Government, we are sometimes told, is just another word for things we choose to do together.
Like a lot of things politicians say, this sounds good. And, also like a lot of things politicians say, it isn’t the least bit true.
Many of the things government does, we don’t choose. Many of the things we choose, government doesn’t do. And whatever gets done, we’re not the ones doing it. And those who are doing it often interpret their mandates selfishly.
Take, for example, the Veterans Administration. The American people — most of us, anyway — did “choose” to provide first-class medical care for our veterans. But we didn’t do it. We set up the Veterans Administration to do it. And the Veterans Administration — or, more accurately, some of the people who work for and run the Veterans Administration — had a stronger interest in other things. Things like fat bonuses, and low workloads in comfy offices.
Thus we find that, even though veterans were dying, and books were being cooked, every single VA senior executive received an evaluation of “fully successful” or better over a 4-year period. That’s right. Every single one. Over four years. At least 65% of them received bonuses (“performance awards”). All while veterans around the country were suffering and dying because of delayed care. The executives got these bonuses, in part, because they cooked the books, because the bonuses were more important to them than the veterans’ care.
Taranto on Obama’s competence:
Obama was eager to free the quintet despite (let’s be kind) the threat they pose to America. In order to accomplish that end, he managed to overcome considerable resistance within the federal bureaucracy–precisely what he was unable to do or uninterested in doing when it came to assuring the veterans have access to health care, or for that matter, that the ObamaCare exchanges would function.
The Bergdahl deal, then, was a rare example of competent execution by this administration–albeit of a policy that was the product of atrocious judgment.
It is a strange but undeniable fact that France, with its limited means, its high unemployment, its foreign trade deficit, its habit of coming uncoupled from the train of globalization, is playing the role that one might have expected of the powerful United States. France is setting the geopolitical tone, a function normally preempted by the “official” great powers: the United States, Russia, and China. It is heading up, in other words, another form of globalization, a virtuous, generous variant: the globalization of democracy and peace. It could well become the world’s leading exporter of rights or, if you will, the world’s leading anti-totalitarian power.
The world does not know what to think.
Our larger allies, stunned, are reduced to watching events unfold and expressing support, willingly or grudgingly, for the new direction of international relations. Can an intellectual not known for his chauvinism be forgiven for observing that his country appears to be reconnecting with a form of greatness?
Is this not an occasion for all French citizens—whatever their political allegiance, regardless of their ideological proclivities—to be proud of their country and to say so out loud for all to hear? And, for Americans, it is good to know that the nation has a partner that is not only reliable and fraternal—but also fully capable to take over when isolationism looms.
But the most controversial drone strike took place on Oct. 14, 2011, when 16-year-old Abdulrahman was killed by U.S. forces.
Family of the Denver-born teenager say he had no ties to terrorist organizations and was unjustly targeted because of his father.
Nassar al-Awlaki, grandfather of Abdulrahman and father to Anwar, said he tried to protect his grandson as Anwar al-Awlaki’s profile grew.
In December, Nassar al-Awlaki told CNN, “In Anwar it was expected because he was under targeted killing, but how in the world they will go and kill Abdulrahman. Small boy, U.S. citizen from Denver, Colorado.”
Nassar al-Awlaki said his grandson snuck out of their Yemen home one night, leaving a note for his mother saying he would return in a few days. The boy never returned, killed instead while eating at an outdoor restaurant.
Ted Cruz talks about why he doesn’t trust Hagel as SecDef:
On Iran, Hagel voted against economic sanctions in 2001, 2007, and 2008. Today, he says he supports sanctions.
In 2007, Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard — which was then actively providing explosively formed projectiles to kill U.S. servicemen in Iraq — as a terrorist group. Today, he agrees that they are terrorists.
In 2006, he said, “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” Likewise, in 2010, Hagel told the Atlantic Council that he was “not so sure it is necessary to continue to say all options are on the table” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Today, he says all options (including military force) should be on the table.
On Hamas, in 2005, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 70 senators (including Senators Clinton and Kerry) who signed a letter to President Bush urging that the Palestinians demand that Hamas reject terrorism before participating in the democratic process. Today, he says Hamas must renounce terrorism.
On Hezbollah, in 2006, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 88 senators (including Senators Biden, Clinton, Kerry, and Obama) urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Today, he says Hezbollah is, in fact, a terrorist organization.
And on Israel, no senator in recent times has demonstrated as much consistent antagonism as has Hagel. In 1998, he said that the U.S. had “tilted too far towards Israel in the Middle East peace process.”
In 2000, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 96 senators (including Senators Biden and Kerry) urging President Clinton to express “American solidarity with Israel at this crucial moment, to condemn the Palestinian campaign of violence.”
In 2006, on the floor of the Senate, he accused Israel of carrying out a “sickening slaughter” in Lebanon (and charged Lebanon with doing the same).
Also in 2006 he said “the Jewish Lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” and he boasted about his ability to resist their views.
Today, he says he will strongly support Israel.
This whole article is important, but this point (number 12 of 13) really stands out. Drone strikes have increased dramatically under Obama, and many civilians are being killed. There is no real oversight. We gain no intelligence.
If you refuse to exploit prisoners, you’ll end up killing your enemies instead. All three panelists trashed the Obama-era conceit that we’re a better country because we’ve scrapped the interrogation program. What we’ve really done, they argued, is replace interrogations with drone strikes. “We have made it so legally difficult and so politically dangerous to capture,” said Hayden, “that it seems, from the outside looking in, that the default option is to take the terrorists off the battlefield in another sort of way.” Rizzo agreed, and he paraphrased The Godfather to suggest that the new policy is bloody and stupid: “You can’t kill everybody.”
One way or another, we have now apparently made a number of assumptions: that in the next war we will see overtly gay men and women fully integrated in small ground units amid firefights and carnage at the front; that this will not affect negatively, but more likely improve, U.S. combat efficacy;and that those intolerant reactionaries who object and feel less safe or simply less comfortable will shun the military — and that the military will not suffer as a consequence of their absence, but more likely improve. If all true, then we are onto the brave new world!