The Case For [INSERT NAME] as the Next Secretary of State #helpwithdazzleandwow

Posted: 1:38  pm ET
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Alright, alright, alright. Here is a bonus clip of Mr. Rohrabacher who potentially could end up in Foggy Bottom in one shape or form, calling human rights abuses in Russia “baloney” and “absolutely” comparing Gorbachev to Putin. Vlad is smiling, you guys.

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69th Secretary of State Race: New Names Include Stavridis, Huntsman, Tillerson, Manchin #dazzle&wow

Posted: 12:58 ET
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In addition to the new names floated today, Politico is reporting that “whoever ultimately gets the top job at the State Department, multiple Trump transition sources said former United Nations ambassador John Bolton is widely expected to be offered a chance to be slotted in as one of the secretary’s top deputies, if not as the No. 2.”  Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., is reportedly also likely to be offered a lower post in the State Department, according to unnamed Politico sources.  Also as has been reported previously, Giuliani has told the Trump team directly that he isn’t interested in any other job than secretary of state.  As of this writing, Predictit still has Romney leading the pack, followed by Huntsman, Giuliani, Corker, Bolton, Petraeus, Rohrabacher, Tillerson and Manchin.

Howaboutthisguy? He razzle dazzle, hey? This is pretty doable for the 8th Floor, right?

The Funnies, not funnies over on Twitter:

69th Secretary of State Watch: The Prediction Market, Who’s Up, Who’s Down? Who’s at Trump Tower?

Posted: 1:53 am ET
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CBS News is reporting today that the “battle” to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state appears to be down to three men: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former CIA Director David Petraeus.  CBS News’ Major Garrett reported Tuesday morning that Giuliani is still the likeliest pick — but that as Mr. Trump meets with Romney over dinner in Midtown Manhattan tonight, it’s hard to discount Romney as a top pick as well.  “I’m told that Giuliani is still the leading candidate but this dinner with Romney tonight … does add to the atmospheric drama around this whole process,” Garrett said on CBSN.

These are exactly the top three names over at the prediction market with Romney leading at $0.41 now since we did the screen grab below, followed by Giuliani at $.0.26, and Petraeus at $0.12. 

Top tier names on predictit breaking above 1¢:

predictita

Lower tier names on predictit not breaking above 1¢:

predictitb

 

See the SoS predictit page here.

In any case, somebody apparently told Representative Dana Rorahbacher that he is under consideration as secretary of state. He released the following statement for folks who wanted to cast their votes over at the Breitbart News poll.

danar_soslist

Link to poll below where 146,450 people apparently voted on who should be the next secretary of state. They picked somebody else!

Meanwhile, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, is still in the running.

And then, the Petraeus crashed Rudy’s party.

President-elect Trump also had dinner at a French restaurant with Mitt Romney and there’s a photo!  Somewhere is this photo is an invisible word cloud that says “GOTCHA!”  Looks like DJT is so tickled, he might just announced his secretary of state before the season finale.

Nooooo, it’s not Fabio.

And it’s not Mr. Large Wooden Stick. Stopit.

Da end. Until the next update.

 

Related posts:

Previously

 

 

Anti-Islam Protests: Monica Bauer explains the cultural misconnection in the world as it is

Monica Bauer, a playwright and writing Fellow at Quinnipiac University asks “how well do you think Muslims will take to Mitt Romney’s get-tough act, screaming “Get off my lawn” to one-seventh of the world’s population?  She explains the cultural gap in the case of Egypt. Excerpt below:

The Egyptian people have been raising their children for literally centuries to believe that any insult to the Prophet Mohammed is an insult to Almighty God. Their culture has never been pluralistic. Their Coptic Christians have their own separate family courts for marriages, divorces, and the like, because Egypt’s Muslims don’t expect these people to live under Sharia. And the Copts don’t take very kindly to anybody who insults Jesus or the Virgin Mary, either.

The idea of freedom of speech to insult religion is just plain beyond their cultural ability to understand, for all but the most educated. I did my doctoral dissertation on the separation of church and state in the United States, and if I could not explain this concept to bright university students, I wish Mitt good luck going door to door in the Arab street.

Here’s what used to happen in my classroom:

ME: “Unlike the laws you have in Egypt that punish people for blasphemy, anyone in the United States may insult any or all religions or religious figures if they wish to do so. Their speech is protected by our First Amendment to the Constitution.”

STUDENTS: “Wait a minute. You’re joking, right?”

ME: “No, Americans can say whatever they want. They can’t burn down a church, but they can certainly say bad things about that church.”

STUDENTS: “Oh, I see! They can say bad things about religions if those religions are not true!”

ME: “No, they can say bad things about any religion. Or all religions.”

STUDENTS: “I can see why your government would not protect untrue religions, but they should protect the true religion. Government is supposed to help the people, and protecting religion helps the people. Right?”

Now, to be fair, some of my students understood the concept of freedom of speech, but they tended to be the children of diplomats who had spent some of their lives overseas, learning about other people’s cultures. But most of my Egyptian freshmen could not wrap their minds around the idea that government literally was prevented from punishing people for the crime of blasphemy by its own Constitution.

That’s the context Mitt needs to understand before he goes around condemning the good people in the American Embassy in Cairo for trying to explain why an American video blaspheming against the prophet Mohammed comes from a private citizen, and does not represent the government of the United States. Because to the majority in the Arab street, governments have the power, and the duty, to protect religion against attack. So if someone in America is attacking Islam, and the government does not stop that person, then the government of the United States must really approve of this anti-Muslim video. After all, if the government was against it, they would stop it! A good diplomat knows the culture she’s serving, and the staff at the Egyptian Embassy were doing their very best to serve their government when they released a statement that Mitt now calls “an apology.”

Continue reading, Mitt Romney Needs to Make an Apology Tour

– DS

In which politicians lament over our dead diplomats — also fund-raises over them before they are even buried

Perhaps Mitt really is a nice, rich guy who shops at Costco. That does not offend me; but this one does.  There are way too many “wonderfuls” here to make it sound authentic.  I do not/not like it.  He sounds as if he did not think through what he was going to say besides calling them, wonderful, that is.  It sounds to me as if our diplomats killed in Benghazi have become convenient props for the political campaign. Brrr…. that is cold, man.

Here is a coverage of that Virginia speech:

“I know that we’ve had heavy hearts across America today, and I want you to know things are going to get a lot better. But I also recognize that right now we’re in mourning. We’ve lost four of our diplomats across the world. We’re thinking about their families and those that they’ve left behind,” Romney said, at the beginning of a rally with roughly 2,700 supporters here in Northern Virginia.

Then, as Romney continued to lament the loss of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the three others killed in Benghazi, a heckler distracted him.

“What a tragedy, to lose such a wonderful, wonderful, uh,” Romney said, as the heckler began to yell, “Why are you politicizing Libya?”

Romney continued, “wonderful people that have been so wonderful and appreciate their service to the country.”

They are …”wonderful, wonderful, uh (heckler interuptus) wonderful people that have been so wonderful …”

That’s the best he can do?

You can hear the crowd chant the heckler down with USA! USA! USA!  Then Mr. Romney said, “And so I would, I would offer a moment of silence but one gentleman doesn’t want to be silent so we’re going to keep on going,” Romney said.

If he wins in November, he would need a good thesaurus.

So then here comes a top contender for the Crassest Award of the Year.

Former senator and former GOP presidentiable Rick Santorum apparently is using the rising violence in the Middle East (and his expression of condolences on the deaths of our diplomats) as the basis for a fundraising e-mail sent out by his political advocacy organization according to The Cable:

“The news coming out of the Middle East is deeply saddening and concerning. Karen and I first want to express our condolences to the families of Ambassador Stevens and the three other American officials who were killed in the recent terrorist attacks. Their service to our country was heroic and this senseless act of violence is horrifying,” begins the e-mail signed by Santorum and sent out by Patriot Voices, the nonprofit 501(c)4 advocacy group he co-founded after he lost his primary bid.
[…]
The organization has two missions: to help Mitt Romney defeat Barack Obama and to promote conservative policies and values, according to Santorum’s statements in June when it launched.

“Please continue to stand with me as we advocate for policies that properly defend Americans and their principles abroad. President Obama’s approach of apologizing to our enemies, turning our backs on our allies, and leading from behind weakens America and empowers our enemies. If American ideals are to remain prosperous here and abroad, the appeasement policies of this president must stop,” Santorum wrote.

The Cable reports that the end of the e-mail contains the pitch with a link to the Patriot Voices donation page.

Wow, what a crass act. Announcing an expression of condolence to the dead diplomats’ families via a fund-raising email with a pitch for donation before our diplomats are even back in U.S. soil. Before we can properly bury them or mourn their passing.  What?  They couldn’t wait even until after the return of remains today?

Holy mother of goat and her crazy nephews! How shockingly opportunistic!

Meanwhile in related news, in yesterday’s Politico op-ed, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker and another former GOP presidentiable took issue with the Obama administration calling this a “senseless act of violence” (he probably did not get Rick’s email) and writes:

This concept of “senseless violence” is at the heart of the left’s refusal to confront the reality of radical Islamists.

These are not acts of senseless violence.

These are acts of war.

Our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were not killed by a senseless mob. They were killed by a purposeful group of men armed with sophisticated weapons.

I recall, of course, Newt Gingrich telling CBS News in 2011, “The correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.” He was talking about Al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric linked to al Qaeda, who was killed by a CIA drone.

Haven’t we seen this movie with war drums before, after 9/11? It started slow, then swooshed ever and we ended up in Iraq and got stuck there for years and years.

How many dots would it take before the warmongers can connect “this purposeful group of men” to say …. Iran and the bomb, bomb, bomb Iran chorus?  The pencils are out and the dots are out there …

I think we must be vigilant and not get swooshed over a second time around even when our hearts are broken.

US Embassy Egypt: PAO Larry Schwartz Thrown Under the Bus Over “Inappropriate Apology”

There was that clip of a badly made obscure movie posted in YouTube which roiled the mob in Cairo on September 11. (AP on Sept. 12, said its search for those behind the film led to a Coptic Christian in California who had been convicted of financial crimes). The US Embassy in Egypt released the following statement:

U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement
September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney waded in with a statement here, calling “disgraceful” an early response to the assault in Cairo and saying it sympathized with the attackers.  The embassy statement, an apparent reference to the video clip in YouTube, was posted hours before the official death in Libya was reported.

Politifact consulted three apology experts who all agreed that the statement from the US Embassy in Cairo was not an apology because one expert says, 1) it did not use the word “apology” or said “we’re sorry”; 2) the statement condemns the actions of a third party and 3) it does not apologize for the right of free speech. Another expert says “To say that someone who deliberately insults others in the name of religion has acted wrongly isn’t an apology — it’s simply a recognition that those insults go too far.” Still another of Politifact’s experts says “it is a condemnation of ‘abuse’ of the universal value of free speech. A condemnation is not an apology. … The Embassy statement also reaffirms two American values: the American value of respect for religious beliefs and the American value of democracy.”

No matter, that condemnation statement from the US Embassy Cairo has now entered the twilight zone of presidential politics and The Cable’s Josh Rogin has the scoop inside this public relations disaster at our Cairo embassy. Two responsible officials were named in the article — the Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, who was the acting charge d’affairs and the embassy’s senior public affairs officer Larry Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz was previously Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and a seasoned public diplomacy officer. He, presently, just got thrown under the bus over the apology controversy. And run over twice once more for good measure.

Here is an excerpt:

“In an effort to cool the situation down, it didn’t come from me, it didn’t come from Secretary Clinton. It came from people on the ground who are potentially in danger,” Obama said. “And my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance, rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”

But Obama’s remarks belie the enormous frustration of top officials at the State Department and White House with the actions of the man behind the statement, Cairo senior public affairs officer Larry Schwartz, who wrote the release and oversees the embassy’s Twitter feed, according to a detailed account of the Tuesday’s events.
[….]
Before issuing the press release, Schwartz cleared it with just one person senior to himself, Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, who was the acting charge d’affairs at the embassy on Tuesday because Ambassador Anne Patterson was in Washington at the time, the official said.

Schwartz sent the statement to the State Department in Washington before publishing and the State Department directed him not to post it without changes, but Schwartz posted it anyway.

“The statement was not cleared with anyone in Washington. It was sent as ‘This is what we are putting out,'” the official said. “We replied and said this was not a good statement and that it needed major revisions. The next email we received from Embassy Cairo was ‘We just put this out.'”
[…]
“People at the highest levels both at the State Department and at the White House were not happy with the way the statement went down. There was a lot of anger both about the process and the content,” the official said. “Frankly, people here did not understand it. The statement was just tone deaf. It didn’t provide adequate balance. We thought the references to the 9/11 attacks were inappropriate, and we strongly advised against the kind of language that talked about ‘continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.'”

Despite being aware of Washington’s objections, the embassy continued to defend the statement for several hours, fueling the controversy over it, a decision the official again attributed to Schwartz.

Perhaps it is telling that The Cable’s source are “one U.S. official close to the issue” and “two additional administration officials”, all unnamed.  If this went down as detailed in the report, shouldn’t we at least know who’s pointing fingers?  Considering that one congressman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) is already calling for the State Department to “issue an immediate apology to the American people and fire those officials responsible for the initial statement” — that seems only fair.

Who would have thought that Twitter is such a dangerous sinkhole.

Anyway here’s the thing — Foreign Service officers are really, really excellent at following the chalked lines. You don’t see a lot of rogue and old diplomats for very good reasons. And they, certainly, do not suddenly forget their clearance procedures because they were confronted with a badly made, badly written and badly acted movie clip in YouTube; much less, defy a direct order from the State Department when it comes to an official statement for public consumption. Unless, of course, the officer is looking to commit a career suicide. And I’m not convinced that is the case with man of the hour, Larry Schwartz.

It would be nice to know who in the State Department “directed” Mr. Schwartz not/not to post the statement without changes, wouldn’t it? Was it somebody in the Bureau of Public Affairs? Was it somebody in the regional bureau? Did anyone also tell him that if this sh*t blows up we’ll make sure Foreign Policy knows how to spell your name?

This is what you’d call the bureaucratic duck and cover. It looks like the poor sod under the bus did not get a lot warning.  If he did get some warning, we’d be interested to know if he got a special phone call telling him to take one for the team before they throw him to the sharks on a feeding frenzy.

Update: WaPo’s The Fact Checker has a long item on this here in An embassy statement, a tweet, and a major misunderstanding.

 

 

US Mission Afghanistan: New Ambassador Sworn in a Country Forgotten by Presidential Candidates

The new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham was sworn in by Consular Officer Alissa Redmond at the U.S. Embassy on August 12 in Kabul.  Ambassador Cunningham previously served as Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Ambassador James Cunningham swearing-in at US Embassy Kabul.
Photo via US Embassy Kabul/Flickr
(click on photo to view the slideshow)

If you have the time and the interest, the swearing-in video including the ambassador’s speech is here.

Meanwhile, back here at home, the presidential campaigns are in full swing. The veepstakes finally has a winner.  And the Super PACs and the gazillionaires are doing their best spending obscene amounts of money to help “speed up” the economic recovery and get their man into the White House.  Really, you don’t think this economy would have been a lot, lot worse without all that money pouring in, all that election hiring, ad campaigns, pizza, etc. etc.  Thank god for the green slime!

And then, of course, with the line-up complete and the presidential campaigns in full swing, The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins had the audacity to bring up that almost forgotten country of Afghanistan.

“How’s this for a conspiracy of silence? With less than three months to go until Election Day, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have successfully avoided saying almost anything about America’s war in Afghanistan. Remember that war?”

Do we really want to remember that in August we already have 289 coalition forces dead in Afghanistan? Or that attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by Afghan security forces, the so called ‘green-on-blue’ attacks which has resulted in death is already at 34, two less than the casualties from the entire 2011? Or that 108 civilian contractors have already died in Afghanistan in the first two quarters of 2012?

We do, we do, but who’s asking the candidates? Perhaps we need Will McAvoy to ask the candidates about their state of amnesia over these affairs far, far away, including green slime growing on trees or in somebody’s bank account.

Domani Spero

All It Takes to Unite the Olympic Games Host Country? A Guy Called Mitt Romney

You probably heard this story already.

The Mittster talked to NBC’s Brian Williams and he said, “There are a few things that were disconcerting.”

We’ve seen the stories out of London, of course.  The Mittster also heard those stories and he added, “The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Probably did not sit well with UK Prime Minister David Cameron who rebuked Romney (according to HuffPo) with:

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

What’s that they say about diplomats never unintentionally insulting another person? Think the Prime Minister got some tips from Whitehall?

But the Mittster did have some nice things to say about Great Britain during that NBC interveiw:

“But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain,” Romney said. “It goes back to our very beginnings, cultural … and historical. But I also believe the president understands that. So I don’t know agree with whoever that advisor might be. But do agree that we have a very common bond between ourselves and Great Britain.”

Except that the Mittster forgot he wrote something about it in his book. FP’s Joshua Keating notes that Romney’s book says Britain is a tiny island that makes stuff nobody wants:

“England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.”

Wait until Boris Johnson hears that.

Boris Johnson, if the name is not too familiar is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a British Conservative Party politician and journalist, who has been the elected Mayor of London since 2008. According to Wikipedia, he was previously the Member of Parliament for Henley and Editor in Chief of The Spectator magazine. You might also remember him as the person who said, “Maybe when President Obama’s hors d’oeuvre plate is whisked away he will find a bill for £5.5m.”

That’s the “congestion” charge for driving in central London. According to the BBC, the Transport for London (TfL) confirmed the US Embassy London owed £5.2m in unpaid congestion charge. The US embassy said it considered the charge to be a “direct tax”.

Okay, yeah, that’s the guy.  And here he is hailing ‘Olympomania’ at Hyde Park, including leading the crowd in a chant of ‘Yes We Can,’ President Obama’s famous campaign slogan from 2008.:

“I heard there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!”
[…]
“Can we put on the greatest Olympics games that have ever been held?” he asked. “Can we beat France? Yes we can! Can we beat Australia? Yes we can!”

Ouch! The Mittster’s travel will also take him to Israel and Poland. We’re all ears.

Domani Spero