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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "The ‘I’ of the Storm": Has Obama Learned from Benghazi?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The ‘I’ of the Storm" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/opinion/dowd-the-i-of-the-storm.html), Maureen Dowd notes the compliments Obama has received from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his disaster relief support involving Hurricane Sandy:

"On ABC, CBS and NBC, Christie hailed Obama as 'outstanding.' On MSNBC, he said the president 'has been all over this,' and on CNN, he called Obama 'incredibly supportive.' The big guy even tweeted his thanks to the slender one."

Indeed, kudos to Obama for behaving presidentially in this instance.

However, a month and a half ago, when, without advance warning, Obama was presented with the Benghazi crisis, four Americans were allowed to die, and the president continued on his campaign trail.

Has Obama learned a lesson from the deaths of these four brave men, or does his hurricane response represent cynical, self-serving conduct in keeping with the best electioneering advice of Plouffe, Dunn and Axelrod?

You decide.

Monday, October 29, 2012

David Brooks, "The Upside of Opportunism": All But Endorsing Romney

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Upside of Opportunism" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/opinion/brooks-the-upside-of-opportunism.html), David Brooks all but endorses Romney:

"If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done."

Regarding Romney's shift to the center and the likelihood that he will maintain this stance as president, Brooks explains:

"To get re-elected in a country with a rising minority population and a shrinking Republican coalition, Romney’s shape-shifting nature would induce him to govern as a center-right moderate. To get his tax and entitlement reforms through the Democratic Senate, Romney would have to make some serious concessions: increase taxes on the rich as part of an overall reform; abandon the most draconian spending cuts in Paul Ryan’s budget; reduce the size of his lavish tax-cut promises."

I agree with Brooks that we'll see moderation from Romney if he is elected president.

On the other hand, if Obama is freed from the constraints of re-election, I'm not convinced that "we'll get small-bore stasis." Frankly, my concern is Obama, during a second term, would shed his moderate sheep's clothes and exhibit the leftist radicalism that characterizes his friends and associates from the left whom he dissed on the way to his first term, e.g. the Reverend Wright, Rashid Khalidi and Bill Ayers. The underlying core of narcissism rarely undergoes meaningful change.

In short, with regards to Obama, Brooks did not follow the logic underlying his argument.

Indeed, it should have us worried.

Dennis Ross, "What the President Has Done for Israel in the Security Area Is Without Precedent;" Israeli Jews Prefer Romney By 3:1

As reported by Haaretz (http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/dennis-ross-what-obama-has-done-for-israel-s-security-is-without-precedent.premium-1.472781):

"Former top White House and State Department official Dennis Ross has come out in support of President Barack Obama, saying that 'what the president has done for Israel in the security area is without precedent.'

. . . .

Asked about the level of antagonism toward Obama among some American Jews, Ross said that he believes that much of it comes from people 'who didn't vote for him before and are not inclined to vote for him now.' He said that much of it stems from 'disinformation' and from 'a highly polarized environment in America.'"

Ah yes, "disinformation."

I suppose it is also "disinformation" that is causing Israeli Jews to "prefer Republican candidate Mitt Romney over US President Barack Obama by an almost 3:1 margin, according to a 'Peace Index' poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University that was released Sunday" (http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=289600).

Oh, those foolish Israelis, who, faced with extermination from Iran, are incapable of understanding what's best for them . . . .

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Israel Can't Trust Obama to Prevent Iran from Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon

Q: Why shouldn't Israel trust Obama to stand in the way of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon?

A: If only you could ask American heroes Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty.

Thomas Friedman, "Why I Am Pro-Life": Ignoring Benghazi

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Why I Am Pro-Life" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/why-i-am-pro-life.html?_r=0), Thomas Friedman tells us that he is "pro-life":

"The term 'pro-life' should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. That radical narrowing of our concern for the sanctity of life is leading to terrible distortions in our society."

Respect for the sanctity of life beyond conception? Absolutely, and this is why Friedman's refusal to honor the American heroes who died in Benghazi is repugnant.

But why should we be surprised? Today, The New York Times is also endorsing Obama for re-election (see: "Barack Obama for Re-Election," http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/barack-obama-for-president.html?pagewanted=all), yet entirely avoids mention of Benghazi in its editorial, notwithstanding a long-winded description of foreign affairs under Obama. Also no mention of Obama's inane escalation of the war in Afghanistan, which has cost the lives of 2,000 forgotten American soldiers and which is consuming $6 billion every month.

Disgraceful.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Of Mad Men, Mad Women and Meat Loaf": Mo to O, Commanders-in-Chief Don't Abandon Troops to Die . . . Not

The Benghazi timeline, September 11-12, 2012, as gleaned from Jennifer Griffin's Fox News article entitled "CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say" (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/26/cia-operators-were-denied-request-for-help-during-benghazi-attack-sources-say/):


  • At 21:40 Libyan time, shots fired at US consulate.
  • Tyrone Woods and two others at nearby CIA annex disregard orders to "stand down" and rush to consulate.
  • "The rescue team . . . evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack" and return to CIA annex at midnight. Rescue team unable to find Ambassador Stevens.
  • CIA annex comes under attack, and military support is requested, but request is denied.
  • At 4:00 in Libya, "nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began," Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are "killed by a mortar shell."
We know that sometime during the night, Ambassador Stevens was killed, and his naked body was carried out of the consulate by the attackers. It has been alleged that his body was sodomized.

The continuation of the timeline from the US on September 12:

  • Speaking from the Rose Garden at 10:43 EDT, President Obama, attributing the attack to an inane Internet video, declares, "Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. . . . As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it."
  • At 13:15 EDT, Obama departs the White House.
  • At 17:25 PT, Obama delivers campaign address at Cashman Center, Las Vegas.
  • At 21:10 MT, Obama arrives in Aurora, Colorado to continue his campaign tour.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Of Mad Men, Mad Women and Meat Loaf" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/opinion/sunday/dowd-Of-Mad-Men-Mad-Women-and-Meat-Loaf.html), Maureen Dowd ignores what happened in Benghazi. Instead, she devotes much of her opinion piece to abortion rights:

"Our mom, a strict Catholic, taught us that it was immoral for a woman to be expected to carry a rapist’s baby for nine months. (Don’t even mention that rapists can assert parental rights in 31 states.)

But compassion is scant among the Puritan tribe of Republicans running now. As The Huffington Post reports, at least a dozen G.O.P. Senate candidates oppose abortion for rape victims. The party platform calls for a constitutional amendment with no exceptions for rape, incest or the mother’s life."

Compassion is scant only among Republicans?

Well, Maureen, I too am pro-choice, but I am also horrified by what was done to Ambassador Stevens. My hair stands on end and my blood pressure goes through the roof when I ponder how Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were allowed to die some seven hours after the onset of the attack against the Benghazi consulate.

There are responsibilities that come with being Commander-in-Chief. Obama is obviously unaware of them.

Obama Administration's Benghazi Cover-Up: On the Verge of Tears

Did anyone really think that the entire US intelligence community would agree to take the blame for the fatal Benghazi fiasco? Well, some of the facts are beginning to leak out, although you won't find them anywhere in The New York Times or The Washington Post ten days before the presidential election. As reported by Jennifer Griffin of Fox News in an article entitled "CIA operators were denied request for help during Benghazi attack, sources say" (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/26/cia-operators-were-denied-request-for-help-during-benghazi-attack-sources-say/):

"Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command -- who also told the CIA operators twice to 'stand down' rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

. . . .

[Former Navy SEAL Tyrone] Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied.

. . . .

The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours -- enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

. . . .

According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from."

As further reported in this article, Tyrone Woods and former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty "were killed by a mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began -- a window that represented more than enough time for the U.S. military to send back-up."

No, we haven't heard the last of this.

Who is to blame for this disaster? This has yet to be determined. But the readiness of the Obama administration to sweep this incident under the rug leaves me aghast. As someone who has spent a significant part of his life in the military, I cannot imagine being abandoned in this fashion.

I am overwhelmed by the dedication to duty of Ambassador Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty, and my prayers go out to their families.

Listening to Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, left me on the verge of tears (see: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/joe-biden-to-father-of-former-navy-seal-killed-in-benghazi-did-your-son-always-have-balls-the-size-of-cue-balls/). Yes, Mr. Woods, your son is a true American hero.

Friday, October 26, 2012

David Brooks, "What Moderation Means": Tolerance, Flexibility and Introspection, All Vanishing in an Age of Narcissism

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "What Moderation Means" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/opinion/brooks-what-moderation-means.html), David Brooks describes for us the meaning of "moderation":

"The moderate tries to preserve the tradition of conflict, keeping the opposing sides balanced. She understands that most public issues involve trade-offs. In most great arguments, there are two partially true points of view, which sit in tension. The moderate tries to maintain a rough proportion between them, to keep her country along its historic trajectory.

. . . .

The moderate does not believe that there are policies that are permanently right. Situations matter most. Tax cuts might be right one decade but wrong the next. Tighter regulations might be right one decade, but if sclerosis sets in then deregulation might be in order.

. . . .

Moderation is also a distinct ethical disposition. Just as the moderate suspects imbalance in the country, so she suspects it in herself. She distrusts passionate intensity and bold simplicity and admires self-restraint, intellectual openness and equipoise."

Or in other words, "moderation" involves tolerance, flexibility, a willingness to make concessions, and considerable introspection.

Perhaps this also explains why, in our current age of narcissism, moderation is going the way of the dodo bird and headed for extinction.

The Washington Post Endorses Obama: What, Me Worry?

Have a look at the current home page of The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/). Under "The Post's View," appears the caption:

Endorsement: Four More Years

Editorial Board

Barack Obama’s clear-eyed view of the road ahead makes him the better choice for president.

Ah, yes, a "clear-eyed view of the road ahead." However, have a look above that caption. At the top left you will see:

'Fiscal cliff' has already cost U.S. jobs, report says

Lori Montgomery

The cliff is two months away, but nearly a million jobs have been lost this year as companies scale back — and the pain will worsen if the crisis is not averted.

Directly below that headline, there is another heartening lead-in to a story:

As racial divide grows, whites' support for Obama erodes

Jon Cohen and Rosalind S. Helderman

The election is shaping up to be more racially polarized than any presidential contest since 1988, poll shows.

Indeed, after almost four years under Obama's stewardship, America has never been more polarized - racially, economically, politically.

A "clear-eyed view of the road ahead"? Yup, that road is taking us straight over a cliff.

Paul Krugman, "Pointing Toward Prosperity?": Krugman Shifts His Support to Romney . . . Not

Do you like experiments? Better yet, are you a betting person?

In his latest New York Times op-ed enitled "Pointing Toward Prosperity?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/26/opinion/krugman-pointing-toward-prosperity.html?ref=opinion), Paul Krugman begins:

"Mitt Romney has been barnstorming the country, telling voters that he has a five-point plan to restore prosperity. And some voters, . . . [for the sake of experimentation, forgive the omission of the word "alas"] seem to believe what he’s saying. So President Obama has now responded with his own plan, a little blue booklet [sounds a bit like a "little red book"] containing 27 policy proposals. How do these two plans stack up?"

So what do you think are the chances that Krugman, after engaging in cogent analysis, has shifted his support to Romney? Well, if you were to say that the chances are fairly close to zero, you would be . . . right, of course.

Krugman's very next sentence:

"Well, as I’ve said before, Mr. Romney’s 'plan' is a sham."

Obama's "little blue booklet"? Krugman tells us:

"Well, Mr. Obama’s booklet comes a lot closer to being an actual plan. . . . Mr. Obama calls for concrete steps like raising fuel efficiency standards . . . . Mr. Obama calls for specific things like a program to recruit math and science teachers and partnerships between businesses and community colleges.

So, is Mr. Obama offering an inspiring vision for economic recovery? No, he isn’t."

Raising fuel efficienty standards for 2025 model cars? Yup, that's real concrete. Partnerships between businesses and community colleges? Obama must be back to smoking weed.

Krugman's continues:

"So all that the administration feels able to offer are measures that would, one hopes, modestly accelerate the recovery already under way.

It’s disappointing, to be sure. But a slow job is better than a snow job."

"Measures that would, one hopes, modestly accelerate the recovery under way"? So that's why "Hope" has morphed into "Forward"? "A slow job is better than a snow job"? I'm not going to even touch that.

No, Krugman was not able to break away from his hyper-partisanship. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nicholas Kristof, "Romney’s Economic Model": Kristof Not Destined for a Nobel Prize in Economics

You know Obama is in dire straits when Nicholas Kristof of all people, who knows nothing about economics, feels compelled to echo Paul Krugman's condemnation of "austerity" and demean Romney's "economic model."

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Romney’s Economic Model" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/25/opinion/kristof-romneys-economic-plan.html?_r=0), Kristof begins by acknowledging that Obama's economic record has not met anyone's expectations:

"Mitt Romney’s best argument on the campaign trail has been simple: Under President Obama, the American economy has remained excruciatingly weak, far underperforming the White House’s own projections.

That’s a fair criticism."

Actually, Romney's best argument extends far beyond this criticism: In these dire times, Obama is currently not proffering any economic model whatsoever to the American electorate.

Kristof, however, argues that "Republican-style austerity" has not worked in Europe and would be disastrous in the US:

"So, yes, Republicans have a legitimate point about the long-term need to curb deficits and entitlement growth. But, no, it isn’t reasonable for Republicans to advocate austerity in the middle of a downturn. On that, they’re empirically wrong."

Query: Where in Kristof's opinion piece is there any mention of America's $16 trillion federal debt or how it will ever be paid off. Sure, no one wants to curb spending "in the middle of a downturn," but you can't spend what you will never have, unless, of course, you intend to print money.

Do Americans really want the federal government to determine who is the beneficiary of additional deficit spending? Consider the Solyndra and A123 fiascos. The money spent by the Obama administration on green jobs, i.e. a cool $1 million per job, even dwarfs the money Obama tried to spend on job creation via his American Jobs Act, i.e. $344,000 per unsustainable job.

Economics is obviously not Kristof's forte. I think it's time for Nicholas to say goodbye to his investment banker wife and head out once more to the wilds of Afghanistan, from whence he can again extol the virtues of Greg Mortenson (see: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/the-con-man-and-his-pet-columnist/).

Or perhaps he would again like to explain to us how "chemicals threaten our bodies" (our bodies, of course, consist entirely of chemicals) and how we should "Avoid meats that are cooked well-done" (see: (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06kristof.html).

There are few bright lights left on the op-ed page of the Times, and Kristof is plainly one of the dimmer ones.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Efraim Halevy, "Who Threw Israel Under the Bus?": A Former Mossad Chief Forgets His History

In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who Threw Israel Under the Bus?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/opinion/who-threw-israel-under-the-bus.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), Efraim Halevy, the director of Israel's Mossad from 1998 to 2002, provides us with instances when "a Republican White House acted in a cold and determined manner, with no regard for Israel’s national pride, strategic interests or sensitivities." Halevy writes:

"Indeed, whenever the United States has put serious, sustained pressure on Israel’s leaders — from the 1950s on — it has come from Republican presidents, not Democratic ones."

Halevy concludes,"That’s food for thought in October 2012."

First, Halevy has no business injecting himself into America's presidential election.

Second, Halevy "forgets" to mention President Johnson's conduct when Israel faced extermination on the eve of the Six Day War. As Rafael D. Frankel recently wrote in an article entitled "Why Israel May Go It Alone" (http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/will-israel-go-it-alone-7538):

"For two weeks, Gamal Abdel Nasser had been building up his forces in the Sinai Peninsula to the point where they posed a credible threat to the young Jewish state’s existence. Now, Nasser had dismissed UN peacekeepers from the Egyptian-Israeli border and closed the Straits of Tiran, cutting off Israel’s vital access to the Red Sea, through which it imported a majority of its energy supplies. Nasser had provided Israel with casus belli and then proclaimed that 'if war comes it will be total and the objective will be Israel’s destruction.'

Two weeks earlier, President Johnson promised to deliver a consignment of military hardware, food, economic aid and loans to Israel totaling nearly $70 million to demonstrate American support and tide Israel over. The U.S. administration also vowed not to let Nasser close the Straits of Tiran. But as Nasser continued his military buildup, as the Soviet Union egged on Egypt and Syria to war and as the Arab World worked itself into a frenzy over the eminent demise of the 'Zionist entity,' the commitments that Washington provided to Jerusalem were not met.

In addition to the backtracking, Johnson poignantly warned Israel against initiating hostilities. 'Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go it alone,' Johnson wrote to Eban. 'We cannot imagine that it will make this decision.'"

As Israel again faces threats of extermination coming from Iran, the past wavering of Democratic President Johnson should also provide "food for thought."

Thomas Friedman, "Our Secret Sauce": Again Pandering to the President

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Our Secret Sauce" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/opinion/friedman-our-secret-sauce.html), Thomas Friedman claims:

"What I’d say about Obama’s domestic and Middle East policies is that, given the messes and political constraints he inherited in both arenas, he did about as well as anyone could. He kept the homeland safe, prevented us from getting drawn into any sinkholes and killed bad guys."

Aren't you forgetting something, Tom? What about Obama's escalation of the inane war in Afghanistan, for which more than 2,000 US soldiers have sacrificed their lives and which is currently costing America some $6 billion per month.

Obama did "about as well as anyone could"? Yeah, right. That's about as honest as that thing on top of your head.

Maureen Dowd, "My Mitt Fantasy": Don't Send Me Your Laundry Bill

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "My Mitt Fantasy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/opinion/dowd-my-mitt-fantasy.html), Maureen Dowd begins by speculating upon the possiblility of an Electoral College tie in November:

"If Romney does suspend voter disbelief enough to tie President Obama, with each getting 269 Electoral College votes, the Republican-controlled House would determine the president — and give it to Mitt. And the (presumably) Democratic-controlled Senate would determine the vice president — and give it to Joe Biden."

Sorry, Maureen, you can continue to fantasize, but it's not going to happen.

Further along in her opinion piece, Dowd attacks Romney for moving to the middle:

"And the race is vise-tight because Mitt’s a marvel. Never in modern memory has a presidential candidate so brazenly contorted himself, switching positions to suit the moment and pushing claims, like about Obama’s imaginary 'apology tour,' that have been debunked.

. . . .

Mitt may have made so many compromises to get the prize that he doesn’t have a true self anymore. And that’s the scariest thought of all."

Well, if Romney does continue to contort himself as the next president, just maybe he will be able to achieve bipartisan compromises and bust open Congressional gridlock. Is that really so scary?

Monday, October 22, 2012

David Brooks, "Poll Addict Confesses": A Poll Predicted the Cairo and Benghazi Attacks

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Poll Addict Confesses" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/opinion/books-poll-addict-confesses.html?_r=0), David Brooks acknowledges his inability to wean himself away from polls, notwithstanding their notorious inaccuracy:

"Look, I went into a profession — journalism — committed to the mission of describing the present. Imagine how many corrections we’d have to publish if we tried to predict the future. Yet, despite all that, every few hours, I’m on my laptop, tablet or smartphone — sipping Gallup, chugging Rasmussen, gulping Pew, trying to figure out how it will all go down."

Polls? Me? Ordinarily I'm too busy trying to survive - physically, financially, emotionally - to give much of a darn. My only addiction is coffee.

On the other hand, sometimes there is poll data that cannot be ignored. Inasmuch as we're supposed to be consumed with foreign policy tonight, have another look at the results of a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in December 2010 (http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/):

"At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt . . . say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery [82%], whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery [77%] and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion [84%]."

According to this report, 95% of Egyptian Muslims also believe it is "good" that Islam plays a large role in politics.

You want to know why the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in neighboring Benghazi were attacked on September 11? Here's your answer. It had nothing to do with that silly Internet video.

And by the way, these numbers are not going to change much anytime over the next century.

The New York Times, "U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks": Obama Hands the Mullahs an A-Bomb on a Silver Platter

Do you recall US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's interview on "60 Minutes" in December 2011 in which he said that unless stopped, Iran could build a nuclear weapon within a year, or "perhaps a little less" (see: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7392221n)? Well, a year has almost gone by, and Iran shows no signs of slowing its nuclear weapons development program.

What has the West done? So-called negotiations between the P5+1, led by the EU's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the bovine Catherine Ashton, and Iran have of course come to naught. So now we have the Obama administration leaking, and simultaneously denying, that the US has agreed to engage in direct bilateral negotiations with Iran after the November presidential elections.

Or in other words, Iran is being given the time to finish manufacturing its first atomic weapon.

In a New York Times article entitled "U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/iran-said-ready-to-talk-to-us-about-nuclear-program.html?ref=politics&_r=1&pagewanted=all&), Helene Cooper and Mark Landler describe the secret negotiations between the US and Iran leading to the talks following the election:

"The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy."

The article goes on to say that although "Some American officials would like to limit the talks to Iran’s nuclear program," Iran wishes to expand the discussion "to include Syria, Bahrain and other issues." Any such broadening of the agenda would naturally ensure even futher delay, all in accordance with Tehran's game plan.

In short, Obama has kicked the can even further down the road. If Obama is not re-elected, a nuclear Iran becomes Romney's problem. If Obama is re-elected, preventing Iran from attaining its first nuclear weapon will most likely already have become a moot issue, and the new focus over the course of a second term will shift to containment.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Obama’s Best-Kept Secrets": Not the Rashid Khalidi Tape in the Los Angeles Times's Safe

"What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it!"

- Woody Allen as Alvy Singer in "Annie Hall," 1977

Obama's "best-kept secrets"? No, Thomas Friedman, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama’s Best-Kept Secrets" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/opinion/sunday/friedman-obamas-best-kept-secrets.html), is not referring to the tape of Barry's tribute to Palestinian "activist" Rashid Khalidi, which is locked away in a safe at The Los Angeles Times. If this tape were to be aired, Obama's chances of re-election, already dubious, would evaporate into thin air.

So just what are these "best-kept secrets"? Surely the suspense is killing you!

Tom begins this gem of an opinion piece by observing:

"While I don’t know how Obamacare will turn out, I’m certain that my two favorite Obama initiatives will be transformative."

Ah, yes, Friedman's favorite Obama initiatives. Surely everyone must have at least one. Tom kindly informs us of the Obama intiatives which are closest to his heart:

"His Race to the Top program in education has already set off a nationwide wave of school reform, and his Race to the Top in vehicles — raising the mileage standards for American-made car and truck fleets from 27.5 miles per gallon to 54.5 m.p.g. between now and 2025 — is already spurring a wave of innovation in auto materials, engines and software. Obama mentioned both briefly in the last debate, but I want to talk about them more, because I think they are the future of progressive politics in this age of austerity: government using its limited funds and steadily rising performance standards to stimulate states and businesses to innovate better economic, educational and environmental practices."

You want to score schools on the basis of test results and fund them on the basis of evaluation systems for student and teacher performance? My goodness, we're looking at a whole new opportunity for manipulating test scores and engaging in fraud, although nothing near the malfeasance which plagues Medicare and Social Security.

Obama’s doubling of vehicle mileage by 2025? I don't know if I'll be alive by then. Certainly, Obama will no longer be president.

But let's suppose the US auto industry fails to reach these standards: Does any sane person believe that a future American president will cut the ground out from under GM and Ford, which are struggling to remain competitive, and in GM's case, is struggling to remain afloat after a multi-billion dollar federal bailout?

Me? Like many others around the globe, I already drive a hybrid, which saves me a ton of money on gas. The federal government doesn't need to tell the auto industry that it is in their best interests to manufacture more fuel efficient cars. If GM and Ford won't manufacture such cars in the future, which are competitive with Hondas and Toyotas, they will again be facing financial ruin.

In short, there is no need for the federal government to hang this Sword of Damocles over the heads of US auto industry executives. They know much better than Obama and his team of federal bureaucrats what needs to be done to stay solvent in these troubled times.

So, these are Obama's "best-kept secrets"?

Yes, in case you didn't know by now, the man with that silly thing atop his head (is it alive or dead?) is not one of your brighter lights.

Maureen Dowd, "Pampered Princes Fling Gorilla Dust": "What I Wouldn't Give for a Large Sock with Horse Manure in It!"


"What I wouldn't give for a large sock with horse manure in it!"

- Woody Allen as Alvy Singer in "Annie Hall," 1977

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Pampered Princes Fling Gorilla Dust" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/opinion/sunday/dowd-pampered-princes-fling-gorilla-dust.html), Maureen Dowd, the Queen of Snark, writes:

"Much was made of the alpha tone of the second presidential debate. But it was more like a parody of alpha, a couple of pampered, manicured Harvard princes kicking up 'gorilla dust,' as Ross Perot calls it. In a truly commanding performance, you don’t jab fingers, invade space, bark interruptions."

As we are informed by "A Way with Words" (http://www.waywordradio.org/gorilla_dust/), "gorilla dust" refers to "bluffing, posturing, or hollow attempts at intimidation." This, indeed, seems an apt description of the second Obama-Romney presidential debate.

Or was this spectacle more akin to the "sport" of professional wrestling, which is richly interlaced with thespian skills, and in which the would-be referee also takes part in the action?

Dowd seems unhappy with both candidates; however, she is unsparing in her criticism of her once beloved Barry:

"It has been said that Obama didn’t show up for [the first debate], but the reverse is true: the real Obama did show up, indulging in flashes of petulance, self-pity and passivity at a treacherous moment for himself, other Democratic candidates and all the people working their hearts out — and emptying their wallets out — for him.

. . . .

In some ways, the two rivals are alike: cold, deliberative fish, self-regarding elitists with upbringings out of the norm and trouble connecting at times, as when Obama echoed Jon Stewart’s word 'optimal' on 'The Daily Show' and sounded aloof about the tragedy in Libya: 'If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal.' The mother of one of those Americans, Sean Smith, told The Daily Mail of London, 'It’s insensitive to say my son is not very optimal; he is also very dead.'"

And so, at a time of crisis and grave danger, Americans will soon be going to the polls and asked to choose between two men who neither mean what they say nor say what they mean.

Welcome to a twenty-first century black hole of narcissism destined to suck America through a vortex of greed and corruption, leaving only the desiccated bones of a once great nation. Today, it's all about "me." There is no longer any vestige of honesty, integrity, honor or sacrifice.

If only I could have moderated the second debate instead of Candy Crowley. Trust me: I would have come prepared with a large sock with horse manure in it.

"Romnesia"? What Happened to "Hope" and "Change"?

Plumbing new depths yesterday at a Virginia rally, Obama accused Romney of "'Romnesia' for changing positions and trying to pivot to the political center" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/obama-fires-up-crowd-in-virginia-with-romnesia-speech/2012/10/19/ddde9560-1a13-11e2-aa6f-3b636fecb829_story.html?hpid=z2). My guess is that this latest effort at maligning Romney will meet with all of the success of Obama's Big Bird campaign stratagem.

But heck, as long as we're on the topic of amnesia, whatever happened to:

  • "Hope"?
  • "Change"?
  • Bipartisanship?
  • The pledge to distance lobbyists from the Oval Office?
In case you missed it, Anita (Mao is one of "my favorite political philosphers") Dunn, former senior Obama adviser, is once again walking beside Obama (http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/10/20/Lobby.html) and actively assisting in his reelection effort. This renewed campaign activity is being provided, notwithstanding the fact that "She and her colleagues at SKDKnickerbocker, a communications firm, have built a growing list of blue-chip companies — food manufacturers, a military contractor, the New York Stock Exchange and the Canadian company developing the Keystone XL pipeline — willing to pay handsomely for help in winning over federal regulators or landing government contracts" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/us/politics/anita-dunn-both-insider-and-outsider-in-obama-camp.html?pagewanted=all).

Who's that in the picture also walking beside Obama? Why that's David Plouffe, who "accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010 from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran’s government" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-associate-got-100000-fee-from-affiliate-of-firm-doing-business-with-iran/2012/08/05/5e6888a2-dda2-11e1-8e43-4a3c4375504a_story.html).

Nauseating.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gail Collins, "The Least Popular Subject": She's Almost Correct

When was the last time I agreed with anything that Gail Collins said? Honestly, I can't remember. So it came as something of a shock when Collins, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Least Popular Subject" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/opinion/collins-the-least-popular-campaign-subject-gun-control.html?_r=0), acknowledged that both presidential candidates have refused to embrace gun control. Observing that "there have been 43 American mass shootings in the last year," Collins writes:

"So President Obama, a vocal gun control supporter in his Chicago days, is now a gun control nonmentioner. And, when it comes to legislation in Congress, a nonhelper.

Republicans are usually eager to bring up gun control, the better to denounce it. But Mitt Romney has — surprise! — a complicated history of policy molt on the issue. He was once on the same page as Ted Kennedy, and then the page turned.

. . . .

Into all this stepped [Nina] Gonzalez, who was haunted by the Colorado theater shooting in July that killed 12 people. The gunman carried a 100-bullet assault rifle. The ban on assault weapons, which allow you to fire as fast as you can keep pulling the trigger, expired in 2004. Congress has been afraid to renew it because, you know, there’s the lore."

Well, Collins almost has it right: If the assault rifle is automatic, the shooter doesn't need to continue pulling the trigger to empty his magazine.

As I have previously observed in this blog, much of my life has been spent in the military living with assault rifles. I have eaten, slept and gone to the toilet with my rifle by my side. To be without my rifle would instantly create a feeling of extreme anxiety that something had gone missing from my body.

I also came to know the power of my assault rifles. Fired on automatic, I could unleash a hail of bullets, exchange magazines in the blink of an eye, and resume shooting. And the possession of such an instrument of destruction demanded a heightened level of caution and responsibility to ensure that this tool of death would never be misused while entrusted to me.

Even today, I have nightmares about losing my weapon.

Yes, a maniac will always find a way to kill, but we shouldn't make their task any easier by permitting the sale of assault rifles, which are designed for easy killing.

But is gun control indeed the "least popular subject" in the 2012 election? I don't think so.

Note how both candidates are studiously avoiding, when possible, the subject of America's ground involvement in Afghanistan. No mention of the senseless escalation of this war by Obama. No mention that more than 2,000 United States soldiers have died in this morass. No mention that this war is costing the US some $6 billion per month.

In fact, there is much that is not being addressed by both presidential candidates.

David Brooks, "A Sad Green Story": Green As in Dollars

Yes, everyone is in favor of green tech, especially Al Gore.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Sad Green Story" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/opinion/brooks-a-sad-green-story.html), David Brooks writes:

"Then, in 2008, Barack Obama seized upon green technology and decided to make it the centerpiece of his jobs program. During his presidential campaign he promised to create five million green tech jobs. Renewable energy has many virtues, but it is not a jobs program. Obama’s stimulus package set aside $90 billion for renewable energy loans and grants, but the number of actual jobs created has been small. Articles began to appear in the press of green technology grants that were costing $2 million per job created. The program began to look like a wasteful disappointment.

Federal subsidies also created a network of green tech corporations hoping to benefit from taxpayer dollars. One of the players in this network was, again, Al Gore. As Carol Leonnig reported in The Washington Post last week, Gore left public office in 2001 worth less than $2 million. Today his wealth is estimated to be around $100 million.

Leonnig reports that 14 green tech firms that Gore invested in received or directly benefited from more than $2.5 billion in federal loans, grants and tax breaks. Suddenly, green tech looks less like a gleaming beacon of virtue and more like corporate welfare, further enriching already affluent investors."

Al Gore may have lost the presidential election in 2000, but he has cried all the way to the bank.

Lessons to be learned:


  • Should Obama lose on November 6, his yellow brick road leading out of the White House will be paved with gold.

  • "A sad green story"? Obviously sadder for some than others.


David D. Kirkpatrick, "Suspect in Libya Attack, in Plain Sight, Scoffs at U.S.": The Benghazi Obamination

The Obama administration is now in a race against time to take revenge prior to election day against those who perpetrated the deadly attack against America's Benghazi consulate. Having systematically distorted the nature of this attack for the better part of a month, Obama needs to show his teeth, but not in a transplendent, pearly white grin.

The problem? No one is afraid of Obama. He spent his first three and a half years in office soothing, appeasing, assauging, and mollifying America's enemies across the globe: Assad in Syria, Ahmadinejad in Iran, Putin in Russia, Chavez in Venezuela, and a host of other tyrants, despots and bullies. Obama thought that he could win them over with his smile, but these people don't respond to kindness. Rather, they perceive kindness as weakness.

Executive action? It shouldn't be too hard. Those responsible for the Benghazi attack are not in hiding. Quite the opposite. As reported by David D. Kirpatrick in a New York Times article entitled "Suspect in Libya Attack, in Plain Sight, Scoffs at U.S." (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/19/world/africa/suspect-in-benghazi-attack-scoffs-at-us.html?pagewanted=all)

"Witnesses and the authorities have called Ahmed Abu Khattala one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 attack on the American diplomatic mission here. But just days after President Obama reasserted his vow to bring those responsible to justice, Mr. Abu Khattala spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping mango juice on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments.

Libya’s fledgling national army is a 'national chicken,' Mr. Abu Khattala said, using an Arabic rhyme. Asked who should take responsibility for apprehending the mission’s attackers, he smirked at the idea that the weak Libyan government could possibly do it. And he accused the leaders of the United States of 'playing with the emotions of the American people' and 'using the consulate attack just to gather votes for their elections.'

Mr. Abu Khattala’s defiance — no authority has even questioned him about the attack, he said, and he has no plans to go into hiding — offered insight into the shadowy landscape of the self-formed militias that have come to constitute the only source of social order in Libya since the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi."

Ah, yes, the benefits of leading from behind.

A drone attack from over Libya? The necessary arrangements are not in place. Sorry, but this time assets on the ground, if any are still accessible and not incommunicado following the attack, will need to the job, up-close and dirty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hofstra "Smackdown": At Least Obama and Romney Didn't Come Dressed in Leotards

Throughout the blogosphere there are references to the Hofstra "smackdown" between President Obama and Governor Romney. The definition of "smackdown"? According to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/smackdown):

"2: a contest in entertainment wrestling"

Ah yes, the bona fide "sport" of professional wrestling, richly interlaced with thespian skills, in which the would-be referee also takes part in the action.

The Hofstra debate was indeed a smackdown and took American democracy one rung lower. Thank goodness Obama and Romney did not come dressed in leotards.

And lest I forget, this brief reference to the cage match in Hempstead would not be complete without a special hat tip to Candy Crowley for injecting her thinly veiled partiality into this raunchy event.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "How to Score the Debate": No Winner, Only a Loser

Thomas Friedman has written another "how to" opinion piece. In the past, Tom has swamped us with blithe opinion pieces concerning "how to" fix the economy and "how to" achieve lasting peace in the Middle East. Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "How to Score the Debate" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/opinion/friedman-how-to-score-the-debate.html), Friedman would explain to us on what basis he would award points to Obama and Romney for their performances at Hofstra.

The Friedman scoring system? Simple:

"So, first, I’ll be looking for that honest diagnosis."

Honest? Washington? Yeah, right. As honest as that thing on Tom's head.

"And, second, listen for a plan that rises to the true scale of that challenge, one that proposes job-creating infrastructure investments tied with a program to stimulate more start-ups (which have slowed) tied with a credible deficit-reduction plan — that would be phased in as the economy recovers — tied with a plan to get more Americans postsecondary education."

Is this a run-on sentence, a description of how to judge a decathlon, or just Tom's typical blather. Me? I would be delighted to hear from either candidate the details of any plan at all.

"Third, the country wants a plan that is fair."

Thanks, Tom, but note my answers above: Fair? Washington? Spare me! A plan that is fair? How about just a plan?

"And, fourth, the country wants a plan that is aspirational — a plan that is about making America a great country for the next generation, not just 'balancing the budget.'"

Ah, yes, "aspirational." I suppose Tom is referring to something on the order of "hope" and "change," which have taken us far over the past four years.

And the winner is . . .

Sorry, but this time around there is a loser, but no winner, and the loser is America.

Hillary "Takes Responsibility" for the Benghazi Disaster (But Won't Answer Questions)

The Benghazi cover-up by the Obama administration has taken a new twist. Just one day before Obama's critical second debate with Romney, Hillary Clinton, now off in distant Peru, is saying "I take responsibility" for what happened on September 11 (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/16/us-libya-clinton-idUSBRE89F01V20121016).

Hillary, however, is also refusing to answer questions about the disaster. Note her interchange on October 12 with CNN's Jill Doherty (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/10/new-york-times-editorial-no-shame-times.html):

DOHERTY: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, in the debate – the Vice Presidential Debate last night, there was one thing that the Vice President said, which was, “That is what intelligence told us.” And there’s just one issue that seems so very basic that I’m finding it difficult to understand why it’s not clear, and that is whether or not there actually was a demonstration that night. Is there any clarity that you have at this moment about that?

And then also, could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

HILLARY: Well, Jill, before I answer your question, I want to underscore what an invaluable partner Italy has been in our efforts to support a democratic Libya.

[Blah, blah, blah . . .]

DOHERTY: Mrs. Secretary, if you could, the question was --

HILLARY: I know, but I’m going to leave it at that.

Ah, yes, what it means when a politician takes "responsibility."

Monday, October 15, 2012

David Brooks, "Rules for Craftsmen": Flip-Flopping Has Value?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Rules for Craftsmen" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/16/opinion/brooks-rules-for-craftsmen.html), David Brooks describes the value of a "governing craftsman." Brooks writes:

"In other words, primary campaigns are won by the candidate who can most convincingly champion the party’s agenda, but general election campaigns are won by the candidate who can most plausibly fix the political system. So let’s think carefully about what sort of leader it would take to break through the partisan dysfunction and make Washington work."

So are we to understand that the ability to flip-flop on the issues in order to achieve compromises has value after all? Is this why Romney is adopting moderation as we approach November 6?

Sounds unsavory, but maybe David has a point.

New York Times Editorial, "No Shame": The Times Shamefully Ignores Obama's Benghazi Cover-Up

In an editorial entitled "No Shame" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/opinion/republicans-have-no-shame.html?_r=0),  The New York Times brazenly reprimands Republicans for seeking to cut spending on the protection of US overseas diplomatic facilties. The reality, however, is that no American embassy or consulate is designed to withstand a sustained assault involving mortar fire, gun trucks and RPGs.

A sustained assault involving mortar fire, gun trucks and RPGs? No mention in the Times editorial that this was the nature of the attacks, lasting five hours, against two US facilities in Benghazi. Of course, the Obama administration also sought to hide this fact for the better part of a month by alleging that the attacks involved "spontaneous demonstrations" in response to an inane Internet video.

As stated by the editorial:

"Clearly, there is much we don’t know about what happened in Benghazi or what changes could have saved the four Americans.

. . . .

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has appointed a panel of outside experts to investigate."

"There is much we don't know about what happened in Benghazi"? Indeed, the Obama administration, which received real time reports concerning the true nature of the September 11 attacks (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSBRE89201220121003), has sought to obfuscate the details of the deadly incident. During his debate with Paul Ryan, Vice President Biden did his part to perpetuate the cover-up by declaring:

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why -- why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.

Yes, Biden is lying.

Hillary "has appointed a panel of outside experts to investigate"? Oh, really. Guess who is heading up this investigation? None other than Thomas Pickering, who co-authored a March 20, 2008 article in The New York Review of Books (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21112), which stated:

"The recent National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, together with the significant drop in Iranian activity in Iraq, has created favorable conditions for the US to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program."

Pickering's naivete, as evidenced by his belief in 2008 that Iran had halted its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, should preclude him from managing this sensitive inquiry (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/10/thomas-pickering-is-heading-benghazi.html).

Hillary's ongoing contribution to the cover-up? Note her interchange on October 12 with CNN's Jill Doherty (http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/10/199009.htm):

DOHERTY: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, in the debate – the Vice Presidential Debate last night, there was one thing that the Vice President said, which was, “That is what intelligence told us.” And there’s just one issue that seems so very basic that I’m finding it difficult to understand why it’s not clear, and that is whether or not there actually was a demonstration that night. Is there any clarity that you have at this moment about that?

And then also, could you tell us a little bit about what you were doing when that attack actually happened? I know Charlene Lamb, who as the State Department official, was mentioning that she back here in Washington was monitoring electronically from that post what was happening in real time. Could you tell us what you were doing? Were you watching? Were you talking with the President? Any details about that, please.

HILLARY: Well, Jill, before I answer your question, I want to underscore what an invaluable partner Italy has been in our efforts to support a democratic Libya. [Blah, blah, blah.]

. . . .


With respect to your questions, Jill, I think that it is very important to recognize that we have an investigation going on. We have an Accountability Review Board that is just beginning its work. There is much we still don’t know. And I am the first to say that. But as someone who has been at the center of this tragedy from the beginning, I do know this: There is nobody in the Administration motivated by anything other than trying to understand what happened. And we are doing all we can to prevent it from ever happening again – anywhere. And of course, we are, as a government, doing what it takes to track down those who were responsible.

To this day – to this day, we do not have a complete picture. We do not have all the answers. No one in this Administration has ever claimed otherwise. Every one of us has made clear that we are providing the best information we have at that time. And that information continues to be updated. It also continues to be put into context and more deeply understood through the process we are engaged in. Ambassador Rice had the same information from the intelligence community as every other senior official did.

And that’s the very way that I’m answering your question today, because we can only tell you what we know based on our most current understanding of the attack and what led up to it. Obviously, we know more as time goes by and we will know even more than we did hours and days after the attack.

So that’s what an investigative process is designed to do: to try to sort through all of the information, some of it contradictory and conflicting. And I want us to keep in mind that four Americans were killed, four men who served our country. Dozens of Americans fought for their lives that night, and to honor them we all have to get to the bottom of every question and answer it to the best of our ability. And then we’ve got to be sure that we apply the lessons we learned to make sure that we protect everybody in harm’s way.

So I’m going to be, as I have been from the very beginning, cooperating fully with the investigations that are ongoing, because nobody wants to know more about what happened and why than I do. And I think I’ll leave it at that.

DOHERTY: Mrs. Secretary, if you could, the question was --

HILLARY: I know, but I’m going to leave it at that.

This is classic stonewalling (i.e. malarkey, moonshine, piffle, hokum, hogwash, claptrap, bunkum, tripe, twaddle, wind, flimflam - take your pick), which will surely be studied in international relations courses at leading universities for years to come.

Shame on Hillary.

Shame on The New York Times, whose blind partisanship knows no bounds.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ross Douthat, "The Mystery of Benghazi": Ask Valerie Jarrett

In his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Mystery of Benghazi" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/douthat-the-mystery-of-benghazi.html), Ross Douthat ponders why the Obama administration persisted in presenting a false narrative concerning the deadly attack on the Benghazi consulate. Douthat writes:

"For days after the attack, as it became clearer that the Benghazi violence was a Qaeda operation rather than a protest, White House officials continued to stress the importance of the 'hateful' and 'disgusting' video, and its supposed role as a catalyst for what Susan Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, insisted was a spontaneous attack.

This narrative was pushed on Sunday morning programs, on late-night talk shows and at news conferences, by everyone from Rice to Hillary Clinton to the president himself. When Obama spoke at the United Nations shortly after the attacks, the video was referenced six times in the text; Al Qaeda was referenced only once."

Douthat cites various theories for the failure of the Obama administration to embrace the truth:

  • "[T]his White House can’t resist the urge to appease our enemies."
  • "[T] his White House wants to be seen as tough on terrorism, it’s loath to acknowledge the possibility that it doesn’t have Al Qaeda completely on the run."
  • This "was Al Qaeda striking in Libya, a country where the Obama White House launched a not-precisely-constitutional military intervention with a not-precisely-clear connection to the national interest."
In fact, the reason for the failure was far simpler than any of the above. This is an administration whose foreign policy has been characterized by procrastination, and in this particular instance, no one in particular assumed responsibility. Re-election for its own sake is the order of the day in the West Wing, and events took their own turn.

You don't believe me? Ask the Night Stalker, Valerie Jarrett, who is busy bucking up Obama, now preoccupied with fine-tuning sound bites for Tuesday concerning his rescue of the auto industry.

No mystery here at all.

Maureen Dowd, "An Irish Catholic Wake-Up": Sidestepping the Benghazi Cover-Up

This past Thursday, the Vice President of the United States told a bald-faced lie to the American electorate during his debate with Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. Note the following interchange concerning the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi between moderator Martha Raddatz and Joe Biden:

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on for weeks?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.

Ah, yes, the intelligence community is to blame. Vice President Biden, however, knows that this is "not accurate." The intelligence community never changed its assessment. The White House was almost immediately informed of the exact nature of the deadly attack on the Benghazi consulate. As reported by Reuters (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSBRE89201220121003):

"Within hours of last month's attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama's administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said."

A team player, Biden was willing to do his part to perpetuate the myth that the White House had not received accurate information at the expense of the US intelligence community, some of whom place their lives on the line every day to protect American lives and freedom. Biden would have us believe that this "inaccurate" information from the intelligence community was what caused US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and White House spokesman Jay Carney to label the attack on the Benghazi consulate as "spontaneous."

It should come as no surprise that The New York Times, the unofficial mouthpiece of the Obama administration, is also doing its utmost to avoid mention of the Benghazi cover-up.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "An Irish Catholic Wake-Up" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/an-irish-catholic-wake-up.html?pagewanted=all), Maureen Dowd, who knows almost nothing about foreign affairs, derides Paul Ryan and "the bankrupt neocon philosophy of going to war to prevent war." The Queen of Snark writes:

"Ronald Reagan knew how to bluster for peace. Neocons do not. When they run the show, threatening a war is followed by going to war and that is followed by bollixing up the war and that is followed by our troops’ dying at war and money-pit nation-building to end the war, and that is followed by economic disaster for America."

Well, I'm not a neocon. In fact, according to a PBS political party quiz (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/vote2012/quiz/), my answers place me closest to being a "moderate Democrat." In any event, whatever I may or may not be, I have consistently opposed Obama's inane escalation of the ground war in Afghanistan, which has resulted in the tragic deaths of more than 2,000 American soldiers and which is costing the US $6 billion per month. Sorry, Maureen, but this is Obama's mess.

Near the end of her opinion piece, Dowd finally gets around to mentioning the Benghazi debacle:

"Biden’s weakest moment was on Libya, where he stumbled as he claimed that the White House didn’t know about requests for more security for diplomats there. It is likely true that such an appeal never made it through the Foggy Bottom bureaucracy to the West Wing. But the vice president should have been prepared to answer questions about a blunder that has scuffed the administration’s national security luster.

. . . .

The president’s advisers now realize they will need a much better explanation by Tuesday, when Romney is certain to press Obama on the issue."

Of course, Dowd is cleverly attempting to sidestep Biden's fib concerning when the Obama administration first became aware of the true nature of the deadly attack on the Benghazi consulate and Obama's month-long effort to flummox the American electorate.

Shame on Biden for defaming the US intelligence community.

Shame on Dowd for her willingness to dodge the issue.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gail Collins, "Veeps Go Yeep! Nation Nods.": What About Benghazi?

Nothing happened at the Biden-Ryan debate? Well, that depends if you want to ignore the Obama administration's ongoing cover-up of the Benghazi disaster.

In her latest New York Times op-ed enitled "Veeps Go Yeep! Nation Nods." (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/13/opinion/collins-veeps-go-yeep-nation-nods.html), Gail Collins declares:

"I think I speak for all of America when I say nothing that interesting happened with the vice-presidential candidates."

Speak for yourself, Gail. Note what Biden had to say about Benghazi:

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on for weeks?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment.

Once again, Vice President Biden knows that this is "not accurate." The intelligence community never changed its assessment. The White House was almost immediately informed of the exact nature of the deadly attack on the Benghazi consulate. As reported by Reuters (http://mobile.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSBRE89201220121003):

"Within hours of last month's attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama's administration received about a dozen intelligence reports suggesting militants connected to al Qaeda were involved, three government sources said."

A team player, Biden was willing to do his part to perpetuate the myth that the White House had not received accurate information.

Collins, also a team player, systematically ignores Benghazi.

Who "won" the Biden-Ryan debate? I don't know. Moving ahead, however, Biden may have lost the 2012 election for the Democrats by embellishing the Benghazi cover-up and further painting the Obama administration into a corner.

Thomas Pickering Is Heading the Benghazi Investigation?: Say It Ain't So, Joe!

From the Biden-Ryan debate (see: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/10/11/transcript-vice-presidential-debate/#ixzz293RyWjef):

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why -- why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That's why there's also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.

The intelligence community told Obama that the Benghazi consulate was under siege by "protesters"? Sorry, Mr. Vice President, but we both know this is a bald-faced lie.

Thomas Pickering is performing the investigation as to whether there were any "lapses" at Benghazi? Please tell me that there has been some mistake.

As I wrote in November 2009 (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2009/11/campaign-for-new-american-policy-on.html):

Following the execution by hanging this past week of Ehsan Fattahian, a 26-year-old Iranian Kurd, have a look at the website of "Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran" ("CNAPI"): http://www.newiranpolicy.org/401.html [the website has long since vanished]. More specifically, note that there is not a single mention of Iranian human rights abuses on their home page.

Now go to their "Campaign Mission Statement":

Supporters of the Campaign for New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) believe new U.S. diplomatic leadership is urgently required to resolve tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

A military confrontation with Iran would have enormous human and financial costs and would plunge the Middle East into further chaos. Just the threat of military conflict elevates oil prices and fosters global insecurity.

While serious concerns regarding the Government of Iran's statements and behavior persist, we believe America must pursue new, far-sighted and responsible policies towards Iran aimed at stabilizing the region and bolstering America’s safety, economic security and international standing.

CNAPI supporters believe sanctions cannot replace diplomacy as a means of resolving differences between nations. They also decry hostile official rhetoric which exacerbates tensions and reinforces misunderstandings and false animus between people in the United States and Iran.

Effective U.S. diplomacy with Iran, coupled with more open engagement between Iranian and American societies, could yield progress on all outstanding issues and foster mutually beneficial cooperation in efforts to stabilize Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other conflict zones.

Supporters of CNAPI call upon the governments of both the U.S. and Iran to honor international human rights obligations and abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They believe mutual respect for human rights and civil liberties should be intrinsic to any negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

Supporters of CNAPI believe sustained, direct, bilateral, and comprehensive talks without preconditions between the governments of the United States and Iran represent a realistic way to resolve long-standing conflicts that destabilize the Middle East and by extension, threaten the global economy.

We invite you to join us in our efforts.

. . . .

CNAPI lists among its "experts" "who endorse the goals of the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran and provide the Campaign with invaluable analysis and advice":

- Flynt Leverett, who, together with Hillary Mann Leverett, wrote two op-eds for The New York Times in 2009, calling for rapprochement with Iran.

- Thomas Pickering, former U.S. Ambassador to Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, the United Nations, India and Russia.

- William H. Luers, former U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Venezuela.

- Dr. James Walsh, described by the website as "a Research Associate in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he is leading two series of dialogues on nuclear issues, including one with leading figures in Iran."

Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett's May 24, 2009 New York Times op-ed, "Have We Already Lost Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/opinion/24leverett.html), and September 28, 2009 op-ed, "How to Press the Advantage with Iran" (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/opinion/29leverett.html), do not discuss Iranian human rights violations.

Luers, Pickering and Walsh authored a March 20, 2008 article in The New York Review of Books entitled, "A Solution for the US–Iran Nuclear Standoff", which begins by stating:

"The recent National Intelligence Estimate's conclusion that Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, together with the significant drop in Iranian activity in Iraq, has created favorable conditions for the US to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program."

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21112

"Tehran stopped its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003"? "Favorable conditions to hold direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program"? Sorry, but you don't have an inkling of what's happening here or why.

Subsequent to this blog entry, I sent an e-mail to Tom Pickering:

"You are listed as one of CNAPI's "experts who endorse the goals of the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran and provide the Campaign with invaluable analysis and advice."

Could you please inform me who is funding and managing this organization? This is not at all apparent from CNAPI's website. Thank you for your kind assistance."

Pickering's response:

"Jeffrey: Thank you for this information. I am not sure what CNAPI is. I will find out. In the meantime I have no recollection of having given them permission to use my name. Tom"

I never heard back from Pickering.

The nature of Pickering's association with CNAPI, if any, needs to be urgently determined before he continues his investigation of the Benghazi disaster.

Regardless of any association with CNAPI, his naivete, as evidenced by his belief in 2008 that Iran had halted its efforts to develop nuclear weapons in 2003, should preclude him from managing this sensitive inquiry.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

David Brooks, "The Generation War": Confusing "Virility" With "Incivility"

Joe Biden is 69-years-old. Paul Ryan is 42. I am 58, i.e. somewhere in the middle. To whose generation do I belong? Do I still belong at all?

Weighing in on the Biden-Ryan debate in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Generation War" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/brooks-the-generation-war.html), David Brooks concludes:

"This was a battle of generations. The age difference was the undercurrent of every exchange. The older man had the virility, but, in a way, that will seem antique to many."

Excuse me, David, but "virility" is exhibited by interrupting an opponent with snickers and derision?

At a time when the US is teetering on the edge of an economic disaster of unprecedented dimensions, Americans should be seeking proposals and not testosterone.

Brooks confuses "virility" with "incivility." Me? I believe that etiquette and manners were more characteristic of years goneby, i.e. when Biden was still a young man.

I had a meeting with an elected official yesterday, and throughout the 40 minutes that I sat with this man, I could sense the wheels spinning in his head. What was in his best personal interests?

I asked this politician if he ever watches movies, and I asked him in this instance to choose "right" as opposed to "wrong," as might a Hollywood hero.

But I don't think that my arguments resonated with him. After all, we live in an age of narcissism, spanning all generations, in which rudeness is in vogue.

Paul Krugman, "Triumph of the Wrong?": Obama's Economic Policy a "Presumption"

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Triumph of the Wrong?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/krugman-triumph-of-the-wrong.html), Paul Krugman remarkably acknowledges that Obama is asking to be re-elected without an economic policy:

"Which brings us to the question of what form economic policies will take after the election.

If Mr. Obama wins, he’ll presumably go back to pushing for modest stimulus, aiming to convert the gradual recovery that seems to be under way into a more rapid return to full employment."

"Presumably"? How charming that Americans are being asked to re-elect Obama on the basis of "presumed" economic policy when:

  • The US is more that $16 trillion in debt;
  • "[T]he federal budget deficit in 2012 will total $1.1 trillion, according to [CBO] estimates, "marking the fourth year in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43539);"
  • "Federal debt held by the public will reach 73 percent of GDP by the end of this fiscal year—the highest level since 1950 and about twice the share that it measured at the end of 2007 (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43539);"
  • Health care costs are spiraling out of control.
Given what's at stake, shouldn't there be a game plan? There is nothing "wrong" with betting the farm on the basis of a "presumption"? Apparently, this does not trouble hyper-partisan Nobelists.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gail Collins, "Democrats at the Deep End": No Mention of Benghazi

Do you remember the 1972 presidential election when President Nixon was opposed by Democrat George McGovern? I do. I still have a McGovern campaign button tucked away somewhere in my closet. But more to the point, I never understood why the Nixon administration ordered the Watergate break-in. It was clear to all that Nixon was going to win by a landslide, and he had nothing to gain from breaking into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters. Perhaps the operation appealed to Nixon's paranoia.

Today, I find myself wondering why the Obama administration sought, over the better part of a month, to falsify what occurred at the US consulate in Benghazi on September 11. As I observed in this blog on September 12 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/gail-collins-mitts-major-meltdown.html), the deadly attack was obviously premeditated. So why did the Obama administration deem it necessary to blame the attack on a "spontaneous" demonstration in response to a ridiculous video? Was this attempt to mischaracterize the events in Benghazi part of an effort to buttress the argument that Obama had long since brought al-Qaeda to heel when he blew away Osama bin Laden? Was someone trying to salve Obama's enormous ego?

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, in stealth mode, "has made no public mention of the attack or investigation since Oct. 3" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/benghazi-attack-may-mar-clintons-legacy/2012/10/09/b7a8e382-1220-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html).

Yes, the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi is a major scandal.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Democrats at the Deep End" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/11/opinion/collins-democrats-at-the-deep-end.html), Gail Collins makes light of Obama's recent decline in nationwide polling:

"Things haven’t really gone off the deep end for the Obama campaign. They’ve gone back to normal. You knew that the Obama-is-going-to-win-by-10-points euphoria wasn’t going to last. When did anybody ever win a presidential race by 10 points? Don’t tell me about Ronald Reagan. When Ronald Reagan was president, gas was 90 cents a gallon and I was writing on a Kaypro.

Maybe Democrats should try to be more like the Republicans, and reduce stress by blaming all bad news on incorrect information, cooked up by cabals of political partisans."

Sorry, Gail, but the only incorrect information concerning the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was cooked up by senior Obama administration officials.

The Aftermath of Benghazi: Hillary in 2016? Not a Chance!

A major scandal is brewing.

Yesterday, Jonathan Karl of ABC News broke the story that the Obama administration has not been telling the truth about the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The US State Department has finally gotten around to acknowledging that there was no protest outside the consulate. Rather, as I informed readers of this blog on September 12 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/gail-collins-mitts-major-meltdown.html), the deadly assault was pre-planned.

This concerted effort to mislead the American public could have a grave impact on Obama's re-election campaign.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has gone into hiding. As reported by The Washington Post today (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/benghazi-attack-may-mar-clintons-legacy/2012/10/09/b7a8e382-1220-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.html):

"Clinton will not appear at a Wednesday oversight hearing on the Libya attack, where House Republicans have said they will question the State Department’s security preparations and the administration’s account of the attack. The State Department will instead send a trusted career diplomat along with three security officials.

. . . .

Clinton has made no public mention of the attack or investigation since Oct. 3. She has no public speaking events on her schedule this week. A trusted Clinton confidant who is the chief protector of her image is reviewing all media inquiries related to the attack."

Might Hillary resurface in 2016 as the Democratic contender for the presidency? No way. The events in Benghazi have buried her career.

Thomas Friedman, "It’s Not Just About Us": More on the Middle East From the Mastermind

Thomas Friedman, writing from his Maryland mansion, would again enlighten us as to events in the Middle East. In his latest New York Times
op-ed entitled "It’s Not Just About Us" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/opinion/friedman-what-romney-didnt-say.html), Tom proclaims:

"How does the U.S. impact a region with so many cross-cutting conflicts and agendas? We start by making clear that the new Arab governments are free to choose any path they desire, but we will only support those who agree that the countries that thrive today: 1) educate their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empower their women; 3) embrace religious pluralism; 4) have multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintain their treaty commitments; and 6) control their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law."

Or stated otherwise, America doesn't need to support any Arab governments, and those specializing in Middle East affairs at the US State Department can now go home.

Thanks, Tom, for this cogent thinking.

Maureen Dowd, "Barry Trails Off . . .": Spontaneous Combustion

Was it the altitude? Was it a lack of sleep? Was it the absence of teleprompters? Or was it Obama's wish "to be alone," as suggested by Maureen Dowd in her New York Times op-ed entitled "Barry Trails Off . . ." (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/opinion/dowd-barry-trails-off.html)?

Theories abound concerning Obama's train wreck debate performance. The crack-up incidentally coincides with Hillary's attempts to make herself scarce following the disaster in Benghazi, which the Obama administration sought to sell as "spontaneous."

After being told by pundits from the left, such as New York Times columnist Gail Collins, that debates don't matter (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/10/gail-collins-season-of-debates-what.html), we are now witnessing panic among Obama's advisers as they scramble to deflect the blame for the debacle in Denver. Yes, debates do matter, and yes, Obama is down in the polls.

So who is responsible for Barry's washout? Someone always needs to be blamed, and Dowd, in her latest opinion piece, points a red laser beam at Valerie Jarett:

"Obama has been coddled by Valerie Jarrett, the adviser who sat next to Michelle at the debate, instead of the more politically strategic choice of local pols and their spouses. Jarrett believes that everyone must woo the prodigy who deigns to guide us, not the other way around."

True, Jarrett lacks the economics and foreign affairs experience needed to act as the president's closest aide. However, Jarrett fills another vital role in the Obama administration. The "night stalker" was chosen to massage Obama's narcissism and act as a surrogate mother figure, and she bears little responsibility for the president's lack of preparation prior to the debate.

Dowd alternatively suggests that Obama's self-destructive urges were to blame:

"The president is good at analyzing the psychology of other world leaders, and he wrote an acclaimed memoir about his long, lonely odyssey of self-discovery. But he doesn’t always do a good job at analyzing his own psychology to avoid self-destructive patterns."

Obama is "good at analyzing the psychology of other world leaders"? Khamenei in Iran? Putin in Russia? Don't even get me started. This claim highlights Dowd's own self-destructive need to showcase her bovinity involving world affairs.

Obama's "acclaimed memoir about his long, lonely odyssey of self-discovery"? Regrettably, as acknowledged by Obama himself ("For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I've known"), much of this autobiography consists of fiction.

So what ultimately lies behind Obama's cave-in? Dowd concludes:

"It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. His latest fund-raising plea is marked 'URGENT.' But in refusing to muster his will and energy, and urgently sell his vision, he underscores his own lapses in leadership and undermines arguments for four more years."

Sell or even explain his economic policies? Excuse me, Maureen, but where are these policies?

In fact, Maureen has accidentally hit the nail on the head: There is nothing to sell. For months Obama has led in the polls by demonizing a straw man in 30-second spot advertisments. However, the American electorate has now learned that Romney, although far from perfect, doesn't have horns.

Bottom line: This was a case of long overdue spontaneous combustion.