Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chevy Volts For War-Torn Vienna, Nothing For Benghazi

Investors Business Daily
October 12, 2012

Priorities: While our consulate in Benghazi was guarded by unarmed Libyan contractors making $4 an hour, our embassy in Vienna received an expensive charging station for its new electric cars to help fight climate change.
Even MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell says Vice President Joe Biden lied during Thursday's debate when he said twice that no one in the Obama administration knew that requests for extra security had been made by our Libyan ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and other members of our consulate in Benghazi. The State Department knew "in real time," as Mitchell put it in her post-debate analysis, that requests had been made.
The requests were denied, despite 230 security incidents in Libya between June 2011 and July 2012. With 48 taking place in Benghazi, two at the U.S. diplomatic compound where Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were murdered on Sept. 11, 2012, a date that by itself should have prompted enhanced security.
What Biden was denying was pointed out by Eric Nordstrom during his testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last Wednesday. Nordstrom, a regional security officer of the U.S. Mission to Libya from September 2011 to July 2012, said that, among other things, he was told in a phone call in July that the deployment of the site security team, a 16-member American military unit based in Tripoli, could not be prolonged.
According to Nordstrom, the State Department not only refused his requests for greater security, but also actually reduced the number of Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents assigned to foreign service officers based in Libya. Security was left to one DSS agent, four armed members of the 17th of February Martyrs Brigade and unarmed Libyan contractors employed by the British-based Blue Mountain Group.
In a May 3, 2012, email on which Ambassador Stevens was copied, the State Department denied a request by a group of Special Forces assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy in Libya to continue their use of a DC-3 airplane for security operations throughout the country.
Four days after the use of an ancient DC-3, along with other security requests, was being denied, on May 7, 2012, the State Department authorized the U.S. Embassy in Vienna to purchase a $108,000 electric-vehicle charging station for the embassy motor pool's new Chevrolet Volts.
As Biden and President Obama proclaim the war on terror is over, al-Qaida is "back on its heels" and Osama bin Laden is dead, climate change remains in their view the greatest threat America and the world face.

Denying the Libya scandal

By Andrew C. McCarthy
October 13, 2012

The desultory vice-presidential debate underscored that, even if there were not a thousand other reasons for denying President Obama a second term, the Libya scandal alone would be reason enough to remove him.

By the time the ineffable Joe Biden took center stage Thursday night, Obama operatives had already erected a façade of mendacity around the jihadist murder of our ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. officials. The vice president promptly exploited the debate forum to trumpet a bald-faced lie: He denied the administration’s well-established refusal to provide adequate security for the diplomatic team. Just as outrageously, he insisted that the intelligence community, not the election-minded White House, was the source of the specious claim that an obscure, unwatched video about Islam’s prophet — a video whose top global publicists are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — spontaneously sparked the Benghazi massacre.

Our emissaries in Libya understood that they were profoundly threatened. They communicated fears for their lives to Washington, pleading for additional protection. That is established fact. Yet Biden maintained that it was untrue: “We weren’t told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again.”

Shameful: so much so that even Jay Carney, no small-time Libya propagandist himself, would feel compelled to walk Biden’s denial back the next morning. But the vice president was far from done. His assertion that “the intelligence community told us” that protests over the video had sparked the murders of our officials was breathtaking, even by Biden standards.

For a moment, let’s pretend that there is no historical context — meaning, no Obama-policy context — in which to place what happened in Benghazi on September 11. Let’s just stick with the freshest intelligence.

In recent months, Benghazi has been the site of several jihadist attacks. The International Red Cross offices there were bombed in May by an al-Qaeda affiliate called the “Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades” — named in honor of the “Blind Sheikh,” whose detention in the U.S., on a life sentence for terrorism convictions, al-Qaeda has repeatedly vowed to avenge.

On June 4, four missiles fired from an unmanned U.S. drone killed 15 people at a jihadist compound in Pakistan. The most prominent was al-Qaeda’s revered Libyan leader, Hassan Mohammed Qaed, better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Yahya al-Libi. It was a severe blow to the terror network, and the intelligence community instantly knew al-Qaeda was determined to avenge it.

The following day, the Abdul Rahman Brigades detonated an explosive outside the American consulate in Benghazi.According to CNN, the attack was specifically “timed to coincide with preparations for the arrival of a senior U.S. State Department official.” The Brigades recorded the attack on video, interspersing scenes of the mayhem with footage of al-Qaeda leaders and 9/11 carnage. In claiming responsibility, the jihadists brayed that they were targeting U.S. diplomats in retaliation for the killing of al-Libi. A week later, the Brigades shot rockets at the British ambassador’s convoy as it moved through Benghazi.

By midsummer, al-Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recorded an acknowledgment of al-Libi’s death that exhorted jihadists, particularly in Libya, to retaliate: “His blood urges you and incites you to fight and kill the crusaders.” Naturally, Zawahiri was targeting September 11 as the moment for vengeance. His recording was released on that morning, intimating that a revenge strike would be the most fitting way for Libyans to mark the day when, eleven years earlier, al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Obligingly, al-Qaeda affiliates carried out the Benghazi massacre later that day.
Not only did the intelligence community have reason aplenty to anticipate trouble in Benghazi on September 11 — reason having nothing to do with the Mohammed video. We now know, thanks to reporting by the Daily Beast’s Eli Lake, that the diplomatic compound’s surveillance cameras recorded “an organized group of armed men attacking the compound.” Mr. Lake adds that the intelligence community had a surveillance drone taking video “for the final hour of the night battle at the consulate compound and nearby annex.” Moreover, U.S. intelligence officials figured out, within a day of the attack, that the operation was pre-planned and several participants were tied to al-Qaeda affiliates.
Yet, the administration continued, day after day, blaming the massacre on the video. The claim was absurd on its face. Plus, it contradicted an intelligence tapestry signaling a well-planned jihadist operation, to say nothing of the manner of the attack — the timing, preparation, and cruelty of which veritably screamed, “al-Qaeda!” Still, even now, Biden and the Obama administration claim that the intelligence community actually believed our people were killed over a video — that Obama officials were simply repeating what they were told, not spouting what they audaciously hoped to deceive Americans into believing.
Why the deception? Because if you conclude the Benghazi massacre had nothing to do with a cockamamie video no one has seen, you soon realize Obama’s favorite campaign theme — namely, that killing bin Laden decimated the terror network — is nonsense. And you realize that what happened in Benghazi on September 11 is directly traceable to Obama’s Middle East policy.
As noted above, the recent intelligence we’ve just reviewed arose in a historic context. Beginning in 2009, the Obama administration, echoing the Republican establishment, told Americans that Qaddafi had become a key ally of the United States against terrorism. Obama even substantially increased the American aid the Bush administration had begun providing to Qaddafi’s regime. The rationale for embracing the dictator was straightforward: Not only had Qaddafi abandoned his nuclear program; he was providing vital intelligence about jihadist cauldrons throughout his country. By percentage of population, more Libyans traveled to Iraq to wage terrorist war against American troops than did citizens of any other country. And in Libya, Benghazi was the epicenter of the jihad.
In 2011, however, President Obama initiated an unprovoked war against the Qaddafi regime. Though Qaddafi had taken no intervening hostile action against the United States, and though no vital American national interest would be served by Qaddafi’s removal, Obama chose to side with the Islamist rebellion against him. Why? As demonstrated in my new book,Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, the president was determined to sell the “Arab Spring” fantasy of a Middle East seized by the desire for freedom rather than strangled by the ambitions of freedom-killing Islamic supremacists.
In Libya, Islamists were the backbone of the rebellion: the Muslim Brotherhood partnering, as it is wont to do, with violent jihadists — in this instance, al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Toppling Qaddafi would necessarily result in their empowerment. They’d insinuate themselves into any new government. They’d set up sharia enclaves where they were strong enough to do so. And they’d strengthen themselves by seizing chunks of Qaddafi’s arsenal of high-powered weaponry. Being incorrigibly anti-American, they’d use their new influence and power against the United States.
That is why some of us implored Obama not to intervene. As I argued at the time (responsively quoting a Fox News anchor):
I am not “suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect.” I am saying it outright. If the choice is between an emerging Islamist regime and a Qaddafi dictatorship that cooperates with the United States against Islamists, then I’ll take Qaddafi. If the choice is between tolerating the Qaddafi dictatorship and disgracing ourselves by . . . turning a blind eye to the atrocities of our new Islamist friends . . . then give me the Qaddafi dictatorship every time.
The “atrocities” of note at the time were twofold: the massacres Libya’s Islamists carried out against black Africans suspected of allying with Qaddafi’s regime, and the barbaric murder of Qaddafi himself — when he was abused and displayed as a trophy, just like Ambassador Christopher Stevens would later be. These opened a ready window on the type of savages Obama’s policy was guaranteed to abet.
The straight line from Obama’s Libya policy of empowering Islamists to the Benghazi massacre is rarely discussed. Maybe it would be clearer if the Republican establishment had not ardently supported Obama’s war against Libya. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped sounding nearly as delusional about the “Arab Spring” as Obama and Biden do. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped talking about reprising the Libya debacle in Syria, joined at the hip to what they call “our ally Turkey” — Hamas’s new sugar daddy and staunchest defender. It would surely be welcome if the GOP ticket started diagnosing “spring fever” instead of manifesting its symptoms.
In Benghazi, we see the wages of the disease. The pathogen was not a video. Want to know why our people were left unprotected and why mounds of intelligence foreshadowing peril were ignored? Don’t look to Obama’s vice president, look to Obama’s policy.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was recently published by Encounter Books.

'Politicized' Benghazi distracts from Big Bird

By Mark Steyn
Orange County Register
October 12, 2012

‘The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.”

Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to “politicize” it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday: “There’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.”

She’s right! The United States is the first nation in history whose democracy has evolved to the point where its leader is provided with a wide-body transatlantic jet in order to campaign on the vital issue of public funding for sock puppets. Sure, Caligula put his horse in the senate, but it was a real horse. At Ohio State University, the rapper introduced the president by playing the Sesame Street theme tune, which oddly enough seems more apt presidential-walk-on music for the Obama era than “Hail to the Chief.”

Obviously, Miss Cutter is right: A healthy mature democracy should spend its quadrennial election on critical issues like the Republican party’s war on puppets rather than attempting to “politicize” the debate by dragging in stuff like foreign policy, national security, the economy, and other obscure peripheral subjects. But, alas, it was her boss who chose to “politicize” a security fiasco and national humiliation in Benghazi. At 8:30 p.m., when Ambassador Stevens strolled outside the gate and bid his Turkish guest good night, the streets were calm and quiet. At 9:40 p.m., an armed assault on the compound began, well planned and executed by men not only armed with mortars but capable of firing them to lethal purpose — a rare combination among the excitable mobs of the Middle East. There was no demonstration against an Islamophobic movie that just got a little out of hand. Indeed, there was no movie protest at all. Instead, a U.S. consulate was destroyed and four of its personnel were murdered in one of the most sophisticated military attacks ever launched at a diplomatic facility.

This was confirmed by testimony to Congress a few days ago, although you could have read as much in my column of four weeks ago. Nevertheless, for most of those four weeks, the president of the United States, the secretary of state, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and others have persistently attributed the Benghazi debacle to an obscure YouTube video — even though they knew that the two events had nothing to do with each other by no later than the crack of dawn Eastern time on September 12, by which point the consulate’s survivors had landed safely in Tripoli.

To “politicize” means “to give a political character to.” It is a reductive term, capturing the peculiarly shrunken horizons of politics: “Gee, they nuked Israel. D’you think that will hurt us in Florida?” So media outlets fret that Benghazi could be “bad” for Obama — by which they mean he might be hitting the six-figure lecture circuit four years ahead of schedule. But for Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods, it’s real bad. They’re dead, over, gonesville. Given that Obama and Secretary Clinton refer to Stevens pneumatically as “Chris,” as if they’ve known him since third grade, why would they dishonor the sacrifice of their close personal friend by peddling an utterly false narrative as to why he died? You want “politicization”? Secretary Clinton linked the YouTube video to the murder of her colleagues even as the four caskets lay alongside her at Andrews Air Force Base — even though she had known for days that it had nothing to do with it. It’s weird enough that politicians now give campaign speeches to returning coffins. But to conscript your “friend”’s corpse as a straight man for some third-rate electoral opportunism is surely as shriveled and worthless as “politicization” gets.
In the vice-presidential debate, asked why the White House spent weeks falsely blaming it on the video, Joe Biden took time off between big toothy smirks to reply: “Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community.” That too is false. He also denied that the government of which he is nominally second-in-command had ever received a request for additional security. At the risk of “politicizing” things, this statement would appear also to be untrue.
Instead, the State Department outsourced security for the Benghazi consulate to Blue Mountain, a Welsh firm that hires ex-British and -Commonwealth special forces, among the toughest hombres on the planet. The company’s very name comes from the poem “The Golden Journey to Samarkand,” whose words famously adorn the regimental headquarters of Britain’s Special Air Service in Hereford.  Unfortunately, the one-year contract for consulate security was only $387,413 — or less than the cost of deploying a single U.S. soldier overseas. On that budget, you can’t really afford to fly in a lot of crack SAS killing machines, and have to make do with the neighborhood talent pool. So who’s available? Blue Mountain hired five members of the Benghazi branch of the February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade and equipped them with handcuffs and batons. A baton is very useful when someone is firing an RPG at you, at least if you play a little baseball. There were supposed to be four men heavily armed with handcuffs on duty that night, but, the date of September 11 having no particular significance in the Muslim world, only two guards were actually on shift.
Let’s pause right there, and “politicize” a little more. Liberals are always going on about the evils of “outsourcing” and “offshoring” — selfish vulture capitalists like Mitt shipping jobs to cheap labor overseas just to save a few bucks. How unpatriotic can you get! So now the United States government is outsourcing embassy security to cheap Welshmen who in turn outsource it to cheaper Libyans. Diplomatic facilities are U.S. sovereign territory — no different de jure from Fifth Avenue or Mount Rushmore. So defending them is one of the core responsibilities of the state. But that’s the funny thing about Big Government: The bigger it gets, the more of life it swallows up, the worse it gets at those very few things it’s supposed to be doing. So, on the first anniversary of 9/11 in a post-revolutionary city in which Western diplomats had been steadily targeted over the previous six months, the government of the supposedly most powerful nation on earth entrusted its security to Abdulaziz Majbari, 29, and his pal, who report to some bloke back in Carmarthen, Wales. 
In the days before the attack Joe Biden had been peddling his Obama campaign slogan that “bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” The first successful terrorist attack on U.S. sovereign territory since 9/11, and on the very anniversary and by al-Qaeda-linked killers, was not helpful to the Obama team. And so the nature of the event had to be “politicized”: Look, over there — an Islamophobic movie! “Greater love hath no man than this,” quoth the president at Chris Stevens’ coffin, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Smaller love hath no man than Obama’s, than to lay down his “friend” for a couple of points in Ohio.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beano was an expert in friendship

By Ivan Maisel
October 12, 2012

Beano and I always ended our podcast with the quip, "Well, we fooled 'em again." And as I sit here, stunned and saddened, I have to say that Beano fooled me. He has been telling me for years that he focused every offseason on living until the start of football season. Once the games began, he knew he would never die, because he would stay alive long enough to find out who would be No. 1.
I suppose God needed to know who won the Northwestern-Minnesota game in 1940.
[+] EnlargeBeano Cook
ESPNThere was an old-school quality in the way Beano Cook related to people.
A few journalistic rules are being broken here. Let me do it the right way: ESPN college football analyst Beano Cook died overnight at age 81. For those of you who don't know, Beano and I have done the ESPNU College Football Podcast together for the last six years. When he and I began podcasting, other people hosted the podcast on other days. But he and I did so well together that I took over as host of all the shows.
That's one of the many things for which I have Beano to thank.
Beano and I spoke twice a week for the last six years: once on the day before every podcast, when we would discuss the topics, and then the podcast itself. Occasionally, what we discussed on the day before made it to the podcast itself. More often, we would digress on one tangent or another that may or may not have something to do with college football.
It might be a story about how he hitchhiked from Providence, where he was a student at Brown, to see Army play Navy in Philadelphia. It might be about why Stanford and Arkansas opened the 1970 season against each other. It might be about my children.
You see, Beano may have been an expert on the history of college football from 1930 to 1990, but he showed his real expertise in friendship. He collected friends like some people collect stamps. He didn't marry -- even though he might have given up college football for Stefanie Powers, the 1980s television star -- and never had children.
But Beano cared about the people around him. He asked questions. I am not the only one at ESPN who had that kind of relationship with him. Mel Kiper Jr. did. Howie Schwab did. I am sure there are others.
He always asked me what other writers had been at the game I covered the previous Saturday. "I don't miss the games," he said. "I miss the hanging out."
There was an old-school quality in the way he related to people. Having grown up an Irish Catholic in Pittsburgh, an ethnic town, he attributed personality traits to ancestry in a way that 21st-century America no longer does. Political correctness may be at play, or the melting pot. But Beano got a kick out of the fact that a Southern Jewish guy like me married an Irish Catholic girl.
Anyway, on our day-before discussions, we would talk for anywhere from 12 to 45 minutes. Yes, I use "we" in the loosest of terms. The podcast served as the perfect vehicle for Beano. It is an open-ended conversation.
But I enjoyed listening to Beano as much as he enjoyed being listened to. Trying to interrupt Beano was like trying to catch the blade of a ceiling fan with your bare hand. You didn't get hurt, but the fan just kept going.
Toward the end of just about every call, he would say, "I've bored you enough. We'll talk tomorrow. Of all the things I've done at ESPN, this is my favorite."
More and more often, Beano said to me on those preparatory calls, "So you'll call tomorrow and if I'm alive, I'll answer and we'll do the show."
"If I'm alive," I chimed in one day in June, "I will call you."
Beano didn't miss a beat.
"If you have to bet," he said, referring to one of us not being alive, "bet on me."
He wasn't being maudlin. As a man in his early 80s fighting diabetes and its related offshoots, he was just being matter-of-fact. My trying to dismiss his concern had more to say about me. I didn't want to think about losing him.
Beano had a lot of pride. When I covered Baylor at West Virginia two weeks ago, and had to fly to Pittsburgh to get to Morgantown, he wouldn't let me come see him. He remained delighted when I would call, which I didn't do enough.
The last time we spoke, he unnerved me. He said the doctor told him his recovery would be long and laborious.
"I'm struggling," he said. "It's like trying to score on Alabama on fourth down from the 4-yard-line."
Of course, Beano overlooked the fact that very few offenses could get to the 4-yard line against the Alabama defense in the first place.
I had a short bucket list of plans for me and Beano. I did sit down with him in the summer of 2011 with a video crew and interviewed him about his life in college football. I wanted to go to a college football game with him. He refused to fly, of course. My editors and I tried to figure out a way around that, but never did. I wanted to go to Pittsburgh and go to dinner with him, but I put that off, too. There always would be time for that.
Well, no.
Ernie Accorsi, the retired general manager of the New York Giants, may have been Beano's closest friend. He spoke with Beano on a daily basis. Ernie told me Thursday that Beano didn't feel up to watching games last Saturday, but he wanted Ernie to call him with the scores. So Ernie called him regularly.
"Where have you been?" Beano demanded. "It's been three hours, you know."
"I went to Mass, Beano," Accorsi said. "Is that OK?"
Accorsi laughed as he told me. In fact, in each of the conversations I had Thursday with people who knew Beano well, I laughed hard at least once. That is the gift that Beano left us. He made us laugh when he was here. He is still making us laugh.

Beano Cook left unique legacy...and a clipboard

By John Mehno 
Beaver County Times Sports Correspondent | Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 11:30 pm
People carry laptops, tablets or smartphones these days. Beano Cook carried a clipboard.
It was a big clipboard, well-worn and always loaded with whatever occupied his interest at the moment. That could include stories torn from newspapers, notes to himself and his sizable phone bill. Everything was on the clipboard.
You could always count on Beano lugging that clipboard, wearing a dark suit and being the loudest guy in the room.
Carroll Hoff Cook’s interesting life came to an end Thursday when he died in his sleep at 81. Recent years had been cruel with a series of major health challenges that severely limited his mobility.
Beano spent his last years living in a high rise at the corner of 7th and Liberty in downtown Pittsburgh, right above a 7-Eleven store. In better times, he’d spend hours drinking coffee at the Wood Street Arby’s, going through his stack of newspapers. When crossing the street became a problem, he held court at a back booth in Yovi’s hot dog shop off his building’s lobby.
He was the best customer the newsstand at 6th and Penn ever had, buying all the out-of-town papers they stocked on a daily basis. Since Yovi’s closed, almost all of his contact with the outside world was by telephone.
Sports talk stations across the country called to get his insights on college football, and Beano lived to have an audience. In some ways, he was frozen in time somewhere around the 1960s. He’d make references to the Cuban Missile Crisis like it was last year’s big story.
Beano lived by unalienable principles. He bragged that he would never acquire the three great contributors to the downfall of men: A wife, a car and an ex-wife.
Although he tried to hide it (and incorrectly thought that he did), he was a staunch Pitt man. If anyone didn’t agree with his point of view, he automatically suspected some connection to Penn State.
In his good years, Beano circulated around town. He rarely watched games, but he’d hold court in the press rooms before games. He hated baseball, but he would show up at Three Rivers Stadium for Pirates games, just to preside in the press room and have an audience.
He wasn’t a diplomat. Once he asked someone how long Lanny Frattare had been announcing Pirates games. Told it was 25 years, Cook exclaimed, well within Frattare’s earshot, “Wow, 25 years and he’s still chasing Bob Prince’s ghost!”
That sort of behavior meant he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but he was a unique presence. He started as a publicity man when that job required a different skill set. Publicists of his era didn’t just provide information, they “sold” stories and helped create stars. He worked for Pitt, then briefly for the Miami Dolphins, and then for ABC and CBS.
At ABC, he pestered the legendary Roone Arledge into giving him a shot on the air, and he became a cult figure as college football’s curmudgeon. That morphed into duty on ESPN, and he was still doing radio work recently.
One of the stars he created at Pitt, Paul Martha, hired him to work for the Penguins in the 1980s. That didn’t work out. Sports had become corporate and Beano was the square peg at the Civic Arena. He found contentment as the college football guru, following the sport from his apartment and spending hours on the phone.
Those calls kept him going through the tough times and gave him a purpose.
He doesn’t leave a wife, a car or an ex-wife – just the clipboard, and a legacy of laughs among those his unique style entertained.

BFD: Biden's Failed Debate

By William L. Gensert
October 12, 2012

This administration does not lend itself well to the split screen and the VP might very well need psychiatric care. 
His smile was frightening.  For most of the night Joe Biden looked like the Joker -- Nicholson not Ledger.
After 3 ½ years of Biden's playing the fool, it is hard to remember he was once considered a serious man, a serious politician.  But...Barack wasn't looking for a serious politician -- he wanted a court jester -- and that's what he got. 
Now, after playing the fool for so long he has become the fool.  Yet, in the debate he wanted to again be a serious man -- or at least play one on TV.  He clearly showed why Clint Eastwood called him the "intellect" of the Democrat Party.
Yet this debate wasn't like the one last week, where the loss was thorough and complete.  On substance, it was Joseph Biden's most coherent moment in many years.  If not for his behavior, which bordered on bizarre, he probably could have claimed at least a tie. 
But, people don't like hyper-aggressive, rude leaders.  Voters want to like their politicians and it's hard to like the nasty guy in the room.
And another thing, blaming the administration's disastrous response to the killing of our Libyan Ambassador on the intelligence community was singularly unwise.  After all, who knows better how to clandestinely leak information damaging to the administration than a spy?
Biden leaned heavily on:
"Middle class, middle class, middle class..."
"47%, 47%, 47%..."
"My friend says, my friend will, my friend believes..."
...It wasn't long before it was obvious he was not using "friend" affectionately.
When Ryan mentioned Romney's generosity, Biden aired out his inner Soptic and talked about his late wife and child, both killed in a car accident years ago.  I thought it was inappropriate, but from his face and demeanor, it seemed to be his one truly sincere moment.
The gaffes rolled on:
"I always say what I mean."
"4% green jobs didn't go under."
"Every senior, 55 and below."
Ryan smiled and Joe smirked.
Ryan explained and Joe seethed.
Ryan spoke and Biden looked manic.
Biden had a problem waiting his turn.  Reince Priebus, head of the RNC said the Vice President interrupted Ryan "82 times."  When he wasn't interrupting, he was visibly snarling at a composed Ryan. 
He seemed to want America to see the contempt he had for "his friend."  Rude and cranky, he laughed and made funny faces.  He was constantly rolling his eyes, his face wild with derision, while waving his pen like a light saber from Star Wars
During the last debate the President acted like a corpse.  In this debate Biden played a zombie from 28 Days Later.  I half expected him to lean over and take a bite out of Ryan's arm with those scarily white teeth.
...And why did he have such trouble with the numbers?
"800 million, billion dollars"
"2 billion, 2 trillion."
There is nothing like being precise.
And why is everyone from this administration so angry all the time?  Aren't they the incumbents?
A one point, raising his voice to just below scream level, Biden lectured and seemed to almost threaten the moderator with that pen.  Has anyone wielded a pen with such malice since Bob Dole?  At least he used the pen as a prop to cover up for a war injury; Biden seemed to think it was a weapon.
When Ryan spoke and the split screen disappeared, banging and snorting could be heard.  I don't think it was the moderator.  Was this Biden's sleep apnea or perhaps latent Tourette Syndrome?
Of course, Biden is no Barack Obama and I would say until the closing portion, on the merits of their arguments at least, it was a tie.
But, once Biden whined about only getting 15 seconds to Ryan's 40 seconds, it was over.  If you yell at a moderator during a debate, you better make sure you are in the right, which Martha Raddatz pointed out firmly he wasn't.
Incidentally, Raddatz did a decent job, as did Jim Lehrer last week.  She interrupted Ryan more than once to keep him from making his point, or scoring points, but she asked pointed questions and at least challenged Biden on occasion.  That's the problem with Barack and Joe; they can't even play nice with people who are clearly their allies. 
In the battle of the closing statements, Ryan clearly won. 
In the end, Ryan was measured, concise and serious, while Biden was manic, rude and Joker-like...again, Nicholson not Ledger.
Watching both Biden's and Obama's performances at the 2 debates, an undecided voter would still be clueless as to what the administration is proposing for a second term, except perhaps to move "forward" headlong into the same policies of the last 3 ½ years.
Many voters will find that scarier than big, bad Biden's manic grin.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'New' Tolkien epic due next year

Lord of the Rings author's previously unseen 200-page poem of Arthurian legend draws on tales of ancient Britain rather than Middle-earth
JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien ... 'new' book out next year. Photograph: AP
It's the story of a dark world, of knights and princesses, swords and sorcery, quests and betrayals, and it's from the pen of JRR Tolkien. But this is not Middle-earth, it's ancient Britain, and this previously unpublished work from the Lord of the Rings author stars not Aragorn, Gandalf and Frodo, but King Arthur.
HarperCollins has announced the acquisition of Tolkien's never-before-published poem The Fall of Arthur, which will be released for the first time next May. Running to more than 200 pages, Tolkien's story was inspired by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory's tales of King Arthur, and is told in narrative verse. Set in the last days of Arthur's reign, the poem sees Tolkien tackling the old king's battle to save his country from Mordred the usurper, opening as Arthur and Gawain go to war.
"It is well known that a prominent strain in my father's poetry was his abiding love for the old 'Northern' alliterative verse," said Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien, who has edited the book and provided commentary. "In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight he displayed his skill in his rendering of the alliterative verse of the 14th century into the same metre in modern English. To these is now added his unfinished and unpublished poem The Fall of Arthur."
Tolkien began writing The Fall of Arthur a few years before he wrote The Hobbit. Its publication is the latest in a series of "new" releases from the author, including The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in 2009 and the unfinished Middle-Earth story The Children of Húrin in 2007.
For the book's editor at HarperCollins, Chris Smith, the news that Tolkien had finished work on The Fall of Arthur was an unexpected surprise. "Though its title had been known from Humphrey Carpenter's Biography and JRR Tolkien's own letters, we never supposed that it would see the light of day," he said.
He described the previously unpublished work as "extraordinary", saying that it "breathes new life into one of our greatest heroes, liberating him from the clutches of Malory's romantic treatment, and revealing Arthur as a complex, all-too human individual who must rise above the greatest of betrayals to liberate his beloved kingdom".
He added that, "though Tolkien's use of alliterative verse will mean the poem is of more specialised interest than his other work, we would like to think that the subject of King Arthur is one that will resonate with readers of his more celebrated works."
"In The Fall of Arthur we find themes of lost identity, betrayal, and sacrifice for greater glory, which have their echoes in other works, such as The Lord of the Rings, but anyone looking for closer connections will find no wizards or magic swords. In this respect The Fall of Arthur is closer to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún."
These are the "new" poem's opening lines:
"Arthur eastward in arms purposed
his war to wage on the wild marches,
over seas sailing to Saxon lands,
from the Roman realm ruin defending.
Thus the tides of time to turn backward 
and the heathen to humble, his hope urged him,
that with harrying ships they should hunt no more
on the shining shores and shallow waters
of South Britain, booty seeking."
John Garth, author of Tolkien and the Great War, said that from the fragments he had seen, the omens looked good. "In The Fall of Arthur, Tolkien depicts Arthur going off to fight the Saxons in Mirkwood – not the Mirkwood of Middle-earth, but the great German forests. Whether it's as good as the best by Tolkien will have to wait on the full publication, but snippets published so far are encouraging, showing him in darkly evocative mode writing about one of the great English villains, Mordred: 'His bed was barren; there black phantoms/ of desire unsated and savage fury/ in his brain brooded till bleak morning.'
"Any addition to the Arthurian tradition by a major author is welcome; this one is also exciting because of what it adds to our picture of a great modern imagination."

An 'Appropriate' Fiasco

By John Podhoretz
New York Post
October 11, 2012

At yesterday’s incendiary, four-hour hearing in Washington, congressional Republicans ripped into two high-ranking State Department officials who struggled to explain away the administration’s utterly baffling behavior before and after the murder of four Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
The spectacle was agonizing. The officials — Charlene Lamb and Patrick Kennedy — basically said everything they’d done before the terror assault and everything the administration had said afterward was appropriate, “based on what was known at the time.”
Lamb and Kennedy said they’d done the right thing as they sat next to two security experts who’d been on the ground in Benghazi and had desperately sought more assistance from the State Department — as had Ambassador Chris Stevens, up to the very day he was murdered.
Based on what they knew at the time.
Even more surprising, Kennedy acknowledged that he believed the murders were the result of a terrorist plan, rather than the aftermath of a spontaneous uprising against a YouTube video. But he then heatedly said he would’ve done exactly what UN Ambassador Susan Rice did when she went on the Sunday-morning chat shows and falsely asserted that the video was entirely to blame —based on what was known at the time.
Rice, they said, was acting on the intelligence that the State Department had at the time.
But that wasnotwhat was known at the time, at least not according to the reporting of Eli Lake of the Daily Beast and Anderson Cooper’s CNN team and James Rosen at Fox News.
It was a surety, even by the time Rice did her Sunday press tour, that this had been a staged assault —nota monstrous improvisatory riot.
It’s unclear why these career civil servants, who are not beholden to the president for their employment, felt it necessary to defend an Obama appointee’s shockingly misleading and now entirely discredited talking points — especially since they said they hadn’t been coached on what to say before the House committee.
It was even less clear why Charlene Lamb, the official in charge of the security protocols at embassies, seemed to find it almost painful even to speak to the words “terror” and “terrorist” when asked to sum up her views of the case.
Democrats on the committee tried to make the case that the Republicans were playing election-year politics, and of course they were right to some degree.
But playing election-year politics is also how this all got started one month ago today.
The Obama administration made what was, in retrospect, one of the most bafflingly stupid political decisions in recent history when it decided to take the Sept. 11 anti-American riots across the greater Middle East and ascribe them to that nefarious YouTube video.
And itwasa political decision — borne out of the administration’s hope and wish and desire to proclaim that al Qaeda had been decimated and that the threat of world terrorism had receded because of the president’s drone strikes and his order to kill Osama bin Laden.
That might have seemed like a nice talking point, but it was instantly rendered meaningless by the breaching of our embassy in Cairo and the murders in Libya.
The smart political play would’ve been the right moral and leadership play as well.
It would’ve been for the president to come out of the White House immediately and say, “Terrorists are again testing America’s resolve. They have slain four of our bravest public servants. Their evil will not stand. We will not be attacked. We will prevail.”
The nation would’ve rallied around him. Democrats would’ve cheered. More to the point, politically, Republicans would have thrown up their hands and despaired at their chances in November, given that the president was reinforcing his status as commander in chief with an unimpeachable call for vigilance and toughness.
Instead, Obama and his people went for the YouTube play. In so doing, they not only deceived the American people and inappropriately deferred blame, they inflicted on themselves an entirely unnecessary wound.
And what should be even more distressing for them and for their supporters, they should have understood this would be the casebased on what they knew at the time.

Remember Nick Berg?

By Paul Kengor
October 11, 2012

The rapidly evolving Libya scandal provides yet more opportunity for extraordinary pro-Obama media bias.  To appreciate the staggering level of bias, just ask yourself a simple question: what if this were George W. Bush?

Yes, end of argument.

But I recently had a unique thought that connects the two -- that is, the media's protection of Obama on the Middle East vs. the media's evisceration of Bush on the Middle East.  It was kindled -- credit where credit is due -- by Rush Limbaugh.  Limbaugh pondered how the family of our slain Libyan ambassador, Chris Stevens, might be reacting to all of this.  Surely, Stevens' family is very upset right now -- and not just about his death.  They are probably deeply troubled by the Obama administration's apparently ignoring critical details that might have better protected Chris Stevens. They are probably also bothered by the administration's terrible attempts to blame the whole mess not on clearly premeditated terrorism, but on a ridiculous video.  And I bet they aren't too pleased with "journalists" refusing to ask hard questions of the president whom they are committed to coddle.

Again, imagine if this were George W. Bush.  The media would be staked outside the Stevens' family home, cameras running and microphones hoisted, waiting breathlessly, begging Chris's mom and dad to take some shots at the president.  And if you think I'm off-base on that one, then remember one name from the Bush years: Nick Berg.

In May 2004 -- coincidentally, just as Senator Ted Kennedy publicly claimed that "we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management: U.S. management" -- a group of al-Qaeda operatives in Baghdad released video of themselves beheading a 26-year-old American from West Chester, Pennsylvania named Nick Berg.  Berg was in Iraq as a private citizen lending a hand to the nation's postwar reconstruction.

The killers yelled "Allah Akbar!" ("God is great!") as they sawed off Berg's head.  According to estimates, the beheading lasted 30 to 60 seconds.  Berg's screaming was halted only by the severing of his vocal chords.  The video was streamed online for the world to absorb in horror.  Yet, unlike the pictures of harassed Iraqi POWs at Abu Ghraib, which were splashed on the front page of every newspaper in America, the Berg video was too graphic to air.  The boldest talk radio hosts -- frustrated by the media's nonstop, weeks-long coverage of Abu Ghraib while barely covering the Berg execution beyond the day's wires -- played audio of the beheading.  Some conservative websites posted photos of the execution.  Few to none linked to the grisly raw video.

The beheading brought perspective to the Abu Ghraib scandal: sure, the humiliation of Iraqi POWs was an embarrassing mistreatment by unauthorized U.S. troops, but the action against Nick Berg was an atrocity of unspeakable barbarism.  The Berg beheading made it abundantly clear that America's Islamist enemy in Iraq was perpetrating true evil.

But not everyone interpreted it that way.  Nick Berg's father, Michael, disagreed.  Michael Berg was an anti-war activist and supporter of the radical anti-war group International ANSWER.

Michael didn't like George W. Bush, and the anti-Bush media wasted no time dashing to his front door with cameras and microphones.  Any thoughts on President Bush, Mr. Berg?

"My son died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld," said Michael Berg in a May 13 press conference.  "This administration did this."  He said of the Bush team: "The al-Qaeda people are probably just as bad as they are."

Yep, those responsible for September 11, 2001, Michael Berg concluded, were probably just as bad as the Bush White House.  Gee, even Hezb'allah, the Iranian Shiite terrorist group, was willing to blame al-Qaeda instead of Bush.

Reuters had itself a headline: "Berg Died for Bush, Rumsfeld 'Sins' -- Father."  Every news source had its headline.

Nick Berg's murder had already upset me greatly.  When I heard Michael Berg's widely reported words, I got even sicker.
Needless to say, our "journalists" won't dare attempt to dig up anything this revolting against President Barack Obama.  They won't go looking for the family of Chris Stevens in hopes of a blistering comment against the president.  For that matter, they won't even go looking for the truth of what really happened with Chris Stevens.  Instead, they are poised to attack those who dare go looking.  Hey, whatever it takes to achieve their highest aspiration: the protection and re-election of Barack Obama.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the new book, The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mentor.

Page Printed from: at October 11, 2012 - 09:35:37 AM CDT

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waylon Jennings: The 'Last Recordings' Of A Dreamer

NPR Staff
90.9 wbur (Boston)
October 2, 2012

Goin' Down Rockin': The Last Recordings is a new album of songs by Waylon Jennings, who died in 2002. (Courtesy of the artist)
Known for his gritty baritone, Waylon Jennings embodied the outlaw side of country music. He was 64 when he died of complications from diabetes, leaving behind a collection of vocal tracks that remained unfinished until now.
"It was almost shocking when I first heard it," says the singer Jessi Colter, who was married to Jennings for more than 30 years. "It took me several times to be able to listen to it. It sounded like he was there, that he's opening his heart to you, and he's telling you how he feels."
Colter gave her blessing to her husband's longtime producer and friend Robby Turner to add instruments and finish the songs. The result is Goin' Down Rockin': The Last Recordings. The album sounds like classic Jennings, with a voice that's sometimes a little rough, a little ragged, but never false. Jennings had a lot of physical troubles at the time.
"He wasn't the kind of guy that let on about his pains," Turner tells NPR's Melissa Block. "I remember one time, I said something about redoing one of the takes of the song, and he said, 'I don't think I can get through it, hoss.' And I realized then: That's enough said, right there. Because he wouldn't say that if he didn't mean it. But it was relaxing to him, because we had fun; we sat around and talked. It wasn't like another session for me at all. It was just like spending time with my best friend and my dad.
"We were so much like family that it wasn't a lot of questions asked by me. He started doing these songs, and when he started doing each one, I realized, 'Well, there's 'Belle of the Ball,' so that's one he's recorded before. It's not new. Then he told me to finish them one day, but the conversations that we had were sometimes totally off subject. I mean, he was sitting there one time and listening to the playback of a song, and he hit stop on the 24-track machine, looked at me and said, 'I can almost hear the part you're playing, and you're sounding great.' "
'A Vagabond, A Dreamer And A Rhymer'
"Belle of the Ball" was originally released in 1977 as the B-side to Jennings' hit "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." Jennings once told Colter that "Belle of the Ball" was his favorite song he ever wrote.
"It's really about his love for the music industry, his trip of life," Colter says. "And his imagery, when you really look into it and listen to it, is stunning, because he could see so far ahead on some things that it would aggravate me. But in this, he came here just a vagabond, dreamer and a rhymer, and a singer of songs. And he's leaving. It's his leaving song."
Waylon Jennings died in 2002, and Turner held on to these last recordings for many years, until he recorded the other parts along with some of Jennings' longtime players. The guiding principle to finish the record, according to Turner, was "What would Waylon do? W.W.W.D.?"
"That was the whole thing; that was what I had written down on all my notes," Turner says. "You know, Waylon didn't really tell people; he took control and commanded his style of music. But he did that with hiring the right players. He would give us the layout of a song and how he wanted it to go, but we would play until he smiled. And that was our thing: playing until Waylon smiled."
"I think y'all were, too," Colter says, laughing. "If he was smiling, you were smiling."
'It Was All Worth It'
There were tears, too.
"There were moments when a song would finish, and he'd say something, or [I'd] just hear him play the tail piece of 'Belle of the Ball,' that I would tear up while recording my steel parts," Turner says. "I remember looking down at my steel guitar and seeing the teardrop fall. And I said, 'That'd be a great picture, but I would never let anybody see it but Jessi.' "
Turner says he'd never told that to anybody, not even Colter. After a pause, Turner adds, "But it was all worth it."
"I Do Believe" is a confessional song about man and his troubles with faith. Raised in the Church of Christ, Jennings had a conflict with the church not appreciating music, Colter says.
"I think mainly what he wanted to say was, 'I do believe, and this is what I believe,' " Colter says.

Waylon Jennings' Widow Talks 'Last Recordings' & Movie Progress

By Chuck Dauphin
September 28, 2012

Ask Jessi Colter about the first time she ever saw Waylon Jennings, and she remembers well. "I had gone in the studio to put down a song. I was married to Duane Eddy at the time. I had some songs done by Chet Atkins at RCA, and Duane said 'Why don't do a demo for Waylon?'  We did a song together called 'Living Proof' that never came out. I thought he was a nice man," she recalls.

In his 1996 autobiography, Jennings remembers as Colter was leaving the studio, she turned around and looked at him, "I did look back, but it wasn't anything seductive or anything like that," she says adding that "We didn't see each other again for about two years. He had divorced and I was divorcing. That's when things started." The two married in October 1969, and enjoyed one of the strongest marriages in country music history until Jennings' death in February 2002.

Colter was in Nashville recently to talk about "Goin' Down Rockin - Waylon Jennings: The Last Recordings," released this week on Saguaro Road. Recorded in 1999, she says that the recordings were made at a time when Jennings' restless spirit overtook him. "I remember the night," she told Billboard. "He hadn't been feeling well, and the doctor ordered him to stop touring for a short time. He drove down to (band member) Robby Turner's and said 'I'm going to put a few things down.' That's all I knew about it. I didn't have a list of what he cut. It was a surprise when Robby showed me the mixes of what was in there. He pulled out a couple of the tracks for the tribute albums that we have [released] and they sounded great. I don't know if it was a period where he was unsure of what he was going to do next, but it was very special. He was feeling something that night. Robby asked Waylon if he just wanted to put down demos or leave the tracks open. He said, let's put it to 24-track, so it can be finished."

The album is a very eclectic mixture of sounds - almost as diverse as the crowd that followed him, Colter says. "'Wrong Road To Nashville' is so cajun, and 'I Do Believe' is such a heartfelt and expressive view of his relationship with God. Waylon had that thing in him that was so believable when he was explaining how he felt. It was like he had a gear that was tuned to people. His crowds were a mix. There were doctors, lawyers and hoodlums and hippies, a lot of different people at his shows."

Jennings himself was a mixture, Colter allows. Though some perceived him as an "Outlaw," most who knew him well said he was quite the opposite. "He was very warm. Even though he was very strong in his principles, he had a great sense of humor. He didn't want to get serious except with his work or playing cards. He had a working man mentality.  He was working in the fields picking cotton at age ten. He loved talking to the working people, and he never thought himself above it. He was the same at the Ritz Hotel in Paris as he was at the Holiday Inn. He always wanted people to feel comfortable."

Colter also discussed the ways that she and son Shooter are trying to keep Jennings' memory alive. "Shooter is setting up the new website, which features some beautiful merchandise. He's also co-producing a movie. Everything isn't lined up just yet, but it's in the works. We have a lot of things coming up. Waylon was a dark horse and a mystery. There's a lot people didn't know about him, and we're looking forward to sharing him with the world in every way we know possible."