Saturday, November 17, 2012

The president knew truth about Benghazi

By Jennifer Rubin
Right Turn
The Washington Post
November 16, 2012

In a blockbuster report, John Solomon, the former Associated Press and Post reporter, has ferreted out the president’s daily brief that informed him within 72 hours of the Sept. 11 attack that the Benghazi attack was a jihadist operation.
Citing officials directly familiar with the information, Solomon writes in the Washington Guardian that Obama and other administration officials were told that “that the attack was likely carried out by local militia and other armed extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida in the region.”
He adds:
The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris [Stevens] were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.
Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.
Solomon cautions that there were bits of evidence pointing to a spontaneous attack but, as Eli Lake of the Daily Beast and others have reported, he writes: “Among the early evidence cited in the briefings to the president and other senior officials were intercepts showing some of the participants were known members or supporters of Ansar al-Sharia — the al-Qaida-sympathizing militia in Libya — and the AQIM, which is a direct affiliate of al-Qaida in northern Africa, the officials said.”
How could the president and his senior staff then have allowed (or rather, sent) Rice to go out to tell an entirely different tale to the American people on Sept. 16 on five TV shows?
This report indicates that the president certainly knew that Benghazi wasn’t a rogue movie review gone bad. He had information that plainly spelled out what was later confirmed by additional intelligence. If this information was too confidential to share with the public, at the very leastthe president and others should not have mislead voters.
This is a full-blown scandal, and in light of this information, the press corps’s slothful indifference to uncovering the truth at Wednesday’s news conference with Obama is all the more shocking. It is time for the president to come clean. The scandal has now enveloped the Oval Office and will define his second term, if not resolved satisfactorily.
The irony of this is that Rice may well have been used as a patsy, unaware that she was sent out to spin a misleading tale. My colleagueDana Milbank recounts Rice’s long-standing inability to get along with others and to be circumspect in her pronouncements:
It’s true that, in her much-criticized TV performance, she was reciting talking points given to her by the intelligence agencies. But that’s the trouble. Rice stuck with her points even though they had been contradicted by the president of the Libyan National Assembly, who, on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ just before Rice, said there was “no doubt” that the attack on Americans in Benghazi “was preplanned.” Rice rebutted the Libyan official, arguing — falsely, it turned out — that there was no evidence of such planning. . . . Obama can do better at State than Susan Rice.
Frankly the same could be said of many national security positions at this point. The American people made their choice in November on the president, but it now appears they were duped regarding the real facts concerning Benghazi. What are we going to do about that?

Just Go Away, Gary

By Bill Simmons
November 16, 2012

News broke last night that embattled NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested a two-week moratorium from lockout negotiations with the NHLPA. The reason? Things had just become too heated. I guess that's what happens when you cancel six weeks of games and Thanksgiving is looming — maybe there's a little more urgency, you say some things you regret, people take those things personally, and suddenly you're threatening each other in monotone Canadian accents. Why don't you go to hell, eh? But canceling another two weeks just so everyone can cool off? Who does this? And you wonder why hockey fans were regarding Bettman's lockout leadership the same way you'd act if you were watching a baby play with a chainsaw.
Oh God … wait, is that on … OH GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a guy who recently earned the following e-mail from a Minneapolis reader named Peter Gilbertson: "How does one impeach a sports commissioner? How can a commissioner on the verge of losing two NHL seasons in one decade, with four work stoppages during his tenure, continue to keep his job? He is a failure. For the fans, the players, and the game this needs to be done — Bettman should be impeached."
First of all, how much fun would it be to impeach Gary Bettman? Can't you see him sweating and stammering through the hearings as various politicians rehashed an endless list of mistakes over the years? "So you allowed John Spano to buy the Islanders without any money because … why?" That would be the best courtroom TV since the O.J. trial. But if we voted for sports commissioners (with fans, players and owners each splitting one-third of the overall vote) or put term limits on their tenures (10 years max), then we wouldn't have to ask questions like "How does one impeach a sports commissioner?"
Gary Bettman should have lost his job years and years ago. He kept it for the same reason David Stern plans to hang around for three decades, Bud Selig will still be running baseball when he's 80, and Roger Goodell will probably get a contract extension even after he handled the Saints debacle so badly that he had to bring back his old boss to fix the situation for him. (Yes, we covered these commissioners in this space last month.) But Bettman's supernatural ability to keep ruining hockey is almost unparalleled — after I joked recently for the umpteenth time about Bettman's former boss, David Stern, planting him in the NHL to ruin hockey, a few readers e-mailed me wondering if that could be legitimately true. What other explanation could there be? How could someone be this bad for this long?
The case against Bettman in one sentence: The NHL sacrificed an entire season so they could reimagine their entire salary structure … and only seven years later, that "reimagining" went so poorly that they might have to sacrifice a second season because they need a mulligan.
That's all you need to know. I didn't even need to bring up the league's botched television deals, overexpansion, poorly picked markets, belated acknowledgement of the concussion epidemic, or more incredibly, how they stupidly forgot to limit the length of contracts. This is a commissioner who fought like hell to create a hard cap, and after it finally got approved, was too dense to remember to include a rule that contracts couldn't last longer than five or six years (like what the NBA does). That led to team after team circumventing that cap by giving out guaranteed deals lasting as long as 15 YEARS. Really, didn't see that loophole getting exploited, Gary? Never came up as you were hashing things out?
Imagine your neighbor knocking down his house, then rebuilding it from scratch as his family lived in a hotel. You had to listen to the construction guys hammering, sawing and banging for a solid year. Finally the house goes up, the family moves back in … and seven years later, suddenly they're knocking the house down again. You ask the neighbor what happened and he says, "Yeah, sorry about that — we screwed up when we rebuilt the house, had too many flaws, we needed to do it over again."
Naturally, you say, "Why didn't you figure out all that stuff before you rebuilt the house the first time?"
He says, "Because I'm an idiot, that's why."
And then, there's an awkward silence before he walks away, as you don't know whether he's kidding or not.
That's Gary Bettman.
We should mention that, in a vacuum, he's correct about this particular lockout: The league's financial model (already a mess because we have too many NHL teams, which is 100 percent Bettman's fault, but whatever) can't be sustained with such meager television revenue. Hockey depends on its attendance and the unwavering devotion of its zealous fan base. From a television standpoint, the league will always be handicapped by its lack of marketable stars (the biggest reason it can't command anything close to the NBA's television deal), a glaring problem that I noticed during my first year owning Kings season tickets, when I realized that it didn't really matter who the Kings played from night to night. Sure, you always enjoy seeing the Malkins and Ovechkins, but it's a much different mind-set from, say, LeBron playing the Clippers. Anyone who went to Wednesday's Heat-Clippers game was thinking I'm going to see LeBron!, because they knew he was playing 90 percent of the game. In hockey, you don't say "I'm going to see Ovechkin!," because he might play one-third of the game if you're lucky (and might not make a single meaningful play).
It's the ultimate team sport, and really, that's the best thing about hockey — there's a guaranteed level of entertainment night after night after night that transcends star power. Everyone skates hard, everyone throws their bodies around, everyone plays well together, everyone gives a crap. It's a blue-collar game that happens to be tailor-made for the ADD generation. That's why kids love going to hockey games so much, and that's why my daughter is so bitter right now (fast-forward to the last minute of this podcast). Throw in what hockey means to Canada (where they love hockey like we love football, basketball and baseball combined), some of the NHL's American hotbeds (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philly, Los Angeles, etc.) and the underrated fact that hockey players are the least entitled professional athletes on the planet … and it's almost impossible to screw this up, right?
So how do we end up with a salary system that allows Minnesota to spend $196 million on Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? And that's not to pick on those guys — you could build a decent playoff team around them as long as your goalie didn't stink. Just know that nobody is saying the words, "Suter and Parise are coming to town tonight!" It's just not that kind of league. You go to hockey games to see quality teams, not quality players. There's a fixed level of entertainment. Suter and Parise shouldn't make that much money because hockey players shouldn't make that much money. It has nothing to do with them.
If you think of the cable television model, it makes more sense — channels like AMC, FX and Showtime realized that the quality of their shows matter a thousand times more than the "star power" of the actors on those shows. Yeah, AMC could have spent an extra $15 million per season on Keanu Reeves to play Rick in The Walking Dead, but why would they? People watch that show because they want to see people kill zombies. So they went the other way — cheaper actors, cheaper locations, more money on extras and special effects. Same for Showtime's hit Homeland, which features only one star (Claire Danes, who certainly isn't making Parise/Suter money) surrounded by well-casted actors, including a few good ones whom you'd recognize from other shows (including Mandy Patinkin, a fairly famous name in his own right) and certainly weren't expensive. You might recognize that same blueprint from Breaking Bad,Dexter, Californication, ShamelessGame of Thrones, Sons of Anarchy and about 10 other cable shows. And by the way, did you know ANYONE on Mad Men when that show launched other than Ashton Kutcher's old girlfriend with the weird first name?
On cable television, the showrunner and the writing matter more than anything else. In hockey, the sport and the fans matter more than anything else. It doesn't matter who Minnesota's third-best player is any more or less than it matters who plays Mike on Homeland. Fans are coming, regardless. So why overpay players, jack up ticket prices and price out those fans when you don't have to? Wasn't that what the last lockout was about? Wasn't the league supposed to be regaining control of its broken salary structure? How are we back here seven years later battling the exact same problem?
For that and that alone, Gary Bettman needs to step down. No, we can't impeach him. Yes, we can continue to excoriate him. He's the worst commissioner in sports history, and really, it's going to remain that way unless Roger Goodell extends the NFL's season to 20 games, adds Wednesday- and Friday-night football to the schedule, pays a hitman to murder Jonathan Vilma, and gets outed for having a heated affair with his biographer, Peter King … and even then, I'd probably still give the edge to Bettman.
If you want to talk about moratoriums, Gary, here's a better idea — step down and give us a lifetime moratorium. From you. On to the Week 12 Picks …
BILLS (-1.5) over Dolphins
Big comeback for the Skunk of the Week! We're back, baby! Speaking of skunks, I have the following thoughts about the Marlins skunking the entire city of Miami …

Book Review: 'The Patriarch'

Family Guy

By Christopher Buckley
The New York Times
November 15, 2012

The next time you land at Logan Airport in Boston, pause a moment to reflect that you are standing on landfill annexed to what was once Noddle’s Island. Here, sometime in the late 1840s, a young escapee from the Irish potato famine named Patrick Kennedy first set foot in the New World. A cooper by trade, Patrick died of cholera in 1858 at age 35. His grandson and near namesake, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born in 1888 in a neighborhood now known as unfashionable East Boston. The rest, as they say, is history. In the hands of his biographer David Nasaw, it is riveting history. “The Patriarch” is a book hard to put down, a garland not lightly bestowed on a cinder block numbering 787 pages of text.
Nasaw is the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Not quite as disinterested a credential as one might hope for in a Kennedy biographer, but Nasaw informs us that the family placed no restrictions on him, and allowed him unfettered access to the deepest recesses of the archive. This book is a formidable labor of six years.
Kennedyland is terrain notably susceptible to idolatry, hatemongering, whitewash, conspiracy-thinking, sensationalism and other agendas. Nasaw credibly avers that he has taken forensic pains to excise anything that could not be confirmed by primary sources. I am no historian, but the evidence appears to support his claim. His research is Robert Caro-esque; barely a paragraph is not footnoted. And he is unsparing about his subject’s shortcomings, which are numerous.
Given the extraordinary sweep of Kennedy’s life — banker, Wall Street speculator, real estate baron, liquor magnate (but not bootlegger), moviemaker, Washington administrator, ambassador, paterfamilias and dynastic founder — the miracle is that Nasaw was able to tell the whole damned story in only 787 pages.
The book’s subtitle, “The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times,” is if anything an understatement. Joe Kennedy was personally involved in virtually all the history of his time. There has been no dearth of books about America’s royal family, but this one makes a solid case that the ur-Kennedy was the most fascinating of them all.
Fascinating, that is, as opposed to entirely admirable. Not that he wasn’t in ways, but boy was J.P.K. one complicated boyo. To paraphrase the heavyweight Sonny Liston’s manager: Joe Kennedy had his good points and his bad points. It’s his bad points that weren’t so good.
On the positive side of the ledger, he was an utterly devoted father. He adored his children and, when he was there — which wasn’t often — was a touchy-feely, hands-on daddy. When he wasn’t there, he regularly wrote them all copious letters. He superintended every aspect of their lives. And in his own highly idiosyncratic way, he was a devoted husband to his wife, Rose, a priggish, pious, humorless and deeply boring woman, while conducting conspicuous affairs with Gloria Swanson, Clare Boothe Luce and “hundreds” of other women.
Also on the positive side: he was a genius at management and organization; a Midas at moneymaking. He amassed his immense fortune without even seeming to break a sweat. As a Wall Street manipulator, he was involved in some shameful episodes; but he was also the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and headed up the Maritime Commission at critical times in the nation’s history. At these enormous tasks he performed tirelessly and valiantly.
As for the not-so-good part: he was a deplorable and disastrous United States ambassador to the Court of St. James’s during the crucial prewar period. One ought to refrain from smug judgments on the commonplace biases of prior generations. Kennedy was culturally anti-Semitic, but over time his anti-Semitism metastasized into a grotesque and paranoid obsession.
His isolationism was formidable and adamant, but in that, too, he was hardly unique. A lot of Americans, notably Charles Lindbergh, wanted to keep America out of another European war. But Kennedy’s relentless drive to appease — indeed, reward — tyranny was monomaniacal, preposterous and dangerous. In his view, Hitler was really just another businessman with whom a deal could be struck. Here his business genius impelled him in a direction that would have led to hell.
But it was his profound defeatism, a trait seemingly contrary to his talent for rising to a challenge and getting things done, that was so — to quote from the subtitle — remarkable. At one point we see him fulminating at the Royal Air Force. Why, you may ask, is Ambassador Kennedy in such a rage? (“Yet another rage” would be more accurate, for you can open “The Patriarch” to almost any page and find him spluttering in fury, indignation or resentment. Or all three.) Well, the answer is that he was livid at the R.A.F. for winning the Battle of Britain and thus halting the German invasion of England. No, Nasaw is not making this up. You see, all that those brave young men in their Spitfires had really accomplished was “prolonging” Britain’s inevitable defeat. One rubs one’s eyes in disbelief. Next to Joe Kennedy, Cassandra was Pollyanna.
As the saying goes, to be Irish is to know that sooner or later the world will break your heart. Daniel Patrick Moynihan adduced this chestnut of Hibernian Weltschmerz on Nov. 22, 1963, upon the assassination of the patriarch’s son. Nevertheless, for someone on whom the gods had lavished every blessing — as well as one hell of a lot of the proverbial “luck of the Irish” — Joe Kennedy was possessed of a pessimism that ran deeper than the Mariana Trench. And yet — and yet — in the end, his suspicion that the cosmic deck was stacked against him was weirdly and tragically validated. When, in 1969, this vibrantly alive man, who over a lifetime generated more energy than a nuclear reactor, died after eight years as a drooling, stroke-afflicted paralytic able to utter only one word — “No!” — he had outlived four of his beloved nine children.
His firstborn son and namesake was taken from him by the war he had so desperately tried to avert. His most cherished daughter, Kathleen, known as Kick, went down in a private plane that had no business being aloft in dangerous weather (a recurring Kennedy tragic theme). Two more sons were gruesomely murdered in public. Then there was the daughter, also much loved, whose life was permanently destroyed by a botched, if well-intentioned, lobotomy that her father had authorized.
The invalid patriarch was told about the assassinations of his sons. Nasaw does not reveal whether he was told about his remaining son’s rendezvous with karma at Chappaquiddick. Probably not; and probably just as well. His devastation was already consummate. To whom the gods had given much, the gods had taken away much more.
The dominant animus in Joe Kennedy’s life was his Irish Catholic identity. (Identity, as distinct from his religious faith.) He was born into comfortable circumstances, went to Boston Latin and Harvard (Robert Benchley was a classmate and friend). But as a native of East Boston, he was permanently stamped as an outsider. He could never hope to aspire to the status of “proper Bostonian.” This exclusion, harnessed to a brilliant mind and steel determination, fired the dynamo of his ambition.
One of the more arresting sections of the book is the betrayal — and it was certainly that, in Joe Kennedy’s view — by the Roman Catholic Church when his son was trying to become the first Irish Catholic president. The Catholic press relentlessly criticized John, while the church higher-ups sat on their cassocks, murmuring orisons for a Quaker candidate.
Nasaw cites a 1966 oral history by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston, an intimate Kennedy friend and beneficiary: “Some of the hierarchy . . . were not in favor of John F. Kennedy being elected president. They feared the time had not arrived when a president who was a Catholic could be elected.” This reticence may remind some of the modern-day reservations expressed in quarters of the American Jewish community that a Jewish president might exacerbate and inflame anti-Semitism. Many blacks had similar reservations about Barack Obama when he first decided to run for president.
Kennedy’s Irish Catholicism, his ­outsider-ness, both paralleled and reinforced his anti-Semitism. He identified with Jews, to a degree. They, like the Irish, were an oppressed people who had also been persecuted for their religion. But in Kennedy’s view the Irish had fled their holocaust in Ireland and found haven in the New World. Now, in the 1930s, the Jews were trying to draw the entire world into a war.
Kennedy was not indifferent to the plight of European Jewry. Indeed, he tried hard to achieve some international consensus on establishing new Jewish homelands somewhere in the British Empire. His motives were more tactical than humanitarian: if European Jews could be removed from the equation, then perhaps Hitler would have his Lebensraum and . . . chill.
Back home, Kennedy shared the extremist consensus that Franklin Roose­velt was the captive of his cabal of left-wing Jewish advisers: Felix Frankfurter, Samuel Rosenman, Bernard Baruch, Eugene Meyer, Sidney Hillman and the whole schmear. (Brainwashed, as Mitt Romney’s father might have put it.) At war’s end, even as news of the Nazi death camps was emerging, Kennedy was pounding the table and railing at the overrepresentation of Jews in the government. Nasaw writes: “The more he found himself on the outside, scorned and criticized as an appeaser, a man out of touch with reality, a traitor to the Roosevelt cause, the more he blamed the Jews.” None of this is pleasant to learn.
Kennedy’s relationship with Franklin Roosevelt is on the other hand supremely pleasant; indeed, is the book’s pièce de résistance. Roosevelt’s supple handling of his volatile — make that combustible — ambassador and potential rival for the presidency in 1940 and 1944 constitutes political spectator sport of the highest order. Long before “The Godfather,” Roose­velt well grasped the idea of keeping one’s friends close, one’s enemies closer.
Roosevelt and Kennedy were “frenemies” on a grand stage, full of sound and fury, strutting and fretting, alternately cooing and hissing at each other. As president, Roosevelt held superior cards, but Kennedy played his hand craftily — up to a point. The epic poker game ended on a sad and sour note. We hear the president telling his son-in-law that all Joe really cared about deep down was preserving his vast fortune: “Sometimes I think I am 200 years older than he is.” What a tart bit of patroon snobisme. It would have confirmed Kennedy’s worst suspicions about “proper” WASP establishmentarians. Of Roosevelt’s death, Nasaw writes with Zen terseness: “The nation grieved. Joseph P. Kennedy did not.”
“Isolationist” seems a barely adequate description for Kennedy’s worldview. He opposed: the Truman Doctrine of containing Communism in Greece and Italy, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, the creation of NATO and Congressional appropriations for military assistance overseas. Oh, and the cold war. His foreign policy essentially boiled down to: We ought to mind our own damn business. But in fairness, this debate is still going on. (See Paul, Ron.)
Perhaps most stunningly, his pessimism could not even be assuaged by . . . victory! After the war, we find him accosting Winston Churchill, someone he abhorred: “After all, what did we accomplish by this war?” Churchill was not a man at a loss for words, but even he was momentarily flummoxed. In Kennedy’s view, it was Churchill who had foxed (the Jew-­controlled) Roosevelt into the war that had killed his son. Elsewhere we see him lambasting — again, Nasaw is not making this up — Dwight Eisenhower, who favored retaining American troops in Europe. Kennedy “was aggressive, relentless, without a hint of deference to the general, who was arguably the most popular and respected American on two continents.” Kennedy did not know Yiddish, but he did not lack for chutzpah.
And rage. Nasaw cites an oral history — though he advises that we approach it with caution — in which Kennedy is described as browbeating Harry Truman: “Harry, what the hell are you doing campaigning for that crippled son of a bitch that killed my son?”
(A strange omission in the book: Roose­velt’s son Elliott was on the bombing mission in which Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was killed. Elliott’s plane was following behind Joe Jr.’s to photograph the operation when Joe Jr.’s bomber suddenly exploded, perhaps because of an electrical or radio signal malfunction. Surely this “Iliad”-level detail — Roosevelt’s son possibly witnessing the death of Kennedy’s son — was worth including?)
Kennedy was a man of uncanny abilities, but among them was a talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And here we — or rather, Kennedy’s perspicacious biographer — arrive at the crux and fatal flaw:
“Joseph P. Kennedy had battled all his life to become an insider, to get inside the Boston banking establishment, inside Hollywood, inside the Roosevelt circle of trusted advisers. But he had never been able to accept the reality that being an ‘insider’ meant sacrificing something to the team. His sense of his own wisdom and unique talents was so overblown that he truly believed he could stake out an independent position for himself and still remain a trusted and vital part of the Roose­velt team.”
As his son indelibly put it some months before his father was struck down: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” One wonders what was going through the mind of the patriarch, sitting a few feet away listening to that soaring sentiment as a fourth-generation Kennedy became president of the United States. After coming to know him over the course of this brilliant, compelling book, the reader might suspect that he was thinking he had done more than enough for his country. But the gods would demand even more.
Christopher Buckley’s latest novel is “They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?”

Along Comes Hamas

By Andrew C. McCarthy
November 17, 2012

The day of reckoning is here.

For over 30 years, the United States government and the institutions that drive public opinion have made like Susan Rice when it comes to the ideological threat that Islamic supremacists pose to freedom, fabricating reasons to remain in denial. Thus inured, the American people have elected, and now reelected, a president notoriously fond of America-bashing Islamists. The attraction would not be hard to understand if we were not so ideology-averse — GOP strategists having made Obama’s radicalism a subject nearly as off-limits as Islamic supremacism, helpfully leaving the Left to fill the canvas with their portrait of Mitt Romney: “Where Gordon Gekko Meets Michael Vick.”

The president is a movement leftist who sees in our society a condemnable legacy of racism, imperialism, and economic exploitation that cries out for “fundamental change.” That is not meaningfully different from the Islamist perspective of America: The Brotherhood’s self-proclaimed mandate to “eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within” by “sabotage” is, in effect, a cognate summons to “fundamental change,” even allowing that Islamists are driven to statism by sharia rather than Marxism. The Brotherhood’s American mouthpiece, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, brags that the president nabbed 85 percent of the Muslim vote on November 6 — larger even than Obama’s lopsided share of the Hispanic vote, which has GOP strategists hyperventilating. You wouldn’t want to take CAIR claims at face value, but their ardor for Obama, like the Brotherhood’s, is palpable. And as we’ve seen for four years, it is not an unrequited love.
So along comes Hamas. Just days before the presidential election, the terrorist organization — begotten by the Brotherhood and serving as its Palestinian branch — spearheaded an Islamist offensive, firing in just a few days over 120 rockets into the Jewish state from its home base in Gaza. You may not have heard about it until a few days after the election. Like Iran’s act of war in shooting at a U.S. drone in international waters, it signaled a further dangerous unraveling of the Middle East that undercut the media narrative of Obama as foreign-policy chess master, so it was tucked under the rug. But it could not be ignored forever, for it is not just another spike in the ever-thrumming Gaza border skirmish. It is the renewal of an unending war — an existential one for Israel, which is expected to fight “proportionately,” with both hands tied behind its back, yet blithely accept, as the international community has, the barbaric Islamist claim that nothing short of Israel’s destruction will be satisfactory.

By its own declaration, Hamas will be at war with Israel until the latter’s demise. Toward that end, the jihad has now been taken to population centers such as Tel Aviv. As of this writing, the Israeli death toll stands at three, kept low only by the crudeness of the jihadist weapons and tactics.
By the calculation of terrorism analyst Ryan Mauro, the onslaught begun last week brought the yearly total of missile attacks on Israel to about 700. That is, while the Obama administration has been facilitating the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and soon Syria — with Obama drawing ever closer to Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even as Erdogan champions and funds Hamas — Gaza’s jihadists have been emboldened to step up their terror campaign.

And it is not just Gaza’s jihadists. Understand: This is not Hamas’s war of extermination against Israel. It is Islam’s. And yes, for the millionth time, there are various ways of interpreting Islam, but the Islam that matters in the Middle East, the Islam that animates tens of millions of Muslims, is Islamic supremacism. Israel, the canary in the West’s coal mine, is not besieged by an eccentric doctrine weaved by Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Jihadist terrorists are just the point of the ideological spear.

Recent polling shows that four in five Egyptians (i.e., about 60 million people) believe the Camp David Accords — the treaty that has kept peace between Egypt and Israel for 30 years — should be dissolved. It is the same four out of five Egyptians that, given the chance, voted to put Islamists in control of their government. Just as Muslims have chosen to empower Islamists in Turkey, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Tunisia, as well as in Lebanon and Libya to a lesser but still consequential extent.

The jihad against Israel “isn’t a matter of individuals, not a matter of community. It is a matter of a nation. The Arab nation, the Islamic nation.” So exclaimed Egyptian prime minister Hisham Qandil on Thursday in Gaza. He had been sent there to show solidarity with Hamas by Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood leader Egyptians elected as their president. “We are all behind you,” Qandil continued — behind “the struggling nation . . . that is presenting its children as heroes every day.”

This is how the Middle East’s Muslims see the situation. They are not Palestinians, Egyptians, Saudis, Iraqis, and so on. They are the ummah, the “Islamic nation.” For them, Gaza is not a regional dustup over parochial grievances. It is a civilizational struggle to be fought to the finish — the finish being when the enemy is vanquished. We used to fight wars that way, too. The fact that we’ve decided total victory by force of arms is a quaint concept does not mean everybody else has. Islamists define victory in the Middle East as the annihilation of Israel. That is the ambition of the region, not just of Hamas. Our government’s decades-old claim that the aggression results from a “perversion of Islam” weaved by a fringe of “violent extremists” is dangerously delusional.

Delusion, of course, is nothing new. For 30 years, ever since the Carter administration hailed Ayatollah Khomeini as a “saint,” willful blindness has been the order of the day. It induced the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to insist that Islam was a “religion of peace” even as scripture-citing Islamists repeatedly mass-murdered Americans. But Barack Obama is something else again. This president has supplanted conscious avoidance of our enemies’ ideology with empathy. Our government no longer just ignores Islamist goals; it affirmatively empowers Islamist factions.
It has been only eleven days, but we’re already seeing the wages of November 6. The world has become a much more dangerous place, and not just for Israelis.

— 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 published by Encounter Books.

How the GOP earned its date with destiny

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
November 16, 2012

To an immigrant such as myself (not the undocumented kind, but documented up to the hilt, alas), one of the most striking features of Election Night analysis was the lightly worn racial obsession. On Fox News, Democrat Kirsten Powers argued that Republicans needed to deal with the reality that America is becoming what she called a "brown country." Her fellow Democrat Bob Beckel observed on several occasions that if the share of the "white vote" was held down below 73 percent, Mitt Romney would lose. In the end, it was 72 percent, and he did. Beckel's assertion – that if you knew the ethnic composition of the electorate you also knew the result – turned out to be correct.

This is what less-enlightened societies call tribalism: for example, in the 1980 election leading to Zimbabwe's independence, Joshua Nkomo's ZAPU-PF got the votes of the Ndebele people while Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF secured those of the Shona – and, as there were more Shona than Ndebele, Mugabe won. That same year America held an election, and Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory. Nobody talked about tribal vote shares back then, but had the percentage of what Beckel calls the "white vote" been the same in 2012 as it was in 1980 (88 percent), Mitt Romney would have won in an even bigger landslide than Reagan. The "white vote" will be even lower in 2016, and so, on the Beckel model, Republicans are set to lose all over again.


Hence the urge to get on the right side of America's fastest-growing demographic. Only 27 percent of Hispanics voted for Romney. But all that could change if the GOP were to sign on to support some means of legalizing the presence of the 12-20 million fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community who are allegedly "social conservatives" and thus natural Republican voters. Once we pass amnesty, argues Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, "future immigrants will be more open to the Republican Party because, unlike many immigrants who are already here, they won't have been harmed or insulted by Republican politicians."

So, if I follow correctly, instead of getting 27 percent of the 10 percent Hispanic vote, Republicans will get, oh, 38 percent of the 25 percent Hispanic vote, and sweep to victory.

Everyone talks about this demographic transformation as if it's a natural phenomenon, like Hurricane Sandy. Indeed, I notice that many of those exulting in the inevitable eclipse of "white America" are the same people who assure me that demographic arguments about the Islamization of Europe are completely preposterous. But in neither the United States nor Europe is it a natural phenomenon. Rather, it's the fruit of conscious government policy.

According to the Census, in 1970 the "Non-Hispanic White" population of California was 78 percent. By the 2010 census, it was 40 percent. Over the same period, the 10 percent Hispanic population quadrupled and caught up with whites.

That doesn't sound terribly "natural" does it? If one were informed that, say, the population of Nigeria had gone from 80 percent black in 1970 to 40 percent black today, one would suspect something rather odd and unnatural had been going on. Twenty years ago, Rwanda was about 14 percent Tutsi. Now it's just under 10 percent. So it takes a bunch of Hutu butchers getting out their machetes and engaging in seven-figure genocide to lower the Tutsi population by a third. But, when the white population of California falls by half, that's "natural," just the way it is, one of those things, could happen to anyone.

Every four years, the Republican Party pines for another Reagan. But Ronald Reagan, governor of California for eight years, couldn't get elected in today's not-so-Golden State. Jerry Brown, Governor Moonbeam back in the Seventies, now presides as Governor Twilight, lead vampire of a malign alliance of unionized bureaucrats and a swollen dependency class that maintains them in office at the expense of a remorselessly shrinking productive class. As the nation's demographic profile trends ever more Californian, perhaps Norquist's predictions of naturally conservative Hispanics pining for a new Reagan will come to fruition. Or perhaps Bob Beckel's more crudely determinative analysis will prove correct – that, in a multicultural society, jostling identity groups will stick with the party of ethnocultural spoils.
Once upon a time, the Democrats thought differently. It was their first progressive president, Woodrow Wilson, who imposed the concept of "self-determination" on post-Great War Europe, insisting that the multicultural empires of the Habsburgs and Romanovs be replaced by a patchwork of ethnic statelets from the Balkans to the Baltics. He would be surprised to find his own party presiding over a Habsburgian America of bilingual Balkanization as a matter of electoral strategy.
The short history of the Western Hemisphere is as follows: North America was colonized by Anglo-Celts, Central and South America by "Hispanics." Up north, two centuries of constitutional evolution and economic growth; down south, coups, corruption, generalissimos and presidents-for-life. None of us can know the future. It may be that Charles Krauthammer is correct that Hispanics are natural Republicans merely pining for amnesty, a Hallmark Cinco de Mayo card and a mariachi band at the inaugural ball. Or it may be that, in defiance of Dr. Krauthammer, Grover Norquist and Little Mary Sunshine, demographics is destiny and, absent assimilationist incentives this country no longer imposes, a Latin-American population will wind up living in a Latin-American society. Don't take it from a right-wing bigot like me, take it from The New York Times. In 2009, Jason DeParle filed a story about suburban Maryland, in which he helpfully explained the municipality of Langley Park to Times readers:
"Now nearly two-thirds Latino and foreign-born, it has the aesthetics of suburban sprawl and the aura of Central America. Laundromats double as money-transfer stores. Jobless men drink and sleep in the sun. There is no city government, few community leaders and little community."
Golly. You'd almost get the impression that Mr. DeParle thinks that laundromats doubling as money-transfer stores, jobless men drinking and sleeping in the sun, and dysfunctional government are somehow characteristic of Central America. That sounds awfully judgmental for a Times man, no?
Republicans think they're importing hardworking immigrants who want a shot at the American Dream; the Democrats think they're importing clients for Big Government. The Left is right: Just under 60 percent of immigrants receive some form of welfare. I see the recent Republican proposals for some form of amnesty contain all sorts of supposed safeguards against gaming the system, including a $525 application fee for each stage of the legalization process. On my own recent visit to a U.S. Immigration office, I was interested to be told that, as a matter of policy, the Obama administration is now rubber-stamping all "fee waiver" requests for "exceptional hardship" filed by members of approved identity groups. And so it will go for all those GOP safeguards. While Canada and Australia compete for high-skilled immigrants, America fast-tracks an unskilled welfare class of such economic benefit to their new homeland they can't even afford a couple of hundred bucks for the necessary paperwork.
It's hardly their fault. If you were told you could walk into a First World nation and access free education, free health care, free services in your own language, and have someone else pay your entrance fee, why wouldn't you? So, yes, Republicans should "moderate" their tone toward immigrants, and de-moderate their attitude to the Dems who suckered the GOP all too predictably. Decades of faintheartedness toward some of the most destabilizing features of any society, including bilingualism (take it from a semi-Belgian Canadian), have brought the party to its date with destiny. Or as Peggy Lee sang long ago in a lost land, "Mañana is soon enough for me."

Friday, November 16, 2012

Petraeus' answers raise more questions

By Jennifer Rubin
The Washington Post
Right Turn
November 16, 2012

Sometimes a dastardly conspiracy is just a dastardly conspiracy. Indeed the Benghazi episode, at least the response to the attack, is beginning to look more and more like the work of a partisan cabal afraid of upsetting the president’s reelection prospects, exactly as conservative critics have been saying for two months.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is providing a glimpse of what occurred in hearings today in which former CIA director David Petraeus testified: Fox News reports:
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who spoke to reporters after Petraeus testified before the House Intelligence Committee, indicated he and other lawmakers still have plenty of questions about the aftermath of the attack.
“No one knows yet exactly who came up with the final version of the talking points,” he said.
Petraeus was heading next to the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify. At the same time, lawmakers unexpectedly convened a briefing with top members of various committees to examine a Sept. 25 letter to President Obama that asked a series of classified questions on Benghazi.
Petraeus’ testimony both challenges the Obama administration’s repeated claims that the attack was a “spontaneous” protest over an anti-Islam video, and according to King conflicts with his own briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14. Sources have said Petraeus, in that briefing, also described the attack as a protest that spun out of control.
“His testimony today was that from the start, he had told us that this was a terrorist attack,” King said, adding that he told Petraeus he had a “different recollection.”
Still, the claim that the CIA’s original talking points were changed is sure to stoke controversy on the Hill.
“The original talking points were much more specific about Al Qaeda involvement. And yet the final ones just said indications of extremists,” King said, adding that the final version was the product of a vague “inter-agency process.”
Further, King said a CIA analyst specifically told lawmakers that the Al Qaeda affiliates line “was taken out.”
Watergate had the tape with the 18 1/2-minute gap, and now we have the mystery of the talking points. This raises a slew of questions including these:
* If they were changed, who changed them?
* Why were they changed?
* Did the president know or approve of the changes?
* If Petraeus saw that they were changed, why did he not come forward sooner?
* If other senior officials were aware of the change in story, why didn’t they alert others, Congress or the American people?
* What was national security adviser Thomas Donilon’s role in this?
* Did U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice have access to the original talking points and/or was she aware they had been changed?
* If she didn’t know anything other than the talking points and had no operational responsibility for Benghazi, what was she doing on the talk-show circuit on Sept. 16?
* What information did the secretary of state have and when did she have it. If she, like Petraeus, knew what the real origin of the attack was, why weren’t she and her press staff being more forthright with the public?
* Fox reports that Petraeus’s agency “determined immediately that ‘Al Qaeda involvement’ was suspected.” If the CIA knew immediately that it was a terrorist attack, why did the White House press secretary insist on Sept. 14 it was all about the anti-Muslim video? Why did the president take the same approach in interviews with Univision and “60 Minutes”?
Keep in mind the aftermath of Benghazi is only one aspect of the Benghazi debacle. Other important areas to explore are why the White House was seemingly unaware of the deteriorating security situation in Libya and whether our “delay and then lead-from-behind” strategy left us without accurate intelligence and allowed jihadists a running start in Libya (not to mention Syria, Mali, Yemen and elsewhere).
Frankly until Congress gets to the bottom of this, no one in the administration should be slotted into any new senior national security office. Maybe Rice was an innocent dupe, but we dare not reward her for insufficient curiosity or elevate any other officials if they were involved in misdeeds or demonstrated gross incompetence. And if White House officials are implicated in intentional dishonesty (or just plain cluelessness), they should step down as well.
The good news for the president is that all the current national security slots are filled (albeit the CIA’s by an acting chief). Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has generously agreed to stay on, which she should, until a replacement can be found. In this case, that should follow a full accounting of the Benghazi fiasco.

Miggy's award a win for fans, defeat for stats geeks

By Mitch Albom
Detroit Free Press Columnist

November 16, 2012

The eyes have it.
In a battle of computer analysis versus people who still watch baseball as, you know, a sport, what we saw with our Detroit vision was what most voters saw as well:
Miguel Cabrera is the Most Valuable Player in the American League this year.
"It means a lot," he told reporters over the phone from Miami. "I'm very thankful. ... I thought it was gonna be very close."
So did everyone. But the debate ended Thursday night when the results were announced, with Cabrera earning 22 of the 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Association of America. It reinforced what Tigers fans have been saying all season: This guy is a monster.
It also answered the kind of frenzied cyberspace argument that never shadowed baseball 20 years ago but may never stop shadowing it now.
Statistics geeks insisted Cabrera was less worthy than Angels rookie centerfielder Mike Trout. Not because Trout's traditional baseball numbers were better. They weren't. Cabrera had more home runs (44), more runs batted in (139) and a better batting average (.330) than Trout and everyone else in the American League. It gave him the sport's first Triple Crown in 45 years.
But Trout excelled in the kind of numbers that a few years ago weren't even considered, mostly because A) They were impossible to measure, and B) Nobody gave a hoot.
Today, every stat matters. There is no end to the appetite for categories -- from OBP to OPS to WAR. I mean, OMG! The number of triples hit while wearing a certain-colored underwear is probably being measured as we speak.
So in areas such as "how many Cabrera home runs would have gone out in Angel Stadium of Anaheim" or "batting average when leading off an inning" or "Win Probability Added," Trout had the edge. At least this is what we were told.
I mean, did you do the math? I didn't. I like to actually see the sun once in a while.

Plus he has intangibles

Besides, if you live in Detroit, you didn't need a slide rule. This was an easy choice. People here watched Cabrera, 29, tower above the game in 2012. Day after day, game after game, he was a Herculean force. Valuable? What other word was there? How many late-inning heroics? How many clutch hits? And he only missed one game all year.
"During the season, a lot of guys tell me I'm gonna be the MVP," Cabrera said, laughing. "But they said the same thing to Trout."
Yes, it's true, Trout is faster, Trout is a better defensive player, Trout is a leadoff hitter, and Trout edged Cabrera in several of those made-for-Microsoft categories.
But if you are going to go molten deep into intangibles, why stop at things like "which guy hit more homers into the power alleys?" (A real statistic, I am sorry to say.)
Why not also consider such intangibles as locker-room presence? Teammates love playing around -- and around with -- Miggy. He helps the room.
How about his effect on pitchers? Nobody wanted the embarrassment of him slamming a pitch over the wall. The amount of effort pitchers expended on Cabrera or the guy batting ahead of him surely took its toll and affected the pitches other batters saw. Why not find a way to measure that? (Don't worry. I'm sure someone is working on it as we speak.)
What about the debilitating power of a three-run homer? How many opposing teams slumped after Cabrera muscled one out? How about team confidence? You heard everyone from Prince Fielder to Justin Verlander speak in awed tones about being on the same team as Cabrera. Doesn't that embolden teammates and bring out their best?
How about the value of a guy who could shift from first to third base -- as Cabrera did this past season -- to make room for Fielder? Ask manager Jim Leyland how valuable that is.
How about the fact that Cabrera's team made the playoffs and Trout's did not? ("Yes," countered Team Trout, "but the Angels actually won more games.") How about the fact that Cabrera played the whole season while Trout started his in the minors? ("Yes," said the Trout Shouters, "but the Angels won a greater percentage with Trout than Detroit did with Cabrera.")
How about this? How about that? The fact is, voters are not instructed to give more credence to any one category than another. Twenty-eight sportswriters, two from each AL city, decide, in their own minds, what is "valuable" and who displayed it the most.
They chose Cabrera.
By an overwhelming majority.
In the end, memories were more powerful than microchips.
A rival for the future
Which, by the way, speaks to a larger issue about baseball. It is simply being saturated with situational statistics. What other sport keeps coming up with new categories to watch the same game? A box score now reads like an annual report. And this WAR statistic -- which measures the number of wins a player gives his team versus a replacement player of minor league/bench talent (honestly, who comes up with this stuff?) -- is another way of declaring, "Nerds win!"
We need to slow down the shoveling of raw data into the "what can we come up with next?" machine. It is actually creating a divide between those who like to watch the game of baseball and those who want to reduce it to binary code.
To that end, Cabrera's winning was actually a bell ring for the old school. There is also an element of tradition here. The last three Triple Crown winners were also voted as MVP.
"I think they can use both," Cabrera said when asked about computer stats versus old-time performance. "In the end, it's gonna be the same. You gotta play baseball."
This was a nice moment for the Tigers -- and a small consolation prize for owner Mike Ilitch and president Dave Dombrowski, who, like Cabrera, would have traded a World Series ring for any postseason award. But the Tigers now have back-to-back MVPs (Verlander last year), which speaks pretty well for their ability to develop and sign talent. It's also nice that Cabrera has seemingly made a turn for the better with his off-field behavior.
And none of this diminishes the season Trout gave the Los Angeles Angels -- and baseball history. Rarely has a rookie so dominated on so many levels. It is scary to think that Trout, only 21, will get better. And if he improves even incrementally, who is going to beat him for MVP in years to come?
But for today, for this season, anyhow, Cabrera gets the nod. In a season of fits and starts, he was a reliable Tiger, a consistent source of power, and a shadow that fell on opposing pitchers even before he reached the batter's box. He was the meat in the stew that became the American League champions, and while it is possible to argue the other way, it's undeniable to argue this one.
"Hopefully every year it can be a battle like that," Cabrera said.
This year, what you saw is what he got.
The eyes have it.

Oliver Stone's Party Line

By Cliff May
November 15, 2012

In the 1930s, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Nazi ideology. In their eyes, Hitler was simply restoring Germany’s wounded pride and rebuilding an economy battered by World War I and the harsh treaty that ended the conflict. Surely, Hitler and the German people preferred compromise to conflict, peace to war. This view turned out to be wrong, of course, and tens of millions of people were massacred as a result.
In the wake of World War II, quite a few people failed to recognize the threat posed by Communist ideology. In their eyes, Marxist/Leninist societies were emancipating workers from capitalism. This view turned out to be wrong as well, and in lands as diverse as the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, and Cambodia, tens of millions of people were massacred as a result. Today, of course, we see the world more clearly, don’t we? Well, some do, some don’t.
Ronald Radosh was born in 1937 in New York City and raised in a Communist household. In his youth, he planned to become a leader of the American Communist movement. But he became a historian — one of those relatively rare historians who actually studies the past and learns from it rather than attempting to shape it retrospectively to fit his ideological preconceptions.
Anything Radosh writes is worth reading. Most recently he has written a critique in The Weekly Standard of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States, which premiered this week on Showtime, a cable network owned by CBS. Radosh makes clear that this series, in fact, reveals no “untold history” — it merely reheats and rehashes the party line pushed by the Soviets and their fellow travelers during the Cold War, a line that Stone swallowed long ago and has since been regurgitating.
Stone argues, as Radosh puts it, that “the Soviet Union’s leader in the 1930s and ’40s, Joseph Stalin, has ‘been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,’ so what is needed is a program allowing viewers to walk in both his and Hitler’s shoes ‘to understand their point of view.’”
Stone also alleges that “after World War II the United States moved ‘to the dark side,’ so that by the time the country was engaged in the Vietnam war, ‘We were not on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.’”
Radosh points out not only the factual errors littered throughout Stone’s series but also the conspicuous omissions. For example:
Viewers are told that World War II ended with the world sharing the hopes and dreams of progressives everywhere, led by Stalin, whose desire for continued Allied unity and peace was rebuffed by Winston Churchill and rejected by President Roosevelt’s accidental successor, Harry Truman. The viewer is never told of Soviet goals or practices, like the brutal occupation of Eastern Europe by the Red Army and the overthrow of its governments and installation of Soviet puppet regimes, except when the narrative justifies this as necessary for Soviet security.
Stone makes a hero of Vice President Henry Wallace, who, Radosh notes, in 1944 “traveled to 22 cities in Soviet Siberia” and “described the slave labor colony of Magadan, which the Soviet secret police had transformed into a Potemkin village staffed by actors and NKVD personnel, as a ‘combination TVA and Hudson’s Bay Company.’”
Later that same year, Roosevelt bumped Wallace from the No. 2 spot on the Democratic ticket, replacing him with Truman. Wallace’s consolation prize was secretary of commerce, but President Truman fired him in 1946. The cause of Wallace’s firing was call for the U.S. to recognize Soviet domination of Eastern Europe; he later “opposed the creation of NATO, advocated abandoning Berlin in response to the Soviet blockade, denounced the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction as ‘the martial plan,’ and justified the 1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia as a measure to thwart a plot by fascist forces.”
Wallace went on to create the Progressive Party, which, as Radosh notes, was essentially a Communist Party front. Even journalist I.? F. Stone (no kin to Oliver), a man of the Left, wrote: “If it had not been for the Communists, there would have been no Progressive party.”
Stone’s réchauffé Cold War revisionism, Radosh writes, “consistently portrays the Soviet Union as the victim of American imperialism, while regarding the monster Stalin as a peaceful leader who sought only to gain valid security guarantees on his borders.”
Coincidentally, this exercise in propaganda is hitting the small screens just as Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944–1956, is appearing in bookstores. Following up on her 2003 Pulitzer Prize–winning volume on the Soviet prison system, Gulag: A History, Applebaum draws on recently opened archives and interviews with survivors of Communist oppression. She “eloquently illuminates the methods by which Stalin’s state imprisoned half the European continent,” as historian Jennifer Siegel phrases it in one of many favorable reviews.
Will more people be educated by Applebaum or misinformed by Stone? The answer is obvious. Does it matter? In an age of moral equivalence, how much damage can be done by yet another generous serving? So what if more Americans — especially those who call themselves “progressives” — come to believe that old Uncle Joe Stalin got a raw deal, and Harry Truman was a “war criminal”?
I think it does matter. Not only because post-Soviet Russia remains conspicuously unfree, but, more important, because those persuaded that the 20th-century fight against totalitarianism was not worth the candle are likely to conclude that defending America and the West is not necessary now — a time when totalitarianism is again on the march, this time seeking not to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat or rule by a master race, but domination by religious supremacists.
It is no exaggeration to describe those who embrace the ideology of jihadism as neo-Stalinists. They, too, insist on infusing their ideology — which, in this case, is their theology as well — into every aspect of life. They, too, attack not just those who oppose them but also those who merely refuse to fully submit to their authority. Their victims include Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and, not least, Muslims — most recently those whose ancient mosques and shrines have been destroyed in Libya and Mali.
Stone and his ilk — not to mention Showtime and CBS — are doing damage. Out of ignorance or maliciousness? The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are a potent combination.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Silencing General Petraeus

By Andrew Napolitano
November 15, 2012

The evidence that Gen. David Petraeus, formerly the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the author of the current Army field manual, Princeton Ph.D. and, until last week, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was forced to resign from the CIA to silence him is far stronger than is the version of events that the Obama administration has given us.
The government would have us believe that because the FBI confronted Petraeus with his emails showing a pattern of inappropriate personal private behavior, he voluntarily departed his job as the country's chief spy to avoid embarrassment. The government would also have us believe that the existence of the general's relationship with Paula Broadwell, an unknown military scholar who wrote a book about him last year, was recently and inadvertently discovered by the FBI while it was conducting an investigation into an alleged threat made by Broadwell to another woman. And the government would as well have us believe that the president learned of all this at 5 p.m. on Election Day.
We now know that the existence of a personal relationship between Broadwell and Petraeus had been suspected and whispered about by his senior-level colleagues and by his personal staff in the military, who worried that it might become publicly known, since before the time that he came to run the CIA.
We also know that when he was nominated to run the CIA, that nomination was preceded by a two-month FBI-conducted background check that likely would have revealed the existence of his relationship with Broadwell. The FBI agents conducting that background check surely would have seen his visitor logs while he commanded our troops and would have interviewed his military colleagues and regular visitors and those colleagues who knew him well and worked with him every day, and thus learned about his personal life. That's their job.
And that information would have been reported immediately to President Obama and to the Senate Intelligence Committee, prior to Petraeus' formal nomination and prior to his Senate confirmation hearing.
In the modern era, office-holders with forgiving spouses simply do not resign from powerful jobs because of a temporary, non-criminal, consensual adult sexual liaison, as the history of the FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton presidencies attest. So, why is Petraeus different? Someone wants to silence him.
Petraeus told the Senate and House Intelligence Committees on September 14, 2012, that the mob attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, three days earlier, was a spontaneous reaction of Libyans angered over a YouTube clip some believed insulted the prophet Muhammad. He even referred to that assault—which resulted in the murders of four Americans, now all thought to have been CIA agents—as a "flash mob." His scheduled secret testimony this week before the same congressional committees will produce a chastened, diminished Petraeus who will be confronted with a mountain of evidence contradicting his September testimony, perhaps exposing him to charges of perjury or lying to Congress and causing substantial embarrassment to the president.
It's obvious that someone was out to silence Petraeus. Who could believe the government version of all this? The same government that wants us to believe that FBI agents innocently and accidentally discovered the Petraeus/Broadwell affair a few months ago and confronted Petraeus with his emails a few weeks ago is a cauldron of petty jealousies. From the time of its creation in 1947, the CIA has been a bitter rival of the FBI. The two agencies are both equipped with lethal force, they both often operate outside the law, and they are each seriously potent entities. Their rivalry was tempered by federal laws that until 2001 kept the CIA from operating in the U.S. and the FBI from operating outside the U.S.
In one of his many overreactions to the events of 9/11, however, President George W. Bush changed all that with an ill-conceived executive order that unlawfully unleashed the CIA inside the U.S. and the FBI into foreign countries. Rather than facilitating a cooperative spirit in defense of individual freedom and national security, this reignited their rivalry. FBI agents, for example, publicly exposed CIA agents whom they caught torturing detainees at Gitmo, and Bush was forced to restrain the CIA.
Isn't it odd that FBI agents would be reading the emails of the CIA director to his mistress and that the director of the FBI, who briefs the president weekly, did not make the president aware of this? The FBI could only lawfully spy on Petraeus by the use of a search warrant, and it could only get a search warrant if its agents persuaded a federal judge that Petraeus himself—not his mistress—was involved in criminal behavior under federal law.
The agents also could have bypassed the federal courts and written their own search warrant under the Patriot Act, but only if they could satisfy themselves (a curious and unconstitutional standard) that the general was involved in terror-related activity. Both preconditions for a search warrant are irrelevant and would be absurd in this case.
All this—the FBI spying on the CIA—constitutes the government attacking itself. Anyone who did this when neither federal criminal law nor national security has been implicated and kept the president in the dark has violated about four federal statutes and should be fired and indicted. The general may be a cad and a bad husband, but he has the same constitutional rights as the rest of us.
No keen observer could believe the government's Pollyanna version of these events. When did the CIA become a paragon of honesty? When did the FBI become a paragon of transparency? When did the government become a paragon of telling the truth?

President Obama's silly, sexist defense of Susan Rice

By Kirsten Powers
FOX News
November 15, 2012

Don't pick on the little lady.
Wednesday, President Obama bizarrely cast the U.N. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, as some delicate flower the boys should stop picking on for her dissembling claims on five Sunday talk shows following the killing of 4 Americans in Benghazi.  But, there is no damsel in distress and Obama's paternalistic bravado in defense of a top administration official is going to come back to haunt him.
"If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama intoned to the stenographers worshipping at his feet. The media had gathered for a rare "press conference" where Fox News' Ed Henry and ABC's Jake Tapper are usually the only ones who ever seem to ask a question that elicits anything other than filibustering presidential pabulum.  (One "journalist" actually congratulated the president on his win and gushed about how she has never seen him lose an election.)  Group hug!
Obviously caught up in his own silly yarn about meanie Senators and helpless U.N. Ambassadors, the President complained, "When they go after the U.N. ambassador apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me."   
Imagine George Bush saying that people criticized John Bolton because he was an "easy target." He wouldn't.  
It's absurd and chauvinistic for Obama to talk about the woman he thinks should be Secretary of State of the United States as if she needs the big strong man to come to her defense because a couple of Senators are criticizing her.  
Believe it or not, Rice isn't the first potential Cabinet nominee to be opposed by members of Congress up on the Hill.  Obama also left out the inconvenient detail that there is another senator who has Rice in the crosshairs:  Sen. Kelly Ayotte.  But perhaps a female Senator holding Rice accountable didn't sound menacing enough in the era of the "War on Women."
But it gets much worse.  
As the president expressed outrage over the atrocity of members of Congress holding administration officials accountable, he said, "I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador? Who had nothing to do with Benghazi?"
Feast on those words for a second:  The U.N. Ambassador had "nothing to do with Benghazi."  At this point, the White House press corps should have flown into a frenzy, demanding to know why a person who had nothing to do with Benghazi was put on five Sunday talk shows as...the face of Benghazi! 
This was an issue that had people scratching their heads the day of the Rice interviews, and plenty of questions were asked as to where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was, and why Rice was put out instead. The administration at the time acted as though there was nothing remarkable about it, even though there clearly was.  
But now we know -- straight from the lips of the president of the United States -- that they sent out a person who knew "nothing" about Benghazi to explain an atrocious attack against the United States that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans serving their country abroad.
No temper tantrum from the White House on the insult of being questioned about a terror attack against the U.S. abroad would be complete without  their perennial favorite: the straw man. 
The conceit of Obama's argument is that people are picking on a helpless girl -- a lowly U.N. ambassador -- because they are afraid of the big bad president.  
Oh, please.  
President Obama, incredibly, claimed that he was "happy to have the discussion" about Benghazi.  
Because every time anyone asks the president about Benghazi he claims he can't say anything because there is an investigation going on. The State Department actually said at one point that they would no longer take questions on the issue from reporters.
Senator Graham's response to the president's revelations and accusations at the press conference was exactly right:  He said, "Mr. President, don't think for one minute I don't hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi."  
The president says he is ready to talk about this?  Great.  We are all ears.