Category Archives: foreign policy

Good News: Hillary Still Roolz!

Madam Secretary

Madam Secretary

As Barack Obama continues to flounder, flip-flop and act like a fumbling fool on the issue of health care, Our Girl is doing what she always does: blooming where she’s planted. Aren’t you glad that SOMEONE in the Obama Administraiton is acting like a Democrat?!

Barely six months into her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has already made the State Department her own, setting its direction with her usual firmness and clarity.

Clinton’s just-concluded 11-day trip to Africa has sent the clearest signal yet that she intends to make women’s rights one of her signature issues and a higher priority than ever before in American diplomacy.

She plans to press governments on abuses of women’s rights and make women more central in U.S. aid programs.

But her efforts go beyond the marble halls of government and show how she is redefining the role of secretary of state. Her trips are packed with town hall meetings and visits to micro-credit projects and women’s dinners. Ever the politician, she is using her star power to boost women who could be her allies.

“It’s just a constant effort to elevate people who, in their societies, may not even be known by their own leaders,” Clinton said in an interview. “My coming gives them a platform, which then gives us the chance to try and change the priorities of the governments.”

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Stories to Watch in 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I’m finally, FINALLY off to see my relatives tomorrow, and I’ll be gone for a few days. But here are some developing stories that I know I’ll be following with interest:

International:

What is Pooty-Poot up to? Tensions are building in Ukraine after they refuse the Orwellian “discount” Russia offered them for their natural gas.

The Israel-Hamas war. What will happen? What is the solution? Can Hillary, as SOS, do anything about it?

Domestic:

The economy. Will Obama follow through with his promises to adopt more Rooseveltian economic policies? Or will he allow the Senate Republicans to block or ruin everything, using the fact that the Democrats don’t have a filibuster-proof majority as an excuse? Will we be able to dig ourselves out of this mess in four years?

Blagojevich and the Chicago Machine. How many people will Blago take down with him? Will the Burris nomination stand? Can the Dems suddenly object to an AA with years and years of experience, when they spent almost two years pushing an AA with none, and screaming “racist!” at anyone who questioned his qualifications to be President?

And…Who will be under the bus with us in 2009? Will Caroline Kennedy be next? Find out on January 14, 2009, in our next Blog Talk Radio show, “The View From Under The Bus!”

Happy New Year everyone!

And Speaking of Disasters…

hello, FBI! [via Talking Points Memo]

WASHINGTON — Senior officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation repeatedly approved the use of “blanket” records demands to justify the improper collection of thousands of phone records, according to officials briefed on the practice.

The bureau appears to have used the blanket records demands at least 11 times in 2006 alone as a quick way to clean up mistakes made over several years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to a letter provided to Congress by a lawyer for an F.B.I. agent who witnessed the missteps.

I am currently reading “Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA.” If this book is any indication, then incompetence, lying and CYA are much more common in the intelligence services than actual intelligence-gathering. So far, the FBI is apparently running true to form.


The F.B.I. has come under fire for its use of so-called national security letters to inappropriately gather records on Americans in terrorism investigations, but details have not previously been disclosed about its use of “blanket” warrants, a one-step operation used to justify the collection of hundreds of phone and e-mail records at a time.

[snip]

By 2006, F.B.I. officials began learning that the bureau had issued thousands of “exigent” or emergency records demands to phone providers in situations where no life-threatening emergency existed, according to the account of Mr. Youssef, who worked with the phone companies in collecting records in terrorism investigations. In these situations, the F.B.I. had promised the private companies that the emergency records demands would be followed up with formal subpoenas or properly processed letters, but often, the follow-up material never came.

This created a backlog of records that the F.B.I. had obtained without going through proper procedures. In response, the letter said, the F.B.I. devised a plan: rather than issuing national security letters retroactively for each individual investigation, it would issue the blanket letters to cover all the records obtained from a particular phone company.

So to cover up their illegal activities, they committed more crimes. Awesome! What’s even more terrifying is that the Bush DOJ is actually uncovering this scandal. Imagine the whitewashing that went on BEFORE this story leaked to the press!

I have come to believe that our “intelligence” services are not a boon, but a hindrance to America in general. The CIA is at the root of most, if not all, of our interventionist foreign policy maneuvers to “defeat Communism” (which for the most part had disastrous consequences). They have aggressively used psy-ops at home and abroad to manipulate Americans into rooting for war since the early 1950′s. And the FBI seems to be more concerned with spying on ordinary Americans and Democrats like Eliot Spitzer than gathering intelligence on actual threats to America.

Our democracy is weak and getting weaker. Let’s hope that our next President will clean house at the DOJ, reform the FBI and CIA, and start bringing transparency back to our government.

And let’s remember that McCaca will never, ever be the one to do this.

Light Posting This Week…

because we’re finally moving back to Manhattan on Thursday!

But meanwhile, the healing power of music is recognized everywhere – even in North Korea.

The New York Philharmonic arrived in North Korea Monday, becoming the most prominent American cultural institution to visit the isolated, nuclear-armed country.

North Korea made unprecedented accommodations for the orchestra, allowing a delegation of nearly 300 people, including musicians, staff and journalists to fly into Pyongyang on a chartered plane for 48 hours.

The Philharmonic’s concert Tuesday will be broadcast live on North Korea’s state-run TV and radio, unheard of in the impoverished country, where events are carefully choreographed to bolster the personality cult of leader Kim Jong Il.

[snip]

[Zarin] Mehta told reporters Monday before leaving Beijing that politics was not part of the trip. “We are going to do master classes, we’ll do chamber music, rehearsals … that’s what we’re there for. Politics is not our game, we play music,” he said.

To me, one of the most wonderful things about music – and art in general – is its ability to transcend the differences between us and to bring our commonalities to the surface. All humans feel love, pain, anger and joy, and music exquisitely amplifies those feelings into an emotionally powerful shared experience.

May the Philharmonic and the people of North Korea share the gift of music together, and may it be a small step towards unity and away from the divisive Bush Doctrine.

North Korea No Bomb – Iran No Bomb Too?

You know what? There’s actually some good news out of North Korea today.

BEIJING — North Korea will provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities at its main reactor complex by Dec. 31, actions which will be overseen by a U.S.-led team, according to a statement released Wednesday by the six nations involved in disarmament talks.

The U.S. has been involved in six-party talks in North Korea for the past four years, and amazingly, THEY WORKED. Isn’t it funny how not bombing countries with nuclear programs can be so effective?

Unfortunately, Fear and Loathing, Inc. will, as always, fail to learn the right lesson from this positive result. If asked by the compliant and complicit traditional media why they can’t enter six-party talks with Iran as well, they’ll say that Iran is killing our soldiers in Iraq and is harboring a terrorist organization. (Gee, sounds just like Saudi Arabia! Why don’t we bomb them then?)

What they won’t tell you is the truth, which even Alan Greenspan admitted recently. If an unfriendly country has oil, any excuse to invade and steal its resources will do.

And Who Are the Real Experts, Anyway?

Dirk Gently at Albatross! has a wonderful dissection of the Blogger vs. Traditional Media Foreign Policy Seriosity Controversy. Chicken soup for your bloggy soul!

Just read it, mmmkay? You’ll be glad you did.