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August 13, 2008

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Danube of Thought

"The fact that some of these issues have in fact been addressed by legislation in the past..."

No such legislation has ever prevented a former registered agent of a foreign government from taking a position in the US government, nor should it.

The legislation hasn't even prevented Mob lawyers from taking such positions, as far as I know.

Danube of Thought

Anduril, judges may or may not recuse themselves, according to whether the rules of ethics require it. In the Arizona cases, it is clear that the judge or judges in question did not recuse themselves; otherwise the question would not have been presented. Go back and read the answers the panel gave.

Joan

"Re: Appalled: I just don't find the Ayers connection, and the implications that keep getting loaded into it, very interesting. I think we've seen enough of Obama to know he is no mad bomber. As a matter of fact, I think it more likely than not that he does not have a whole lot of firmly rooted convictions. (I keep looking for the position that does not get shoved under the bus. Today, we are just as bellicose and stupid on Georgia as McCain)

I do think the failure of the Annenburg project is interesting, and wish more attention would be paid to that. But none will be if all you guys who push this issue can do is put "Ayers -- Terroristic Radical Who Associates With Obama" in bright shiny neon lights."

The ignorance in this post is astounding. Obama's close association with a past terrorist/bomber shriek's of a stunted and twisted moral code.

Years ago we lived in London during the height of the IRA bombing campaign. Three times bombs were left on our high street. Once we were shopping in W.H.Smith when we heard a bomb. People who use these weapons are savages. There is no excuse for their behavior, ever. Children had their legs blown off, for Gods sake!

Bombs--have you considered what they do? Their power pulverizes flesh with shards of glass. Metal fragments pierce and burst eyes, blow off hands and feet and legs. Pieces of chairs lodge in victim's stomachs. Eardrums burst. Mouths and tongues are lacerated and ripped apart. Blazing heat and fire scorch tender skin. Blood flows into the streets and gutters.

Now, isn't this what Mr. Ayers approved of and evidently was a part of? How has he managed to continue his twisted trip through our nation's affairs? The bigger question is, why isn't Barack Obama filled with contempt for Mr. Ayers?

If Obama loves this country, he has not demonstrated the good judgment that is vital for a true patriot. Bah, he makes me sick.

sbw

Anduril, pardon me for out for brevity not including the interim step of Lobbyist leaving foreign employ.

My point is still the same. Taint is not always the case. It is a logical fallacy to allow impugning the messenger to impugn the idea.

Because A has worked for B does not necessarily mean that A cannot work for C with integrity. Consider, however, another case: A works with Bill Ayers... Now that's a different story.

cathyf
Remember -- the source of this stuff is LarBear Johnson, the man who gets it wrong, 9 times out of 10.
Yeah, Appalled, I understand that, and agree. There has been lots of silliness over the Indonesia thing, including people finding Dutch-speakers to translate Indonesian law books -- as if any Indonesian law could have any effect on a natural-born US citizen's eligibility to become US president!

But there is still the part that has nothing to do with ole Larry -- why is it that being abandoned by Obama Sr is support for Obama's important campaign issue of parental responsibility, while being abandoned by Soetero is a "smear" ? Larry didn't call it a "smear" -- the Obama campaign did.

willis

Gary Hartpence, good one. Don't forget about William Blythe. It's uncanny how many of the Democratic party's national candidates have had aliases - or are they noms de guerre?

Maybe they should nominate a guy in a mask next time. If no one can even see the guy's face, then bloggers would have more trouble tracking down his past and the media blackout would work better.

MayBee

Danube of non-Thought accepts appearances at face value.

The ultimate in taking something at face value is to assume the person we know was a registered lobbyist for a foreign government is the person we have to watch out for.
Perhaps it is the appearance of 'no relationship' that we should find most suspicious.

Sue

I thought Obama carrying his daughter was sweet. It reminded me of my husband carrying our youngest.

Danube of Thought

I note that it took two or three days of his trademark waffling before Obama came around to being as "bellicose and stupid" as McCain with respect to Georgia.

I know that some years federal law prohibited government officials from becoming lobbyists (and from taking a number of other jobs) for a period of time after leaving government. I believe it was one year, and for all I know that law is still in effect.

The matter sought to be addressed was the circumstance where, in his final year in office, the official might act favorably toward an outside entity--including a foreign government (or defense contractor, etc.)--in anticipation of benefits flowing to them after he stepped into his new job.

I know of no prohibition that has ever been in effect concerning movement in the opposite direction, nor can I imagine why there should be such a prohibition. It would deprive the government of vital sources of people with specialized knowledge.

Rick Ballard

"Perhaps it is the appearance of 'no relationship' that we should find most suspicious."

Vizzini would certainly agree. It's just difficult for some to connect nondots with invisible ink.

Jane

It would deprive the government of vital sources of people with specialized knowledge.

And except for the obtuse that should be the key. Why would you actively root against the best person for the job? Hell if I'm going to be faced with figuring out our strategy for Georgia who would you want to help - someone with an intimate understanding of Georgia or Susan Rice? Gimme a break.

I also don't have a big issue with lobbyists. The real enemies are the politicians who allow themselves to be bought by them. That's a much bigger concern with Obama than it could ever be with McCain.

PeterUK

"When Obama is President, there will be health care for everyone, he'll stop America from destroying the planet, and he'll turn our economy around so that everyone will have jobs. Plus, gas prices will go back down to 2 dollars a galloon as soon as he implements the windfall profits tax on Bush's oil cronies, who know the jig will be up on ripping everyone off at the pump."

Now for the Obamajungend marching song.

"One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fire was burning
Down the track came Obama hiking and he said boys I'm not turning
I'm headin for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains
So come with me we'll go and see the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains there's a land that's fair and bright
Where the handouts grow on bushes and you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars are all empty and the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees and the cigarette trees
Where the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains all the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth and the hens lay soft boiled eggs
The farmer's trees are full of fruit and the barns are full of hay
Oh, I'm bound to go where there ain't no snow
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come a-trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats and the railroad bulls are blind
There's a lake of stew and of whiskey too
You can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains the jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again as soon as you are in
There ain't no short handled shovels, no axes saws or picks
I'm a goin to stay where you sleep all day
Where they hung the jerk that invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

I'll see you all this coming fall in the Big Rock Candy Mountains."

MayBee

I see my current favorite person who bugs me, Joe Klein, has now decided Barack Obama is a foreign policy Realist.

bad

Joe Klein is a policy expert for me. If he's fer it, I'm agin it.

Porchlight

Sue,

It was sweet and I can totally see my husband doing same in a couple of years. My undeserved snark was based on remembering a recent party where a mom was carrying around her 8yo fairly tall son for several minutes, and his feet were nearly dragging on the ground. That was a little weird, but the situations really aren't the same.

anduril
Gimme a break.

Posted by: Jane | August 14, 2008 at 01:15 PM

Jane, why should I give you a break when you present a transparently false alternative, as if that is what I'm proposing:

Hell if I'm going to be faced with figuring out our strategy for Georgia who would you want to help - someone with an intimate understanding of Georgia or Susan Rice?

For starters, does it take someone with an "intimate understanding of Georgia" to represent the Columbia educated Saakashvili's government to WDC politicos? I think not. Nor would I want to bet that his "intimate knowledge" of Georgia includes even a nodding acquaintance with the Georgian language, or the languages of his other client nations. That's not a knock on his abilities as a lobbyist (or, technically, registered agent of a foreign power)--it's an indication of some of the differences between being such an agent and being a professional in the field of geopolitics, as well as an argument against the facile assertion that former registered agents for foreign powers are self evidently "the best person for the job."

The DoS does, in fact, provide training and cultivate such expertise, as do entities in our Intelligence Community. So do our universities. Anyone who wishes is entitled to sneer at DoS and government in general, but I suggest that the real solution to any perceived problems is reform of DoS and our IC, rather than the importation of persons who have made a living representing the interests of foreign governments to the US Government.

None of this necessarily casts aspersions on the characters of such agents--but it is a recognition not only of the different roles that are played by such people as well as of the potential for abuse by the unscrupulous (not to mention the difficulty in determining scruples of lack thereof beforehand) and the need to guard against such abuse. And, yes, that is part of what Sibel Edmonds wants to talk about. Beyond all that, I was hoping that some few people with imagination would be able to understand the manifold opportunities for "perfectly proper" quid pro quo arrangements in the field of foreign affairs that can arise, in which nothing can be proved because it's impossible to prove state of mind. My very simple examples represent only the tip of the iceberg, and there is a world of difference between conflicts in the arena of foreign affairs and those in the judicial, regulatory and legislative arenas--starting with far less transparency.

So perhaps you could see your way to giving me a break. If the hypothetical reasonable person were present on this forum (he/she is quite apparently NOT), I doubt that my views would be dismissed by him/her as simply "obtuse."

I also don't have a big issue with lobbyists. The real enemies are the politicians who allow themselves to be bought by them. That's a much bigger concern with Obama than it could ever be with McCain.

Posted by: Jane | August 14, 2008 at 01:15 PM

And the politicians make the rules that allow what many would consider "being bought" to be perfectly proper.


anduril

And I will add that "intimate" knowledge is not the only consideration--impartiality also comes into play.

MayBee

What is your connection to Sibel Edmonds, anduril? Do you simply admire her writings, or is there something more?

Sara

Porchlight, that is the way it would be if I tried to carry my 7 year old Granddaughter. I am absolutely certain that if I even tried, she would be highly insulted, embarrassed, and resistant to being treated as such a baby. And I wouldn't blame her. She is a young lady, not a baby or a toddler. Imagine the ribbing she would take if her classmates/peers saw her being carried. Shudder!

Although after 30 days of the 3 kids, ages 2, 7, and 11, my overall impression is that kids are far less mature than in my generation or in the way I raised my own kids. I couldn't believe how much they expected their mother to do for them. When they were whining about being hungry, I finally said, "there's the kitchen, make yourself a sandwich." They looked at me like I'd told them to go build the space shuttle.

MayBee

Because it seems to me a foreign-born person working in the US government is an odd spokesperson against the foreign-paid person working in the US government.
But I'm stupid, so I'm blind to her moral authority.

anduril

Everything is "perfectly proper," I assure you--there is no "connection," beyond having an open mind. I haven't even received a cent for my representation of her POV. However, I refer you to my post and exchange with clarice a few days ago to shed light on my concerns, which should, in any event, be transparent to all but the obtuse.

MayBee

formerly foreign-paid, of course

anduril

Maybee, you've got it wrong: the distinction is that Edmonds, while foreign born, never (as far as the background investigation disclosed) worked FOR a foreign power, only FOR the US. Given her troubles with the FBI, you can rest assured that all that was closely examined. An interesting case example of a foreign paid person working for the US Government might be Robert Hanssen. Any problem with that? As opposed to Edmonds? If you really care, look up the old posts on Edmonds. It would be educational. Instead of continuing to stew over what you think was my unfair treatment of you, you might gain some real insights into the whole matter, as well as an understanding of why I did get worked up.

anduril

And, Maybee, as to "formerly foreign-paid," I tried to indicate that the issues are far more complicated than receipt of checks or fund transfers in accordance with a contract for services.

MayBee

It is that I don't agree with your take on Edmunds, anduril. I am fascinated by your continued boosterism of her and continue not to understand, even though I read what you say, why you get "worked up".
Obviously, we aren't going to see eye-to-eye.

Jane

it's an indication of some of the differences between being such an agent and being a professional in the field of geopolitics, as well as an argument against the facile assertion that former registered agents for foreign powers are self evidently "the best person for the job."

Anduril,

I'm not even sure I understand your beef, and I'm certain I don't understand your stridency about it. In my little corner of the world, I spend a lot of time negotiating. The most important part of any negotiation is leverage, and the best way to get leverage is to develop insight. So when I'm trying to get the CEO of a company to see things my way, the smartest thing I can do is learn every last thing about the guys product, his challenges, his goals, his family and anything else I can get my hands on. In negotiations of any sort, information, whatever it is, is power.

What you appear to be saying is that we need to start with a completely clean slate, ala Obama - the less we know the better because presumably human nature is human nature and it should act accordingly.

Or maybe you aren't saying that. Maybe you are saying that the risk of self interest is more hazardous than the value of insight.

As for "the best person for the job" - who knows, but I can say with all certainty that someone who actually knows the something about the country is a better person for the job than someone who knows nothing about the country.

That being said, I probably missed your point given how strident you are about it.

Sue

Goodbye. Oh wait, I meant hello. Hello. Goodbye. A commercial in the making. Oh wait. It has already been done.

Sue

. I am absolutely certain that if I even tried, she would be highly insulted, embarrassed, and resistant to being treated as such a baby

I couldn't carry our 7 year old daughter around either. But my husband could, as easily as Obama did. And 20 years ago, she was neither embarrassed, insulted nor resistant to daddy doing so. Some girls are more daddy's girl than others, I guess.

anduril

It's not "boosterism." I've repeatedly stated that I don't agree with her extrapolations. What I do maintain is that the core issues that she raises (Turkish involvement in nuclear tech transfers, money laundering and high powered lobbying of past and present government officials and legislators) deserve our attention. It's apparent that the FBI, at least, agreed--they were the ones who hired her to assist their investigations of Turkish lobbying activity. There's no real reason to doubt her on that narrow scope of assertions, which was well within her scope of employment. Her extrapolations into other matters that she has developed based on news sourcing are something else. Look at it this way--even a broken watch is right twice a day. Just because you disagree or don't like some of the things she says is no reason to dismiss her totally if there are reasons for giving her a defined amount of credence--as there are. I know that attitude is unpopular here.

MayBee

7 year olds get hot and tired. Sometimes the bike trip is too long. Sometimes they don't really want to go see the granny they don't know all that well. Picking them up and carrying them a little way is just easier. Sometimes they don't see their daddy often enough because he's out on the campaign trail.

cathyf

One logic about what Obama is hiding goes something like this...

According to the rather soft-focus story in his autobiography, in 1972 Ann returned to Hawaii with Barry and Maya because her marriage with Soetero was breaking up, and then Barack decided to stay with his grandparents when Ann and Maya went back to Indonesia. The interesting fact which Judah Benjamin has dug up is that Ann did not file for divorce in Hawaii until 1980, and the divorce was not actually granted until 1988 when Lelo Soetoro had been dead for over a year.

Which brings up a quite different scenario... Under Indonesian law, if Ann and Soetoro had divorced, then he had no obligation to support her, had total custody over both Barry and Maya (once Maya was two), and he could take her children and didn't have to allow her to see them. (Notice that Ann and the kids went back to Hawaii right when Maya was 2...) On the other hand, if Soetero wanted to marry again, then in Indonesia all he needed to do was to marry again. Ann would then be the senior wife, entitled to her own house, and support, and custody of her children.

In this scenario, Ann would be making a cultural choice. Live as the senior wife of a Muslim man, the mother of Muslim children, in Indonesia. Or she could flee Indonesia to the protection of US law, where mothers automatically get custody, and divorce Soetero. If she had a reasonably good relationship with Soetero, it's pretty reasonable for her to chose the Muslim option. In purely practical terms it is approximately the arrangement that modern American couples who divorce amicably get -- mother has custody of the children and receives child support, father gets generous visitation rights and both parents work hard to keep the problems between the parents from harming the parent-child relationships. If Ann had returned to Hawaii, then, for all practical purposes, Maya and Barry would have no relationship with their father.

Ok, so suppose this hypothetical scenario is true? Well then Barry doesn't cooperate. He's like 13-14, already very attached to his new school, and wants to be an American. So his mother and (adoptive) father agree that he can stay in Hawaii with his grandparents. He resumes his birth name, moves on with his life. Ann and Maya move back to Indonesia and live as a good Muslim family.

So what would he be hiding in this scenario? That his second father abandoned him? Why would he hide that? He certainly doesn't hide that his first father abandoned him. Illegitimacy? He has a major campaign issue having to do with fathers abandoning their illegitimate children. The only thing that I can come up with that is worth hiding is that if Ann spent two decades as the senior wife of Barry's legal father, in a Muslim polygamous marriage. You see, the problem is that if Soetero had parental rights under both Indonesian and US law all the way until Barry/Barack reached 18, then, according to Muslim law, Barry/Barack is Muslim. And since he converted to Christianity, then he is an apostate Muslim.

Which would mean that Obama is trying to hide his connections with Soetero (that Soetero was his father not his stepfather) from two groups. First off, from the jihadi nutcases, who will target Obama as an apostate -- and killing him as a ticket to heaven and 72 raisins. And secondly, from the American people, who might vote differently if they know that a President Obama will require the same sort of security arrangements that Salmon Rushdie, Aryan Hrisi Ali, etc. require -- completely incompatible with the duties of president.

Porchlight

I would say the Obamas on vacation are in a special situation where not only might Sasha be more likely to be in a tired "carry me" mood to begin with, but they're also in a hurry to get away from photographers and Obama doesn't want to be seen remonstrating or pleading with her. That's understandable.

But I also agree with Sara that on average kids today really do expect their parents to "do for" them much more than they did when I was a kid. And that is, quite simply, because the parents condition them to it. We have friends where the oldest child, a boy, didn't even learn how to pour his own milk until he was 9. Because the mom had always jumped up every time he needed something.

MayBee

It only bothers me when it's the parents doing the kid's homework.
Other than that, I barely get a chance to pour my own beverage when I go home to visit my mom. She pretty much jumps up whenever I need anything.

anduril

Jane,

Yes, you missed my point entirely. I've got to get back to painting, but I'll give you a bullet list of my points. If you compare them to what I wrote in my last post you'll see that your own post fails to address them:

1. The role of a registered agent of a foreign power doesn't necessarily require "intimate knowledge" of that foreign power--such knowledge can certainly not be taken for granted. His role is simply to persuade the US Government to go along with the wishes of his client. In such a situation an intimate knowledge of the US Government might actually be more useful than such knowledge of the client foreign power--certainly that's what his client foreign power is paying him for.

2. In fact, there is a wide range of personnel to choose from who are qualified to advise on foreign policy matters--our choice is not between paid agents and the incompetent.

3. I nowhere even hint that we should take a "clean slate" approach. The fact that I criticize McCain doesn't in any way imply that I support Obama. I would call BOTH of them blank slates as far as foreign affairs are concerned.

4. Once again you consistently present a false dichotomy, essentially the same one that I protested against:

someone who actually knows something about the country v. someone who knows nothing about the country.

and

the risk of self interest v. value of insight.

That is not my position, and was nowhere presented by me. My point throughout, to repeat #2, was that we are NOT in fact faced with that sort of choice so we can take measures to protect ourselves from the very real dangers involved in hiring those who have been paid representatives of foreign powers for the purpose of influencing the US Government for the benefit of the foreign powers that they represent. Further, there are complications and conflicts that go well beyond the obvious questions of loyalty, and enter into the murky area of morals. The bottom line is that there are many qualified persons for the role of foreign affairs adviser beyond the set of registered agents of foreign powers.

If you can find anything that I've written that even implies that I favor hiring the ignorant or incompetent, please point it out and I'll repudiate it.

As for my "beef," it probably had something to do with being grouped among the "obtuse." Having reread my post, I think you're reading the "stridency" into it.

bad

Porchlight

Some of the issues with kids not doing as much for themselves as they are capable has to do with mess making. It is easier and quicker for parents to do things for kids than to:

A. clean up the kid's mess afterwards
or
B. live with the results of the kid's clean-up

Porchlight

bad,

Yes, exactly. I feel that pull myself a lot of the time. I was lucky in that my mom was laid back about a messy kitchen. She let us experiment as long as we cleaned it up ourselves, so my brothers and I were making pancakes, brownies, etc. at a pretty young age. (I remember my 8yo brother spraying Raid on the skillet thinking it was Pam.)

davod

I recall reading that Obama took his campaign team and a video team to mee Grandmother. Keft wife and kiddies at home.

GMax

I bet your brother could kill wasps with his breath!

Jane

1. The role of a registered agent of a foreign power doesn't necessarily require "intimate knowledge" of that foreign power

Nor does it preclude it. It seems to me to be good at what you do, it is more likely that a person has that knowledge than doesn't.

In fact, there is a wide range of personnel to choose from who are qualified to advise on foreign policy matters--our choice is not between paid agents and the incompetent.

So would you want to choose McCain's advisers for him? I could probably find any number of business partners to work with but I get to choose who I actually undertake that with.

I nowhere even hint that we should take a "clean slate" approach. The fact that I criticize McCain doesn't in any way imply that I support Obama. I would call BOTH of them blank slates as far as foreign affairs are concerned.

Then I'd say you are ignoring the obvious. If only thru osmosis McCain has a better handle on foreign policy than Obama, as evidenced completely in the last few days.

we are NOT in fact faced with that sort of choice so we can take measures to protect ourselves from the very real dangers involved in hiring those who have been paid representatives of foreign powers for the purpose of influencing the US Government for the benefit of the foreign powers that they represent.

I guess I simply do not see the same risk that you see, altho I will say that if it were Obama making the argument I'd probably be happy to jump on that bandwagon because I don't trust Obama to have integrity or judgment.

So perhaps you can count that as a win.

Danube of Thought

"For starters, does it take someone with an 'intimate understanding of Georgia' to represent the Columbia educated Saakashvili's government to WDC politicos?"

I wonder why Saakashvili bothers to send an ambassador--he can just do it all himself.

While it does not require such intimate understanding, in the case of Mr. Scheunemann, he has it--as well as a strong belief in the desirability of Georgia's succeeding as a democracy.

The plain fact is, there is absolutely no conflict of interest in Scheunemann's now working for John McCain. He is working for McCain on matters pertaining to, among other things, Georgia because the two men see eye to eye and he has special knowledge. If either were not the case he would not be in his current job. He is not on the Georgian payroll. It is perfectly appropriate for him, as a private citizen, to serve the interests of a foreign government in dealings with the US--there are thousands of such people, honorable men and women, in Washington. It is also perfectly appropriate for him to work for John McCain--it is simply not appropriate for him to do both at the same time.

Anduril has offered no reason whatsoever why there is anything wrong with Scheunemann serving in his current capacity. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it, legally, ethically or morally.

First we are told that registered agents of foreign governments are like "Mob lawyers," but no reason is offered as to why this is so. Assuming that one believes Mob lawyers to be bad, however, and assuming further that we judge lawyers according to their clientele, then it follows that we should judge registered agents according to the governments they represent. All of this is nonsense, of course, but it does leave one wondering just what it is about the government of Georgia that is so offensive to the ignoramus Sailer and to Anduril.

There is no impropriety. There is no appearance of impropriety. Give it a rest.

MayBee

MayBee

off?

Danube of Thought

Sorry--I guess when I hit "post" in inherited the italics from Jane.

anduril

Jane, I'm swapping brushes, and this will show the kind of things I think about while painting--and may clarify this whole matter.

Look at your example:

In my little corner of the world, I spend a lot of time negotiating. The most important part of any negotiation is leverage, and the best way to get leverage is to develop insight. So when I'm trying to get the CEO of a company to see things my way, the smartest thing I can do is learn every last thing about the guys product, his challenges, his goals, his family and anything else I can get my hands on. In negotiations of any sort, information, whatever it is, is power.

Your example gets the situation almost exactly backward.

An Foreign Power (FP) doesn't hire a Registered Agent (RA) in order to have the RA persuade it to do things for the United States Government (USG). The FP pays good money to the RA so that the RA will persuade the USG to do things for the benefit of the FP. (The FP may have to engage in a bit of pump priming, but the goal is to always to induce the USG to act for the benefit of the FP.)

Thus, the FP cares little or not at all whether the RA has any knowledge of the FP, intimate or otherwise. What they really, really care about is whether the RA has connections in USG circles--i.e., has intimate knowledge of those circles--such that the FP is more likely to get the return on their money that they're looking for than if they didn't hire the RA: USG action that will benefit them--the FP. In mob lawyer parlance, the RA is the FP's "mouthpiece." And that's exactly why the USG, in its wisdom, has decreed that every agent of a foreign power must, under penalty of criminal sanctions, register with DoJ--that is, must become an RA. That puts every USG official that the RA comes in contact with on notice that the RA is acting for the benefit of the FP that is paying him--not for the benefit of the USG.

In fact, the FP may well prefer that the RA have a fairly modest acquaintance with the realities of their little (or large) country. The example of Sandy Berger will illustrate this.

Anyone out there think that the People's Republic of China (PRC) hired Sandy Berger as their RA because of his intimate knowledge of the PRC? No, I didn't think so. But did they think he had connections in the USG that could be used to their (the PRC's) benefit? You betcha. Now, who thinks that the PRC encouraged Berger to develop an intimate knowledge of the PRC? Of course not. They'd be concerned that if he did that he might start putting twos and twos together and come up with fours, and then qualms of conscience might lead him to contact the intelligence branch of the USG and share the results of his calculations. Well, the PRC, as a cautious and ambitious FP, has to be careful, even in what we might consider to be purely hypothetical matters.

Conclusion? You cannot assume that a RA has knowledge of an FP of the sort that will truly benefit USG foreign policy. And, as the Berger case makes clear, you can't be too careful. But, to repeat my main point, the USG is in the fortunate position that it doesn't have to rely on former RA's for advice--there are experts out there, if only they'll look hard enough are take the trouble to get informed. But that's another can of worms...

anduril

Jane, what's this "win" stuff? Let's leave it at this: obviously my little corner of the world was a lot different than yours is. Back to the garage (my recent post was written before I saw the others).

MayBee

Interesting and OT, except that it is Plameish.
This is from an article at ABC about Colin Powell attending the Dem Convention:

When asked about Kristol's suggestion that Powell might attend the Democratic National Convention, former Reagan White House Chief of Staff and Powell confidante Ken Duberstein took a swipe at Kristol

Duberstein is the man who set up Novak's fateful meeting with Armitage. I had heard him described as an Armitage confidante before, but it is interesting to see that he is also close to Powell.
Ah well.

anduril

Wait--"knowledge is power." Yes! And that's exactly why an FP might be concerned that its RA have only limited knowledge of itself (the FP), but intimate knowledge of the USG. Restriction of knowledge can lead to leverage, too. Ask the PRC--they believe it. Yes we can!

Sue

So, we all vote for Obama? Because no matter the argument here, you have 2 choices. Obama. McCain. As I've said over and over and over, I might not like it all that much, but McCain it is.

MayBee

anduril- did you support Hillary Clinton?

glasater

Yes, you missed my point entirely. I've got to get back to painting

Anduril--Please paint:-)

You're worse than a dog with a bone on this.

sbw

with being grouped among the "obtuse."

Anduril, I'll never put you in that group. Sometimes the arguments you use are hard to listen to and don't portray your points as clearly as I would wish them to be presented. Whether that's because of your transmission, or because I belong in the obtuse group [grin] I can't say.

Sara

I was a full time working Mom, so I expected my son to pack his own lunch for school by 1st grade and I taught him how to use the washing machine and do his own laundry by the time he was in the 3rd. Same with his sister, 4 years younger. He was also expected to make his own bed before school in the morning. I didn't have time to be his slave, it was hard enough being there for all his activities and to supervise homework time.

Both my kids were given chores to do or they didn't get to do the fun things. When they were toddlers this was putting the napkins in the trash after dinner, graduating to things like doing the dishes, dusting, or cutting the grass, etc. as they got older. They were each lucky enough to have their own bathroom and they knew how to keep it clean, although I would give it a good cleaning every couple of weeks when I did the rest of the house.

My Girl Scout camp days paid off because I made "caper" charts for the kids that revolved so their chores rotated weekly.

When I'd get home from work and the house was spotless, I knew one or both the kids wanted money for something, usually the movies or a ballgame. They didn't get an allowance, but they both knew they could earn money by doing extra chores and end up with more than if they had a fixed allowance for doing nothing.

I was shocked at how lax my grandkids have it. And how mouthy they were. My son finally told the 11 year old, "Gage, there is only one acceptable answer when Grandma tells you to do something or stop doing something and that is 'yes m'am'." I had to go in to the bathroom so they wouldn't see me doubled over in laughter.

I wasn't a very strict Mom, but I did demand respect for elders and both my kids always said 'yes/no m'am' or 'yes/no sir' to all adults. And they knew what good manners is all about. We loved our kids and we were very active in their lives and activities, but we never coddled them. My husband wouldn't have tolerated back talk of any kind, for any reason and he was a stickler about toys left out to fall over, wet towels on the bathroom floor, and lights left on when they left the room. All things my grandkids expected the adults to do for them.

cathyf

Different parties, and factions within parties, move in and out of power in a democracy. The people in a faction, who will easily have 40-60 year careers, need to eat and support their families during the period when their faction is out of power. Being a lobbyist is certainly one reasonable vocation for people with a particular set of skills. If you make people give up the ability to support their families between government jobs in order to have high government jobs, then you won't have anybody but the greenest interns and the government-job lifers able to take government jobs.

McCain (and Obama too) is running on a particular platform based upon particular principles using the advice of subject area experts on how to implement those principles as concrete policy. When it comes to foreign policy subject matter experts, there are only a few different sorts of job on the career path: 1) campaign advisor -- obviously temporary, since the campaign ends with an election; 2) senior appointed official -- still temporary, since the president can only serve one or two terms, and most senior officials don't last the whole time anyway; 3) congressional staffer for one of the foreign policy committees -- no upward mobility, and as members cycle through they tend to bring in their own people; 4) think-tank scholars -- fine, but there aren't all that many jobs there; and 5) lobbyist for a foreign country -- which now sailor wants to define as slime at the same level as mafia lawyer.

So, if you were a young brilliant policy wonk, would you attach yourself to a political campaign that shares your ideals and try to get elected? anduril wants to make it harder for such people to serve our democratic government...

M. Simon

Maybe it is my dead end job as an aerospace engineer.
How does a guy manage to go through engineering school and then work in the field without associating with Asians?

bgates,

I'm a mustang. Worked my way up from bench technician. No official schooling.

Sue

Anyone else listening to Hannity? It would be hilarious if it wasn't so serious.

Sara

Maybe it is my dead end job as an aerospace engineer.
How does a guy manage to go through engineering school and then work in the field without associating with Asians?

Do what my aerospace engineer cousin did. Go back to school, get a graduate degree in Animal Husbandry, buy a dairy farm and move from Calif. to Missouri, where he built his own plane for pleasure and his wife flies ultralights for hers. Then make sure your two boys go to medical school and become doctors to the rich and powerful.

anduril
anduril- did you support Hillary Clinton?

Posted by: MayBee | August 14, 2008 at 04:42 PM

Whaaaaaaat?

Anduril--Please paint:-)

You're worse than a dog with a bone on this.

Posted by: glasater | August 14, 2008 at 04:42 PM

Anduril, ... Sometimes the arguments you use are hard to listen to and don't portray your points as clearly as I would wish them to be presented. Whether that's because of your transmission, or because I belong in the obtuse group [grin] I can't say.

Posted by: sbw | August 14, 2008 at 04:46 PM

sbw, I'll try harder. But surely that last longish one was clear. Done painting, off to spray the roses.

Jane

An Foreign Power (FP) doesn't hire a Registered Agent (RA) in order to have the RA persuade it to do things for the United States Government (USG). The FP pays good money to the RA so that the RA will persuade the USG to do things for the benefit of the FP

Ahhhh but you don't realize that you have to know your own client as well as you know the opponent. At least if you intend to be good at what you do. You really don't believe that negotiations are one sided do you?

What you seem to be saying is that you don't believe Scheunemann was good at what he did. You've offered no proof of that of course. Got any?

anduril

cathyf, you're begging the whole question: are agents for foreign powers "subject matter experts"--and what subject matter are they expert in? My contention, using the example of Sandy Berger, was that their subject matter expertise is often not in the foreign powers they represent so much as in how to get things done in Washington, D. C. As for the rest, you're breakin' my heart!

Anyway, take a look at Sandy Berger's career path, or that of many of the most prominent agents for foreign powers. There expertise as measured by educational and vocational background in not geared toward "intimate knowledge" of foreign countries. It's usually in law and/or business. They're political animals, mostly. Gotta be.

hit and run

Best thread evah!

anduril

I disagree Jane. You need to know your client only to the extent that it's relevant for the matter in hand. There comes a time when you can't afford to waste more time trying to find out what your client's kids favorite ice cream flavors are. For Schuenemann, his specialty appears to have been presenting the case for NATO membership for his clients--not a factor for Berger in representing the PRC. How intimately would S. have had to known Ukraine to represent their case for NATO membership? Not all that intimately--he could largely have simply dressed up their own case, based on his knowledge of US concerns gleaned from discussions with USG officials.

I'm not saying he wasn't good at his job. I'm saying that the type of knowledge needed for his type of representation was different than the type of geo-political knowledge necessary for strategic planning that would have kept us out of the current mess. That said, he had plenty of company. Condi Rice was supposed to be a Soviet/Russia expert and should have known better. See--I'm giving you better arguments for your own position than you've offered. :-)

Anyway, part of my argument was precisely that the client in these situations has an interest in remaining somewhat are even largely unknown to its representative--the analogy you offer of business type negotiations is not strictly applicable to national security matters. As an example, a real expert in Georgian affairs might have pointed out that their centuries old background of semi-tribal feuding and honor based culture might lead them to rash vengeance oriented actions if they calculated they could get away with it. S., arguing for NATO membership, would have been unlikely to raised that point, even if he'd thought about it. These are the issues that we ran up against in Iraq and were totally unprepared for, because our actions were largely based on ideologies that didn't take these deeper matters into account--we were going to export democracy. We may have done for the short haul, but the upshot of it all remains to be seen. That's not an argument against the invasion as such, but rather for better and deeper study.

GMax

I disagree Jane.

Well tell us something you have said about a 100 times already, sheesh...

MayBee

It was just a question, anduril.

MayBee

I'm saying that the type of knowledge needed for his type of representation was different than the type of geo-political knowledge necessary for strategic planning that would have kept us out of the current mess.

Do you have evidence that he is the sole source of knowledge the campaign camp is using?

Keep us out of the current mess? Did McCain get us into the current mess?

Don Colony14Author

All I want is for the media to ask Obama some questions that have a bit more depth than "What is your favorite flavor ice cream?" That they won't, indicates they are in the tank for him. I assembled my own list of "Questions the Media Should (but Won't) Ask Obama During the Debates." Find them at

http://www.colony14.net

Liberals need not bother to read them; we know you're not swayed by common sense, truth, or logical thought processes.

anduril

Answered by another question. :-) See, Russia may be the Bear...

I was just about to remove National Review from Google Reader, and then I see an article that illustrates what I've been trying to say about the degree of expertise that a RA needs re his FP: Politics Is Local--Warlordism in Georgia again. IT's an interesting but not too long article. Give it a read and ask yourself, just how much of these ins and outs would a RA deem relevant to representing Georgia's application to NATO? The author ends with this:

Apparently, U.S. military training and assistance to Georgia did not take into account the stigma the Georgian military had earned vis-à-vis Abkhazia and South Ossetia, instead concentrating on hardware and unit tactics. We may have forgotten Georgia’s past, and we may associate Georgia with the Rose Revolution, but local memory is deeper.

Ranger, if you're out there, Real Clear World has a good analysis of the Polish situation with regard to Georgia: Will Poland Split EU Over Russia Policy? Answer: not really likely.

FT, subscription, link at RCW, offers this:

The west shares the blame for Georgia

By Anatol Lieven

Published: August 13 2008 19:50 | Last updated: August 13 2008 19:50

The bloody conflict over South Ossetia will have been good for something at least if it teaches two lessons. The first is that Georgia will never now get South Ossetia and Abkhazia back. The second is for the west: it is not to make promises that it neither can, nor will, fulfil when push comes to shove.

Georgia will not get its separatist provinces back unless Russia collapses as a state, which is unlikely. The populations and leaderships of these regions have repeatedly demonstrated their desire to separate from Georgia; and Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, made it clear again and again that Russia would fight to defend these regions if Georgian forces attacked them.

anduril

Maybee, I never said McCain got us into this mess, but his public comments suggest that he buys into the type of thinking that got us there. If I seemed to suggest otherwise, I was speaking unclearly--see sbw, above. Anyway, that makes me apprehensive about a McCain presidency. Obama would likely be less bellicose, leading us to problems of a different sort. It's a mess. And of course I have no idea what other advice McCain is getting--I can only go by public statements. I can hardly read all the political stuff that's out there.

Gotta run.

Jane

Such sweeping generalizations Anduril. I'd love to know what your real issue is here. Is it that you have something against Schuenemann? Cause otherwise you just sound a bit too agenda driven for the current discussion. It seems the only one who came out looking like he had a clue on Georgia, was McCain.

Jonathon Alter made a similar (yes I know you say it's different) argument last night and media blog handed him his hat:

ALTER: And they really should not have done this and I‘m not into the idea of sort of blame shifting for their bad behavior, but I do think it is really unseemly that Randy Scheunemann, you know, had this lobbying contract—and it‘s always the second raters, by the way, who are foreign agents or lobbying for foreign governments. The top foreign policy people do it in a more subtle way. Maybe they‘re consultants but they‘re not lobbyists.

So, you know, this really stinks, this whole deal of him, because you don‘t know who he‘s representing. Is he representing the interest of Georgia or the interest of the United States? And you never want to get into a situation like that and it‘s rather—I hate to say it—inexperienced maybe on John McCain‘s part to be putting up with this kind of thing and, also, there‘s the question of whether, in his rhetoric towards Putin, he‘s just been too inflammatory for American interest.

Does the left really want to play this? An insinuation that Randy Scheunemann is a traitor?

An apology is in order — immediately.

Semanticleo

Again. I ask; Has McCain denounced Corsi, who
believes that President Bush is trying to merge the United states with Mexico and Canada," and calls the Pope 'senile,'

What whistle-stop is McCain napping at now?
The 'Straight-talk Express' boilers have gone cold.

MayBee

What does McCain have to do with Corsi, Semanticleo? He has nothing to do with him, and no responsibility to denounce him. The whole world is not responsible for protecting the hot house flower.

Has Obama denounced every author of anti-McCain and anti-Bush book? No.

RichatUF

Jane-

Of course Alter has to question Schuenemann's loyalty because that is a Kremlin talking point. Alter is just reverting to form.

I'm just waiting for the international outrage and coming indictments of Russian soliders in foreign courts for intentionally targeting journalists.

I'm surprised at the number of journalists injured and killed in just a few days, almost as if the Russians are a bit worried that the pictures and stories would undermine their media narrative.

Semanticleo

" An insinuation that Randy Scheunemann is a traitor?"

Maybe not a traitor, but certainly a garden-variety politician. If you find that salutary, god bless you. But I think the point of McCains existence, is he is not of
that mold.

If you want more of Bush, McCains your man.

Semanticleo

"no responsibility to denounce him."

If you say so.

Barney Frank

What a priceless ass.

Semanticleo

"What a priceless ass."

Actually, McCain has a price.

Haven't you noticed?

PeterUK

"If you want more of Bush, McCains your man."

If you want more of Peter Pan and Wendy vote Obama,

sbw

Anduril. Oh! My! God! Not Anatol Lieven! He co-authored a book called "Ethical Realism." I actually read it and wrote a review on Amazon:

This book is toxic, promoting ethics that aren't realistic, realism that isn't ethical, and practices that put society at risk. What Howard Zinn is to history, these two are to political science. They trash current American policy as "based on idealism and moral imperatives" only to substitute their own. When they invoke "morality" at every turn, it recalls Emerson, "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our silver."

They want "decent respect" for the "views and interest" of others, when the "views and interests" of a bully on a playground are no substitute for recognizing bullying for what it is, labeling it, calling on other players to stand up against it, and taking names if they don't.

Their "definition" of humility is laughable, using the Alcoholics Anonymous Prayer in a way that reduces the word to a euphemism for moral relativism. Humility is critical, but they can't see why.

The authors of "Ethical Realism" poison the well as only pseudo-intellectuals can, invoking all the right words all the wrong ways, demonstrating you don't need to know the meaning of words to throw them around.

I bought this book so you don't have to. I jumped on the hand grenade sparing you the pain.

Captain Hate

Alter referring to somebody as "second rate" is the funniest thing I've read today.

anduril

Jane, Alter is clearly off base. My understanding is that Schuenemann is a RA, that is, that he has registered with DoJ's FARA unit, under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. All the world can check on that. I have no quarrel with such lobbying as long as it's done ethically and morally--meaning, within the moral bounds of what is demanded of a patriotic American. Moreover, to do it "more subtly," as Alter suggests could conceivably get S. in a world of trouble--criminal liability.

If I knew of anything that would impugn his patriotism, you'd know about it already. Until I have such knowledge, I'm casting no stones. But by the nature of what I've tried to explain above, I'm not at all crazy about this back and forth relationship between RA's and the executive branch, and I'm not at all crazy about McCain's public positions on this Georgia issue. As far as I'm concerned he comes out looking clueless. I've tried to explain THAT at great length on the Georgia thread--apparently at far too great length for most people's taste. Anyone is welcome to weigh in there.

My agenda is a sane foreign policy for the US, and I don't see it coming from either candidate: to my way of thinking they represent the worst of their respective wings of the political spectrum. Perhaps that's an over generalization--as an optimist I suppose there could always be worse candidates--but it's still a pretty sad choice we're faced with.

anduril

sbw, you have the advantage on me. I've never heard of Lieven or his book. To be honest, it's not clear from your review what the book is about. On the other hand I have no interest in him except that I agree with the statement that I bolded: I believe it is wrong to make or give the impression of making commitments that you don't intend to keep. The US claims they clearly warned Georgia not to do exactly what Georgia did, and I take those statements at face value. So maybe it was all wishful thinking on Georgia's part. Or maybe somehow they got the impression...

sbw

Aduril, please let me do your wallet a favor and spare your stomach. A sensible liberal, honestly, would hurl. No, a sensible liberal would get very angry because the classical liberal position is eminently sensible and, surprisingly, puts them in the company of sensible conservatives.

These cads are intellectually dishonest either because they cannot see or because they will not see. They lull the MSM with all the right clichés guaranteed to subvert consciousness and stifle thought.

GMax

Apparently the Obama camp called for its troops to go after Corsi like he was "swiftboating " ( I assume this means telling the truth since that what the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth did ) Obama. Right on cue Cleo shows up and is all over an offtopic item that everyone is going HUH? Now you know, he jumps when Obama says so. Shocking I know.

sbw

What the book is about is to indict any policy in any way connected with Bush. What it is about is to glorify the feel good foreign policy that was just forced by the Russians in Georgia to face the mirror of reality.

In other words, not everyone thinks the way an American lib does. There is reason to trust but verify; reason to keep the powder dry; reason to try to make the U.N. work.

These idiots believed that American foreign policy was bad because it was unpopular in Europe. Since when does popularity equal legitimacy?

Russia in Georgia makes this book so 2006.

anduril

What was the topic again? I do resent people trying to take over my threads.

Semanticleo

"Now you know, he jumps when Obama says so. Shocking I know."

I'm just as ambivalent about O as anduril,
as opposed to the McCain contingent here who believe he is the lesser weevil, therefore making him their own 'anointed'.

At least mitigate your anit-o with some credible McCain misgivings. That is, unless you think he is the same 'Grail' as Boosh.

Semanticleo

'anit-o should be anti-'O'.

anduril

In fairness to myself--and if I'm not fair to myself, who else will be?--I'm not really ambivalent. I think both are likely to be terrible presidents. Terrible in different ways, so it's a question of picking your poison.

sbw

anduril, even McCain has some bad economic policies, but none so abysmally, dangerously counter-productive as voiced by the big O.

Semanticleo

"I think both are likely to be terrible presidents. Terrible in different ways,"

We go to war with the President we are saddled with.

Are you saying it's a 50/50 proposition?

How are you going to vote?

Sue

At least mitigate your anit-o with some credible McCain misgivings.

LOL. Funniest post yet.

Semanticleo

"LOL. Funniest post yet."

Your gallows humor is a matter of record.

sbw

Yesterday we were noting the huge spike in trolls and joking they might be Russian. Belmont Club suggests we keep our guard up.

Semanticleo

"and even the Internet — are so vulnerable to disinformation."

Goodlink there, sbw.

Got any more?

Sue

Your gallows humor is a matter of record.

Gallows humor? I never heard my humor described like that. Does that mean you feel like hanging yourself after reading my posts? Don't tempt me, Leo. ::grin::

Semanticleo

::grin::

That's the Sue I remember.

sbw

Cleo: Got any more?

Sure. This one is how I inoculate myself against your peregrinations.

Semanticleo

"Sure. This one"

What? You didn't read it?

Well, try Bugliosi's new book

"The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder"

History in the making.

Maybe you could sign up as character witness
during sentencing.

sbw

Cleo, I'm off to bed. You can stay up an smolder. Nighters!

Lesley

Re: trolls.ru at Belmont Club

I don't know whether the commenters were joking or not. I'm a regular BC reader. I read through those threads completely and there were definitely some oddly worded comments which indicated English as a second language + a distinct lack of blog commenters' "shorthand." If you've been a long-time reader of any blog, you recognize that shorthand immediately, just as we do at JOM (ie. what here is not like the others? and I don't mean merely dissenting opinion). There is a huge difference between dissent and disinformation.

Obviously, only Richard Fernandez can be somewhat certain since he can check IP addresses. Fernandez did make a cryptic comments on analyzing blog data sets over a three-month period. There was a reason he updated his post "Ghost In the Machine" to Part 2.

anduril

Because I'm pro-life I'll have to suck it up and vote McCain. I won't vote Obama. It may depend on how my state looks--I could abstain if McCain gets too crazy.

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Wilson/Plame