Archive for foreign affairs

The Importance of Being Earnest, and Honestly, a Little Feisty

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pliviapope

It's rather refreshing to have a Press Secretary at the podium who has a bit of vinegar in his delivery. That touch of acid we all crave.

Meet relative newcomer, and at what a quiet time in world affairs, new 1600 Pennsylvania Main Face: Josh Earnest. Flippant Oscar Wilde tie-ins aside, it truly is a dramatic turn of events. Domestically. In a good way.

Now you're listening.

AttaBoy

The West Wing personnel department might had been catching up on Scandal and went "Man, we have to really up our game around the real deal," or just relaxed a bit as it eases on to the final, two year stretch.

It will certainly be more interesting, and we all want interesting. Less Tea Party, more interesting.

Within the #OhButWeKid category of media-watching perspective is also no small amount of awe that the Obama team let a bit of a bulldog out to man a pretty public desk. A Press Secretary with teeth, topics get fleshed out when the pearly whites are flashing … always a plus for discussion.

In any case, it makes for fine embed video. This bit courtesy of Morning Joe Schmoe, and so you also get the Full Pith of the Panel. 'pologies.

You can tell by the sub-titles these days how the production team is going after the differing viewership over the course of their day. "Caught?" The actual Question and Answer are transcribed below.

Q: One other question on a different subject. The Washington Post report this weekend about the information available to the administration about the border and expectations of a surge at the border. Can you comment on whether the administration was advised, and then overlooked or disregarded the information that was available to DHS and the White House?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Alexis, I’d first point out that you’re asking about a story that’s based entirely on anonymous sources. So that should be reflected in the record. The second is, if you do take a look at what this administration’s response has been not just in the last couple of months, but over the last few years, you’ve seen that this administration has repeatedly sought additional resources to deal with this specific problem at the border. That if you look at the trajectory of the budget from Fiscal Year 2011 to the 2012 to 2013 to 2014, that there has been a steady increase in the amount of resources requested to deal with this precise problem. That is a pretty good indication that this is something that we’ve been watching carefully and preparing for.

What also happens to be true is that there are a number of steps that were taken by this administration in the months before, or at least in the weeks before this became the media sensation that it has been over the last several weeks, that there were repeated visits by the Secretary of Homeland Security to the border and to facilities that were used and have been used to detain unaccompanied minors.

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There were steps taken by the President to direct the FEMA Administrator to coordinate the activities of DHS and the Department of Defense, and Health and Human Services, to coordinate the response for detaining these children and these families in a humanitarian way.

So this is something that the administration has been focused on for quite some time. And we have seen, as I mentioned at the top of the briefing, the tide at least start to turn over the last couple of weeks. But we’re not going to turn our attention away from that; in fact, the President is having a meeting on this today, because he believes that this is the kind of significant problem that merits sustained attention.

Everyone's an editorialist.

NOWAY

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The Lure of Scandal … drifts into a juicy The New Yorker Spy Story

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I came late to the party to two major political dramas highly prized by the liberal community, but sure am having a delightful time catching myself up. If you enjoy either of them, described briefly below, you'll enjoy this long form but magnetic real-life spy story over at The New Yorker.

It even has an Albanian plot line for Russia parallels, with Ukraine and Putin being a hot topic.

Scandal1_250

Now House of Cards, that was virtually Binge By Imperative. You guys catching this Netflix creation? I tried watching only three at a time, no way José, or no way Robin Wright Penn, as it were.

It didn't help so much that I had seen the Brit version, but tried to erase that mentally and just take the unusual camera and actor exaggerated interaction with a grain of salt.

What did translate beautifully to American politics was the loving attention to minutiae and the gratuitous sexually provocative moments ... like when Kevin Spacey got in on the Secret Service cutie-patootie mènage his wife was indulging in to make it an authentic party of three.

GIF courtesy JEOBOX.com

GIF courtesy JEOBOX.com

Certainly as complex in plot lines and underlining the politically scandalous exceptionally well in regular television -- network, even, go ABC for apparently this one show and whatever else folks are hooked on from genius and some kind of modern cultural oracle, Shondra Rhimes -- with Olivia Pope and her cohorts on Scandal.

 

As stated, if you enjoy either show, have a gander at this piece at the New Yorker, just excerpting a generous paragraph below, but the entire piece is so worth the time.

Macintyre tells Philby’s story through the prism of his longtime friendship with another young star of M.I.6, Nicholas Elliott. The two men were of a piece. Elliott’s father, Claude, was the headmaster of Eton. According to Macintyre, the elder Elliott “loathed music, which gave him indigestion, despised all forms of heating as ‘effete,’ and believed that ‘when dealing with foreigners the best plan was to shout at them in English.’ ” Like Philby, Elliott went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and did not join public service so much as he was ushered into it. A family friend, Sir Nevile Bland, “simply told the Foreign Office that I was all right because he knew me and had been at Eton with my father.” (Sir Nevile’s words of advice to Elliott: “In the diplomatic service it is a sackable offense to sleep with the wife of a colleague,” and “I suggest you should do as I do and not light your cigar until you have started your third glass of port.”) Elliott trusted and revered Philby. Their families vacationed together. Elliott modelled himself on his friend, Macintyre writes: “his spycraft, his air of worldly irony, his umbrella with an ebony handle. . . . They were as close as two heterosexual, upper-class, mid-century Englishmen could be.”

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BREAKING: AP Reporting that Malaysian Air 777 Was "Shot Down" over Ukraine

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Picture 27

Reuters had just run this, at around 11:34 a.m. EST, when Tamron Hall broke in on her own expert on MSNBC (video below) to announce that the AP was officially reporting that it was not an unfortunate second Mayalsian Air crash … but that the 777 carrying just under 300 passengers, last mentioned as 'burning on the ground" was shot down by what is being reported as a 'Buk ground-to-air missile' on Reuters breaking crawl.

(Reuters) - A Malaysian passenger airliner with 295 people on board crashed in Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, the Interfax news agency cited an aviation industry source as saying.

The Interfax report said the plane came down 50 km (20 miles) short of entering Russian airspace. It "began to drop, afterwards it was found burning on the ground on Ukrainian territory," the unnamed source said.

This story was quickly amended by another breaking banner that the Buk launcher was seen by press members near the Eastern Ukraine town mentioned in the piece earlier today, Shakhtyorsk.

The plane appeared to have come down in a region of military action where Ukrainian government forces are battling pro-Russian separatists.

A separate unnamed source in the Ukrainian security apparatus, quoted by Interfax, said the plane disappeared from radar at a height of 10,000 metres after which it came down near the town of Shakhtyorsk.

Condolences to family and friends of all on board. If indeed this is a political miscalculation, it is one of tragic proportion.

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Eric Holder Handily Annihilates #TundraTwit Palin's Impeach(!) Hysteria

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chickfil-a

We already discussed La Palin's latest idiocy, she looked out from her porch and declared "Impeach!!" last week in some sorta' Independence Day Fvx Nation Tea-hysteria about still wanting 'their' country back.

Enter Attorney Eric Holder, a guy who knows a tad about racially motivated movements and a skosh about the law. Enjoy his ABC decimation of the half-Governor, a.k.a., John McCain's biggest effing mistake.

Enjoy it again in print. BURN!

La Palin: "Enough is enough of the years of abuse from this president. His unsecured border crisis for me it’s a last straw. It makes kind of a battered wife say no mas. That’s enough. It’s time to impeach."

Rational Human Being Eric Holder: "She wasn’t a particularly good vice presidential candidate. She’s an even worse judge of who ought to be impeached and why."

Phase Two has already begun, Fox Noise will jump aboard Palin's hay wagon and try to morph this into some kind of 'strong stance', 'real leadership', from a woman so full of feck she can hardly get out of bed in the morning unassisted.

DNR

This cage-match was inevitable, Holder has spent decades fighting xenophobia and racist tendencies, while the half-Governor has used that time to narrow her focus.

Particularly after Grampy McBombBombs unleashed Palin, #TundraTwit of all time, on the lower 48 and had the audacity to put her on the same global stage as Barack Obama.

She may be fit to talk about battered wives … The Party of Palin does little but demean, belittle and destroy women and their collective rights and independence; and her Bible must tell her to 'submit' to any man who finds her sponge-worthy.

 

havalaugh

Image, The Sacramento Record.

 

Pardon the Ick Level.

For a little more jaded nastiness, we have Morning Schmoe Joe Scarborough slinging the blood-red rare conservative New York Strip for his un-compassionate conservative base.

 

Sarah Palin needs to crawl back into the A-las-kan cave she stumbled out of, and hibernate for the next five decades, minimum.

Then she can reemerge and start screeching about the Mad Men era again. Happily a lot of us will have walked on and will be spared the recap of Tundra Twit's inane idea of 'reality'.

wordpolice

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Vlad the Mad Imagines Hillary Clinton a 'Weak' Lady

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Image, Grimmy.com

Image, Grimmy.com

 

Written by guest contributor, "hardybear" of the wonderful Free Range Talk site:

Putin, Putin, Putin.

Of all of the women in all the world, you had to choose Hillary Rodham Clinton to publicly accuse of weakness. And of being a Lady!

You silly, silly man.

You would do well to invest in an Iron Jock for those Imperial Cajones, dude. American womenfolk know how to brandish a knee. And we are about as fed up as we can BE with the Regressive GOP.Tea War on Women at home - we're presently stockpiling trans-vaginal probes for future pop-prostate exams.

Pushing boundaries in the Crimea is one thing. Crossing this demeaning line is quite another. Let's just pray the man had a shirt on when he penned the following sexist-on-steroids poke in the eye to Hillary Clinton. From The Moscow Times.

"It's better not to argue with women. But Ms Clinton has never been too graceful in her statements," Putin was quoted as saying in a transcript published on the Kremlin website.

"When people push boundaries too far, it's not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman," Putin added in the interview.

We will have enough home-grown sexist rants and rages between now and the Sweet Sixteen to fill a wide swath of Siberia, but heaven help them if they limbo low enough to declare weakness perfectly fine in a female.  #YesAllWomen will show the Regressive Asshattery just how strong American dames are.

If Vlad The Shirtless Lampooner starts on Elizabeth Warren, I'll personally activate the posse. Certainly Pussy Riot would jump aboard post haste.

 

Image, Newspoint Africa

Image, Newspoint Africa

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When Will We Learn, McCain Is Not A Diplomat?

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Oops I did it again

It takes a big (wo)man, not necessarily a good (wo)man, to admit he/she's made a mistake. John McCain this weekend proved he's that (wo)man. He's admitted what we've all known for years -- he means well, but is prone to exaggeration gaffs.

So in the spirit of fairness, I'm willing to say John simply got caught up in the moment, took some time to reflect on his own actions of the past and decided Obama's handshake with Raul Castro wasn't the disgraceful act of "appeasement" on par with the Neville Chamberlain/Adolph Hitler handshake. Time to get past that.

With that settled, I think it's about time that the US Government reconsider it's policy of sending McCain and usually his personal valet Senator Lindsay Graham on official "fact finding" trips to political 'hot spots' on behalf of this country. This hawk and his sidekick have never found a place where they didn't feel the US should make it a flashpoint for war.

They were early and multiply times visitors to Iraq where we escalated our efforts there -- remember the "surge" of troops?

They visited Syria and voted against Obama's using peaceful means to negotiate the chemical weapons disarmament.

McCain made a number of official visits to Israel where each time the middle east country announced increased anxiety over Iran which lead to threats of a possible unilateral Israeli strike on their warring neighbor. McCain went so far as to refer to then current Iranian leader this way according to NBC news:

McCain made a joke comparing Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to a monkey.

The Arizona senator even more recently has been vocal on pushing new sanctions against Iran which would most certainly derail the peaceful efforts to negotiate a shutting down of the nuclear weapons development program in Iran despite pleas by Secretary of State John Kerry to allow unfettered negotiations to take place. 

Now today we find McCain (without his Graham valet) once again off to a foreign land as an official envoy, this time in the rioting Ukraine.

In all these these cases, the McCain visits have turned out, by his actions once he returned, to be the opposite of our best interests. How many times must this old warhorse be sent to gather intel and report back? It's not as if his efforts have netted us any qualitative or even quantitative findings. He may be a good guy, and his military background -- at least in years spent as a prisoner of war -- is laudable. But like the accountant today who forgoes contemporary computer technology to prepare your taxes, he's slow, prone to human error and basically just out of it. He's got his old ways and refuses to change with the times. Rather than input data in a computer and have it instantly analyzed and metadata mined for multiple uses, he's still got the pencil, a paper spreadsheet (with coffee stains) and a hand-pull adding machine at his side.

We'll all be served when he finally signals his retirement. He doesn't need to be put out to pasture just yet, but he certainly doesn't need to be our eyes and ears on the ground surveying our next possible moves in volatile locations. He could help us best by passing on his knowledge in improving the standards of living and assistance to soldiers returning from service as well as issues affecting our growing aging population.

Internation diplomacy needs a bit more than just having served for a long time or a Senator singing "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran."

It takes someone who thinks before he speaks. What it needs is diplomacy, not mockery. And lately, Senator McCain has proven he's doting with emotional lust for one final battle, not one grand peace. Let's stop putting our worst foot forward. Let's start putting our best.

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Be Careful What You Wish For

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Department of Justice

The Justice Department has filed the first criminal charges in the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, two U.S. officials said Tuesday.

But that first step isn't enough for one Republican urged the administration to do more than file charges. Who is he? Why Darrell Issa, of course.

TPM:

“Osama bin Laden had been criminally charged long before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but was not apprehended,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement. U.S. Navy SEALS killed bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. “Delays in apprehending the suspected Benghazi killers,” Issa added, “will only put American lives at further and needless risk.”

Perhaps Darrell better be careful what he wishes for. Maybe quick to accuse and fall for baseless rumors, Issa, should look in the mirror. He may just see himself as many Americans do. Suspiciously.

Lebanon

Darrell Issa is of Lebanese descent. Lebanon is home to Hezbolla, the Shi'a Islamic militant group and political party responsible for the 911 bombings. Its paramilitary wing is regarded as a resistance movement throughout much of the Arab and Muslim worlds, and is considered more powerful than the Lebanese Army.

Now if that doesn't raise an eyebrow, that fact that his mother is of German/Czeck descent. Whose side did they fight on during WW II? How American is he really? Arab background. Nazi Germany. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I might be getting concerned.

Now Issa's involvement with Hezbollah has yet to be cemented, but there's a tenuous link here. And remember, they're one of the responsible attackers in the 911 attack in New York.

Issa's has very calculatedly maneuvered himself into the chairmanship of the House oversight committee. There he has the power to obfuscate and misdirect investigations to cover for his possible criminal and subversive activities. One of them is wasting our congressional resources with wild goose chase investigations, keeping the congressional eye off the ball. Not only has his witch hunts been fruitless, they've been costly as well. He's been squandering valuable resources and money that could be focused on our national security. He is guilty of putting up smoke screens to weaken our defenses. Our national security is at risk. I don't know if he can be trusted. With the power he's maneuvered for himself, he's a dangerous man. Especially if he's a mole. Consider this, Obama may be a secret Muslim who's been sent over here from his native Kenya to destroy America. A lot of people believe that. Whose to say they're wrong? Certainly not John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.

And what if Issa's using that leadership position he's sneaked into in order to help his "brothers" in Lebanon and in Hezbollah, where he may have hidden sympathies? He might even be one of their operatives.

Okay, I kid. It's no more believable than Issa being a criminal with a law breaking past here in this country, car theft, arson, illegally carrying a loaded concealed weapon.  Or his having a questionable stint in our Army where he also stole a car.

He's not so inclined to thumb his nose at our laws much, is he?

Issa behind bars

So Issa wants more done, more arrests made. Maybe the Justice Department would be well served putting America's mind at ease. Look into Issa. He may be war criminal number 1. Justice reports show that there may have been some inside information leaked to the attackers in Benghazi. Wonder who they got that from?

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