No. In the name of God, Thor, Zeuss, Cthulhu and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, no. There are few people who personify the vapid, amoral fetid swamp of Washington politics and defense policy more than David Petraeus. Taking a huge part of the blame for propelling Petraeus from a solely military into an entirely political career is the Washington Post, which gave Petraeus a prime op-ed slot in September 2004, where he spewed wildly optimistic numbers on his accomplishments while training Iraqi troops. Petraeus further told us how victory was just around the corner, implying that if only Americans would re-elect George W. Bush, his plan would achieve full fruition. Active military personnel are not supposed to engage in politics, but Petraeus became political with that op-ed and Washington overlooked it, because that’s what Washington does and that’s what the Washington Post does.
Bush rewarded Petraeus for his role in the election by putting him in charge of US troops in Iraq. Petraeus didn’t impress his immediate superior, Admiral Fallon, who termed Petraeus an “ass-kissing little chickenshit” after their first meeting. Once in charge, Petraeus quickly established death squads. Things didn’t go all that well in Iraq, in part because everything Petraeus does fails miserably while he is busy explaining to us what a good job he is doing. By 2007, the Kagan brain-trust came up with the idea of the surge to “save” Iraq. Washington politics and defense policy prostitute Michael O’Hanlon was brought onto the job of helping to sell the surge. In the fall of 2007, an orchestrated Washington event, complete with a sideshow purchased in the New York Times for the “General Betrayus” ad, gave us Congressional hearings that resulted in approval for the surge. Completely overlooked at that time was the inconvenient fact that a major part of the Iraq plan moving forward from that point involved a total restart of training Iraqi troops because Petraeus failed spectacularly in his previous attempt at training. But Washington and the Washington Post did not call out Petraeus for that failure, because that’s what Washington and the Washington Post do.
Petraeus was next promoted by Bush in late 2008 to Fallon’s previous position in charge of CentCom. It was quite clear to Barack Obama once he took office that Petraeus had his sights set on becoming president, so Obama made a very interesting move when he sent Petraeus down in rank to take command in Afghanistan after Petraeus’ protege Stanley McChrystal was fired for insubordination in July of 2010. Because lying about training had worked in advancing his career in Iraq, it appears that fudging the numbers on ANSF capabilities was one of the first things Petraeus did once in charge in Afghanistan. He was caught in this by the GAO, who pointed out that criteria for ANSF readiness were being changed to increase the number of troops qualifying for the most advanced classification, but it appears that only SIGAR and I care about those lies. Washington and the Washington Post ignored those dishonest moves by Petraeus, because that’s what Washington and the Washington Post do.
After Petreaus had been in charge in Afghanistan for six months or so, political handlers stepped into the picture to try to burnish his image for a future run for president. Continue reading
Displaying the logic that saw him “retire” from the military with a $5000 fine for torture that in effect served as a plea deal to allow him to avoid up to eleven years in a military prison, proclaim that 78 to 81 Democratic members of Congress are communists (as seen in the YouTube) and to conduct a Town Hall meeting where he had radio host Nicole Sandler arrested for daring to ask a question he didn’t like, Allen West finally got St. Lucie County to recount all of the early ballots from the election he narrowly lost to Patrick Murphy in Florida’s newly drawn 18th Congressional District, only to continue not to concede, even when his vote deficit increased from a margin of 0.58% of votes cast to 0.65%. With the revised figures from St. Lucie County, West now trails Murphy by 2146 votes and the margin is well outside the 0.50% margin or less that is needed to trigger a legally mandated recount.
Of course, since this is Florida, the “recount” didn’t exactly proceed normally. The county was required to submit its final vote totals by noon on Sunday, but did not finish the recount until mid-afternoon. As soon as the noon deadline passed, the Murphy campaign declared victory because Florida law states that if a county misses the deadline for certification, the preliminary numbers become final. The West campaign initially considered applying for an emergency exemption to the noon Sunday deadline, but the Miami Herald noted that the results of the recount make that unlikely:
Before the county finally released the results of the recount, West’s attorneys toyed with trying to ascertain an emergency prevented the timely filing, a tall task given the way the law is written. Because Murphy made a net gain of 274 votes, the issue was likely moot. But West’s campaign showed no immediate sign of backing down or offering a concession.
Going back to the Palm Beach Post article, we see that there are additional irregularities:
The results from one precinct could not be fully uploaded during the recount, said St. Lucie County Commissioner Tod Mowery, a canvassing board member. Even though the data were manually entered and the rest of the results were sent to state officials, the board could not certify the results because of the problems with the single cartridge.
[West campaign manager Tim] Edson had his own questions. Among them: Preliminary totals showed 900 voters cast ballots in Precinct 93, where only seven voters are registered, Edson said. Another lingering concern is the West team’s request to view the poll sign-in sheets from Election Day. Edson said they had received some sign-in sheets from Palm Beach County but none from St. Lucie County. West’s campaign wants to compare the number of signatures on the poll sign-in sheets to the computer tabulations.
“Today’s actions cast an even greater cloud of suspicion over the results of St. Lucie County than existed before,” Edson said in a statement. “This election is far from over.”
No explanation has been offered for the 900 votes showing up from a precinct where only 7 voters are registered, but that seems to me to be very likely the result of errors by poorly trained poll workers. A precinct with only 7 registered voters certainly would not have its own polling station, so it seems likely that poll workers gave incorrect ballots to voters from adjacent precincts who voted at the same polling place. In fact, they may have even done this in desperation if the supply of ballots for another precinct ran out.
The additional drama underlying all of the recount madness in St. Lucie County is that the County Supervisor of Elections is hospitalized. Again from the Palm Beach Post:
Noticeably absent Sunday was Gertrude Walker, the St. Lucie County supervisor of elections. Walker was hospitalized last week amid legal wrangling over whether the ballots should be recounted.
West’s only option for continuing the fight at this point from a legal standpoint appears to be a formal “contest” of the election, but no announcement has been made as of this writing.
There is one further note that ties the West imbroglio to other current headlines. In January of last year, a strange Op-Ed appeared in the Wall Street Journal calling for David Petraeus to get a fifth star. I did a bit of digging, and found that the people behind this push were from a group called Vets for Freedom, who pushed a number of military veterans for public office. The headliner of their group of candidates at that time was Allen West, but the push by this group to get Petraeus a fifth star certainly looked to me that the move was seen by them as a part of their overall plan to eventually prepare Petraeus for a presidential bid. Interestingly, the website for the group shows the candidates they supported in the 2010 election, but shows nothing for 2012. I’m guessing that they have moved on to working under another name. And now both of their headliners are languishing in humiliating defeats, so they face huge obstacles of rehabilitating their “best” candidates.