Bundled or Bungled? Obama Nominates Major Donor As Ambassador To Argentina Who Has Never Even Visited The Country

President_Barack_ObamaUnknownPresident Obama has continued the practice of selling ambassadorship off to wealthy friends and donors — a practice that many used to denounce during Republican administration but has been dismissed with a shrug in this Administration. I have long been critical of the practice which places a president’s and a party’s interest ahead of that of the nation. I was at a dinner party a few years ago where an Obama donor spoke openly how the White House gave him an ambassadorship and he decided to just give it to his wife who he said is delighted that she is now called “ambassador” wherever she goes. As discussed this weekend, donor Noah Bryson Mamet has been nominated for ambassador to Argentia but has never even visited the country. This follows an embarrassing hearing with Obama bundler George Tsunis, who was nominated for ambassador to Norway. Tsunis showed as striking lack of knowledge of that country.

Mamet simply told the committee that “I haven’t had the opportunity yet to be there. I’ve traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven’t yet had a chance.” Putting aside the lack of diplomatic experience of these friends and donors, what is more remarkable is that Mamet knew he was going to be nominated for many months but never thought it might be a good idea to just go there once, even on vacation. The same can be said bout Tsunis who did not appear to view it as necessary to actually learn about the country in which he would serve as ambassador for the United States.

Mamet is the founder of political consulting firm Noah Mamet & Associates, and used to work for former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt. He was given the ambassadorship after serving as a bundler for Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2012 campaigns. While he did serve on a delegation to monitor elections in Sierra Leone as part of the National Democratic Institute, he has no diplomatic experience and obviously no connection to Argentina — a major diplomatic posting.

The silence from Democrats and liberals over the continuation of corrupt practice is a disgrace. Many countries only use professional diplomats for such high positions. It is not only to serve their countries better but as a sign of respect to the other nation. The United States has had a long and sordid history of embarrassing nominees who are given ambassadorial positions as payback. This has continued with Obama with donors who often embarrass the United States for their sense of entitlement.

Now, after years of tense relations, Argentina is watching Obama send someone who has not even bothered to visit the country — fulfilling a stereotype of insular Americans. This is not like some distinct, dangerous spot like Yemen (which no bundler would want). Argentina is hard to miss for people traveling in the region. That is really going to help relations. The most we can say is that Mamet was not just some wealthy guy but forked over serious money to Obama and the Democratic Party to achieve this distinction. My problem is that, if we are going to sell top diplomatic posts, I would prefer to do it the honest way and just have bidding on Ebay with the money going into the U.S. Treasury rather than either of the parties. At least we would then get some value for our government positions.

Mamet strikes me as an intelligent person. However, he is no diplomat and Argentina is a major player in the region. The solution is simple: limit ambassador positions to career diplomats or at least people who have held prior diplomatic posts. I understand that we could lose a few talented people but we would eliminate a far greater number of incompetents. If a president wants to reward wealthy friends, I suggest the Lincoln bedroom — there is a virtual credit card machine attached to the door.

43 thoughts on “Bundled or Bungled? Obama Nominates Major Donor As Ambassador To Argentina Who Has Never Even Visited The Country

  1. Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    More proof that, as The Grey Enigma pointed out George Carlin famous observation, “It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.” Who is in it? The ultra-wealthy, the connected and mostly the incompetent, entitled class.

  2. What the administration doesn´t realize is that Norway actually educates its populace. The Norwegians won´t think it is “cool” to call an idiot “Ambassador”. Americans put up with these appointments because most of them don´t know where Norway is on the map. But the problem isn´t only with uneducated Ambassadors. American diplomats don´t have the foreign language skills that their counterparts from other countries do have. I´ve met many career diplomats in Europe who spoke no foreign language. Not to mention their basic lack of knowledge of the European way of life. They live in their own little American bubble. One consular officer informed me that my child could not be an American because she could see from my passport that I had been to London 9 months before the child´s date of birth, so maybe her German dad was not really her father. Huh?

  3. “Bundled or Bungled? Obama Nominates Major Donor As Ambassador To Argentina Who Has Never Even Visited The Country” -Jonathan Turley

    The same guy who said:

    “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” -Barack Obama**

    (**Reported in “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and repeated on Democracy Now today)


    Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill on “Democracy Now” this morning, after launching their new site “The//Intercept”, a publication of Pierre Omidyar’s recent venture “First Look Media”:


  4. Read “The Power Elite” by C. Wright Mills. It explains why this happens. The explanation is empirical and quantitative. It’s not political corruption, its the culture of elitism.

  5. Correction:

    The same guy who **reportedly** said:

    “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” -Barack Obama**

    (**Reported in “Double Down: Game Change 2012″ by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann and repeated on Democracy Now today)

  6. The creme rises to the top…… So does curled milk and what’s left in the toilet bowl after a good dump….. They are called floaters…..

  7. I am very disappointed in President Obama, he is not the dynamic leader I had hoped for. Given the other options of McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan my voting decision was almost made for me.

  8. Exactly. I still love how McCain was taking campaign funds from a prominent Georgia figure, and was quick to want to put American troops in front of Russian tanks during that whole debacle. If I remember correctly, we worked really hard to avoid that scenario from ’45 to ’90 or so. I’m sorry, that seems to me to require at least a sobriety test. ?? Sure he wants to do the same in Ukraine.

  9. Yes Obama picks his ambassadors with more reason, (they donate to him) then he does the people he kills! Here’s more of anon posted link info: “The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

    According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.”

    Good thing I didn’t vote for McCain or Romney. It’s much better that Obama is murdering and torturing and starving people than one of those two candidates. WOW, that would have been a REAL disaster, but thank god, Obama is the killer in chief!

  10. Chicago politics brought to DC. Imagine Mayor Daley being prez back in the 60’s. It would have been a goldmine for Royko.

  11. Drone Attack Controversy: Obama Administration Wrestling With Whether To Target U.S. Terror Suspect

    Posted: 02/10/2014 5:39 am EST



    WASHINGTON (AP) — An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.

    The CIA drones watching him cannot strike because he’s a U.S. citizen and the Justice Department must build a case against him, a task it hasn’t completed.

    Four U.S. officials said the American suspected terrorist is in a country that refuses U.S. military action on its soil and that has proved unable to go after him. And President Barack Obama’s new policy says American suspected terrorists overseas can only be killed by the military, not the CIA, creating a policy conundrum for the White House.

    Two of the officials described the man as an al-Qaida facilitator who has been directly responsible for deadly attacks against U.S. citizens overseas and who continues to plan attacks against them that would use improvised explosive devices.

    But one U.S. official said the Defense Department was divided over whether the man is dangerous enough to merit the potential domestic fallout of killing an American without charging him with a crime or trying him, and the potential international fallout of such an operation in a country that has been resistant to U.S. action.

    Another of the U.S. officials said the Pentagon did ultimately decide to recommend lethal action.

    U.S. drones have killed four Americans since 2009, including al-Awlaki, who the administration said was actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens.

    Attorney General Eric Holder said the three other Americans were killed by drones, but were not targeted. The three are Samir Khan, who was killed in the same drone strike as al-Awlaki; al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, a native of Denver who was killed in Yemen two weeks later; and Jude Kenan Mohammed, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

  12. You can be hiking through the wilds of wherever, and be sure to find a German or an Australian. But Americans? With less vacation time than almost any other advanced economy, and a tax code that makes it difficult to work overseas, most Americans only get to see the world from behind a gun, or a camera as they zoom through the sights in a few days. Add to this the insanity of US immigration laws, and the “foreigners” most Americans meet are poor Hispanics laborers. Needless to say, this does not lead to any sort of balanced understanding of foreign cultures and perspectives.

    For the sole superpower, this sort of ignorance is not only a weakness, it is dangerous.

  13. “You know, the teams from the NSA that are involved with this program are called geo cell, geolocation cells, and their motto is: “We track ’em, you whack ’em,” meaning that the NSA will find these individuals, and then the military or the CIA will actually conduct or carry out these hits.” -Jeremy Scahill

    “Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas”

    http://www.democracynow.org/2014/2/10/death_by_metadata_jeremy_scahill_glenn (with transcript)

  14. Released after the AP report by Kimberly Dozier:

    “U.S. Considering Targeted Killing of American”

    February 10, 2014

    CONTACT: media@aclu.org

    NEW YORK – The U.S. government is considering whether to kill an American abroad suspected of planning terrorist attacks, according to an article published today by The Associated Press. A separate story by The Intercept reported that the U.S. government is using primarily NSA surveillance to target people for drone strikes overseas.

    Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project, had this reaction:

    “The government’s killing program has gone far beyond what the law permits, and it is based on secret evidence and legal interpretations. The targeted killing of an American being considered right now shows the inherent danger of a killing program based on vague and shifting legal standards, which has made it disturbingly easy for the government to operate outside the law. The fact that the government is relying so heavily on limited and apparently unreliable intelligence only heightens our concerns about a disastrous program in which people have been wrongly killed and injured. Today’s revelations come as the administration continues to fight against even basic transparency about the thousands of people who have died in this lethal program, let alone accountability for the wrongful killings of U.S. citizens.”

    More information on targeted killing is at:

  15. “But I do think it’s chilling that we live in an era where a man who won the Nobel Peace Prize and is a constitutional lawyer by training is streamlining and creating a mechanism for making assassination, including of U.S. citizens, a normal part of our—what’s called our national security policy.” -Jeremy Scahill

    “Report: Obama Administration Considers Assassinating Another American Overseas”



    AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Our guests, for their first exclusive interview upon the launch of TheIntercept.org at First Look Media, is Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald. They have just written the piece, “The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program,” which they have been researching for months. TheIntercept.org, a new digital magazine launched today by First Look Media.

    I wanted to first get a comment from Glenn Greenwald on a piece that has just come out from Associated Press, “US Suspect Possibly Targeted for Drone Attack.” It’s by Kimberly Dozier, AP intelligence writer. Just the first paragraph says, “An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year.” Your comment?

    GLENN GREENWALD: I haven’t seen the article yet, but that first paragraph should be shocking to every American, and yet at this point I think we’re probably all kind of accustomed to it, despite how radical it is, because of how long-standing it has been accepted. The very idea that the U.S. government suspects an American citizen, not of having already engaged in crimes, but of planning to do so, as Jeremy said, it’s like a pre-crime framework, where the U.S. government tries to guess at who will engage in crimes in the future and then treat them as a criminal—but then, not just treat them as a criminal, but declare them guilty in secret proceedings, not involving any court, but by the decree of the president of the United States to literally, A, declare the person guilty, B, impose the death penalty, and then, C, go out and carry out the execution—just like they did with Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan. And now they are obviously viewing it as a regular practice. I mean, no American, no matter your political affiliation or ideology, should accept the idea that the president of the United States has the power to order American citizens killed, not on a battlefield or anywhere else that is in a war zone, but simply on the suspicion that they intend to engage in future criminal behavior. To describe that power is to describe the most extremist and out-of-control government you can get.

  16. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past 10 years or so is that our government will just simply re-define something to make an action legal. Laws don’t seem to mean much anymore, unless it is for the ‘little people.’ The Patriot Act and the War on Terror are used to circumvent our written constitution and Bill of Rights. So it really doesn’t matter if some drone strikes have been outside the law—if Obama wants someone killed then that person will be killed. The method of killing and citizenship of the soon to be deceased is irrelevant. Lie, obfuscate, re-define something and presto: problem solved.

  17. There are many, many, many more big stories left to report. –Glenn Greenwald

    And so, what you’re really seeing is the Obama administration has been worse on press freedoms than any president since President Nixon, as James Goodale, the former New York Times general counsel, has said, and is actually approaching Nixon and getting worse, he said. –Glenn Greenwald

    “Defying Threats to Journalism, Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Launch New Venture, The Intercept”



    JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. You know, what we’ve seen also in—over the past month is a very serious escalation in the threats coming from the Obama administration and coming from Capitol Hill against journalists. There is this attempt on the part of the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to imply that the journalists who are reporting on the Snowden documents are accomplices to a crime. My understanding, from a confidential source in the intelligence community, is that Clapper, two weeks before he publicly used that term of accomplice, that he also said that in a top-secret classified briefing within the intelligence community, sort of floating it. You know, Mike Rogers also has just been on a rampage against journalists, also against Snowden, making totally unfounded allegations about Snowden being somehow a Russian agent or cooperating with Russian agents. And so, the timing of this site and why we felt it was so urgent to start reporting on these stories right now is to push back against this climate of fear and to say that we, as independent journalists, are not going to back down in the face of government threats, that in fact this is when it is most important to stand up for a truly free and independent press, is when those in power start to try to, you know, push their fists down upon you.

    GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, Mike Rogers is a liar. He is outright lying when he says that I or any other journalist working on this case have sold documents or fenced documents. The one thing that’s missing from his accusations is any evidence, because none exists. And I defy him to present any. But that’s what Mike Rogers does. It’s who he is. He just lies and smears people, with no evidence.

    But I think the more important point than the fact that Mike Rogers is a pathological liar is the fact that this is part of a broader campaign on the part of the Obama administration, as Jeremy said, to try and either threaten journalists that they will be criminalized or outright criminalize them by prosecuting us for the journalism that we’re doing. It comes in the context of this coordinated campaign to call us accomplices by President Obama’s top national security official. Keith Alexander, two months ago in a speech, raised this idea of selling documents. When we did our first report in Canada with the CBC, the right-wing Harper government attacked us as having sold documents to the CBC. And so, what you’re really seeing is the Obama administration has been worse on press freedoms than any president since President Nixon, as James Goodale, the former New York Times general counsel, has said, and is actually approaching Nixon and getting worse, he said.

    And I think this most recent escalation is showing that they’re not content to just go after the newsgathering process and also their source—our sources, but also to start threatening us with criminality, with prosecution. And if they think it’s going to deter us in any way, they’re sorely mistaken. But it is a very serious thing when the top level of the U.S. government starts accusing you of criminality for the journalism that you’re engaged in.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. You know, President Obama is sort of—he’s become the drone president.

    AMY GOODMAN: We have 20 seconds.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: And he told his aides at one point that he had become remarkably effective at killing people, and said, you know, he didn’t—he didn’t see that one coming. Well, it’s true. He has become good at killing people. It’s just, who are the people that they’re actually killing?

    AMY GOODMAN: The exact quote, President Obama quoted by _The Huffington Post, saying, “Turns out I’m really good at killing people.” The president added, “Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” …

  18. anonymously posted

    “You know, the teams from the NSA that are involved with this program are called geo cell, geolocation cells, and their motto is: “We track ’em, you whack ’em,” meaning that the NSA will find these individuals, and then the military or the CIA will actually conduct or carry out these hits.” -Jeremy Scahill

    Some wonder why drones are being located and operated in the U.S.

    Others know why (A Tale of Coup Cities – 8).

    It is better to know than to whyne.

  19. “A Silent Coup”: Jeremy Scahill & Bob Herbert on Corporate, Military Interests Shaping Obama’s SOTU


    JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, you know, what Obama was doing there—in his last major address that he gave, he—at the United Nations General Assembly, he laid out this sort of forceful defense of American empire, and even went so far as to say that the U.S. will use its military might to continue to secure energy resources. In this speech, it was a pretty forceful defense of a neoliberal economic agenda. And, you know, what Bob is saying about corporations resonates on a foreign policy level, as well.

    What is widely being considered to be the most moving part of last night was when this U.S. Army Ranger was addressed in the crowd and who was severely wounded and had done 10 tours. Think about that for a moment—10 tours in these war zones. You know, this young American spent his entire adult life in these combat zones. And, you know, the issue of how veterans are treated in this country is one thing, but at the end of the day, did he benefit from these wars? Does the average American benefit from the continuation of these wars? No. Who benefits? That’s the most important question we all have to ask. It’s corporations.

    BOB HERBERT: Exactly.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: War corporations, the Halliburtons of the world, the Boeings. John Kerry, yesterday it was announced, is giving these awards for corporate excellence around the world. He’s giving them to Citibank, to Apache, to Boeing, to Coca-Cola. And so you have this neoliberal economic agenda, which is sort of the hidden hand, in many ways, of the U.S. empire, and then you have this iron fist of U.S. militarism that is being sold to the American public, and increasingly to the world, as national security policy.

    And so, you know, when I see that Army Ranger who’s wounded like that, the first thing that just occurs to me is: Who has benefited from all of this? When corporations control our political process in this country through a legalized form of corruption that’s called campaign finance, what does that say about the state of our democracy? In a way, there already has been a coup in this country, but it’s been a silent coup. And it reminds me of that famous line from the great movie The Usual Suspects. At the end of it, Kevin Spacey’s character says the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. In many ways, a coup has happened, and the brilliance of it is that it’s not sparking major uprisings because we’ve been pacified and taught to just accept this as how things work. We have two parties in this country, the minimum wage is going to be the minimum wage, and corporations are in control, and these wars are fought in our name, but without our consent.

    BOB HERBERT: And the flipside of who benefits is the suffering that is so tremendous out there among the warriors who have been sent over to fight these wars since late 2001. And so, you just have hundreds of thousands of people who have—men and women, who have come back from the combat zones, who have terrible, disabling injuries, who are going to have to be cared for—we have an obligation to care for them—in many cases, for the rest of their lives. We have to pay, as a society, to care for these folks. You know, it’s probably—Joe Stiglitz has estimated that now these wars are probably going cost cumulatively $4 trillion or more. None of this has been really explored clearly or properly explained to the American public.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, just a small sort of side point on this, you know, when we talk about the U.S. withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, the conventional military, a story that very seldom gets attention is the connection between a paramilitarization of law enforcement inside of the United States and increasing use of what they call counterterrorism tactics on SWAT-style operations in the U.S. The military is donating a lot of its equipment to local police agencies and other so-called law enforcement agencies, and the communities that are most at risk here are communities of color and poor communities. Everything is about war—the war on drugs, the war on crime.

    BOB HERBERT: Right.

    JEREMY SCAHILL: And war requires some kind of a militarized response. And that’s what we’re seeing. This is deeply connected to the wars abroad, the wars at home, as well.

    BOB HERBERT: And this is actually going into our public schools, where you have that type of militarized behavior going on actually in public schools. That’s how you get the school-to-prison pipeline that people are talking about.

  20. How does it become a man to behave towards the American government today? I answer, that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. ~ Henry David Thoreau

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  21. As the professor says, this does not seem cause for concern among supporters. There are no comments here from weekend regulars. On vacation?

  22. I took a break from the blogs for a while as I had important things in my life that took up all my free time. Reading the comment thread here all I can do is shake my head at the level of racism and ignorance displayed. This used to be an island of sanity & decency but thats gone. What a waste.

    Please do not pretend to be shocked that Presidents use ambassadorships as rewards, it has been done since the very first appointment. Is it disappointing? Yes. Is it a new low in depravity? Hardly. Does it make me sorry I voted for the “neg-ra” as one really lovely human above labeled him? Not even close. We would have gotten the same sort of shit from Grandpa Walnuts or Willard and a whole lot worse.

  23. “Please do not pretend to be shocked that Presidents use ambassadorships as rewards, it has been done since the very first appointment. Is it disappointing? Yes. Is it a new low in depravity? Hardly.”

    Frankly, you are correct, it is not a new low in depravity. However, given the selling point of President Obama’s presidential campaign–Hope and Change–people feel betrayed. He presented himself as one who would not descend into the “business as usual” baloney of prior presidents. He presented himself as a man of character, one who stood on principle, and one who would clean up the excesses of Washington and set the example of a decent president.

    He sure hasn’t done any of it, demonstrating instead a preference to wallow with the rest of them. Perhaps some are shocked that he’s selling ambassadorships, but they’re only shocked because they still want to believe his campaign promises of a better presidency.

    I don’t find his behavior shocking. I’m just aggravated that no one in authority is calling him on it (he certainly doesn’t listen to us “little people”) or even trying to rein him in.

  24. You don’t have to be shocked that POTUS uses ambassadorships as rewards. It doesnt make it right, or good for the country.

    From the political perspective, this is particularly bad for Obama. Nominating a bunch of ill-qualified bundlers merely furthers the GOP narrative that loss of the filibuster is a disaster for democracy. If I was Harry Reid, I’d be pissed.

  25. I have always respected you, Mr. Turley, But I want you to know that your appearance on the insipid Megyn Kelly’s program on FOX “news” made me wretch in incredulity. Do you need money Mr. Turley? Do you need a FOX gig criticizing President Obama daily along with the other racist punditry at that sham of a network that work constantly to see harm come to him. Yes, I mean physical harm. Do you realize what you have participated in? Why would you go on this silly woman’s program and complain about the President abusing power WHEN YOU ARE FULLY AWARE THAT THE RACIST REPUBLICAN CONGRESS HAS REFUSED TO WORK WITH HIM since the very first day he took office. How do you think history will deal with a congress that refused to work with the country’s first BLACK president, Mr. Turley? How dare you lend them and the uneducated and uninformed that support them credibility? Are you now homophobic, woman hating, and gun worshiping, as well? You make my skin crawl. I have a little power Mr. Turley. I will be using it to malign you to every single person I can get to listen. You KNOW that you should be ashamed of yourself.

  26. I find it ironic that this is an issue TODAY – as this is after all TRADITION! Shirley Temple Black was accorded an Ambassador position – is there a new rule that says running for office is a justification? So for all the whining and teeth knashing – one has to ask – can these folks bring something else to the table that is not overt political and be a bit of fresh air?

  27. Ms. Reeves,
    Why wouldn’t Mr. Turley “go on this silly woman’s program and complain about the President abusing power” when the President has abused power? Isn’t that a problem? Shouldn’t he stop abusing power? Maybe if enough people get upset that he’s abusing power that abuse can be stopped. Isn’t that a good thing?

    “I beg you, do not be unchangeable:
    Do not believe that you alone can be right.
    The man who thinks that,
    The man who maintains that only he has the power
    To reason correctly, the gift to speak, the soul—
    A man like that, when you know him, turns out empty.”

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