Patterico's Pontifications


Howard Kurtz Gives Four Pinocchios to Washington Post Fact Checker

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

Heh. Well done. More of this, please!

(Thanks to Ace.)

The High Price Of Looking The Other Way

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, the NYT published a very disturbing story about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan being told to look the other way while powerful Afghan men- and U.S. allies-took part in the common cultural practice of raping young boys:

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.

Also discussed in the story was Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, who, when in Afghanistan, flat out refused to look the other way, and as a result of that decision, is being involuntarily discharged from the Army. Martland “body-slammed” an Afghan police commander who kept a little boy tied to a pole in his house where he raped him repeatedly from 10 days to two weeks.

Defending his actions in a statement released today, Martland said:

While I understand that a military lawyer can say that I was legally wrong, we felt a moral obligation to act.

And about the decision to discharge him, Martland maintains:

Kicking me out of the Army is morally wrong and the entire country knows it.

The day after the NYT story was published, the White House was pressured to respond. They “looked the other way”:

“For the rules of engagement and the kind of structure that’s in place to guide the relationship between the United States and Afghan members of the military, I’d refer you to the Department of Defense for that,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Earnest was pressed further to say whether President Obama is looking to review that policy in light of a New York Times story outlining how soldiers were powerless to help child rape victims in Afghanistan, and got in trouble with their superiors if they tried. To that, Earnest said, “Not that I’m aware of.”

When asked why questions about preventing child abuse and protecting human rights was being punted to the Pentagon, Earnest said, “Because … you’re asking about a policy that governs the conduct of U.S. military personnel in a dangerous place.”

“We continue to urge the Afghan and civil society to protect and support victims and their families, while also strongly encouraging justice and accountability under Afghan law for offenders,” Earnest said.

In a fierce piece of writing, Kurt Schlichter considers today’s socially-aware military and explains how officers were able to look the other way in the face of child rape:

The revelation that our generals expect Americans solders to allow screaming young boys to be sodomized and not stop it is simply the latest manifestation of the utter moral bankruptcy infecting the senior ranks of the U.S. military.

The problems with America’s military—which has now failed to win three wars in a row against backward fanatics whom the nineteenth-century Brits would have handily dispatched to hell in time for tea—are not merely budgetary. You can’t buy real leaders, leaders with strategic competence and moral courage. Aging equipment, while a problem, is nothing compared to the incompetence and moral cowardice of our military’s senior leaders.

Note the term “moral cowardice.” Many of these generals are decorated combat veterans who would gleefully charge an enemy machine-gun nest. But that physical courage in the face of the enemy does not translate into moral courage in the face of politicians and social justice warriors. It’s disheartening to see officers with Combat Infantryman badges and silver stars sheepishly nodding along with the lies of the coddled liberal elite.

There are fine generals—I served under many. But enough are not that the ranks are demoralized and the best and brightest future leaders are abandoning military careers, not because they don’t want to serve, but because they know it will be difficult to succeed unless they likewise abandon the principles that propelled them toward service in the first place.

While acknowledging President Obama’s role as commander in chief, Schlichter cautions that the president’s ineptitude and disregard for the military is not an excuse for those who know better:

It would be too easy to blame Barack Obama. As commander in chief, he is responsible for everything those under his command do or fail to do, and his political agendas and bizarre social engineering priorities, enacted by the eager band of loyalists he has promoted into the senior ranks over more capable warriors, have little to do with fighting and winning. Without a media interested in holding him to account for the dreadful performance of the military since his inauguration, Obama has a free ride.

Yet focusing on the feckless community organizer in the Oval Office just serves to let the generals off the hook. Obama cares nothing for the military, and no one expects him to. But it is not too much to expect our generals to care about their organizations, to care about winning wars and protecting their soldiers more than about getting that additional star.

Read the entire piece. It is a gut-wrenching look at the horrible positions soldiers find themselves in when under the leadership of those too weak to stand up for what is morally right and instead seek to further their own personal interests and ambitions above all else.

Schlichter closes:

We have the greatest troops in the world, probably in all of human history. Fighting with old, worn equipment is a challenge, but that can be overcome. The lack of competent, morally courageous senior leaders can’t be.

Obama bears some of the blame because he could fix this with a few select firings and unequivocal guidance that values come first. But no one expects that of him, and there is no excuse why the generals have not done it themselves. They could demand competence. They could demand moral courage. They could resign rather than play along with misguided politics. But they have chosen their stars and positions and perks instead. It’s a disgrace, and our troops and little Afghan kids are paying the price.


Feinstein Blocks Cruz Attempt to Honor Chinese Political Prisoner as Undiplomatic

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:44 pm

Typical political bull:

Xi Jinping, the boss of the Chinese Communist Party, is now in the United States. And Senator Cruz has introduced a measure to rename the plaza in front of the Chinese embassy after Liu Xiaobo, the democracy leader who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and has been a political prisoner since 2008.

. . . .

Cruz notes that Congress renamed the plaza in front of the Soviet embassy after another Nobel peace laurate, Andrei Sakharov. We should do the same for Liu — and for the Chinese people, and for the cause of democracy everywhere.

Nothing doing, says DiFi:

Liu Xiaobo’s courage “poses a challenge to the Free World,” said Ted. “Will we be silent, eager to enjoy the economic benefits of cooperation with the PRC? Or will we put President Xi on notice that, for America, human rights are no longer ‘off the table,’ and that we are listening to the truth about Communist China?” He further said, “I believe that we have a moral responsibility not to marginalize Dr. Liu and his brave fellow dissidents, but to make their plight central to all our dealings with the PRC.”

Amen. Ted asked for unanimous consent. It was blocked by Senator Feinstein, who said, in effect, that the measure was undiplomatic.

Here’s how the AP reported Feinstein’s objection:

His attempt was thwarted by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who objected to the move and said it had political implications because of the timing. She said Cruz had sent out notice that he was bringing the resolution to the floor less than an hour before he tried to pass it.

Feinstein said Obama would have a chance to talk to the Chinese president about human rights issues.

“Maybe people don’t believe that diplomacy makes a difference, but I do,” she said.

I suppose it’s “undiplomatic” to throw someone in prison for 12 years for advocating the end of communism. I guess DiFi’s concern for diplomacy has its limits.

Trump: I’ll Have Government Take Care of Everybody’s Health Care and Raise Taxes on the Very Wealthy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

“The Policy Proposals of Donald Trump” sounds like one of those “thinnest book in the world” jokes, but Bernie Sanders Trump was on “60 Minutes” last night talking policy. In a long-form interview, it’s actually quite surprising how his usual vapid platitudes give way to serious, specific proposals, when he has the time to sit down and really explain them.

Haha just kidding:

Scott Pelley: What’s your plan for Obamacare?

Donald Trump: Obamacare’s going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster if you look at what’s going on with premiums where they’re up 40, 50, 55 percent.

Scott Pelley: How do you fix it?

Donald Trump: There’s many different ways, by the way. Everybody’s got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say because a lot of times they say, “No, no, the lower 25 percent that can’t afford private. But–”

Scott Pelley: Universal health care.

Donald Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don’t care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.

Scott Pelley: The uninsured person is going to be taken care of. How? How?

Donald Trump: They’re going to be taken care of. I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably–

Scott Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Donald Trump: –the government’s gonna pay for it. But we’re going to save so much money on the other side. But for the most it’s going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies and they can have their doctors, they can have plans, they can have everything.

Wow, the government is going to take care of everybody! That sounds expensive. Will you be raising taxes, Mr. Trump?

Scott Pelley: Who are you going to raise taxes on?

Donald Trump: If you look at actually raise, some very wealthy are going to be raised. Some people that are getting unfair deductions are going to be raised. But overall it’s going to be a tremendous incentive to grow the economy and we’re going to take in the same or more money. And I think we’re going to have something that’s going to be spectacular.

Scott Pelley: But Republicans don’t raise taxes.

Donald Trump: Well, we’re not raising taxes.

After the program, Trump threatened himself with a lawsuit for claiming he would raise taxes.

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