Friday, November 27, 2009

Townsend Defends Karzai

Frances Townsend, Baker Botts Risk Management Consultant, wants Afghanistan work. She recommended a civilian counterpart to the military structure to help rebuild the country. Think of it like New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina, where the national guard maintained order, but couldn't rebuild the city. The civilian leader would work with private corporations and nongovernmental organizations, i.e. potential Baker Botts clients.

Consider Fran's words on Hamid Karzai:

If he fails he will not simply fail NATO and his US allies, he is going to fail the Afghan people and he will be thrown out of office.
Unless he or his supporters stuff the ballot box. Contrast this with Karzai's recent statement:

"We must have a second round (a runoff vote)...If we don't do that we'll be insulting democracy."

There was no second round. Abdullah Abdullah dropped out, sure the redo would be as corrupt as the original.

Later Townsend said:

This is exactly the reason why we democratically elect leaders to make difficult public policy decisions that are in the country's best interest.

How far did her nose grow with that remark? How was omitting the hospital with the highest patient death toll from Fran's Katrina Lessons Learned report in America's best interest?

How was her whitewash beneficial? I can see why the Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals and Tenet Health might be grateful. A supposedly incensed Senate Homeland Security Committee recently hosted Frances, asking not a question on Katrina.

Karzai and Townsend are proof one can do shoddy work and benefit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama Meets with Wrong Indian during Thanksgiving Week

When Apache-Jumano historian Enrique Madrid spoke in San Angelo at the Lady in Blue Celebration, he referred to the great holocaust the white man inflicted on his people. Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving this week, recalling the time when settlers broke bread in thanks with Native Americans. This occurred before the great theft.

President Obama met with Indian Prime Minister Singh. Tonight the White House will host a state dinner in honor of the Indian leader. What will they eat? Who will attend? My guess is not one Native American will be invited.

It's rumored that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will dine with PM Singh. He named November American Indian Heritage Month in his state. That may be the best Native Americans will get.

Tomorrow, Obama will pardon turkeys. Meanwhile Sarah Palin has her sights set on the White House. We recall her experience with turkey slaughter.

Update 5-4-11:  Native Americans are offended by the code name used for Osama bin Laden.  "To equate Geronimo or any other Native American figure with Osama bin Laden, a mass murderer and cowardly terrorist, is painful and offensive to our tribe and all Native Americans."  The slights continue.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bill Clinton's Dirty Talk

The Jerusalem Post reported:

At the same event, former US president Bill Clinton warned of the dangers of a proliferation of dirty bombs, noting that the kind of bomb that was used to kill 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, if combined with fissile material, would "take out 20% of Washington."

It's not clear at which event Clinton made his dirty bomb remarks. The article mentions several:

P5 +1 meetings on Iran held in Brussels
Obama's Asian trip
Site of Netanyahu's remarks earlier this week
Bill Clinton talking "dirty" isn't a surprise. Why would an Israeli paper be the sole quoter?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Karzai Swearing In: Insult to Democracy

Afghan President Karzai entered his second term with public support at the level of President Bush post Hurricane Katrina. Consider Karzai's recent words:

"We must have a second round (a runoff vote)...If we don't do that we'll be insulting democracy."

There was no second round. Hamid Karzai was sworn into office. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say:

"The inaugural speech that President Karzai gave today set forth an agenda for change and reform. He was particularly strong on the steps that he intends to take regarding corruption," Clinton told reporters after the speech. "We think that the issue now is to ensure that it is implemented, that we see results."

Change? That sounds familiar. One Western official in Kabul offered a different take:

"We've heard all of these sentiments before. If you compare his last inauguration to this inauguration, you'll see that there's almost a 90 percent overlap in the issues that were raised."
The Afghan people have five more years of failure, similar to Bush II. I didn't think W.'s stock could drop further after Hurricane Katrina, but the financial crisis precipitated a final implosion. Unfortunately after Bush left, America got Karzai level change and reform.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

White House Dismayed Over Decade Long Pattern of Settlement Building

The White House is "dismayed" over an Israeli decision to build 900 homes in a disputed section of Jerusalem. The parties rehearsed this six months ago. After his election Israeli PM Netanyahu promised to grow settlements. This follows a decade long pattern of U.S. pleading.

Yet days ago, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spoke of the "unbreakable bond" between the U.S. and Israel. Rahm's other comments included:

"Make no mistake, the path toward peace is not one that Israel should be asked to walk alone. That is why the U.S. will remain actively engaged, and Israel's one true friend.

One would have to be a true friend to suffer a decade of public dismay.
Israel has been "a beacon of democracy in a region too often defined by strife."

Israel attacked Lebanon, its democratic neighbor to the north, in 2006. This happened despite President Bush's claim that democracies don't attack democracies. Senator Obama supported Israel's leveling of Southern Lebanon, ended by scattering a parting gift, millions of cluster bomblets.

In December 2008 Israel began the pummeling of Gaza, with Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and General James. L Jones in the loop on a change of plans. President elect Obama sat on his hands.

"As the president has said many times, as the president said in Cairo, the bond between the Israel and the U.S. is unbreakable. It's a bond rooted in shared interests and shared values."

Who knew intentional violence against civilians and staged lying was a value?
A decade of dismay should be no surprise.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

100 Minute Netanyahu

President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They talked for 100 minutes. Haaretz reported Netanyahu's assessment:

"I think this visit will turn out to have been very important."

Just like Hillary Clinton and General James L. Jones meeting before the Gaza incursion? Just as President elect Obama offered nothing but silence as important decisions were implemented? Time will tell.

At this moment, we know Bibi is more than a 60 minute man.

Monday, November 9, 2009

U.S. Finishes 3 Week Drill with IDF

Juniper Cobra 10, a three week joint air defense exercise, ended today. The test simulated rocket fire from different types of Iranian missiles. Various officers described it as:

"yielded great results"

At least it didn't lay an egg. The drill ended on a big day for U.S.-Israeli relations. Defense Minister Ehud Barack met with Pentagon Chief Bob Gates, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will met with President Barack Obama.

Note: The first Juniper Cobra simulated missile attacks from Iraq. The U.S. invaded two years later. Also, the drill could be abbreviated JC. That might inspire a superstar rating.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Israeli Work Camps?

Haaretz reported:

Israel proposes work camps for illegal migrants The government is considering establishing work camps in the south of the country, where illegal migrant workers will receive shelter, food and medical care, Army Radio reported Wednesday. In exchange, illegal migrants would perform manual labor outside the camps, but would not earn a salary.

They would stay at the camp until their asylum claims are decided, which could take months or years.

The proposal, part of the effort to address the problems posed by illegal migrants, would place asylum seekers at jobs in communities in the Negev and Arava. Their salaries would go to the state, in order to fund the camps.

Divide, conquer and profit continues. Expect the U.S. to imitate its 51st state, just as it did on summary executions, a border wall, kidnapping foreigners, indefinite detention and "nonlethal" weapons. It's in our genes.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Insulting Democracy in Afghanistan

"We must have a second round," ... "If we don't do that, we'll be insulting democracy"--Hamid Karzai

NYT reported:

Afghan officials canceled a runoff presidential vote set for Saturday and declared President Hamid Karzai the winner on Monday, a day after his remaining challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew.

The announcement capped a fraught election widely depicted as deeply flawed by corruption and voting irregularities.

Officials from the United States and United Nations welcomed the decision and congratulated Mr. Karzai.

Consider democracy insulted.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hillary Speaks of Israel's "Unprecendented" Concessions

When politicians dig up the word "unprecedented", it's usually to sandbag past failures. President George W. Bush peppered his Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report with unprecendented's. Author Frances Townsend used so many "U words", she didn't have room for the hospital with the highest patient death toll. Fran said politics never impacted Homeland Security.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unleashed the sandbag relative to Israeli settlements in Palestinian Territories.

"What the Prime Minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements . . . is unprecedented," Mrs Clinton said.
Her comments come after a decade of U.S. futility in restraining settlement growth. I would call Hillary's gall unprecedented, but it's clearly Bush-like.