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    • Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 19, 2023
      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 19, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Global power shift China Leads A Successful Middle East Summit Ian Welsh, March 16, 2023 Something which has slipped past most people’s radar is that China recently acted as the intermediary for peace talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have been at each other’s throats f […]
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Putting “Extremely Careless” into perspective

According to James Comey, head of the FBI who happens to be a Republican, after sifting through 50,000+ emails at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer, he was able to dig up 113 emails that contained classified material. Some of this classified material was classified after the mail was sent, some was buried in email threads, which, as anyone who gets email threads at work can verify can sometimes be mind bogglingly long and hard to follow. The recipient can’t control what other people send to her.

Let’s do the math:

113 classified emails/50000 emails total = .23%. (I rounded up)

I can only assume that James Comey went through all of Condoleeza Rice’s emails and Colin Powell’s emails and Madeline Albright’s emails for comparison and that none of our three most recent Secretary of State’s emails contained anywhere close to that number of unintentional violations.

That would be about 2 tenths of 1% of emails.

What would be considered “extremely careful”? Shouldn’t Comey provide a scale so we know what would be considered rigorously careful? Presumably, 50000 emails would contain 0 classified emails unintentionally passed between communicants.

In the absence of any data from other Secretaries of State, we have no way to know just how egregiously bad Clinton’s numbers are.

So, James Comey, Republican, can say whatever he likes about the standard of care that was applied here. There is no way of knowing whether this is higher or lower than any other secretary of state who used private emails.

Ok, then.

Sorrow and Strength

The Secretary of State’s remarks at the transfer of remains of 4 State department employees stationed in Libya:

Hillary vs Obama on Egypt: Will the left ever get it??

Hillary calls unrest a "perfect storm"

So, apparently, Obama has backtracked on urging Mubarek to leave.

At the same Munich meeting on Saturday, Frank G. Wisner, the former ambassadorPresident Obama sent to Cairo to negotiate with Mr. Mubarak, suggested that the United States should not rush to push Mr. Mubarak out the door. He said Mr. Mubarak had a “critical” role to play through the end of his presidential term in September.

“You need to get a national consensus around the preconditions of the next step forward, and the president must stay in office in order to steer those changes through,” Mr. Wisner said of Mr. Mubarak. “I therefore believe that President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical — it’s his opportunity to write his own legacy.”

A senior administration official quickly sought to distance the White House from Mr. Wisner’s comments. American officials have said that they are seeking privately to nudge Mr. Mubarak out of his executive role ahead of September elections, though they have also said that they do not view his departure as an essential first step toward a transition to a new democratic system in the country.

Why am I not surprised?

So, the Egyptians are disrupting their country and economy and destabilizing the region because they really REALLY don’t like the Supreme Dictator and (apparently) President for Life and his brutally, repressive goons and they are willing to die and risk torture to get rid of him and what does Obama do?  He says Mubarek should stay.  Is that how I’m supposed to interpret this?  Or should I conclude that there is disagreement in the administration over how to handle Egypt and it is sending mixed messages to the world and to the Egyptians themselves, who it may be leaving high and dry?

This is stupid.

It’s not only stupid but it’s not very strategic.  Yes, we can expect some instability if Mubarek leaves but the alternative is probably worse.  If he stays, that will only energize the more radical elements in Egyptian society meaning that the next time the Egyptians try to revolt, they may very well have a charismatic religious figure to lead them and voile!  Son of Iran.   Short term thinking is at work here and Obama is nothing if not an exceptional short term thinker.

Contrast with Hillary Clinton, who is busy in Munich trying to convince Angela Merkel that helping Egypt make a swift transition is the best option for stabilizing the country and improving its economic condition, which is in part driving the explosion of unrest in the middle east.

“The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends,” Clinton said.

“This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region.”

Clinton said that Washington was backing Egypt’s drive to craft orderly reforms to allow democratic elections.

“It is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government actually headed by now-vice president Omar Suleiman,” she said.

“The principles are very clear, the operational details are very challenging.”

The secretary of state urged leaders across the Middle East to embrace democratic reforms in response to the growing unrest in the region, despite the risk of short-term instability in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.

She said change is a “strategic necessity” that will make Arab nations stronger and their people more prosperous and less susceptible to extremist ideologies.

Addressing events in Egypt, Merkel said: “Early elections at the beginning of the democratisation process is probably the wrong approach.”

However, Cameron said a delay would produce an unstable country that the West would not welcome.

“There is no stability in Egypt. We need change, reform and transition to get stability,” he said at the conference

For completeness, it’s important that we read the transcript of Hillary’s remarks but this seems very consistent with what she has said before all hell broke loose in Tunisia.  It also seems to be the interpretation of several other news orgs like the Indian Times and Euronews.

Once again, it looks like Hillary is doing the heavy lifting, lobbying for a principled democratization of Egypt and other countries in the middle east while Barry can’t make up his mind.  (That blockquote is from an Al Jazeera link of all places.  Go figure.  Check out the picture of Merkel and Clinton.  I’m guessing they’re using the same stylist.)

This is yet another of the many reasons why you star struck lefties should have gone with the girl.

He’s not the messiah.  He doesn’t know how to play chess, let alone the 11 dimensional kind and he’s not going to become the boyfriend you hoped he would be when you jumped into bed with him.

It’s not too late to dump the dude for 2012.


Thursday: Take your children to work day

Mornin’ all.  I have to hurry to work for an early TC and some fun with the kids so I don’t have time for a lengthy post.  BUT, there are some amusing videos of Hillary’s testimony on Capitol Hill in front of the House Foreign Affairs committee.  She got plenty of praise from Floridian Robert Wexler, who you may recall completely trashed her at the RBC meeting last year.  (BTW, Hillary, you were wrong about losing the primaries.  We can count, you know.  He may be the president but we know he didn’t win it fair and square.  We know it’s your job to be diplomatic but it was OUR VOTES.  We will never forget.)

So, without further adieu, I give you our SOS, speaking plainly:

and this out Dick Cheney:

There’s a lot more where that came from.  She’s fricking brilliant.  She should be president.  We all lost last year and will be paying for it for decades to come.  God, what a stupendous loss.

In other news, it’s bright and sunny in NJ!  Go outside and smell the periwinkle.

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Monday: “Obsessive Deadenders” {{snarf!!}}

Korean Bibimbap for Hillary for lunch

Korean Bibimbap for Hillary for lunch

First, there was Biden’s wife accidentally slipping up on purpose on Oprah. She said that Joe was first pick for Secretary of State. Oddly enough, I think there is a grain of truth to that. Joe probably wanted SOS and Hillary was destined for VP in order to solidify her support for Obama. But my guess is that she made it pretty clear up front that she wasn’t interested in being deep sixxed for four years so don’t even ask. (Of course, we’ll never really know what went on in DiFi’s study. We merely speculate based on what *we* would have done.) So, Joe had to settle for VP instead of jetting around the world flashing his UltraBrite smile.
Then, there was the suggestion that Jim Jones, the national security advisor, was really running things and had rigged the internals so that nothing from State actually counted. But then we remembered that George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke, who are serving as envoys to Obama, are Clinton loyalists. Holbrooke was her Foreign Policy advisor on her campaign. So, Samantha Powers may not get her way like she hoped. The “Monster” may win this round. But it was a good meme for awhile there and no doubt, there are many people who prematurely celebrated the demise of La Clinton.

Now, the new meme is that those of us who are following Hillary’s career at State are “obsessive deadenders”. This is coming from “friendly” blogs What a crock of horse hockeys. We are very aware that Hillary is not the president. She’s likely never going to be president. The progressive blogosphere 1.0 saw to that. But it would be really stupid to pretend she doesn’t have power. She’s the second most powerful politician in America after Obama. The eyes of the world are on her as she makes her maiden voyage to Asia as our new Secretary of State. She’s got more gravitas in her little pinky than Obama has in his entire jock strap. Whether the Obama adminstration and media like it or not, she’s important.

The world *loves* her. Her employees lover her. We all know now that her plans for the economy were the right ones. We’re not obsessive deadenders. We were right. And we’re going to follow Hillary’s brilliant career at State as if she is the Foreign President.


On another note:

In general, we do not like to accuse people of being spies or trolls. It’s impolite and it doesn’t add to the spirit of the site to be exclusive. We feel it is better to be friendly when we can be. Our policy is to “reward good behavior”, not to perform a version of political ethnic cleansing when we find heterodoxy. Of course, there are times when we have to delete users or comments for being “trollish”. The reasons for doing this is left to the discretion of the administrators but you can probably expect to be thrown into the spam filter if you meet the following criteria:
1.) You have introduced talking points or propaganda that smell like they came straight from David Axlerod’s ass.
2.) You are aggressive and abrasive and cannot engage in a discussion without insulting your audience.
3.) You stalk users or comments.
4.) You intentionally attempt to pit one group of users against another to cause disruption and dissent. (You highjack a thread)

We have a moderation queue. Certain trigger words in a comment will automatically get you thrown in the moderation queue. It happens to everyone eventually so don’t take it personally. One of the trigger words is “racist”. If you type that word in a comment, we don’t know whether you are saying: “You old, ugly PUMAs are racists” or “I’m an old ugly, PUMA but I’m no racist.”. The comment has to be examined in context to see if it is a comment that Anglachel might have written or one that I might have written. Once that ambiguity is cleared up, the comment is released or thrown into the spam filter where no one can hear you scream. So, don’t take it personally if you end up in the queue. There are other trigger words culled from the propaganda comments of the hired Obama commenters but they are more rarely invoked than “racist” and “racism”. Now that Krugman, Atrios and Kos are racists too, maybe this trigger word will lose its mojo and we can take it out of the queue eventually.

We have some long time commenters who are Republican here. Actually, they having identity problems. They’re not really Republicans but they have to figure that out for themselves. (I’m joking. Ok, not really) We are a liberal blog and the Republicans know it. But we like these commenters because they add something to our blog and we want them to continue to comment here. We don’t approve of “purity”. We do not insist that people stick to a prescribed set of doctrines but we do have a credo. You can read it in the tabs at the top of the page. But just because we have our minds wide open doesn’t mean our brains have fallen out. So, there is a lot of room for discussion and debate in a friendly atmosphere where people from many points of view can participate.

One other thing: We didn’t endorse any candidate for president. There are some blogs who think we converted to McCain after the convention. This is incorrect. We dissociated ourselves from the Just Say No Deal coalition once we realized that it was their intent to work with the McCain campaign. We endorsed many Democrats for the House and the Senate. However, many of our front posters, including yours truly, voted for McCain as a protest, not out of any fondness for Republican policies. We cried bitter tears afterwards but we didn’t want to reward the DNC for the way they invalidated our votes during the primary season. We believe that narrowed Obama’s margin of victory. Good. The DNC knows we’re out here and they will probably continue to take steps to minimize our impact. Like by calling us Obsessive Deadenders.

Too damn bad. We don’t really care what they call us. We’re here to stay.

Things I just don’t get

Parts of the past year remain a total mystery to me.  For instance, what made Barack Obama more of a Change!™ agent than Hillary Clinton?  Did everyone REALLY think that she was going to escort Bush to the door and then just slide behind the desk in the Oval Office, picking up business like nothing had transpired?  Which one of you stupid Obots thought that was going to happen?  Speak up so we know who to taunt in the future.

Ruffles, good.  Stick to ruffles.

Ruffles, good. Stick to ruffles.

Of course Hillary would have brought Change.  From what I gather, it would have been more dramatic than Obama’s version.  She was ready with some pretty radical policy changes on the Paulsen Bailout Bill last September.  They were so out there that the only person who seemed to have paid any attention to them was John McCain.

That’s another thing I don’t get.  According to the CNN article, it was John McCain who seems to have taken a real shine for Hillary since the primaries.  The two of them worked together on the Armed Services Committee and they’re good friends now.  Maybe it’s because she can drink him under the table, I dunno.  It was John McCain who pointed to the urgency of confirming Clinton as the Secretary of State yesterday.  The country is in a vulnerable period of transition with a green president and the GOP was going to hold things up to get one last shot in?  How stupid is that?  When all was said and done, only 2 Republicans voted nay on her confirmation, making themselves stand out like crybabies for insisting on an unnecessary spectacle to parade her clean laundry in front of the world-again.

I will never understand the vitriolic viciousness of the Villagers or the Republicans for the Clintons.  I will never understand how one skipped cocktail party at Sally Quinn’s house escalated to such a mindless, frenzied 16 year onslaught on two dedicated public servants.  They aren’t perfect.  Not by a long shot.  But they fall so short of being the vile human beings as they are portrayed that the conventional wisdom about them is a joke now.  Perhaps Vince Foster had it right.  In Washington, ruining people “is considered sport”.  It was nothing more than cliquey viciousness that spread and was fueled by a right wing cabal of spiteful elves.  Maybe it was because they arrived in Washington based on their merits, not some aristocratic machine that greased the skids for them.  Maybe without the protection of their “clan”, they were open to the volleys from the courtiers who made their living from the continuity of the political class.

Whatever the initial reason behind the offensive, it eventually spread to Hillary’s own party and infected its hierarchy with the delight of all things petty and mean.  The pervasive nature of the game worried the leaders who were simultaneously reveling in  it while becoming fearful that the media and Villagers would never let up.  The sport fed upon itself.  The original reason for the game was lost long ago.  It was just the thing they did.  Beat up on the Clintons because they are there.  They will not go away so we will continue this silly game until they do.

No amount of so-called “arrogance” on Hillary’s part justified this ridiculous behavior from the Washington establishment.  Without self-confidence and a healthy ego, she couldn’t have come this far.  But it didn’t stop the clique from finding fault in everything she did.  Still, it should be time to put it aside now.  She has triumphed over them.  They’ve been beaten.  Oh, she’ll never be president.  They’ve seen to that, to our detriment.  But she will be one of the most powerful Secretaries of State we’ve ever had.  As the Boston Globe pointed out, Barack Obama needs someone with the experience and stature of Hillary Clinton to take his place on the foreign stage while he deals with domestic issues.  She will be as close to a foreign president as we have ever had.  And anyone who doesn’t think this is exactly what she asked for is dreaming.

Still, I just don’t get why the pettiness and snobbery continues.  Like, what’s up between the Carters and the Clintons that resulted in the incident below?  Is this the way we treat successful former presidents and their honorable wives these days?

There’s a history there, no question.  But what it’s all about is a mystery to me.  It’s a bit of Pride and Prejudice that I don’t understand, where the people you once admire turn out to be meanspirited meddlers with their own agendas.  It’s hard to know what to believe except that integrity can be found in how closely a person’s actions match their words.  And so far, my inclination is to trust Hillary.  She is as good as her word and Obama, who could stand to learn a thing or two about integrity, is very lucky to have her.

One more thing: Consider this your Morning Funnies.

Operation Pantsuit: A Play In One Misguided Act.

Can't Touch This

Can't Touch This

THE SCENE: DAVID AXELROD’S conference room. We are witnessing a meeting with the Obama team’s inside-iest insiders. Attending are AXELROD, DAVID PLOUFFE and VALERIE JARRETT. RAHM EMANUEL is attending via teleconference from Paraguay, where he is hiding out from Patrick Fitzgerald and his ongoing investigation. His face is shown on a screen on the far wall of the room. The other three participants are seated in cream leather executive chairs around the black granite table, which is polished to an immaculate sheen. The walls are sage green and covered with pictures of Obama looking beneficent and Presidential.

AXELROD (addressing the wall screen): Rahm, can you hear us? I know things are kinda primitive in Paraguay.

EMANUEL: Not where I am. Our man Barack has made everyone feel so post-partisan that George W. has been hosting me. (a Paraguayan houseboy, wearing a large nametag that reads “Hello, my name is Juan” brings him a tropical drink) Thanks, Miguel! (The houseboy leaves, rolling his eyes; EMANUEL sips his drink) Mmm…nothing like fresh mango.

JARRETT (sarcastically): Gosh, can I be the target of a federal investigation too?

PLOUFFE (looking around) Shhh! For god’s sake, Valerie, don’t jinx it! Everyone, make the sign of the “O”!

(The following ritualized actions are done with a precision that would put synchronized swimmers to shame.)

(ALL raise their arms and make an “O” sign with their hands)

ALL TOGETHER: Obama, protect us! Obama, protect us! Obama, protect us!

(ALL lower their arms.)

AXELROD: Ahhhh, that’s better. It looks like we’re ready to start now.

(ALL put on their “serious” faces)

AXELROD: As you know, today was a big day for our President. Several of his appointments went to confirmation hearings, including…HER.

(ALL nod solemnly)

AXELROD: Now, none of us wanted HER, but thanks to those damn voters in the primary and those idiotic PUMAs, she had the leverage to elbow her way into the Cabinet. A moment of silence, please, for our brother John Kerry, who deserved the Secretary of State position so much more.

(ALL bow their heads solemnly)

Continue reading

Hillary Clinton’s Senate Confirmation Hearing Opening Statement


CLINTON: Thank you, Senator Schumer, for your generous introduction, and even more for your support and our partnership over so many years. You are a valued and trusted colleague, a friend, and a tribute to the people of New York whom you have served with such distinction throughout your career.

Mr. Chairman, I offer my congratulations as you take on this new role. You certainly have traveled quite a distance from that day in 1971 when you testified here as a young Vietnam veteran. You have never faltered in your care and concern for our nation, its foreign policy or its future, and America is in good hands with you leading this committee.

Continue reading

So, Can She Start Now?

Madame Secretary
Madame Secretary

President-Elect Barack Obama has finally named Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State today. I am thrilled, but nervous, since I expect the press to react like this for the next four years, and she will face many challenges in her new position, including – perhaps – other members of Barack Obama’s Administration. 

What I’m wondering is, since Obama has been acting as co-President, can Hillary now act as co-Secretary of State with Condoleezza Rice? Because quite frankly, Dr. Rice has been an unmitigated disaster.

Just think about the history of this woman’s tenure in the Bush Administration. On 9/11, she was the National Security Adviser. She admitted in Congressional Hearings that she had seen the August PDB entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” She had taken no action whatsoever on terrorism either before or after this briefing, and on the day itself, she was scheduled to give a talk on missile defense and Russia. The idiocy of wasting time on this billion-dollar Reaganite boondoggle, when they had so much information on terrorism in their hands, is truly mindboggling. The Bushian excuses for missing the significance of the chatter and the foreign intel and the PDB were pathetic; Rice actually called the PDB a “historical document,” which was utterly laughable.

And as for the Secretary of State position, Rice has been all but invisible. Colin Powell was a strong Secretary of State, until he ruined his credibility with the cartoon drawings and vial of flour at the United Nations. After that, Bush should have appointed a person with impeccable credentials and experience; someone who could help erase the taint of the Iraq WMD lies from the SOS position. But who does Bush choose? A loyalist, a crony, the woman who failed to prevent the attacks of September 11, 2001. As a New Yorker, I was shocked and disgusted by this appointment. I knew then that Bush had taken the principle of “failing upward” to a new extreme.

The one time Dr. Rice actually tried to do something – that last-minute effort to hold a Middle East peace conference – she failed miserably. And that missile defense shield, which Rice is so fond of promoting? Well, that’s not working out too well. Who could have predicted that if America planted missiles 100 miles from Russia in Poland, it would be interpreted as an act of aggression? Oh yes – EVERYONE WITH 1/10TH OF A BRAIN.

Continue reading

Obama, yada-yada-yada

The Domestic and The Foreign Presidents

The Domestic and The Foreign Presidents

So, Obama introduces his foreign policy team this morning and the New York Times wastes no time spinning it as “Obama is the boss of Hill”.  Sure.  Whatever.

Campaigning is not the same as governing, guys.  And Obama’s campaign was the type that would make most employees run for cover: bullying, autocratic, arrogant, misogynistic and cheating.  It’s a good way to get to the top, if that’s your only goal.  But it’s quite a different story when you get there.  The Bully Boss leads to quite a bit of turnover, which tends to not look so good.  And we have seen what 8 years of autocratic rule can do to a government.  So, the NYTimes can kiss our asses on the new narrative.  If Obama is as smart as everyone says he is, he will not lord it over anyone.  He won’t be lording it over Hillary in any case.  She serves at the pleasure of the American people and Barack Obama better never forget it.

From the article on the announcement comes former 2 term preseident Bill Clinton’s recommendation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State:

As an American, I am thankful that President-elect Barack Obama has asked Hillary to be Secretary of State and that she has accepted. As her husband, I am deeply proud.

She is the right person for the job of helping to restore America’s image abroad, end the war in Iraq, advance peace and increase our security, by building a future for our children with more partners and fewer adversaries, one of shared responsibilities and opportunities.

She has already earned the respect of foreign leaders and diplomats through her work to promote human rights and the empowerment of women through access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity. And Americans know, from her leadership in the Senate on national security, that she will always put the security, values and the interests of our people first.

In her service to the people of New York and our nation, Hillary has demonstrated the knowledge, passion, resilience, and capacity to learn that our country needs at this critical time. She loves being a Senator from New York, but as she has in all the thirty-seven years I’ve known her, she answered the call to serve. I commend President-Elect Obama for asking her to be a part of a great national security team. America will be well-served.

Very Classy, Bill.   Now, with Biden’s help, Hillary should hit the ground running.