Blog Archives

With the exception of Pakistan, most of the world wants us to elect Obama

Our foreign policy is much easier, I think, when the countries of the world like us and our leadership. What does it suggest that most of the world backs Obama? Certainly it backs up the notion that Romney is no foreign policy master.

Given the amount of investment that Romney has made in companies that benefit China, I find it very interesting that the Chinese are on the Obama backing side,

But what is it about Romney that makes him nore favorable to Pakistan?

 

So what does the world think of the USA?

Remember what Romney said during the foreign policy debate? Think about this:

“I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world. I see our influence receding. […] But unfortunately, in nowhere in the world is America’s influence greater today than it was four years ago.”

Well, I wonder what the influence of America is in the real world? Here’s a chart by Ezra Klein evaluating 16 countries we deal with:

Gee… looks like they like us. As a matter of fact, some countries like us very much… and they really like Obama:

 

Pakistan, however, seems to go more for Romney. Why? Because he criticizes Obama’s mid-east accomplishments?

Very Interesting.

 

The Longest Day of the Year…

Summer Solstice… today. Sunshine from early morning to early evening… the longest stretch of the year. We began the morning with rain, but the sun is out now (although there is a 60% chance that the rain will return later in the day or overnight. Great for the gardens, though.

I spent most of the morning at the dentist having a replacement tooth installed after a root canal. On the way home I stopped in the new local pharmacy to get my dentist’s prescription filled and ran into Delegate Doyle, our representative at the State legislature and a frequent visitor to the radio show. We exchanged some pleasantries and, later, the pharmacist said Doyle was checking out the new store… so he’s showing interest in his District.

I’m back at home now watching the Senate on C-Span2 as they debate Leon Panetta‘s nomination for Defense Secretary and whether or not to pull out of Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or Libya. Doesn’t look like we’re going to really get out anytime soon, although Obama is supposed to be presenting a partial Afghanistan withdrawal tomorrow (I don’t expect the percentage to be a big one or the time it takes to do it to be very fast.)

Meanwhile we move forward into the muck of the future..

What does Pakistan use Lobbyists for?

Asif Ali Zardari.

Asif Al Zardari opens his wallet.

According to Reuters, they use them to deny that anyone in the Pakistani government knew that bin Laden was hiding near the Capital for close to six years in the biggest house in the neighborhood:

WASHINGTON (Reuters/Tim Reid) – Pakistan‘s Washington lobbyists have launched an intense campaign on Capitol Hill to counter accusations that Islamabad was complicit in giving refuge to Osama bin Laden.

Alarmed by lawmakers’ demands to cut off billions of dollars of U.S. aid after bin Laden was found living in a Pakistani safe house for six years, President Asif Ali Zardari has ordered a full-court press to quell mounting accusations that it helped the al Qaeda leader avoid capture.

Mark Siegel, a partner in the Washington lobbying firm of Locke Lord Strategies — which is paid $75,000 a month by the Pakistani government — told Reuters on Thursday he had spoken twice to Zardari since U.S. special forces killed bin Laden on Sunday, and “countless” times to the Pakistani ambassador in Washington.

“They are certainly concerned,” Siegel said, adding that suggestions the Pakistani government knew about bin Laden’s whereabouts was nothing more than speculation.

Wow. $75,000 a month to put out press releases.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy isn’t buying it, however. He told Vermont Public Radio:

“It’s impossible for them not to have some idea he was there.

Mark Siegel, referring to claims by the Afghan government that Pakistan must have known bin Laden’s whereabouts, said:

“Must have known doesn’t mean knew.”

Sure.

A few non-bin Laden related updates…

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

The news this morning and into the afternoon has been fairly single focused and I haven’t had a chance to get back to some things I’ve been discussing in  the last week or so. I’m sitting over at Mellow Moods having a cup of coffee  and a vegan sandwich (black bean burger with fruit and salsa roll-up) and their wifi is working… so here goes:

4 Days into my SuperFocus glasses…

Focusing... a snap!

I know I bored everyone over the last few weeks with my enthusiasm and expectations for the SuperFocus glasses I ordered and have bee. waiting for. Well, they arrived late on the 28th and I’ve been wearing them for a hair over four days now.

And they are spectacular!

It took a little over a day to get used to changing the focus manually depending on what distances I was looking at. And I found out that, unlike my old bifocals, there were at least five regular viewing ranges I use regularly: reading, short distance, average distance, driving and very long distance. I’m amazed at how minimal a concern as my daily crossword puzzle now doesn’t require squinting and tilting my head to make sure I was at the close bifocal distance. And I can actually read road signs quite a way down the highway now.

I really like them. My wife got so interested that she just made an appointment with her optometrist and will be ordering her own soon (right now she wears trifocals and has great trouble with computer-use distances.)

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Getting Excused From Jury Duty

I got called up for a month of Jury Duty in June and I had to call my Doctor and get a note about my ischemic seizures which can happen at any time (the meds I take have them pretty much under control, but I’ve had at least one in the last few weeks.) It would be awfully embarrassing to go into a seizure while watching testimony… not to mention the fact that there’s a lot of driving back and forth and my wife is convinced I’ll have an attack at 60 miles per hour.

Anyway, my Neurologist’s office is giving me the note to attach to the form I had to fill out. Apparently they do this kind of thing all the time.

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I’m working this afternoon on the basis of my podcast. I’m still very unsure of how everything is done, but I’m doing it live at 10 AM tomorrow. If you listen to it then, or get it later, please excuse my early user mistakes. I’ll get better.

“Justice has Been Done” – Obama / Osama Bin laden has been killed.

Osama Bin Laden

I woke up this morning to the news I should have heard last night (I went to bed early) – Osama Bin Laden has been killed in a U.S. strike ordered by Barack Obama and based on US Intelligence. This was actually done on April  29th in an action that was kept in tight secrecy. It is notable that not even the Pakistanis were informed that this was going to happen (in the past, every time they were informed of such an action, Bin Laden curiously escaped just in time to save himself.)

Bin Laden Death Photo

From early reports, Bin Laden was shot in the head by a Navy Seal and, reportedly, he was hiding behind a woman at the time. The attack was made by four helicopters and a small team. No Americans were harmed. The US took custody of Bin Laden’s body after the attack and then followed Islamic law by having him buried at sea so that no tomb could be made on land… since Bin Laden was not a sailor, but the burial at sea was a traditional burial of an enemy.

Pakistan was informed after the action began. Al Qaeda, btw, has now declared war on Pakistan.

This attack plan began in June of 2009 when Obama ordered CIA director Leon Panetta to have as his primary goal locating Bin Laden. The plan was kept in complete secrecy – even from members of Congress – and no information was leaked before its occurence.

My wife’s comment this morning was “This will get Obama reelected.”

More later.

Advertising in Pakistan: An incorporation of current events into physical protection…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I always find it highly moving when salesmanship can overthrow politics. This from KABOBfest.

A comment on the death of Richard Holbrooke…

America had a very great loss this week with the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, 69,  The Bulldozer, who served this country as a negotiator and State Department problem solver for nearly five decades. Known for the Dayton Accords which ended the Bosnia conflict, at the time of his death during 20 hours of surgery for a torn aorta he had been working on the AfPak portfolio… solving the Afghanistan/Pakistan conflict diplomatically.

“He was one of a kind – a true statesman – and that makes his passing all the more painful,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement Monday evening. She praised Holbrooke’s “distinctive brilliance and unmatched determination.”
The Washington Post reports that Holbrooke’s last words came just before the 21-hour operation: 

As Holbrooke was sedated for surgery, his final words were to his Pakistani surgeon, family members said: “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan.”

In an age like the present we can little afford to lose men like Holbrooke who make international agreements happen without the vastness of killing and violence that we find in war. He will be missed.

Glen Greenwald has a well-informed article on Yemen and the US in this morning’s Salon…

Here is his summation – it should encourage you to go in and read the rest:
clipped from www.salon.com
The campaign against the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan is being condemned, rightfully so, because it is driven by a desire to stigmatize all Muslims and even institute a generalized war against Islam as American policy.  But far from Ground Zero, having nothing whatsoever to do with the warped right-wing fanatics driving that campaign, we’re increasingly engaging in actions perceived — understandably so — to be exactly the War against Muslims which, with our pretty presidential words, we renounce.  Escalation in Afghanistan, a sustained bombing campaign in Pakistan, all sorts of increased covert actions in multiple Muslim countries, the ongoing imprisonment with no charges of Muslims around the world, bellicose threats to Iran, and now a proposed expansion of our drone campaign into Yemen:  we can insist all we want that we are not waging a War Against Muslims, but it’s going to look to a huge number of people as though we’re doing exactly that.
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So here we are with another Muslim country to accidentally kill women and children in and make them love us. Thanks, Glenn.

Last “Full Combat” Brigade out of Iraq

I watched on Olbermann as the last “full combat” brigade (440 soldiers)  pulled out of Iraq and rode their Strykers into Kuwait last night (I have no idea how long it takes them to actually get out of the country) leaving 50,000 “non-combat” troops who are to serve as trainers and are not to get into any combat incidents… not to break up fights between Sh’ias and Sunnis, or anything like that.

The American Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, was interviewed and said that this was the keeping of Obama’s promise to get combatants out. The Iraq war is, therefore, ending… but we still have a commitment there. We’ve gone from 140,000 troops to 50,000 and it appears to be a positive mood. The Ambassador’s biggest worry is that there is still not an effective coalition government in Iraq and they are going to have to do it pretty much by themselves.

It is now up to the Iraqis… at least that’s what we’re saying.

I’m also wondering if these troops are going to end up in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

This from CNN:

clipped from afghanistan.blogs.cnn.com

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan is a “lost cause,” said a former Pakistani intelligence chief, and the United States needs to negotiate peace with Taliban leader Mullah Omar. “You have to talk to him, and I’m sure it will work out very well,” Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview to air Sunday. 

U.S. intelligence documents published last week by WikiLeaks cited Gul and implicated Pakistani intelligence as supporting al Qaeda. Gul has denied the allegations. “I’m quite a convenient scapegoat,” he said. “I don’t support any one faction in Afghanistan. I support the Afghan nation.”

The career military officer, who supported the U.S.-backed Taliban resistance against Soviet occupation during the 1980s, called the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan “unjust” and said he sees legitimacy in the Afghan insurgency against Western forces. “This is a national resistance movement. It should be recognized as such,” he said.
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Perhaps we should listen to this guy…

A Quote for Today: Tom Friedman said it on TV this weekend…

Re: terrorism and our response to it…

“This double game goes back to 9/11. That terrorist attack was basically planned, executed and funded by radical Pakistanis and Saudis. And we responded by invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Why? The short answer is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave.”

– Thomas Friedman to Fareed Zakaria on CNN

The Big News of the Morning… the Wikileaks

Morning Joe is talking about, seemingly, nothing else this morning and Glenn Greenwald sums it up in Salon. Here’s a clip from Greenwald…
clipped from www.salon.com

The WikiLeaks Afghanistan leak
The most consequential news item of the week will obviously be — or at least should be — the massive new leak by WikiLeaks of 90,000 pages of classified material chronicling the truth about the war in Afghanistan from 2004 through 2009.  Those documents provide what The New York Times calls “an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal.”  The Guardian describes the documents as “a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fueling the insurgency.”
In addition to those two newspapers, WikiLeaks also weeks ago provided these materials to Der Spiegel, on the condition that all three wait until today to write about them.

Glenn Greenwald
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Feingold: Why Surge Where Al Qaeda Isn’t?

Russ Feingold was on ABC’s This Week this morning and asked he question we all want to know.
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) demanded that one question be answered when considering the implementation of the president’s surge policy: Why send troops where al Qaeda isn’t?
“Pakistan, in the border region near Afghanistan, is perhaps the epicenter [of global terrorism], although al Qaida is operating all over the world, in Yemen, in Somalia, in northern Africa, affiliates in Southeast Asia. Why would we build up 100,000 or more troops in parts of Afghanistan included that are not even near the border? You know, this buildup is in Helmand Province. That’s not next door to Waziristan. So I’m wondering, what exactly is this strategy, given the fact that we have seen that there is a minimal presence of Al Qaida in Afghanistan, but a significant presence in Pakistan? It just defies common sense that a huge boots on the ground presence in a place where these people are not is the right strategy. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
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