Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bait & Switch – Obama to Clinton

It is a political swindle of the first order. Fifty-two percent of the American voters elected Obama. It is apparent now that as Obama's transition team unfolds its White House and cabinet appointments, that the new Democratic administration has more Clinton continuity than Obama change. The voters were baited with Obama and are being arbitrarily fed to a Clinton machine.

The law of averages dictate that the Obama regime will have failures. The new president's addiction to Clintonistas will erode public confidence that Obama's rhetoric can match his performance – retread bureaucrats and politicos are not the stuff from which change, new ideas and salvation policies grow. With his appointments, Obama has set his course for a debacle that could make the shell-shocked 4-year Jimmy Carter administration appear as a pleasant stroll through a rose garden.

Obama's three-front campaign to fix the economy, national security, and social issues are even at this nascent moment of his administration, project doom and gloom rather than buoyant, roll-up-your sleeves optimism.

His recent appointment of a new Treasury Secretary Geithner, sparked the stock market to jump nearly 500 points immediately after the announcement. Geithner is at best a bright bureaucrat who is a follower not a leader... He has already messed up on the bailout package with Paulson. Those who know his conforming character do not expect him to rein in Wall Street with a flurry of new oversight and restrictive regulations; hence the joy on Wall Street over his appointment. The more qualified, but obstreperous former Treasury Secretary Summers, was passed over for the lead economic job.

A national security team is de facto composed of a White House National Security Advisor, Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense. Intelligence organizations are part of this gaggle, but do not formulate policy. This troika, under the best of conditions, bureaucratically tear at each other by the nature of their bureaucratic mandates. An over-simplification is that State solves problems diplomatically; Defense with force and the National Security advisor wrings his hands and pleads, WHY CAN WE NOT JUST GET ALONG? You saw this play out in spades under GW Bush with Powell, Rumsfeld and clueless Condoleezza. In the past, Hopeless Henry Kissinger cut the Gordian Knot by having himself appointed both Secretary of State and head of the NSC staff – this lasted only a short time until he was swamped by bureaucratic outrage.

It appears at this stage that Hillary Clinton will be Secretary of State; General James Jones will head the NSC White House Staff; and, Bob Gates will continue as Secretary of Defense.

General Jones, a retired Marine, and former NATO Commander, who knows his way around the defense and the international military bureaucracies, is for the most part apolitical. Much to his credit he twice refused to be Condoleezza's deputy at the State Department. He is a no-nonsense action-oriented individual who has built his career executing policy rather than in its formulation. There is no question he can keep the paper flowing procedurally, in a disciplined manner, but his job calls for policy formulation; his record is thin on this score; he can grow impatient with high paid national security intellectual nit wits who will advise him, ON THIS HAND, BUT ON THE OTHER HAND...

Hillary at State is a disaster. Apart from her squalid spouse who will interfere and embarrass her, she appears to have her own set of devils. Remember her Bosnian sniper lies. Kissinger clone, former SecState Larry Eagleberger, a supporter, when asked about her qualifications, blurted out that if she had a problem, she could ask her husband. Thanks Larry, that was reassuring. Poor Hillary, her cohorts are now spinning that she wants out of the senate because she is not appreciated there; as a junior senator she has no power.

My sense is that Hillary, after over two years of unsuccessful, heavy campaigning in the presidential elections with 6 million in debt, does not have the taste or the energy to go through a senate reelection campaign in 2012. All that repulsive, degrading conduct involved in fund raising probably finally got to her. Uncertain what she will accomplish for US diplomacy; it is certain she will bring pathos and drama to a billet that quietly requires just the opposite. Neither Obama or Clinton wins in this appointment.

Bob Gate's continuance as SecDef is preposterous. Despite Gates' competence compared to Rumsfeld's, he cannot be left to execute GW Bush's defense policies; if Obama fulfills his promises to depart Iraq in 16 months, he needs his own people determinedly to force the issue, otherwise, Pentagon self interest and powerful contractors will stop him. No neocons or pro-Israeli personnel need apply. And I place Richard Danzig, former Clinton Secretary of the Navy, in that category.

As far as Democratic social issues to be pushed, count on gays to serve openly in the US military. The Democratic congress has already drafted legislation to force the issue. It comes from a California congresswoman – how open gays would be integrated into units still is confounding – straight male soldiers serving under an openly gay commander is still an order and discipline enigma. The recent proposition 8 issue in California signals possible associated resistance to such a measure.

Obama is confronted by enormous problems left over from GW Bush's incompetent rule. Pundits keep trying to find analogous models from the past: Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and FDR as a guide to action. My candidate is Napoleon Bonaparte; he had wars, anarchy, economic chaos, greedy war profiteers, self-absorbed clergy, and was surrounded by decaying patrician class and a hapless, revolutionary, burnt-out old guard. Activite, activite, vitesse (Activity, Activity, Speed) was his motto.

It is premature to characterize Obama as the LIGHT THAT FAILED, but his recent appointments certainly tend in that direction. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA ret.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Embraces His Enemies

Hillary Clinton as Obama's choice for Secretary of State is a move that will strangle his promise of change in his administration before its birth this coming January. About the only change this choice signals is that GW Bush is no longer sitting in the oval office. That Hillary reflects continuity rather than change is best evinced by her effusive endorsement as SECSTATE by Hopeless Henry Kissinger.

Hopeless Henry appears to have a vampire's immortal life span. His reputation for causing pain and shedding blood has eclipsed that of Count Dracula. Nixon concurred in his extension of the Vietnam War for two years; Henry appeased the USSR with a seriously flawed Strategic Arms and ABM treaties; he has advised GW Bush to stay the course forever in Iraq; he advocates the interests of Israel over those of the USA; and he is now a serious lobbyist for Red China for his US clients. He, of course, recklessly advised GW Bush almost weekly.

It is uncertain what Hillary brings to Obama's table. Despite the fact she attacked Obama mercilessly with every dirty trick during the primaries, she did strongly support Obama during the general election. Bill Clinton's campaign support was lukewarm until the very end, especially in Florida, when he appeared with Obama in a joint appearance. If Obama wishes to pay off the Clintons, offer her Postmaster General position. Based on her Harum Scarum primary campaign, her ability to manage anything is seriously questioned. The US Post Office is a history of mismanagement, so what is more or less one more fumbler in charge?

Hillary still bares the self-inflicted scars of her Bosnian sniper fabrications during her primaries which will always haunt her integrity. As far as her foreign policy experience, she travelled as the president's wife, rode camels and elephants and fed monkeys. This is not a resume for a secretary of state – perhaps for a travel agent's position, it might attract an offer. Doubt the lady has knowledge of any foreign language, except the patois of Arkansas.

As if her incompetence as a manager were not enough to bar her from the Secretary of State position, she has an ex-president as an overbearing, restless spouse in Bill Clinton. He is up to his ears in foreign business dealings; has his own pet foreign foundation; there are mysterious contributions to his presidential library; and no one believes he has lost his randiness to embarrass his wife with new dalliances.

For Obama to pick her, Bill would to have share his private contacts with the Obama transition team to be vetted. Obama cannot take the risk to exempt him from this screening. It is doubtful Bill would agree to Obama's specific requirements. So who blinks?

There are others who are loyal to Obama and have supported his campaign who have extensive management experience and believed to see eye-to-eye with Obama on a new course for US foreign policy.

There is speculation that since Obama is from the Land of Lincoln, he shares honest Abe's concept of cabinet of rivals. Absurd. Remember Abe left office in a coffin. Not only do the Clintonistas lust after his power, but the Republicans would undermine Obama from the outset. McCain may be useful as an ally on controversial immigration, but it was obvious from his frenetic election stance, he has contempt for Obama.

Picking enemies as partners in power risks the necessary for the superfluous... Obama has a clear mandate. He uses it or loses it. Sharing power with opponents is losing it for bipartisan utopianism. It does not take long for a Lion sleeping with wolves for one or the other to be devoured. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama in Transition

Transition period in a change election in Washington, DC is the best of times or the worst of times. Winners savor their victory, congratulating themselves on their sagacity and buy homes; losers blame others for their misfortune, indulging in self-pity, and sell their homes.

In the end, the election appeared to be a battle between the secular and non-secular; between perceived good and evil; between fear and hope and finally between the foolish and the astute. In this election the McCain/Palin ticket represented the negative side and Obama/Biden the positive.

McCain predictably again crashed. Blasted even by his own party, he had no idea how to manage a campaign – he believed he could attract the working class with the phony Joe the Plumber and the Hillary disconsolate with Pentecostal Palin – both backfired. McCain is now on the trash heap of history. Sixty-four per cent of the Republicans, however, believe Ms. Palin should run again; one hundred percent of the Democrats are deliriously overjoyed at the prospect.

Palin has returned to her icicle kingdom where she sulks over her unethical conduct sting, defends her wardrobe against the Republican National Committee and frets over whether Africa is a continent or a country. She, like the religious right, must be pondering why Jesus favored the demon Democrats over the god-fearing Republican christian soldiers.

Obama held his first press conference; it was a pleasure to witness an articulate presentation after 8 years of fumbling, bungling GW Bush. At this writing, he has picked three people for his White house staff. His choice for cabinet posts will determine the success of his presidency. Selection depends on how he weighs competency over loyalty. If he is smart, country first, he will avoid the trap of politically correct criteria. Spoils system still operates – especially if you are a product of the Chicago Daley machine, so utopian philosopher king conduct by Obama is not realistically expected.

He needs a Treasury Secretary yesterday. Obama's appointment should be sitting on Paulson's lap right now to insure GW Bush does not pass out bailout funds to his cronies. GW Bush is on the lookout for funds for an egocentric MISSION ACCOMPLISHED presidential library, so these funds could be used to lure donors.

There is a movement to keep Gates on as Secretary of Defense. This is a big mistake. Department of Defense has to be purged of neocons and Gates is not the man to do it. Obama should send General Petraeus into retirement. He is a Bush stooge as much as General Westmoreland was President Johnson's political general. Petraeus will do anything to protect his strategy in Iraq in face of Obama's call for drawdown of US troops. Iraq remains as a Obama's cash cow. He needs to redirect the expenditures on the war to fuel his economic and social programs.

At this stage Secretary of State is critical as it is key office to the end of the occupation of Iraq. My main concern is that the office not be turned into another hotbed of Israel-first fanatics – as with the Department of Defense, it should be purged of neocons. Pampered Paul Wolfowitz should be the first target, although there are many others there that need the pink slip.

Seventy five percent of American Jews went for Obama; they expect political rewards. With the key appointments of Axelrod and Emanuel on his White House Staff, Obama has made his first payment to this minority. Israel has already passed to Obama that it wants no negotiations with Iran. Time will tell whether Obama jumps and how high.

Republicans are lost in the wilderness. They lost latino, black, moderate, female, labor, independent and educated voters. Some of their gun crazies are stocking up on guns, because they believe Obama will outlaw purchase of them. By their standards, everyone needs three semi-automatic AK 47s and a 3.5 magnum to shoot varmints. Right-wing radio mouthpieces are ranting over the economic chaos; already blaming Obama for it. These same radio sources are in a dither because the Democrats may institute a fairness in broadcasting policy and curb their one-sided agenda.

Obama’s sangfroid will certainly be tested shortly; he must shoot the wolves nearest the sled first, but his national security and economic priorities are intertwined. He must be nimble and quick. There is no escape from right-wing criticism. He must make it appear foolish as he did in the campaign.

Nobody predicted the job would be easy; COURAGE. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Anointed

Obama had the right stuff to beat Bomb Bomb McCain in the US presidential election. From the outset it was obvious that Bomb Bomb did not have it as he was even spurned by large segments of his own party. In the end, his senatorial toga was rent by more stabs than that of Julius Caesar. Stabs made by members of his own party – Bomb Bomb could have responded with a roll-over tape that played incessantly: Et TU BRUTE.

There were many unkind cuts, but the unkindest one of all was by General Powell who categorically impugned Bomb Bomb's failures in judgement. Obama’s biggest advantage was that he ran against a weak, enfeebled McCain combined with a fractured, economically and militarily discredited Republican Party.

Obama's victory, despite the weakness and vulnerabilities of his opposition, was still astounding – mixed race, raised by single, almost flower-child mother, with no connections. Having an Afro-Arab name, Obama's biography was not the milieu from which American dream candidates spring. I mistakenly initially dismissed him as a burning spear, black radical of the Jomo Kenyatta stripe; his Reverend Wright links deepened my dark opinion of him.

That white farmers in Iowa preferred him over Hillary in the Democratic primaries was my first surprise; I skeptically refocused my attention on him. Though Obama was linked to Wright's church, no evidence was found that he supported Wright's peculiar black liberation creed – and, Obama severed his connections with Wright and his church.

The Republicans were to play the guilt-by-association card using Wright and Bill Ayers, an unconvicted Vietnam era terrorist. Hillary did the same thing and was also rejected by voters. Had Obama wished, he could have been equally absurd by calling Bomb Bomb a communist because he consorted with communists for over five years when he was a POW – and Bomb Bomb, though under duress, did sign a certificate that supported the communists in Vietnam, Obama did no such thing; he always acknowledged Bomb Bomb's sacrifice and patriotism.

GW Bush had run the country into a deep ditch; this was evident even before the economic chaos that was to explode in the the last months of the elections, so as far as I was concerned, the Republican Party had lost its mandate to lead.

I was prepared to vote Democratic, but I was convinced that Hillary was the only Democrat the Republicans could beat mainly by waving Monica Lewinsky's blue dress; and, by reminding us of Clinton's stinking pardons at the end of his term as well as some of his post-presidential conduct – with Hillary you got two for one and the Republicans were experienced, ready and armed to the teeth to do battle with the Clintons based on Bill's warped, sleazy profile.

You should recollect how the Republicans did everything they could to insure Hillary was the Democratic Party candidate... They shamelessly even publicly urged Republicans to cross over in the primaries to vote for Hillary.

Obama ran a superb campaign. He had set up a grass roots, bottom up campaign during the primaries. He bundled little people into a mass that was directed interstate. Over this he superimposed a hierarchal system based and linked to the Daly machine in Chicago. Those old Irish machine political powerhouses were organized like the Catholic church – which every red-blooded Irishman understood. In Chicago the machine dynamically encompassed every ethnic group to include Blacks and Jews. It is disciplined, loyal, and enforced its rules ruthlessly.

Obama's campaign did not leak. No back-biting was reported. Compare this to the Hillary and McCain campaigns which sprung leaks routinely. This discipline was even more surprising after Obama included Hillary workers on his staff. Let's hear it for a community organizer.

Chris Rock, an acerbic, gifted black comic declared that for a black man to win a prize fight against a white man, he would have to knock him out. White judges would not score for him on points. The black fighter had to be much better than his white opponent. Well, Obama was that much better than his white opponent and he won with sizable white votes.

Let us hope that YES WE CAN does not morph into WE SHALL OVERCOME. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret.