On Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued an order banning the use of Times New Roman font in all State Department communications.
Why is Times New Roman, which was created in 1932, suddenly so problematic? If you guessed it was because the Biden administration determined the font was racist, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. Given recent developments, it seemed inevitable that someone would declare that all serif fonts are tools of white supremacy.
TimesBut, believe it or not, for once, the decision actually had to do with something entirely different.
The State Department is ditching Times New Roman out of a desire to be more “inclusive” to “employees who are visually impaired or have other difficulties reading,” according to the Washington Post. The paper received a copy of the department-wide memo, which was cringingly titled “The Times (New Roman) are a-Changin.”
The State Department’s domestic and overseas offices have until Feb. 6 to transition from Times New Roman to the sans serif font, Calibri — which is now the new standard font for the department’s communications.
“Blinken’s cable said the shift to Calibri will make it easier for people with disabilities who use certain assistive technologies, such as screen readers, to read department communication,” explains the Washington Post. “The change was recommended by the secretary’s office of diversity and inclusion, but the decision has already ruffled feathers among aesthetic-conscious employees who have been typing in Times New Roman for years in cables and memos from far-flung embassies and consulates around the world.”
The career political operatives who reign within the State Department openly view themselves as a distinctly separate state governing authority, with no attachment to the policies or objectives of the United States presidency or any mere elected official therein.
For years this group has considered themselves â€œthe untouchablesâ€.
They live a life of high financed indulgence including: massive expense accounts, chartered airline travel, swanky cocktail parties, expense chauffeurs to take their kids to private school, seasonally designed home decor â€“ appointed by only the very best interior designers, personal security to keep the commoners away, tickets to the best venues and reserved seating at elite DC restaurants.
With first rights to the budget expenditures, the 7th floor group finds no indulgence too extravagant for their intellectual elitism. They demand nothing but the finest because they are the most worthy of the DC professionally privileged â€“ who are more equal than others; and after all, their jobs require them to host and visit like-minded diplomats, and celebrities with exclusive tastes from around the world.
Today, this elite crew collectively choked on their crust-less triangle sandwiches:
WASHINGTON DC â€“ [â€¦] Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.
[â€¦] Two sources also told CBS News that Ambassador Kristie Kenney, the Counselor of the State Department and one of the last remaining senior officials, was informed that she will be let go. She is a career foreign service officer who had served as an ambassador under Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton. Her staff was told that Secretary Tillerson does not intend to fill the counselorâ€™s position anytime soon.
[â€¦] â€œIt is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You canâ€™t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,â€ explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secretary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month.
Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.
Thomas Lifson argues that Trump intends to drain the swamp of bed-wetting, GOP-policy-obstructing liberals at Fogg Bottom, and has concluded (for some unknown reason) that Mitt Romney is the man for the job.
Donald Trump has a plan that eludes his critics, who canâ€™t help thinking about politics the way it has always been played and still do not grasp his thinking nor the range of new tools he brings to the presidency.
The Department of State is badly broken and desperately needs to be fixed. State requires fundamental restructuring as well as the departure of many entrenched figures whose goals and beliefs are antagonistic to realistic confrontation with Islamic jihad and the generations-long efforts of Muslim states to “wipe Israel off the map.” The State Department is full of people called “Arabists,” who instinctively blame Israel when it is attacked and defends itself and who presume that the U.S. should attend to the prejudices of hundreds of millions of Arab Muslims because they are so populous, and because they have oil and have funded an amazing number of sinecures for retired bureaucrats with generous compensation and few demands (other than reflexive support whenever an issue arises).
This is just a start on enumerating the problems, for the Middle East is not the only problem ahead, merely the oldest. There are serious issues with Russia, China, North Korea, and Venezuela, among major problems for U.S. diplomacy.
I think a lot of people are busy projecting their favorite personal fantasies on the blank page that is Donald Trump.
I’m skeptical myself that Trump has been secretly a hard-core Republican hawk all these years, kicking his gold-plated furniture every time he has to listen to the like of Colin Powell.
I would guess that Donald Trump is familiar with the way Mitt Romney straightened out the Winter Olympics mess and perceives Romney as highly competent manager and negotiator. Trump’s primary policy interests are probably new trade deals favoring US interests and a grand renegotiation of the NATO Alliance which extracts larger financial contributions from America’s strategic partners.
It is easy enough to see why Trump would like Mitt Romney’s combination personal distinction, professional competence, and geniality working on his behalf out of State.
Beyond Mitt Romney’s particularly desirable combination of personal characteristics and skill set, getting his strongest GOP Establishment critic to accept his leadership and come on board would go a long way toward reuniting the entire Republican Party behind Donald Trump, and would be a strong public demonstration of The Donald’s own skills at negotiation and persuasion.
The Wall Street Journal summarizes what information it is possible to gleen as the result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits, and what we already know shows just how much trouble Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is facing.
Congressional investigators can subpoena documents, but even if after long delays they get them, the investigators must trust that the agency handed over everything. The agency usually doesnâ€™t. Under FOIA, by contrast, the agency is required by law to provide plaintiffs with a complete inventory and broad description of every document it has that pertains to the requestâ€”but is withholding. This is known as a Vaughn index. The State Department on Monday handed over its Vaughn index to Citizens United and, boy, are these email descriptions revealing.
We find that the State Department hasâ€”but is not releasingâ€”an email chain between then-Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills and a Clinton Foundation board member about the secretary of stateâ€™s planned trip to Africa. We find that the State Department hasâ€”but is not releasingâ€”emails between Ms. Mills and foundation staff discussing â€œinvitations to foreign business executives to attend the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.â€ We find many undisclosed email chains in which State Department officials talk with Clinton Foundation officials about Bill Clinton speeches and Bill Clinton travel, including to events in North Korea and Congo.
Huma Abedin, a longtime confidante of Mrs. Clintonâ€™s, was somehow allowed to work, simultaneously, at the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and as a consultant to Teneoâ€”a consulting firm run by Clinton loyalist Doug Band. All three of Ms. Abedinâ€™s hats come into play in an undisclosed email exchange regarding a 2012 dinner in Ireland. As the Washington Examiner reported in May, Mrs. Clinton received an award at the dinner from a Clinton Foundation donor. The ceremony was promoted by Teneo. Mrs. Clinton attended in her official capacity as secretary of state. Sort through that.
We already know that the Clinton Foundation continued to take foreign money even while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. We now know this was only the start of the entwining. These email summaries show that the Clinton Foundation was the State Department and the State Department was the Clinton Foundation. All one, big, seamless, Clinton-promoting entity. We would know far more if State released the full emails. It is citing personal privacy as one reason not to make some public. In others, it claims the emails â€œshed no light on the conduct of U.S. Government business.â€
Separately, we learn that the State Department is withholding from Citizens United and congressional investigators 14 separate exchanges between department employees regarding Benghazi. Most of these involve discussions of the State Departmentâ€™s statement about the attack, or its responses to congressional inquiries about the attack. In short, those documents go directly to the focus of Congressâ€™s probe: whether the administration covered up what it knew about the attack or the risks to the four American diplomats who were killed. The State Department is claiming attorney-client privilege for its withholding, since most of the exchanges involve Ms. Millsâ€”who we now find also served as an attorney at the department. The Clintons think of everything.
All told, there are at least 35 FOIA lawsuits pending for Clinton-related email. Nearly everything important weâ€™ve learned has come from those suits. They are why the State Department is releasing emails; why we know they contained classified information; why we know Mrs. Clintonâ€™s aides also used unsanctioned email accounts; why we know that the State Department is covering for Mrs. Clinton.
In a last desperate attempt to save Barack Obama’s hopes of re-election, Hillary Clinton took a leaf from Charles Dickens’ Sydney Carton, and did the “far, far better thing,” taking responsibility for the failure to provide security for the consulate in Benghazi and for the long series of misstatements, fabrications, and falsehoods describing the carefully-planned terrorist attack calculatedly timed to occur on 9/11 as a spontaneous mob outburst provoked by an obscure video.
Hillary Clinton, of course, does not fully resemble Sydney Carton. She is not going to the guillotine. She is only “accepting responsibility,” which in the manner of liberal democrats amounts only to issuing a statement tacitly eating crow on a single occasion. It does not mean resigning from office, ending one’s political career, or otherwise actually being subject to any real penalty or punishment.
One rather thinks that the reverse is probably the case. Hillary’s sacrifice must be part of a private arrangement made between Barack Obama and the Clintons. Barack Obama must have entered into some bargain promising Hillary some highly valuable future compensation, something along the lines of his complete support in the quest for the democrat nomination in 2016 combined with the delivery of his donors (Soros in particular) in return for Hillary assuming the role of scapegoat and going through the charade of throwing herself under the bus.
We have had the public ceremony of accepting responsibility and shame, but the question remains: Will this modest sacrifice of Hillary’s amour propre suffice to satisfy the curiosity of the media and the voting public’s wrath? It seems unlikely to me. Republicans in Congress are still demanding more specific and concrete explanations of why Ambassador Stevens’ requests for more security were denied and are still going to want to know who exactly decided to fabricate the false narrative given by UN Ambassador Rice and others. The spotlight will fall on Barack Obama directly at tonight’s Town Hall Debate, and it seems unlikely that even Hillary Clinton’s noble sacrifice will succeed in sheltering the president from pointed questions.
Barack Obama is not a truthful man. He was not truthful in his campaign promises. He is not truthful in the way he consistently belittles and makes strawmen of political opponents. He is not even truthful about his own life story. In 2008, Barack Obama was able to take advantage of very powerful, deeply reflexive cultural impulses which promoted him instantly to the highest ranks of media godhood and which surrounded him with a protective cloak of adoration which totally precluded any serious critical scrutiny. Bill Ayers? “Just a guy I ran into a few times.” Revered Wright goddamning America? “Gosh, I never heard that particular sermon.” Things are different four years later. There is blood in the water right now. We are twenty-odd days from a presidential election. Hillary Clinton’s little gesture of loyalty is not going to make the Benghazi debacle and the investigation of the coverup go away.
The Pentagon is demanding that Wikileaks cease publishing and return immediately stolen US documents in its possession, hinting darkly at legal prosecution if the Internet news site does not comply. (Christian Science Monitor)
Of course, it is always possible that Julian Assange and his merry band of pranksters may be less than intimidated by an adversary so clueless that its first response to the theft and publication of Top Secret military documents is to issue a directive prohibiting its own personnel from gazing at the offending web site.
This is the “Close the barn door from the inside when the horse got out” approach to security breaches. [Wired]
Besides, Wikileaks has uploaded a password-protected file labeled “Insurance,” and believed to contain a massive collection of highly toxic State Department material, consisting of, according to a chat interview published by Wired:
260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing â€œalmost criminal political back dealings.â€
â€œHillary Clinton, and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,â€ Manning wrote.
Wikileaks has arranged, in the event that the US Government succeeds in shutting down its web site, to have the password released via Cryptome.
6 August 2010. If there is a takedown of Wikileaks, the insurance.aes256 file will be available through Cryptome along with the entire files of the Wikileaks website which have been archived.
Even without Julian Assange’s blackmail threat, Some News Agency sees problems trying to stop Wikileaks legally.
[F]rom a legal standpoint, there is probably little the U.S. government can do to stop WikiLeaks from posting the files.
It is against federal law to knowingly and willfully disclose or transmit classified information. But Assange, an Australian who has no permanent address and travels frequently, is not a U.S. citizen.
Since Assange is a foreign citizen living in a foreign country, it’s not clear that U.S. law would apply, said Marc Zwillinger, a Washington lawyer and former federal cyber crimes prosecutor. He said prosecutors would have to figure out what crime to charge Assange with, and then face the daunting task of trying to indict him or persuade other authorities to extradite him.
It would be equally difficult, Zwillinger said, to effectively use an injunction to prevent access to the data.
“Could the U.S. get an injunction to force U.S. Internet providers to block traffic to and from WikiLeaks such that people couldn’t access the website?” Zwillinger said. “It’s an irrelevant question. There would be thousands of paths to get to it. So it wouldn’t really stop people from getting to the site. They would be pushing the legal envelope without any real benefit.”
And the technical approach is problematic, too.
WikiLeaks used state-of-the-art software requiring a sophisticated electronic sequence of numbers, called a 256-bit key [to protect its “Insurance” files].
The main way to break such an encrypted file is by what’s called a “brute force attack,” which means trying every possible key, or password, said Herbert Lin, a senior computer science and cryptology expert at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences.
Unlike a regular six- or eight-character password that most people use every day, a 256-bit key would equal a 40 to 50 character password, he said.
If it takes 0.1 nanosecond to test one possible key and you had 100 billion computers to test the possible number variations, “it would take this massive array of computers 10 to the 56th power seconds â€” the number 1, followed by 56 zeros” to plow through all the possibilities, said Lin.
How long is that?
“The age of the universe is 10 to the 17th power seconds,” explained Lin. “We will wait a long time for the U.S. government or anyone else to decrypt that file by brute force.”
Could the NSA, which is known for its supercomputing and massive electronic eavesdropping abilities abroad, crack such an impregnable code?
It depends on how much time and effort they want to put into it, said James Bamford, who has written two books on the NSA.
The NSA has the largest collection of supercomputers in the world. And officials have known for some time that WikiLeaks has classified files in its possession.
The agency, he speculated, has probably been looking for a vulnerability or gap in the code, or a backdoor into the commercial encryption program protecting the file.
At the more extreme end, the NSA, the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies â€” including the newly created Cyber Command â€” have probably reviewed options for using a cyber attack against the website, which could disrupt networks, files, electricity, and so on.
“This is the kind of thing that they are geared for,” said Bamford, “since this is the type of thing a terrorist organization might have â€” a website that has damaging information on it. They would want to break into it, see what’s there and then try to destroy it.”
The vast nature of the Internet, however, makes it essentially impossible to stop something, or take it down, once it has gone out over multiple servers.
In the end, U.S. officials will have to weigh whether a more aggressive response is worth the public outrage it would likely bring. Most experts predict that, despite the uproar, the government will probably do little other than bluster, and the documents will come out anyway.
Mikael Viborg, owner of PRQ hosting company at its server location
Were the Department of Defense, the NSA, or the FBI actually inclined to do anything about Wikileaks, NYM would be glad to help.
Their web site, we find, is hosted by PRQ in Stockholm, Sweden. That hosting company’s abuse reporting email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Be aware, however, that PRQ is associated with the notorious Swedish Bit Torrent file sharing hub The Pirate Bay.
Hotline OnCall admires a very nice thank you gift recently delivered for services rendered during last year’s primary campaign for the democrat party presidential nomination.
It’s not often that a plum ambassadorship goes to someone who isn’t a career foreign service officer or a big bucks campaign contributor, but Pres. Obama has nominated Anne Slaughter Andrew to be the ambassador to the Republic of Costa Rica.
The prospective diplomat is an Indiana Univ. trained atty who currently is Principal of New Energy Nexus, LLC, and, according to the WH release on her nomination, “advises companies and entrepreneurs on investments and strategies to capitalize on the New Energy Economy.”
But Andrew is also wife of ex-IN Dem chair Joe Andrew, who was tapped by Bill Clinton to be DNC from ’99 to ’01 who also was a big backer of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton in her ’08 bid — until five days before the must-win IN Dem primary last year, when Andrew with great fan-fare threw Clinton under the bus, endorsed Obama, urged all his fellow Hoosiers to vote for Obama and called up party leaders and fellow superdelegates (Andrew had that status to the Dem convo because he was an ex-DNC chair) to basically shut the nominating contest down after the IN primary and get behind Obama.
In a public letter that at times was melodramatic and angst-ridden, Andrew wrote: “Why call for superdelegates to come together now to constructively pick a president? The simple answer is that while the timing is hard for me personally, it is best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late.”
Well, the contest did run until June and Obama still somehow made it to the WH. But for Joe, this was a selfless act: “My endorsement of Senator Obama will not be welcome news to my friends and family at the Clinton campaign… If the campaign’s surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton’s cabinet, a ‘Judas’ for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me.”
Geee, somehow he managed to survive and somehow the current Sec/State must have an amazing amount of equanimity and grace not to have choked on this administration nomination.
Meghan Clyne, in the New York Post, sees the appointment of ultraleftist Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh to the top legal position in the State Department as a step toward putting Koh on the Supreme Court.
Judges should interpret the Constitution according to other nations’ legal “norms.” Sharia law could apply to disputes in US courts. The United States constitutes an “axis of disobedience” along with North Korea and Saddam-era Iraq.
Those are the views of the man on track to become one of the US government’s top lawyers: Harold Koh.
President Obama has nominated Koh — until last week the dean of Yale Law School — to be the State Department’s legal adviser. In that job, Koh would forge a wide range of international agreements on issues from trade to arms control, and help represent our country in such places as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.
It’s a job where you want a strong defender of America’s sovereignty. But that’s not Koh. He’s a fan of “transnational legal process,” arguing that the distinctions between US and international law should vanish. …
Koh has called America’s focus on the War on Terror “obsessive.” In 2004, he listed countries that flagrantly disregard international law — “most prominently, North Korea, Iraq, and our own country, the United States of America,” which he branded “the axis of disobedience.”
He has also accused President George Bush of abusing international law to justify the invasion of Iraq, comparing his “advocacy of unfettered presidential power” to President Richard Nixon’s. And that was the first Bush — Koh was attacking the 1991 operation to liberate Kuwait, four days after fighting began in Operation Desert Storm.
Koh has also praised the Nicaraguan Sandinistas’ use in the 1980s of the International Court of Justice to get Congress to stop funding the Contras. Imagine such international lawyering by rogue nations like Iran, Syria, North Korea and Venezuela today, and you can see the danger in Koh’s theories.
Koh, a self-described “activist,” would plainly promote his views aggressively once at State. He’s not likely to feel limited by the letter of the law — in 1994, he told The New Republic: “I’d rather have [former Supreme Court Justice Harry] Blackmun, who uses the wrong reasoning in Roe [v. Wade] to get the right results, and let other people figure out the right reasoning.”
Worse, the State job might be a launching pad for a Supreme Court nomination. (He’s on many liberals’ short lists for the high court.) Since this job requires Senate confirmation, it’s certainly a useful trial run.
In the National Interest, Richard Perle describes the fatal disconnect between George W. Bush’s professed policies and the entrenched State Department and National Security bureaucracies’ failure to implement them. Not only were Bush’s policies not faithfully pursued, in many cases, they were openly attacked and covertly undermined by leaks and disinformation operations.
Perle additionally debunks the left’s favorite bogey: the sinister imperialist “neocon” conpiracy. In recent years, neocon came to be used as a leftwing pejorative for someone supposedly guilty of responsibility for a new, more virulent and objectionable form of conservatism, inclined to unilateral militarism overseas and supportive of hypersecurity measures at homes. The left entirely managed to forget that a neocon is really a (typically Jewish intellectual) former liberal who has been “mugged by reality” and become a foreign policy and law enforcement hawk in response to the excesses of the radical left post the late 1960s. Dick Cheney, who has always been a conservative, for instance, cannot possibly be classified as a neocon.
For eight years George W. Bush pulled the levers of governmentâ€”sometimes franticallyâ€”never realizing that they were disconnected from the machinery and the exertion was largely futile. As a result, the foreign and security policies declared by the president in speeches, in public and private meetings, in backgrounders and memoranda often had little or no effect on the activities of the sprawling bureaucracies charged with carrying out the presidentâ€™s policies. They didnâ€™t need his directives: they had their own. …
The responsibility for an ill-advised occupation and an inadequate regional strategy ultimately lies with President Bush himself. He failed to oversee the post-Saddam strategy, intervening only sporadically when things had deteriorated to the point where confidence in cabinet-level management could no longer be sustained. He did finally assert presidential authority when he rejected the defeatist advice of the Baker-Hamilton commission and Condi Riceâ€™s State Department, ordering instead the â€œsurge,â€ a decision that he surely hopes will eclipse the dismal period from 2004 to January 2007. But that is but one victory for the White House among many failures at Langley, at the Pentagon and in Foggy Bottom. …
Understanding Bushâ€™s foreign and defense policy requires clarity about its origins and the thinking behind the administrationâ€™s key decisions. That means rejecting the false claim that the decision to remove Saddam, and Bush policies generally, were made or significantly influenced by a few neoconservative â€œideologuesâ€ who are most often described as having hidden their agenda of imperial ambition or the imposition of democracy by force or the promotion of Israeli interests at the expense of American ones or the reshaping of the Middle East for oilâ€”or all of the above. Despite its seemingly endless repetition by politicians, academics, journalists and bloggers, that is not a serious argument. …
I believe that Bush went to war for the reasonsâ€”and only the reasonsâ€”he gave at the time: because he believed Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States that was far greater than the likely cost of removing him from power. …
[T]he salient issue was not whether Saddam had stockpiles of WMD but whether he could produce them and place them in the hands of terrorists. The administrationâ€™s appalling inability to explain that this is what it was thinking and doing allowed the unearthing of stockpiles to become the test of whether it had correctly assessed the risk that Saddam might provide WMD to terrorists. When none were found, the administration appeared to have failed the test even though considerable evidence of Saddamâ€™s capability to produce WMD was found in postwar inspections by the Iraq Survey Group chaired by Charles Duelfer.
I am not alone in having been asked, â€œIf you knew that Saddam did not have WMD, would you still have supported invading Iraq?â€ But what appears to some to be a â€œgotchaâ€ question actually misses the point. The decision to remove Saddam stands or falls on oneâ€™s judgment at the time the decision was made, and with the information then available, about how to manage the risk that he would facilitate a catastrophic attack on the United States. To say the decision to remove him was mistaken because stockpiles of WMD were never found is akin to saying that it was a mistake to buy fire insurance last year because your house didnâ€™t burn down or health insurance because you didnâ€™t become ill. …
I believe the cost of removing Saddam and achieving a stable future for Iraq has turned out to be very much higher than it should have been, and certainly higher than it was reasonable to expect.
But about the many mistakes made in Iraq, one thing is certain: they had nothing to do with ideology. They did not draw inspiration from or reflect neoconservative ideas and they were not the product of philosophical or ideological influences outside the government. …
If ever there were a security policy that lacked philosophical underpinnings, it was that of the Bush administration. Whenever the president attempted to lay out a philosophy, as in his argument for encouraging the freedom of expression and dissent that might advance democratic institutions abroad, it was throttled in its infancy by opponents within and outside the administration.
I believe Bush ultimately failed to grasp the demands of the American presidency. He saw himself (MBA that he was) as a chief executive whose job was to give broad direction that would then be automatically translated into specific policies and faithfully implemented by the departments of the executive branch. I doubt that such an approach could be made to work. But without a team that shared his ideas and a determination to see them realized, there was no chance he could succeed. His carefully drafted, often eloquent speeches, intended as marching orders, were seldom developed into concrete policies. And when his ideas ran counter to the conventional wisdom of the executive departments, as they often did, debilitating compromise was the result: the president spoke the words and the departments pronounced the policies.