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November 29, 2006

H&I* Fires, 29 Nov 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite.

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That'll show 'im, by Gosh!

U.S. bans sale of iPods to North Korea By TED BRIDIS, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration wants North Korea's attention, so like a scolding parent it's trying to make it tougher for that country's eccentric leader to buy iPods, plasma televisions and Segway electric scooters.

The U.S. government's first-ever effort to use trade sanctions to personally aggravate a foreign president expressly targets items believed to be favored by Kim Jong Il or presented by him as gifts to the roughly 600 loyalist families who run the communist government.

Heh. Can't hurt. It's not like they're a huge trading partner... Read the rest here.

Moving over to Britain...

Some lawyers welcomed the advance of what has become known as "legal pluralism".

Dr Prakash Shah, a senior lecturer in law at Queen Mary University of London, said such tribunals "could be more effective than the formal legal system".

In his book Islam in Britain, Patrick Sookhdeo, director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, says there is an "alternative parallel unofficial legal system" that operates in the Muslim community on a voluntary basis.

"Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their traditions," he says. These are based on sharia councils, set up in Britain to help Muslims solve family and personal problems.

Sharia councils may grant divorces under religious law to a woman whose husband refuses to complete a civil divorce by declaring his marriage over. There is evidence that these councils are evolving into courts of arbitration.

Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. "It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it's less awesome an environment than the English courts," he said.

Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.

Read the whole thing here. For better or worse, this is how cultures commit suicide. Sadly, the English seem to almost welcome it. The Canadians are experimenting with it, and there have been rumblings about doing things like this in the US, as well. It begs the larger question - what happens to the rule of law, when you basically get to literally choose your law? I understand this is all voluntary, etc, and that the Brits (and Canadians) have some limits - but I think the whole philosophical and public policy underpinnings needs a far greater airing in society at large. In other words, we should be aware of, and arguing about it, not just waking up to find out it's there. Doesn't mean it isn't a good idea - but it sure nibbles away at some very basic principles.

Moving back to this side of the pond - Jim Webb, The Man With No Class.

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Regardless of how you feel about the war, Senator - you're a Senator now. Remember, the "most exclusive club in the world?" That was just sophomoric. You have the chance to make real changes in the Democratic Party that might just make them more mainstream. You don't help things by being childish.
From the Washington Post. -the Armorer


Snerk- From the WaPo article on Webb, referenced above, Senator Schumer on politicians...

"He's not a typical politician. He really has deep convictions," said Schumer, who headed the Senate Democrats' campaign arm.

H/t, the Blogfather. -the Armorer


Why we do it... just one end result of Valour-IT's generous donors and hard-working volunteers. - FbL


*A term of art from the artillery. Harassment and Interdiction Fires.

Back in the day, when you could just kill people and break things without a note from a lawyer, they were pre-planned, but to the enemy, random, fires at known gathering points, road junctions, Main Supply Routes, assembly areas, etc - to keep the bad guy nervous that the world around him might start exploding at any minute.

Not really relevant to today's operating environment, right? But, it *is*

The UAVs we fly over Afghanistan and Pakistan looking for targets of opportunity are a form of H&I fires, if you really want to parse it finely. We just have better sensors and fire control now.

I call the post that because it's random things posted by me and people I've given posting privileges to. It's also an open trackback, so if (Don Surber uses it this way a lot) someone has a post they're proud of, but it really isn't either Castle kind of stuff, or topical to a particular post, I've basically given blanket permission to use that post for that purpose. Another term of art that might be appropriate is "Free Fire Zone".

Comments on H&I* Fires, 29 Nov 2006
AFSister briefed on November 29, 2006 08:49 AM

Webb sounds like a royal pain in the ass.

BloodSpite briefed on November 29, 2006 09:21 AM

I must regress to a comment I made over at B5's regarding Mr Rangel which can just as easily apply to Mr Webb

He's being paid a very Tidy Sum to represent the will of the people, he should do so by example.

Otherwise, as with any other job, he should seek employment elsewhere.

fdcol63 briefed on November 29, 2006 09:40 AM

If supposedly "mature" and "diplomatic" leaders such as elected SENATORS and REPRESENTATIVES can not behave "civilly" to each other and to members of the other branches of government at official state functions or in the process of governing, what does this bode for the rest of us?

Webb is a pretentious jerk.

Trias briefed on November 29, 2006 10:03 AM

I don't really understand the Webb thing. I doubt I would discuss personal matters with my political opponent either. Sure i'd be more diplomatic about it but Bush has already made many more arrogant comments worldwide and then there's things like that comment to a common US citizen that it doesn't matter what they think because they're not important.

Australia has a similar plurality for Aboriginal doing tribal law. I don't support legal plurality. It's far too divisive IMHO.

Masked Menace briefed on November 29, 2006 10:29 AM

He's not asking for personal business Trias. A simple "He's doing well, thanks for asking" would be pretty non-specific a perfectly reasonable.

Maggie briefed on November 29, 2006 01:41 PM

Trias - In my opinion Webb's words were for effect. Anti-war people are happy. People like me, see it as calculated. I dearly hope he pays for that down the line. But then, no one carries a grudge like the Irish. There is no excuse for embarassing the CINC.

fdcol63 briefed on November 29, 2006 01:51 PM

I'm glad Bush had the balls to call Webb on it:

"That's not what I asked you. How's your boy?"

AFSister briefed on November 29, 2006 02:29 PM

President Bush has more class in his baby toe that Webb has in his entire body.

Alan briefed on November 29, 2006 02:48 PM

Why isn't Bush the pretentious jerk? His pretense is that he is a family friend when he is not. And he is not Webb's boss either and obviously not a personal acquaintance. These are two public officials, not some 17th century courtiers.

fdcol63 briefed on November 29, 2006 03:10 PM


So, one must be a "family friend" or a "boss" to simply make polite conversation in which you ask, "How is your son?" ???!!!!! Or else you're "pretentious"?

Also, following your logic train, you won't even grant someone the benefit of the doubt as to whether or not the concern about the son's welfare is "genuine" or "pretentious"?

Gimme a break. If you're that cynical, perhaps you've got other issues that require, as we say in the mental health field, some "counseling".


fdcol63 briefed on November 29, 2006 03:15 PM


Forgive me. I meant "you" in the generic sense, not you personally. I should have rephrased that to remain consistent with the 3rd person subject, "one", that I had used earlier.

Masked Menace briefed on November 29, 2006 03:19 PM

Engaging in polite conversation is now considered pretentious?

But that just goes to show a pattern. Bush tries to extend the hand of friendship to Democrats, and they keep biting it off.

I don't know whether to congratulate him for his perseverence in trying to reach out, or think him a moron for not learning his lesson.

FbL briefed on November 29, 2006 03:41 PM

In this case, Webb is biting off his OWN hand, too. In the power games of Washingon it's all about access. He just assured that he won't even have the minimal White House access of a typical Freshman senator. I don't know if Bush himself will be that vindictive, but his staff certainly will be (phonecalls unanswered, contact numbers misplaced, messages lost, etc). As "Ghost of Habu" points out on Blackfive's post about this, this miss-step will actually make it harder for Webb to attract the most ambitious staffers, etc., and onward. This was incredibly short-sighted of him.

Maggie briefed on November 29, 2006 04:27 PM

"These are two public officials, not some 17th century courtiers."

Alan - Are you serious? You think it was ok for Webb to be rude? You think Bush is a "pretentious jerk" for asking after the man's son? I always hear people decrying that lack of bipartisanship in Congress. We are reminded that back in the days of Tip O'Neill friendly sporting matches were engaged in.....bipartisan dinners were attended. Next time I hear that crap, I'm going to point out Webb's behavior. Jim Webb is a boor. Would it have been acceptable for a Republican congressman to refuse to shake Clinton's hand, stating "I don't know where that's been?" This is about respect for the office. Respect for people you need to work with. It's about civilized behavior. Being rude to the POTUS is uncalled for and in this case calculated. Webb made a political gambit and I hope FbL is right. I hope he pays.

Maggie briefed on November 29, 2006 04:49 PM

Also from the WaPo article.....
"Webb said in an interview yesterday in which he confirmed the exchange between him and Bush. "No offense to the institution of the presidency, and I'm certainly looking forward to working with him and his administration."

Good luck with that! Boob!

FbL briefed on November 29, 2006 05:44 PM

Maggie, there's the proof that he has since been informed how big a screw-up that was.

Alan briefed on November 29, 2006 05:46 PM

You will have to excuse me but around where I come from feigning familiarity is rude, especially from a public official - fawning, uncious. We don't have the semi-royalty of the executive branch - they have to answer questions in the House of Commons when they are told to not when they feel like holding a press briefing. In fact, every year they have to go to a press gallery dinner and make fun of themselves after others make worse fun of them.

If the official was making a comment that had something to do with the office and there was a rude response that was one thing. But picking a known and very personal sore spot was tactless. Sure maybe GWB was being sincere and, sure, Webb might have sucked it up but why should he? He isn't talking to his boss and this wasn't the President giving out pins to Boy Scouts.

Masked Menace briefed on November 29, 2006 06:06 PM

Alan, the culture here is much different. If I find out that one of my vendor's (one with whom I have a working relationship) children is in the hospital, the first thing I'm going to do is ask about how their child is doing. Business can wait.

Not because I want to be involved in his child's medical care, but because treating this other *person* as just another business tool is rude.

Alan briefed on November 29, 2006 06:57 PM

Folk here are not really different here, though to be fair I would have to have a pretty well established relationship with the person to cross the line from work to private.

But officials are - you would not presume. I work in municipal government and my Mayor asking after my parent is OK as I work with the Mayor and know my Dad has met him and introduced himself. But if my MPP or MP (who do not know my family) did the same thing, it would be wrong because I would feel I was being treated as just another political tool. This was especially the case in Nova Scotia where I grew up where being offensive by presumption is a real no no.

Flaunting status can offend, too. My Dad in the early 80s once met one of the richest men in the Province (a true gazillionaire) who was taking a economy fare flight to Montreal. He kept his private jet there. He said would not be able to walk down the street of his small home town if people knew he flew around in a private jet.

J.M. Heinrichs briefed on November 29, 2006 09:28 PM

Well, the last time I took a gander at the Constitution of the United States, I noted that the President of the same United States is designated as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. As I understand it, Mr Bush is thus the "boss" of Pte Webb USMC, and entitled to ask such a question. Given that Senetor-elect Webb evidently has previous service in the same USMC and therefore should have some understanding of these matters, his answer to Mr Bush is rather graceless.


Carla briefed on November 29, 2006 10:18 PM

Oh please, all you folks who think Bush was merely being polite. If that was the case, how come he brushed off Webb's first response to the question and demand an answer ("I didn't ask you that. I asked how's your boy")? And if he wanted to just ask a polite question, why didn't he ask how Webb's family was, or his very pregnant wife? Why didn't he take the hint that Webb didn't want to talk about his son? And why should Webb say his son is fine when the young man (NOT "boy") is in a heavily fought over part of Anbar province? Bush KNOWS that Webb holds him responsible for the mess in Iraq, and still he tried to exert his will over this worried parent. Webb was not rude to Bush. He simply said that the question was between himself and his son and walked away. This is what one does when an acquaintance is intruding. We're not a monarchy. Bush may fantasize, but he's not a king and we don't owe him fealty and answers to all his questions.

Bush is arrogant and overbearing and thinks the rules do not apply to him. I'm glad Webb wouldn't play his game with him and hope to see more of the same. It's time for SOMEONE to hold Bush and his kind accountable for the mess they've made.

jim b briefed on November 29, 2006 10:26 PM

Point of order. It's President Bush. Just like it was President Clinton and President Carter.

At this moment in time, he is the President. You are not.

I believe the follow up remark was, something to the effect that Mr Webb felt like he wanted to punch the Commander in Chief.

Professional..... A true measure of the man.

ry briefed on November 29, 2006 10:31 PM

"But then, no one carries a grudge like the Irish."
Damn straight. Erin ga bragh!
But Webb is of Scots-Irish descent. One of those families that went to Ireland to help depopulate Ireland of the Catholics when the Crown offered land as enticements to emigration for Protestants. He doesn't get to claim Irish Temper as an excuse.

Webb is not one of my favorites. I am a fan of what he was doing as Secretary of the Navy in fighting reductions in the late 1980s, but not a fan of what he's done since the start of the Iraq war..

But he's kinda justified. Bush has to be thicker skulled than I to think that a man who has expressed unbridled rage over a war that put the man's son in harms way is going to react kindly or even civilly to questions about said son's welfare. Dumb. It's like saying, 'Sorry I sent you kid to a combat zone. He still alive?' A General saying that to one of his officers is one thing, but the CINC doesn't have that relationship with a Congressman. I would love for Webb to have lost, but damn. Bush is not King Midas. Not everything he does is golden. Webb bit his head off over an obvious and known sore spot. That's fair.

Bush was stupid in how he tried to extend an olive branch to Webb. Bush didn't ask, 'How's the family?', which would've been a rather chit-chatty thing that Webb could've responded to without getting mad. In all honesty, it seems like Bush's comments were the ones that were calculated----to show, with press present, that he cares about individual soldiers (something that the Left side of the 'sphere has been beating him up on continuously). Just typical ham handed Bush. He's brave. He's got decent ideas about what to do and what needs to be done. But masterful crowd/person manipulator and political operator he isn't.

Carla briefed on November 29, 2006 10:58 PM

I can't let FbL, Masked Menace, or Maggie go unanswered.

FbL -- if you think Webb should worry about retaliation you probably don't know that this has been the pattern of the Bush administration for six years. Bush has ruled with high-handed arrogance, his energy policy was established through secret meetings held between Cheney and energy companies at the White House, questions about no-bid contracts and the conduct of the war were shot down in committee without ever seeing the light of day, and his spokespeople are notorious for calling, e-mailing, and issuing position papers against anyone they perceive as a critic.

Masked Menace -- what hand of friendship are you referring to? Bush declared two years ago that he had "political capital" and was going to spend it. He NEVER admits to any mistakes and has treated dissenters with disdain and outright slanderous accusations of "wanting the terrorists to win", and "hating America". Webb has been included in this criticism, by the way, given his open opposition from the early days of the war. As one of America's most highly decorated veterans he must find it a bitter pill to swallow when his patriotism is questioned by the likes of Bush, Cheney, and Allen, all of whom avoided Vietnam service.

Maggie -- Webb is no professional politician. It's not his words that were for effect but Bush's. Webb just speaks his mind. Bush is a professional politician who decided to put Webb on the spot and try to get from him a concession in the form of an answer about his son. He was asserting his authority over Webb with his "inquiry". Setting aside for a moment that Webb had every right to refuse to answer, it would be naivete on his part to assume Bush would not try to profit from any answer he gave.

Maggie briefed on November 29, 2006 10:58 PM

Ry - the remark about the Irish holding a grudge was in reference to myself and the fact that hope Webb gets burned by his uncivil, immature behavior.

Alan - Here in the US the President also attends a dinner where he is made sport of. This year he was tormented by Stephen Colbert, who I normally like, but was utterly over the line and not funny. So?

Carla - Yeah, Webb being rude is going to do a lot to correct the mistakes in Iraq. If only someone had been rude sooner. Obviously every problem will be solved if we elect some of the comics from Russell Simmons "Def Comedy Jam". Enough "Yo mamma!"s and we should have world peace in no time! And how do you know that if Webb had acted in a civil manner the next two questions wouldn't have been "How's your wife? How's the family?" You don't, nor do I. Too bad we won't.

Ry - Why is Webb's son's service such a sore spot? My sons are not in the military, but my favorite consort is. I am not pleased with the handling of the war. I think "W" could have done better. Hell, I think I could have done better. That said, if "W" asked how SB was doing (he has been in the Gulf twice since the 2001 and is absolutely itching to go back), I would have said "Fine, sir, thank you."

"W" is a politician and he was doing the political thing....being "folksy". Webb was being a boor and I hope it costs him.

Maggie briefed on November 29, 2006 11:15 PM

Carla - I beg to differ. Webb is quite the professional. Career military. Reagan's SecNav. Bestselling author. This isn't Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. As far as speaking his you mean like Tourette's? Cause it was just as ridiculous.
I stand by my statement that Webb's whole bit was calculated......not getting in the receiving line....not having his picture taken....his cold, rude tone. I'm not saying "W" wasn't playing the politician as well. I'm saying that nothing productive came out of that exchange and that's on Webb. Everyone's always crying for bipartisanship, but when a Democrat is rude to Bush, it's ok. Please, how about if Denny Hastert mentions that Nancy Pelosi has seen more lifts than Mt. Cranmore? It'll be true. Is that ok? I have to deal with recalcitrant O2 patients all it ok if I tell them to cut the $hit, they smell like an ashtray? It'll be true and it might even save their lives. Next time a cop goes into a domestic violence situation is it ok if he says to the woman "I'm here everytime your welfare check comes in and your bf smokes it up and beats you....why don't you stop wasting my time?" It'll be true and he'll save on paperwork and stop placing his life in danger.

Of course not. We are civilized people. When we disagree with people, we deal with it as adults. If Webb didn't want to meet "W"....if he didn't want his pic taken with "W"....if he didn't want to be's a question:

What the !@#$%^&*() was he doing there?

Yeah. How come no one's asked that? He went there to be an a$$. Mission accomplished.

Carla briefed on November 30, 2006 12:13 AM


Are you saying that it's always rude not to want to discuss one's family with an adversarial acquaintance? Because that's all Webb did. He didn't seek out Bush, he didn't attack him, he didn't yell at him, raise his voice to him, or otherwise do anything but let him know that he did not wish to discuss his son, and he did it using the President's honorific. How, pray tell is that rude? Moreover, how was the President shrugging off Webb's first answer and demanding another NOT rude? You've seen tapes of Bush, that smirking, gladhanding way he has about him, the inability to recognize subtle signs of emotional pain. I saw him at the National Italian American dinner a few weeks ago. He can be charming, sure, but he has an almost snarky personality that can be grating if you're not in the mood, and he gave a flatly political speech after being reminded that the NIAA is non-political.

Jimmy is Webb's only son, and he's in a very hot battle area. Maybe your consort's been to the war, but has he been there lately? Was he infantry? Have you ever yourself been in battle and almost mortally wounded and watched your fellow soldiers die? Webb has. He went through five radio operators in three months as a Marine lieutenant. His body is covered with scars from the two grenades he took the day he earned his Navy Cross. Have you ever seen him in person? He's very intense and serious in a public setting. Read what he's written about soldiers and their pain. Read his 1982 Parade Magazine article about his 18 year old radioman, Mac, who lost an arm to shrapnel in front of him. Webb describes crying from the frustration of so many men lost and injured. Our troops are not ciphers to Webb. Bush is not capable of understanding the passion that drives him, the melancholy as one of his campaign spokesmen called it. It's certainly not immaturity, but rather a knowledge of pain and loss that Bush cannot comprehend, and which Webb may be incapable of sharing on a superficial level. How frustrated he must have been when his advice on the war was sought and ignored, and his warnings went unheeded. He described himself once as having come home from Vietnam "wounded and mad". I think the anger is still in him, and it's being directed at those who made this war.

Brash, yes. Blunt, yes. Opinionated, yes. But don't call him rude when he was not, and don't accuse him of immaturity.

Carla briefed on November 30, 2006 12:32 AM


Webb was there because he was invited to be there. It's the People's White House, not Bush's ranch. I doubt the invitation read - "come to the White House to stand in a receiving line and have a photo op with the President". It was a dinner, an opportunity to meet the many new members he does not know, and to mingle with them. It was also an opportunity for him to size up the lay of the land. You've never accepted an invitation from someone you don't like? He wasn't trying to cause a scene. It sounds like he was hoping to avoid being noticed and just kept absenting himself from the dog and pony stuff. He kept trying to avoid contact with Bush, who just had to chase him down. And when Bush pressed the contact upon him, he gave him an opportunity to respond with a general platitude to his first response to Bush's question. Bush is the one who couldn't let the question go. And I fail to see how it is rude not to participate in Bush's little game of "take a photo and make a nice kissy face". Do adults get mad if one of their guests won't participate in the games at a party?

Trias briefed on November 30, 2006 01:13 AM

Masked Menace: I totally disagree. I think the senator's son is indeed the senator's personal business.

Maggie: I think it was Bush who was calculated. Prying into personal issues. If he really wanted to know about the boy he's CinC he can look it up with the boy himself rather than gauding an opponent.

Carla: I don't know if the White House is the people's or the President's. Considering the President theoretically lives there perhaps he does indeed have the right to rejection.

Maggie briefed on November 30, 2006 06:30 AM

Now it's a contest? How much shrapnel is in your body? Shall I have Sen. Webb and my consort get X-Rays and we'll see which one has more "gravitas" as Gov. Kaine put it?

The only difference here is that before this incident, you didn't like Bush and you view his actions through that lens. Whereas I didn't mind Webb, his military service and his service as SecNav earned him a bye with me and I have been bitterly disappointed. I am all the more disappointed *because* of Webb's background. If it were some John Kerry type, I would have chalked it up to ignorance. I expected more because I thought more of Webb. But I should have known better, the whole switch to the Democratic party when it was politically expedient seems more calculated now too.

It might not be Bush's ranch, but that stuff about the people's house is BS. No one else would accept an invitation there and not expect to make nice with the host.

Ry- I think and have said repeatedly in this thread that Bush was playing the "pol", but Webb planned his actions from the get-go. Webb set out to cause this scene. Bush *reacted*

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 30, 2006 06:34 AM

I think we are officially circular here.

If you are generally supportive (even if weakly) of Bush, you think Webb behaved boorishly.

If you are not generally supportive of Bush, you think Bush was an ass.

If you're Commonwealth, you're bringing different cultural referents to the discussion.

A lot of what is really missing here is info on the non-verbal cues.

My last word on the subject is... I have no idea if Webb was being calculating or not, but that he crossed the line first. Again, all depending on those non-verbals we don't have, the President's response wasn't the best, either.

I don't find it odd that the President asked after Webb's son. I've been in similar situations with people who I don't really know on a personal level who are asking a "noise" question - which can be about family, your health, etc - they are opening conversation gambits. They may or may not really care, it's simply a social lubricant.

Webb could simply have said, and to much greater effect, "My son is fine for the moment Mr. President, I look forward to working with you to get him home soon, and in the same condition." and he'd have been a hero, and pretty much nobody could have said a thing. As it is, to my ear he was petulant, a trait I rather don't find attractive in people who should be wearing finely tailored Big-Boy pants.

The President's response was artless.

There's actually a very similar habit among people, especially from the south, and heck, whole cultures elsewhwere, that is personally really creepy to me - the hug. Virtual strangers want to wrap themselves around you and go to the point of kiss on the cheek.

My second battalion commander's wife was like that. We'd come home from Graf, and she would be there with the spouses with cookies, cupcakes, stuff like that, welcoming the battalion home. And she wanted to hug and such.

I.Really.Don't.Like.That. I've got a 1 meter 'safe zone' around my person I prefer you enter by invitation or crowded space considerations only.

So, how did I handle that? Simple. I let her do it, rather than snip at her in front of everyone else. And then I found her later and told her that I was just really uncomfortable with that. And she took it well and we got along just fine.

I suggest Webb could have turned that interaction into political hay, if that was his intent. And if he was just reacting viscerally, I sure hope he grows up. He's a Senator-elect.

As for the President, he prolly shoulda lettit go, but on my little balance scales, Webb's the bigger offender here.

Maggie briefed on November 30, 2006 06:47 AM

The second half of my last comment was aimed at Trias, not Ry. I apologize for the confusion.

I am laughing out loud at the Armorer's last post. I am not a *hugger* either, but I most definitely did hug him in Seattle. If you meet him, there's just *something* about him. I need SWWBO out here to back me on this (and BCR and the Adjunct and AFSis and FbL).

As for future meetings.....duly noted, sir.

AFSister briefed on November 30, 2006 07:53 AM

Well heck. My comment got eaten.
The short answer is: Webb's a jerk; the President was simply asking about the welfare of a family member out of courtesy.

And yes, John's a big teddy bear. It's hard not to meet the man and not want a big "neck hug", as my very southern grandma says.

Carla briefed on November 30, 2006 08:08 AM

So many comments, so little time (sigh!).

ry - check out Webb's discussion of the whole development of the Scots-Irish identity in his ethnography, "Born Fighting". As a Catholic Irish (and Italian) American I found it illuminating and was shocked, shocked to discover that he has as much a right to claim an Irish temper as I do. Plus, the dude's a redhead. Cut him some slack.

Maggie - I've always been a political independent. I didn't develop a dislike of Bush until I'd had the opportunity to observe him for a few years and noticed his cavalier dismissal of all who disagree with him, his blind dogmatism, and his appalling incuriosity. I've talked to people who deal with him in person and they describe a man who is full of backslapping bonhomie, but who also attaches nicknames to everyone and expects them all to go along with him as if he's some party director. He teases and belittles people. As for the invitation to the WH, Webb was there, he was polite, he was not challenging Bush. If you're saying he was dangling himself in front of Bush like an attractive lure, what does it say about Bush that he bit? Also, turns out now that Webb's son had been in a battle a few days before the dinner in which three of his platoon members were killed. Bush was probably aware of this since Jimmy's the only senator's son in Iraq, and if he did that makes his behavior even more boorish, but Webb most certainly knew of it and was probably thinking of it quite a bit. In his shoes I sure wouldn't reply, even to be polite, that my kid was just fine. Remember, Webb refused to say ANYTHING about his son. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, as they say.

John of Argghhh -- as a Southern woman I manage not to hug, although I understand completely your point. Webb seems intensely private and uncomfortable discussing his family or himself, and is genuinely pained when people he doesn't know or consider friends invade his space. For reasons cited above I think he thought that he could not honestly say his "boy" was fine, so he chose not to discuss him at all. It is not rude to politely reject a rude overture.

FbL briefed on November 30, 2006 08:36 AM

I know absolutely nothing about Webb's son, so when I suggested Webb should've said "He's fine," I meant it as a way of the "social lie" or such. Recent events in his son's unit might change that. But if Webb truly didn't want to talk, he should've said something like, "I'd rather not talk about him." and changed the subject (in light of the deaths in his son's unit, that would've been completely understandable). A response like that would've painted Webb sympathetically and put Bush back on his heels for "being insensitive." Webb's actual response didn't do that at all. And a political response to a personal question is just rude.

Now if (as Carla says) Bush would've known what Webb's son had been through recently (possible, but not guaranteed), his question is even more understandable and less political than I previously thought. "How's your son?" when said son has just lost a couple of his brothers is an extremely reasonable and even compassionate question in that context. And to have it thrown back in one's face as Bush did makes his terse response of "I didn't ask you that" more understandable. Bush has spent hours and hours with people who've lost loved ones and their fellow soldiers and so is painfully aware of the aftermath that Webb's son is experiencing right now.

It's as John says, if you are inclined to see anything of Bush negatively, you'll say he was rude (and same for Webb). But I don't know a thing about Webb except that he used to be in the military (didn't realize he was a Marine until I heard about this story) and I haven't been thrilled with Bush recently. But I was appalled at Web's behavior in throwing back what I think was an innocent question in the face of the questioner.

And as I said above, beyond the simple rudeness of it, it was politcally stupid. "Cocktail conversation" is the lubricant of politics in DC and Webb consciously refused to participate. "Churlish" is the right word.

Beth Donovan briefed on November 30, 2006 08:40 AM

As to John's huggability - well, I'm from a very huggy family. He is most definitely NOT from a huggy family.
I have to demand daily hugs from John, and they must last 20 seconds. He puts up with it, and I suspect he might even like it, but only from a select few.

My son, Andy, is a hugger, too. When he first met John's mom, years ago, he gave her a big hug. I'm not sure, but I think he might be the only 'grand-kid' to ever hug her. He still hugs her. And me, and his girlfriend, and John!

BloodSpite briefed on November 30, 2006 09:21 AM


*scrolls up and back down*


What in tarnation have I walked in to?

I think I'm with the "Webb was rude" group but for different reasons.

White House Dinners, while there is a degree of political rudiment to them, are not the focus for political action, rhetoric, or demonstration.

They're provided to give a makeshift quiet time, to allow folks to meet off sides so as to show that it really is business, not personal. Otherwise you'd have more Senators and others trying to take each other out in the aisles. Essentially it's a stress relief buffer, as well as a chance to mingle and maybe get someone's attention.

That being said Webb is paid by his state, to represent them, in a professional manner. Optimal word there is, professional. Now we can debate semantics on whether Bush is professional or not all day, overall I would say yes he is, but he needs work. No argument there. Webb had an opportunity to let by gones be by gones, have a nice dinner, maybe get some face time with W and speak of his concerns. He chose to use it for grandstanding instead.

Was he right or wrong? I vote for wrong. The dinner isn't the place to get your face in the camera's to make an impression because you just snuffed the man who holds the Pocket Veto power, when he invited you, not the other way around. So essentially the fine State is now paying their representative to accomplish nothing for at least 2 years.

Good job. Homeless folks in the streets and this guy is wasting tax payer money.

Everything else is small crap in my humble and arrogrant opinion :)

BloodSpite briefed on November 30, 2006 09:23 AM

And as much as I like John I am *NOT* going to get drug in to the "Is he huggable?" fray.......maybe I can get Ry to make me a Scotch & Water or something from the dungeon :)

Maggie briefed on November 30, 2006 09:53 AM

I am aghast at having put The Armorer in an ackward position...............but if I meet BloodSpite, I'm hugging him just to be difficult!

FbL - Good point on why Bush said "That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"
"W" peeves me too, but I am hardpressed to believe he was just trying to make Webb uncomfortable. Your take makes perfect sense.

Barb briefed on November 30, 2006 11:40 AM

John - that 1-meter space around you is almost visible ... or I might have hugged you when we first met face-to-face. I resisted, cause it was obvious you weren't a hugger. I think I scared BCR the first time I met her by giving her a hug ;-)

Masked Menace briefed on November 30, 2006 11:49 AM

You want attempts at bipartisanship: OK.

Prescription Drug Benefit & No Child Left Behind (Both of which were heavily influence by Ted Kennedy)
"Undocumented worker" program (to hell with security and rule of law - the Dems need votes)
The Incumbent Protection Act (McCain-Fiengold, What? Advocating for or against a politician within 60 days of an election isn't free speach.)

Tried to downplay ~15k of vandalism to the White House by Clinton staffers as just a few pranks. For which Dems then attacked republicans for making mountains out of molehills.

Has named a federal building after Robert Kennedy and has gone out of his way to praise several Democratic politicians.

Has had one of the most racially diverse staffs in the history of the country, yet Colin Powell and Condi Rice "aren't really Black" and are just "House N******".

Has routinely invited Democrats to the White House to discuss policy, yet "He never listens to us".

When the Dixie Chick's said they were embarrassed that the president was from Texas, Bush's response was basically, "Well, they have the right to say that." Somehow though, Bush's refusal to make radio stations play their songs was just another example of the loss of free speach in Amerika under Bushitler.

Need I go on?

John of Argghhh!! briefed on November 30, 2006 12:40 PM

Barb - heh. You are one of the few with the properly maintained sensor. BCR is another.

Masked Menace - I hope you weren't referring to me with that "bipartisanship" thingy.

Isn't bipartisan a sexually adventurous Slav insurgent/freedom fighter type?

Masked Menace briefed on November 30, 2006 01:05 PM

No John, not you. Carla.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 30, 2006 01:09 PM

I was just lookin' for an excuse to work in the joke...

BTW - Carla - are you a regular lurker just lured into the open by the subject, or find your way here by different means?

Maggie briefed on November 30, 2006 04:37 PM

Barb - heh. You are one of the few with the properly maintained sensor. BCR is another

Fine, whatever........I'm sure the next time we are in DC I can find plenty who won't refuse my damaged sensor.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 30, 2006 04:39 PM

Snerk! Or even next weekend!

FbL briefed on November 30, 2006 06:19 PM

John, Barb beat me to the punch regarding the visibility of your personal space. I don't recall ever having the urge to hug you in DC, haha!

I'm a bigtime hugger with close friends and family, but I really resent strangers or casual friends hugging me, so I'm sensitive to others' personal space.

ry briefed on November 30, 2006 08:31 PM

"Ry - the remark about the Irish holding a grudge was in reference to myself and the fact that hope Webb gets burned by his uncivil, immature behavior."
Ah, but me 'Ma named me Ryan Patrick(The Little King---so I shortened it to keep from getting to big a head. That and John's Big (Smelly) Boot keeps my ego in check most of the time.). Ask the In-Laws about my temper and ability to keep grudges. It's a trait we all share, lass. Even if we didn't grow up in Bah-stawn.

ry briefed on November 30, 2006 09:13 PM

"Ry - Why is Webb's son's service such a sore spot? My sons are not in the military, but my favorite consort is. I am not pleased with the handling of the war. I think "W" could have done better. Hell, I think I could have done better. That said, if "W" asked how SB was doing (he has been in the Gulf twice since the 2001 and is absolutely itching to go back), I would have said "Fine, sir, thank you."
"W" is a politician and he was doing the political thing....being "folksy". Webb was being a boor and I hope it costs him."

Why a sore spot? Put yourself in a detractors shoes for a moment. If you thought invading Iraq was a fundamentally flawed proposition before we even went and your kid was now having to pay for some jackalopes mistake you'd be pretty sore. My oldest friend, SGT Moran, a guy I've known literally longer than The Wife has been alive, his Mom is like that. I can see Webb's pov. I don't agree with it, but I can understand the man. If you thought something was a mistake, something you were against so strongly that you'd 'change religions'(remember, Webb was SecNav as a republican appointee), and would campaign loudly about while worrying about your son being killed for something you thought was a mistake wouldn't you be pissed if the guy who put your kid on the line tried to be all buddy-buddy? I would. There's some bad blood between my natural brother and me and I react the same way for something much lesser than sending a kid to war.

SB ain't the same thing Maggs. Ask AFSis. When it's your kid it's different than your Consort (Capitalized, 'cause, like he's the Consort for Da Princess) or spouse. It just is. I don't know why. I don't have kids. Like with Mother(F'f) Sheehan. At first we understood because of the loss of her kid. I'd say the same applies here. Sure, you can say Webb should move on---but it's kinda hard when the kid is still there and still facing the threat.

I wouldn't like being played either. Not on something that personal. Don't use my family for your political gain. That's outta bounds in my book. It's unethical where I sit. Be cordial and ask how I'm doing if you want to play me for political effect, but leave my family out of it. If you're really concerned you can ask when the cameras and reporters are gone.

I don't know what SB does so I won't comment on that, but I sure hope the Navy Research comes up with upgrades to 'R2D2' to beat rubber ducky IEDs soon. We like our Princess to be happy. If he does go back give him a 'en spiritus sancti' for me.

Carla: John may not be annoyed by this, "Jimmy is Webb's only son, and he's in a very hot battle area. Maybe your consort's been to the war, but has he been there lately? Was he infantry?" but I'll throw the flag on it. That's outta bounds. SB isn't even here to defend himself. And being Navy in this day and age isn't a dodge either. There's lots of ground on which you can defend Webb on this, but insulting people and calling into question their courage is not really valid reasoning. It's akin to calling 'chickenhawk'. Don't hurl insults when you've got useful tidbits left in the bag, please.

"ry - check out Webb's discussion of the whole development of the Scots-Irish identity in his ethnography, "Born Fighting". As a Catholic Irish (and Italian) American I found it illuminating and was shocked, shocked to discover that he has as much a right to claim an Irish temper as I do. Plus, the dude's a redhead. Cut him some slack." Nope. Not cutting him slack on that. I've defended his reaction but he can't call 'Irish Temper'. Scots-Irish Protestants are Sossanach. They don't get to claim it(largely being the N. Ireland, Ulster Orange Order jagoffs,). Ethnic solidarity they haven't earned. THe Scots-Irish did plenty for the US, but they screwed the Irish in Ireland. He doesn't get to claim 'Irish Temper' because of that. Scots-Temper, also a people with nasty tempers, or just short tempered, but chalking it up, and getting a pass because of, to an Irish Temper he does not get to do. The man isn't an Irishman. He's the descendant of Scots transplanted(by force and at the expense of native Irish) who further transplanted to the US. He's isn't an Irishman.

"If you are generally supportive (even if weakly) of Bush, you think Webb behaved boorishly." So how do I fit this? I don't think I do, Boss.

"Webb could simply have said, and to much greater effect, "My son is fine for the moment Mr. President, I look forward to working with you to get him home soon, and in the same condition." and he'd have been a hero, and pretty much nobody could have said a thing. As it is, to my ear he was petulant, a trait I rather don't find attractive in people who should be wearing finely tailored Big-Boy pants." ---- I throw the bs flag on this one. Of course we would have blasted him for being highly political with such a verbal riposte. Limbaugh would've gone off just the same no doubt. I wonder what Drudge's headline would've been for that. And you KNOW the Kossacks would've made use of it leaving us to have to respond. This was just a bad decision by our President, my President. If you hadn't have jumped on it Jimbo or someone else would've. Be honest Boss.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 30, 2006 09:25 PM

I toss your BS flag back at you.

I still think if Webb had said something along the lines of what I suggest - this discussion wouldn't be happening except among the people for whom this sort of thing is all they do anyway.

Sgt. B. briefed on November 30, 2006 09:40 PM

Make ya a deal, John... If you find me wrapping my arms around you, one of two things is happening: Either something has happened in my plane of exsistance that is so horrifying that I can't keep my feet, and am reaching for the only source of strength I can find (not probable), or we're both headed to the ground, and you'd better be reaching for your hold out piece 'cause I just saw a situation that was turning terminal too quickly for you to get "eyes on" before stuff starts flyin'...

Other than that, a hearty handshake will do for me...

Now, as far as the Denizennes are concerned, hug away!!!

(I like sandwiches...)

Barb briefed on November 30, 2006 10:01 PM

Sgt B - You'll recall that my sensor was working FINE when we met, and you received the hug you deserved :-)

John - I'm not too sure that my sensor is always working that well. BCR got the hug on our first visit (I'm sure the Scrup'ls reported it), it's just that the sensor didn't go off till afterwards!

Cricket briefed on December 1, 2006 07:30 AM

You know what? Bush asking him about his son was kindly courtesy, nothing more. Webb's response was out of line. A reminder to Webb:
Your son is over 21. He made his own decision to join up. Get over it. If people ask, respond politely, especially if that man is the President of the United States with whom you disagree. Like my mama allus taught me, you can catch more flies with honey than you can vinegar.

Of course the President is concerned. Clinton didn't give a fig newton about the children who served under him (pun intended and not). The Clinton Reign Of Error was all about retribution.

Cricket briefed on December 1, 2006 07:40 AM

One More thing: Webb staged this. If he TRULY sought to avoid the possible Cootie Encounter with Bush, he should have declined the invitation. Since he did decide to go and Make A Statement by obviously avoiding Bush, he did so knowing that he would get free press. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figger that out. And just like a cyber troll, he's got everyone talking. I detest trolls and would just ignore him; Bush obviously did his homework and knew who would be there, since an RSVP would be required.

Maggie briefed on December 1, 2006 08:09 AM

Ry-thanks for your good thoughts about SB. You are right, it would be different if it were my son. I like to think though that I would have more class than Webb. I am not being hypocritical, I would have been just as polite to Clinton during Somalia when I very much disagreed with ROE and administration policy. It's about respect for the office. Again, it all goes back to the question, why was Webb there?

Cassandra briefed on December 1, 2006 12:19 PM

Let me remind you that Webb was a Marine and a former Sec. of the Navy. His rudeness is inexcusable and he knows that his son is serving VOLUNTARILY.

To blame the Commander in Chief because his son is WHERE HE CHOSE TO BE is the act of a petulant child.

Additionally, to take out his personal peeve while present at an official function as a United States Senator elect proves him to be not only classless but a rank amateur. He wasn't there as a father, but as a Senator and pleasantries are exchanged normally in that capacity - he ought to be grown up enough to control his childlike emotions.

What a maroon.