Archive for State Department

Our Insufferable Selfie Government

Putin seizes Crimea; Russian troops mass on the border; restive Russian minorities in other former SSRs look toward Moscow for reunification.

Who ya gonna call?

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki is incurring lots of criticism and ridicule for responding to the Ukraine crisis with a selfie.

Jen is actually not some experienced State Department hand. She’s a veteran flack and one of the bright young Obama acolytes who came out of the 2008 campaign and into the White House, where she was among President Obama’s better-liked press assistants.

The White House sent her over to State about a year ago to take over the top spokesperson job. Along with White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, she’s viewed as one of the two most likely successors to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney once he’s had enough.

Oy.

Where would she learn that such behavior at the highest level of government is acceptable? Who would model such feckless, shallow behavior?

Now, I’m sure the Mandelas didn’t mind—even if Michelle so clearly did.

To paraphrase the First Lady, today I am more embarrassed for my country than at any time in my adult life.

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KGB vs ACORN

That’s how Rush has termed the match between Putin and Obama.

Unsurprisingly, the ACORN gets crunched under the jackboot heel:

In the last seven weeks, intercepted phone conversations between Western and Ukrainian officials have mysteriously surfaced on the Internet. U.S. intelligence officials tell The Daily Beast these phone recordings are part of a deliberate Russian strategy to collect and publicize the private conversations of their adversaries.

It started in the first week of February. As Ukraine’s political elites were scrambling to form a new government, a recording of a cellphone call emerged between Victoria Nuland, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. The intercept featured Nuland privately saying, “Fuck the EU,” and disclosed the preferences of two senior U.S. diplomats for who should serve in Ukraine’s interim government.

A month later, a phone call between European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Estonia’s foreign minister Urmas Paet appeared on the Internet. In the conversation, Paet discussed a theory that the snipers who fired on demonstrators in Ukraine may have been anti-Russian provocateurs.

This Monday, a third private phone call suddenly appeared on the Web. This time it was Yulia Tymeshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister, saying, “It’s about time we grabbed our guns and killed those damned Russians together with their leader.” ?

All three intercepted phone calls were invaluable to reinforcing Russia’s desired narrative: depicting the West as meddling in Ukrainian affairs and Ukraine’s new leadership as implacably hostile to Moscow. Not coincidentally, all three calls received major play on the Kremlin-funded Russian propaganda station known as RT. And all three are almost certainly the handiwork of Russia’s intelligence services.

Did you think Putin was going to fight clean? John Kerry accused Putin of behaving in “19th century” fashion in the 21st century. But it is he, Kerry (and Obama), who are stuck in a 19th century mindset, from plus-fours to top hats.

While the State Department sips claret from new crystal (ordered as the government shut down)…

…Putin takes his libations from the waters of the Black Sea.

Obama’s dismissal of Russia as a “regional power”, acting “out of weakness” will be his Gerald Ford moment: “There is no Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe.” Russia may be “a gas station masquerading as a country”, as John McCain amusingly put it—or Haiti with nukes, as we used to say—but it’s still got nukes and it’s still got gas.

And it’s got a street thug in charge. Who do we have? President Mom Jeans.

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Their Kind

Where’d you say you come from again?

The US State Department is denying visas to senior members of Israeli security forces whose work is connected to Israeli rule in the West Bank, Channel 10 reported Tuesday night, citing “pro-Israel sources” on Capitol Hill.

The effort to identify officers and commanders from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, and other organizations stems from a fear that these individuals may have played a part in violating Palestinians’ human rights.

The US administration did not confirm the report, but did say last week that Israel’s discrimination against visiting Arab Americans is the primary reason it is not eligible for a program allowing Israeli tourists in to the United States without visas.

“The Department of Homeland Security and State remain concerned with the unequal treatment that Palestinian Americans and other Americans of Middle Eastern origin experience at Israel’s border and checkpoints, and reciprocity is the most basic condition of the Visa Waiver Program,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said March 21 in her daily briefing with reporters.

The Tsarnaev boys are welcome, but you Joos can just git. (I’m hearing Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke.)

Israel says its rate of refusal of entry for Arab Americans is not disproportionate and notes that under the Oslo agreements with the Palestinians, foreigners of Palestinian descent undergo a different entry protocol.

Doesn’t seem unreasonable under the circumstances.

Psaki’s remarks came after several weeks in which a number of lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have criticized US consular services for their rate of refusal of young Israelis.

In addition to Schumer, other lawmakers who have pressed the State Department to explain the spike in the rate of refusal include Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Obama-Kerry State Department may bitch-slap Israel with one hand, but it offers flowers with another:

The United States has proposed freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in a trade-off deal in which Israel would agree to proceed with the next round of prisoner releases, including Israeli Arab prisoners, and the Palestinian Authority would agreed to extend the current peace talks, Israel’s Army Radio reported Wednesday.

It said the offer had been conveyed to Israel and the PA, but there was no official confirmation. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quoted telling journalists accompanying Secretary of State John Kerry to a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday morning that there were currently no plans to release Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.

In exchange for Pollard, Israel would agree to release 26 prisoners, among them around 20 Arab Israelis, and the Palestinians would agree to continue talks until the end of 2014, according to Army Radio.

Israel has strong feelings about Pollard, which is understandable, but he is not an Israeli citizen. Israel must consider the security of its own citizens first, as unfair as his treatment may be. We sure as hell know we can’t trust the State Department.

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The Next Foreign Policy Success Will Be Obama’s First

Syria a humanitarian nightmare; Egypt back to a military dictatorship (thank God); Iran as resistant and recalcitrant as ever: what’s a “transformational president” to do if the others won’t transform?

The recent positions by the White House officials on certain issues are “not acceptable,” said Mohammad Hassan Asafari, who sits on Iran’s Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, on Thursday.

“They should remember that Iran’s missile issues are not part of the negotiations in the Geneva agreement and are by no means negotiable; and the P5+1 [group] (the five parties to the nuclear talks with Iran) cannot launch such a scenario,” he said.

Earlier, Wendy Sherman, the US top nuclear negotiator at the talks with Iran, said during a Senate hearing last week that the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program would be addressed as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal.

However, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday that Tehran had no intention of discussing its ballistic missile program with major powers.

“The subject of the talks with the P5+1 group is only the nuclear issue; and we will not discuss any other issues,” he said, adding that the country’s defense issues “are not negotiable and are our red line.”

“Red line” as it is commonly meant, non-negotiable, a deal breaker? Or “red line” as Obama means it, a policy as easily cast off as a dirty sock? Something tells me Iran means what it says it more than Obama ever did.

Thank goodness these fiascos don’t actually hurt anybody. Just good for a laugh, right Syria?

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Dipsomanic Immunity

A minor story, perhaps, given the chaos, mayhem, and catastrophe we have to cover, but no less enjoyable:

Recently, a colleague of mine from the Foreign Service told me about a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden who, some years ago, had passed out in the snow, too drunk to get up. He had been partying hard during an outing in the countryside. Fortunately, an embassy officer found him in time to save his life. America’s boozy man in Stockholm was a non-career political appointee—no surprise. The fellow who saved him was a professional diplomat. And the roles the two men played that night is emblematic of a familiar routine.

That was the thought I had earlier this week when word came that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved nominations of President Barack Obama’s latest batch of ambassadorial picks—including a couple of first-time diplomats whose cringeworthy performances during their testimony suggested they’ll need to rely heavily on their Foreign Service staff to keep from embarrassing the United States.

When hotel magnate George Tsunis, Obama’s nominee for Oslo, met with the Senate last month, he made clear that he didn’t know that Norway was a constitutional monarchy and wrongly stated that one of the ruling coalition political parties was a hate-spewing “fringe element.” Another of the president’s picks, Colleen Bell, who is headed to Budapest, could not answer questions about the United States’ strategic interests in Hungary. But could the president really expect that she’d be an expert on the region? Her previous gig was as a producer for the TV soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She stumbled through responses to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) like, well, a soap opera star, expounding on world peace. When the whole awkward exchange concluded, the senator grinned. “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees,” McCain said sarcastically.

For the purposes of comparison, Norway’s ambassador to the Washington is a 31-year Foreign Ministry veteran. Hungary’s ambassador is an economist who worked at the International Monetary Fund for 27 years.

Obama’s bundler’s and hacks are hardly the first of their kind to put on the striped pants and waistcoats of the diplomatic service. But they are clearly no better. It looks like his extended hand of friendship is expecting its palm to be greased.

The reason a hotelier and a television producer, for instance, might be appealing choices is blindingly obvious: money. Bell raised $2,101,635 for President Obama’s re-election efforts. Tsunis, who flipped his affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2009, embraced his new party with gusto, raising $988,550 for the president’s 2012 bid.

Among the ambassadors serving in 10 of the choicest cities in Europe and the Caribbean, the average amount raised per posting in the last election was $1.79 million, according to the Guardian newspaper. And the cost for a plush post in a city like Rome, Paris, Stockholm or Canberra seems to be going up. The Guardian reported that appointees to these embassies raised a total of $5 million in 2012, up from $3.3 million in 2008, $1.3 million in 2004 and $800,000 in 2000.

We were expecting so much more from Obama—at least for the Paris posting. He’s selling himself cheap.

Another champ:

And then there’s the recent case of Cynthia Stroum, Obama’s pick to serve in Luxembourg—a Rhode Island-sized NATO ally that has always been a convenient spot to stick political friends and donors. Over the years, real estate moguls, socialites and car salesmen have all washed up in the Ardennes. Stroum, a wealthy Seattle investor, was dispatched there in 2009 after raising half a million bucks to put Obama in the White House (or, $1 for every citizen of Luxembourg). She abruptly resigned in early 2011 after a blistering report from the State Department’s inspector general noted that her embassy “has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador’s tenure.” The ambassador’s managerial style, the report claimed, engendered personality conflicts and the embassy was fraught with verbal abuse and questionable expenditures on travel and booze. “At present, due to internal problems, [the embassy] plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting,” the report noted, “though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities.” So terrorized was Stroum’s small staff that the inspector general recommended the State Department dispatch medical personnel to examine the stress levels of embassy employees. It noted at least four quit or sought transfers to jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan during her tenure, rare moves for diplomats ensconced in cushy European postings.

Let’s keep it real: developments in Luxembourg are barely of interest to Luxembourgers; of none to anyone else in the entire galaxy. But that our career diplomats sought refuge in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than work for the bundling bitch, Stroum, is very enlightening.

Why bring up this amusing but ancient history?

Because Obama is about to top—or bottom—himself:

Obama bundler and nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet has never been to Argentina, he revealed at his confirmation hearing Thursday.

“I haven’t had the opportunity yet to be there,” he said. “I’ve traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven’t yet had a chance.”

Mamet bundled $500,000 for Obama and the Democratic Party, and he’s not the only friend of the administration to recently reveal little in-depth knowledge of his new country.

But he looks forward to starting a dialogue:

On Friday, a State Department spokesperson couldn’t answer whether Manet could speak Spanish. Asked, she answered, “I don’t have his personal biography in front of me.”

Isn’t this the same guy who said “[I]nstead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English, they’ll learn English, you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.”

Do I care that Obama is sending rich fools to foreign hell-holes? I do not. Given its recent behavior, Argentina deserves a fatuous fop like whatshisname. I’d send Charlie Sheen to France if I were president (except that his behavior would be unremarkable over there). But can we remove the cardboard halo from above Obama’s head now? And replace it with a sign that says “ATM: Deposits Only”?

PS: Given who’s running things, I suppose we shouldn’t be upset at the tawdriness of the State Department.


That’s funny, you don’t look Luxembourgan.

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Let’s Pretend™

Today’s game, Let’s Pretend™ begins with this challenge: Pretend you are Bashar al Assad. Now, read the NY Times coverage of how Moammar Khadaffi and Saddam Hussein rid their countries of chemical weapons.

When Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had to convince the world 10 years ago that he was serious about giving up his chemical weapons, he dragged warheads and bombs into the desert and flattened them with bulldozers.

When Saddam Hussein, defeated in the Persian Gulf war of 1991, had to demonstrate that he was giving up his chemical arsenal, Iraqis protected by little more than tattered cloths over their faces poured some of the agents into ditches and set them on fire — to the shock of inspectors watching in heavy “moon suits.”

Weapons experts and diplomats say that if President Bashar al-Assad is serious about complying with the landmark agreement announced in Geneva on Saturday, he will have to take similarly dramatic action in the coming weeks. Anything short of an immediate demonstration of willingness, they say, will be a sign that Mr. Assad is seeking to drag out the process, betting that time is on his side as memories fade of the attack that is said to have killed more than 1,400 people and prompted a military standoff with the United States.

Now, pretend you are the NY Times reporter or editor responsible for this piece of writing. Pretend that you don’t know the fate of Moammar Khadaffi or Saddam Hussein. Pretend to be that stupid.

Hard to do, isn’t it?

Ok, back to Bashar al Assad. Pretend that you read this, knowing full well the fate of both men, and despite that, you decide to comply. You can’t get there, can you? It is easier to pretend to be five years old again, having a fancy tea party with you mom and your older sister. Or, maybe you can pretend to be Superman, or The Little Mermaid.

While you’re at it, pretend that this will happen:

The agreement calls for the destruction of chemical agent mixing equipment by November and, perhaps most ambitious, for Syria to completely rid itself of chemical weapons and production facilities in less than a year, a timetable that would set a speed record and one that many experts doubt could be completed even with Syria’s full cooperation.

Oh, look, a nod to reality! And only eleven paragraphs into the story:

Mr. Assad, however, also knows that Mr. Hussein and Colonel Qaddafi were both deposed and ultimately executed years after giving up their weapons.
“The history does not exactly create an incentive,” the senior administration official said.

Here’s a question, O-bots. Who was it that said: “You’re either with us or against us.” George W. Bush, correct. After which, Khaddafi gave up his weapons. But the promises of the United States are only as good as the President’s word. And once Obama became President, he had him killed, effectively. So, why in the world would Assad give up his weapons?

This is Aggie speaking, and I have no use whatsoever for Assad, but the truth is that he is protected by both the Russians and the Iranians, and he is married to a very pretty British woman, with whom he has at least one kid. Britain will not get involved. This administration and our State Department are a bunch of dolts.

- Aggie

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You Say Ben-ghah-zi, I Say Ben-ghay-zi

What difference at this point does it make?!

The State Department willfully obstructed a congressional investigation of the deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi last year, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

State Department officials routinely refused requests for documents on its investigation into the September, 2012, attack, including interview transcripts and summaries of eyewitnesses to the attack, according to a committee report obtained by The Hill.

Additionally, members of the independent Accountability Review Board (ARB) tasked with reviewing the events that led up to the Benghazi attack were rife with “actual and perceived conflicts of interest” with State, the House report adds.

“The State Department’s refusal to turn over ARB documents has made an independent evaluation of the ARB’s review difficult,” according to the report.

To that end, ARB members failed to “record or transcribe the interviews it conducted” and refuses to hand over summaries of the interviews, it adds.

Furthermore, the State Department’s attempts to characterize the ARB as independent have proven to be inconsistent with the Department’s action in response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attacks.

As far as I know, only the Guardian (UK) has called bull[bleep] on the Regime’s “version” of “events”.

They must still be smarting from the “tragedy”:

Staffers at State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. held their own private ceremony Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya after finding out the agency would not be organizing a formal, official memorial service.

You think John Kerry is going to touch the stink Hillary Clinton left behind? As if! And let me apologize here and now for referring in such terms to the terrorist murders of Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods. At least we paid more tribute to them than the government they died to serve.

What difference does it make? Hillary Clinton’s public life should be ovah. Not just her political life, her public life. I hope she’s got her cookie recipes handy.

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Phony Scandal Update

President Obama seemed unimpressed yesterday with our concerns over using the IRS to intimidate conservative and Jewish voters, thereby stealing the election. He could barely stifle a yawn at the appalling news that the NSA is filing away every key stroke you make…just in case. And if you start talking about Benghazi to him, check how quickly he starts glancing at his watch.

Phony enough for you, Mr. President?

One of the most severely wounded survivors of the Benghazi terror attack, Diplomatic Security agent David Ubben, risked his life to help save his fellow Americans, and is still being treated at Walter Reed medical center to this day, Fox News has learned.

Fox News is the first news organization to make direct contact with Ubben — who has had multiple surgeries at Walter Reed to save his right leg, which was badly wounded in the Sept. 11 attack.

Fox News has also learned new details about Ubben’s heroic actions on the night of the attack, including fighting alongside the former Navy SEALs who were later killed.

Sources tell Fox News that during the second wave of the attack, Ubben was on the roof of the CIA annex — along with former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty — defending the compound. It was a harrowing scene as dozens of militants attempted to swarm the barriers.

In another sign the attacks were pre-meditated, three mortar rounds rained down on the compound. The first fell short of the annex, about 50 yards away, but the subsequent mortar rounds were direct hits.

Both Woods and Doherty were killed, with the mortar shredding Ubben’s right leg.

This brave young man was close enough to the four who died to drag one’s lifeless body out of a burning building and to suffer a grievous wound from a mortar round that killed two of the others.

And we’re just hearing about him?

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz says the State Department has frustrated his efforts to meet with Ubben at Walter Reed. “While initially they said they would be helpful, pretty quickly they turned that off. And I had a meeting scheduled to go visit this … young man and then I was denied.” The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on which Chaffetz sits, has been investigating the Benghazi attack.

On Wednesday, another Republican congressman, Frank Wolf of Virginia, who has gathered a majority of Republicans in the House in support of a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry complaining that the State Department has refused for months to provide Congress with the names and contact information for the survivors. It was on March 15, six months after the attack, that the State Department finally confirmed three of its agents and one contractor were injured.

Asked why the State Department was either blocking or simply failing to facilitate these meetings, spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s explanation was in conflict with lawmakers’ claims.

“We don’t prevent anyone from telling their story. We’ve helped and facilitated countless hearings and interviews and discussions of members of Congress,” she said.

“America needs to thank these people for the horrific things they went through,” Chaffetz said. “I think if we heard from the survivors including Ubben — as they walked into that room — there’s wouldn’t be a dry eye in the place because this is what America is all about. These are our heroes. We need to hear from them.”

The terrorist attack on our diplomatic and security forces took place over ten months ago. And an eyewitness to the atrocity has been stashed away, however badly injured, at Walter Reed Medical Center ever since, with no opportunity to thank him or let him tell his story of what happened. Why am I not surprised that out of our bulldog media only Fox News found this most inconvenient of heros?

But for once my contempt for the Yorkiepoo press is dwarfed by my Mastiff-sized disgust with President Obama. Our freedoms don’t matter to him; our system of government doesn’t matter to him; our fallen do not matter to him. To him, all are phony.

He can sink no lower in my estimation. He has plumbed the murky depths.

In a funny way, though, President Obama has kindled my interest in faith. I am, and have been my whole adult life, a practicing atheist. But this can’t be it. There must be more to our existence than serving at the pleasure of an unprincipled, preening, narcissistic little Stalinist. Whatever God is, He can’t be so uncaring as to leave us in the hands of such a community organizer with delusions of grandeur. Someone as manipulative and self-serving as Obama must play for the Other Team: He can’t be on God’s Side.

And God will not be mocked. Vengeance is His. He will repay.

So, patience, Bloodthirstani. President Obama, too, shall pass.

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The Democratically Elected Government of Egypt

Sounds like the opening of a joke—and it is:

The streets teem with millions of Egyptians demanding change. The president remains defiant. He makes a few speeches and offers some concessions, but the protesters insist it’s too little, too late. “We want him out,” they shout.

A few days later, the president is ousted. The atmosphere in Tahrir Square is ecstatic: The blasts of fireworks compete with cries of “Long live Egypt!”

That description could apply to the ousting of Mohammed Morsi on Wednesday or the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. In neither instance did I join the cheering late into the night. How would throwing out the president solve Egypt’s problems? What would happen once the makeshift tents in Tahrir Square came down and the euphoria wore off?

In 2011 and this week, I asked my family and friends such questions and was called a pessimist, a cynic and a government-sympathizer. But no one had good answers.

This time, I am slightly more hopeful. The Egyptian army toppled a group that stands directly at odds with modernity.

Of course, but…

But that is as far as my optimism goes. The coup showed that Egypt’s political culture hasn’t developed much, if at all, in the past few years.

Once again, the country’s hardships were blamed on one man. Again, Egyptians expressed a naïve hope that this revolution, at last, was the beginning of a prosperous future.

In another repeat of 2011, populism supported by an all-too-willing Egyptian media has taken over. My social-media feeds have turned into a swamp of self-satisfied pronouncements, conspiracy theories and ultranationalistic sentiments. Overnight, the Muslim Brotherhood transformed from a group that 13 million people voted for to a bunch of traitors who must be hanged.

Amid such fervor, reality seems to have no place. Few dare to ask how Egypt got into this mess. Few mention that the Muslim Brotherhood, with all its bigotry and backwardness, was the free choice of Egyptians—and that it still has millions of supporters. Egyptians don’t want to hear that they were the ones who let extremism flourish until the Brotherhood controlled the nation.

For every literate, erudite, modern Egyptian, there are thousands (seemingly) of illiterate, backward, scrupulously doctrinal Egyptians. Nothing wrong with that… unless you’re trying to emulate a Western democracy. In which case, it doesn’t work. At all.

Speaking of not working:

John F. Kerry’s credibility took on more water on the second day of his Nantucket vacation flap, as the State Department backed off its initial denial the embattled secretary of state was yachting during the Egyptian military coup — and President Obama tweeted a photo of himself kayaking in a hat, sunglasses and polo shirt.

The Herald reported yesterday that Kerry spent the Fourth of July cavorting on his island getaway even as chaos from the military’s ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi rocked Egypt.

In the wake of the Herald story, a State Department spokeswoman admitted yesterday that Kerry was “briefly” aboard his $7 million luxury craft, the Isabel, on the day of the coup, after previously insisting the yacht sighting was “completely inaccurate.”

“While he was briefly on his boat on Wednesday,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said, “Secretary Kerry worked around the clock all day.”

The Herald front-page story captured a series of photos of Kerry paddling a kayak in shorts and a polo shirt. Then yesterday Obama posted his own kayaking photo on Twitter, tweeting, “Have a great weekend.”

It was unclear whether the president’s tweet was mocking Kerry or supporting him.

Mocking, I’d say.

Of course, Kerry is allowed a day off every once in a while. He can hardly be blamed if his day at the beach coincides with bloodshed on the sands of Egypt. Unless, of course, he can be blamed. He’s been so obsessed with forcing a peace process on the Israelis and the self-proclaimed “Palestinians” that a coup in Egypt and a civil war in Syria (to name but two current events) hardly creep into his consciousness.

And why would he have such tunnel vision, such an obsession? Ego.

PS: My bad. He’s focused on Egypt after all.

I regret the error.

PPS: Howie Carr: “Actually, John Forbes Kerry was for the Muslim Brotherhood before he was against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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Caption Contest

John Kerry Swift Boats himself:

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry — who spent the Fourth of July on sun-splashed Nantucket even as the chaos from a military takeover rocked Egypt — drew fire from Republican critics who said it’s a bad time for the nation’s top diplomat to be seen cavorting on an island getaway.

“It doesn’t look good, and I think it sends the wrong message” said Republican strategist Brad Marston. “If I were advising him, I’d already have him on a plane.”

As first reported on bostonherald.com, Kerry, who owns a house and a yacht on the ritzy retreat, was seen yesterday strolling down Federal Street away from July Fourth festivities on Main Street in jeans and a light-colored polo shirt.

Later in the afternoon, Kerry was seen offloading bags from a single-person kayak to a boat in Nantucket Sound after launching from the beach behind his home at 5 Hulbert Ave.

Added Republican operative Ford O’Connell: “Egypt’s in a very fragile place, and the U.S. needs to be out front doing what it can to return Egypt to civilian rule. Having the nation’s top diplomat vacationing on Nantucket doesn’t send the right message to the international community.”

Kerry’s staff yesterday insisted he’s fully engaged and has been logging long hours and high miles, including a recent 12-day, 25,000-mile trip to the Middle East and Asia.

Yesterday he dialed into a meeting with President Obama and members of his national security team in the Situation Room, according to the State Department. Kerry also called foreign dignitaries from Egypt, Israel, Norway, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Former state Democratic Party chairman Phil Johnston said these days the secretary of state can effectively work out of anywhere in the world.
“The man’s been working 24/7 for weeks to create peace in the Middle East — I think he’s entitled to a day on Nantucket,” said Johnston.

Look, I love embarrassing optics as much as anyone (hence this post), but he has been working his ass off—which is the problem. As is so typical for Secretaries of State, working for “peace in the Middle East” means bullying Israel for concessions. He could have done more for Middle East (and global) peace by just leaving his business card with Arab and other leaders and sailing Nantucket Sound for the past month. When his phone didn’t ring, he’d have known it was Mahmoud Abbas.

PS: I didn’t need to know Kerry’s Nantucket address, but now that I do… not too shabby.

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Stampeding Secretary

Whoa, boy!

Since succeeding Hillary Rodham Clinton as America’s top diplomat, Kerry has issued several as yet undelivered — and perhaps undeliverable — pledges to allies and rivals alike, proving a source of concern for Obama’s policy team. It is trying to rein in Kerry somewhat, according to officials, which is difficult considering Kerry has spent almost half his tenure so far in the air or on the road, from where his most dissonant policy statements have come.

The White House quickly distanced itself from both Kerry’s North Korea remarks and has now, since President Barack Obama’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Northern Ireland this past week, seen up close the strength of Moscow’s resistance to Kerry’s Syria strategy.

In Jordan last month, Kerry announced a sketchy $4 billion economic revitalization strategy for the West Bank that would accompany his peace plan. No details were provided, and U.S. officials even sent reporters to aides of U.N. peace mediator Tony Blair for more information. …

On Mideast peace, Kerry is largely fighting the battle alone. Since Obama’s visit to Israel in March, Kerry has gotten almost no public displays of support from the president, with the White House appearing reluctant to stake political capital in an endeavor that so often has proved a disappointment.

To which those of us who live in Massachusetts say: what did you expect? He came as advertised—a self-important, blow-dried, horse-faced, prima donna who thought the job of Secretary of State was his by divine right, who still thinks he beat George Bush in 2004, and who still hadn’t paid taxes on his yacht, the Isabel, months after the news broke that he evaded them by mooring the scow in Rhode Island.

This is very much the John Kerry we know. Enjoy, America! He’s all yours now.

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Party Like the Secret Service!

They may not be Colombian hookers, but buggers—sorry, beggarscan’t be choosers:

CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.

CBS News’ John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General’s memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off. The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut “engaged in sexual assaults” on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries” — a problem the report says was “endemic.”

I’ve Googled for images of “Lebanese prostitutes” (so you don’t have to), and all I have to say is: way to go, fellas.

But how’s this for a twist (and I do mean twist)?

The State Department Inspector General’s memo refers to the 2011 investigation into an ambassador who “routinely ditched … his protective security detai” and inspectors suspect this was in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”

Sources told CBS News that after the allegations surfaced, the ambassador was called to Washington, D.C. to meet with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy, but was permitted to return to his post.

Shoot! No relation. I so wanted to say something like, “Of course he let it go. Sounds like a typical Friday night for Uncle Ted.”

Next time.

PS: Where would Hillary Clinton’s security detail learn that it was appropriate to step out on her for sexual dalliances? I can’t imagine how any man closely associated with her would come up with such an idea.

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