has served his country ably.  On the other hand...this is the longest war America has ever fought, and it needs to end.  I don't see how a fifth star for Petraeus is going to help bring our troops home.

We're going on ten years in Afghanistan this November.  An entire decade spent at war, halfway around the globe, with no clear winnable objective and no real hope of it ending, other than nebulous promises of coming home in 2014 that may or may not be kept or may be abandoned completely should a Republican end up in the White House in 2012.

Enough blood and treasure has been expended on Afghanistan.  It's time to bring everyone home.  We have enough problems here, for God's sakes.

Price Of Admission

Ramesh Pannuru's op-ed in the NY Times is quite odd:  if anything it's a tacit admission that Republicans aren't going to every try to govern because they can't.  The party of "personal responsibility" shouldn't even try to mess with Social Security or Medicare, because they'll only pay for it in 2012.  Why not just do nothing and blame Obama instead?  This isnt hyperbole, folks...this is his actual admonition to Republicans in the column.

Reforming these programs is vital to our nation’s long-term fiscal health — which is why Republicans should resist this advice and leave the issue alone. Reform is impossible this year or next unless President Obama takes the lead on it. What’s more, Republicans have no mandate for reform, and a failed attempt will only set back the cause

Wait a minute.  I thought the story of the entire 2010 election was "the Tea Party has a mandate for change and reform now!"  That's certainly what candidate after candidate promised on the campaign trail.  Gosh, you mean it was all a cynical ploy to gain power just to lock up the machinery of government and blame the Democrats in order to win in 2012?

Steve M. calls him out cold.

In other words: Yeah, we said over and over and over again in the last two years that we're going to be the bestest fiscal stewards in this country ever, the hawkiest of deficit hawks; we're going to take on the tough challenges, and we hate big government ... but, er, um, if we actually do try to alter entitlement programs in a way that follows logically from our own incessant rhetoric, well, voters will be mean to us! And for us, that will really, really suck!

Unless, as Ponnuru says, President Obama sticks his neck out first -- and if he doesn't, well, then inaction is all his fault. Republicans are completely, totally blameless!

Wow.  Ponnuru is basically copping to the entire GOP Plan:  do nothing, watch the country burn, blame Obama.  He continues:

They should begin by freezing or cutting government payrolls, including in the legislative branch — something Republicans have already started doing. Message: the federal government is not just imposing sacrifices but sharing them. Then they should get control of the discretionary, or non-entitlement, portions of the budget, which are small only in comparison with entitlements. Only after winning those fights, and probably electing a new president, should the old-age entitlements be up for reform

And after completely admitting the Secret GOP Plan for 2011, he completely gives the plan away for 2012 and 2013 too:  dupe the American public into voting in a Republican President so they can completely gut Social Security and Medicare.  Vote Republican, we're going to screw everybody under 55!

Dude's freely admitting this in the NY Times editorial section.

Hey Democrats, are you paying attention here?  You might want to point out this column on Sunday, just saying.

The Cost Of Rounding Them Up

Good thing we elected fiscal conservatives here in the Bluegrass State, huh?

The state Senate Republicans' immigration bill would cost Kentucky a net $40 million a year in court, prison and foster-care costs, according to a fiscal-impact statement issued Thursday by legislative staff.

Senate Bill 6 would make it a state crime for an illegal immigrant to set foot in Kentucky, and it would authorize police to approach people and ask about their immigration status. The Senate voted 24-14 last week to pass the bill without knowing its cost.

I've talked about Senate Bill 6 before, it's flatly unconstitutional and would force Kentucky law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter while on duty.   It not only contains all the blatantly illegal parts of Arizona's bill (the parts that were promptly struck down) but several new, even worse provisions...all for dealing with an estimated one percent of the population.

"It does look like serious money," Sen. John Schickel, the bill's sponsor, said Thursday.

"But these are estimates, and quite frankly, I don't agree with these estimates," said Schickel, R-Union. "For one thing, this assumes that law enforcement is going to enforce it to the maximum everywhere, and the bill leaves it open to each jurisdiction's individual discretion."

Also, Schickel said, as Kentucky gets a reputation for being less friendly to illegal immigrants, fewer of them will come here, and the full costs of the bill won't need to be repeated every year.

The bill is now in the hands of the House, where Democratic majority leaders have expressed skepticism about its future. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, declined to comment Thursday.

Got news for you guys, it's not just fewer undocumented people who will come here, but Latino-American citizens, businesses, corporations, events, and conventions as well.  Again, $40 million a year to deal with 40,000 people seems kind of a bad deal for taxpayers (on top of the whole unconstitutional thing).

And that's far from the only economic impact:

If all illegal immigrants were removed, the state would lose $1.7 billion in economic activity, $756.8 million in gross state product and 12,059 jobs, according to the non-profit Immigration Policy Center. In a statement accompanying its report, the center opposed SB6 and an earlier, similar Arizona measure now tied up in the federal appellate courts.

"As Kentucky faces a $780 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2011, state legislators are currently pursuing a costly and short-sighted 'papers please' law," the center said in its statement. "Senate Bill 6 is a copycat of Arizona's SB1070. ... Kentucky should consider the following evidence before continuing to pursue this kind of immigration legislation." 

While we're at it, the state should stop giving away tens of millions in tax breaks to creationist theme parks, too.   We can't afford either right now...certainly not tens of millions for institutionalized bigotry.


Michelle Obama wrote a touching letter in which she asks that parents teach their children tolerance.

"We can teach them the value of tolerance - the practice of assuming the best, rather than the worst, about those around us. We can teach them to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree. "

It's time that we stop discriminating against the LGBT community.  We are all protected by the same Constitution, and we are all (supposed to be) equal in the eyes of the law.  This minority has seen discrimination and hate crimes galore, and our leaders can't say much when they have voted to restrict their ability to serve in the military, to be recognized legally as a couple, and to be the people they want to be.  They are often treated as partial citizens, not receiving recognition and in some cases, under attack by legislation.

I am not saying Michelle Obama was wrong.  She is absolutely correct.  Let's start teaching our kids about tolerance, and acceptable ways to be heard.  It is human nature to claw at another group of people when times are tough.  I hope we continue to see tolerance grow, and applied in the one direction it does not seem to be spreading, towards our LGBT community.

StupidiNews! The Good, The Bad, The Stupid

The Good:

The youngest victim of the recent Arizona shooting, Christina Green, donated her organs in a final act of generosity.  Her father announced that a  child in Boston has already been saved due to this heroic deed.  Green's story is touching, but not only did a good thing come of this sadness, it calls attention to a very important decision we can make that will save lives. It's important to acknowledge the good, even if it comes so quickly after a tragic note.

The Bad:

A man in Novi, Michigan has killed his wife and two sons, and then himself.  I honestly don't intend to bring these up every time (in fact, for each time I mention something like this, I pass on several).  But I cannot ignore the scream of people reaching the breaking point.  This is why I say we have a social obligation to help our friends and neighbors to the best of our ability.  Right now, the details aren't known about why Mark Schons did this, but more and more people are drowning in stress and doing things that they would normally have never dreamed of.  Be good to the people around you.  You may never know how much your kindness means.

The Stupid:

A Colorado woman's 13-month-old son drowned while she played games on Facebook.  She claimed she left him alone because he was independent and she didn't want him to become a "momma's boy."  The mother's response was to say this was "so stupid."  These mistakes are actually more common than we may think, anyone who has raised kids has, intentionally or not, set them up for a roll of the dice.  These sad stories serve as wake-up calls to the rest of us.  Just a few minutes or a single choice can change the rest of your life.  Don't ever forget it.

Orange Julius With Some Sour Grapes

House Speaker John Boehner really seems to enjoy telling the President to go jump in a lake as of late.

This week, House Speaker John Boehner raised eyebrows by turning down an offer to ride on Air Force One with President Obama and others headed to a memorial service in Tucson. Instead, he appeared at a reception for Republican operative Maria Cino. Now, on the heels of renewed calls for bipartisanship and toned-down political rhetoric, Boehner is saying “thanks, but no thanks” to another offer to appear at an event with the president – Wednesday’s White House state dinner.

The dinner, honoring the Chinese President Hu Jintao, will pull together leaders on both sides of the aisle, along with celebs, CEOs, Cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and media bigwigs.

A Boehner aide confirmed that the House speaker was invited to the dinner but will not be attending. Boehner also turned down invitations to the previous two state dinners held during Obama’s presidency, one honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009, and the most recent state dinner honoring Mexican President Felipe Calderon in May 2010, the aide said.

So it's not like Obama wasn't reaching out to the Republican leadership before Boehner was speaker, either.  He's gotten three White House state dinner invites with three major trading and security partners now and all three times he's preferred to go cook S'mores and read comic books up in his private treehouse with the "No Democrats Allowed" sign on it or whatever.

It's almost like Boehner isn't interested in making nice with Democrats and working with the President as Speaker.

Imagine that.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Related Posts with Thumbnails