Beware of Obama Officials Bearing Gifts: Recent Gift Gaffes Show a Certain Lack of Tact and Sophistication in the New Administration

aleqm5hhl3juaz0ctybqklty_cuy7jqofgAuthor Richard Bach once said ““Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” But what is the problem is the gift? That is the problem being contemplated by the Obama Administration after a series of truly embarrassing gift gaffes that make the country look cheap, unsophisticated, or ignorant — or all of the above. The gaffes range from an insulting gift inadvertently given to the Russians by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a returning of a gift to England to the lack of class in giving gifts to the English Prime Minister.

Clinton thought that she had a novel idea for a gift by giving Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a gift-wrapped red button that was supposed to say “reset” in Russian and English. It didn’t. “Peregruzka” means “overloaded” or “overcharged” and is viewed as a term of hostility. When Clinton look at a confused foreign minister asked if they got the word right, he said tersely, “You got it wrong,” Lavrov said. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means overcharged.” Clinton responded with a bit of a forced laugh and said “We won’t let you do that to us, I promise.” For the full story, click here. One would have hoped that a few people at the State Department might actually speak and read Russian as opposed to looking up terms in “Russian for Dummies” or wherever this particular word for found.

It was not a good week for Clinton after she got the names of EU diplomats wrong and left people shaking their heads at statement like:

“I have never understood multiparty democracy.It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.”

The European griped that they traced their democratic traditions to ancient Greece. They have a point. Madison and others cited the democratic roots of ancient Greece in forming our own representative democracy. For the EU story, click here.

The Obamas came off not as much uneducated as uncouth. First, the Obamas sent back a famous sculpture of Winston Churchill that had been loaned to President George Bush and sat in the Oval Office. I can certainly understand that desire to decorate the Oval Office as the Obamas prefer. After all, they kept Bush’s rug. However, they might have found another spot in the White House. Instead, they returned the gift, which rubbed many Britans the wrong way. The British had expressly offered to extend the loan for four years but the Obamas said that they would prefer to send it back. For the full story, click here. It was an odd decision because it is a widely respected and striking bust that was a very thoughtful cultural gift from our allies.

I am more sympathetic over the bust decision (though I believe it would have been wiser to keep it or send it back with greater tact) than I am the controversy over the gifts to Prime Minister and his family. Anyone who has traveled on official delegations will attest to the importance of gift exchanges. In the case of Gordon Brown and his family, the British did it right. Brown gave Obama a unique pen made from the wood of the HMS Gannet, the sister ship of the HMS Resolute. The President’s desk is made from the wood of the Resolute. For history bluffs like myself, it was an exciting and incredibly thoughtful gift. Brown also gave Obama a framed commission for HMS Resolute and a first edition of the seven-volume biography of Churchill by Sir Martin Gilbert. For her part, Mrs. Sarah Brown went to extraordinary lengths to get the correct sizes of Malia and Sasha to buy them dresses and matching necklaces from one of England’s best shops, Topshop. She also gave the girl’s pre-publication copies of children’s books.

What did we give the Browns? A box of 25 DVDs of movies like ET that you could pick up for less than $200 in England. It left the impression for some British citizens that we thought that they did not actually have things like DVDs or somehow missed the release of The Wizard of Oz. For the Brown boys, Fraser and John, the Obama’s gave them cheap replicas of Marine One which appeared to have been grabbed in the White House gift shop shortly before the event.

I am truly the last person to object about such issues of the protocol. However, I agree with irate British writers that the treatment of the Blairs was insulting and embarrassing. The First Lady has an entire office and staff that is dedicated to such events. It is indeed one of the most important jobs of the First Lady. The President has an entire cadre of protocol specialists. We looked perfectly wretched in all of this. It is not the diplomatic slight. As a private host, I would have felt obligated to show more effort for a visitor from abroad.

The new Administration may have a considerable number of tasks at hand but they should work a bit harder on acquiring a bit more tact.

For the full story, click here.

85 thoughts on “Beware of Obama Officials Bearing Gifts: Recent Gift Gaffes Show a Certain Lack of Tact and Sophistication in the New Administration

  1. “If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world, and that his heart is no island cut off from other lands, but a continent that joins to them.”

    — Francis Bacon, Sr

    Sorry to be so “quotey” today, but these are good ones.

  2. One has to expect a certain lack of tact and sophistication from the Obamas. It’s not like they come from those segments of society where such things are commonly ingrained in people.

    We can complain about the supposed plutocracy that has led America for long years, but it must be admitted that leaders who were effectively bred and raised to hold power do a better job when it comes to the social side of diplomacy.

    Of course – to be heartlessly fair – I doubt that the Palins would have done any better if the situation arose, say in 2012.

  3. One has to expect a certain lack of racial sensitivity and haughtiness from the Jonolan. It’s like he comes from those segments of society where such things are commonly ingrained in people.

    He also apparently likes the “Master Race” theory–fittingly so I might add, given his predisposition.

  4. Considering Bush did everything he could to destroy diplomacy, a poorly thought out gift is chump change. At least she didn’t give him the DVD of “Dr. Strangelove”, an intrinsically funnier yet even more inappropriate gift. Back to destruction of diplomacy, a faux pas is much different than a se faire mal (pardon if my French is a little rusty). A bad gift in no way compares to adopting an overall diplomatic strategy that resulted in this:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/featuredCrisis/idUSN08529121

    Diplomats, real ones who do it every day not the figureheads like Clinton or as is often the case political appointee Ambassadors proper, are very serious about peace and good relations. It’s their job by definition. Being a career diplomat takes a lot of time and effort. To the ones I know, it’s less vocation then avocation. When huge numbers of the DC threaten to and indeed do quit because you’ve made their job difficult and/or impossible, that a sign of a far more egregious error than poor gift choice. Maybe Clinton wouldn’t have been so tone deaf if many of the career diplomats who left rather than work for Dictator Bush had been able to stay rather than forced to leave as a matter of conscience.

  5. I believe Sara Palin has already shown that she knows how to spend money.

    As to Clinton, I agree with Buddha, 29,000 of the open positions are there from people quitting because they couldn’t work for bush. Still they should have asked one of the counter agents to get it right for them.

    As to the Obamas, this is both rude and arrogant. Blowing off the Brits is stupid. The US isn’t going to make it through the economic crises by trying to stand alone, acting like we’re above everyone else. China could prove us wrong in one day trade.

    Not only is this an ugly personal action it shows a real misunderstanding of the US’s place in the world.

  6. Mespo,

    I was speaking of a largely blue-collar / middle-class upbringing as opposed to race. I’m very sorry that you chose to take it in a racist manner.

    It sadly shows the inherent bias and racial tension of your viewpoint. That’s sad; I gave you a little bit more credit than that.

  7. […] Jonathon Turley lays out the stupid Gift-Gaffs that the new administration has pulled. One thing I noticed was Hillary’s forced laugh (she does not lie well, when laughing) when she gave the “Red Button Gag Gift”. When I first saw the image, it was on the PC and I didn’t have sound to understand what was being said. Just the physical interaction and when she pulled out that little Red Button, the first thing that came to my mind was nuclear weapons and the button that can send them. […]

  8. Jonolan,

    I took it as a class insult. I’m not certain why you feel that’s better than a racial one. The Obama’s are in the top percentile based on class at this time, so it doesn’t even make sense on your own assumptions. Further, most of the world’s poor take great pride in giving the finest gifts/foods/drinks they have when visitors come. If you want cheap, look to the wealthy first. This was a problem of arrogance, not class or race, in both a diplomatic and personal matter.

  9. Being able to demonstrate a flair for entertaining and in selection of thoughtful remembrances depends on good taste and a personal sense of style – not the size of the price tag.

    One could also say it was a tad presumptuous of the British to have automatically extended the loan of the bust to Obama, which was presented to Bush by Tony Blair when they both were still in office, especially given Churchill’s significance in Kenyan history.

    It would have been just as insulting to stick it in a corner somewhere.

    As far as the Bush’s, I remember when French President Sarkozy came to Kennebunkport and they served him hot dogs. I’m still embarrassed! They couldn’t manage some lobster rolls?

  10. What was particularly embarrassing was that Hillary stated they had worked hard to get ‘reset’ translated. Google translates it as ‘Сброс’, maybe shoulda tried that one? (I have no clue)

  11. “One has to expect a certain lack of tact and sophistication from the Obamas. It’s not like they come from those segments of society where such things are commonly ingrained in people.

    We can complain about the supposed plutocracy that has led America for long years, but it must be admitted that leaders who were effectively bred and raised to hold power do a better job when it comes to the social side of diplomacy.”

    Jonalan,
    Of the comments you have written the one above is probably the stupidest and most ill-considered. You are talking of a mythical societal elite that never existed, except on the lips of their propaganda lackeys. The myth first arose during the time of feudalism and was characterized by canards like “noblesse oblige” and “chivalry.” Read the actual history and you find an elite of brutal thugs, who routinely acted as bullies and harshly mistreated the servile underclass. While at the same time engaging in bloody, senseless wars that were more about plunder than Statecraft.

    Read then of the tact and sophistication of the British Gentry and the American copycats. They were hardly tactful and sophisticated people, but basically empty-headed, privileged snobs who regularly mistreated their “lessers” and believed themselves to be “God’s Chosen.”

    You talk of leaders who were bred to hold and raise power and all one has to do is look at the incompetence of European Aristocracy and the American Counterparts. Stupid men in general, that were led by their guts and penises from one
    boondoggle to another, while convinced of their right to command.

    Coming as I do from a working class family, by a strange coincidence of school districting I attend Junior and Senior high School with kids from Long Island’s elite North Shore
    (Think Great Gatsby Territory). Some of those I went to school with had large horse stables in their “backyards” and ample grounds to ride on. Some were nice and some were boorish. None were particular special and those “boors” were in general bullies, thugs and stupid despite their supposed breeding.

    I worked my way through College (even though I was on a full tuition scholarship I was self-supporting) by delivering liquor to Garden City, a restricted community created for WASPS, and Hempstead Heights a poor black community. The Garden City people, living in their faux Tudor mansions were in general very poor tippers, haughty in their treatment of me and demanded service beyond that expected of a delivery boy. The black people treated me well and were generous tippers even though they had little themselves. Oh yeah, most of the Garden City folk were genteel alcoholics.

    Although never even modestly affluent myself through my life I have known many very rich people, who have actually sought out my friendship, I think because I wanted nothing from them.
    Some were lovely and some were not. One’s breeding is based on one’s ability to see beyond one’s own selfish desires and
    to have empathy/sympathy for other humans.

    The gift thing is idiotic and immaterial to diplomacy. In that area I’ll match Obamas and Clintons skill and intelligence to that of either “well-bred” Bush and their lackeys. The social side of diplomacy is really, as everyone knows, for the Society Pages. Real diplomacy is a battle of wits and as we have seen by years of Republican incompetence it works badly when run by the witless.

    Given your quoted post I can only assume that you are among those witless of whom I speak.

  12. “As to the Obamas, this is both rude and arrogant. Blowing off the Brits is stupid. The US isn’t going to make it through the economic crises by trying to stand alone, acting like we’re above everyone else. China could prove us wrong in one day trade.

    Not only is this an ugly personal action it shows a real misunderstanding of the US’s place in the world.”

    Jill & JT,
    I disagree with both your takes on this. That some Brits got their nose out of joint on this is meaningless, since this will not alter US/Brit relations one bit. The Brits feel they they are the height of sophistication and yet have the worlds worst and least imaginative cuisine (think of the smell of kidney pie in a restaurant). Beyond that, their history is one of brutality and barbarous behavior.

    The article quoted is from the Movie section of the Guardian and reeks of irony rather than opprobrium. It quotes the Times of London (Murdoch owned) and the Daily Mail (right wing tabloid) and no doubt their umbrage is just more phony outrage. They are shocked! Shocked I tell you!

    Jill,
    As much as I like and respect your writing, it is beginning to turn into a “one trick pony” when it comes to Obama. I get it by now you don’t like him. however, your characterization of this as rude, arrogant and stupid is way over the top. I’m sure Mr. Brown’s personal umbrage, if indeed he even thinks at all about the gifts, which I doubt, will have not one bit of effect on foreign policy or the relationship between our countries. You have a right to blame Obama for what you disagree with, but this finger pointing lacks substance.

    T.H. has the right take on this, neither gift from either side, was picked by the Obama’s and Brown personally. That’s the job of a protocol person. Finally, haven’t we all been in situations where we have exchanged gifts with people and either ours or theirs falls below what was given by the other party. I’m sure the potential gifts expected were not known in advance.

  13. Mike S.,

    This is a big deal in the UK. The gifts were not the only snub that occurred on this visit. Read the UK papers to see more. I think the real problem is expressed in the gifts. Brown wants Obama to temporarily nationalize our banks. Paul Krugman has a very good anaylsis on the necessity of doing this because we have zombie banks. Obama does not want to do this at any cost, yet not doing so may cost us 10 years of economic hardship. Diplomacy at the level has many meanings. Even if a minion told Obama about the gift as TH suggests, he still approved it. There is more to this than what American papers won’t cover.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/mar/07/government-takes-over-lloyds

    Also,

    I must point out that I have not changed in any way, about the issues that matter to me. I have spoken out on them strongly and consistently since I entered this blog (and before in other forums). I have been told to keep silent only since I have criticized Obama. When I criticized bush and cheney for the same things, only trolls said anything about me speaking up. I find this admonition to keep silent on the same issues because they are about Obama, very worrying. Used to be the trolls said people hated bush for pointing out that what he was doing was wrong. Now it is people who critized bush as loudly and frequently as I did, hoping that I will remain silent because I’m speaking about Obama. This is dangerous. If something is wrong, it is wrong. It should be pointed out as many times as necessary to stop what is wrong. That is what I had been doing under bush and it is what I will keep doing under Obama.

  14. Jill,
    This is a big deal in the UK the way Obama’s gray hair and Octo-Mom is hear. Much ado about nothing fueled by a British Tabloid Press that makes our own Newspaper’s seem staid by comparison. Conflating it with not nationalizing our banks is irrelevant. UK’s nationalization and whether or not we follow the same road has absolutely nothing to do with the exchange of gifts. As far as our nationalizing goes.

    I am a follower of Krugman and I believe the banks should be nationalized. Krugman though is a great economist and as such is rightly speaking his mind to put pressure on the administration. I’m not sure that Obama isn’t going to nationalize the banks, but is building the consensus. I read as much as I can, but my ego reserves the right to make my own analysis. I’ve lived too long and seen too much to give full credence to the leaking of an administrations intentions, before they are even set. To me Obama is our greatest political mind since FDR and is playing the game perfectly, given the Corporatist control of the MSM.

    That does not mean that I’m an “Obamniac” or that I haven’t been critical of certain of his decisions thus far. I have learned to have few heroes, because all of us have feet of clay. Now I can’t remember any instance of telling you to remain silent about your disagreements with Obama, perhaps you can enlighten me. I have continuously stated to you that you should express any opinions you have, negative or not.

    What I did clearly say and strongly believe is that you are making far too much out of what I consider to be an inconsequential story and in doing so it appears to me that you are letting your general distaste for the man distort your point of view in this incident. That’s my opinion, which you can take as you wish. Please, however, don’t conflate my critique of you on that specific comment to imply that you have to remain silent in your disaffection. I never implied that, nor would I and thus your response to me:

    “I have been told to keep silent only since I have criticized Obama.”

    Perhaps you have been told this, but not by me.

  15. Mike,

    This is what you said above to me:

    As much as I like and respect your writing, it is beginning to turn into a “one trick pony” when it comes to Obama. I get it by now you don’t like him.

    I take that as an admonition to quit criticizing Obama. If that’s not the case then I’ve misunderstood your meaning. I wish to assure you that it is not a matter of me liking or disliking Obama any more than it was a matter of me liking or disliking bush or cheney. My motives remain the same.

    We will have to disagree about the above being unimportant. I stated why I believe there is something to this and you have stated why you believe there is nothing to it. We have not convinced each other of the other’s position. What is different is I did not say to you that you are letting your positive feelings for Obama cloud your judgement. I simply hear out your argument. When I made my argument, you said I was letting my negative judgement of Obama cloud my thinking. This is not true. I may not be able to convince you of this, that’s the case. So this additional charge of disliking Obama as invalidating my thinking and argument is unfair to me. I could easily say the reverse to you, but will not. Arguments stand or fall on their merits and sometimes we simply will not agree. It is insulting to suggest that my argument is based on a negative attitude towards Obama while failing to note that the opposite may be true of your own.

  16. Watermelon Diplomacy/Protocol?

    Satire OFF

    To the regulars: Our proprietor got rid of the majority of the miscreants’ postings so please let us keep the debates open and perhaps adversarial, as long as they are logical and devoid of ad hominem retorts.

    Jill,

    As a conservative Republican, I had a very hard time voting for Mr. Obama and you, others, and I must criticize him to whatever extent necessary. Mr. Obama is incredibly naïve and his reliance on teleprompter left and right bobbling head swings is extremely distracting to me. He is supposed to be such a great orator; however, any Fox News person and even the imbecilic G.W. Bush can read a teleprompter, instead of speaking from reasoned thought. Mr. Obama, tear down those Teleprompters and take a high school level speech class. When giving a speech, looking at the people you are speaking to is vitally important. Looking left/right n’ outta sight is an obvious oratorical flaw and apparent to those people in the middle—of the crowd and ideologically speaking—that you are simply reading and not ‘thinking’ your speech through.

    Mrs. Hillary Clinton was a pathetic choice for Secretary of State and she demonstrated another bone-headed moment with the red-button “gift,” which was very reminiscent of her Bosnian Sniper Fire heroism.

  17. Jill 1, March 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    “…Also,

    I must point out that I have not changed in any way, about the issues that matter to me. I have spoken out on them strongly and consistently since I entered this blog (and before in other forums). I have been told to keep silent only since I have criticized Obama. When I criticized bush and cheney for the same things, only trolls said anything about me speaking up. I find this admonition to keep silent on the same issues because they are about Obama, very worrying. Used to be the trolls said people hated bush for pointing out that what he was doing was wrong. Now it is people who critized bush as loudly and frequently as I did, hoping that I will remain silent because I’m speaking about Obama. This is dangerous. If something is wrong, it is wrong. It should be pointed out as many times as necessary to stop what is wrong. That is what I had been doing under bush and it is what I will keep doing under Obama…”
    —-

    Nonsense! Even before the election, it’s been obvious to me that you’re full of ‘hooey’ on a lot of subjects and I am an ‘original turlee’!

    Mespo, another ‘OT’, and I both told you last week (re Gitmo), you need to do some research of your own and get your facts straight – the public ones and, by the look of it, the
    ‘not so much’.

    After all, ‘If something is wrong, it is wrong. It should be pointed out as many times as necessary to stop what is wrong…’

  18. “I take that as an admonition to quit criticizing Obama. If that’s not the case then I’ve misunderstood your meaning.”

    Jill,
    You have misunderstood my point and I’m at a loss to make it clearer.

    FFLEO,
    If that is your critique of Obama, so be it. I think the teleprompter use and the gift issues are non-consequential matters, you have the right though to dislike whatever gets under your skin. As for FOX News anything on that network has the journalistic integrity of Pravda and CNN, CNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC and yes even MSNBC are not far behind. Truthfully though, forgetting the issues or the politics do you really believe George W. is anywhere near Obama’s league as a speaker. My take, of which I have no proof, is that with an MSM that purposely focuses on inconsequential matters rather than the issues, the teleprompter is used to insure the intended message is given and a slip of tongue doesn’t become the issue.

    You may not like Joe Biden and/or his politics, but I think you would admit he’s an intelligent man. Yet the media has portrayed him as error prone. It is interesting that most of the media ignored the fact that Limbaugh in his CPAC speech didn’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, yet gave him little ridicule. When you’re playing on an uneven playing field, as is Obama dealing with the MSM, then prudence is the better part of valor.

  19. I have to agree that the gift stories are not a big deal. Could the gifts have been better? Obviously, yes, but there are much more important issue that need to be addressed. As to the nationalization of the banks, I think we should not nationalize, but we should set up a Bank like the Resolution Trust Company that we used in the 80’s to clean up the Savings and Loan debacle.

  20. Uh–Professor Turley–I’m not a legal scholar. I am, frankly, suspicious of all lawyers; it’s genetic, passed down through my hillbilly ancestors. But what interests me here is this–granted this is a whole pile of SOCIAL gaffes the Obama administration seems to have made so far–but even a lawyer-hating hillbilly can spot that there are no legal issues here. So what, exactly, is your point?

  21. Gift giving unimportant? Maybe for an enlightened few but for the rest of society (in the broadest of terms) gift giving is very important and has always been.

    Abraham’s son was to be a gift to God. Ritualized and expected but nonetheless a gift. Human and animal sacrifice (even when done in a hopefully quid pro quo arrangement) were considered gifts. I had a friend that set aside Christmas and Veterans day as blood donating occasions. When I asked him about it he just shrugged and said about Veterans day, “you know, just a gift to our soldiers”. I have never looked at casualties among the military (even in wars I hate) the same since that discussion.

    I had a friend that was part American Native who had a ‘zine (back in the day when people wrote, illustrated, printed up and mailed general info and specialized subject info on PAPER) she regularly traded with other ‘zine writers.

    She named it “Potlatch” and explained to us nubes that it was the name of a very old cultural form of gift giving (practiced by some American Native cultures)that set great value and status on people that gave gifts. The more gifts given the more valuable the giver was in society. This was expanded to the tribal level also. Tribes competed to provide the best potlatch to other tribes as a way to improve their status among the tribes in their tribal nation.

    I suspect if there were a scholarly assessment of the subject (I’m not one so I’m not gonna’ volunteer to do it ;-) ) gifting and potlatch concepts go back to the dawn of humanity because as your family or tribal group travels to regions more favorable to food gathering etc. to meet a stranger with a gift is more conducive to living through the meeting than meeting a stranger or new tribe with nothing or belligerence.

    The whole concept of a father ‘giving away’ his daughter as a bride raises gifting as a cultural political tool to whole new heights. I recall dimly a school lecture on the giving of brides between clans and tribes (in, as I recall, both Africa and someplace in the ‘ring of fire’- Indonesia, New Guinea, someplace like that) to strengthen tribal bonds went on into the mid-20Th century as a specific ritual. Arranged marriages are all about social position and wealth and the brides gifts to the husbands families(dowry’s)are measured ruthlessly.

    I ramble. In any event, even if the gift tradition were an entirely recent and commercial construct it’s vitally important to Western culture. Companies that do badly at Christmas can go out of business because so much of a companies revenue is made up of Christmas shopping.

    I just hope whoever is in charge of such things at the White House is replaced quickly by someone that knows what they are doing and that the Obama’s aren’t meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister soon. In Japan, gift giving is an art form; a box of CD’s could start another war ;-)

  22. It has taken me some time to collect my thoughts about this article. It also seems quite apparent that the condition of the world economy, civil unrest and a government that has essentially gone off the rails is a tad more important than lecturing on ‘protocol’ as it were.

    Frankly, there was little value in this critique without a recommendation of the corrective measures from a notable source.

    One thing I will be happy to wager about – these international relations gaffes will cease at a lightning speed and be forgotten equally quickly. In my opinion, this falls in to the “I am a donut (dough nut, dough naught) category of gaffes, where the intention is being obscured because of the snarky value of the criticism.

    As to the usual suspects and their theories of societal development and breeding – what can one say that is polite? It is near impossible and hardly worth any reasonable person’s efforts.

  23. “Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost its power but kept its wealth and which still has endless leisure to devote to nothing but banal enjoyments. All its great thoughts and passionate energy are things of the past, and nothing but a host of petty, gnawing vices now cling to it like worms to a corpse.”

    — Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Book Three, Chapter XI

    And the keen observer of both American and European societies could have added, “but they do give great gifts.”

  24. United State’s Obama fumbled Brown visit because he’s in over his head

    Daily Telegraph 3/7/09

    Insulting Gordon Brown during the British prime minister’s visit this week by ignoring protocol and cheaping out on the traditional gift exchange, the UK media has erupted in outrage. The Obama White House has now started to recognize the firestorm the new President created with our closest ally, and wants to assure the Brits that he meant no disrespect.

    Instead, Obama apparently wants to assure them that he’s simply in over his head and floundering:

    Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.
    British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

    Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president’s surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

    A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama’s inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to “even fake an interest in foreign policy”. …
    The American source said: “Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

  25. Hey Yanks! Your Obama is a doofus! You’ll be lucky to survive him! As far as everything else, many here in Britain thinks it time we take a vacation from being your ally – for about 4 years.

  26. Angry Brits,
    My guess is you’ve never been farther than two hundred miles from your Alabama home. Lots of unattributed quotes from a shameless London Tabloid with a reputation equal to the National Enquirer, which I assume is the total of your weekly
    reading.

    Lottakatz,
    I would rate diplomatic gift giving on a 1 to 10 scale as a
    .01. Gift giving does have much social significance in this case though, not very much. Gordon Brown also has a lot more on his plate than worrying about the gifts he’s received from our President.

    As far as the Japanese and the art of gift giving I think they are a fairly sophisticated people. Gordon Brown saw Obama because a meeting with the US President is a boost for his popularity, particularly Obama who is rated highly around the world. The same is true for the Japanese Prime Minister.

    Finally, perhaps this was a comment by the Obama Administration of change. The ritual of diplomatic gift giving goes back at least 4,500 years and is a relic of the pretenders to Royal eliteness that Jonolan so adores. Perhaps crap like the exchange of diplomatic gifts ought to end. They’ve never stopped any war, tribute or lack of same is not a gift and they’ve never started one.

  27. mespo727272,

    In your reference to Alexis de Tocqueville you hit on what I was saying. The “elite,” those who were raised to move in the circles of power understand the trappings and banalities of that society, one of which is extravagant gift giving.

    The Obamas, with their more proletarian upbringings have little understanding of such things.

    Is it important? Maybe. Some peoples take such things seriously, such as the British. Others care less about them.

    As for class insults, that’s ridiculous. Accepting and acknowledging the background of an individual is no insult at all. It levels expectations and allows one not to take such things as a thoughtless – by some standards – gift as an insult.

  28. In the hours that followed the gift exchange, the following tirade was recorded by intelligence surveillance of the British Prime Minister reacting to the faux pas:

    “A box of DVDs? I’ve seen most of these movies already anyway! E.T.? That was like 1982 wasn’t it? Are you bloody kidding me? Guy Fawkes picked the wrong building to go after, I’m telling you …

    We went well out of our bloody way to make a wonderful gift for the new American President. The wood from the ships, you know with the pen and the desk … the way that they tie together perfectly. I mean really, it was a brilliant gift. And they give me a box of DVD movies? And not one Kubrick film included. I didn’t see one in there, did you notice that?

    I’m about to go Christian Bale on these guys, I swear it! We should just go right ahead and suspend trade with this crappy country. No more Cadbury’s chocolate bars for you bleeding yanks. That’s it! We’re pulling them. You can just subsist on your Hershey bars. Hershey bars … really. Bloody crap.”

    All joking aside, I think the gift from the other side of the pond was thoughtful and well crafted, and the gift from our side was the equivalent of handing in a hastily scribbled homework assignment written just before class started. It shouldn’t reflect on the president, who really is not in charge of these sorts of things, but unfortunately it does reflect on him, and on us, nonetheless.

    Does it really matter in the larger scheme of things?

    Of course not.

    There are bigger fish to fry at this moment in history. But it does make one wonder (as I often have at the appointments made by this president) just whom he is surrounding himself with, whom he is giving jobs to, and whom he is taking advice from …

  29. Prof, this is one of the fewish instances in which I must say that you are absolutely right. I still like the Obamas though.

  30. “Mike
    Gordon Brown saw Obama because a meeting with the US President is a boost for his popularity, particularly Obama who is rated highly around the world. …Perhaps crap like the exchange of diplomatic gifts ought to end.”

    Protocol and ritual are useful shorthand in and across societies and cultures. They establish a mutually understood basis for proceeding in or maintaining a relationship. It really doesn’t matter why one party visited the other, a certain ritual takes place to acknowledge that the visit is valuable and welcomed by both parties. I’d rather my President not fumble any more of them than necessary. If he’s going to change the ritual he better send out a memo otherwise he looks like a lightweight and how you look to the people you deal with is important.

    They did shake hands after all. They did that old, tired greeting ritual wherein the sword or weapon hand (normally, the right hand) was extended empty and grasped by each other. Really, most of these rituals are dated but I don’t think men are going to stop shaking hands tomorrow just because it’s a dated social convention.

    Srsly, try ignoring the handshake ritual as needlessly vestigial with your boss, father-in-law or a client the next time they visit, or a stranger the next time you’re introduced in a business or formal setting ;-)

    So ingrained is that totally impractical ritual that the only people I have known that could not shake hands with their right hand for medical reasons made a game effort of a hand-clasping with their left or apologized with something like ‘Pardon me for not shaking, I’d like to but this arthritis/nerve damage etc.’

    I recall when women in business started initiating the full-on ‘manly’ handshake instead of the modified feminine hand shake- a delicate and genteele thing with hands barely clasped at hardly more than the fingers with only an inference of a shake going on. Most businessmen I and my women friends entering business met didn’t know how to respond to women usurping their manly ritual. It was a hoot. We would compare notes over such matters and I’m sure our observations were not unique.

    We observed also that while it was worth doing for that reason alone it did make a difference in the way we were dealt with. We were establishing a basis for interaction with a ritual the meaning of which was so deeply ingrained in our male counterparts that it conditioned reflexive behavior in certain settings. We used the ritual to eastblish a baseling for our status and inclusion. It was a small but significant gesture. As was mirroring their dress; well tailored dark pantsuits helped.

    Changing the face of business, one firm handshake, dark pantsuit and inclusive ritual at a time ;-)

  31. Angry Brits:

    “…many here in Britain thinks it time we take a vacation from being your ally…”

    *********
    Ah pseudo-Brit, it’s referred to as “holiday” in Britain, not “vacation,” but then again you already knew that I suppose.

  32. Lottakatz,

    “They did shake hands after all. They did that old, tired greeting ritual wherein the sword or weapon hand (normally, the right hand) was extended empty and grasped by each other. Really, most of these rituals are dated but I don’t think men are going to stop shaking hands tomorrow just because it’s a dated social convention.”

    The pericardium meridian has a point in the palm of the hand and at the end of the middle finger. Symbolically and energetically a hand shake for me conveys a heart to heart exchange.

    “Try ignoring the handshake ritual as needlessly vestigial with your boss, father-in-law or a client the next time they visit, or a stranger the next time you’re introduced in a business or formal setting.”

    Why? Humans expressing heart is natural. I don’t want to hug everyone lottakatz, no not when a shake will do. 

  33. S/B

    Why? Humans expressing heart is natural. I don’t want to hug everyone lottakatz, no not when a shake will do. :)

    That square is some kind of Freudian slip?! :)

  34. Two points:

    1. The gift gaffe will be quickly forgotten.

    2. Jill & others bold enough to criticize Obama in this forum may sound like Cassandra now… but we all know how that turned out.

  35. Repeating the same disinformation over and over does make it more true.

    George Bush did that regularly and we all know how that turned out!

  36. Patty,

    Maybe there is a difference in terms here. I don’t find what Jill does to rise to the standard of disinformation. Sure, she’s passionate and her liberal bias burns brightly. She can be a little hasty, but I think I understand where her sense of urgency comes from even when I don’t always share it. Changing any process of complexity requires time, but not acting is still an action. It’s just the wrong one in this instance, also a proposition I don’t think would come under fire here. The differences seem to be as to method. The erosion of liberty is a serious matter and that is something I don’t think any of the regulars would disagree with in the slightest. Disinformation and misapplied information are not necessarily the same though they may look alike.

    Now I know you and Jill have been going back and forth since before I got here and I’m not foolish enough to get right in the middle for two reasons. I both read and understand Sally’s icon and both of you are often right.

    What I seek here is a clarity of terms. Disinformation vs. misapplied information.

    Jill’s use of information though, if you must characterize it, I think is more in the misapplied category rather than the disinformation category. This distinction my be entirely my own because of how I view propaganda, but it comes down to veracity. When Jill is confronted with a factual refutation of her cites, she backs off or retracts them. I’ve seen her admit she’s wrong before. That’s not the hallmark of disinformation. A campaign of disinformation would press untruths as truths no matter what. Repetition as so duly noted. While her persistence is a tactical similarity to a disinformation campaign, that is the only similarity that I see.

    Do I see where your frustration with Jill’s methods comes from? You bet. But while you may disagree with her application of what she learns, I’ve never found her to be disingenuous or motivated to use the pure lie. She may be a little over zealous and/or tactically awkward, but that’s far from being somebody pushing a false agenda for nefarious purpose. To me, that is true disinformation.

  37. Forgive me, Buddha. You’re not that perceptive or observant :P

    In a year and a half, Jill has never once backed off a challenge of mine over any misstatement of fact by her on any issue from politics to medicine. Not one time.

    She certainly has no monopoly on concern over the fate of this country and, in my opinion, vastly overestimates her significance toward contributing anything to the conversation because her ideas are not her own. She cuts and pastes to support an anti-Obama agenda.

    The plight of this country is, on the other hand, very personal to me, because of my family’s Plymouth Colony and DAR/SAR War history. I grew up with it!

    I don’t live in her ‘world’ nor would I want to. It’s full of handwringing negativity based on fear rooted in self-imposed ignorance.

    And if I want to attack anything, I’d say that in so being, it disregards the truth to support only a ‘possible’ world view.
    Or I might suggest she is just lazy. Cutting and pasting someone else’s work doesn’t equate learning with knowledge or wisdom.

    In fact, I’d be willing to bet she still hasn’t viewed the CSPAN clip of the Patrick Walsh Pentagon briefing on Gitmo which I posted two weeks ago in response to the same ‘disinformation’ she repeated about the current status there – yet again.

  38. sigh One reads icons and reads icons but one may never truly learn.

    I don’t question that Patty. I’ll even stipulate some people are loathe to apologize, but this is mine to you and by way of clarification. I may read too much into it since I do see Jill has presentation errors in re torture. But she is consistent in her stated motive, which I have not seen deviate – truth and accountability to ANY power. I don’t have to explain to you this is one view I am sympathetic towards. In an abundance of sympathy, I may even be cutting her more slack than I should. Bias can be a function of affinity and no one is totally clear of bias of any sort. Truthfully, I’m more in line Mike S. assessment that is a bit of a one trick pony, but I for the reasons stated, refrained from calling her out any stronger that you had. The more pragmatic of the factors was that you stay on her with persistence. Why duplicate the effort?

    My issue was merely with the term “disinformation”.

    My point was the difference between the terms “disinformation” and “misapplied information”. I think if you accuse someone of spreading disinformation is implies organization and motive. One must have an idea one wishes to oppose and a way to oppose it if one is engaged in a battle of ideas. There has to be a motive so there has to a mens rea component. Her stated intent isn’t to deceive, but to show what she considers abusive and that it’s not being brought to a stop quick enough. Her errors have have been presentational, but not purposefully deceptive based on why she claims to relay said information. They even show a bit of naivety about how hard it is turn something around as large as a government. Like they say in the car mags, “It’s got horsepower and torque, but the handling sucks.” True, our knowledge of her motives are limited to what she tells us, but isn’t that always the case?

    Now look at the word itself. Disinformation. Etymologically speaking, dis- comes to English via French’s des- rooted in Latin’s dis-. The form hasn’t changed much at all. dis- is defined as – 1. “lack of, not” (e.g. dishonest); 2. “do the opposite of” (e.g. disallow); 3. “apart, away” (e.g. discard), from O.Fr. des-, from L. dis- “apart,” from PIE *dis- “apart, asunder” (cf. O.E. te-, O.S. ti-, O.H.G. ze-, Ger. zer-). The PIE root is a secondary form of *dwis- and is thus related to L. bis “twice” (originally *dvis) and to duo, on notion of “two-ways, in twain.” (source http://www.etymonline.com)

    And just as with Jill, my concern here is purely presentational. “Disinformation” should be reserved for technical discussion. There is no need to use the term without that context as English already has the word “mistake”. And what is a mistake but misapplied information? If we assume Jill’s stated motive is as presented, it is not contrary to many of the pro-liberties sensibilities expressed here, but indeed in alignment. This make the word “disinformation” inappropriate because it it both inaccurate and carries a value you load associated with mens rea.

    Attribute it to me having a Carlin moment over the word if you must, but I really think “disinformation” aside from being a word is a technical term. That’s critical as it’s a term of art and fundamental precept in both propaganda and it’s even more evil brother, psychological warfare. To use it out of context is a disservice to the language as it weakens the value of the word.

  39. PATTYC/Jill:

    The DAR/SAR and Dames of the Magna Carta are part of the problem with this country. Who gives a rats behind how far one can trace their lineage, the great thing about America is we are a country of new beginnings and limitless opportunity or at least we ought to be. Most of the DAR/SAR/DOM types are uptight & class conscious.

    I did not vote for the man but for gods sake he has only been president for 6 weeks at least cut him some slack until May 5th.

    And who the hell comes prepared for that job? Maybe God himself, but I think she may even have some problems with that job.

  40. Here is information from two sources on torture. Everyone must make their own decision regarding the information. I do not cut the President, the most powerful person in the world, slack when it comes to torture or violation of the laws of the US. I think it is dangerous to do so. Evidence of past and current torture is in plain sight. It is not acceptable to me that the US participate in torture nor that our govt. fails to file criminal suit against this behavior.

    First, from Center for Constitutional Rights:

    “The applicable laws governing conditions of confinement at Guantánamo include Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, but also the more specific provisions of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions. Other relevant laws include international human rights treaties the United States has ratified protecting prisoners against unsafe or unhygienic conditions, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and treaties protecting the rights of juveniles in detention. In addition, the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution prohibit cruel and unusual punishment and protect prisoners against treatment that shocks the conscience, including unsafe conditions, the denial of social or family contact, and prolonged isolation. The First Amendment protects prisoners’ rights to religious texts and books.

    Currently at Guantánamo, the majority of detainees are being held in conditions of solitary confinement in one of two super-maximum facilities – Camps 5 and 6 – or in Camp Echo. The conditions in these camps are harshly punitive and violate international and U.S. legal standards for the humane treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. Solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, environmental manipulation, and sleep deprivation are daily realities for these men and have led to the steady deterioration of their physical and psychological health.

    In addition, detainees are subjected to brutal physical assaults by the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), a team of military guards comparable to a riot squad, who are trained to respond to alleged “disciplinary infractions” with overwhelming force. Detainees have also been deprived of virtually all meaningful contact with their families, and have suffered interference with and abuse related to their right to practice their religion.”

    Secondly, from today’s Guardian: (this will see a trial in the UK)

    “Mohamed claimed MI5 was not only supplying his interrogators with background information, but forwarding lists of direct questions that they wanted him to be asked. One MI5 memo from November 2002 lists 11 questions sent to the Americans, asking for a “timescale” for when they could expect answers from interrogators. It states: “We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed…”

    Another MI5 document, dated 5 November 2002 and disclosed to Mohamed in preparation for a US court case, reveals how UK intelligence officials were keen to get involved in interrogating Mohamed in order to increase “pressure” on the 30-year-old prisoner.

    Evidence of British collusion has appeared in the form of a telegram, also dated 5 November 2002, that was sent by MI5 to the CIA. Entitled “Request for further detainee questioning”, it revealed that British intelligence was passed to American officials, who then passed it to Moroccan authorities.”

  41. Just a plea again for civility. I realize that Patty C and Jill are often at loggerheads, but they are both valued members of our little community of rascals. May I suggest a degree of mutual avoidance? You both have great fans and foes. I suggest a division along the lines of the Tordesilla agreement negotiated by the Pope in June 7, 1494. (I will perform the papal role). Under the agreement, Spain and Portugal agreed to divide the world and live without conflict with one another. I do not want either of you to grow disgruntled and leave our blog. So I would consider it a personal favor if you would continue as mutually existent and separated superpowers. You can then leave any challenges to each other to the other denizens. It worked for Spain and Portugal.

  42. Jill,

    Do you think that maybe they are not allowed to speak to people outside the prison, such as their family, so that they are not able to conduct business through their family.

  43. chris,

    Do you mean terrorist business? becuase most of the people in Gitmo aren’t terrorists. Maybe you mean something else? If so, what?

  44. chris,

    Seton Hall University law students went through the records to list the people we detained and why. I’m putting in a link to their site–this particular one applies as well to another post about the 92 tapes destroyed by the CIA. They are detainees. See what you think of the information.

    Jill

    ” Seton Hall Law Students Uncover Proof that Guantánamo Interrogations Routinely Videotaped
    General Reports More than 24,000 Interrogations Conducted Since 2002;
    Assertions that All Interrogations Were Videotaped Affect Impending 9/11 Trials”

    http://law.shu.edu/administration/public_relations/press_releases/2008/guantanamo_interrogations_videotaped.htm

  45. Prof. Turley,
    I want to know if Jill has to speak Portugese or if Patty has to speak it. I am sure that all of the citizens of Turleyville will find a way to coexist, even if they do not speak Portugese.

  46. Patty C & Jill:

    With no right at all to say, I would second JT’s comments and join in his plea for peace. You both are articulate spokespersons for your particular points of view, and passionate advocates. The sniping however detracts from the discussion, the merits of the criticism notwithstanding. JT’s solution is a good one, and selfishly allows me the luxury of hearing both points of view.

    JT and I disagree only on one point. I think the historical reference might be more properly made to the Treaty of Kadesh: The scene is 1274 BCE and the setting is ancient Syria, the Egyptians and Hitties have just fought the most recent battle of a seemingly unending war that both sides could rightly claim both honor and partial victory. Faced with other external threats, both their rulers, “Hatusiliš III and Ramesses [sought] to end their dispute and sign a peace treaty. Both sides could not afford the possibility of a longer conflict since they were threatened by other enemies: Egypt was faced with the task of defending her long western border with Libya against the incursion of Libyan tribesmen … while the Hittites faced a more formidable threat in the form of the Assyrian Empire which “had conquered Hanigalbat, the heartland of Mitanni, between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers that had previously been a Hittite vassal state.

    The peace treaty was recorded in two versions, one in Egyptian hieroglyphs, the other in Akkadian, using cuneiform script; fortunately, both versions survive. Such dual-language recording is common to many subsequent treaties. This treaty differs from others, however, in that the two language versions are differently worded. Although the majority of the text is identical, the Hittite version claims that the Egyptians came suing for peace, while the Egyptian version claims the reverse.” (from Wiki)

    Given the myriad of common interests and common opponents which you both have, I am prepared to say you both have performed honorably, the other side first sued for peace, and that given the sheer volume and vociferousness of our common opposition you both have bigger fish to fry.

  47. JT:

    While it is nice work if you can get it, I would eschew the papal role. His Holiness Pope Giovanni I has a special ring to it, but your wardrobe hasn’t included pointy hats before, and Mrs. Turley would be quite surprised by your celibacy vow. And the kids … that would take quite bit of explaining to the Roman Curia.

  48. Mike Spindell,

    I actually do not have anything against Mr. Biden. I thought that his plagiarism 2 decades ago was inexplicably disingenuous, but I think that he is one of the more decent national public servants.

    Katie,

    Professor Turley explained clearly and succinctly why these diplomatic gaffs matter.

  49. Jill and Patty,

    I owe you an apology if I was too critical earlier. I do like you both and your valuable posts. I like the others endorse detentes. I wanted to apologize if that last post was surly or mean spirited in any way. That was not my intention. By way of explanation but not excuse, I’ve been under the weather lately and I know myself well enough to know it can make me snappier than I mean to be. Upon rereading that last post, I thought I owed you both that.

  50. This is precisely why my latest signature line has become:

    ‘Parallel to the shore…!’

    Against my better judgment, I allowed myself to get sucked in again. It’s unlikely to recur.

    At this stage of my experience, it would be magnanimous, indeed, to suggest Jill simply doesn’t know, that she doesn’t know, what she is talking about. However, that is not my belief.

    My intuitive sense holds the same objections I’ve held with regard to George Bush et al for 8 years toward a certain willingness to advance a preconceived agenda at he cost of the truth. And all the while proclaiming they were ‘protecting America from the terrorists’.

    Some people called that ‘politics’. I call it something else entirely.

    And I still say Bron98 is BB, CMM, Waynebro etc. The first thing Bartlebee did here was to attack my ancestry – for no reason. Btw,’data engineer/security consultant, whatever that is,’ doesn’t count as ‘Engineer’. I’ve known several engineers
    – mechanical and civil, including a few of my medical colleagues AND my ‘Yalie’ grandfather, may he RIP.

  51. Patty,

    You spend much of your post time with personal attacks against me. It is very ignorant of you to keep doing this. Again I will say personal attacks are weak and unprofessional. I will just ignore your posts from now on. The only reason I didn’t more recently is because you denied the existence of torture.

  52. Patty:

    you are not very selfaware are you. Physcian heal thyself and take to heart the admonition about the unexamined life.

    While its admirable you are a doctor, I have met many doctors that are particullary dull witted (I have not met you so I am not implying anything) and I wonder how they made it through medical school. Do not make the mistake that many (doctors) do and that is “I have gone to medical school so the rest of you are ignorant”.

    Memorization is easy applying principals is a little bit harder.

  53. You might want to check your ‘facts’…

    You ignore my challenges, because you can’t argue with me.
    I’d call that ‘weak’!

    I’m seldom wrong because I don’t speak with confidence about matters I’m less than sure about. It’s one of my major pet peeves, in fact.

    In my business, patient’s lives depend on making the right call…

  54. Jill,

    I would submit to you that there is an equal danger to accepting whole cloth the assertions of the Center for Constitutional Rights with regard to detainee treatment, as there is with accepting the findings of the Department of Defense’s internal report.

    Your quote from the CCR:
    “Solitary confinement, sensory deprivation, environmental manipulation, and sleep deprivation are daily realities for these men and have led to the steady deterioration of their physical and psychological health.

    In addition, detainees are subjected to brutal physical assaults by the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), a team of military guards comparable to a riot squad, who are trained to respond to alleged ‘disciplinary infractions’ with overwhelming force. Detainees have also been deprived of virtually all meaningful contact with their families, and have suffered interference with and abuse related to their right to practice their religion.”

    CCR is not just an impartial non-profit studying the conditions of confinement. Their lawyers are advocates on behalf of detainees, and their information is directly derived from that representation. CCR as an organization has never been granted unfettered access to the facilities in the manner that the International Committee of the Red Cross has. Would you say that those detainees’ statements are self-serving? Of course. Might those statements be skewed to enhance a certain agenda, for example, to persuade (or manipulate) the larger human rights community into pushing for their release?

    You would not hesitate one bit to proclaim that the “Walsh Report” on the conditions of detention at Guantanamo was self-serving, and thus unreliable. Forgetting for the moment that it was the internal investigations published in the Church and Schmidt-Furlow reports that brought many of the abuses at Guantanamo to light in the first place.

    The Seton Hall report that you cite for the proposition that “most of the people are Gitmo aren’t terrorists” is skewed as well — first of all, the authors are counsel for two detainees. And, while the use of statistics has a tendency to impart the imprimatur of “truthiness,” the portrayal of those statistics is still a subjective matter. The report concludes that 55% of detainees “are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies” — the implication being that 45% did commit hostile acts. Hardly what I’d call strong support for your assertion.

    I’m not a strong supporter of what the prior administration did with regard to making counterterrorism a warfighting function. But it irks me equally to see such kneejerk statements from those who should know better than to swallow everything that is fed to them without question.

  55. ‘Memorization is easy applying principals is a little bit harder.’


    So true, and you forgot to memorize your prior representation that ‘Waynebro’, three ‘yous’ ago at least, whom you profess NOT to be, is the same troll who claimed a 17-year employment history as a data ENGINEER/security consultant. Doh!

    Busted, Wayne – you and your ‘principles’! :P
    Your spelling still sucks.

    You know even less about the level of skill and intense hands-on training required to pass licensing toward the successful practice of medicine, than you do about what constitutes being called an engineer.

    ng: Thank you

  56. PattyC

    I always spell the frigging word wrong, thank you for correcting me.

    I actually do know what doctors have to do to become doctors, and think they have a very good training program that I wish engineers would incorporate into our post college training.

    I actually modeled my own career on your (medicines) approach. I worked at about 5 companies that covered different aspects of civil and structural engineering-everything from testing and inspection to actual construction and then went to work for a structural firm.

    The one thing about engineers though is that if we screw up a bunch of people can die, not just one and we cant bury our mistakes they are out there for everyone to see. In addition a small screw up can cost millions of dollars even if no one is killed or injured. And we dont have other engineers trying to save our “highly” trained behinds like the medical profession does.

  57. I’m very surprised to see people agree that what has gone on between Patty and Jill has been a 2-way fight. What I’ve seen is that Patty takes every opportunity to say awful things about Jill, with Jill stoically silent. These dust-ups always seem to end with Patty reminding us yet again how upper crust she is.

  58. LindyLou:

    that is her typical MO? She must be a real putz (sp?).

    But then again if you can trace your ancestry back to the Rock…

    Personally I like to think that the real founding of America, the true intellectual founding occured at Jamestown. An outpost created for doing business in the New World. Risk takers willing to start an outpost on the far side of the “moon” for profit. The pilgrims in my mind are all that is wrong with America and should be taught only as a footnote to our history.

    Personally I would hide my head in shame if I had a pilgrim ancestor.

  59. LindyLou,

    We are fortunate to have most of the junk postings removed and I am glad that we have as many comments from women within this blawg as we do. I would even prefer additional feminine perspectives to the topics and it would be a shame to lose any of the regular ‘gals’.

  60. There has been an interesting exchange on this thread regarding the character of those held at Gitmo and those who have conducted various investigations. The truth is that all of us have some sort of agenda, expressed or not. But I have drawn certain conclusions based wholly upon what I have read and heard over the past seven years, coupled with a life of varied experiences and my grasp of human nature. By the time the dust settles, I believe we will find that the majority of people held at Gitmo had no business being there. There were by and large people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, or who had offended people having power over them, or were random victims of financial vigilantism. One of the strongest arguments for this conclusion is the fact that they lived in limbo for years while the Bush administration attempted to come up with justifications, unrelated to factual information, for their detention, fumbled for ways to deal with them and ultimately abandoned any responsibility in the whole matter, leaving it up to the new administration to clean up the mess. We will find that most of them were rounded up for the same reason this has occurred through history. Ignorance feeds fear; fear informs decision-making; bad decisions result. This is a universal truth, regardless of how offended administration supporters may be by the suggestion that Americans are not above such stuff. One of the most dangerous doctrines currently infecting this country is that of American exceptionalism, the illicit offspring of religion and unquestioning patriotism. We had better remember that we are as capable as anyone else of committing horrendous human abuses. And the more arrogant we become about our supposed moral superiority in the world, the greater the risk of moral failure. I know this sounds more like a lecture than a comment, but we need to get over ourselves and have the guts to look at our policies realistically and with a critical eye.

  61. Bron,

    “The pilgrims in my mind are all that is wrong with America and should be taught only as a footnote to our history.”

    I still contend the modern trend in fundamentalism in general and in Christianity in particular traces it’s roots to Puritanism. They, like modern fundamentalists, were divisive and aggressive proselytizers. It didn’t help that contemporaneously they were generally seen as dour killjoys and socially disruptive. There is a reason the English and Dutch showed them the door and they ended up in the wilds of the New World. And it wasn’t the buckles on hats fashion faux pas either.

    And as far as Rand goes, you can mark me down in the “what mespo said” column.

  62. Speaking of linguistic abuse, who in Hell told the GOP that “The Empire has struck back” would be an appropriate message? Have none of their “image consultants” seen a Star Wars film? Do they not know the Empire are the bad guys? It’s the kind of thing that just makes me shake my head. People are unemployed at record rates and this is the help they pay for? Stunning. On the plus side, it shows the (poor) quality of their organization.

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/03/09/steele-adviser-on-gop-naysayers-the-empire-has-struck-back/

  63. Buddha:

    are you their new media consultant?

    I may be wrong but the way I read it was that Steele is being attacked by the status quo of the party and so the empire strikes back reference, Steele is Luke Skywalker and Haley Barber is Darth Vader. Does that make Rush Yoda?

  64. Bron,

    Very funny. :D No, I have limits to who I’ll let sign my paycheck and you’ve just hit one of my limits. Although it is the kind of subversive advice I’d give so good call on that. lol

  65. Does anyone here read? And do I really have to spend my time going back over old posts? Being intimately familiar with ones ancestry is not an automatic indicator of a legacy of wealth.
    In my case, it’s why I ‘give a rats ass’ about damage to our Constitution so personally.

    I am successful in own right. Nobody paid my way.

    Here is Patric Walsh’s briefing, yet again:

    http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/index.php?main_page=product_video_info&products_id=284246-1

    AND

    http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/2501826
    Gitmo complies with Geneva treaties says US

    “…About 240 captives remain at Guantanamo, including five accused of plotting the September 11 hijacked plane attacks that promoted the US war on terrorism.

    Only one has been convicted of a crime.

    US courts and military review panels have cleared a few dozen others for release, including 17 members of China’s Muslim Uighur minority who were cleared years ago.

    But they remain at the base because US officials fear they would be tortured if returned to China, will not bring them to the United States and can not find another nation to take them in.

    “They are very exasperated by this process,” Walsh said.

    Human rights groups disputed Walsh’s findings that the camp was in full compliance with the requirement for humane treatment.

    They said most Guantanamo prisoners were still held in severe isolation and faced psychological and physical abuse and threats of violence from guards.

    “They are caught in a vicious cycle where their isolation causes psychological damage, which causes them to act out, which brings more abuse and keeps them in isolation,” said Pardiss Kebriaei, a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the prisoners.

    “If they are going to be there another year, or even another day, this has to end.”

  66. “Does anyone here read?”

    Yes.

    “And do I really have to spend my time going back over old posts?”

    No.

  67. From our articulate host.

    “Just a plea again for civility… valued members of our little community of rascals.”

  68. I just saw this as a comment on one of the papers in Europe.

    We may have even sent DVDs that might not work on their players. DVDs have region codes that allow it to only play in DVD players meant for certain countries. So, if our DVDs are Region 1 or what not and they are another –they may not work for them. Talk about insult to injury.

    I can hear it now “Americans!” (as they throw the DVD against the wall).

    Won’t surprise me if they seemed so rushed to get stuff.

  69. I was wondering if anyone had brought up the idea that maybe President Obama didn’t want to be seen giving a very expensive gift, very publicly, during an “economic crisis?” My first thought would be how they would be attacked by right-leaning pundits for spending too much. Just a thought.

  70. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
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    home a bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog.

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