Political Tidbits-Galloway, the State Dept, Abramoff, the Tim Russert Scandal; Ads We'd Like to See

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

Political Tidbits

It's been quite a week on the Political Tidbit scene. The politicos, has-beens and would-bes, have been all over the place and this is mostly due to the ongoing hearings on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

We had John Kerry phoning in from the ski slopes calling for a filibuster of the nominee. Diane Feinstein, Senator from California, said she wouldn't vote for a filibuster then she said she would. Harry Reid of Nevada regretted that a Senate filibuster of Alito wouldn't work. And to everyone's surprise save mine, Senator Byrd, that old relic from West Virginia, got up on the Senate floor and excoriated the Democrats for making a mockery of the Supreme Court judicial nominee process.

It might be jaded of me but I must point out that Byrd will be facing a serious challenge in West Virginia this year as the Republicans have him right in the crosshairs. West Virginia is not a blue state and scuttlebutt has it that the Repubs have a Reagan era candidate ready and primed to prevent Byrd from winning a ninth victory in his home state. Where almost every bridge and building, by the way, is named for Senator Byrd.

Still there's plenty more political tidbits this past week beyond the Alito hearings, from both national and international politicos.

First, George Galloway

Here's a man who makes it his career to be the object of political lampooning. He is currently starring in a British series of some sort that requires contestants to be locked away from public contact. Not the type of thing considered very wise for public servants. If that isn't bad enough, he is making a complete fool of himself by his participation in the show's hijinks.

Imagine a Trent Lott or a Harry Reid doing such a thing.

Image hosted by Now George Galloway is set to attract further derision after performing a dance routine on Celebrity Big Brother - in a tight-fitting, red leotard.

The Respect MP, already under fire for taking part in the show instead of representing his constituents, ad-libbed a dance routine for his latest stunt.

His dance partner was, of course, Pete Burns. The transvestite lead singer of 1980s band Dead or Alive wore a blue leotard, even though he insisted he would not run from a burning house in it.

Tim Russert and Arianna Huffington In a Snit

Indeed one of the more delicious stories in the political spectrum involves political pundit turned blogger Arianna Huffington and Meet the Press commentator Tim Russert.

While I don't especially like Huffington with her exaggerated accent and strange political background, I think she's right as rain on this one. I witnessed the whole sleazy sorry sad episode in self-promotion and media inbreeding on the Meet the Press episode aired 1/22/06 with mine own eyeballs. Only I didn't find out what it was all about until after the show.

It was towards the end of the show when the guests were James Carville and his wife. The talk initially was on political topics as is the point of the entire show. Then Russert egged Carville on with a tease about an upcoming announcement. Carville took the bait and said he would soon be moving on to a new career and the announcement would be coming the following day.

Russert also mentioned that another person would be involved with Carville's new venture, a comment that puzzled my listening ears.

The following day the Blogosphere was all over it. Turns out Carville will be hosting some sort of sports show. Guess who will be the co-host? Tim Russert's son! Who is, so the scuttlebutt has, only a sophomore in college!

Now how many college sophomores get a chance to co-host a national show? Save those with fathers who are hosts of the vaunted Meet the Press? The whole thing smells of a putrid nepotism and the coy promotion of his son's new show taints the respected Meet the Press, considered by many the sober Sunday political show of record.

Huffington, who evidently has a bone to pick with Russert judging by the tidbits, was all over this story on her blog.

Then the catfight began.

I suppose NBC, a network that surely must know that this kind of blatant promotion by Russert was, to say the very least, in the poorest of taste. The American public, already pretty much fed up with the inbreeding and obvious bias of the Mainstream media, will not look kindly on this oh-so-obvious form of media elitism that is such a turn off. But the network comes out swinging against Huffington when it's not about her at all.

America saw Russert and that smarmy coyness with its own collective eyeball. And it doesn't sit well.

NY Daily News' Lloyd Grove writes:
Celebrity blogger Arianna Huffington regularly attacks "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert as a Washington insider who gets chummy with the powerful. Usually there's no response.

But now Huffington has really gotten under Russert's skin - to the point of drawing blood.

Yesterday the entire NBC News publicity machine went ballistic on the impresario of, whose Web site is eight months old.

"The last time we heard from Ms. Huffington, she was hiring private eyes to investigate reporters," NBC News flack Barbara Levin E-mailed me yesterday, resurrecting an old charge that Huffington has repeatedly denied, including personally to Russert in 1996.

Flying Way Below the Radar

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State and Diplomat extraordinaire, is re-vamping the United States’ Department of State. With tongue-in-cheek, I softly suggest that first thing, get rid of all the spies.

The bureaucrats aren’t going to like it. Bureaucrats rather like cushy positions which require little or no work. Now, ahem, those elite Foreign Service personnel will actually have to work for a living. Much like us idiots out here in la-la land who carry this country on our backs.

It would seem that Condi’s revamping both current positions and the manner in which cherished positions will be rewarded in the future. In order to be promoted into senior ranks diplomats will have to accept positions in dangerous places and, heh, learn a few languages beyond English.

The bureaucrats and career diplomats are mad, ladies and gems. Madder then wet hens, my mother would say.

Well for eight years these folks had a nice holiday from history as Bill Clinton paid these gigantic agencies no mind and allowed them to grow to huge, unwieldy and dysfunctional institutions until they finally considered themselves a branch of government in their own right.

No more sipping tea on the verandas of third-world poobahs good diplomats of the Foreign Service. Get out and work like us peons have to do.

Oh, and Condi, get rid of those spies while you’re at it.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that she will shift hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere as part of a broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps that she has dubbed “transformational diplomacy.”

The State Department’s culture of deployment and ideas about career advancement must alter now that the Cold War is over and the United States is battling transnational threats of terrorism, drug smuggling and disease, Rice said in a speech at Georgetown University. “The greatest threats now emerge more within states than between them,” she said. “The fundamental character of regimes now matters more than the international distribution of power.”

As part of the change in priorities, Rice announced that diplomats will not be promoted into the senior ranks unless they accept assignments in dangerous posts, gain expertise in at least two regions and are fluent in two foreign languages, citing Chinese, Urdu and Arabic as a few preferred examples.

That “Tainted” Abramoff Money

It would seem the Republicans are falling over themselves to divest their coffers of money contributed by both Jack Abramoff as well as that money contributed by the Native American clients he swindled.

Democrats, on the other hand, have taken the position that they won’t return the money. And frankly, they don’t have to. There’s nothing illegal about accepting political contributions to a legal PAC (Political Action Committee), even if the money was the result of a sleaze bucket’s swindle and they all knew it. Besides we hear that the Democrats are having serious money issues and likely they don’t want to return the money.

Although the Democratic pundits are out and about and treating us dummies out here in la-la land as if we don’t own a brain cell by declaring that the Abramoff smell has only landed on the Republicans, public records readily show that Democratic coffers were filled with ol’ Jack’s swindled clients’ money every bit as much as the Republicans’. DNC Chair Howard Dean wants to split hairs and say the Democratic party never took a dime from Abramoff himself but chooses to leave out that part about accepting the money from Abramoff’s aggrieved and hopeful Native American clients. When it’s this shameful money that’s the crux of the charges against Abramoff.

While the Democrats continue to waffle and lie about their Abramoff client contributions, it is Senator Patty Murray from the state of Washington who came up with one of the more original reasons why she shouldn’t return the money donated by Abramoff’s clients. For returning the money, says Murray, would “taint”, not her own fine self, but the tribes who contributed the money!

We’re not kidding, she really said this!

Sen. Patty Murray said Friday that returning contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff would "taint" the tribes.

The state's senior senator, a Seattle Democrat, said there was nothing wrong with accepting more than $40,000 in campaign donations from out-of-state tribes represented by the disgraced lobbyist.

The donations, from 1999 to 2005, placed Murray second among Senate Democrats and ninth overall in the Senate, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington, D.C., organization that tracks money in politics.

Senator Sheehan?

Thanks to Little Green Footballs we discover that Cindy Sheehan, affectionately known by many as “Mama Moonbat” has threatened to run for Senator against California’s own Diane Feinstein.

A move, frankly, that amuses to no end and we greet with an intrigued enthusiasm.

Sheehan, radical liberal who recently visited Hugo Chavez in Venzuela such a fine loyal American is she (note-Chavez paid her way), seems to think that Feinstein should participate in a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.

Not that Sheehan, whose son died in the Iraq war, is considered any sort of legal expert or anything. But a race between Feinstein and Sheehan would be a most welcome, even laughable, political diversion.

For immediate release:
Friday, January 27, 2006

Jodie Evans, (310) 621-5635 (in Venezula and US)
Medea Benjamin, (58 416) 208-0134; (415) 235-6517

Cindy Sheehan to Dianne Feinstein:
Fillibuster Alito or I’ll Challenge Your Senate Seat
Caracas, Venezuela - Gold star mother Cindy Sheehan has decided to run against California Senator Diane Feinstein if Feinstein does not filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel Alito. While in Venezuela attending the World Social Forum, Sheehan learned that several Democratic Senators had announced their plans for a filibuster but that Senator Feinstein, who’s up for re-election in November, had stated she would vote against the nomination but not filibuster it. “I’m appalled that Diane Feinstein wouldn’t recognize how dangerous Alito’s nomination is to upholding the values of our constitution and restricting the usurpation of presidential powers, for which I’ve already paid the ultimate price,” Sheehan said.

The Political Idiot of the Week

Ta Da! Who else but Mayor Ray Nagin, vaunted but pathetic mayor of Katrina-ravaged city New Orleans. Nagin recently called New Orleans a “chocolate” city, a reference, one must assume, to that city’s former African American base.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMyself suspects Nagin was calling for those black residents who left the city after the levees were breached to return, please, please, please, come back. Between the lines we read “so you can re-elect ME”.

Not that Nagin and Governor Blanco didn’t abandon these people, leaving school buses to flood rather than be bothered with an unwieldy evacuation. I read that surveys of these “chocolate” former New Orleans residents indicate almost 80% have settled elsewhere and have no plans to return.

Nagin eventually apologized for his rather silly remark but he will forever be known as…, well “Idiot” seems to work.

*Note to political junkees-Senate hearings on the NSA wiretaps are scheduled to commence on 2/6/06.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Interesting point about transformational diplomacy - although, I'm guessing, you don't know any diplomats. Fancy cocktail parties it ain't. I'm a diplomat's wife, so let me correct a couple of stereotypes here. I don't mind when people disagree with me, or don't think much of those of us who are either in the Foreign Service or are married to it. I just wish folks would let go of the stereotypes and get their facts straight. Movies and TV are wrong 99% of the time.

"Now, ahem, those elite Foreign Service personnel will actually have to work for a living."

My husband often reports to work at 4 am. The average Foreign Service Officer posted abroad works 10-15 hours a week of unpaid overtime.

"In order to be promoted into senior ranks diplomats will have to accept positions in dangerous places and, heh, learn a few languages beyond English."

That isn't a Condi initiative - she's taking credit for something that Colin Powell did. Those requirements have been in place for two years. Also, you cannot get tenure without getting off "language probation", as in, you have to be proficient in at least one language beyond English.

"The bureaucrats and career diplomats are mad, ladies and gems. Madder then wet hens, my mother would say."

The diplomats' union, AFSA, came out in favor of these initiatives. Our community is well aware that times have changed - for example, we have more people in Oslo than Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has human rights issues, Oslo has reindeer. Clearly, people have to shift to where they're needed.

The issue is that 100 officers had already been assigned their next tour, but then Condi abruptly yanked these jobs out from underneath them. Folks slogged through months of Polish training, lined up schools for their kids, prepared to move...and then were told that their jobs would be cancelled and they'd have to wait around until Condi figured out where to put them. Also, many of these European tours were in less-fab places like Moscow and Warsaw, not Paris or Berlin. These supposedly fancy diplomats are human beings with families, and shouldn't be treated like pawns on Condi's personal chessboard.

"Well for eight years these folks had a nice holiday from history as Bill Clinton paid these gigantic agencies no mind and allowed them to grow to huge, unwieldy and dysfunctional institutions until they finally considered themselves a branch of government in their own right."

This is a common misperception. Actually, the State Dept shrank during Clinton's years. Many diplomats left or retired, and not nearly enough were hired to replace them. The Diplomatic Readiness Initiative, which involved hiring masses of new diplomats, was actually a Bush program.

"No more sipping tea on the verandas of third-world poobahs good diplomats of the Foreign Service. Get out and work like us peons have to do."

Oh, please. We don't live fancy. My husband and I share a small two-bedroom apartment in Bosnia. Not France, not England, but Bosnia. The majority of diplomats serve at hardship postings - the largest posts in the world are Baghdad, Cairo, and Bogota. None of those places are luxurious. Over 700 (that's more than one in ten!) diplomats serve at extremely dangerous, unaccompanied (as in no spouse or kids) posts in places like Kabul, Baghdad and Mosul. For all of your populist posturing, I don't think you live inside a "hooch" like the Mosul gang does. (A hooch is a small storage trailer used as housing. It's the size of a small U-Haul.)

Maybe the old Foreign Service was a neverending Paris tea party, but those days are over. As a spouse, I don't throw fancy parties or have servants. My morning question isn't, "What fancy party will I go to tonight?" It's, "What nasty substance is going to come flying out of the showerhead today?"

So, please do a little research. Today's Foreign Service is a wonderful and worthwhile lifestyle, but it's not designer clothes or chauffers by any means.