commentary on Politics and a little bit of everything else

Vice President Biden goes to the World Cup Opening and does some work on the way……

Vice President Biden made stops in Egypt and Kenya on the way to South Africa….

On his stops he talked about Somalia and the Sudan……

Biden continues dealing with the issues he tackled when he worked in the US Senate……

As I posted before ….The White House is happy with Biden’s work…

And because he isn’t the President right now …..

He gets to travel……

Biden’s presence at the World Cup is typical veep stuff: earlier this year heattended the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Vancouver. This kind of soft diplomacy — on display at ceremonies, games, backyard barbecues — is par for the course for the second in command. But Biden’s trip to Africa, largely underreported, has also marked a return to the hard stuff for the man who was once chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Before heading to South Africa, Biden stopped in Egypt and Kenya to meet with regional heads of state. These visits were more than photo ops to demonstrate U.S. support for President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya. Instead, Biden went into the meetings with an agenda that is in many ways a holdover from his time tackling foreign affairs: to try to gather regional support to stabilize war-torn Somalia, and to re-energize dialogue between North and South Sudan to prevent a return to Africa’s longest-running war.

On Sudan, in particular, Biden has long been vocal. In 2007, when he was still a candidate for president, Biden called for the use of military force to secure peace in the Darfur region of the country. Then-Senator Obama was also engaged on the issue, calling for international action to end the violence in the region. Since being elected, however, Obama has come under fire for his handling of Sudan. In particular, the White House has found itself defending Special Envoy Scott Gration, who announced during a trip to the region in July 2009 that the genocide in Darfur had ended.


June 11, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Blogs, Breaking News, Government, Media, Men, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Travel, Updates | , , , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes you you can meet the President of the United States while taking a hike…..

It’s good to see these regular people stories…

I love them…..

And the President and the Secret Service gets props for handling somethings without too much fanfair….

In this photo, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza and relased to the Citizen-Times, Karen Russell, a tourist from Westerville, Ohio, talks with the president and first lady during a chance encounter while hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Friday.
[ In this photo, taken by White House photographer Pete Souza and relased to the Citizen-Times, Karen Russell, a tourist from Westerville, Ohio, talks with the president and first lady during a chance encounter while hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Friday. (White House/Special to the Citizen-Ttimes) ]

Howard Dusenbery was sitting downstairs in the inn he owns with his wife, Kristen, in Weaverville, the Dry Ridge Inn, when a quiet, 65-year-old guest came downstairs for breakfast Saturday morning.

The couple, who bought the inn 10 years ago, asked her what she did the previous day.

“And she says, ‘Well, I met the president,’” Howard Dusenbery said. “And I went, ‘What? Really? Where was that?’ And she said, ‘When I was hiking on the parkway.’”

On Friday, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hopped onto the Blue Ridge Parkway in the presidential motorcade a few hours after they landed in Asheville for a brief vacation.

After a 15-minute drive, the motorcade stopped, and the first couple stepped out for an hour-long hike. During the hike, according to a White House spokeswoman, the Obamas ran into an “elderly” hiker.

That hiker, Karen Russell, a tourist visiting from Westerville, Ohio, said she was stunned to see the first couple coming down the path, on a segment of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

“It was just a little nondescript trail that I was on, and I didn’t expect to find anybody there really, let alone the president,” she said.

Russell had been hiking on the trail for about an hour, when she saw the motorcade pass below on the parkway. She thought Obama was on his way to Mount Mitchell.

“And then I saw two men with little pins and ear pieces, and I thought, ‘Oh, they’re just checking out the hill to make sure no one’s going to snipe or something like that,’” she said.


April 25, 2010 Posted by | Blogs, Ecology, Family, Government, Media, Men, Other Things, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Travel, Women | , , , , | 4 Comments

How President Obama got to Aftghanistan…..

[ A rarity…..The President using Air Force One’s internal exit stair’s to leave the aircraft…..]

In a process piece Reuters recounts how the normally massive planning dance for a POTUS movement went deep……

Any trip by a U.S. president requires careful planning, but sneaking him into Afghanistan — a country in the midst of an eight-year war with Islamic militants — is a special case.

Under the cover of darkness, President Barack Obama made his first visit to Kabul on Sunday since taking office nearly 15 months ago, finally putting his foot in a nation that, at least in the foreign policy arena, has the potential to define his presidency.

For security reasons, the trip was cloaked in secrecy. He arrived at night and left while it was still dark.

Reporters were barred from telling anyone where they were going on Saturday evening as they made their way to Andrews Air Force Base, where the presidential aircraft is housed.

Upon arrival, staff and members of the media were bussed to the hangar where a gleaming Air Force One awaited.

Normally the aircraft is positioned outside for the president’s arrival. But that night it stayed under cover, taxiing out in darkness once Obama was on board to avoid alerting uninvolved military members at the base of its departure.

Obama himself snuck into Andrews.

After leaving the White House on Friday afternoon with the “cover” of spending the weekend at Camp David, the presidential retreat, he flew from there by helicopter to the base on Saturday night to make the secret trip.

The president, a Democrat, had been expected to come to Kabul for some time since his inauguration in January 2009. White House officials said weather and logistical reasons thwarted previous attempts to make the trip.

Then, just over a week ago, they found a window.


March 29, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Automobiles, Government, Media, Men, Military, Other Things, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Travel, Updates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Clinton returns………

Bill Clinton said stress and lack of sleep were to blame for his trip to the hospital last week for a heart procedure.

The former president spoke Wednesday in New York at an event to campaign against childhood obesity. He said his schedule had been harried ever since he started working to help victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

“Once the Haiti earthquake happened I didn’t sleep much for a month and that probably accelerated what was already going on with this failing vein,” Clinton said, according toReuters. “What happened to me wasn’t all that rare, but what I have to conclude is I’m not going to do any more weeks where I do three overnight flights because I am going to have to help Haiti for several years. I can’t get it all done in a week.”

Clinton, 63, who had quadruple bypass surgery six years ago, underwent a procedure last Thursday to reopen a blocked bypass graft in an artery with the use of two metal stents.

Clinton promised to continue working but said he plans to exercise, get more rest, and eat a healthier diet. He said poor eating habits since childhood had caused his heart problems.

“The root causes were the habits I acquired in my childhood, mostly the way I ate and the way it interacted with my own biology and propensity to produce bad cholesterol,” Clinton toldThe New York Times. “I ate too much fried food, too much ice cream, too much everything.”

Well all that’s good but……. the truth might be a little more than that…William Jefferson Clinton I read somewhere…. had his father pass away from

heart disease at a young age…Clinton has always pushed himself to do more… with less…..His travel schedule, since he left the White House, has been a marathon…..He is a gifted man who seems to be on a continual treadmill…..

…..Pushing himself for his wifes campaign…..his Library…his Foundation and Haiti…..

He has been very rarely  pictured resting anywhere..he spends no time with his wife…and he has a big wedding coming up for his daughter…..

In addition, he is has been given responsibility for several things involving Haiti from the UN and the United States Government……

Not too much to do ….right?

February 18, 2010 Posted by | Aircraft, Blogs, Breaking News, Family, Government, Haiti, Health, Media, Men, Other Things, PoliticalDog Calls, Politics, Updates, Women | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hillary Clinton….one year later…..

I just got finished reading Jonathan Van Meter’s excellent piece in Vogue, on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton….

Hillary Clinton, an enigma to a lot of Americans is a complex, tough, wounded, caring, funny and political human being…who upon entering her 60’s, after doing the hardest thing in her life , has picked herself up, dusted herself off…and moved on…..and I love it….

I was for her during the presidential campaigns and I see why ( though she ran a terrible campaign up until Texas and Ohio, which was too late )…..in Van Meter’s piece he shadows her during a gruelling Africa trip, a day in September at the United Nations and on a stop in Cape Verde. During his time with her he got to see  just about all of the faces of Hillary, that have I described here….


After a bit of spirited chitchat about the TV show Mad Men (“That’s how it was!” she says. “That’s why the women’s-liberation movement was so shocking. It was like news from outer space”) and some ill-advised foreign-policy questions on my part, which seemed to bore her, Clinton’s mood turned on a dime as soon as I shifted the focus to her—her life and her feelings. When I ask her if she can walk me through her career from First Lady, senator, and presidential candidate to Secretary of State, in terms of level of difficulty, job satisfaction, and public scrutiny, she lets out an amazing peal of high-pitched giggles. “They are such different experiences!” she says, still laughing. “It’s like looking at this fruit salad. Do I like peaches better than I like plums better than kiwis?” But then, like the lawyer she was trained to be, she answers me, going through each of the stages of her hugely public life, methodically, clearly, succinctly. But when she gets to the Secretary of State part, she surprises me.

“I was stunned after the election when President Obama asked me to consider this,” she says. “I really was very unconvinced. I did not think it was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to do it. I just really had a lot of doubts, and I kept suggesting other people: Well, how about this person! How about that person! This one would be really good! But then a friend of mine called me and basically said, ‘How would you have felt if you’d been elected and you’d called him and asked him to do this?’ And that really made a big impression on me. How do you say no? And so…I said yes. And here I am.” She laughs and picks up her fork and stabs a kiwi out of her fruit salad and pops it in her mouth


…..” Obama reportedly chided his staff for making fun of Clinton when she cried in New Hampshire: “Give her a break. You don’t know what it’s like.” Another person said this: “She was a pain in the ass, taking him the distance, but she definitely made him a better candidate. And the truth is, it’s that very attribute of not getting out, that resiliency, that doggedness that he saw—that’s what led him to pick her. If she had left the race any earlier, I don’t think she’d be Secretary of State.” (On her desk at the State Department is a plaque inscribed with Winston Churchill’s famous admonition: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.)


On the way home we land in Cape Verde to refuel and stay the night. We check into an all-inclusive resort that feels like a Sandals. The next morning, I am up at the crack of dawn. I wander down a long path to the ocean and take a swim. I am the only person in sight. On my way back, I see Clinton in the distance with just one security guy, heading toward the ocean. She, too, is going for a swim. It is a bittersweet moment: Hillary Clinton is doing something purely for pleasure, for herself, but she is doing it alone, in a place designed for couples.


There is a corollary to this aspect of Clinton that I noticed in Africa: She mothers the people around her. Janine Zacharia, a reporter for Bloomberg News, had burned herself while cooking a couple of days before the trip. As soon as Clinton saw her bandaged hand she made a fuss, asked her what happened, and wanted to know if she had everything she needed to take care of it. Another time, we were in Goma, in eastern Congo, at an outdoor press conference, and I was getting scorched under the hot sun. While Clinton was speaking, I tried to stealthily move under a tree for shade. When she was finished, she stepped off the stage and walked up to me. “Where’s your hat?” she said, sounding just like my mother. “I forgot it,” I said sheepishly. “Well, we’ll get you one. Someone get Jonathan a hat!” On another occasion, I had foolishly eaten a salad in Liberia, and Clinton heard I was in my hotel room, very ill. The phone rang: “The secretary would like us to bring you some Cipro.” A few minutes later her physician appeared at my door with drugs. She handed me the Cipro and another pill given to chemo patients so that they can stop vomiting long enough to take more drugs. “This stuff is very expensive,” she said in her Texas drawl, “but we made sure to always travel with it ever since Bush, the father, puked all over the prime minister in Japan. I said, ‘Not on my watch.’ ” After the doctor left, an aide appeared. “The secretary asked me to bring you this.” It was a Sprite and a few slices of white bread.


She danced her funky little dance at the dinners held in her honor (as seen on YouTube). In Cape Town, she threw a party for the press and drank with the best of us, talking for more than two hours, into the night, with surprising off-the-record candor about everything from her husband to her disdain for certain world leaders. She’s fun. She laughs at herself. And she is full of surprisingly sharp, pointy little retorts, barbs, and comebacks. On several occasions she drifted to the back of the plane, allowing zesty debates to flower, often asking, “What’s your take?” of different reporters, who hung on her every word. One of them told me his opinion of Hillary had completely turned around: “My parents hated her, and I thought she was a bitch who surrounded herself with horrible people. But she’s nice! She’s really frank and blunt and funny.

Political Human being….

At the convention in Denver, Clinton gave the speech of her life and then went down on the floor and, in a very emotional moment, called off voting, convincingly throwing her weight behind Obama. “She was sucking it up,” says one of her aides. “She was doing what was right for the party and for the country. And it was so transparent. You couldn’t ascribe any other motive to it.”

But the best thing I liked in the piece was this..in Africa …although Hillary was treated as a rock star…

…… but it was the women turning up to touch Hillary who were so moving. I asked one woman in Cape Town why she loved Hillary Clinton. “Because she is an African woman,” she said. “She stayed with her husband, she works hard, and she keeps her family together.”

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Government, Media, Politics, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

254 days into the Obama Presidency…….some behind the scenes looks at his travels……

Courtesy of the New York Daily News, Associated Press and others…Enjoy the trip around the world!………

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment