Saturday, December 27, 2008

Military Respect: Another nice example of disinformation

Sure enough, another "o-bot" who called himself "A REAL American" posted some drivel in response to my blog post, "Will the Military Respect the President-Elect?":

“I guess that's why the military donated 6:1 for Obama during the election:

Or the retired Admirals and Generals that supported Obama

And it's funny how reports from other sources said nothing about the silence you claim.

Of course, you'll just dismiss it as more MSM you do with anything that doesn't fit your myths and conspiracy theories.....

Unfortunately, we had to remove "A REAL American"'s post because we cannot let this blog turn into a platform for ridiculous pro-Obama propaganda. The internet is already full of such sites, replete with disinformation and lies. And there are many Obama operatives who frequent blogs and forums to try to spread their lies and poison and venom.

No, I will not claim that this story is necessarily accurate. You and I were not there. I did not see any video footage; did you? But this story is sourced to 3 different news outlets. So we have to wonder. It is interesting how all the stories in the media that make Obama look bad you just reject out of hand, and you only repeat the stories in the media that make Obama look good. Not very objective.

Clearly, reality is far more nuanced than you are trying to portrary it. If you just want to blindly believe that Obama is incredibly popular among the military because a few retired military leaders came out in his support, and a news report came out that Obama had more campaign contributions from deployed military than McCain, that is your prerogative. But frankly, I do not find your evidence particularly compelling.

Obama Support Among Military Leaders

To start with, this youtube video of what appears to be a press conference or campaign media event features 1 retired admiral and 3 retired generals. Two of the retired generals had "noncombat" positions in the military. One was in charge of
"civil works" and the other was a "chief of staff" for the National Guard. What was their basis for supporting Obama?

First, they support Obama because he had disagreed with the decision to go to war in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein. Allow me to point out that Obama had no access to the intelligence that many of the other senators and congressmen did; he did not have the clearance to hear the information. All of those with the clearance to hear the real intelligence (not what was reported in the press, which is badly misleading and deficient) voted to remove Saddam Hussein. Even Bill Clinton signed the Iraqi Liberation Act in 1998, which was passed by both houses of Congress, and called for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

However, is this a necessary qualification for someone to be president? Someone who voted against a war when he did not have access to the information the decision was based on? I was against the war myself. Do I fulfill the requirements to be president of the United States then?

The second reason the retired military leaders gave for endorsing Barack Obama was that Obama is always calm and has a placid demeanor. So that is a prerequisite for someone to be president? Someone should be passionless? The US has had stolid, resolute presidents before, and that is no guarantee that someone will be regarded as a good president (see an analysis of presidential temperament here).

For example, Calvin Coolidge was one of US presidents with a calmer temperament, but he is not remembered as one of the great US presidents. He is remembered as a bit of a disaster. He rose to prominence because of his union-busting activities. Many think his administration's policies set the US up for the 1929 crash. He is described by some as a "worried pessimist".

How many liked Gerald Ford as a president, particularly at that time? Ford was very calm and reasonable, which is why he was chosen to replace Nixon by the Congress. However, Americans thought he was dull. Ford presided over the start of what became known later as "stagflation".

Jimmy Carter might be viewed as a fairly imperturbable bloodless technocrat. Carter's presidency is perceived by many as a failure.

On the other hand, Kennedy, Reagan, and both Roosevelts, are all widely praised as presidents. All of them were passionate adventurers and temperamentally the opposite of someone "calm and placid".

Anyway, these 3 retired generals and 1 retired admiral who voiced support for Obama, in addition to retired generals Wesley Clark and Colin Powell, can be compared with over 100 retired generals and admirals who endorsed McCain. That is, retired military leaders support McCain in far greater numbers. Obama's military support is less than 5 percent of McCain's military support among retired military leaders. So basically trying to rely on these 4 guys in a youtube video to prove anything is beyond comical. It is ridiculous.

Retired General Wesley Clark, who once was reportedly being considered by Obama for a position in his administration and maybe even for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket, was nominally an Obama supporter, but still did not give Obama a ringing endorsement. Clark was famous for stating on Face the Nation on CBS that "I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president." However, on another occasion, in a BBC interview, Clark had stated that Obama was not sufficiently experienced to be Commander in Chief and to end the war in Iraq. Clark said, "That means knowing where you're headed before you start down the path."

The Campaign Contribution Report

The report on the donations is very selective and a bit hard to swallow. First, if you count all donations, then according to the same report McCain supporters gave an average of 502 dollars each to McCain's campaign, while Obama supporters gave an average of only 310 dollars each to Obama's campaign. The numbers with the biggest differences were the overseas donors, but there were only 134 overseas Obama donors and 26 overseas McCain donors; the Obama donors represent 0.038% and the McCain donors represent 0.0071% of the roughly 364,049 US troops deployed overseas.

These numbers are so small that it is not clear if they mean anything, or if they are representative or even if they are accurate. It is not clear what time period this report covers, and if a different time period was chosen or a longer time period was chosen, if the results would have been different. All kinds of other factors could restrict these contributions such as the type of deployment and location, and so it is not clear what these donation numbers are even measuring.

Other reported contribution statistics paint a far more complicated picture. For example, military donors from January 2007 through March of 2008 favored Republicans over Democrats, 62 percent to 38 percent; that is, Republicans raised 63 percent more money from the military than Democrats did, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). In addition, the CRP reports that during that period, Ron Paul raised 12.8 percent more money from the military than Obama did. So Obama is supposedly the troop's favorite, based on that widely hyped story in the mainstream press? Does that report mean that Obama is incredibly popular among the enlisted men and women? I doubt it.

I suspect if we looked even more carefully into the military campaign support data, we might find that the media had once again reported this story in a selective manner, or "cherry-picked" the data, or engaged in some other sort of misrepresentation. After all, the media have done it lots of times in the past in previous stories, right? Once the press loses its credibility, it is hard to rely on anything they claim, including this story about military campaign donations.

Other Signs Obama has a Military Image Problem

Barack Obama is also associated with many radical anti-military groups, like Code Pink. Code Pink has donated heavily to the Obama Campaign as a "bundler". Code Pink has "harassed, vandalized and impeded military recruiters across the United States in a campaign it calls “counter-recruitment.”" Code Pink even donated over 600,000 dollars to the families of terrorists attacking American troops in Fallujah, because Code Pink views them as "freedom fighters". This association of Obama with Code Pink has been decried by Families United for Our Troops and Their Mission, Move America Forward, Military Families Voice of Victory, The Band of Mothers and[1]. This shows Obama's has great support from our military and will continue to enjoy this support?

The US military has solidly and repeatedly rejected a draft for many years and is happy with its current all-volunteer force. A lot of left wing attacks on McCain focused on bemoaning the potential of a draft if McCain were elected [2][3][4]. McCain stated that he would not be in favor of a draft unless the US was faced with "World War III" [5] .

Obama on the other hand has stated repeatedly that he will call for "universal national voluntary service". That is not a draft? Well he does not call it a draft, but it is essentially a draft. Obama just presents it with a lot of double-talk. What is universal voluntary service? If it is universal, it is not voluntary.


A recent article in The Army Times described a survey of US troops showing that 60 percent were uncertain or pessimistic about the incoming President Elect.  Before the election, about 75 percent said they supported McCain in a suvey. However, about 1/3 are optimstic now about the incoming Administration now.