Thursday, August 08, 2013










Fresh from his couch tussles with Jay Leno, America's biggest little bitch Barack Obama has let the claws out -- as he does periodically when he's feeling blue and the claws come out -- and announced that he may do a little couch play but he's not putting out for Putin.  In what Susan Heavy and Mark Felsenrhal (Reuters) hail as "a stark low point, " Barack has cancelled a scheduled meet-up with Russian President Vladmir Putin "in retaliation for Russia' decision to grant" temporary asylum to NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden.

Roger Runningen and Margaret Talev (Bloomberg News) explain, "Cancelling the one-on-one meeting with Putin in Moscow before the G-20 is a blow to administration efforts for a 'reset' in relations between the two countries that Obama has been seeking since he took office in 2009."

White House spokesperson Jay Carney babbeled on at length today but we'll boil it down to one sentence from Carney, "Russia's disappointing decision to grant Edward Snowden temporary asylum was also a factor that we considered in assessing the current state of our bilateral relationship."

Proving yet again that Barack's formative experience in the 80s was not anything political but, in fact, an obsession with Joan Collins' character Alexis on Dynasty, we learn from Runningen and Talev that 'big bad' (no giggles, please) Barack lacked the strength to even convey the cancellation personally ("The U.S. decision was conveyed to Russian officials through diplomatic channels, according to an administration official. Obama didn’t talk to Putin about the cancellation, according to the official, who asked for anonymity to discuss internal communications.").  What a sad attempt at leadership.  It was a lousy decision to begin with but if you're going to make it, have the guts to stand by it and convey it yourself.  As Zeke J. Miller (Time magazine) points out, Barack "is bailing on a planned summit."  Barack still plans to go to Russia for the G-20 meet-up, he just won't meet with Putin there.

As he tries to tick off the Russian government, one's left to wonder what would happen if Russia forced his departing plane down the way Barack had Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane forced down?  Turnabout, Barack, is fair play.

All this over Ed Snowden?

 Ed Snowden is an American citizen and whistle-blower who had been employed by the CIA and by the NSA before leaving government employment for the more lucrative world of contracting.  At the time he blew the whistle, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton doing NSA work.  Glenn Greenwald (Guardian) had the first scoop (and many that followed) on Snowden's revelations that the US government was spying on American citizens, keeping the data on every phone call made in the United States (and in Europe as well) while also spying on internet use via PRISM and Tempora.  US Senator Bernie Sanders decried the fact that a "secret court order" had been used to collect information on American citizens "whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing."  Sanders went on to say, "That is not what democracy is about.  That is not what freedom is about. [. . .] While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans."  The immediate response of the White House, as Dan Roberts and Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported,  was to insist that there was nothing unusual and to get creaky and compromised Senator Dianne Feinstein to insist, in her best Third Reich voice, "People want to keep the homeland safe."  The spin included statements from Barack himself.   Anita Kumar (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, "Obama described the uproar this week over the programs as “hype” and sought to ensure Americans that Big Brother is not watching their every move."  Josh Richman (San Jose Mercury News) quoted Barack insisting that "we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about."  Apparently not feeling the gratitude, the New York Times editorial board weighed in on the White House efforts at spin, noting that "the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights."  Former US President Jimmy Carter told CNN, "I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial."

The more Barack attempted to defend the spying, the more ridiculous he came off.  Mike Masnick (TechDirt) reviewed Barack's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show and observed of the 'explanations' offered, "None of that actually explains why this program is necessary. If there's a phone number that the NSA or the FBI gets that is of interest, then they should be able to get a warrant or a court order and request information on that number from the telcos. None of that means they should be able to hoover up everything."  As US House Rep John Conyers noted, "But I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to mean that this mega data collected in such a super aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else.  You've already violated the law, as far as I am concerned."  Barack couldn't deal with that reality but did insist, in the middle of June, that this was an opportunity for "a national conversation."  He's always calling for that because, when it doesn't happen, he can blame the nation.  It's so much easier to call for "a national conversation" than for he himself to get honest with the American people. And if Barack really believes this has kicked off "a national conversation" then demonizing Ed Snowden is a really strange way to say "thank you."

Meanwhile Paul Lewis (Guardian) reports today:

John Lewis, one of America's most revered civil rights leaders, says the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was continuing the tradition of civil disobedience by revealing details of classified US surveillance programs.
Lewis, a 73-year-old congressman and one of the last surviving lieutenants of Martin Luther King, said Snowden could claim he was appealing to "a higher law" when he disclosed top secret documents showing the extent of NSA surveillance of both Americans and foreigners.

While Lewis provided context and wisdom, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night, Barack came off as unhinged as Gloria Swanson at the end.  What a proud moment for him, what a historical moment.  Exactly 30 years ago, Sally Struthers and Dom DeLuise sat on the same set yucking it up with guest host John Davidson.  That's called perspective.

As he continues to squander and debase the presidency, Barack elected to insist of Russia, "There have been times where they slip into Cold-War thinking and Cold-War mentality."  Do they?  Really?

Because Barack's the one who pretended the meet-up was still on last night when he knew it was about to be called off.  So what kind of mentality is that?

No word on whether Putin will now take to Jimmy Kimmel's ABC show to declare, "Real leaders cancel their own meetings personally."  However, Sergei L. Loko (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Russian officials said they were unhappy with President Obama's decision to cancel a summit meeting in the wake of the Kremlin's decision to grant temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, but that the Americans were largely hurting themselves."  And that's exactly right.

Every time Barack gets into a cat fight, he elevates whomever he's hissing at.  This time it's Putin.  As we noted August 2nd:

Reality, Putin's thrilled.
Why wouldn't he be?
He doesn't care for Barack.  He leads Russia today which isn't the USSR of yesteryear.
But it rises his profile to be clashing with Barack, as he fully knows.
In addition, it takes the focus off Russia's human rights abuses.  (The US has human rights abuses as well.  I'm neither picking on nor praising Russia.)
Russia goes from being beat up in the global public square to putting a spotlight on Barack's ridiculous efforts.
In addition, Putin now has leverage.  He can play the Snowden card for 12 months.
Putin hates this?  Oh, poor, foolish Daniel.
Ilya Arkhipov and Olga Tanas (Bloomberg News) report, "Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing his gamesmanship on a global stage by giving his voters what they want with the asylum granted to ex-U.S. contractor Edward Snowden, while leaving the White House flustered."
Joe Coscarelli (New York magazine) writes some garbage under the headline "Snowden Officially Making Things Awkward Between Obama and Putin."  Get off your knees, Coscarelli, you're embarrassing yourself.
That's really cute, isn't it?
Barack Obama has snubbed Russia and worse.  The US government has never had as bad relations with the Russian government as it currently does.
(I said with Russia -- I didn't say with the USSR.)
Where has Coscarelli been since 2009?
Scowcroft Center at the Atlantic Council's Barry Pavel tells Terry Atlas and Nichole Gaouette (Bloomberg News) states, "We're far apart on a lot of issues, we don't have a lot of leverage, and the Russians seem to like it this way.  This is part of the pattern of relations since the Obama administration began." At Investor's Business Daily, Andrew Malcolm not only notes how humiliated Barack and company now are, he also reviews the relationship between Barack and Russia over the last years.

That's my take from a week ago.  Click here for NBC News' Jim Maceda's analysis of the situation today.  Barack grows even smaller on the world stage -- our Drawf in DC.  And he makes Bully Boy Bush, by comparison, look like Nixon visiting China in the process.  That may be Barack's ultimate legacy in office, helping to redeem War Criminal Bully Boy Bush.

Barack looks petulant and childish -- especially when you remember that this is the 2008 candidate who said he would meet with the Iranian government without precondition.  In all of his foot stomping, hair pulling deama, Barack 'forgets' to call out James Clapper.  Clapper lied to Congress -- which is perjury -- and Barack has failed to say one word.

The American people are the boss of Clapper (and of Barack) but Barack is Clapper's supervisor and he's not said one word publicly to condemn Clapper's lying to Congress.

July 3rd, Paul D. Shinkman (US News and World Reports) reported:

The director of National Intelligence could be investigated for perjury, following news Tuesday that he gave false information to Congress in March.
The DNI published a letter on its website Tuesday that Director James Clapper sent to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He admitted to giving "clearly erroneous" testimony before the committee in March when asked specifically whether an NSA program existed that monitored hundreds of millions of Americans. He answered "No."
One expert says these kinds of situations involve some gray area.

"If you testify under oath before Congress and lie, you're at risk for being prosecuted for perjury," says Cary Feldman, who served as a lawyer in the Office of Independent Counsel in the late 1990s. "But that doesn't happen often."

Barack can repeatedly attack whistle-blower Ed Snowden and whistle-blower Bradley Manning but he can't condemn Clapper's lying to Congress?  Here's Barack raving about his boy pal Clapper on June 5, 2010:

As director of two critical organizations —- the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency —- and during a distinguished career in the Air Force, Jim developed an intimate understanding of our human and technical collection programs.  He possesses a quality that I value in all my advisors:  a willingness to tell leaders what we need to know, even if it’s not what we want to hear. 

"A willingness to tell leaders what we need to know, even if it’s not what we want to hear"? Does Barack want stand by that laughable assertion today?

On the issue of Russia-Snowden, it's worth remembering what Glenn Greenwald said on Democrcy Now! Monday (link is text, audio and video):

Well, first of all, it’s really kind of amazing if you try and count the number of countries at whom the United States has directed its fury and threatened over the last two months in connection with the Snowden affair. They began with the government of Hong Kong, followed that up with the government of China, then moved to Latin America and threatened countries including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua over whether he would be granted asylum. They’ve threatened Cuba over giving him the right to refuel. So it seems like the list of countries that the United States is threatening and expressing their fury at, which now includes Russia, is almost getting to be longer than the list of countries at which they’re not. I mean, you can’t go around the world beating your chest and threatening everybody for very long without starting to appear rather ridiculous. And I think one of the things that the United States has done is really kind of showed the world what its character is in—over the last two months, through its really extreme and radical behavior. I mean, I can tell you here in Latin America what was really event-shifting was when they caused the plane Evo Morales to be downed in Austria by blocking airspace rights over their European allies.

You know, and I think the final point to note about this is, everyone in the world knows, probably except for Americans, that the United States routinely refuses to extradite all sorts of people accused of horrible crimes. I mean, in Bolivia, the ex-president, who’s accused of all sorts of war crimes and was protected and propped up by the CIA, is living comfortably in the United States, which refuses to turn him over. And that’s been true of other Latin Americans who have been accused of serious crimes of terrorism. So, I think when the United States pretends to be outraged that they don’t get what they want in extradition, everyone in the world knows that they frequently do the same thing in much more extreme cases.

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