Monday, January 28, 2013
Serious questions on Benghazi
The underlying attitude
A rather restrained media comment below. No mention of the blocking of rescue efforts etc.
BLUSTER by outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no answer to the serious questions still surrounding the al-Qa'ida attack on September 11 last year that killed four American officials in Benghazi, including US ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Criticism of Mrs Clinton, of course, has a political motive, with Republicans hoping some mud will stick and thwart any bid by her to win the presidency in 2016. But Mrs Clinton ill-serves her reputation as a hardworking and widely-admired Secretary of State by dismissively telling interlocutors: "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"
The answer is, it makes a lot of difference. A State Department report and other inquiries have shown the death of the first US ambassador killed on duty in 25 years resulted from systemic leadership and management failures, for which Mrs Clinton was ultimately responsible. The 9/11 anniversary assault caught the US understaffed and ill-prepared in one of the world's most hostile regions, with pleas from US officials on the ground rebuffed.
Mrs Clinton claims she didn't see cables from Stevens outlining his security concerns. Other critics say there was a naive belief by the Obama administration, amid the over-hyped expectations of the Arab Spring, that the war against al-Qa'ida and terrorism was just about over. This has been comprehensively debunked by events in Algeria and Mali, where the Timbuktu Taliban is on the march.
Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for all these failures, but as a well-regarded secretary and potential presidential candidate, she can do better than bluster when asked legitimate questions about them.
Does Poverty Still Matter?
The Republican Party is picking up the pieces. Speaking of the ticket's loss for the first time since the election, Rep. Paul Ryan noted that many voters "don't think or know that we have good ideas" on fighting poverty and "helping people move up the ladder of life."
It's not surprising that Ryan, who got his start working for Jack Kemp and William Bennett at Empower America, sees the world this way. Though it's a total secret to members of the press and the Democratic Party, conservative intellectuals have been grappling with the problems of poverty in America for several decades and have arguably advanced more reforms (including school choice, charter schools, enterprise zones and community policing) than liberals have. Some of those reforms, such as those adopted by Rudolph Giuliani in New York, profoundly improved the lives of the poor by, among other enhancements, making their neighborhoods far safer.
Still, the popular perception of Republicans as the party of the rich has been reinforced by the party's opposition to tax hikes (always characterized by the press as "even for the wealthiest") and by the Democrats' relentless spin. Six in 10 respondents to a December Bloomberg poll said Republicans were too concerned about protecting the rich. A McLaughlin poll from 2011 found that 88 percent of likely voters considered a candidate's position on poverty to be important in determining their vote.
If Republican politicians do begin to focus more on poverty, as Ryan recommends, they will have the field to themselves. Democrats no longer talk about the poor.
Barack Obama began his career as a community organizer. In 2007, he excoriated George W. Bush for failing those in "vast swaths of rural America" and in inner cities "who cannot hire lobbyists" and "cannot write thousand dollar campaign checks." The government, Senator Obama said, "cannot guarantee success and happiness in life," but can "ensure that every American who wants to work is ... able to find a job and able to stay out of poverty."
The anti-poverty talk was missing from the 2012 campaign. It was all about the middle class. Perhaps that's because Obama's first term created so very much more poverty. There are more poor people in America today than at any time since the Great Depression. There were 32 million Americans collecting food stamps in 2008. Now that figure is 47 million. Spending on food stamps doubled between 2007 and 2011.
Unemployment remained stubbornly high throughout the Obama first term leading many to abandon the search for jobs altogether. In 2008, 7.2 million Americans were getting Social Security disability payments. Today, it's 8.7 million, an increase of 20 percent. A normal increase due to population expansion would have been 4 percent. Obama blamed his predecessor, but the steep decline in labor force participation didn't begin until six months into Obama's term. Forbes magazine calculates that if long term discouraged workers, those who've dropped out to collect disability payments, and those working part time because they cannot find full time work were counted, the real unemployment rate would hover around 22 percent.
Medium household incomes fell by more than 8 percent during the Obama first term, an average of $3040 per household, and income inequality grew compared with the Bush years. For African-Americans, the drop in household income was even more dramatic -- 11.1 percent.
Obama talked about the middle class in 2012 for two reasons: 1) because his record left him vulnerable on the subject of poverty, and 2) because Democrats believe that Americans do not like poverty programs. "People are much less inclined to support something that goes toward a targeted population than something that they can benefit from," Rachel Black of the New America Foundation told Politico. This is why Democrats fight tooth and claw to block reforms of Medicare and Social Security that would decrease benefits or increase taxes for wealthier recipients. They believe that the middle class would stop supporting the programs if they were at all means-tested.
But most voters do not disapprove of TANF, Medicaid, Head Start and dozens of other programs aimed at the poor.
Ryan is right to see an opportunity for Republicans in talking about poverty. It might improve the Republican brand in the eyes of all voters. It opens a door to talk about the best anti-poverty program -- economic growth, which has been conspicuously absent under Obama. It also highlights a fact the Democrats want to bury: All Americans are poorer as a result of Obama's policies, but the poor are hit hardest.
The Old Republic and Obama's America
"Second Term Begins With a Sweeping Agenda for Equality," ran the eight-column banner in which The Washington Post captured the essence of Obama's second inaugural. There he declared:
"What binds this nation together ... what makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago."
Obama then quoted our Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Our "union," Obama went on, was "founded on the principles of liberty and equality."
Nice prose -- and transparent nonsense.
How could the American Union have been founded on the principle of equality, when "equality" is not mentioned in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist papers? How could equality be a founding principle of a nation, six of whose 13 original states had legalized slavery, and five of whose first seven presidents owned slaves all their lives?
What Obama preached in his inaugural was not historical truth but progressive propaganda, an Orwellian rewrite of American history.
Undeniably, the post-Civil War 13th, 14th and 15th amendments established an equality of constitutional rights. And from the Brown decision of 1954 through the civil rights acts of the 1960s, there was established an equality of civil rights. Black Americans were assured equal access to schools, public accommodations, the voting booth and housing. And Congress and the people overwhelmingly supported those laws.
But if the nation did not establish equality of constitutional rights until the 1860s and equality of civil rights until the 1960s, how can Obama claim that "equality" has been the feature that "makes us American" and "binds this nation together."
How can he say that our commitment to equality is what makes us "exceptional" -- when every Western country believes in equal rights for all of its citizens, and it was the French Revolution, not ours, that elevated "egalite" to a founding principle.
And when he says equality "is the star that guides us still," exactly what kind of equality is Obama talking about?
Answer: The equality of which Obama speaks is not an equality of rights but an equality of results, an idea that dates not to the Founding Fathers, who would have been appalled by the idea, but to the 1960s.
This equality is not a founding principle of the republic. It is ideological contraband. For such equality can only be achieved at the price of freedom, our true founding principle.
That idea that "all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still," said Obama in his inaugural, "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."
Astonishing. The president is here making the brazen claim that the roots of modern feminism and gay rights can be traced straight back to the Founding Fathers and founding principles of our republic.
But how? The sanctum sanctorum of modern feminism is Roe v. Wade, the discovery of a constitutional right to an abortion. Yet, for every generation of Americans before 1973, abortion was a heinous crime.
And can anyone seriously argue that a barroom brawl with cops by homosexual patrons of Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in 1969 was but another battle in the long war for liberty begun at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill?
How could that be, when the author of the declaration Obama cites, Thomas Jefferson, believed homosexuality should be treated as rape, and George Washington ordered homosexuals drummed out of his army?
What Obama was attempting at the Capitol, with his repeated lifts from Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, was to portray his own and his party's egalitarianism as a continuation of the great cause that triumphed at Yorktown and Appomattox.
He is hijacking the American Revolution, claiming an ancestral lineage for his ideology that is utterly fraudulent and bogus.
Feminism, the gay rights movement and the post-1965 civil rights movement, with their demand for equality not simply of rights but of rewards, cannot be achieved without trampling on the freedoms for which the patriot fathers fought. And they cannot triumph without creating a permanent, mammoth and redistributionist state more powerful, intrusive and dictatorial than anything George III ever dreamed of.
The freedom of all Americans to compete academically, athletically, artistically and economically must inevitably result in an inequality of incomes, wealth and rewards.
Why? Because all men and women are by nature and nurture unequal. Some are talented, ambitious, industrious, lucky. And in a free society, such men and women will always reap a disproportionate share of fame and fortune.
The only way to equalize rewards is to take from those who have earned and give to those who have not. And that requires the kind of redistributionst regime the Founding Fathers would have risen up against.
As Obama's America rises, the old republic falls.
The Collectivist Party
Illinois you have arrived! Bloomberg [news agency] has declared the dysfunction capital of the U.S. has moved to Illinois. Of course they are just feeding the perception that Moonbeam Brown's prop 30 taxes, the golfer friendly ones, are balancing California's budget.
I suggest Bloomberg writers visit both states more often to see the dysfunction in person. It is quite a sight to behold. However it is easier just to stay out east and watch Illinois' gift to the nation, Barack Obama.
What's the first thing popping into your mind when you read, "years of gridlock and mismanagement have produced .."? Illinois or DC? Both and we have learned why. Barack Obama shared the news with us at his second inauguration.
Having lived in Illinois among the liberals for over thirty years, please allow me to translate what Obama was really saying. You may have noticed from Obama's first term one makes quite a mistake listening to and believing they know what Obama means when he speaks. We learned you'll be better off just watching what he does.
After sounding all supportive of the principles in the Declaration of Independence, followed by a brief history regarding how things change over time, Obama set you up for the roper dope: "For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."
Translated; that old document is about dust, do as we say, we know all the answers therefore surrender your individual identity to the collective and we'll tell you what freedoms you can enjoy. Although Chris Matthews has visions of Lincoln when he heard this speech, I drive past the Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library almost daily. Obama isn't any Lincoln.
This is merely liberal speak for; we have taxed and spent all we can the old fashioned way, now we have to try something new. Or as Chuckie Schumer said more clearly, "oh we'll write a budget alright and it's going to contain lots of new revenue (taxes) and Republicans better get used to it."
In fact Obama isn't Reagan either as the media went nuts reporting the obvious. As Reagan is conservative, Obama is progressive. In reality the one thing Obama shares with Reagan? The same number of people participating in the workforce as 1981.
No matter how a liberal says it, their goals never change. Bigger government, higher taxes, more spending, all to save the children. Or environment, or elderly, or veterans, whatever victim of the week needs rescued, which in turn their media owned outlets report.
How does one come by these psychic powers? Do the names Blagojevich, Quinn, Durbin, Emmanuel, (Bobby) Rush, Rostenkowsky, Schakowsky, Daley (x's 3), or Obama ring a bell? Live over thirty years along side liberals with these pedigrees, with at least one eye and ear open and it's amazing what you can learn.
What caused Bloomberg's attention to be drawn to Illinois? Judy BaarTopinka the state comptroller just released a report, not only is Illinois behind $9 billion in back bills, seems the budget wonks at the Statehouse passed a budget $1 billion short of what is needed to make it through the fiscal year. DCFS is short $25 million to save the children, workers compensation is short $82 million, but the biggie; state group health insurance needs $900 million more to meet expenses this year.
Holy sack of liberalism! Wasn't that free Obamacare going to save all of us? Everyone was going to have insurance, the doctor of their choice, the same coverage as what congress has, and it was all going to save trillions of dollars! How can the state possibly be short? Quinn needs a red phone on his desk directly to the oval office if this keeps up.
As an honorary citizen of Illinois, having duly listened to the inaugural speech with the unique ability to hear what mere mortals cannot, watching the slow motion collapse of Illinois' budget and economy, one that will soon follow to all the land due to Illinois' favorite son of the same ideology, it's time for the Democratic Party to develop a new response to these new challenges to keep with the fidelity to the Democratic principles.
Time to drop Democratic and replace with Collectivist in honor of Obama's second term and pronouncements in his inaugural speech.
The Collectivist Party.
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Posted by JR at 1:35 AM