Friday, October 30, 2009

Hillary's Pakistani Moment, Zelaya's Final Solution, Free the Military Panel 7

Paul Krugman
David Brooks
Eugene Robinson
Dana Milbank

"Nancy Pelosi, you'll burn in hell for this," said a voice, amplified by a bullhorn, from about 50 yards away.

"Thank you, insurance companies of America," Pelosi replied to the man. Actually, they were abortion protesters, and they were loud."  - Dana Milbank

To say that Hillary Clinton bombed during her visit to Pakistan is close, she got an explosive reception with a bomb going off in Peshawar  on the day of her arrival. She had given interviews to talk shows before she left, telling that it was time to ask the tough questions publicly what politicians have been saying privately for a long time: "She said al-Qaeda had enjoyed a "safe haven" in Pakistan since 2002 and suggested that some Pakistani officials might know where the group's leaders are hiding.

"I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn't get them if they really wanted to," Well, so much for diplomacy...

Her Pakistani hosts were embarrassed by her tough love, they prefer more polite avoidance of answering questions. The Pakistani intelligence service and much of the military in the past have supported some Taliban groups, encouraging them to make mischief in India and help their brothers in arms in Afghanistan. The head of the Afghani Taliban lived for a few years in the same town that Hamid Karzai was exiled to, needless to say, they did not play very well together...

In interviews and a town-hall meeting, the citizens of Pakistan dished it right back to Ms Clinton, and it was her turn to avoid giving answers: "An interview with several women who are prominent Pakistani television anchors, broadcast live, turned into a pointed, sometimes raucous back-and-forth, as her questioners cut each other off and shouted to be heard as they parried with Mrs. Clinton. They criticized American drone strikes in Pakistan, said the military presence was stirring unrest and expressed their doubts about whether the United States had a long-term commitment to Pakistan... One of the women said that Pakistanis were experiencing “daily 9/11’s,” and an audience member asked Mrs. Clinton whether the drone strikes amounted to acts of terrorism."

Throughout her stay, Ms Clinton dodged the drone question, so I'll answer part of it. We don't tell your military in advance because we don't trust them not to leak the information. Many of the predator strikes are ones that we do asked for by the Pakistani military. No, we won't give you any drones like we gave Israel. We would require a larger US presence in Pakistan, which you do not want. We have independent contractors like Blackwater, er, Xe, administering the drones so we can avoid taking responsibility for mistakes.

Actually, the debates she had were good for airing a lot of issues that have been circulating for years, from abandonment by the US after the Soviets left Afghanistan, to pressuring the Pakistani government to be aggressive against the Talibans, like they are currently doing in South Waziristan. Flip a coin to see if it will help relations, especially with answers like this: "Mrs. Clinton said only, “The war that your government and your military are waging right now is an important one for the country.”

zelaya's honduran horror...

Good news, I know this has been worrying you every day, but it looks like the Honduran Horroris about to end, and a new silver lining is visible. The signed agreemnt is: "... to restore the ousted president and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term. If Congress agrees, control of the army would shift to the electoral court, and the presidential election set for Nov. 29 would be recognized by both sides. Neither Mr. Zelaya nor Mr. Micheletti will be candidates."

This is such an obvious solution that the only reason it didn't happen before is because of egos and feeling being hurt. Even world leaders only have the emotional development of a five-year-old... Ms Clinton was happy with the US brokered deal: “I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that, having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order, overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue,” Sanction are supposed to be lifted if the election goes well. Of course, it could all fall apart if it is not ratified by the Honduran Congress. We all know the contentions that go on in any Congress, think of the US as the familiar lobbyist offering the bribes...

the ethically challenged...

We have two Congressional panels investigating over 30 members of Congress for ethics violations: "House ethics investigators have been scrutinizing the activities of more than 30 lawmakers and several aides in inquiries about issues including defense lobbying and corporate influence peddling." This makes me so happy, as I'm sure it does for many others who have seen the system perverted by bribes associated with  earmarks and lobbying groups.

Especially satisfying are the seven Congressmen on the military appropriations committee who are being investigated: "The investigations by two separate ethics offices include an examination of the chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on defense, John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), as well as others who helped steer federal funds to clients of the PMA Group. The lawmakers received campaign contributions from the firm and its clients. A document obtained by The Washington Post shows that the subcommittee members under scrutiny also include Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) , C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.)."

Of course, this came after the fight the White House had over cutting useless programs in the military budget that was passed yesterday. Today the confidential ethics reports were "leaked" so the Washington Post could get to the reports online: "Together, the seven legislators have personally steered more than $200 million in earmarks to clients of the PMA Group in the past two years, and received more than $6.2 million in campaign contributions from PMA and its clients in the past decade."

Usually nothing happens as a result of these kinds of investigations, letting the roosters examine the henhouse, but there might be consequences this time because the public is now aware of them.... The big deal so far is when the chairwoman of the ethics committee stopped a session of the House yesterday to apologize for the leak and to warn those being investigated... Happy hunting under the Harvest Moon, will anything really come of all this and more transparency will happen? Who knows, stranger things have happened in this universe...

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