Saturday, November 03, 2012

Danny DeVito's Union Thugs and Tuesday's Vote

By J. Christian Adams
PJ Media
November 3, 2012

We can learn a lot from Democrats by what they oppose. While Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings tells us there is no vote fraud, fellow Maryland congressional candidate Wendy Rosen is committing federal felonies by voting both in Maryland and Florida. While the NAACP is leading the charge against photo voter identification, Lessadolla Sowers from the NAACP heads off to prison for voting for dead voters. While Brian Moran, Virginia’s Democrat chair, rails againstvoter integrity, his nephew Pat is caught on camera plotting the use of forged documents at the polls to help President Obama.
Indeed, we learn much by what they oppose. It certainly explains their existential opposition to True the Vote’straining of the poll-watching army on Tuesday.
But this year, their hypocrisy has reached a diabolical crescendo. The Obama campaign has sought to unleash law enforcement officials across the United States against law-abiding citizens who exercised state and federal laws to clean up the voter rolls and monitor the polls.
It is bad enough when Eric Holder refuses to enforce laws to maintain the voter rolls. It is even worse when his political buddies like Obama campaign lawyer Robert Bauer try to intimidate people who clean up Holder’s mess by badgering state election officials.
As Michael Barone aptly identified this crowd years ago – Obama runs a thugocracy. For that reason alone, in a land that loves liberty, they must be removed from power on Tuesday.
The Obama thugs have infiltrated every corner of the nation – from Sowers at civil rights groups like the NAACP, to the spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler at the Justice Department who smoothed over the bloody Fast and Furious mayhem; from Malik Zulu Shabazz getting a pass on voter intimidation, to the petty, small, impersonal lifelong bureaucrat Steve Rosenbaum at the DOJ who made it happen. Each person plays a small part in making the thugocracy function.
Rosenbaum, Sowers, Schmaler and Shabazz
Because America is a land with chords of memory which find thuggery anathema, Obama will lose on Tuesday.
I first experienced the rising thugocracy watching a famous Hollywood celebrity lead a rally where Republican voters were intimidated from entering the polls to vote. I was in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2004 at the early voting site on Military Trail. There, a giant purple SEIU rally stood in front of the single entrance. Danny DeVito led the mob.
I watched Bush voter after Bush voter (known by bumperstickers) at DeVito’s rally suffer identification by a SEIU member posted in the parking lot. As each voter exited their car, the SEIU thug pointed and followed the person, announcing to the mob that they were a voter for Bush.  The mob made passage difficult to impossible.
I was not alone in watching DeVito’s SEIU mob block the polls. National Review had this to say at the time:
We’re already witnessing the organized bullying of voters in the hotly contested swing state of Florida. According to a disturbing report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “With early voting taking place in busy public places like City Halls and libraries, voters are voicing complaints of being blocked by political mobs, or being singled out for their political views. Others say they have been grabbed, screamed at and cursed by political partisans of all stripes.”
“Special-interest groups are trying to whip everybody into a frenzy and get everybody upset,” LePore said. “Campaigns and their observers are confronting the workers and the voters. Things have gotten nasty and ugly.”   “LePore said campaign workers followed voters into polling places and handed out literature next to the voting machines. Other voters standing in line were told the machines don’t work and that they should vote absentee.”
Actors Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman led a rally at the entrance to another polling location, prompting poll watcher Lawrence Gottfried to intervene. “I said, ‘Look Mr. DeVito, I’m a big fan of yours and Rhea’s, but you are blocking the entrance.
I was there. The account in National Review is accurate. Danny DeVito egged on union thugs who were preventing Republicans from entering the polls.
Did the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights care about “election protection” then? Did the NAACP issue statements condemning the use of purple-shirt muscle from blocking the polls? Did Demos, Common Cause, or the League of Women Voters issue a report in 2004 about “Bullies at the Ballot Box”?
Of course not. Because every last one of these rotted groups exist to help Democrats, period. They have lost the moral high ground they held a generation ago and are now partisan tools and officers in Obama’s thugocracy.
The SEIU folks, the foot soldiers in the thugocracy who were blocking voters in Florida, are not only silent in 2012, they are now sending threatening letters to True the Vote. The SEIU is suddenly concerned about people feeling intimidated at the polls by elderly poll watchers with clipboards trained by True the Vote.
That’s what thugs do: engage in thuggery, and then claim your opponent is doing it.
America take note. These are the hard cold facts. A vast Machine exists to push the election outcome in one direction. The Machine includes partisan organizations masquerading as civil rights groups. It champions an attorney general and president schooled in the hard arts of racial community organizing. It benefits from election bureaucrats who turn a blind eye toward lawbreakers and polluted voter rolls. Hollywood stars like Danny DeVito and Cher lead the attack on law-abiding Americans who stand up for the Rule of Law. And stooges in the media gobble up the narrative of the law breakers.
The only thing left to oppose this Machine, this corrosion of law and liberty, is you. Tuesday is the day you get to decide whether America is a land where a thugocracy can flourish, or whether freedom’s holy light will thrive. The founders of this great land foresaw a day like November 6, 2012. Every patriot who came before you acted. Now it is your turn.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Book Review: 'Bruce' by Peter Ames Carlin

Bruce Springsteen in performance in Los Angeles in 1985.

Meet the new Boss, not the same as the old Boss

Published Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 04:00PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 01:53PM EDT
When it comes to Bruce Springsteen, I honestly thought I was well past the point of being surprised. It’s not a function of age (God forbid), so much as one of exposure.
Having been a fan for almost three decades, I have, at various points, completely immersed myself in Springsteen culture and scholarship. From Dave Marsh’s essential, if hagiographic, Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story in 1984 to Robert Coles’s intensely cerebral Bruce Springsteen’s America to Christopher Sandford’s prurient Springsteen: Point Blank, along with dozens of other books, hundreds of articles and more music than I could listen to in a solid year, I thought I had the bases more than covered.
As a result, my expectations for Bruce, the new biography by rock writer Peter Ames Carlin (author previously of biographies of Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson), were fairly low. Within the first couple of chapters, though, my understanding of Springsteen’s work, his life and his psychology were utterly upended. I devoured the rest of the book with renewed enthusiasm, a passion and vigour I don’t recall feeling since those days of 1984 when Springsteen was a promising mystery to a small-town 13-year-old.
It’s not just that Bruce is the first Springsteen biography written with the support of and access to Springsteen, his family, bandmates and business associates since Marsh’s follow-up to Born to RunGlory Days, in 1987, though of course that access shapes the whole. (The book, it should be noted, is not an authorized biography; given some of the content, Carlin clearly had free rein.)
More significantly, Carlin comes at the Springsteen story fresh, taking none of the accepted gospel for granted. This emerges most strikingly in his approach to the story. Rather than beginning with Springsteen’s birth or the start of his career, Carlin goes back a generation. The book opens with the death of five-year-old Virginia Springsteen, elder sister to then-two-year-old Douglas. Had she lived, Virginia would have been Bruce’s aunt. Instead, her loss created a fissure in the Springsteen family, and her mother in particular, an emotional rent inflicted on Doug, “whose DNA [already] came richly entwined with darker threads,” which would in turn be visited upon his son.
The relationship between Springsteen and his father, Doug, has – in most recountings – formed the axis around which the narrative of Springsteen’s life and art turn. It has always been depicted largely as one of animosity and anger, a lack of understanding on the father’s part, a desperate desire to connect with him on the part of the son, and an eventual conciliation once Bruce became a father himself in the 1990s. Carlin, with nothing invested in this approach (and with, remember, unprecedented access ), takes a different tack, depicting a family haunted by loss and by internal ghosts, a father suffering and struggling himself (rather than judgmental and scornful) and a son burdened with the same darkness finding his own way free. It’s a nuanced, sympathetic approach, genuinely surprising but utterly convincing.
That nuance extends to other father figures in the book, most particularly Springsteen’s first manager, Mike Appel, from whom Springsteen separated in an infamous, acrimonious legal confrontation after the release ofBorn to Run. Appel emerges as a rounded, conflicted character, rather than as the straightforward villain as the traditional, simplistic Springsteen narrative often characterizes him. The approach feels revelatory rather than mythic.
Carlin isn’t inherently opposed to mythmaking, however. In depicting the epochal first meeting between Springsteen and his future saxman and onstage foil Clarence Clemons, he acknowledges both the myth – that the towering Clemons pulled the door of the Student Prince off its hinges on a stormy night, walking into legend, saxophone case in hand – and its detractors. “Asked directly, and only a few months after Clemons’s death, about the Student Prince door question, Bruce turns solemn. ‘It did. That’s for certain.’ And what of the people – the band members – who insist it didn’t? ‘They would be wrong.’”
In addition to the power of its approach, Bruce impresses simply for its scholarship. The chronicle of Springsteen’s developmental years in the Jersey shore scene, for example, are more richly detailed than any I have read previously, and Carlin’s account of Springsteen writing Born to Run (as distinct from the oft-told saga of recording the song) is electrifying, worth the cost of the book on its own.
As one might expect, Bruce doesn’t maintain this level of insight and cohesion for its entire length. The time period covered by the book ends earlier this year, but the analysis of the past decade is fairly superficial. Nowhere is this clearer than in one of the last chapters of Bruce, which focuses on the author’s conversations with Clarence Clemons in early 2011. The saxman’s perspective – his love of playing, his obvious love of Springsteen, his lingering anger over the firing of the E Street Band in the 1980s and his rancour at the band not being named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – are underpinned by the knowledge that this interview is one of the last Clemons gave before his death, from complications following a stroke, in June, 2011.
Bruce will, of course, be of interest to Springsteen fans (who will no doubt flinch, as I did, when Carlin botches the occasional lyric, or fails to hit some of the obvious touchstones), but its appeal should be wider than that. Bruce Springsteen is one of the most significant artistic and cultural forces of the past four decades: Carlin’s insightful, powerful biography is for anyone who wonders why.
Robert Wiersema’s books include Walk Like a Man: Coming of Age with the Music of Bruce Springsteen.

Biggest Big Government Can't Keep Lights On

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
November 2, 2012

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats ("John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs") and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he'd instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America "we leave nobody behind." By doing all this, the president "shows" he "cares" – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn't care. So John Brennan, the Counterterrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on Sept. 11, 2012, when a little counterterrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counterterrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy.


Meanwhile, FEMA rumbles on, the "emergency management agency" that manages emergencies, very expensively, rather than preventing them. Late on the night Sandy made landfall, I heard on the local news that my state's governor had asked the president to declare a federal emergency in every New Hampshire county so that federal funds could be "unlocked." A quarter-million people in the Granite State were out of power. It was reported that, beyond our borders, 8 million people in a dozen states were out of power.

But that's not an "emergency." No hurricane hit my county. Indeed, no hurricane hit New Hampshire. No hurricane hit "17 states," the number of states supposedly "affected" by Sandy at its peak. A hurricane hit a few coastal counties of New Jersey, New York and a couple of other states, and that's it. Everyone else had slightly windier-than-usual wind – and yet they were out of power for days. In a county entirely untouched by Sandy, my office manager had no electricity for a week. Not because of an "emergency" but because of a decrepit and vulnerable above-the-ground electrical distribution system that ought to be a national embarrassment to any developed society. A few weeks ago, I chanced to be in St. Pierre and Miquelon, a French colony of 6,000 people on a couple of treeless rocks in the North Atlantic. Every electric line is underground. Indeed, the droll demoiselle who leads tours of the islands makes a point of amusingly drawing American visitors' attention to this local feature.

If you're saying, "Whoa, that sounds expensive," well, our government is more expensive than any government in history – and we have nothing to show for it. Imagine if Obama's 2009 stimulus had been spent burying every electric pole on the Eastern Seaboard. Instead, just that one Obama bill spent a little shy of a trillion dollars, and no one can point to a single thing it built. "A big storm requires Big Government," pronounced The New York Times. But Washington is so big-hearted with Big Government it spends $188 million an hour that it doesn't have – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and Ramadan. And yet, mysteriously, multitrillion-dollar Big Government Obama-style can't do anything except sluice food stamps to the dependent class, lavish benefits and early retirement packages to the bureaucrats that service them, and so-called government "investment" to approved Obama cronies.
So you can have Big Government bigger (or, anyway, more expensive) than any government's ever been, and the lights still go out in 17 states – because your president spent 6 trillion bucks, and all the country got was a lousy Air Force One bomber jacket for him to wear while posing for a Twitpic answering the phone with his concerned expression.
Even in those few parts of the Northeast that can legitimately claim to have been clobbered by Sandy, Big Government made it worse. Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance since that snowstorm a couple of years back. This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system – just as, in the previous crisis, the municipal titan who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger proved utterly incapable of regulating any salt on to Sixth Avenue. Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that's leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats.
Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats' calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He's all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America's uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world's biggest "counterterrorism" bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.
I don't know whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can fix things, but I do know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden won't even try – and that therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse. Look at Lower Manhattan in the dark, and try to imagine what America might look like after the rest of the planet decides it no longer needs the dollar as global reserve currency. For four years, we have had a president who can spend everything but build nothing. Nothing but debt, dependency, and decay. As I said at the beginning, in different ways the response to Hurricane Sandy and Benghazi exemplify the fundamental unseriousness of the superpower at twilight. Whether or not to get serious is the choice facing the electorate Tuesday.
But let him keep the bomber jacket.

EDITORIAL - Benghazi blunder: Obama unworthy commander-in-chief

The Las Vegas Review-Journal
November 1, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in a well-planned military assault on their diplomatic mission in Benghazi seven weeks ago, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So why are details surfacing, piecemeal, only now?
The Obama administration sat by doing nothing for seven hours that night, ignoring calls to dispatch help from our bases in Italy, less than two hours away. It has spent the past seven weeks stretching the story out, engaging in misdirection and deception involving supposed indigenous outrage over an obscure anti-Muslim video, confident that with the aid of a docile press corps this infamous climax to four years of misguided foreign policy can be swept under the rug, at least until after Tuesday's election.
Charles Woods, father of former Navy SEAL and Henderson resident Tyrone Woods, 41, says his son died slumped over his machine gun after he and fellow ex-SEAL Glen Doherty - not the two locals who were the only bodyguards Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration would authorize - held off the enemy for seven hours.
The Obama administration was warned. They received an embassy cable June 25 expressing concern over rising Islamic extremism in Benghazi, noting the black flag of al-Qaida "has been spotted several times flying over government buildings and training facilities." The Obama administration removed a well-armed, 16-member security detail from Libya in August, The Wall Street Journal reported last month, replacing it with a couple of locals. Mr. Stevens sent a cable Aug. 2 requesting 11 additional body guards, noting "Host nation security support is lacking and cannot be depended on," reports Peter Ferrara at But these requests were denied, officials testified before the House Oversight Committee earlier this month.
Based on documents released by the committee, on the day of the attack the Pentagon dispatched a drone with a video camera so everyone in Washington could see what was happening in real time. The drone documented no crowds protesting any video. But around 4 p.m. Washington received an email from the Benghazi mission saying it was under a military-style attack. The White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA were able to watch the live video feed. An email sent later that day reported "Ansar al-Sharia claims responsibility for Benghazi attack."
Not only did the White House do nothing, there are now reports that a counterterrorism team ready to launch a rescue mission was ordered to stand down.
The official explanation for the inadequate security? This administration didn't want to "offend the sensibilities" of the new radical Islamic regime which American and British arms had so recently helped install in Libya.
The official explanation for why Obama administration officials watched the attack unfold for seven hours, refusing repeated requests to send the air support and relief forces that sat less than two hours away in Italy? Silence.
An open discussion of these issues, of course, would lead to difficult questions about the wisdom of underwriting and celebrating the so-called Arab Spring revolts in the first place. While the removal of tyrants can be laudable, the results show a disturbing pattern of merely installing new tyrannies - theocracies of medieval mullahs who immediately start savaging the rights of women (including the basic right to education) and who are openly hostile to American interests.
When Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney promptly criticized the security failures in Benghazi, the White House and its lapdog media jumped all over him for another "gaffe," for speaking out too promptly and too strongly. Prompt and strong action from the White House on Sept. 11 might have saved American lives, as well as America's reputation as a nation not to be messed with. Weakness and dithering and flying to Las Vegas the next day for celebrity fund-raising parties are somehow better?
This administration is an embarrassment on foreign policy and incompetent at best on the economy - though a more careful analysis shows what can only be a perverse and willful attempt to destroy our prosperity. Back in January 2008, Barack Obama told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle that under his cap-and-trade plan, "If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them." He added, "Under my plan ... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." It was also in 2008 that Mr. Obama's future Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, famously said it would be necessary to "figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" - $9 a gallon.
Yet the president now claims he's in favor of oil development and pipelines, taking credit for increased oil production on private lands where he's powerless to block it, after he halted the Keystone XL Pipeline and oversaw a 50 percent reduction in oil leases on public lands.
These behaviors go far beyond "spin." They amount to a pack of lies. To return to office a narcissistic amateur who seeks to ride this nation's economy and international esteem to oblivion, like Slim Pickens riding the nuclear bomb to its target at the end of the movie "Dr. Strangelove," would be disastrous.
Candidate Obama said if he couldn't fix the economy in four years, his would be a one-term presidency.
Mitt Romney is moral, capable and responsible man. Just this once, it's time to hold Barack Obama to his word. Maybe we can all do something about that, come Tuesday.

Help From Alabama Workers Being Denied in New Jersey Because They're Non-Union

By Katie Pavlich
November 2, 2012

Utility crews from Alabama ready to help hurricane stricken and desperate people in New Jersey without power have been told to "stand down" and some are already headed back home. Why? Because they're non-union workers. Keep in mind there are still millions of people in New Jersey without power and many who have been stranded for days as a result. The crews drove 900 miles to reach the area effected by Sandy and this is how they were received:
Crews from Huntsville, as well as Decatur Utilities and Joe Wheeler out of Trinity headed up there this week, but Derrick Moore, one of the Decatur workers, said they were told by crews in New Jersey that they can't do any work there since they're not union employees.

The crews that are in Roanoke, Virginia say they are just watching and waiting even though they originally received a call asking for help from Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

The crews were told to stand down. In fact, Moore said the crew from Trinity is already headed back home.

Understandably, Moore said they're frustrated being told "thanks, but no thanks."

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

The good news? Not all has been lost. Some crews from Alabama will be doing work to help hurricane victims in New York.

The Choice

By , Published: November 1

The Washington Post

“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” That was Barack Obama in 2008. And he was right. Reagan was an ideological inflection point, ending a 50-year liberal ascendancy and beginning a 30-year conservative ascendancy.

It is common for one party to take control and enact its ideological agenda. Ascendancy, however, occurs only when the opposition inevitably regains power and then proceeds to accept the basic premises of the preceding revolution.

Thus, Republicans railed for 20 years against the New Deal. Yet when they regained the White House in 1953, they kept the New Deal intact.

And when Nixon followed LBJ’s Great Society — liberalism’s second wave — he didn’t repeal it. He actually expanded it. Nixon created theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA), gave teeth to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and institutionalized affirmative action — major adornments of contemporary liberalism.

Until Reagan. Ten minutes into his presidency, Reagan declares that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Having thus rhetorically rejected the very premise of the New Deal/Great Society, he sets about attacking its foundations — with radical tax reduction, major deregulation, a frontal challenge to unionism (breaking the air traffic controllers for striking illegally) and an (only partially successful) attempt at restraining government growth.

Reaganism’s ascendancy was confirmed when the other guys came to power and their leader, Bill Clinton, declared (in his 1996 State of the Union address) that “the era of big government is over” — and then abolished welfare, the centerpiece “relief” program of modern liberalism.

In Britain, the same phenomenon: Tony Blair did to Thatcherism what Clinton did to Reaganism. He made it the norm.

Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education and energy.

Think about that. Health care is one-sixth of the economy. Education is the future. And energy is the lifeblood of any advanced country — control pricing and production, and you’ve controlled the industrial economy.

And it wasn’t just rhetoric. He enacted liberalism’s holy grail: the nationalization of health care. His $830 billion stimulus, by far the largest spending bill in U.S. history, massively injected government into the free market — lavishing immense amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries in a naked display of industrial policy.

And what Obama failed to pass through Congress, he enacted unilaterally by executive action. He could not pass cap-and-trade, but his EPA is killing coal. (No new coal-fired power plant would ever be built.) In 2006, liberals failed legislatively to gut welfare’s work requirement. Obama’s new Health and Human Services rule does that by fiat. Continued in a second term, it would abolish welfare reform as we know it — just as in a second term, natural gas will follow coal, as Obama’s EPA regulates fracking into noncompetitiveness.

Government grows in size and power as the individual shrinks into dependency. Until the tipping point where dependency becomes the new norm — as it is in Europe, where even minor retrenchment of the entitlement state has led to despair and, for the more energetic, rioting.

An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.
If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.
Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.
Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Review: Essays on Flannery O'Connor's 'The Violent Bear it Away'

By Mary McWay Seaman
New Oxford Review
October 2012

Dark Faith: New Essays on Flan­nery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away. Edited by Susan Srigley. University of Notre Dame Press. 212 pages. $28. 

To offer a critique of critiques is akin to interpreting interpretations. However, the task here is eased because each of the essays in Dark Faith presents a unique focus on the celebrated second novel of Flan­nery O’Connor (1925-1964). The Violent Bear It Away, written in the Southern Gothic tradition, examines the struggles between faith and secularism through a prophet, a nihilist, a rationalist, and a child — all males of three generations. The novel is awash with religious allusions, imagery, and poetic metaphors, and no moral relativism is found therein, as each of the nine esteemed essayists attests.

Richard Giannone, professor emeritus of English at Fordham University, finds that, for O’Connor, “darkness is the condition of the modern age.” He declares that darkness is part of seeking belief: “All faith is dark. For God, who is incomprehensible, is like the dark to the human spirit.” O’Connor’s haunting symbols of pits, or ditches that suck folks into nihilism, are scattered throughout her book. The novel’s sullen teenage nihilist, educated by an elderly prophet to continue the old man’s tradition, fell into “the godlessness of the modern age” — one of O’Connor’s darkest pits. Giannone observes, however, that darkness enables belief to spring forth from “the ruins of individual human evil and political annihilation.” The darkness of faith is also explored by Professor Gary M. Ciuba of Kent State, who remarks concerning O’Connor’s view of Hell, “Children know by instinct that hell is an absence of love, and they can pick out theirs without missing.” Ciuba observes that ditches motivate the sinner “to assume responsibility in a fallen world.” Both essayists see a thorough scourging at the ditch’s bottom as the impetus that propels one upward. Sin exacts its own penance.

Karl E. Martin of Point Loma Nazarene University discusses parallels between the novel’s elderly prophet and John the Baptist, wilderness men preaching baptism and repentance as escape routes out of the ditch. The nihilist is led by a child who presents “an alternative way of being in the world.” The little one’s baptism and death serve in a sacramental manner to aid the nihilist’s move from a “prophetic kingdom to the messianic kingdom of heaven.” Ruthann Knechel Johan­sen, emerita professor at the University of Notre Dame, posits “an intellectual-spiritual kinship between O’Con­nor and [Simone] Weil” derived from Weil’s essays and O’Con­nor’s novel. Johansen points to O’Con­nor’s depiction of how “three implicit forms of the love of God — the religious ceremony of baptism, the beauty of the world, and the love of neighbor — can be perverted through rebellion, denial, and violation.” These perversions, or ditches, can serve as turning points to faith for errant souls who are well and truly beaten.

Professor John F. Desmond of Whitman College probes the novel’s rationalist character: a condescending, confrontational, and coarse stooge with a mindset acting “as a defense against the vulnerabilities and needs of his heart and the deprivations and confusion he experienced as a child.” A cogent argument finds such rationalism “truly demonic because he uses his crafty intelligence as a weapon to manipulate those around him.” Professor Jason Peters of Augustana College asserts that O’Connor was “thoroughly suspicious” of abstraction or visionary theories derived from objects — the rationalist’s ailment. Peters takes up alienation themes while discussing the “condition of placelessness” that permeates the novel. “Placelessness is not a morally neutral condition for the writer” as it deepens hardship, heartache, and strife.

Associate Professor Scott Huelin of Union University examines the imago Dei, the assertion that humans are made “in the image and likeness of God” through the attributes of reason, will, and love. A tyrannical interpretation of reason surges through O’Connor’s rationalist technocrat, a cool customer who adopts a “perverse asceticism — perverse because it constricts rather than enlarges the heart.” Huelin finds that, for O’Connor, humanity is “constituted by its capacity to enter into meaningful, responsible, and responsive relationships with others, and the unbending of the self, its opening to the other, precisely is the restoration of the image of God.”

Baptism is the “central action of the novel,” according to McMaster University’s P. Travis Kroeker. His essay centers on the conflict between the novel’s rationalist and prophetic visions as an intertwined baptism and murder shout out both worldviews. The dark faith’s “path to life, then, for those with eucharistic vision, must pass through a suffering and death in which Christ gives his flesh and sheds his blood for all — a vision that remains as offensive today as it ever was, world without end.” Susan Srigley, associate professor at Nipissing University, probes the novel’s treatment of self-renunciation and the possibilities of self-fulfillment, seeing a “double movement of renunciation and fulfillment as possible only through an expanded vision of both individuality and community that extends from the living to the dead and back again.” She emphasizes “the relationships between the living and the dead and the spiritual ties that bind them.”

Structural loneliness saturates the characters’ lives in O’Connor’s novel, but this area goes largely unexplored by the contributors to this volume. Where are the neighbors’ visits, religious communities, schools, sporting events, card games, concerts, radio programs, or communions of living saints? A bitter isolation figures into the spiritual pathologies of several ingrown, single-minded, self-absorbed characters. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that O’Connor’s novel remained above doctrinal sectarianism, containing none of that era’s dark, old-time Southern, idolatrous-papist-versus-blaspheming-Protestant stuff.

Literary criticism, a niche pursuit, is often a lofty, parochial sport with many participants drafted from academia. That said, this particular collection of essays reveals the genre at its most exacting as Dark Faith dissects disorderly journeys from ditch to eternal destiny through the offerings of nine admired minds. Mary Flannery O’Connor would be pleased!

Benghazi, American Honor, Little Caesar, and the False Dmitri

By Michael Walsh
PJ Media
October 31, 2012

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“A coward dies a thousand deaths,” to paraphrase Shakespeare in Julius Caesar, “but a hero dies just one.” As we hopefully approach the end of the Barack Hussein Obama II administration, cowardice is just one of the many possible explanations of its catastrophic failure at Benghazi last month, a failure that cost the lives of four Americans, the loss of valuable intelligence assets, the burning of countless Libyan collaborators, whose lives are now forfeit in that wretched land and elsewhere, and the needless handing to the ascendant jihadists of a propaganda victory that might have been avoided and has yet to be avenged.
But wait — it gets worse. According to this story, they knew an attack likely was coming — and still did nothing:
The U.S. Mission in Benghazi convened an “emergency meeting” less than a month before the assault that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, because Al Qaeda had training camps in Benghazi and the consulate could not defend against a “coordinated attack,” according to a classified cable reviewed by Fox News.
Summarizing an Aug. 15 emergency meeting convened by the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Aug. 16 cable marked “SECRET” said that the State Department’s senior security officer, also known as the RSO, did not believe the consulate could be protected.
“RSO (Regional Security Officer) expressed concerns with the ability to defend Post in the event of a coordinated attack due to limited manpower, security measures, weapons capabilities, host nation support, and the overall size of the compound,” the cable said.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of what Obama’s handling of what is sure to go down as one of the most disgraceful episodes in American political and military history tells us about him, his administration, the ethos of the modern Democratic Party, and the state of our nation. The short answer: nothing good.
Understanding the implications of the Benghazi story — which my colleague Roger Simon has outlined here and hereand here — the MSM (except for Fox News) has done its best to ignore it. They know that, rightly presented to the American people, the fiasco — in which our ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three others who died fighting like men instead of like politicians  – rightly should spell the end of the Obama administration. And regarding Roger’s suggestion of impeachment, it’s worth remembering that the Watergate burglary — the thing that ultimately ended Nixon’s presidency via resignation (under the threat of impeachment by the House) in 1974 — took place five months before his landslide victory in 1972. In other words, one doesn’t have to look very far for a precedent, should it come to that.
Because, let’s face it, the president of the United States — for no apparent legitimate reason of state or military doctrine — let those four men die on the night of Sept. 11, 2012, a clear and present dereliction of duty that, were he an officer in the services, would have gotten him court-martialed, stripped in rank, and sent to the brig. Instead, Obama’s decision (or, more likely, indecision) was a result of purely political calculations: the Slayer of Osama, having tamed the savage Islamic breast and declared the War on Terror over, chose to ignore any evidence to the contrary. And the media, ever eager to please, ignored the story because it didn’t fit the narrative.
We have now arrived at the purest distillation of the philosophy of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party that we call the Democrats: not only the personal is political, but everything — even the lives and deaths of our troops — is political.  But no surprise here.
Recently, one of the nastiest men of the 20th century — yes, I’m talking about you, Eric Hobsbawm — died at the age of 95.  (If you can stomach the face of pure moral-equivalence evil, click here.) Hobsbawm, an Egyptian-born Marxist, died honored in Britain, to which he emigrated from Germany after Hitler came to power. Before his death, as noted by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal, Hobsbawm famously opined that:
None of this should have been surprising coming from a man who, over the years, gave his political assent to everything from the Nazi-Soviet Pact to the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Asked by the BBC whether the achievement of a communist utopia would have justified “the loss of fifteen, twenty million people,” he answered “Yes.”
Holodomor: the Ukraine, 1933
That “yes” is the authentic voice of the modern sociopathic Left of which Barack Obama is so unmistakably a part. Theory is everything to them; indeed, the villains of the Frankfurt School (to whom we provided safe haven from Hitler’s Germany) invented something called “critical theory,” a juvenile discipline predicated on the adolescent fixation with questioning strictures in the name of “human freedom,” but whose practical effect has been the demolition of moral and aesthetic standards and their replacement with nihilism. The deaths of millions of people in the name of their false god, communism, were — in words attributed to Stalin and endorsed by Hobsbawm — just a statistic.
From his boyhood in Honolulu to his young manhood at Occidental and Columbia, to the streets of Chicago and the halls of Harvard, Barack Obama has been passed along from one mentor to another, swimming in the seas of left-liberalism and internalizing its anti-American world view to such an extent that — as a candidate for president — he could stand in front of adoring throngs and proclaim that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Think about that extraordinary statement (alas, too few of our fellow citizens did): what did he mean? Why did the nation need to be “fundamentally transformed” in the first place? Into what was he proposing to transform it? The answers today are all too apparent.
In just four years under President Obama, the United States has seen its stature in the world sink, its economy crater, and its soldiers left to die, unaided, on a foreign battlefield. As a member of a military family, I concur with Roger that Obama’s inaction at Benghazi fully warrants the opening of an impeachment inquiry, so manifestly derelict in his duty does he appear to have been. But then, throughout his woebegone presidency, Obama has never been particularly interested in that aspect of the job, other than to play Drones of Death with his political advisors and crow about how “he” got bin Laden — behavior more suitable to a Chicago gangland chief dispensing with his enemies than a commander in chief defending his country.
In other words, Obama is crazy brave as long as there is no personal or political cost, a fearless killer of even American citizens: judge, jury, and executioner by remote control. But when it came time to act, in real time, to support a few brave men fighting not just for their lives but to save other Americans, he choked (which is why those stories that he had little or nothing to do with bin Laden raid are now being given wide currency in Washington). Given his pampered upbringing at Punahou and the Ivy League, his cowardice is unsurprising, and his sociopathy obviously comes naturally:
Clinton, being Clinton, had plenty of advice in mind and was desperate to impart it. But for the first two years of Obama’s term, the phone calls Clinton kept expecting rarely came. “People say the reason Obama wouldn’t call Clinton is because he doesn’t like him,” observes [former aide Neera] Tanden. “The truth is, Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people. My analogy is that it’s like becoming Bill Gates without liking computers.”
Tanden was, of course, forced to apologize for her candor once the Obama drones got to her, but her Kinsley Gaffe (inadvertently telling the truth) simply reinforced what everybody had long since come to understand about Obama, that he is a cold and unfeeling man, who views the military as his personal Praetorian Guard, Congress as his courtiers, and the American people as his subjects. He openly boasts about going around Congress with his executive orders and via his control of the regulatory agencies. And a second term, in which he would be unaccountable to the electorate, would be far worse. Because that’s where the real “fundamental transformation” will occur; these past four years will be seen as mere prologue to the nightmare to come.’
In Russian history, there is a series of figures known as the “false Dmitris,” pretenders to the throne of the Czar of All the Russias who claimed to be the son of Ivan the Terrible. (These events form the backdrop of Mussorgsky’s great opera, Boris Godunov.) One after another they gathered adherents, raised armies, and marched on Moscow, only to be defeated each time. And yet each False Dmitri represented, you should pardon the expression, hope and change — hope for the restoration of the true Czar (the real Dmitri died in a mysterious accident in boyhood, and rumors attributed his death to Boris) and a change in the habitual misery in which the Russian peasantry lived.
In the same way, Barack Hussein Obama arose from nowhere, proclaimed Hope and Change, and rode a wave of wishful thinking from the obscurity of the Illinois state house to the White House — by any measure, an astonishing accomplishment, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. But his wave was fueled by the perfect storm, the Hurricane Sandy of a dispirited and dispiriting Bush second term and the ineptitude of the McCain campaign, which torpedoed its own best asset, Sarah Palin, and let its supporters down in the cruelest way possible: by simply refusing to fight. They must have known that Obama was an arrant fraud, a man of no accomplishment who was cynically foisted upon the country by the Chicago mob — recall that Saul Alinsky, Obama’s rabbi in community organizing, was a close personal friend of Capone enforcer Frank Nitti, and that campaign guru David Axelrod, the former journalist now playing footsie with his former colleagues from the other side of the street, so vividly evokes in journalistic ethos the corrupt Capone-era Chicago Tribune legman/bagman, Jake Lingle. And yet they threw the fight anyway.
Shame of a Nation
Now it’s Obama’s turn not to fight, at least not on the battlefield where a couple of former Navy SEALs sent some 60 of the dervishes to meet Allah before they were killed by mortar fire. Frantically calling for help while they delivered martyrdom to their assailants, the order to save them — a non-order that had to come from the top — never came. And so they were left to die, while their boss hit the sack in order to rest up for a fundraiser in Las Vegas the next day.
Instead, Obama saved his fight for the second and third debates, and America finally got a good long look at his nasty side. The indolent, bored, Choom Gang Obama of the first debate had kicked the props out from his own carefully manicured legend, so lovingly created by David Axelrod and assiduously tended by an adoring Washington press corps, and revealed himself to be the third-rate intellect and borderline inarticulate extemporaneous speaker some of us knew him to be all along. But instead of the TelePrompter-fueled, silver-tongued Demosthenes his acolytes had expected, in his place arrived a snarling and petulant little man who treated his opponent with contempt and frantically worked the moderators whenever he was backed into a corner. Leaving aside the apparently insane Joe Biden’s baffling act at the vice-presidential debate, Obama’s performance was the worst in American political history.
So this is how the first Obama administration ends: in retreat and defeat. The president stands revealed as just another False Dmitri, a pocket messiah with delusions of grandeur, a political Caesar — Little, not Julius — whose luck has finally run out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sin City Sheriff

Last Updated: 7:33 PM, October 31, 2012
Posted: 11:25 PM, October 27, 2012
On a recent episode of “Vegas,” CBS’ new period drama, Sheriff Lamb, played by Dennis Quaid, punches out a Chicago hood, cuffs him and marches him out of a casino. The Post asked the honest-to-goodness Ralph Lamb, now 85, if that event really happened.
“Yes it did,” he says. “His name was Johnny Roselli.” Roselli was then an underling of Sam Giancana, who ran the Chicago mob. “We never meant to get him hurt,” says Lamb. “I just give him a whoopin’ right there in front of everybody.”
From 1961 to 1979 Lamb was the law in Sin City. “I was the youngest sheriff in the United States,” he says in a soft, Southwestern drawl. “And I was there longer than anybody’s ever been there by 12 years.”
Lamb, who’s a technical adviser on the series, can spout stories about the old Las Vegas like the fountains in front of the Bellagio.
He first met Sinatra in the 1950s. “He’d get full of whiskey and like everybody get a little tough sometimes,” Lamb says of Ol’ Blue Eyes. “But he was all right; he wasn’t hard to handle.” Lamb developed a particular fondness for Dean Martin. “Dean was the kind of guy that would sit down and have a cup of coffee and visit and talk in between shows,” he says. “Just an easy guy to get along with.”
But Lamb interacted with more than just mobsters and headliners. In September 1963, John Kennedy came to town to make a speech at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“They were all in the Sahara Hotel, had a whole suite of rooms there, the Secret Service and him,” says Lamb, who was also in the suite. “Let’s get out of here,” Lamb remembered Kennedy saying to him. “You’re the boss,” Lamb replied. The president and the sheriff made their way down to the hotel bar and were gone several minutes before the Secret Service knew Kennedy was missing. “They found me first,” Lamb says, chuckling. “And he’s just sitting there. He was a great guy.”
Shot in a studio an hour or so north of Los Angeles, “Vegas” has an amazing re-creation of the strip on Fremont Street, including the fictional Savoy casino. The slot machines are real and made of cast iron. The chairs were salvaged from a defunct casino. Set designers also built an exterior of the iconic Golden Nugget.
Though the show’s producers have gone to great expense to replicate the glory days of Las Vegas, it’s Lamb who’s the real McCoy. And the idea of bringing his story to the screen has been kicking around for a long time. The director Sam Peckinpah was the first interested in doing it, back in the early 1980s, Lamb says. Peckinpah had Clint Eastwood slated to play the sheriff.
“We were up in Livingston, Montana, writing a book and a play [screenplay],” Lamb says. Peckinpah died, however, before the project could get off the ground.
Lamb’s story found its way to television courtesy of Arthur Sarkissian, an executive producer of “Vegas.” Sarkissian met Lamb about six years ago through then MGM chairman Kirk Kerkorian. Like Peckinpah, Sarkissian had visions of his story on the big screen. He reached out to Nick Pileggi (“Goodfellas”) to write the screenplay. While the project was in the early stages of development, MGM was sold and Sarkissian held on to the property. It was then agents from William Morris approached him about a television series based on Lamb.
“He was John Wayne and Clint Eastwood rolled into one,” Sarkissian says of Lamb. “He wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He was just real.”
Pileggi and Greg Walker (“Without a Trace”) are co-creators of the series.
Lamb especially gets a kick out of being portrayed as a tough guy on the show. “I don’t know where that originated,” he says. “I never hit a guy with nothing but my fists.” And Lamb thinks the part is right up Quaid’s alley. “He’s done a great job with it,” he says. “So far, you know.”
When Lamb found out that he and Quaid share the same birthday (April 9), the sheriff gave the actor a pair of his cowboy boots, which Quaid wears.
Lamb still lives in Las Vegas. “I have a little home out at the northwest part of town,” he says. “Always where I lived.” And he wears his television celebrity loosely. “I don’t get really excited about anything,” he says. Still, Lamb receives calls “out of the woodwork” from people he’s known over the years who’ve seen the show advertized. But not from any of the mobsters he’s known.
“I think I might have outlived all them guys,” he said.

Romney is what the country needs now

By Ann Coulter
October 31, 2012

The single most important issue in this election is ending the national nightmare of Obamacare.

If Obamacare is not stopped, it will permanently change the political culture of this country. There will be no going back. America will become a less productive, less wealthy nation. What wealth remains will have to be plowed into Obamacare -- to the delight only of the tens of thousands of government bureaucrats administering it.

There won't be one moment marking the end of America. Everything will just gradually get worse, like trains and the tax code, until a bustling, prosperous nation is as distant a memory as pleasurable train travel and one-page tax returns.

The reason we have Obamacare is not because the public was clamoring for the federal government to take over health care. It's because the Democrats had 60 senators. In the frozen ideology of the left, it doesn't matter if anyone wants government health care.

Democrats had been waiting around for 50 years to win huge majorities in the House and Senate and the presidency, so they could check off this box on "FDR's Unfinished Business."

Unlike all other major legislation in the nation's history, Obamacare was passed exclusively by one party that had just won an aberrationally large majority in Congress. Not a single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for it.

Republicans have passed legislation on such partisan votes, too, but never something that would fundamentally change the lives of every living American. Nationalizing one-sixth of the economy is not the kind of thing that should be passed by one party sneering, "Ha, ha -- we have 60 votes!"

As soon as all Americans have been thrown off their employer-provided insurance plans and are forced to start depending on the government for health care, Republicans will never be able to repeal it.

The private insurance market will be gone. Most Americans won't be able to conceive of getting health care that doesn't come from the government -- just as people in the Soviet Union couldn't imagine how they'd get bread if the government didn't provide it.

(Also similar to Communist systems, you'll have to know someone in power to get decent medical care.)

A powerful health care Leviathan will arise, composed of self-paced, well-pensioned, unionized government workers who will manage our health care from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., except federal holidays, sick days, mental health days and in bad weather. (The day after Hurricane Sandy, everything was open on the mostly unaffected Upper East Side of New York -- but not the post office.)

This new phalanx of government workers will spend the bulk of their time campaigning to ensure the election of more Democrats who promise to lessen their workload and increase their benefits. Even Republicans will have to run for office promising only to enlarge Obamacare. Newt Gingrich will be calling plans to alter Obamacare "right-wing social engineering."

The Democrats' idea for funding their endless government programs is always the same: Tax the rich, and just keep taxing them, no matter how high taxes have to be raised. One thing all such people have in common is that they've never had a real job, meaning a job from which you can be fired. Not Bernie Sanders, not Barack Obama, not Joe Biden, not Chuck Schumer and on and on.

Such people simply cannot grasp that doubling tax rates will not double government revenues because people won't work as hard for half the money. Their ideas about tax policy will put America on a high-speed train to government deficits rivaling Greece. We'll be a country with no military, no wealth and no hope.

Even before the train wreck of Obamacare, health care was half-a-disaster because that's the percentage of medical care in this country that was already provided by the government -- via Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans hospitals and other public hospitals.

In 2008, a single county in Florida -- Miami-Dade -- received more money in Medicare home health care payments than the entire rest of the country combined. This continued throughout the entire year and was finally noticed by our Department of Health and Human Services in December 2009.

Do you think it would take a private insurer two years to catch onto the fact that health care claims coming from a single county in Florida were larger than the rest of the country combined?

Lifelong politicians haven't the first idea what an efficient, operating system would even look like. If only we had a presidential candidate who had spent his life working in the private sector ...

The way to fix health care is to take as much as possible away from the government and give it to the private sector. It is a universal law of nature that everything run by the government gets worse and more expensive over time -- the postal service, airport security and Amtrak. Everything run by the private sector gets better and cheaper over time -- cellphones, computers, hair products, dishwashers, etc.

You know who specializes in rescuing failing enterprises and making things work? Mitt Romney.

Contrary to ignorant slanders about Romney's private sector work, his specialty was not buying thriving companies and stripping them for parts. Rather, the Bain Capital model was to take companies that were on the verge of collapse -- about to cut all jobs, pensions and health care for their workers -- and save the business.

Romney is the Red Adair of his profession. He's like a doctor who specializes in multiple gunshot wounds or an oncologist who takes only Stage 4 cancer patients. Yes, there were layoffs, but also lots and lots of jobs, profit, success, efficiency, saved businesses and saved lives.

Romney will be the most accomplished incoming president since Dwight Eisenhower.

Not only has Romney promised to issue a 50-state waiver from Obamacare on his first day in office and then seek a formal repeal and replacement, but he'll know how to do it. The savior of dying companies will fix health care in this country so that no Democrat will be able to wreck it again.

The only way to rid ourselves of this national poison pill, set to destroy both health care and the nation at large, is to elect Mitt Romney our next president.


White House silent as Benghazi questions mount

By Guy Benson
October 31, 2012

Last week, we alerted you to the infuriating, heart-wrenching revelation that at least three specific requests for military help from besieged Americans in Benghazi were rejected by someone in the chain of command.  This decision was made despite the established fact that US officials in Tripoli, the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House were watching the horror unfold in real time, via a video feed from an unmanned drone hovering over the city.  Democrats won't say if that drone was armed (and therefore capable of raining fire on the terrorists who were attacking our men and women).  Why were these reinforcements refused, who specifically did the refusing, and where was the president throughout this process?  These are questions being asked by US Senators, and political commentators from across the ideological spectrum.  We've gotten a few answers so far.  David Petraeus has emphatically denied that the CIA made this call.  President Obama's Defense Secretary has hinted that the Pentagon was involved in the decision.  The White House?  Silence:

So here's where we are: Petraeus has made clear the CIA wasn't responsible for the decision not to act. Panetta has tried to take the responsibility himself—and the White House has seemed to encourage this interpretation of events. But Panetta's position is untenable: The Defense Department doesn't get to unilaterally decide whether it's too risky or not to try to rescue CIA operators, or to violate another country's air space. In any case, it’s inconceivable Panetta didn't raise the question of what to do when he met with the national security adviser and the president at 5 p.m. on the evening of September 11 for an hour. And it's beyond inconceivable he didn't then stay in touch with the White House after he returned to the Pentagon. So the question remains: What did President Obama do that evening (apart from spending an hour on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu)? What did he know, and what did he decide, and what was the basis for his decisions? Petraeus has disclaimed responsibility for the decisions of September 11. Panetta has claimed responsibility for decisions that weren't his to make. Both Petraeus and Panetta have raised more questions than they've answered. The only person who can provide the answers the American people deserve is President Obama.  

The questions surrounding this preventable massacre still to outnumber the answers we've been given -- eight weeks after those four Americans were murdered.  There are now rumors floating around that damning audio and emails have been leaked to two major media organizations.  Here's New Gingrich sharing what he's hearing:


“There is a rumor — I want to be clear, it’s a rumor — that at least two networks have emails from the National Security Adviser’s office telling a counterterrorism group to stand down,” Gingrich said. “But they were a group in real-time trying to mobilize marines and C-130s and the fighter aircraft, and they were told explicitly by the White House stand down and do nothing. This is not a terrorist action. If that is true, and I’ve been told this by a fairly reliable U.S. senator, if that is true and comes out, I think it raises enormous questions about the president’s role, and Tom Donilon, the National Security Adviser’s role, the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has taken it on his own shoulders, that he said don’t go. And that is, I think, very dubious, given that the president said he had instructions they are supposed to do everything they could to secure American personnel.”

We'll see if and how that plays out.  In any case, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey is appalledby the White House's lack of competence and transparency on Benghazi:


Asked about the White House's vague "fog of war" defense, Mukasey recoiled:

“That’s nonsense on stilts. There’s no evidence whatsoever that the intelligence community gave that kind of information, and there’s no basis for it. There were cameras outside that consulate. Those cameras showed an attack. There was never a demonstration. There was never anybody saying anything about a video. That was a fabrication from the start.”  

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that the Obama administration has significantly slashed intelligence spending.  That seems like a disastrously bad idea, all things considered.  Will voters get answers about what did (or perhaps more importantly did not) happen regarding Benghazi prior to November 6?  The administration's foot-drag strategy might be smart politics, but it's a national outrage and a slap in the face of people like Charlie Woods and Pat Smith.