How do you fight a war on terror? Very carefully. The Time’s Square almost bombing has got everyone on the right whining about Miranda rights. Most think that Miranda rights are for big wusses like Eric Holder and that any naturalized citizen named Faisal should be water-boarded first, then shot on sight. Or, at least, that is the way right wing radio is sounding these days. Former Presidential candidate Senantor John McCain weighed in on this along with Glenn Beck. McCain comes off comes off like Dick Cheney. And Glenn Beck sounds disarmingly sane.
Notorious for jumping into the political fray in the wake of attempted or successful terrorist acts, King was quickly joined in the ring by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who called the idea of reading Miranda rights a “serious mistake.”
“There’s probably about 350 different charges he’s guilty of — attempted acts of terror against the United States, attempted murder,” McCain said during an appearance on “Imus in the Morning”. “I’m sure there’s a significant number to warrant the death penalty.”
That both McCain and King would so quickly condemn the idea of reading Miranda rights is a reflection of just how far the Republican Party has moved away from a basic element of law enforcement (used often by, among others, the Bush administration’s Department of Justice). The suspect, after all, is an American citizen. And in an unexpected moment of dissension, the two lawmakers found themselves on the opposite end of the argument from no less a conservative voice than Beck.
“He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens,” the bombastic Fox News host said to the stunned co-hosts of “Fox and Friends”. “If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution.”
The other John McCain would be for this Senate healthcare bill. The one who didn’t have his health benefits provided by the …um…government. The one who isn’t married to a stinking rich heiress. Matt Miller imagines this John McCain from that alternate universe. He probably would also be a Democrat.
Suppose McCain had been voted out of office in 1992 after the Keating Five savings-and-loan scandal sullied his reputation. He was then 56 years old. And suppose that McCain didn’t have his wife’s enormous wealth to insulate him from the exorbitant health premiums a man with his pre-existing conditions would have faced. Or that he couldn’t go back to work and enjoy access to group health coverage at the giant beer distributorship his wife’s family owns (where McCain worked before he first ran for public office). In such circumstances, you can bet McCain would have been grateful for the chance buy into Medicare to protect himself and his family from medical and financial ruin.
If every aging, displaced worker in America had McCain’s incumbency or inherited wealth to fall back on, it’s true—the ability to buy into Medicare would be superfluous. But most Americans aren’t in the Senate or married to an heiress. For most Americans, losing a job (and health coverage) in your late 50s or early 60s spells catastrophe
Obama’s handpicked general, Stan McChrystal, has been lionized by the right wing media as a military genius who can win the Afghanistan war. As troop fatalities rose over the past weekend conservative radio was all henny penny that we need more troops and we need them now (even when at least two of the deaths result from “friendly backfire”––one American helicopter collided into another U.S. helicopter, suggesting there are, perhaps, too many American soldiers in Afghanistan, at least at that particular moment.) So while Obama “dithers,” to quote our former Vice President, let’s consider what General McChrystal is smoking. Scott Ritter sums it up:
McChrystal operates under the illusion that American military power can provide a shield from behind which Afghanistan can remake itself into a viable modern society. He has deluded himself and others into believing that the people of Afghanistan want to be part of such a grand social experiment, and furthermore that they will tolerate the United States being in charge. The reality of Afghan history, culture and society argue otherwise. The Taliban, once a defeated entity in the months following the initial American military incursion into Afghanistan, are resurgent and growing stronger every day. The principle source of the Taliban’s popularity is the resentment of the Afghan people toward the American occupation and the corrupt proxy government of Hamid Karzai. There is nothing an additional 40,000 American troops will be able to do to change that basic equation. The Soviets tried and failed. They deployed 110,000 troops, operating on less restrictive lines of communication and logistical supply than the United States. They built an Afghan army of some 45,000 troops. They operated without the constraints of American rules of engagement. They slaughtered around a million Afghans. And they lost, for the simple reason that the people of Afghanistan did not want them, or their Afghan proxies.
Perhaps we need to listen to our historians, as much as we listen to our generals.
Prosecuting the war on terror has always required a steely resolve, a heart of courage and a complete disregard for history, facts or anything approaching reality. It is a shame that the Nobel Prize committee can’t cough up a Nobel War prize. John McCain and the neo cons would be shoo ins. Frank Rich of the New York Times explains:
Perhaps the most surreal aspect of our great Afghanistan debate is the Beltway credence given to the ravings of the unrepenant blunderers who dug us into this hole in the first place.
Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.
But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.
To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.
What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.
Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site…
…Americans, meanwhile, want to see the fine print after eight years of fiasco with little accounting. While McCain and company remain frozen where they were in 2001, many of their fellow citizens have learned from the Iraq tragedy. Polls persistently find that the country is skeptical about what should and can be accomplished in Afghanistan. They voted for Obama not least because they wanted a new post-9/11 vision of national security, and they will not again be so easily bullied by the blustering hawks’ doomsday scenarios. That gives our deliberating president both the time and the political space to get this long war’s second act right.
Obama is keeping Bob Gates as Secretary of Defense. There you go, Senator McCain. I think Barack is finally admitting that the surge is working.
Hold everything. It was touch and go, but the ballots were finally all counted today and Missouri goes for McCain. And as you know, no President has been elected in like 100 years without carrying Missouri. So, sorry Barack, but those are the rules. McCain’s the guy. And you thought the electoral college was crazy.
Sarah Palin’s unnamed critic comes out of the closet. He is McCain campaign’s foreign policy advisor, Martin Eisenstadt. He shares more dirt on the shortcomings of the former GOP Veep candidate:
As you know, I was one of the foreign policy advisers on the McCain campaign who worked with Randy Scheunemann to help prep Sarah on her debate with Joe Biden. Did we outright give her a geography quiz when we started the prep? No, of course not. But yes, in the context of the prep, it slowly became apparent that her grasp of basic geo-political knowledge had major gaps. Could she have passed a multiple choice test about South Africa or NAFTA. Probably. But it was clear that she simply didn’t have the ease of knowledge that we come to expect from a major party political candidate. Other slights came up, too: Not knowing the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas. Or the difference between the Shiites and Suni. Or when it came to international terrorist organizations, knowing that the IRA was in Northern Ireland, and ETA in Spain.
Running the numbers on the election, it appears that evangelicals supported the McCain-Palin ticket in greater numbers than they did Bush-Cheney four years ago. Considering that McCain started the primary season with little support among Religious Right honchos like James Dobson and Pat Robertson, this was quite a feat. Considering he lost the election, this was no great accomplishment. The GOP tent is shrinking. Look at Proposition 8. It passed in the blue state that handed Obama the victory. That didn’t happen without those who voted for Obama also voting against gay marriage. This year, conservative values and voting for Obama was not mutually exclusive. The GOP has there work cut out for them.
With Sarah Palin safely back in Alaska and John McCain soundly defeated, even FOX News is talking about what a first-rate diva and second-rate dunce the Governor of Alaska turned out to be.
Same track. Different trainwreck.
It is time to say goodnight to John McCain, a Republican who once spoke out against torture, but wound up voting against the one bill that would end it. Say goodnight to a man who once reached out to immigrants, then turned his back and lost their vote. Goodnight to a man who used to reach across the aisle to do the right thing, but wound up reaching out to his party’s base to compromise his values. Goodnight to a man who used to speak truth to power, and today speaks lies to the feeble-minded. Goodnight to a man who as a soldier idealistically put his country first, and three months ago cynically sold his country out. Say goodnight to a man who once was a maverick, who is now simply erratic. Say goodnight to Senator John McCain. The man who lost more than an election––he lost his way.
Peggy Noonan reminds a divided electorate that God––not the Religious Right or the Liberal Wrong––is in charge of history. She then thanks the Almighty for that which we are about to receive:
The case for Barack Obama, in broad strokes:
He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.
A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd “I have no comment,” or “We shouldn’t judge.” Instead he said, “My mother had me when she was 18,” which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn’t have to.
There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton’s 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen “Obama Wins” and “Alabama.” She said, “Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school.” She said, “That’s where they used the hoses.” Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory.
This means nothing? This means a great deal.
Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, has recently extended the hours for early voting. That was the message that my local Obama phone bank had us sharing with Florida voters. Meanwhile, as I passed this along to three pages of Floridians, they were also getting a robocall from McCain supporters posing as a state goverment official. The Republican phone call advised Floridians that could now vote by phone. Of course, they can’t. It’s just another brilliant way to supress the Democratic vote in this swing state. They’ve got a million of them.
Maybe its having a last name that rhymes with Osama or a middle name that rhymes with Hussein (not to mention that it is even spelled the same way, and uh, well, pronounced identically). Maybe it is the fact that older Jewish voters are liberal up to the point of having a shwatza in the White House. But anyway, the latest poll looks as though Obama will carry the Jewish vote. And apparently, Caribou Barbie had just a little something to do with that.