Condi vs. Rummy: Just be glad you don’t have to spend Thanksgiving with these two

During the former SecDef’s history setting lap dance (primed with the release of his memoir last February), Donald Rumsfeld gave an interview with verbal darts aimed at his fellow Bush administration officials, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In this piece, Rumsfeld was critical of Condoleezza Rice, for her lack of experience in government.

“She’d never served in a senior administration position,” he said. “She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings. And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”

Fast forward to April 26, in the Sunday Mag of NYT (h/t to Laura Rozen of The Envoy)
   
Rumsfeld also implied that you were unfit for office. He wrote that you had “modest experience in the federal government and management.”

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.


There are a lot of people with strongly negative opinions of George Bush. Have you ever tried to dissuade anybody from hating him?

Well, no. But I think people caricatured the president, and the only thing that I couldn’t understand is why this man with such a curious mind, who in briefings always asked the question you wish you thought of, why that quality didn’t come across. And I fully admit that it didn’t come across. I think part of it is he has such a self-deprecating way about him that people tend to underestimate him. But he read five books for every one I read. He read something like 12 biographies of Lincoln in office.

I’ve read that people consider you almost incapable of admitting a mistake. What do you consider to be the biggest of your career?

You know, I’ve done pretty well. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past that way.

In 2005 you went to see “Spamalot,” and the audience booed you. Does that happen a lot?

It happens on occasion and, you know what, I don’t care. I don’t care, because I did what I thought I could do in service of the country. I did some things well and some things not so well. The overwhelming majority of people come up to me and say, “Thank you for your service.” If you’re a public figure, there are always going to be a few people who don’t like what you did. I’m just really glad I don’t have to listen to them.

I read that interview and discovered the secret of a good life.  My first thought — well, so that’s how she sleeps well at night. No second guessing, and she does not have to listen to “them” or anyone she does not want to. Sweet. 

On second thought – thank god we’re not related and I don’t have to spend Thanksgiving with these two!


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To Ambassador Ranneberger: “The nation of Kenya loves you and I love you Your Excellency”

Hopefully in the future, this beautiful Maasai woman will just call him Mike, and Mike can stop blushing.

The Kenyan press was abuzz over the weekend with public confirmations that the outgoing and longest-serving U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger is now spoken for.

Shortly after Ambassador Ranneberger arrived in Kenya, he gave a speech on Countering Female Genital Mutilation Anti-FGM Run in Kilgoris:

Kilgoris and Enoosaen are special places to the American people, since it was in Enoosaen that the Masaai donated 14 cattle to “ease the pain and suffering” of the people of New York following the attacks. It was during my visit here last September that I learned of the programs of Cherish Others, an organization led by a dynamic lady named Ruth Konchellah, that is working hard to bring equality and dignity to Kenyan girls, particularly in TransMara. So when Cherish Others asked me to participate in the walk and run that we just concluded, I jumped at the chance to support it.

Active links added above. That “dynamic lady” named Ruth Konchellah. That’s the one.

From the Nairobi Star:

Ruth Konchellah was flustered as she stood at the podium to address guests who attended outgoing US ambassador Michael Ranneberger’s farewell party at his Muthaiga home on Thursday night. For starters, someone had misplaced her speech and she was therefore going to have to talk on the fly.

Secondly, there was the buzz of expectation that finally she would put to rest the public speculation that she and Ranneberger were more than just close friends.

She did not disappoint. Ruth spoke about her charity Cherish Others which aims at fighting against the continued practice of female genital mutilation especially in her home, Narok.
[…]
But its only in recent months that the two have been spotted in public together giving rise to speculation that they were not only an ‘item’ but that he had even paid dowry to her family.

The attendance of a function in Narok by Ruth and  Ranneberger’s daughter from a previous marriage fuelled more speculation about the relationship.  Reports of dowry payment were quickly squashed by some members of the extended Konchellah clan and he couple has since remained tight-lipped on their association. Ranneberger studiously refused to comment on the relationship during a farewell interview he granted to the Star last weekend.

On Thursday night Ruth Konchellah confirmed that she and Micheal were partners. “The nation of Kenya loves you and I love you Your Excellency,” she said as the diplomat blushed a deep red colour before hugging and kissing her in front of the gathered guests who seemed taken aback before they enthusiastically applauded the couple.

From the Daily Nation:

As US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Edward Ranneberger, flies out of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Washington this Wednesday, he has one message for Kenyans: “I will be back.”

The outgoing envoy tells Saturday Nation that he fell in love with the East African country for three reasons. The most important — he got a soul mate, Ms Ruth Konchellah, in Kenya, a country he now has a soft spot for and can’t cut links with.

“On a personal level, I have been fortunate to become a king to a certain lady, and she became a queen to me. That, to me, is a very fulfilling experience,” he says.

Although he remains largely non-committal as to when Kenyans would expect something concrete between him and Ms Konchellah, he promises that it would be in due course.

“I will keep everybody posted on that. I don’t want to say much about it at this point. It has been interesting. These things happen. Opportunities come by and one can only be grateful when these things happen that way,” he says.

Ambassador Ranneberger who is quite active on Twitter is understandably silent on this subject to his tweeps. 

Last year, I posted a slideshow here of Ambassador Ranneberger honored by Maasai elders.   But not only are the photos labeled “All Rights Reserved,” a favorite pet peeve that shows either the embassy’s rules-ignorance or lack of oversight, the photos also have no captions! Is there somebody we ought to recognize here?

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Photos from US Embassy Kenya/Flickr      

In Afghanistan, 140,000 soldiers for 100 al-Qaeda fighters – who did the bad math on this one?

CAMP NEW JERSEY, Kuwait (March 21, 2003) - Maj...Image via WikipediaJim Lacey, a professor of strategic studies at the Marine Corps War College and author of The First Clash writes about national building in Afghanistan and our rather strange mathematical calculation in the fight against aQ there:

While I was in Kandahar, General Petraeus announced that the Coalition faced about a hundred al-Qaeda fighters. Did anyone do the math? There are over 140,000 Coalition soldiers in Afghanistan, or 1,400 for every al-Qaeda fighter. As it costs about a million dollars a year to deploy and support every soldier, that adds up to $140 billion, or close to $1.5 billion a year for each al-Qaeda fighter.

In other words, we spend more each year hunting down a single al-Qaeda fighter, hiding in some barren cave, then the entire annual GDP of the poorest 20 nations on earth.

In what universe do we find strategists to whom this makes sense?

Ouch! Read the whole thing here.

On April 10, Mail Online reported that U.S. Army General David Petraeus said there was still an al Qaeda presence in the war-torn country, but it was greatly diminished.  He told reporters at the Coalition’s HQ in Kabul: ‘There is no question that al Qaeda has had a presence in Afghanistan and continues to have a presence – generally assessed at less than 100 or so.’

And in the aftermath of Bin Laden’s death, President Karzai said:

“Once again I call on NATO to say that the war on terror is not in Afghanistan. Osama was not in Afghanistan: they found him in Pakistan,” Mr. Karzai said. “The war on terror is not in Afghan villages, the war on terror is not in the houses of innocent Afghans, the war on terror is not in the bombardment and killing of Afghan children and women, but in the safe havens of terrorism outside Afghanistan.”

Okay then. Let’s be honest, does anybody really think that we can remake Afghanistan into our own image?  We have poured money into that sandy pit which has swallowed the lives of the young sons and daughters of this country and our allies, as well. Let us now allow Mr. Karzai to do his nation-building, and make his own success and mistakes. Because while we hang around over there, the imperfections of its union as a nation, will always have a fall guy named the United States of America.