Thursday, March 23, 2023

A Familiar Three-Act Dramatic Structure is Playing Out In Manhattan

Manhattan DA Bragg is playing his part to perfection:
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) for the first time on Thursday addressed a claim by former President Trump that he would be arrested in connection to an investigation into a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, calling it the creation of a “false expectation” (here).
You've probably seen it before.

Act 1: "We've got Trump at last! He'll never wiggle his way out of this one!" 

Act 2: Trump effortlessly wiggles his way out of this one. 

Act 3:


 This is even better than the old Roadrunner vs Wile E. Coyote cartoons. 

Hungarian Foreign Minister Has Some Advice For Us

The U.S. Congress directs that State create those human rights reports which so annoy the sensitive and high-strung foreigner. 

That's why they are done. But doesn't anyone in charge think about how incredibly insulting it is when we interfere with the internal affairs of sovereign nations? Counterproductive, even. 

Isn't there a Prime Directive about not interfering with other cultures and civilizations? There should be.

The State of American Diplomacy in 2023, House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing Today


You can read The Hon. Antony Blinken's opening statement here, in which we learn we are at yet another "inflection point," if you will pardon the umpteenth time that strange phrase has been rolled out.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Who Said It? Marianne Williamson or The Sphinx?


Which of these pearls of wisdom were cast by the loquacious spiritual guru and sometimes presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (here), and which by The Sphinx? Frankly, they both get pretty formulaic.

Answers will be posted Friday.  

1. "We are number one. All others are number two, or lower."
2. “If a train doesn't stop at your station, then it's not your train.” 

3. "He who questions training only trains himself at asking questions."

4. “You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” 

5. "You must lash out with every limb, like the octopus who plays the drums. "

6. “Always seek less turbulent skies … You are the one who is flying the plane.” 

7. "When you care for what is outside, what is inside cares for you."

8. “A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose."

9. "You must be like the wolf pack, not the six-pack."

10. “And no one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.” 

11. "To learn my teachings, I must first teach you how to learn."

12. “Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. "

13. “Please enter where You already abide."


Friday answers:

1. - The Sphinx
2. - Marianne
3. - The Sphinx
4. - Marianne
5. - The Sphinx
6. - Marianne
7. - The Sphinx (although it sure sounds like Marianne)
8. - Marianne
9. - The Sphinx
10. - Marianne 
11. - The Sphinx (again, it sounds so much like Marianne)
12. - Marianne
13. - Marianne

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Official USG Overseas Travel Is Its Own Reward, But Sometimes There Are Also Gifts

Say, what time have you got? I could just check the ridiculously expensive wristwatch that I was given by some foreign government I visited on official travel, but unfortunately I had to turn that over to the National Archives.

Yes, it's the time of year that we see NARA's report of foreign gifts to traveling USG officials, and how they were 'disposed of.'   

Read the report here

Joe Biden got some nice swag, as you might expert. Among the many items he had to accept because "Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government" were Australian leather boots and French fountain pens, a "Hardcover Book: The Bidens of India" (?), and for 'Doctor' Jill Biden, a sweet Salvatore Ferragamo Black Leather Purse and Clutch (estimated value $2,410.00). There were also perishable items, such as a bottle of sparkling sake that was "handled pursuant to United States Secret Service policy" chug-chug

SecState A. Blinken and his traveling parties also got some expensive fountain pens as well as several hyper-expensive watches valued up to $10,000 (each). A poor DS agent got a lousy ballpoint pen from the protocol chief of Qatar. A much luckier female traveler got a Francesco Smalto fur coat, estimated value $950.00, from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Well, it gets cold in the desert at night, you know. Like everything else in the report, it got turned over to NARA. 

The CIA section of the report had some good mysteries. First, the expensive watches. They got them, of course, like everyone else, but the CIA often disposed of them by destroying them instead of turning them in to NARA. I suppose that's disposal with extreme prejudice. And then there's the "box of eight high-end Davidoff Royal Release Cigars" estimated at $800.00, which was disposed of via "official use." Official hundred-dollar cigars? Some cognac and wine was also disposed of "officially", as was a custom bike with travel case and GPS, estimated value $11,594. Does the CIA use bikes for business transportation?

DoD got some good booty as well, like the "sabre with curved steel blade" from Saudi Arabia, estimated value $8,100, and suitable for beheadings.  Of course, there were guns. "Two RPKs, one machine gun, two Lee-Enfields, one Springfield, and four AK-47 rifles." disposed of by means of official display. That was my favorite, at least the Lee-Enfields and the (presumably Model 1903) Springfield rifles. 

Traveling Congressmen accepted gifts of travel and meals from foreign governments, just as they do from contributors here at home. What was the disposition of those gifts, you may wonder? Well, maybe they said thank you.