Trey Gowdy schools the media about its abysmal lack of curiosity regarding Benghazi

Bloody fingerprints in BenghaziIf you had been at my house when I first saw this video, you would have seen me stand up and cheer.  And then cheer some more.

Usually, I find it very boring when members of Congress give speeches and press conferences. They’re not orators and they’re often very bad at communicating facts, making ideological arguments, or scoring political points.

Trey Gowdy is different. Not only is he an orator, he was doing something much more important than just scoring political facts or making a noise: He was reminding a recalcitrant media that facts are stubborn things. Because reporters ignored its special protections and privileges under the Constitution, and refused to hunt down the facts, Congress is going to have to do their job for them.

Using a series of — for the media — shamefully unanswerable rhetorical questions, Gowdy undercuts them from the get-go, leaving the path clear to an honest investigation into the facts about Benghazi. It’s brilliant. It’s a tour de force.  It’s worth every second of your time:

Hat tip: CainTV

Monday mid-day round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesLooking at the headlines lately, I have the feeling we’re at a tipping point in America. I’ve had this feeling before, and it’s been an icky feeling, because my concern was that the slippery slope we were about to slide down would land America in the ditch. Now, though, I have a sense that what’s going to end up in the ditch, rather than being our whole nation, might just be is the Progressive agenda, as more and more Americans look at Progressivism unmasked and don’t like what they see.

Of course, until we have a strong conservative movement, all that will happen is that America will pull back just a little from the edge; it’s not yet heading in an entirely different direction. Moreover, events that are already in motion are still going to happen, so it’s going to get worse before it gets better.  Still, today, for the first time in a long time, I actually think things might get better.

And now, the interesting stuff:

George Orwell understood that one of the primary ways in which the left works is to pervert language. Case in point:  the demand for same-sex (or gay) marriage. For the entirety of human history, no matter the time, place, government, or religion, “marriage” has been a union of man and woman or, sometimes, man and women. The core nature of the word marriage is the societally-sanctioned coming together of male and female. To extend “marriage” to persons of the same-sex effectively strips the word of meaning. It can now mean anything. Humpty-Dumpty has taken over.

You’ve heard me on this point before, but it seems appropriate to repeat it here, after having read that the first openly gay Episcopalian Bishop is divorcing his husband after only four years:

“My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate,” Robinson wrote. “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

You’ll notice that God and gospel don’t figure anywhere in this ordained bishop’s New Age homage to love.

I don’t think it’s any stretch to say that Robinson fully understood that what he entered into four years ago was not a “marriage.” It was, instead, a Leftist effort to destroy the church from within by leaching the sacraments, including the sacrament of marriage, of any meaning. And without sacraments, you don’t have a church.  And without a church, you have no morality and rules, creating a nice vacuum that the Progressive state can rush to fill.

Let me say again that I don’t have a big problem with civil gay unions, because it’s quite reasonable to extend certain civil benefits to long-term partnerships, regardless of their sexual makeup. I do, however, have a huge problem with the gay marriage movement, which sets out to destroy the meaning behind words as a predicate to destroying the existential meaning necessary to maintain very useful cultural institutions.

(For another example of the linguistic march through institutions, pay attention to the fact that the U.N., which is “investigating” the Vatican regarding it’s truly shameful sex abuse scandals, has included in its mission statement the claim that banning abortion constitutes a form of sexual abuse.)

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Thomas Lifson explains why Democrats are getting nervous about Benghazi. It seems to me that the Dems’ only hope is that, because the scandal isn’t about sex, the media can run interference by alternating burying it or claiming that it’s nothing but a partisan ploy. I remember back in 1998 the media’s claim (which I, a credulous Democrat, believed) that the Lewinsky scandal was a fake product of the vast right wing conspiracy. Unfortunately for the media, though, the sex factor in the scandal made it impossible to bury.  When the truth behind the little blue dress came out, the best that the media could do was to say that Clinton’s peculiar, immoral sex practices had nothing to do with his being president. That option isn’t open this time around.  Obama’s Benghazi passivity and lies have everything to do with his being president.

In 2014, with Trey Gowdy in charge of the House’s Benghazi investigation committee, and with the internet there to expose things the media wants to hide, Democrats may find it a bit harder to bury this scandal than when they tried, unsuccessfully, to do the same thing with Clinton’s erotic escapades.

I expect Gowdy to make good hay out of the White House’s threatened refusal to cooperate. The lawyer in me knows that when the other side refuses to play, it’s got something to hide.

Or maybe, per Michael Ramirez, there really was a video — a very specific video — driving what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi massacre.

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Today is Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli version of Memorial Day, on which Israel remembers the many men and women who have died in the service of that brave and beleaguered country. Today is also the day that something peculiar happened:  Britain’s hard left Guardian newspaper ran a long article sympathetically retelling the story of the massacre Kfar Etzion, when Jordanian troops killed 127 civilians on May 13, 1948. Writing at Commentary, Tom Wilson points out how peculiar the Guardian’s article is:

“Massacre that Marred the Birth of Israel” reads a headline in theGuardian, and your heart sinks. This is the last thing one feels like reading as Israel enters into forty-eight hours of commemoration, celebration, mourning, and remembrance; today is Israel’s memorial day for fallen soldiers and terror victims, tomorrow Israel’s independence day marking sixty-six years since the reestablishment of the Jewish state. Yet, on closer inspection the headline might be thought a little misleading.

This column by the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont turns out not to be just another hit piece laden with the usual allegations of Zionist crimes against forlorn Palestinians. In a newspaper typically more inclined to give over its pages to stories about what Israel’s opponents call the Nakba—the catastrophe of Israel’s creation—it is rather disorienting, if refreshing, to find a piece so sympathetically recounting the macabre events of the Kfar Etzion massacre.

The Guardian’s uncharacteristic behavior goes back to that “tipping point” feeling I mentioned.  I’m wondering if some of the saner Leftists, peering into the abyss towards which they led us, are realizing that the West won’t tumble into some socialist paradise but will, instead, find itself in a poverty-stricken, sharia-compliant world.  And while the hard-core Leftists might not mind this, or are continuing to deny it, others may be troubled by that vision and may attempt to put the brakes on.

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A long time ago, I did a post called “Remembering when Jews were popular.” I’m not well-informed about Jewish culture, but I’ve definitely noticed how American popular culture has changed since I was a child, in the 1960s, when so much of the entertainment world was composed of Jews or was friendly to Jews. James Loeffler, more informed and erudite than I, sees the same changes, not at the overall cultural level (which was what I noticed), but amongst the Jews themselves.

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Yet another moment of tipping in the right direction? The head of a local teacher’s union is embarrassed to have been involved in administering Common Core tests to the students at his school.

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Read and enjoy Nigel Lawson’s splendid, truly humanist, take down of climate alarmism.

And while we’re on the subject of biased, bad “science,” it is absolutely fascinating to read how Ancel Benjamin Keys, the man who made us afraid of saturated fat, deliberately set up a biased study and then compounded that bias with ignorance and flawed research techniques. I love meat, and eat way too little of it since Mr. Bookworm, in thrall to “science,” gets agitated when meat enters our house. Just know that, if you ever come to town and want to join me for lunch or dinner, I’ll suggest a burger or other type of meat place, since those are my go-to dining out options.

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Considering that the Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to pass laws, it would seem to me that Congress has standing to sue when the chief executive usurps that power by unilaterally changing those laws. But then again, I’m not a constitutional scholar, nor am I a Progressive federal court judge, so my opinion doesn’t matter, does it?

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And a song I like, which expresses my feeling on a day when the tipping point might finally be tipping in the right direction:

The administration’s puppets engage in Obama’s familiar pattern of lies when trying to avoid the smoking gun Benghazi email

Bloody fingerprints in BenghaziThis post is about the administration’s new tactic to get out from under the painful weight of the Ben Rhodes Benghazi email which establishes pretty definitively that the administration immediately began a cover-up after Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone S. Woods were murdered. But before I get to the administration’s new tactic, let me quote at some length from a May 2008 post I wrote about Obama’s unique approach to lies, which I think of as the “affirmative defense style of lying.”

Obama is also a fairly compulsive liar, something that highlights myriad other problems. That is, whenever he’s caught in a problematic situation (ah, those friends of his), rather than making a clean breast of it, or a good defense, he instead engages in a perfect storm of ever-spiraling affirmative defenses, with the common denominator always being that it’s everyone’s fault but Obamas.

For those who are not lawyers, let me explain what affirmative defenses are. A complaint contains allegations that the defendant committed myriad acts of wrongdoing. In response, the defendant does two things. First, he denies everything except his own name, and he’d deny that too, if he could. Next, he issues affirmative defenses, which concede the truth of the accusations, but deny that they have any legal or practical meaning.

As an example of how this plays out, imagine a complaint alleging that I smashed my car into a fence, destroying it. I’d start by saying, “No, I didn’t.” Then I’d begin the affirmative defenses: (1) “Okay, I did bring my car into contact with the fence, but I didn’t actually hurt the fence.” (2) “Okay, I hurt the fence, but I didn’t hurt it badly enough to entitle its owner to any damages.” (3) “Okay, I destroyed the fence, but it was falling down already, so it’s really the owner’s fault, so he gets no damages.” And on and on, in a reductio ad absurdum stream of admissions and excuses.

These affirmative defense patterns have shown up with respect to some of Obama’s nastiest little pieces of personal history. When Jeremiah Wright’s sermons first surfaced, Obama denied knowing anything about them. When that denial failed, he claimed that he only had one or two exposures to this deranged level of hatred, so he didn’t make much of it. When that denial failed, he conceded that he’d heard this stuff often over the years, but wasn’t concerned about it, because he knew his pastor was a good man. (Which makes Obama either complicit in the statements or a fool.) Indeed, he even made a much-heralded speech about what a good man his pastor is. He then promised that he’d never abandon his beloved pastor. But when his pastor became dead weight, Obama dropped him so hard you could hear the thud.

The same pattern appeared when word got out about Obama’s connection with two self-admitted, unrepentant, America-hating terrorists. (That would be William Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn, for anyone out of the loop here.) When caught, Obama again engaged in a perfect storm of affirmative defenses. (1) I don’t know them. [A lie.] (2) Okay, I know them, but not well. [A lie.] (3) Okay, I know them well, but we’re just good friends, not political fellow travelers. [A lie.] (4) Okay, we’re more than just good friends, because we served on a Leftist board and I sought political advice from him. And on and on. With every lie, Obama concedes, and then comes forward with a new lie.

The same pattern emerges with Rezko, with Obama freely ranging from “I didn’t know him,” to “I never took favors from him,” to “I didn’t take big favors from him,” to “I took a big favor from him, but I didn’t know it was a big favor.” It just goes ad nauseum, as if Obama is a machine, programmed to spew forth this endless flow of denial and concession. The guy is pathological in his inability to admit wrongdoing and his ability to prevaricate.

[snip]

The question then becomes whether American voters will be happy with the constant barrage of Obama lies, and will be willing to travel Obama’s incremental pathways to unpleasant truths, or if they’re at last going to rebel and say “Who and what are you?” And if they finally get the truth, and it’s pretty sure to be ugly will it matter?

I’d like to think that the truth will matter, just as I’d like to think that, for many Americans, the mere fact that he lied so compulsively will matter too. After all, that is one of the reasons they’ve grown to hate Hillary. My dream is that, no matter how perfectly polished and highly functional the Obama political machine is, the fact that Obama is still the core of that machine will be, in and of itself, an insurmountable problem for him.

In sum, Obama tells a whopper of a lie, and then backs off of it incrementally, always preserving some little space of credibility where his lie really doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter.

With that in mind, please enjoy Ace’s summary about the way in which the White House’s Pravda-MSM press is trying to spin that smoking gun Benghazi email today:

We saw this script change in the case of Bill Clinton, after the revelation of the Blue Dress.

We saw this script change much more recently in the case of Obama’s “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance lie,” when the script flipped from “You’re stupid and crazy to doubt Obama” to “Of course you can’t keep your insurance, that’s at the heart of the program’s cost-control measures; you’re stupid and crazy to have not realized this sooner!”

And now reliably thoughtless yabbering baboon Donnie Deutsch executes the pivot on Benghazi.

“What about the cover-up for the White House?” Scarborough interjected. “I’ve got everybody here apologizing for the White House. What about a cover-up, Donnie?”
“Why are you jumping to political strategy?” he continued. “So, tell me, what’s the politics of the White House lying about something that we all know they’re lying about?”

“You see the White House spokesperson lying on national television. You see an ABC Newsperson shocked that he’s lying and treating the press corps like they’re stupid. He says it’s not about Benghazi. Republicans and conservatives have been called fools for a year now for saying this happened. They don’t release it with the original the documents. They finally, reluctantly are forced to release it. Then you have the White House lying about it, saying it’s not about Benghazi, and you’re only reaction is, ‘Hey, Republicans better not overreact to the cover-up?’”

“We, as voters, understand both Republicans and Democrats are political animals and are going to manage a crisis to their favor,” Deutsch contested before he was interrupted.

“So, when Democrats cover something up, it’s politics,” Scarborough interjected. “When Republicans cover something up, it’s a scandal.” He closed by calling his co-hosts reaction to the White House’s behavior a “disgrace.”

So Scarborough says “we all know they’re lying,” and Deutsch finally — finally — does not dispute that, but instead chooses to recharacterize the acts of serial lying and cover-up as just some understandable political-animal crisis management.

For eighteen months the line from Obama — and therefore the line from the White House’s communications shops at ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN — has been that Obama was not a “political animal,” and certainly not on a matter of national security.

Now that the Blue Dress Proof of the emails are released, the defense changes to “Of course, this is all obvious, how stupid are you are for dwelling on obvious things.”

Read the rest here.

Please remember:  Malignant narcissists never lie.  Whatever they need to say at a given moment is the truth at that given moment.

Please remember also that a greater is probably never in greater danger than when both the government and the media are either narcissistic or have embraced narcissistic tactics as standard operating procedure.

So, for many reasons — to avenge our dead, to strengthen our national security, and to purge our government of sociopaths — in answer to Hillary’s timeless question about what difference this all makes, let me just say that it makes a Hell of a lot of difference.

Donald Sterling is the Left’s desperately needed “wag the dog” moment, distracting from their myriad failures

Wag The Dog-01Wag The Dog was a clever black comedy about a president hiring a Hollywood producer to trick the public into believing there was a war in Albania in order to distract the public from a sex scandal right before an election.  The movie came out in 1997, and became forever cemented in the public’s consciousness when, in 1998, Bill Clinton bombed a few pharmaceutical factories right around the time Monica Lewinsky and blue dresses were becoming a big deal.  Donald Sterling is the Left’s new “wag the dog” moment — a racial one, this time, not a martial one, because we live in the age of Obama.

If you think about the Sterling scandal without the attendant hysteria it’s pretty pathetic:  desiccated, insecure, ugly, rich, old man fears that his black/Latina girlfriend’s palling around with handsome, successful, young(ish), black men will make him look like what he really is:  a eunuch with a gold digger on his arms.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)

— “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)

— “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)

— “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)

But for the fact that there are a few other racist incidents in Sterling’s past (refusing to rent apartments to blacks or Latinos, and making nasty comments), what you really see here is enormous sexual insecurity. Sterling doesn’t view these black men as inferiors.  Instead, he sees them as a threat to his virility and his relationship with a young woman who, because of her own background, could easily be seen as preferring them to this desiccated, pot-bellied, mean-spirited little man.

Nevertheless, the story overnight mushroomed in an hysteric denouncement of racism, with special emphasis on the fact that Sterling, being old, rich, and white, must be a Republican, a fact that makes him representative of all Republicans.  It was irrelevant that, while Donald Sterling’s official political affiliation is the subject of much debate, it’s pretty clear that he’s been pouring money into Democrat causes, including making very nice with the NAACP for years, resulting in his receiving an NAACP lifetime achievement award in 2009.  It’s also irrelevant that the vast majority of America’s Republicans and conservatives are neither rich nor old, that many aren’t white, and that Sterling’s closest demographic relatives (rich, white, and racist) live in the Democrat party.  (I’m talking to you, Harry Reid.)

I’m not denying that Sterling’s remarks were couched in racial terms, are nasty, and are therefore racist.  But let’s get serious here: Are the privately-stated rantings of an old, insecure man so important that they should result in thousands of news stories, headlines, tweets, Facebook posts, magazine articles, analyses, etc.?

No, his rantings aren’t important at all.  Contrary to what many Americans are being made to believe, this isn’t really about a rich, powerful sports team owner saying mean things about black people. Instead, the Donald Sterling story is about sucking the oxygen out of the news cycle so that people who don’t pour over it as obsessively as you and I do aren’t paying attention to a few other important stories.

What’s important to know is that most people can’t hold that many thoughts or sensations simultaneously.  That’s why, with a few exceptions, multitasking is an illusion and, quite often, especially when cars are involved, a very dangerous one.   A million years ago, my Lamaze teacher told me the human mind’s inability to process more than three, maybe four, disparate bits of information at the same time is the real secret behind Lamaze. The breathing doesn’t change anything in the birth process. What’s important is to drag the woman’s focus away from the pain and put it somewhere else.

In today’s political world, if you’re busy fulminating about a pathetic 80-year-old gnome, you’re not going to have room in your brain or your emotions for myriad news stories that are infinitely more important.  These stories include:

1.  The revelation that there is concrete evidence proving that the lies about the Benghazi attack originated in the White House and were a deliberate effort before an election to hide the fact that the administration knew that Al Qaeda was resurgent and that, despite this knowledge, it failed to protect Americans before and during the attack, leaving four Americans quite horribly dead.  Apparently the administrations fraudulent lies to the American public weren’t limited to Obamacare.

2.  The fact that Secretary of State John Kerry botched the Middle East peace talks so terribly that the Palestinians threw themselves into Hamas’s arms, with Kerry blaming Israel for this failure, before using PLO-esque language to announce that Israel is turning into an apartheid nation. Kerry is either evil or a fool. Who knows? What we do know is that Kerry’s never been either an honest or unbiased broker in the peace talks, and he’s certainly been an incompetent negotiator.

3.  The embarrassing reality that what was once the most powerful nation in the world is now so manifestly weak that, from Russia to Venezuela, with stops at all points in between, including Syria and Afghanistan, every bad actor in the world thumbs his nose at Obama, even as that actor cuts a bloody swath in his wake. I’m not saying that Obama has any ability now to remedy the situation in Ukraine, Syria, Venezuela, the West Bank, etc. He doesn’t. He knows, the American people know, and the bad guys know that America will not, and therefore cannot, fight. The problem is that Obama got us into this situation in the first place. He radiated weakness like a badly wounded Wildebeest lying in the noonday sun on the African plain. He turned America into hyena bait.

4.  The recent admission that America had another “unexpectedly” slow growth in the first quarter of 2014 (a mere 0.1%), something the MSM-Pravda media immediately blamed on the weather. As Sadie helpfully pointed out to me, the extreme winter, although it hit China too, didn’t slow China’s economy at all. (But do keep in mind that China’s supposedly glowing economic numbers are probably on the extreme end of lies, damn lies, and statistics. The rule of thumb is that data from leftists always lies.)

5.  The ongoing, extreme, exponentially growing disaster that is Obamacare.  At the end of the day, Obamacare’s only success will have been that it managed to use government coercion, threats, and penalties to force 8 million people to sign up for insurance through government exchanges. Wow! Government bullying works. What government bullying couldn’t do was make 20-30% of the new enrollees pay for this insurance; make the enrollment balanced, rather than weighted in favor of the old and sick; get doctors and hospitals to agree to sign onto low-paying networks; lower costs for the middle class people forced off of their good policies; keep deductibles low, etc. Those of us who never drank the Kool-Aid knew in 2009 that only delusional people could believe that you could mandate more coverage and sweep in more people who can’t pay, all the while lowering costs all around.

6.  America’s vanishing privacy.  Sterling may be a stinker, but he thought he was having a private conversation.  Americans should be outraged that they no longer have zones of privacy.  (Although if these zones of privacy really are gone, let’s just banish birth control too.  After all, the main reason the Supreme Court used to justify striking down laws banning birth control was that Americans have an inherent right to privacy.)

All of which gets us back to the ginned-up national outrage about Donald Sterling.  Donald Sterling is a nothing. He may be rich and own a sports team, but the fundamental truth is that he’s a creepy old nebbish whose world views were formed in 1940-something. He’s a relic. He’s meaningless. He’s every old Leftist who goes around mouthing stupid things about black people. (Like Harry Reid, for example.)

Sterling matters only as cover. He’s the fake war in Albania from the movie “Wag the Dog.”  He’s the bombed pharmaceutical factories when people were getting too close to the Lewinsky’s blue dress.  America!  Forget Sterling.  Pay attention to the real stuff!

Tuesday evening round-up

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few deserving links, before real life catches up with me.

StandWithUs, which may well be the most effective pro-Israel group I know, is sending around an emergency alert asking people to protest the newest front in the BDS movement:  getting Israeli architects expelled from international organizations:

On March 19, the Council of the Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA] voted to call on the International Union of Architects [UIA] to boycott Israel and suspend it from the prestigious international union because of Israel’s allegedly “illegal” activities in the West Bank.   The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), RIBA’s sister organization, passed a similar resolution.  Both were engineered by RIBA’s Angela Brady.

In short, RIBA backed BDS (the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement) whose goal is to demonize Israel, isolate it as a pariah, and eventually eliminate the Jewish state.

This resolution is irrational and fundamentally anti-Semitic.

Read the rest (and take action) here.

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You’ve already read it elsewhere, but I’ll reiterate it here:  What was first a supposition is now backed by proof — the Obama White House orchestrated the Benghazi cover-up.  The administration’s — and especially Hillary’s — fecklessness left Americans in Benghazi vulnerable to attack; the administration’s political cowardice led to any attempt to defend our ambassador and other Americans in Benghazi during the attack; and the administration actively engaged in a cover-up to hide its myriad failings, not the least of which was lying to the American people about Al Qaeda’s growing presence in the Middle East and Africa.

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Yesterday, I blew a gasket about John Kerry’s reprehensible statement likening Israel to an apartheid state.  Sadly, he is not an anomaly within the Obama administration.

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I need to coin a new word, because I’m not homophobic. What people do in the privacy of their own lives is their business, not mine and, as long as they’re not aggressively making it mine, I wouldn’t presume to judge or even care very much. What I am is homo-politics-phobic, meaning that I cannot stand the way gay activists have intertwined themselves with Leftism, which I do hate, and announced that, if you don’t like their Leftist politics, than you’re a homophobe.

My strong suspicion is that I’m not alone. Certainly, the NRA cares only about people having the opportunity to exercise their constitutional freedoms. That’s why they’re perfectly happy to make room in their big tent for an Asian gay man who strongly supports the Second Amendment.

Incidentally, on the subject of privacy, Dennis Prager has something very important to say about Donald Sterling’s rant. The rant is certainly ugly, not to mention psychologically fascinating (Sterling sounds as if he’s terribly afraid that his decidedly meager charms will be inadequate to entice his black/Hispanic girlfriend if she finds herself in the company of men who are not only as rich and famous as Sterling, but who are also attractively black). There’s a bigger societal problem though, says Prager, that no one is talking about, and that’s the loss of privacy.

This is consistent with what Prager has always said, which is that people must be judged by their acts. In that regard, I’ve often pointed out to the kids that the Democrats’ darling Harry Truman was a racist who integrated America’s Armed Forces and an antisemite who supported the creation of Israel.

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And finally, one of the reasons I came to be a big fan of Castra Praetoria is the periodic “Heard in the Clear” posts.  Always funny and often profound.

A short, sweet Easter afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s Easter Sunday, and that means all family all the time.  No complaints here, though.  It’s been a lovely day so far and I anticipate an equally pleasant afternoon and evening.  Full blogging will not happen today, but here are a few (a very few) links that intrigued me:

I’ve long known in a vague sort of way that Egypt is one grain of wheat away from a famine.  Having read David Archibald’s article, though, I now know in a very specific way precisely what kind of famine may be facing the world’s most populous Muslim nation.  While the Western world seems to have managed to stay one step ahead of Malthus, that’s not the case in Egypt, where bad things — overpopulation, underproduction, lack of diversification, political upheaval, and probable drought — are coming together to create a Perfect Storm of advanced hunger.

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One of my favorite non-fiction books is Thomas Cahill’s The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels. In authoring the book, Cahill has no ego. To the extent that he’s vastly well-informed, he wants to share his knowledge with people, not overwhelm them with his erudition. The result is a book that is simultaneously scholarly and accessible. I mentioned it here because Shmuley Boteach has written what could be the short version of that same book, describing how the Jews have contributed to the world’s well-being.

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Two very specific things in the early 1980s taught me that socialism cannot work. The first was the fact that, when my father visited his sister in East Germany, shortly after she retired from her decade’s long career as a high level Communist Party functionary, he discovered that she had lived for nine years with a broken and unusable kitchen sink. Not to worry, this true believer told my father.  She was “on the list” and was confident that the glorious Communist Party would one day get around to fixing her sink.  I suspect that it was still broken when the wall came down.

The second thing that taught me that socialism cannot work was the story of two hip replacements. Back in 1974, my father got his hip replacement two months or so after he was told that it was the only way to keep him from spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He walked, albeit with pain for the next twenty years of his life, until his death.

Meanwhile, in 1981, while I was living in England, I met a woman who had been told back in 1979 that a hip replacement was the only thing that would keep her out of a wheelchair. When I met her, she’d been barely functioning for two years, although she’d avoided the wheelchair. After I left, she went into the wheelchair. I lost contact with her about two years after a left England (i.e., four years after the referral for hip surgery), at which time she was still in that wheelchair. I don’t know whether she ever got that hip.

Keep those realities in mind when you read about Sweden’s socialized medicine, which works wonderfully only if you live long enough to benefit from it.

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The DiploMad may not be in the State Department any more, but he has friends who are. He’s learned from these friends that the State Department has a new initiative to ensure that something like Benghazi never happens again. Let me just say that I’m with the DiploMad in thinking that the movers and shakers in State are delusional — and to despair that they’re pursuing their delusions using our dollars and American lives.

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A lawyer friend of mine is brilliant, informed, and an incredibly good writer.  I hope those are adequate reasons for you to check out his post about the Free Speech (and Association) implications of the attack on Brendan Eich.

Benghazi is not news at the Times; Michael Sam’s sexuality is

Michael SamI know this is a politically incorrect thing for me to say, but I couldn’t care less about Michael Sam’s sexuality.  If it were up to me, it wouldn’t be news at all, or it would be at the bottom of page three in the sports section. I’m not homophobic; I’m homo-disinterested.  Peculiarly enough (nowadays), I measure people by attributions other than their sexual orientation.

The New York Times, however, considers Sam’s announcement that he is gay to be major news, not non-news, and has given him lavish coverage (which I haven’t bothered to read, because I really don’t care).  As far as the Times is concerned, a gay college football player is front page news:

New York Times on Michael Sam

Think about this:  in the world of the New York Times, it’s minimally newsworthy that (a) the Secretary of State failed to provided necessary security for an Ambassador in a tremendously dangerous region, where he and three others subsequently died; (b) that the Secretary of State and the President both seem to have been AWOL while the Ambassador and three others were dying; (c) that the Secretary of State, the President, and the entire administration lied about events leading up to and including these four deaths; and (d) that the Secretary of State loudly proclaimed that none of this mattered.  The New York Times also thinks this same Secretary of State would make a stellar president.  (And maybe that’s true, if you like your presidents to be utterly unprincipled and un-accomplished.)

Considering that the New York Times styles itself the paper of record, wouldn’t you love to ask the petty, squabbling, arrogant staff there, “Just what record are you talking about there?”

Europeans look at Hillary and Obama through the Benghazi lens

The American media won’t touch Benghazi with a ten foot pole, since there is no way that either Hillary or Obama come out of it looking good.  The Europeans, however, are not so squeamish.  (Hat tip:  Snoopy the Goon, a fellow Watcher’s Council member who blogs out of Israel at Simply Jews.)

Benghazi cartoon 5

Benghazi cartoon 4

Benghazi cartoon 3

Benghazi cartoon 2

Benghazi cartoon 1

Understanding scandals — it’s not what’s done, it’s who’s done it that counts

His Girl FridayI haven’t been much of a Chris Christie supporter lately.  In the beginning, I admired his ability to stand up to the teacher’s unions.  Since then, I’ve decided that this was less a principled position and more a reflection of a highly aggressive personality.  Outside of the unions, he’s too much of a RINO, and I’m suspicious about his Saudi ties.  He’d be a better president than Obama, but that’s a low bar.  If he ended up on top of the Republican ticket opposite Hillary, I’d vote for him, but primarily because Hillary would finish the job Obama’s done, and anything is (I think) better than that.  So that’s my view about Chris Christie.

What I want to talk about here is the scandal.  It seems that nothing has ever happened before that’s been as thrilling as the fact that a Republican governor’s employee had a nearly unspoken agreement with another of the governor’s employees that, if a Democrat mayor ticked them off, they’d use their power to create traffic havoc in his town.  (For punsters, we finally have a “toll-gate” scandal.)  A 91-year-old lady whose ambulance got stuck the traffic jam died later, and her death could be attributed to the delay.  (Only God knows for sure.)  The whole affair is nasty, unprincipled, and petty.  The employees deserved to be fired, and Christie fired them.  The media is having what Matt Drudge describes as a feeding frenzy.  Fine.  It’s their job to sell the news.

But what about a few other scandals that probably could have sold news too?

A Secretary of State, despite repeated pleas from an ambassador in one of the world’s most dangerous areas, refuses to heighten security.  The ambassador and three others die.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s diplomatic mission in a foreign country is attacked.  Four people die and unknown numbers of confidential documents vanish.  The besieged nation’s President Secretary of State speak once and then both refuse to explain their whereabouts.  Rumors are that the president went to bed early to prepare for a campaign event.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A president deputizes one of his employees to go on Sunday talk shows to explain that an attack on its diplomatic mission, which left four dead, including an ambassador, occurred because of a 10-minute YouTube video that was perceived as being uncomplimentary to Islam.  To add an air of verisimilitude to this otherwise unconvincing narrative, the administration trumps up charges to arrest the video’s maker, in what many see as a blatant attack on free speech in the service of Islam.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

An Attorney General arranges to have hundreds of guns smuggled into Mexico.  There are two theories about this, neither good. The first is that the guns were supposed to be traceable, so as to track gun and drug crime coming out of Mexico, but that the AG’s incompetent employees forgot to add the necessary electronics.  The second is that the AG deliberately released weapons into Mexico to support his anti-gun campaign.  “See,” he would say.  “We told you that our nation’s guns are despoiling the world.”  In any event, the guns with the AG’s name on them killed one of his own border agent as well as hundreds of Mexican civilians.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s troops, most notably its Marines, sweat, and bleed, and die in a terrorist-ridden town in Iraq.  Their success there helps turn a years’ long war around, paving the way for a simulacrum of democracy in a country whose people lived for decades at the mercy of a sadistic tyrant.  It’s not true democracy, but it’s close enough; people are experiencing relative freedom for the first time in their lives; and the government is relatively friendly the liberating western nation.  At the end of WWII, faced with this situation, the victorious nation stuck around for another 60+ years to hang onto that victory.  This time, though, the president walked away without a second glance and without any effort to secure hard-won gains.  Two years after the president declared, not victory, but “war over,” that same town has once again fallen to the terrorists.  The president is silent.  The media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s people learn that the government is spying on their every communication.  It started before the current president, but has escalated madly during his administration.  Even some media outlets learn that the government has been spying on their telephone calls.  One would think that this outrage would encourage them to reconsider their blind faith in the current administration.  It does not.  After a few huffs and puffs, the media does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

A nation’s tax-collecting agency, which is it’s most feared and powerful agency, turns out to have been engaged in a systematic effort to silence all conservative and pro-Israel speech.  The timing shows that the effort was manifestly intended to disrupt the 2012 presidential election, and it may well have done so, giving a squeaker of an election to the candidate from the Democrat-party.  All people of good will, regardless of party, should be horrified by this type of partisan overreach from a nation’s most powerful agency.  The media, however, is unperturbed.  It does minimal reporting and then ignores the story.

Beginning in 2009, a president tells his people a series of bald-faced lies.  The documentary evidence shows that he knew that they were lies when he told them.  That is, it wasn’t ignorance or wishful thinking on his part.  Instead, he was running a scam.  This giant fraud begins to unravel on October 1, 2013, and with every passing day, the public learns more about the administration’s lies, incompetence, and cronyism.  This knowledge is made manifest in the most painful of ways, as millions of people lose the security of insurance plans, doctors, and hospitals, even as they are being forced to pay more money for fewer benefits.  Although the media dutifully points out the problems in the first month, by the second month, it returns to lap dog status, crowing about thousands of sign-ups, with scant attention to the fact that it’s unknown whether those who signed up have actually paid  for new policies.  The same media downplays the certain fact that more people have lost beloved policies than gained lousy ones under the new system.

Yes, I tried to keep that nation’s identity anonymous, but you’ve figured it out.  The nation in which a president and his administration, through a combination of fraud, lies, and incompetence, have caused people’s deaths, wasted military deaths, destroyed a functioning health care system, spied on its citizens, and possibly corrupted election outcomes, routinely gets a pass from the media.  Our MSM does just enough reporting to lay claim to some credibility as a “news” outlet, and then ignores as hard as possible whatever issue could hurt a Democrat president.  The whole thing is declared “over” after Jon Stewart, through selective clips, announces that Fox News is insane.  The media heaves a sigh of relief, and goes back to guarding the administration.  That system, of course, doesn’t apply when a vaguely Republican governor is tied to a traffic jam (admittedly, a malicious, unprincipled traffic jam).  In that case, the 24-hour news cycle kicks into overtime.

Looking at today’s headlines, I’d have to say that the biggest scandal of them isn’t either Christie’s toll-gate or Obama’s just-about-everything-gate.  Instead, it is the fact that we have a Democrat lap-dog media that still has the temerity to call itself a “free press.”

The Big Lie is already making the truth irrelevant; or, Republicans are once again waiting for the manure shower

Biff manureA friend sent me a very funny email.  I don’t know if the numbers are precisely accurate, but I do know that they’re accurate enough to serve a larger truth, namely America’s overwhelming turn in 1942 from a peacetime nation into a fully armed, fully operational wartime nation. In this way, the facts stated distinguish themselves from the Progressive concept of “truthiness,” which means “fake, but [God alone knows how] accurate”:

During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, the U.S. produced 22 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 420 destroyer escorts, 203 submarines, 34 million tons of merchant ships, 100,000 fighter aircraft, 98,000 bombers, 24,000 transport aircraft, 58,000 training aircraft, 93,000 tanks, 257,000 artillery pieces, 105,000 mortars, 3,000,000 machine guns, and 2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.

It’s worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama administration couldn’t build a functioning web site.

To me, living in my  head as I do, a head filled with news and political commentary, the above is both funny and devastating.  It puts into perspective the pathetic disaster that was the Obamacare exchange launch and should remind everyone that a government this bad at one thing is almost certainly also a government incapable of performing the most basic functions . . . such as protecting us from our declared enemies.

Immediately after getting the above email, I read that the New York Times is working hard to re-write the Benghazi slaughter so as to clean up both Hillary’s and Barack’s reputations. And I know, and you know, that even though the New York Times is losing subscribers like mad, that fact is kind of irrelevant, because the Times still the news source for all sorts of other newspapers across America.  Go ahead.  Check out your morning local rag.  You’ll see that at least one story comes direct from the Times or from the Washington Post or from the Associated Press.  As Conan proved in a funny, fluffy video, no matter the outlet, the story’s always the same.

The Obama administration is now boasting that one million people signed up for Obamacare in December.  Maybe it’s true; maybe it’s not.  The two things we know with certainty are (1) that the media won’t press for the truth and (2) that the media will work as one in the coming months to shill for Obamacare.  The glitches are over; the wonders are on their way.

Yes, we who have not drunk the Kool Aid know that Obamacare will collapse under its own weight, but that doesn’t matter.  All that the media hustlers need to do is keep those plates spinning until the day after the November 2014 election.  After that, they’re home free no matter what happens.

And please don’t look to the Republican Party for help.  It’s so busy trying to take out the Tea Party (it’s bad for business, doncha’ know?) that it’s ignoring the most wondrous political opportunity handed to it since . . . well, since never before.  Rick Moran sounds the warning, but don’t expect the money guys in the GOP to hear that tocsin:

Are Republicans smart enough to counter this propaganda with nightmare stories about sky-high premiums, the cancellation of perfectly good insurance policies, website errors, and other tragic experiences that ordinary people have had with Obamacare? Democrats couldn’t accuse them of cherry picking bad news when they’re cherry picking good news.

This is a long-term war to be played out over the coming years. What I don’t see yet is a commitment from the national Republican Party to engage the resources necessary to counter the Democrats move for move. There doesn’t appear to be a plan in place which means they’ll be improvising on the fly. That just won’t cut it.

With the Obamacare website now largely operational, the first phase of the battle is over. But unless the GOP stays on its toes, they are likely to be buried by the administration PR machine.

The Leftist PR machine is gearing up hard.  Moreover, with this video as a graphic illustration, please remember that the agile Democrats are already on the move, while the Republicans are the ones sitting in the car:

Media Rule No. 1: Never ever abandon Democrat spin — but Charles Martel shows we can spin too

Earl Aagaard caught something in the very first line of an AP report about the fact that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is about to be freed from prison.  If Nakoula’s name doesn’t ring a bell, let me refresh your recollection.

Nakoula posted on YouTube a short video that purported to be a trailer about Muhammad’s life.  It was as inconsequential as any bit of fluff ever put onto YouTube.  For the Obama administration, however, it was a life saver.

In the immediate aftermath of riots at the Egyptian embassy and the al Qaeda-related slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, the administration discounted both its own responsibility and resurgent anti-American Islamist terrorism by saying that Nakoula’s video triggered events in both Egypt and Benghazi.  To the extent that his ten-minute nothing of a video trailer for a non-existent movie was seen as an insult to “the Prophet,” the administration implied, Muslims got righteously upset and, pretty much by accident, attacked a US embassy, a consular office, and a CIA outpost, killing an American ambassador, a consular aide, and two former SEALS.

Nakoula poster

(You can see other cleverly-captioned Nakoula arrest posters here.)

Well, put that way, what else could our government do but arrest someone who had so much blood on his hands?  Within just a day or two, administration flunkies discovered that Nakoula had violated his parole (nobody says Nakoula is the most savory character in the world), had him arrested, and kept him hidden away in the bowels of the American prison system.  Now, over a year later, he is finally to be free.

In that intervening year, of course, we’ve learned that everything the administration said about Nakoula’s little video was a lie.  The rioting in Egypt took place because of the September 11 anniversary, while the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a carefully planned attack by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  To the extent the jihadists talked about the video, it was an ex post facto cover for their terrorist activities — and the Obama administration knew this from the minute the riots in Egypt and the attack in Benghazi came into being.  After all, Ambassador Christopher Stevens had seen the attack coming for some time and had begged for increased security in Benghazi.  Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, turned a deaf ear to his pleas.

When the attack finally came, barring Hillary’s single phone call and Obama’s quick visit to the situation room, both Hillary and Obama were AWOL.  We don’t know what Hillary was doing, but we know that Obama was getting some rest before campaigning in Las Vegas.

With those facts in mind, how does the Associated Press report on the fact that Nakoula, the Obama administration’s designated scapegoat, is finally being set free?  This way:

A California man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to violence in parts of the Middle East is due to be released from federal custody this week.

Wow!  That the AP can say that when we know with certainty that Nakoula’s film did not lead to violence is a breathtaking example of pro-administration spin.  In the year since the attack, AP, which is supposed to track actual news, must have known that Al Qaeda used the film as a cover for a coordinated, planned attack against American outposts in the Middle East, and a sleazy, dishonest, incompetent administration seized on that cover in an effort to hide its own gross culpability.  Pravda couldn’t have done a better job of covering its government master than AP did in that single, dishonest sentence.

Fear not, though, because two can spin at that game.  The brilliant and inimitable Charles Martel, whom I count as one of my dear friends in both the real and the cyber world, has put forth his own idea for spin supporting a pro-American effort in the Middle East:

President Charles Martel’s address to the nation, September 24, 2013:

“My fellow Americans, as you know by now, two U.S. cruise missiles were accidentally launched earlier today and fell inadvertently upon two of the holiest shrines in Islam.

“One careened into the sacred well at Iran’s holy city of Qom, where, according to Shi’ite belief, the 12th Mahdi awaits his return to lead mankind from Daar al Habib—the world at war with Allah—into Daar al Islam, the world in submission to Allah.

“Fortunately, our concern that the misdirected missile may have prematurely awakened the Mahdi remains unfulfilled. U.S. satellite images show that the well is a shambles and apparently whatever lifeforms existed at the bottom of it now lie crushed beneath tens of thousands of tons of rock.

“Nevertheless, we send the Iranian people our deepest apologies and sincere wishes that the Mahdi gets out from under.

“The other missile ended its totally erratic course at the Kaaba in Mecca, the sacred black rock at the very center of Islam’s earthly manifestation. It, like the Mahdi’s well, is a complete wreck. Luckily, the accidental launch took place when only the janitors were buffing the Kaaba, so there was little—although regrettable—loss of life.

“We know that in Muslim belief Allah wills all that happens, and that man himself is predestined to carry out that will. Somehow Allah willed the launch of those two missiles—and believe you me, we are hunting down the man or woman and ship that launched them—and He can will the Kaaba’s  instant restoration. If not, the United States stands ready to deliver building supplies to the good people of Mecca, although given the harsh terrain and conditions there, we would probably have to use M-1 tanks to make those deliveries.

“Again, we apologize for the bad lobs. We trust that Allah, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, will rebuild the Kaaba in the wink of an eye and dust off the Mahdi, thereby restoring His people’s faith in His ability to do anything He wants—including launch missiles against them.

“Good night and God bless the United States of America.”