City of Brass

City of Brass

Obama’s judgement

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

There’s a great anecdote by Joe Klein about Obama’s meeting with General Petraeus in Iraq that I think speaks very well of Obama’s judgement and leadership, especially with regard to military matters:

Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the
briefing and promise to take his views “under advisement.” Or he could
tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course
of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted.
Obama chose to speak his mind. “You know, if I were in your shoes, I
would be making the exact same argument,” he began. “Your job is to
succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a
potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests
through the prism of our overall national security.” Obama talked about
the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the
occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

A “spirited” conversation ensued, one person who was in the room
told me. “It wasn’t a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They
were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way.” The
other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they
agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting –
which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended
agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama’s perspective was,
necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable
obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had
laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge.
Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over
the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility
(and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the
unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.

I think this is a critical point, especially since Iraq is a single front in the war against extremist fanatics and Obama has articulated a broader strategy, with emphasis on Afghanistan. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall for that debate!

Now, McCain’s argument has been that he was right about the Surge and supporting Petraeus in his Iraq strategy, but the problem here is that the Surge is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Waziristan is not Anbar, for numerous reasons (not least of which being that the locals in Waziristan are very pro-Taliban, whereas the Anbarites were anti-Al-Qaeda). Not only is McCain content to delegate responsibility to Petraeus rather than taking the broader view required of him as commander in chief, but his judgement is in fact severely flawed if he thinks that the Surge is a magic bullet. Keep in mind also that Joe Biden is a recognized foreign policy expert on Pakistan, so this bodes well for the long-term strategy of the Obama Administration towards the war on terror overall.

Barack Obama is a US citizen

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

I’ve previously addressed the “non-citizen smear”, but as a public service here is a summary for the benefit of anyone who may still doubt the
eligibility of Barack Obama for President according to the Constitution:

Do share this post with anyone who is irrational enough to believe the non-citizen smear, but rational enough to be convinced otherwise by solid evidence. Don’t bother sending the link to people who fail the second criteria, you’ll be wasting Internet.

Twitter

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Anyone here have a Twitter account? I’m @azizhp – if you use twitter too, please do leave a comment with your username!

I’ve actually been writing a lot about twitter over the past year or so. Here’s a compilation of interesting users to follow, for example.

self-inflicted wound: was Ashley Todd the final nail?

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The story was sensational, and suspiciously stereotypical in invoking racial prejudices and conservative dogma about liberals’ irrationality. Sure enough, it was also a hoax:

Ashley Todd, of College Station, Texas, confessed to making up the
story about an attacker scratching a letter “B” into her face with a
knife and will be charged with filing a false report, police said at a
news conference Friday.Todd admitted there was no robbery or
attacker and said she had prior mental health problems, according to
police.

On Thursday afternoon, police
reported that Todd told them she was using an ATM at Liberty Avenue and
Pearl Street when a man approached her and put a knife to her throat
just before 9 p.m. Wednesday.Police spokeswoman Diane Richard
said Todd told them the robber took $60, then became angry when he saw
a McCain bumper sticker on the victim’s car. The attacker then punched
and kicked the victim, before using a dull knife to scratch the “B”
into her face, Richard said.

Todd’s story kept changing, though, over small details like whether it was her bumper sticker or her campaign button that triggered the assailant’s rage, adding more details like sexual assault to the original story, and inconsistencies on whether she was attacked from in front or knocked down from behind. The “B” on her cheek was backwards, as if self-inflicted in front of a mirror, and there was no record of the attack on the ATM camera. Ultimately the story fell apart.

As they say, it’s not the crime, but the cover-up, and in this case the hoax is making the rounds on Twitter (where “Ashley Todd” is a Election Hot Topic) and blogsphere and news channels. Suffice to say, this doesn’t bode well for McCain, which may be unfair (since Todd was a volunteer and her actions do not represent those of the campaign in any way), but it is still a reality.

What will the true impact of Ashley’s October Surprise be? John Moody, executive Vice-president for FOX News, mused on his blog (before it was confirmed that Todd’s account was a hoax) that the incident represented a “moment of truth”:

Less than two weeks before we vote for a new president, a white
woman says a black man attacked her, then scarred her face, and says
there was a political motive for it.

Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old white volunteer for John McCain’s
presidential campaign, says she was mugged at an ATM machine in
Pittsburgh (my hometown) by a big black man.

[...]

If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain’s quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting.

I dont know if McCain’s quest is over, but it certainly has been dealt an ugly blow – ironically, by guilt-by-association, the very same tactic that McCain sought to employ against Obama to discredit his reputation.

The simple fact remains that Todd’s motivations are laid bare – naked political opportunism, attempting to harness the worst stereotypes of black men and tie them to the Obama campaign. The incident would have “revealed” the true nature of Obama’s supporters; instead it revealed the nature of McCain’s. Ashley Todd was plaing with fire and John McCain is the one burnt.

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