The Military

What the scandal reveals

Let's hope the scandal Gen. Stanley McCrystal created helped President Obama realize just how divided and dysfunctional his national-security team appears to be when it comes to our longest-ever war in Afghanistan. The choice of Gen. David Petraeus was meant to calm and unify the ranks and the remaining team members who must maintain continuity and focus on the mission. But a new general also raises new questions about the largest question mark hanging over Obama's Afghan policy — are we really drawing down next year?

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McChrystal, Geraldo and me: Full disclosure

Don't you just love all the writers, like me, who find it necessary to add a "full disclosure,” which is supposed to provide absolute honesty about a potential conflict of interest?

Of course, a really FULL disclosure would go something like this: "Full disclosure: This reporter is advocating this point of view because it will make him a ton of money.” Or “because he is being blackmailed into saying it by someone who has pictures of him with a hooker.” Or my personal favorite: "Full disclosure: I have no earthly idea what I'm talking about."

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Unraveling …

Shifting leadership is an effect rather than a cause of disintegrating policy, and the shift from Gen. Stanley McChrystal to David Petraeus — back to Petraeus — seems OK in that it brings a familiar face and the appearance of stabilization to an Afghanistan war policy on CTD status. (Not yet dead, but Circling the Drain.)

Let’s hope he’s not a fainter. But things are getting bad now in the Gulf. A liberal blog reports that there’s “been a viral message spreading over the web that there's a life and earth threatening methane bubble in the gulf, caused by the gushing well, which will explode and even cause an earthquake and a real volcano, in some versions of the story. Some accuse Obama of hiding nefarious goings on.”

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Afghanistan: Send in the clowns

The generals have been having a wild time of it lately. It was just a little over a week ago that Gen. David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, physically passed out right there for the world to see as he testified before a congressional committee. Now it's Gen. Stanley McChrystal's turn to collapse — or least for his career to. Petraeus apparently had not had enough liquids. McChrystal was done in because he and his aides spouted off in front of a reporter.

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The McChrystal BFD

Among the first things we need to determine is whether Vice President "Bite Me" considers this a "big f--king deal.”

"Bite Me" is the name an aide to Afghanistan military commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal gave to Mr. Biden, if we are to believe a new piece in Rolling Stone by freelance reporter Michael Hastings. Hastings was apparently given close access to McChrystal and his crew, and it is certainly a big f--king deal for them.

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The general disconnect

A.B. Stoddard gets the opinion of Democratic and Republican strategists Chris Kofinis and John Feehery on Gen. Stanley McChrystal's comments about the administration's Afghanistan strategy that will be revealed in an upcoming Rolling Stone article. 

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For veterans' families: A cookie monster and a guy in a furry blue suit

EPP_9605OK, it's Sesame Workshop helping military families:

For over 40 years Sesame Workshop has been dedicated to the founding principle to help all children have a chance to learn, grow and fulfill their greatest potential, and its work with military families reflects continued efforts to address the unique needs of children in the 21st century. Since its launch in 2006, this program has helped hundreds of thousands of families cope with parents’ deployments and combat-related injuries, build resiliency in times of separation and change, and most recently, help children cope with the death of a parent or loved one.

Through extraordinary public and private partnerships, Sesame Workshop has provided much-needed support to military families through the distribution of 2 million outreach kits, Sesame Street performances at military bases around the world, two award-winning television specials, and a social media site to help military families with young children stay connected.  On the evening of June 2nd, 2010, Sesame Workshop honored the courageous families that are served by these programs at its Annual Gala.

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How war is remembered ...

Note to a friend on 2012:

Marty: We are at the moment in a political trough; the benign phase of the “electricity” in the political cycle. This is an organic counterflow to the fierce peak that came about by years of war under Bush and Cheney. That was a vastly difficult transition — from peaceful pursuits to strenuous warfare virtually overnight after 9/11. When Wes Clark ran for president in 2004, he said to a small group of us here in New Hampshire: “Bush’s war is not America’s war, but in five years it will be.” By 2012 it will be.

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Memorial Day reflection

By far the most respected institution in America today is the military. Polls show that people trust the military more than the Congress, the president, major corporations, the church, Hollywood, the postal service and just about anything else you can think of.

Our troops are currently fighting two big wars (one in Afghanistan, the other in Iraq) and a bunch of smaller conflicts around the globe. The president recently deployed 1,500 National Guardsmen to the Southwestern border to help fight illegal immigration, over the objections of Republicans, who wanted to triple the number. Some want the military to help fight the battle against the Gulf Oil spill. Others want to call out the troops to help secure inner cities racked by violence (more specifically, Chicago).

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Senators screw American troops for Memorial Day

I stand with groups representing heroic troops, patriotic veterans and America's military families and oppose exempting auto dealers from the consumer-protection provisions of the financial bill.

This is a new low, even by the low standards of what money can buy in Washington. On Monday the United States Senate voted to exempt auto dealers from the consumer protection provision of the bill. As supporters of our troops, military families and veterans know well, there have been cases of auto dealers ripping off military families and active-duty troops.

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