Thursday, March 13, 2014

Working hard






Secretary of State John Kerry appeared this morning before the House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee.  US House Rep Kay Granger is the Subcommittee Chair and US House Rep Nita Lowey is the Ranking Member.  Kerry was the only witness as he begged for money -- tax payer money.

The theme of the hearing was: Let's All Pretend Iraq Doesn't Exist.

I was tipped off to that theme last night by a State Dept friend when I noted I was going to have to be in two places at once -- the veterans hearing and the State Dept budget hearing.  "Iraq," I was told, "frankly doesn't matter to him [John Kerry] and he'll only bring it up if asked."

Looking at the roster of the Subcommittee members, it was obvious that Israel would be at least the first hour.  So I attended 90 minutes of the veterans hearing (while asking a friend at Kerry's hearing to text me if Iraq came up).

It did.  Briefly in Kerry's opening remarks:

We have kept our funding request in line with what was appropriated to the Department and USAID in Fiscal Year 2014 within our base request of 40.3 billion. And the additional part of our request for OCO, Overseas Contingency Operations, totals 5.9 billion. And with OCO funding, we support programs, as you know, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as we continue to right-size those commitments.

That one sentence was it for his opening remarks.

If you don't get how John Kerry ran from Iraq, notice what he had to say about the Syrian refugee crisis (and I'm using his prepared remarks that were marked up by my friend to note the changes between prepared and delivery):

For the Syrian people, for Lebanon, Turkey, for Jordan, coping with how to keep their societies running and keep extremists at bay while they host millions now of refugees, our support is critical to that. We’re the largest donor in the world. And that helps us, because it is critical to us that Lebanon and Jordan remain stable.

How do you talk about Syrian refugees and not note Iraq?

The only real mention of Iraq was from US House Rep Frank Wolf who kept mentioning the Iraq Study Group (which accomplished nothing, a fact Wolf misses) because he wants a Syrian Study Group and, get this, he wants US President Barack Obama to ask  Bully Boy Bush to head that Syrian Study Group.

US House Rep Barbara Lee doesn't give a damn about war these days.  Judging by her tired and expanding face, all she cares about is eating.  She didn't even note Ukraine.  I walked in when Barbara Fake Ass Lee was testifying (speechifying?  It wasn't questions).  I did a double take.  I don't know if she's had plastic surgery or if she had just pulled her hair back to harshly but her eye brows were up at least a half inch more than usual and it really did look like a botched face lift. If so, I'm glad she found a hobby to fill her time now that she no longer uses it to call out war.  And I'm especially glad she looks butt ugly.  In time, you do get the face you deserve and it's sitting on her neck right now.

Prior to my arrival, the topics were (going by the texts my friend sent me and his notes) Israel, Israel, Israel, that soda boycott (which Lowey did not support), Israel, Egypt, Egypt, Israel, Ukraine, Iran, Cuba, Israel, North Korea, Venezuela -- with the exception of Israel and Egypt it was basically war requests from members of the Subcommittee -- Democrats and Republicans -- to go to war on these countries.  Into that mix, Babsie Lee offered nothing on peace, just scratched herself a lot as she babbled on about Uganda (and it's LGBT issues). After I arrived?  War on Argentina because they don't fulfill their debts and even more nonsense, if you can believe it.  It's amazing how this Subcommittee thinks the answer to everyone of the petty grudges is to put US boots on the ground.

The US government does nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people -- despite the fact that billions of US tax dollars flow to Iraq for that supposed purpose.

So what does the State Dept work on?

They're lackeys for corporations.  The State Dept works on debt collection -- a fact John Kerry felt was worth bragging about.

Secretary of State John Kerry:  With our urging, Argentina has taken some positive steps.  In October they settled a long running investment dispute with three US companies and implemented -- in January of this year -- implemented an improved inflation index in order to address inefficiencies in its IMF reporting and so forth.  But we continue to urge them to fulfill their global, international responsibilities.

US House Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants war on Venezuela and demonized their president right after Kerry said the Venezuelan government needed to stop demonizing people.  Debbie Washerwoman needs to learn to wash that ratty, oily hair.  It looks like the Exxon Valdez took a dump on her head.

Kerry pulled the little stunt he's so fond of doing since become Secretary of State -- a stunt he wouldn't have stood for as Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

See, Secretary John is an 80s power woman in a Nolan Miller dress with bulky shoulder pads.  Secretary John is not just an 80s power woman, John's an 80s super woman, rushing here, there and everywhere.  It's like a bad movie and he really needs an overweight sidekick (Baraba Lee, you're being paged!) to pull it off his whole: I'm so busy, I can't stay for the full hearing, I'm just too important and too busy to appear before Congress for a full hearing.  In other words,  John looks like a real bitch when he pulls this.

What John forgets?

If you pretend you have to leave, then you leave.  You don't insist that everyone be quick and that you'll reply in writing because you're in such a rush and then go on to yack  for 7 minutes straight because you didn't like a statement a member of the Subcommittee made.  He didn't like the doubts about Barack's foreign policy or Iran and felt the need to bore everyone with just how yawning inducing he can be ". . . we're helping Tunisia, we're working on Libya, I just came from a conference on Libya . . ."

Pretending, in that bitchy manner, that your time's too valuable for Congress is misguided unless you're looking to add "Bitch" to your professional title.  But what's even worse is pretending you have to go and then refusing to stop speaking.

It was during this marathon jaw boning that Kerry brought up Iraq for the second time.

Secretary John Kerry:  We have inspectors -- not as frequently as the other two but sufficiently - in Iraq in the plutonium reactor.  They are not able to complete the plutonium reactor.

Well thank goodness for that.  They're not able to complete the plutonium reactor.

Except . . .

"They" isn't Iraq.

He said "Iraq."

He meant Iran.

He didn't want to talk about Iraq and a useless Subcommittee didn't want to either.

Iraq's all over the State Dept's FY2015 budget.  Let's note some of it.  For the "Overseas Contingency Operations funding," the report notes:

In Iraq, OCO funding of $501.4 million supports operational requirements, movement security, equipment and associated Operation and Maintenance, physical and technical security, static guards, and security operations in Basrah and Erbil. The request is $4.4 million above the FY 2014 level and funded through Worldwide Security Protection, consistent with FY 2014 Congressional action.

That's a half billion right there on Iraq.  Right there.

But the useless members of the Subcommittee wanted you to instead know that they pledge alliegence to the government of Israel, that they want war on Venezuela's democratically-elected government and that the grudge-fu**ing of Cuba will never, ever end as long as they draw breath.

A half billion's a lot.  It's not all.  I told another State Dept friend I was going to review the budget and he couldn't stop laughing.  It's a fudged budget and it doesn't even add up on paper.

What?  I was confused.

He flipped to a table in the back which notes $250 million is the amount being requested for "Foreign Military Financing" for Iraq.

I was confused still.  He flipped several pages and pointed this section out to me:

The FY 2015 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request of $537 million is for Iraq and Pakistan.

Pakistan ($280 million): Given the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets throughout Pakistan, FMF is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders. The $280 million Pakistan request will enhance the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Air Force, and Navy’s ability to conduct counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism (CT) operations against militants throughout its borders, especially in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, improve Pakistan’s ability to deter threats emanating from those areas, and encourage continued U.S.-Pakistan military-to-military engagement. FMF will continue to focus on seven priority areas identified and agreed to with the Government of Pakistan, including precision strike; air mobility and combat search and rescue; counter-improvised explosive devise and battlefield survivability; battlefield communications; night operations; border security; and maritime security/counternarcotics in support of CT aims.

Iraq ($267 million): The $257 million requested for Iraq in FY 2015 broadly focuses on helping the Iraqis improve the capability and professionalism of their military and builds upon the efforts made since 2003 by the U.S. military, coalition forces, and Iraqi military operations and initiatives. Of the Iraq request, $7 million will fund administrative costs associated with the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, which also supports implementation of Iraq’s own significant and ongoing purchases through the Foreign Military Sales program. FMF will help ensure that a strong U.S.-Iraq relationship is in place as Iraq continues to rely on its own fiscal resources to contribute to peace and security in the region. The program will focus on the development of enduring logistics capabilities and institutions to sustain U.S. and Iraqi post-war investments; professionalizing the security forces; and strengthening the United States' long-term strategic partnership with Iraq.

Do you get that.  The table's saying $250 million.  The text is saying $267 million.

They don't give a damn.

This is what they turned into Congress.

The figures within the report turned in can't even be reconciled within the report/request itself.

And Congress is so damn stupid that they don't even notice it.  (No, I might not have caught it on my own. But, to the relief of most Americans, I'm also not a member of Congress so it's not like it's my job to pay attention to the budget the State Dept misrepresents to Congress.)

There are 'glitches' like that throughout the report.

This is US taxpayer money and this budget demonstrates how much scorn the administration has for the American people.  They don't even care that their own figures within the report don't add up.

And they know Congress will spread or bend over (to each their own desired position) and just holler "Yes!" in an orgasmic orgy of spending -- of wasting -- the tax payers money.

Can you image a business -- a legitimate one -- turning in a budget that didn't add up, whose figures said one thing in one section and another thing in another?

(If you want to crunch numbers, PDF format warning, you can find the budget online here.  You'll find many interesting tidbits such as 1.4 million for Iraq's "International Military Education and Training," 11 million for "International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement" and 22.5 million "Economic Support Fund.")

One thing to remember, something the Subcommittee members all seemed to forget, this was billed as a "budget" hearing.  But outside of two Democrats whining on behalf of the farmers in their communities, no one felt the need to even acknowledge the money issues.

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