Unravelling

There’s a scene in the Three Stooges short, Hoi Polloi, in which Curly pulls on a thread of Moe’s dinner jacket and the whole jacket unravels. Something of the sort seems to be happening in the Petraeus scandal:

The scandal widened overnight. A Pentagon spokesman told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Australia that America’s top commander in Afghanistan was also being investigated for “potentially inappropriate” communications with Kelley.

“On Sunday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation referred to the Department of Defense a matter involving General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan,” Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.

The allegations against Allen are said to involve emails between him and Kelley written from 2010 to 2012. Asked if they were of a “sexual nature,” a senior defense official would only say the messages were, “potentially inappropriate and they bare looking into. The Department is currently reviewing between 20,000 and 30,000 (pages of) documents connected to this matter.”

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former deputy director of national intelligence, says the investigation into Allen “is fallout” from the FBI’s digging around in the inboxes of Petraeus and Broadwell.

He says the Pentagon realizes that if there is any indication of impropriety, they need it to come out now, not during Allen’s confirmation hearing to become the next NATO commander – a nomination which has now been put on hold.

Let’s recap the body count. We’ve got two high-ranking generals and one FBI agent caught engaging in hanky panky in this scandal so far. I honestly don’t giveadamn about what they do in their own time but, as I said on Sunday in what I sincerely hoped and believed would be my only post on this sordid topic, I see this as a workplace and national security issue. If the highest-ranking generals with the most responsibility insist on acting with the self-control and discretion of adolescents, they should be treated like adolescents. If they don’t like it, they should get out. They just aren’t that indispensable.

We have a right to better than the Three Stooges in the most responsible positions in the land.

29 comments… add one

  • A few quick points.

    * Powerful men like to take advantage of their power for sexual favors, some women like to provide sexual favors to powerful men. This isn’t exactly news.

    * We saw back in the 1990s that this behavior is not only permissible but to be celebrated. Surely you remember President Clinton, who got impeached for lying under oath and came out on the other side more popular than ever.

    * I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to find the establishment press discussing boners instead of a dead Ambassador (and other US personnel), a dead economy or the growing humanitarian disaster where Sandy struck. (Although I hear the governor of NY is promising a thorough investigation of why everything wasn’t fixed the day after the storm – some time in the future, that is.)

    The nation’s leadership is failing in spectacular and deadly ways and everyone is talking about boners. I guess that’s because the new season of American Idol doesn’t start until after football season?

  • Although I hear the governor of NY is promising a thorough investigation of why everything wasn’t fixed the day after the storm – some time in the future, that is.

    I think the answer lies in my favorite definition of a committee: a committee is a group of people, none of whom can do anything individually, who get together to agree that nothing can be done.

    The governor of New York is a guy who hasn’t done anything in his entire life but sit on committees.

  • The nation’s leadership is failing in spectacular and deadly ways and everyone is talking about boners. I guess that’s because the new season of American Idol doesn’t start until after football season?

    Aren’t you glad you voted? I have to say, I read about these things and chortle.

    I’m looking forward to the fiscal cliff.

  • jan

    Icepick

    A discerning post, bringing out what is being emphasized and what is either postponed or dismissed — sex scandals wins, deaths, terrorism, and administrative obfuscation goes the way of the circular filing cabinet — at least for this political season.

    As for the productivity of ‘committees’ — I used to have a postcard over my desk showing a circle of birds. Beneath it was something like ‘if you don’t want to get anything done join a committee.’ When I was involved with school organizations, this reminder came in handy, putting the ensuing frustration into some kind of perspective.

  • Drew

    I basically share Dave’s sentiments, but find it odd that the White House didn’t know of the FBI investigating the head of the CIA in what is ultimately a national security – not a boner – issue until the day after the election.

    All – spare me the exculpatory reasoning. Who is running the show? The Three Stooges?

  • find it odd that the White House didn’t know of the FBI investigating the head of the CIA

    Somebody’s lying. It’s either the Pentagon, CIA, the White House, the Congress or all of the above.

  • Aren’t you glad you voted? I have to say, I read about these things and chortle.

    Steve V., actually I am glad I voted. Because I know that _I_ didn’t vote for _THIS_.

    (I only voted for one or two incumbents, only at the local level. I didn’t vote in our US Senate race because my choice was the incumbent or a sitting Congressman.)

  • All – spare me the exculpatory reasoning.

    Check.

    Who is running the show?

    No one is running the show. No one even wants to take credit for running the show. Or perhaps it’s “Not Me” from the Family Circus.

    Inquisitor: Who’s responsible for this anemic recovery?
    Respondent: Not Me!

    Inquisitor: Who’s responsible for this terrible employment record?
    Respondent: Not Me!

    Inquisitor: Who’s responsible for denying security for the US Ambassador to a Very Dangerous Place?
    Respondent: Not Me!

    Inquisitor: Who’s responsible for Generals dating wannabe Playtex Bra Advertisement Models?
    Respondent: Not Me!

  • Drew, there is a potential national security issue here, but I have trouble taking it seriously because of (a) the Clinton Blue Dress Fiasco and (b) the timing. The timing has just been too frickin’ convenient – after the election but before the Congressional testimony. They found the sweet spot between those two dates as surely as any tennis- or golf-player finds the sweet spots on their rackets/clubs.

  • jan

    Doesn’t the WH run the show? Isn’t the president the top of the heap? When WMDs weren’t discovered in Iraq, who go the blame? It didn’t wash then when the excuse was pointing to ‘bad intelligence.’ Why should it be any different now?

  • Why should it be any different now?

    Shirley you jest!

  • jan

    The timing has just been too frickin’ convenient – after the election but before the Congressional testimony.

    The ‘timing,’ coincidences, 59 precincts voting 100% for Obama (those odds are better than any Vegas con man could hope for) –such scenarios are the daily diet of this administration. They pass deadlines, like sequestration ones, and no one says a thing! They have F & F irregularities, the AG doesn’t hand over info, and eventually gets a legal pass by an EO. They hold up 60-day termination notices in VA, until after the election; don’t report on a US drone being shot at in international waters by Iran, until after the election; don’t unleash a military scandal until after the election. Does any one sense a pattern here?

    They have also passed an inordinate amount (6,125) of bureaucratic regulations in the last 90 days (without much if any media attention), with another 1400+ in the mill. “Unexpected,” is a word commonly used for so many illogical events that seem to arise, such as the recent, ‘unexpected UE drop to 7.8%, this time before the election. As for committees — they are set up to explore details to assure the public that people at the top are diligently seeking the truth — a truth, though that will probably never see the light of day, let alone hard-edged scrutiny by the public.

    We are in the dark, IMO, for another 4 years, and half the people in the country apparently see nothing wrong with this, as long as the wombs of women are secured, Seamus has been vindicated by having his owner put out to pasture, and the ‘rich’ receive their just rewards, by being selectively singled out to address the so-call fiscal cliff.

  • jan

    Icepick

    Shirley you jest!

    I’m banging my head on the desk, because of how funny it is! (not)

    Just listen sometime to Ralph Peter’s analysis (a military writer) of the Benghazi/Petraeus debacle in how he sees it — a complete bamboozlement of the people and the office of the presidency.

  • Drew

    jan

    There is one thing they cant control: economic behavior. Just today CNBC ran a story about asset dumping (stocks, businesses and other big ticket assets) in front of the tax changes. The man who runs my investment account held a public conf call to discuss the impending tax law changes and how they might respond. And as Ive been saying for 4 years running, they wont be re-upping in risky assets (at least to the same degree) when the reward equation changes. I feel sorry for – but careful what you wish and vote for – The Average Joe.

    Let me take this all back. Nobel Prize winning economist, and sometimes author, Michael Reynolds,tells me all this isnt so. So it must be true.

  • jan, I don’t really need to read any more about it. The masses have voted for this, so my opinion is no longer needed.

    And someone should tell Michael Reynolds to come back. I’m going on sabbatical from the blog world, and perhaps all news excepting sport- and chess-, very soon. In fact today just represents a falling off the wagon precipitated by my need to finish up a couple of posts elsewhere. Here’s one that jan and Drew might get a kick out of. After I get the next big one done (hopefully in a couple of days, and for the same place as the one linked) I’m outta here for a least a couple of months. Michael and Drew will be safe to discuss extremely high priced swill Scotch swill to their hearts’ content.

  • Aren’t you glad you voted? I have to say, I read about these things and chortle.

    Steve V., it occurs to me that similar arguments could be made for not commenting on blogs as for not voting. ;)

    Just sayin’!

  • steve

    “would only say the messages were, “potentially inappropriate and they bare looking into.”

    Freudian slip? Anyway, the more I hear, the more I think it wasnt so easy for the FBI to figure out what to do. I also think this is partially a result of the deployment tempo. I saw lots of marriages fall apart. Lots of affairs when we deployed. It’s pretty hard to be away from home and family for so long for so often. Some people fall apart and we see it in different ways. Sometimes the people falling apart dont see it in themselves. The people around them need to see it and step in.

    Steve

  • jan

    I feel sorry for – but careful what you wish and vote for – The Average Joe.

    Drew,

    After the election results my husband and I had a long discussion about it’s ramifications, and who will be negatively affected the most. We both agreed that the 20-40 year olds, college-educated, who still had not gotten a foothold in life yet, would be suffering the most. There is a diminished opportunity now, with all the obstacles to growth that Obama is now able to put into place, for anyone to risk anything. All people can do is tread water, pay their bills, and reside on some plateau of security. But, a plateau it will be, with little chances of upward mobility or realizing one’s dreams.

    Low key garage enterprises, pursuing a venture on a shoestring will be difficult to implement. All the increasing red tape alone is time-consuming and too discouraging for most people to even comtemplate. Even if you do get a business going, how much do you want to expand it, given the looming tax consequences and further implementation of the ACA costs.

    The incentives to be successful are basically limited or gone. While the incentives to be mediocre, play it safe, and look for monetary supplementation, through an array of government programs, is where it’s at.

  • steve

    “The incentives to be successful are basically limited or gone.”

    Then roll over and die. The non-whiners will keep working and making money. (You guys sound worse than my kids when they were teens.)

    Steve

  • Drew

    jan

    Agreed. I’m, by most measures, filthy rich. (I dont consider myself as such, but thats the popular myth) And I’m pulling back.

    I deal with the really filthy rich. They are pulling back.

    I deal with the investment class. They are pulling back.

    Denial wont change anything.

    Of course we have the rediculously filthy rich. Sports stars, rap stars, rock stars, movie stars, Wall Street moguls who make $10MM to $100MM per year. Of course they can afford another 4% in taxes. Thats a no brainer. Ooops, it will finance the government for about 4 days. Thats a no brainer, too.

    And thats the problem. Feel good politics does no good except make the rediculously filthy rich feel good, while pricing the new Porsche 911 vs the Ferrari F12 is their main concern. I know these people.

    But how about the “volume semi-welthy” as I call them – that is, where real money can be derived? Unless you go deep, deep into the taxpaying public you cannot make a dent in the deficit. Punish the Volume Semi-Wealthy and you choke growth and jobs.

    This is a bizarre strategy. Good politics for election. Bad policy.

    Buttfucks the Average Joe.

  • Andy

    Personally, I have a hard time caring about this story which sounds more like a Mexican soap opera with each passing day.

    I also don’t give much credence to the conspiracy theories. Yes, the timing for right after the election sounds suspicious until you consider what people would be saying if it happened right before the election or if it had come as an “October Surprise.”

    I also think it’s kind of funny how some love to point out how incompetent government agencies and officials are (especially officials of the opposite party) except when it comes to these conspiracies – suddenly the incompetent government “conspirators” are able to execute their nefarious plans perfectly. It’s all so predictable and sad.

    Anyway, I’ve worked in one of the largest government institutions (the DoD) for 20 years now. The right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing is the rule, not the exception, even in sub-organizations of a couple thousand people. People who don’t have a lot of experience with the federal government often don’t understand the importance of organizational loyalty. Departmental and agency competition is usually a much bigger factor than conflicting personalities grinding individual axes for partisan political purposes – if there’s a conspiracy here, it’s likely to be one that revolves around the old CIA/FBI rivalry.

    And Steve is right about deployments – Gen. Petraeus in particular was famous for staying “in theater” almost all the time and I would be surprised if he spent two months total out of his last five years of military service “at home.” On the other hand, this affair supposedly began after he joined the CIA, so that’s not a very good excuse for him except perhaps as an explanation for emotional distance from his wife. Who knows? I can somewhat sympathize as I spent two years separated from my wife and it wasn’t easy for either one of us. Thankfully neither one of us had a hot sycophantic fitness freak hanging around us all the time. Not that I’m making excuses for him or her, just pointing out that humans do what humans do.

    At this point I don’t really care except I want to know how sensitive and possibly classified information (reportedly) ended up on Ms. Broadwell’s home computer. That would be a serious security breach. Of course that won’t be investigated, instead it will be the usual whining about who was told what and when and “why wasn’t I told” that usually comes from Congress.

  • Then roll over and die. The non-whiners will keep working and making money.

    … said the man in the heavily government subsidized industry….

  • … in the profession with extremely high barriers to entry….

  • That would be a serious security breach.

    Yeah, except that this is what reporters do, breach security of their targets. The question isn’t whether or not she has sensitive information, but who supplied the information and why.

  • steve

    @Andy- My experience is that some of the worst family break ups occurred after people returned from being deployed. Guys who kept it together while deployed who came back and got involved in some really bizarre, I thought , affairs once they returned.

    Steve

  • jan

    Then roll over and die. The non-whiners will keep working and making money.

    Steve,

    When is making a statement, about how one sees certain conditions, whining?

    Bigger bureaucracy hampers and takes time away from doing business — especially the smaller ones. I noticed that when Gov Christie wanted help, Obama flew in and didn’t add red tape, but instead cut it to get aid moving more rapidly in NJ. The same applies for helping the economy and especially the private sector — you facilitate and/or trim regulations to open up and speed up economic growth. You create incentives for hiring and expanding a business. What is the current president doing in this regard? Can you really tax your way out of a spending problem?

    As for working hard and making money…You can work hard and make no money. I think we had this conversation once before. If the economic conditions are bad, there is less discretionary income around to gather up, no matter how hard one works sometimes.

    For example, there was an AP story dealing with the circumstances of Greece recently. A guy around 30 was interviewed about his fish business. At one time he said it was prosperous. But now, working longer hours, he is barely making enough to survive, as people can’t afford his fish, and there is so much competitive undercutting of prices, that he is considering folding up shop and leaving Greece.

    We’re not Greece. But, the US is also not too big to eventually fail, especially if we continue working under the same kind of debt and social spending guidelines, via social progressive ideology, which caused Greece to be now reeling under the extreme austerity programs imposed on them to get them out of their fiscal mess.

  • You create incentives for hiring and expanding a business.

    No, no, NO! Do not give businesses incentives to hire or expand. Remove unnecessary impediments and see how they do. The financial sector, the construction sector and the healthcare sector have all been incentivized to hire and expand with disastrous effects. Every time you give a business an incentive you are hampering other businesses, real and potential.

  • jan

    Icepick

    The ‘incentives’ I’m referring to is having less government obstacles in your way to expand and hire. What were thinking I meant by ‘incentives?’

  • Offering tax breaks and other financial incentives. This is done a lot at the state and local level to get companies to locate or relocate operations in a particular locale. We’ve done that here in Central Florida with everything from a now defunct microchip manufacturing plant to some bio-medical research outfits.

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