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Happy Hour Roundup

* Russ Feingold keeps fighting the good fight: He doesn't let Obama's choice of David Petraeus stop him from issuing a statement reiterating "strong concerns about our misguided policy in Afghanisan" and the need for "a timetable to end this war."

* But Obama's choice of Petraeus has got the awesome tripartisan gang of three in the Senate really, really psyched.

* Ben Smith points out that the Petraeus pick will cheer hawks, because he'll be a politically unimpeachable advocate for loosening withdrawal deadlines, should it come to that.

* Interesting: Peter Galbraith, the former number two U.N. official in Afghanistan, says Obama still has his work cut out for him in genuinely reasserting civilian control.

* Eric Cantor releases a statement praising Petraeus, but also noting that Stanley McChrystal's departure leaves lingering questions about whether he had reasons for stepping outside the chain of command.

* Michael Crowley notes, rightly I think, that the swift sacking of McChrystal will "quiet critics who have been mocking him for an allegedly timid approach to the BP oil spill in recent weeks."

* Sam Stein makes the key point hiding in plain sight: "McChrystal survived Tillman cover-up and detainee abuse, but not Rolling Stone's profile."

* No matter how many times Joe Barton apologizes for his BP apology, the bottom line is he's already become a hero on the right, and nothing will undo that.

* But as Ben Armbruster notes, the Dem firm of Public Policy Polling finds that only 18 percent of Barton's fellow Texans agree with the apology to BP.

* One of the few things that can secure overwhelming bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate is a letter strongly defending Israel's flotilla raid.

* Glenn Beck's highly elaborate theories get an airing on the House floor.

* The DISCLOSE act is coming up for a House vote tomorrow, and while it's not perfect, it may be the best thing Dems can get this year.

* And if we're investing in infrastructure projects, can concentration camps be far behind?

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  June 23, 2010; 5:48 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security , Happy Hour Roundup , House Dems , House GOPers , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Comments

Obama's choice of Petraeus a 'masterstroke'

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/23/zakaria.mcchrystal.petraeus/index.html

Definitely worth a read...

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Had jury duty today, so missed all this news. Getting it all in one fell swoop was pretty amazing.

Surprised at the sacking of McChrystal and amazed at the political savvy of the Petraeus move. I mentioned his name here yesterday (had anyone heard from his?) because I was tempted to suggest he might move into the COIN role in AfPak. I did really think it was possible but here we are.

I'm waiting now for the endgame to emerge on our strategy there, and for a defined mission. Maybe now we'll get it? Or entrenchment as Petraeus tries to get it "right."

Obama's decisiveness here, from a purely political standpoint, is impressive. He needed to do this.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 23, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"Michael Crowley notes, rightly I think, that the swift sacking of McChrystal will "quiet critics who have been mocking him for an allegedly timid approach to the BP oil spill in recent weeks."

Yeah, timid, till he became Super Thug. :o)

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 23, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

"that Stanley McChrystal's departure leaves lingering questions about whether he had reasons for stepping outside the chain of command"

I thought the only time you could step out of the chain of command is when asked to do something immoral or unethical? Can you not step out of the chain of command anytime you disagree with your commander? Is that what Cantor in implying?

Posted by: soapm | June 23, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

"Yeah, timid, till he became Super Thug. :o)"

Like one lady interviews locally said, "I don't know why I don't like him, I just don't like him."

Posted by: soapm | June 23, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Military leaders do not step out of the chain of command. They RESIGN.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 23, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Whoa - Hastings on Al Jazeera (English):

"Hastings was asked if McChrystal had perhaps gotten the whole strategy wrong, but Hastings explained it was the President that didn't know what he was really getting into.

"I think that ship had sailed last year," Hastings said. "I think once the decision was made to do a counterinsurgency strategy, they had a pretty clear idea in mind what they wanted to do and I think this is quite interesting. I think this is one of the issues Obama didn't really understand what counter-insurgency meant and when the military said they wanted to do a counterinsurgency strategy that that actually meant 150,000 troops. Obama thought he could get away with just sending 21,000 over and getting a new general."

"...I think it's clear that [Defense Secretary Robert]Gates and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike] Mullen are big counterinsurgency fans and they sold Obama on the idea," Hastings explained. "I don't think Obama really put too much thought into it to be honest. I think it was a campaign promise that he thought he dealt with by just sending 21,000 troops and not really thinking about what that really meant. And that was clear even last August when, you know, Bob Woodward released that report of McChrystal's strategy - you know that the Obama administration was like, ‘Whoa, what does this mean?' And you know, I think anyone who knows anything about COIN - that's what they call counterinsurgency, knows that it takes a heck of a lot of guys, a heck of a lot of money and a heck of a long time."

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeff-poor/2010/06/23/rolling-stone-runaway-general-reporter-aloof-obama-didn-t-really-understa#ixzz0riU37dm1

Posted by: sbj3 | June 23, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, you sparked an interest in me awhile ago with your questions re Marcellus Shale, and here's a new HBO documentary titled "Gasland" covering the subject of frakking. Thought you might be interested.

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/06/22/gasland-the-battle-over-energy-extraction-moves-inland-from-t/

Posted by: lmsinca | June 23, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Here's the thing that I think the Senate Gang of Three Muskateers might be missing in the Patraeus pick. Patraeus was in on the planning of the AfPak COIN, and knows Obama's plan to exit next July. Obama said today that there is no change in strategy, and Patraeus already knows about McChrystal's sad attempts to box the CiC into other expansions. Patraeus, being the guy with so much credibility, may end up telling McCain and Co. that we did the best we could in Afghanistan and it's time to go home....and they would be daft to try to counter him, wouldn't they?

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 23, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Cantor: "Are our troops in the field restricted or being held back in some way?"

In a way, yes. A NYT article today outlined the difficulties the troops on the ground are having in maintaining their orders to protect civilians.

Here is the article:

General Faces Unease Among His Own Troops, Too

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/world/asia/23troops.html

It seems the main problem is that there are orders that ordnance and air support must know for sure that the targets are insurgents and not civilians. Obviously this can be difficult to assuage in a conflict situation.

My thoughts are that while I agree in the strategy of protecting innocent Afghan civilians, we do need to allow our forces to protect themselves.

Also, the very premise of the COIN strategy, in combination with the strategy to minimize collateral damage, is to maintain relations with the NATO support forces, local governments, ambassadors, and other personnel, allowing political will for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. This is outlined nicely in the Zakaria discussion I linked above.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/23/zakaria.mcchrystal.petraeus/index.html

While, imho, that STRATEGY is wise, it seems as though McChrystal has been unsuccessful in implementing the strategy. So, as I said earlier in the day, I am very interested in seeing if Gen. Petraeus has more success in implementing the COIN strategy in Afghanistan, so we can shift, over time, from combat to political resolution.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Cantor is one of the few of thr GOP idiots willing to go on TV other than just FoxNooz so I hope the ppl interviewing him on other networks make him quantify that statement. First off i bet he never even read the article. Second, if he did he would have seen that whie there was a bunch of childish sniping and name calling there wasnt any going out of the chain of command becuz our strategy in Afghanistan is largely McChrystals plan. And finally the major beef in the story has to do with resources, something that should blow up right in Cantors face since he and his cohorts voted against war funding twice last year.

Of course i know this is wishful thinking but a guy can dream right?

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 23, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Cantor is one of the few of thr GOP idiots willing to go on TV other than just FoxNooz so I hope the ppl interviewing him on other networks make him quantify that statement. First off i bet he never even read the article. Second, if he did he would have seen that whie there was a bunch of childish sniping and name calling there wasnt any going out of the chain of command becuz our strategy in Afghanistan is largely McChrystals plan. And finally the major beef in the story has to do with resources, something that should blow up right in Cantors face since he and his cohorts voted against war funding twice last year.

Of course i know this is wishful thinking but a guy can dream right?

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 23, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

sbj, first Hastings only has one side of the story: McChrystal's. So he can't adequately analyze what Obama may or may not have understood. He can only report the impressions he's been given by people around McChrystal.

Secondly, Obama has committed far more than an additional 21k troops. He has tripled the troops and got new commitments from allies.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 23, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

According to Wingnut logic, Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are Nazis.

http://progressiveblue.com/diary/5372/flashback-08-gop-candidates-on-importance-of-infrastructure

Posted by: michael_conrad | June 23, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks lmsinca. Hydrofraccing scares the bejeesus outta me. It is the "Mountain Top Removal" of gas production. I'm even a little shocked to see how "popular" it is in the mountain west states since it requires a ton of water, and those areas are already competing for scant water resources. But I'm glad to see the issue start to get more play in the media, and I'll definitely try to see this documentary. Great tip, thanks!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Scott and Ethan, should you see this, I left a reply back on the morning thread.

sbj, you might want to look too. We don't agree on everything, but keep up the good fight.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 23, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

@qb: Sorry to see you go. What a horrible world it would be if we all agreed on everything, eh?

Posted by: sbj3 | June 23, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

"Eric Cantor [raises] questions about whether he [McC] had reasons for stepping outside the chain of command."

Of course; he had plenty of reasons.

How many? Just count the number of empty Bud Light Lime bottles.

Posted by: jzap | June 23, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Prime Minister David Cameron says a British general is temporarily taking charge of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan following the ouster of American Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

President Barack Obama accepted McChrystal's resignation Wednesday and nominated Gen. David Petraeus to replace him.

The prime minister said the British deputy commander of ISAF, Lt. Gen. Nick Parker, has assumed command "pending Gen. Petraeus's confirmation by Congress."

In a statement, the prime minister's office said Cameron had spoken to Parker on Wednesday and the general had told him that the mission in Afghanistan "would not miss a beat" during this period.


http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/news/2010/06/uk_says_brit_general_taking_charge_in_kabul.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 23, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

I think it fair to say that Joe Barton will forever be a misconstrued misconstruction of miscalculated proportion, and, a Texas Repulsivan (the "oil spill" of Congress).

Posted by: hoser3 | June 23, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

QB, I read your comment and wish you luck as well. I am neither happy nor sad to see you go.

In your comment on the morning thread you say, "Liberals are not more concerned with the poor and less fortunate than conservatives." If that is the case, you and subscribers of your ideology have a dreadfully poor way of communicating it. For example, I don't understand how empirical evidence of conservatives being more generous with financial donations to charity than liberals proves that you care more, particularly when the vast majority of Right Wing policies favor corporations and not individuals. We never EVER hear any ideas about how to help the poor, we never hear any constructive feedback on how to help the poor, we never hear support for laws and programs which help the poor. We never even hear the slightest bit of EMPATHY about the plight of the poor or even for the middle class.

It is striking that you would suggest that conservatives care as much or more than liberals about the poor given the policies and politics you promote.

Nevertheless, I don't expect you to make a genuine argument in this respect considering the vast number of posts in which you had the opportunity to show these feelings of empathy for the poor. Never once have you made that empathy known, and as I said, that is a poor way of communicating something that we are just finding out now that you've apparently believed this whole time.

That said, I wish you luck in your quest to help the poor by not talking about it and not supporting social programs. It's a bizarre philosophy if you ask me, but if you truly believe in helping those less fortunate, I wish you God speed.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 23, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, scott and qb both would be more than willing to help those less fortunate as long as it didn't actually cost them anything. They don't believe in a community effort to do it, but would prefer to leave it up to charity. Neither of them believe they should be taxed to contribute to the greater good or invest in a better future for the working poor or middle class. They lack the vision to understand how that benefits all of us.

I won't miss either one of them, although I wish them both well. They consistently argued the same points day after day, taking from A to give to B and their interpretation of the rule of law. Greg might miss the exchanges though and the war of words was entertaining at times.

sbj and tao will have to make sure we don't become another echo chamber now. And we do get a few interesting stragglers here occasionally.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 23, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Co-sign Ethan and lms's comments.

I'll even miss Bilgey (yeah, I know). I like the irascible types and his discourse never bothered me.

I wish he had shared more about his professional expertise. We could have used the insight.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 23, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

This was cross posted at The Nation. Krugman, Dean Baker, Simon Johnson and a few other economists are becoming alarmed. I've been following all this since the deficit commission came up. We are going to be running out of stimulus projects pretty soon, housing just took a big hit because first time buyer tax breaks are expiring, foreclosures are going up, etc. etc. We haven't spent enough money to stimulate growth and jobs. It's difficult to make the case for more short term spending while everyone's focused on the long term deficit, but we need to keep pushing for jobs and infrastructure bills. This will kill us in November if things don't improve. I've heard a few things from Obama in the last couple of weeks that lead me to believe he's worried now as well.

"Obama’s governing problem is that he tries to have it both ways. His presidency started with stimulus spending, but far short of what even some of his own economists said would be needed. Then the president swiftly took up the other side of the argument and joined the chorus of deficit hawks, bemoaning the red ink and promising to do something about it (like maybe by cutting Social Security?).

Obama, instead of making the case for continuing stimulus with clarity and conviction, sends cloudy mixed signals. The White House makes cozy with Blue Dog Democrats and right-wing Republicans. The president refused to give strong instructions to Congress and, not surprisingly, nervous members of Congress took this as permission for them to duck too. The net effect will be emasculated stimulus legislation, too trivial to do much of anything for the economy."

http://www.alternet.org/economy/147290/obama%27s_approach_to_jobs_is_out_of_touch_with_reality/?page=1

Posted by: lmsinca | June 23, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

E2010,

"...the vast majority of Right Wing policies favor corporations and not individuals."

Community as engendered and organized via artificial, enervated (and by definition, coerced) "policy" always creates opposition between free individuals.

Incomprehensible and counter-intuitive to the empathy-via-govt camp but true nonetheless since, uh, forever.

BTW: Have you noticed recently what side of the aisle the bulk of corporate lobbying $$$ have been flowing? Particularly petro and financial $$$.
Shocking, no?


Posted by: tao9 | June 24, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

For the record from this conservative:

President Obama hit one out of the park on the McC / Petraeus trade.

(Also, apparently there are players to be named later, an undisclosed amount of cash and a lefty phenom from Pawtucket.)

GoSox!

Posted by: tao9 | June 24, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Sam Stein's piece seems to be instigated by that greem monster of jealousy. RS did the job, Sam and you didn't or couldn't. And their titillation beats anyday HuffPo's.

Posted by: amkeew | June 24, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the link, ims.

Not a big fan of the Administration's approach either. Senate conservaDems (including Jon Tester, who is usually decent on Main Street issues... and a Senator I generally like), and their horrible misreading of the politics of jobs vs. deficit are a major roadblock. Some House Blue Dogs have been just as bad.

But I do think POTUS could have done more to make the case -- put the budget deficit in context... in the short - term, not anywhere near the issue our jobs and investment deficits are. This would have been a significant step away from neoliberal mania, and not without a freakout from the usual suspects, but the situation we're in calls for it. The right would blast him, but they're going to do that regardless, and with the same intensity. Might as well pursue strong policy.

This is a Democratic Party - wide shortcoming It's very frustrating to watch, because the consequence are so serious.

Posted by: michael_conrad | June 24, 2010 2:26 AM | Report abuse

The McChrystal flap reminds us of the dangers of having an overwhelmingly Republican officer corps. These events fit in with the longstanding Republican effort to delegitimize our President.

Posted by: rhallnj | June 24, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

@tao - You call a good game.

I was tied up yesterday, so the events unfolded without my assistance. Yglesias notes that Kristol suggested a Petraeus appointment and Matt is waiting to see what Kristol might say now. Me too.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 24, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Re the loss of our three prior posters... Bilge is unique and though I had affinity for the fellow too, the loss of one will result in the gain of many. Re QB and Scott, it's unfortunate but matches the tenor of the times.

Greg notes that Barton is now a hero on the right (not institutionally but as regards the rabble rousers and the rabble they've roused). Likewise "You Lie" Wilson. Likewise, of course, Beck, Levine and many other such. Conservatism in the US has moved very far to the right.

It is impossible now to imagine a Dem president - any Dem president - who will not be broadly conceived as necessarily linked to Satan, Marx, Hitler etc and who has the destruction of America as goal. The removal of such a President becomes morally mandatory even by citizens/patriots in armed revolution (Angle et al).

So, of course, Barton becomes a heroic figure who (as a poster here this week said) "tells truth to power".

How mad and destructive can this get? Yigal Amir, the extremist rightwing Orthodox Israeli who assassinated Rabin is, in a significant corner of Israeli life, a hero.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 24, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

All, morning roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/the_morning_plum_37.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 24, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

@Greg - Thanks for the Galbraith link.

As others, including Obama, have pointed out, representative democracies place civilians in control of the military. It is one of the simplest ideas of our system of government and social arrangement.

But there are several factors which work to devalue and confuse this simple idea. One: the tendency to portray military people - leaders particularly - in a heroic light (they are not allowed to be castigated and satirized in the manner of political figures). Two: the economics of the military/industrial complex make it an immensely powerful political entity.

Just do a simple thought experiment. Consider Boeing, Northrup, Halliburton and all the many other companies whose profits arise to some significant degree from war. Think of the millions (billions, surely) they put to lobbying and marketing in any single year. Now imagine if they put all that lobbying and marketing expertise and money to the task of promoting America's school system. Classroom teacher as hero.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 24, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Here's a particularly nasty interview with Tucker Carlson. Keep in mind this guy's pedigree (Swanson Foods). Watch the entire interview if you can, it will remind you why we bother to vote.

Carlson: "There certainly is a feeling that things are really off track, more off track than any time in my conscious lifetime anyway, and debt is clearly the problem. I mean in two years the national debt will be 100% of GDP and that's unsustainable... that's not a real country, that's not sustainable, you can't have that. That's third world and so clearly there are going to have to be radical adjustments.

There aren't enough rich people in this country to pay down the debt to the extent is needs to be paid down. So we're going to have to turn back, it seems to me our expenditures and that means cutting entitlements; Social Security and particularly Medicare, that will need to be dealt with."

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/node/37922

Posted by: lmsinca | June 24, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Nice article on Louisiana's "relationship" with Big Oil. Low property taxes and a high school diploma can get you 70K for 6 months work. SOLD!

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128064058

Posted by: wbgonne | June 24, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

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