Friday, January 17, 2014

Benghazi Lives

 John Hayward  
January 16, 2014
US President Barack Obama (2-L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3-R) take part in the Transfer of Remains Ceremony marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya, at Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC, USA, 14 September 2012. Gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing of US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three embassy staffs.  EPA/MOLLY RILEY / POOL
US President Barack Obama (2-L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (3-R) take part in the Transfer of Remains Ceremony marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya, at Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC, USA, 14 September 2012. Gunmen attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing of US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three embassy staffs.  EPA/MOLLY RILEY / POOL
Here’s NBC News explaining why the media of course thinks bridge lane closings in New Jersey are a thousand times more interesting than four dead Americans in Benghazi, and the continued unraveling of the Administration’s endless lies about it:
As NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported on “Nightly News” last night, “The Senate Intelligence Committee has categorically blamed the State Department for ignoring multiple warnings and failing to provide adequate security.” And here’s the New York Times headline: “Benghazi Attack Called Avoidable in Senate Report.” But there are some significant differences between the two stories as far as political implications go for the two potential candidates in question.
First, Benghazi has been litigated for almost a year and a half (in the 2012 election, in independent reports, at congressional hearings), while the bridge story is really just a week old. And what the Senate Intelligence Report found is pretty much what we thought we already knew — the State Department didn’t provide enough security, there was no advance knowledge of an imminent attack, and the U.S. military was not in position to respond in enough time.  But what this report didn’t find: evidence of a cover-up and more importantly for Clinton, evidence that she directed one.
A second difference is that Hillary Clinton has 20 years on the national stage (including a thoroughly litigated presidential bid in ’08) to balance out a bad story, while Christie is still making his first impression on the national stage. And of course, a third difference is that no Democrats believe the worst about Hillary (and might try to take advantage of it) when it comes to Benghazi, while the same isn’t true for Christie. Plenty of Republicans, particularly conservatives who were never enamored with Christie in the first place, do believe the worst about Christie and the bridge.
That’s an interesting mixture of gobbledygook and brutal honesty.  Much of it boils down to the authors admitting that the media has a childlike attention span, and really wants to cover shiny new stories, even when there are relevant developments in old ones.  In this case, Benghazi became “old news” about 24 hours after it happened, because Team Obama told his pals in the media it was an old story, and they vigorously agreed.
One of the people who wrote this NBC editorial is Chuck Todd, who last weekend remarked there didn’t seem to be any bad news about ObamaCare any more, even as major mainstream-media stories about the program’s failures were detonating around him like hydrogen bombs.  Hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil, ask why nobody’s talking about the evil any more.
It’s also amusing that NBC thinks its readers will believe Benghazi ever had anything remotely close to the intensity or tenor of the coverage afforded to Bridgegate.  Benghazi was never a 24-hour carnival of skepticism, in which everything the Administration said was treated as dubious and investigated like crazy.  Reporters were not floating theories about how the climate of falsehood and negligence created by the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton was worthy of condemnation, even if no documentation proving they directly ordered the cover-up could be found, the way they have grown obsessed with the “climate” of the Christie administration.  Evidently only Republicans can be held accountable for producing the nasty partisan emissions that lead to such climate change.
The media still isn’t interested in asking about the most closely guarded secret in the world, the activities of Barack Obama on the night of September 11, 2012.  You would think an inquisitive media would push hard to uncover that information, and make a big deal about the stubborn refusal of the White House to provide it.  But no, they’re quite happy to be blown off, because they very obviously don’t want to know the answer.  Imagine how they’d react if Chris Christie brusquely refused to discuss what he was doing while the bridge scandal unfolded.
Benghazi might have been “litigated for almost a year and half,” but I would remind the chronically news-ignorant Mr. Todd and his associates that absolutely no one has been held accountable for it, ever.  The sum total of housecleaning – which is not a matter of partisan score-settling, but a matter of improving the relevant agencies and preventing future abuse – was four State Department nobodies temporarily placed on administrative leave.  In contrast, Governor Christie identified and terminated responsible parties in the bridge scandal almost immediately.  If Benghazi is still being “litigated,” maybe that’s because there hasn’t been a verdict yet, the accused rarely bother to show up for the trial, and they don’t tell the truth when they do appear.
How on Earth could any sensible, informed person claim that Hillary Clinton’s 20-year career somehow balances out Benghazi?  On the contrary, her career is filled with evasions, the destruction of documents, cover-ups, and abuses of authority.  Her tenure at the State Department produced precious little in the way of actual achievements, but a jaw-dropping number of concealed scandals.  She’s spent a lifetime studying the dark art of finger-pointing, and her kung fu skills were fully in evidence when she blamed that YouTube video for the Benghazi attack and vowed to take down the video maker, right into the faces of the slain Americans’ grieving families.  And the latest Benghazi revelations prove beyond all doubt that she knew she was lying when she said that.  All of which is very, very, very relevant information for voters to consider when the 2016 election rolls around.
That seems far more newsworthy than the New Jersey story, which the media is already laboring mightily to keep on life support.  They’re furiously digging to find something, anything, they can cite as a new development to keep Christie on the front pages, while ignoring real news coming out of these declassified Benghazi reports.  And there is real news here, despite the NBC team’s breezy dismissal.  There might not have been “knowledge of an imminent attack,” but Clinton and Obama’s refusal to take even the most minimal precautions is more astounding than ever, because our knowledge of how dangerous Benghazi was on 9/11/12 is more acute than ever before.
We now know there was never anyone in the military or intelligence communities who thought the attack was a protest spun out of control.  The media recently tried to help Hillary Clinton out by creating a cloud of disinformation around the events that night, claiming there was also unrest over the “Innocence of Muslims” video in Libya, so maybe it was kinda-sorta understandable that Team Obama thought it was relevant.  Nonsense – the Senate Intelligence Committee report makes it clear there was no “protest” near the Benghazi consulate at all.  
The New York Times’ bizarre in-kind contribution to Hillary 2016 also lies in ruins this week, as contrary to the paper’s false and misleading assertions, the Senate report makes it clear that al-Qaeda members played key roles in planning the attack.  Fox News has another report that Chuck Todd had better get busy ignoring, if he wants to keep his “no news on Benghazi” talking point alive:
The former Guantanamo detainee Sufian bin Qumu, first identified by Fox’s Bret Baier as a suspect 16 months ago, at the very least helped lay the groundwork for the operation.
“Certainly Qumu was involved in planning in this…he is a member of a group that is affiliated with Al Qaeda so in my mind that makes him Al Qaeda,” said Chambliss, R-Ga.
The report, which took 16 months to complete, has teeth because the findings were agreed to by both Republican and Democrats on the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee.
It concludes that the Benghazi attackers came from two official Al Qaeda affiliates, bin Qumu’s Ansar al-Sharia, and a fourth group, the Jamal network, whose leader is connected to the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
“Individuals affiliated with terrorist groups including AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, AQAP and the Mohammad Jamal Network participated in the September 11, 2012 attacks,” the report said.
Wouldn’t you say it’s pretty big news that a major media organization’s attempt to confuse voters about an important story lies in ruins?
The State Department had a meeting about al-Qaeda training camps in the Benghazi area, and the vulnerability of the consulate to terrorist attack, fully one month before the assault took place.  State fought like wildcats to keep the details of that meeting away from the Senate committee, and somehow Obama and his minions forgot to mention it when they were busy spreading their disgusting “spontaneous video protest” lie in a successful bid to keep the President’s re-election campaign going.
Ranking Senate Intelligence Committee Republican Saxby Chambliss gives us an idea of why Benghazi is still being “litigated” a year and a half later:
Chambliss said that was part of a pattern – in which the State Department continues to block access to witnesses and documents. He said the committee also wanted to know whether a White House meeting on the day of the assault – believed to include then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta,Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the vice president and, briefly, President Obama – set the marching orders for explaining the attack.
“We’d been stonewalled on that question.  We’ve asked time and again who was in the meeting and what was the substance of that meeting and we have not gotten answers on that,” Chambliss said.
And now Obama’s court media happily informs us that the stonewall tactics worked great!  They’re really tired of talking about the story they never bothered to investigate, and the cover-up they didn’t trouble themselves to complain about.  Maybe they’ll rouse themselves again if someone can produce a hand-written, signed letter from Hillary Clinton personally ordering an illegal operation, but only if there’s a lock of her hair Scotch-taped to the letter, to provide corroborating DNA evidence that she really wrote it.
As for NBC’s point about how “the U.S. military was not in position to respond in enough time,” that’s not quite what the Senate report says.  It remains a point of great interest that absolutely no contingency plans were made to rescue a U.S. ambassador sent into a terrorist hot zone on the anniversary of 9/11 – a failure so huge the media pretends they can’t see it – but Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) of the House Oversight Committee made a very interesting point about possible rescue operations while talking with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday.  Obama apologists tell us there was no mid-air refueling capability available to support air cover for the embattled Ambassador, but in fact there were refueling resources that could have been tapped, especially if the tiniest bit of foresight had been exercised.  (Hat tip to Yid With Lid for the transcript.)
Hugh Hewitt: And I am curious especially, Mr. Chairman, about finding number 7 – There was no U.S. military resources in position to intervene in short order in Benghazi to help defend the temporary mission facility and its annex. But then it goes on to quote Major General Darryl Roberson as saying the Strike Eagles that were loaded at Djibouti, it would have taken them the distance of Washington to L.A., but it doesn’t say they couldn’t have gotten there by the time the second battle was over.
Rep. Issa: Well, you’re exactly right that he, they were not launched. And of course the question isn’t could they have gotten there in time, because at the beginning of this, no one knew how long it was going to last. For those of us young enough or old enough to remember that famous scene from Top Gun where he’s on his way in and he says I’ll be there in two minutes, and he says well, this firefight will be over by then. Well, you don’t know that. You don’t know how long one is going to go on. It went on eight and a half hours. The truth is they didn’t know.
The only launch that occurred was that Marines were prepped to come in to represent backup security in Tripoli. They took 23 and a half hours to get in, because they weren’t provided military lift. And eventually, the lift they got was C-130s that had come down, I believe, from England.
But Hugh, I want you to understand that this statement may be technically true, but let me tell you what isn’t in there. We have three allies in the region that are supplied with KC-135s. We sustain the fleet by us at no cost to them. That’s Egypt, Turkey and Israel. Israel has, I believe, seven KC-135s, and as you know, the Israelis are always available in a matter of minutes. They’re always aware that their attackers doesn’t give them any standoff. So the real question is if you know you have refuelers that could take care of our F-16s and make them able to get in from Italy, did you call Bibi Netanyahu? And the answer is no. So did you do everything you could do with our allies to attempt to prepare a relief effort of some sort? The answer is no. And that’s not in the report.
Issa had this to say about the critical tone of the Senate report:
It makes it very clear that assets that should have been put on high alert for September 11th weren’t. It makes it clear that it wasn’t an intelligence failure that the recognition of the threat of al Qaeda and al Qaeda-sympathizing organizations in the region was there. It makes it very clear that the State Department and DOD didn’t do their jobs. And I think that’s all you really could do from an intelligence standpoint, is make it clear that assets were not where they should have been based on threat assessment that was properly provided, and I think that’s the message coming out of Senate Intelligence is, and particularly, the recognition is that had the Ambassador been given the kinds of assets that he asked for, the attack may well never have occurred.
That’s the exact opposite of the story Obama and his media courtiers presented to the American people.  Instead of fussing endlessly over Chris Christie, isn’t it time for the media to apologize for their dereliction of duty, their willingness to be duped by a President they desperately wanted to re-elect, and offered us some proof that they won’t repeat the same behavior when they’re trying to elect Hillary Clinton to succeed him?  The Benghazi story is alive for as long as anyone involved with that outrageous dereliction of duty has a career that brings them anywhere near Washington.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bruce Springsteen's 'High Hopes' a worthy successor (and companion) to 'Wrecking Ball'

January 4, 2014

Some successful veteran rock musicians retire to the islands, never to be heard from again. Some become businessmen, others become producers of younger acts. A few even go into politics.Bruce Springsteen isn’t interested in any of that. What Springsteen wants is a pulpit. Since"The Rising," each new album brings himcloser to church — and he grows more comfortable in the mantle of the wizened preacher, shepherding his flock between the twin poles of sin and salvation.

Gospel was one of the cornerstones of "Wrecking Ball," the uneven but inspiring 2012 albumthat reinvigorated his muse and slapped him awake after the long sleepwalk of "Working on a Dream." From gospel, the Boss borrowed both the slow mount to musical epiphany and language that speaks of perseverance through hard times. The religious imagery that has always been part of his work found its fullest expression yet on this album, which answered the emotional emptiness of the economic downturn with a spiritual salve.
"High Hopes," the fast follow-up and companion piece to "Wrecking Ball" — which will be officially released Jan. 14, but is now streaming for free on — further illuminates these themes. It’s misleading to say, however, that it expands upon them, because "High Hopes" is not designed to be a showcase of new material; it’s dominated by older songs of relatively recent vintage that have never found a home on a Springsteen album. It also contains three covers.

It is testament to how well Springsteen has managed to stay on message over the past decade that "High Hopes" coheres anyway. Once again, both the music and the storytelling strain toward the exuberance and transcendence of gospel. Once again, Springsteen is the minister in the chapel, offering guidance, sympathy and, occasionally, a raised fist of solidarity with the dispossessed.

Sometimes he preaches outright. "Heaven’s Wall," a minor-key rocker that begins with a gospel-inspired shout-along, is nothing but Biblical allusions, and suggests how deeply the Boss has had his nose buried in the Good Book recently. "This Is Your Sword" is a sermon framed by an old-school E Street Band arrangement. The atmospheric "Hunter of Invisible Game," which is redolent of the dust and grit of early Tom Waits, is a trip through Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones.

Like any passionate religious leader, Springsteen calls out false prophets: The moody
"Harry’s Place," a song that didn’t make "The Rising," casts the Devil as a drug dealer presiding over an empire of night. Those themes are further developed on "Down in the Hole," a lyric of desperation that draws connections between 9/11 rescue workers and coal miners; in it, a near-scriptural flaming hell opens beneath our feet to swallow a haunted man. Light versus darkness, bondage versus release, physical lust versus spiritual desire — these are the minister’s preoccupations. These elemental struggles have become the Boss’ preoccupations, too.

He even does elegies. The twin pillars around which the rest of "High Hopes" has been arranged are eloquent lamentations. "The Wall," a ballad written in memory of the early Shore rocker Walter Cichon, is an example of what Springsteen still does better than any other mainstream rocker, and gives an indication of why he’s so revered in Nashville, too. His story is rich with carefully chosen details that amplify the emotional content and authenticity of the lyric. As he so often does, he gives his narrative a firm historical anchor and it’s immediately apparent he’s writing about real and consequential things: the legacy of the Vietnam War, Monmouth County in the 1960s, the camaraderie and competitiveness of youth culture.

The pervasive sense of sadness and loss on "The Wall" is deepened by the phantom presence of the late Danny Federici, who decorates the song with an elegant, aching organ ride that, for all its simplicity, could have been played by no other musician. (Clarence Clemons, too, plays on several "High Hopes" cuts, but his contributions feel less meaningful.)

The other meditation on death and loss is the best-known song here and, perhaps, the most controversial piece in Springsteen’s discography. "American Skin (41 Shots)" was written in blunt language in response to the police shooting of Amadou Diallo, and revived on the Wrecking Ball Tour after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida neighborhood watchman who killed Trayvon Martin. The live versions of "American Skin" were fully embodied, and made Springsteen’s desire for justice manifest — but did not adequately prepare the audience for the 7 ½-minute hailstorm of grief and rage on "High Hopes." The song was something of a dirge in its original incarnation, but this rendition is anything but: It builds to a thunderous climax crowned by two sword-slash guitar solos by Tom Morello, already well known as a prince of agitprop from his work with Rage Against the Machine.

Alas, as "High Hopes" proves, a little Morello goes a long way. He is featured on eight songs, and if you’re not sick to death of him by the end of the third, you’ve got a high threshold for flashy wah-wah and squealing Whammy-pedal six-string. His heavily affected sound — one designed to irritate as much as entertain — is an uncomfortable fit with the classicism of the E Street Band, and at times on "High Hopes," the clash of styles is all you can hear. Morello grabs "The Ghost of Tom Joad" by the hair and tortures him with an interminable solo that fits the dignified, Steinbeck-inspired character with an arena-rock headband and torn T-shirt.

Morello's prominence means that "High Hopes" never feels quite as much like an E Street Band album as its rock arrangements suggest it should. This is a missed opportunity. The expanded version of the E Street Band that accompanied the Boss on the Wrecking Ball Tour was a fearsome outfit, capable of exposing hidden dimensions in older songs and breathing life into the sometimes-staid recorded versions of newer ones. (Morello was part of that expanded lineup during the Australian leg of the Tour.) Although this does feel more like a "band album" than "Wrecking Ball" did, and although the expanded group did participate in the recording sessions, it does not begin to tap into the full, awesome power of the flexible outfit that brought illumination to the Boss’ sermons.

This is a known problem with preachers — often, they’re so wrapped up in their own message that they don’t realize the deacons have something meaningful to say, too. But there’s always next time. And at the pace Springsteen has been working, the next time is likely to come sooner than you’d think.

Doubts over Common Core

Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.
The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn. It is the thin end of an enormous wedge. It is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of centralization and uniformity.
Understandably, proponents of the Common Core want its nature and purpose to remain as cloudy as possible for as long as possible. Hence they say it is a “state-led,” “voluntary” initiative to merely guide education with “standards” that are neither written nor approved nor mandated by Washington, which would never, ever “prescribe” a national curriculum. Proponents talk warily when describing it because a candid characterization would reveal yet another Obama administration indifference to legality.
The 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the original federal intrusion into this state and local responsibility, said “nothing in this act” shall authorize any federal official to “mandate, direct, or control” schools’ curriculums. The 1970 General Education Provisions Act stipulates that “no provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any” federal agency or official “to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction” or selection of “instructional materials by any” school system. The 1979 law creating the Education Department forbids it from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum” or “program of instruction” of any school system. The ESEA as amended says no Education Department funds “may be used . . . to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in” grades K-12.
Nevertheless, what begins with mere national standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials. Washington already is encouraging the alignment of the GED, SAT and ACT tests with the Common Core. By a feedback loop, these tests will beget more curriculum conformity. All of this will take a toll on parental empowerment, and none of this will escape the politicization of learning like that already rampant in higher education.
Leave aside the abundant, fierce, often learned and frequently convincing criticisms of the writing, literature and mathematics standards. Even satisfactory national standards must extinguish federalism’s creativity: At any time, it is more likely there will be half a dozen innovative governors than one creative federal education bureaucracy. And the mistakes made by top-down federal reforms arecontinental mistakes.
The Obama administration has purchased states’ obedience by partially conditioning waivers from onerous federal regulations (from No Child Left Behind) and receipt of federal largess ($4.35 billion in Race to the Top money from the 2009 stimulus) on the states’ embrace of the Common Core. Although 45 states and the District of Columbia have struck this bargain, most with little debate, some are reconsidering and more will do so as opposition mounts.
Many proponents seem to deem it beneath their dignity to engage opponents’ arguments, preferring to caricature opponents as political primitives and to dismiss them with flippancies such as this from Bill Gates: “It’s ludicrous to think that multiplication in Alabama and multiplication in New York are really different.” What is ludicrous is Common Core proponents disdaining concerns related to this fact: Fifty years of increasing Washington input into K-12 education has coincided with disappointing cognitive outputs from schools. Is it eccentric that it is imprudent to apply to K-12 education the federal touch that has given us
The rise of opposition to the Common Core illustrates three healthy aspects of today’s politics. First, new communication skills and technologies enable energized minorities to force new topics onto the political agenda. Second, this uprising of local communities against state capitals, the nation’s capital and various muscular organizations (e.g., the Business Roundtable, the Chamber of Commerce, teachers unions, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) demonstrates that although the public agenda is malleable, a sturdy portion of the public is not.
Third, political dishonesty has swift, radiating and condign consequences. Opposition to the Common Core is surging because Washington, hoping to mollify opponents, is saying, in effect: “If you like your local control of education, you can keep it. Period.” To which a burgeoning movement is responding: “No. Period.”
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Evils of Capitalism

Posted By Roger Kimball On January 14, 2014 @ 7:10 am In Uncategorized | 7 Comments


“It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble as the things we do know that ain’t so.” – Mark Twain (attributed)
What’s the one thing everyone knows about capitalism?  Why, that it started out as a mean, nasty tool of greedy industrialists. “The Industrial Revolution,” we all learned, was a terrible Moloch that devoured children, put profits before people, and though it made great fortunes (or, perhaps, partly because it made great fortunes), was a wicked development. The Industrial Revolution, we’ve all be taught, was the original sin of capitalism, necessary, perhaps (perhaps) to prime the engine of economic progress, but lamentable nevertheless.

Ask anyone: the Industrial Revolution is a stigma that no amount of societal amelioration can remove. The “factory system,” an integral part of the Industrial Revolution, was an urban nightmare, a Dickensian melodrama in which rural innocence was mauled and blighted in those horrific, unsanitary “Satanic mills” William Blake anathematized.

Once upon a time, before the advent of the factory system, workers enjoyed:
… a passably comfortable existence, leading a righteous and peaceful life and all piety and probity; and their material condition was far better than that their successors. … They did not need to overwork; they did no more than they chose to do. and yet they earned what they needed. They had leisure for healthful work in garden or field, work which, in itself, was recreation for them, and they could take part beside in the recreation and games of their neighbours … [which] contributed to their physical health and vigour. … Their children grew up in fresh country air, and, if they could help their parents at work, it was only occasionally.
Alas, this Eden, as described by Frederick Engels in a fairytale called the condition of the working classes in England in 1844,” [1]was destroyed by the advent of the machine. “The proletariat,” writes Engels “was called into existence by the introduction of machinery:”
The consequences of improvement in machinery under our present social conditions are, for the working-man, solely injurious, and often in the highest degree oppressive. Every new advance things with the loss of employment, want and suffering.
That’s the sad story of capitalism we all imbibed with mother’s milk, or formula. No less an authority than Bertrand Russell has assured us that “the Industrial Revolution caused unspeakable misery both in England and in America. I do not think any student of economic history can doubt that the average happiness in England and early nineteenth century was lower than it had been hundred years earlier.”

As F. A. Hayek points out in Capitalism and the Historians [2], an extraordinary collection of essays he edited and published in 1954, “The widespread emotional aversion to ‘capitalism’ is closely connected with this belief that the undeniable growth of wealth which the competitive order had produced was purchased at the price of depressing the standard of life the weakest elements of society.” This picture of economic depredation, notes Hayek, is “one supreme myth which more than any other has served to discredit the economic system [capitalism] to which we owe our present-day civilization.”

When we move from the realm of myth-making to historical truth, however, we see that the Engels-Russell narrative, the narrative upon which we’ve all been battened, is a tissue of exaggerations, misrepresentations, and outright lies. A “careful examination of the facts,” which is what Hayek and his colleagues provide in Capitalism and the Historians (or, to give it its full title, Capitalism and the Historians: A Defense of the Early Factory System and its Social and Economic Consequences), has led to a  “thorough refutation of this belief.”

The refutation is indeed thorough, and I heartily recommend this short bracing volume to anyone still laboring under the impression that “early capitalism” was a moral enormity. Barack Obama, for instance, might have spared himself the embarrassment of his recent speech in Kansas [3] had he taken on board some of what Hayek, T.S. Ashton, Louis Hacker, W.H. Hutt, and Bertrand de Jouvenel have to say in this brisk and fog-dispelling volume.

Engels, closely following the work of the Rev. Philip Gaskell (a man, says T.S. Ashton, “whose earnestness and honesty are not in doubt, but whose mind have not been confused by any study of history”), contrasts the idyllic world of rural life, living close to the land, with the sooty urban alternative. But the truth is, as Ashton and other show in meticulous detail, that life was indeed “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” in the world of pre-industrial England. Ashton shows how by the 1830s life was being transformed throughout the realm by the wealth the factory system brought to England. Along the way, he has some tart observations for the nostalgic romanticization of rural life. “The idea that agriculture is the only natural and healthy activity for human beings,” he writes,  “has persisted, and indeed spread, as more of us have escaped from the curse of Adam — or, as the tedious phrase goes, ‘become divorced from the soil.’ ”

It is worth noting that the very phrase “Industrial Revolution” was coined, not by English industrialists, but by French writers “under the spell of their own great political ferment.” “Industrial Revolution,” in other words, is a polemical, not a descriptive term, redolent of Jacobite insinuations. (Ashton also notes the interesting evolution of the phrase laissez faire, first used by the Marquis d’Argenson in 1755, when it meant “non-interference with industry,” to its use by Alfred Marshall in 1907 when it meant “let the State be up and doing.”)

Louis Hacker, in “The Anticapitalist Bias of American Historians,”  his contribution to Capitalism and the Historians, notes how critics of the factory system often took aim at the fact that now, for the first time, man’s ingenuity was able to turn out an abundance of “cheap goods.” The word “cheap,” Hacker notes, is “invested with a sinister connotation,” but what it actually meant was that young women could now buy inexpensive dresses in a variety of patterns instead of having to make their own clothes — a more romantic pastime only if you happen to be rich enough to have escaped the necessity of doing so.

The early nineteenth century, according to the conventional wisdom, was a time of great economic oppression. In fact it was the debut of an era of progress and wealth creation the likes of which the world had never seen. “The nineteenth century, for the first time,” notes Hacker, “introduced on a broad scale state policies of public health and public education. The nineteenth century, by turning out cheap goods, made possible the amazing climb of real wages in industrialized economies. The nineteenth century, by permitting the transfer of capital in large amounts, opened up the interiors of backward countries for development and production.”

Was there squalor and misery and poverty in the early nineteenth century? You betcha. And a lot of it was abetted by poor government policy. The window tax, for example, and the high excise on building materials. (You want houses to be made in a sturdy manner? Don’t make it more difficult for builders to build them.) As Hacker notes, “Poor houses and overcrowding in the towns were not evidence of the rejection of moral responsibility of the part of the new industrial class but the result of natural forces of immigration and internal population movements and bad fiscal policy.”

The truth is that after 1820, the standard of living was rapidly increasing in British society and, as Ashton points out,  “the factory played a not inconsiderable role in the improvement.”  Even Edwin Chadwick, whose 1843 classic Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population of Great Britain [4] is a major primary source for our knowledge of the subject, noted that “the comforts of the laboring classes have  increased with the late increases of population,” and that “the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for the whole mass of the laboring community have advanced.”

Capitalism and the Historians is a welcome historical corrective, full of illuminating data and record-correcting observations. For example, anyone who studies the period will soon look into the so-called “Sadler Committee” report, published in 1832, which presented a grim picture of life for children consigned to the factory. It is, as one sympathetic commentator put it, “one of the main sources of our knowledge of the conditions of factory life at the time.” The problem is, as W. H. Hutt notes in “The Factory System of the Early Nineteenth Century,” it was a biased partisan report written for over political ends.  As another observer put it, the Sadler report  “gave to the world such a mass of ex-parte statements, and of gross falsehoods and calumnies . . . as probably never before found their way into any public document.” Even Engels, who was at one with the spirit that informed the report, acknowledged that it was “emphatically partisan, composed by strong enemies of the factory system for party ends.”

The deeper virtue of Capitalism and the Historians, however, transcends its fine trove of historical argument. The writers, unlike so many contemporary sages (and contemporary politicians), understand that capitalism is the greatest engine for the production of wealth that the ingenuity of man has ever devised. And they understand, too, that the activity of capitalism cannot be divorced from the corrective of risk and the spur of competition. The possibility of failure, in other words, is inseparable from capitalism.  As Louis Hacker points out, the failure rate of early telegraph, canal, railroad, mining, and automobile industries in U.S. was “enormous.”  But it was only by providing an environment in which risk, ambition, and entrepreneurship could flourish that real progress could be made. The prerequisites are a government that guarantees a level playing field for economic activity and that refrains from interfering in the law-abiding entrepreneurial enterprises of individuals: “Sound monetary and credit policy as a public function; risk-taking as a private one—here in epitome is the history of capitalism.” As Hayek put it in his introduction, “much that has been blamed on the capitalist system is in fact due to remnants or revivals of precapitalist to features: the monopolistic elements which were either the direct result of ill-conceived state action or the consequence of a failure to understand the smooth working competitive order required an appropriate legal framework.”

And this brings me to my final point. Not a day goes by without lamentations about the evils or limitations of capitalism emitted by some of capitalism’s most conspicuous beneficiaries. Barack Obama, for example, speaking in Kansas a couple of weeks ago, chided the “certain crowd in Washington” that believed “the market will take care of everything.” Of course, that is rhetorical overstatement; we all know what he means. Do we want big government, high taxes, and intricate regulation, or do we want lean government, low taxes, and the minimum regulation consistent with public safety? Or consider Does Capitalism Have A Future? [5] a collection of essays by “a global quintet of distinguished scholars,” published by Oxford University Press, arguing that the capitalist system is teetering on the brink of collapse and it’s a good thing, too, because the socialist system that may ensue will be far better. It’s an hysterical (not in the sense of “funny”) volume, full of tired Marxoid clichés about the “internal contradictions” of capitalism and impending ecological crisis, but it is also a thoroughly typical product of the comfy intellectual caste that has enjoyed all the benefits of capitalism without bothering to understand what has made those benefits possible.

Despite this anti-capitalist narrative, however—a narrative we hear repeated by “progressive” politicians and iterated in more barbaric, polysyllabic strains by academics everywhere — the capitalist system has made possible over the last century, and especially in the last several decades, the greatest accumulation of wealth in the history of the world.  England was the crucible of this modern prosperity in part because of the freedom of economic activity that it, unlike the states of continental Europe, enjoyed.  And that freedom, in turn, and again unlike the continent, was underwritten by the limited government England also enjoyed. “The rapid growth of wealth” in England in the early nineteenth century, Hayek observes, “is probably in the first instance an almost accidental byproduct of the limitations which the revolution of the seventeenth century placed on the powers of government.”  We’ve been working diligently in this country to remove those limitations.  How far will we have to sink before the people once again rise up and repudiate the elites who wish to fetter them in manacles forged by statist overreach?
(Photograph by [6].)

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[1] “the condition of the working classes in England in 1844,”
[2] Capitalism and the Historians
[3] recent speech in Kansas:
[4] Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population of Great Britain
[5] Does Capitalism Have A Future?

As 'Justified' returns to FX, its star and creator fondly recall Elmore Leonard

By Julie Hinds
January 4, 2014
When Timothy Olyphant first met Elmore Leonard on the set of “Justified,” the man who plays Raylan Givens instantly liked the straight-talking, calls-it-like-he-sees-it vibe of the man who created Raylan Givens.
“He was just as cool as they come,” says the star of the FX series, which will launch its fifth season Tuesday night. “Pretty early on, he told me not to be afraid to lose the hat. He said, ‘You know, maybe a gust of wind just comes along and you never see it again.’ I thought that was fantastic.”
Leonard’s initial dislike of the cowboy hat chosen for the character of Raylan was one of the few bones that the acclaimed Detroit author ever had to pick with the series about the tough, laconic, yet complicated U.S. marshal.
Although most Hollywood versions of his work left him disappointed, Leonard experienced a love affair of sorts with “Justified.”
He liked the show, which was inspired by his short story “Fire in the Hole,” which featured Raylan. And the show liked him more. Series creator Graham Yost was such a Leonard fan that he made WWED (What Would Elmore Do) the guidepost for the writers.
Leonard’s death in August at age 87 makes this season of “Justified” a bittersweet reunion with viewers. There will be a 90-second tribute to Leonard accompanying the first episode. The brief segment is part of a much longer piece that eventually will be part of the Season 5 DVD, according to Yost. It will include interviews with cast members and others who worked with Leonard, plus readings from his novels.
Olyphant and Yost both came to metro Detroit to attend Leonard’s funeral and pay their respects to the man who represented the show’s true north. When they talk about him now during separate phone interviews, their sense of loss is almost palpable.
“There’s an old saw that you should never meet your heroes, and that applies, but not in Elmore’s case,” says Yost. “He was just fun to hang out with and had a great attitude about life and work and writing.”
In the first episode of the new season, Raylan goes to Florida to work on a case, a trip that brings him back into the realm of the Crowe family, the lawbreaking brood connected to recurring character Dewey Crowe (Damon Herriman).
“It’s about the Crowes coming to town. We look at them as an invasive species,” says Yost.
At the same time, Raylan’s longtime frenemy Boyd (Walton Goggins) will head to Detroit to deal with troubles in his drug trade. While “Justified” had to shoot the Florida scenes on location to capture the lush topography, the Motor City scenes were easier to duplicate elsewhere and were filmed in Los Angeles.
One of the major themes of the season will include Raylan’s effort to deal with becoming a father and figuring out what kind of parent he will be, given his tortured relationship with his own dad.
New characters will include crime family leader Darryl Crowe Jr. (Michael Rapaport) and a Florida policeman played by “Anchorman 2” star David Koechner.
Will this season contain any cookies, or secret surprises, that are nods to Leonard?
“If I give those out, then they’re no longer cookies,” says Yost. But he did reveal that Koechner’s character is named Gregg Sutter, the same name as Leonard’s longtime real-life researcher.
And in a scene in which Koechner’s cop talks about one of his kids trying to become a writer, Yost says the comment he makes “is lifted almost entirely, at least the whole point of it, from something Elmore said in the past about his own writing, that he even talked about when he had his acceptance speech for the National Book Award.”
Although Leonard kept a respectful distance from the creative side of “Justified,” the series inspired him to write the 2012 book “Raylan.” Olyphant helped prod Leonard into developing that novel, at least in part.
“I don’t know if he needed much of a nudge,” the actor says. Not long after the conversation about the cowboy hat, Olyphant recalls, he told Leonard, “I’ll let the wind take my hat off my head; you get back to writing some stories where the character of Raylan is in them.’”
Leonard’s reply to Olyphant? “He said, ‘You know, I might do that.”
In 2012, Leonard talked to the Free Press about the book, which he dedicated to Olyphant and Yost.
“I felt, well, I can’t just take money for nothing. I thought, ‘I’m going to write something.’ So I wrote a book and thought they could use any part of it they want,” said Leonard. The “Justified” writers used parts of the book for season two story lines.
Olyphant says that Leonard’s personal style evoked his characters and his novels.
“What I was always aware of was the tone, the humor, the ease with with he told stories or made jokes without acknowledging them. He just had the timing. He was not unlike his books.”
Yost’s voice fills with emotion when he talks about Leonard and how much it means to the entire “Justified” team that the author was pleased with the show. “The fact that he got a kick out of the show was absolutely the most gratifying thing,” he says.
This season, Yost says, “There’s a certain degree that there’s a switchover from ‘We hope Elmore likes this episode’ to ‘This is in memory of Elmore.’ We hope that ... we’re, in his memory, doing the best we can to make him happy.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today's Tune: Joe Ely - Row of Dominoes

CONFIRMED: The DEA Struck A Deal With Mexico's Most Notorious Drug Cartel

By Michael Kelly
January 13, 2014

Jesús Vicente Zambada Niebla “El Vicentillo”. Foto: Miguel Dimayuga
Jesús Vicente Zambada Niebla “El Vicentillo”. 
Foto: Miguel Dimayuga

An investigation by El Universal found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels.
Sinaloa, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, supplies 80% of the drugs entering the Chicago area and has a presence in cities across the U.S.
There have long been allegations that Guzman, considered to be "the world’s most powerful drug trafficker," coordinates with American authorities.
But the El Universal investigation is the first to publish court documents that include corroborating testimony from a DEA agent and a Justice Department official.
The written statements were made to the U.S. District Court in Chicago in relation to the arrest of Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, the son of Sinaloa leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and allegedly the Sinaloa cartel’s "logistics coordinator."
Here's what DEA agent Manuel Castanon told the Chicago court:
"On March 17, 2009, I met for approximately 30 minutes in a hotel room in Mexico City with Vincente Zambada-Niebla and two other individuals — DEA agent David Herrod and a cooperating source [Sinaloa lawyer Loya Castro] with whom I had worked since 2005. ... I did all of the talking on behalf of [the] DEA."
A few hours later, Mexican Marines arrested Zambada-Niebla (a.k.a. "El Vicentillo") on charges of trafficking more than a billion dollars in cocaine and heroin. Castanon and three other agents then visited Zambada-Niebla in prison, where the Sinaloa officer "reiterated his desire to cooperate," according to Castanon.
El Universal, citing court documents, reports that DEA agents met with high-level Sinaloa officials more than 50 times since 2000.
Then-Justice Department prosecutor Patrick Hearn told the Chicago court that, according to DEA special agent Steve Fraga, Castro "provided information leading to a 23-ton cocaine seizure, other seizures related to" various drug trafficking organizations, and that "El Mayo" Zambada wanted his son to cooperate with the U.S.
"The DEA agents met with members of the cartel in Mexico to obtain information about their rivals and simultaneously built a network of informants who sign drug cooperation agreements, subject to results, to enable them to obtain future benefits, including cancellation of charges in the U.S.," reports El Universal, which also interviewed more than one hundred active and retired police officers as well as prisoners and experts.
Zambada-Niebla's lawyer claimed to the court that in the late 1990s, Castro struck a deal with U.S. agents in which Sinaloa would provide information about rival drug trafficking organizations while the U.S. would dismiss its case against the Sinaloa lawyer and refrain from interfering with Sinaloa drug trafficking activities or actively prosecuting Sinaloa leadership.
"The agents stated that this arrangement had been approved by high-ranking officials and federal prosecutors," Zambada-Niebla lawyer wrote.
After being extradited to Chicago in February 2010, Zambada-Niebla argued that he was also "immune from arrest or prosecution" because he actively provided information to U.S. federal agents.
Zambada-Niebla also alleged that Operation Fast and Furious was part of an agreement to finance and arm the cartel in exchange for information used to take down its rivals. (If true, that re-raises the issue regarding what Attorney General Eric Holder knew about the gun-running arrangements.)
A Mexican foreign service officer told Stratfor in April 2010 that the U.S. seemed to have sided with the Sinaloa cartel in an attempt to limit the violence in Mexico.
El Universal reported that the coordination between the U.S. and Sinaloa, as well as other cartels, peaked between 2006 and 2012, which is when drug traffickers consolidated their grip on Mexico. The paper concluded by saying that it is unclear whether the arrangements continue.
The DEA and other U.S. agencies declined to comment to El Universal.

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New Declassified Docs Expose Obama’s Benghazi Lies

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On January 14, 2014 @ 12:10 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | No Comments

The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group, September 11, 2012.
Newly declassified documents reveal that high-ranking members of the Obama administration were aware that the September 11, 2012 assault on the American consulate in Benghazi was a “terrorist attack” only minutes after the battle began. In classified testimony given on June 26, 2013 to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Gen. Carter Hamm, former head of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) revealed he was the one who broke the news to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to declassified testimony obtained by Fox News, Hamm testified that he learned about the attack only 15 minutes after it began at 9:42 p.m. Libya time. Thus, the administration’s carefully crafted narrative that the attack was based on a video has once again been revealed for the lie it always was.

“My first call was to General Dempsey, General Dempsey’s office, to say, ‘Hey, I am headed down the hall. I need to see him right away,’” the General told lawmakers. ”I told him what I knew. We immediately walked upstairs to meet with Secretary Panetta.” Hamm characterized the ability to meet with both men so soon after the attack occurred as a fortunate ”happenstance” because “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.”

That meeting had been pre-scheduled with the president for 5 p.m. EST. A Defense Department (DOD) timeline notes that the meeting occurred one hour and 18 minutes after the attack began, and even as the battle at the consulate was ongoing. The DOD also revealed that an unarmed drone arrived over the battlefield during that time. As both men revealed in subsequent testimony, the meeting with the president lasted approximately 30 minutes — after which they never heard from anyone in the White House again.

Hamm revealed that he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from that session.
Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) was the lawmaker who put Hamm on the spot regarding the administration’s video narrative. ”In your discussions with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, was there any mention of a demonstration, or was all discussion about an attack?” McKeon asked. Hamm characterized the discussion of a demonstration as “peripheral,” but noted that ”at that initial meeting, we knew that a U.S. facility had been attacked and was under attack, and we knew at that point that we had two individuals, Ambassador Stevens and Mr. Smith, unaccounted for.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed the General more forcefully on the nature of his conversation with Panetta and Dempsey. He expressed his concern “that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration” rather than a terrorist attack. Hamm noted their was some “preliminary discussion” of the point, but emphasized that they were aware of what was really going on. “But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack,” he testified. Hamm also reiterated that “with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”

Hamm, Dempsey and Carter were not the only ones aware that a terrorist attack was occurring. The declassified transcripts show that key officers, along with several channels of command throughout the Pentagon and its combatants commands, were equally quick to label the assault a terrorist attack.

Wenstrup took the approach with Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, commander of AFRICOM’s Joint Special Operations Task Force for the Trans Sahara region, that he did with Dempsey. Bristol testified he was in Dakar, Senegal when the Joint Operations Center called to tell him about “a considerable event unfolding in Libya.” Bristol called Lt. Col. S.E. Gibson, an Army commander stationed in Tripoli, who informed Bristol that Ambassador Stevens was missing and ”there was a fight going on” at the compound. ”So no one from the military was ever advising, that you are aware of, that this was a demonstration gone out of control, it was always considered an attack on the United States?” Wenstrup asked Bristol. ”Yes, sir. … We referred to it as the attack,” he replied.

When their investigations continue, staffers on the Armed Services subcommittee have indicated their desire to recall Panetta to ask him additional questions. ”He is in the president’s Cabinet,” Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), chair of the panel that collected the testimony, told Fox News. “The American people deserve the truth. They deserve to know what’s going on, and I honestly think that that’s why you have seen — beyond the tragedy that there was a loss of four Americans’ lives – is that the American people feel misled.”

Kim R. Holmes, a former assistant secretary of state under President George W. Bush, echoed that assertion. ”Leon Panetta should have spoken up,” he insisted. ”The people at the Pentagon and frankly, the people at the CIA stood back while all of this was unfolding and allowed this narrative to go on longer than they should have.”

As of now, the retired Panetta has resisted requests for further testimony.

Preliminary conclusions reached by those same staffers regarding Panetta’s earlier testimony that a rescue operation would have been impossible, agreed with the former Secretary’s assessment. But those same documents reveal it was because America’s assets in the region were badly arrayed. And not just with regard to Benghazi, but other Middle East hotspots as well. Transcripts from top military commanders paint a woeful picture of gaps in the position of assets worldwide. Examples of unpreparedness include the reality that no aircraft were put on high alert for September 11, and that the closet F-35 fighter jets to Benghazi, stationed in Aviano, Italy were unarmed. Moreover, the closest mid-air re-fuelers were 10 hours away in Great Briatin.

Other assets, including AC-130 gunships were 10 hours from Libya, and a unit of 23 special operators that comprise part of a discretionary, “in-extremis” force, were training in Croatia. According to testimony, they didn’t even make it to a staging base in Sigonella, Italy until 19 hours after the attack began.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), the Republican chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, addressed this disturbing reality. ”It does not appear that U.S. military forces, units, aircrafts, drones, or specific personnel that could have been readily deployed in the course of the attack in Benghazi were unduly held back, or told to stand down, or refused permission to enter the fight,” she concluded. “Rather, we were so badly postured, they could not have made a difference or we were desperately needed elsewhere.”

The newly released documents also reveal that Gen. Hamm had been left out of the loop in White House-led discussions regarding military preparedness and force posture on the eve of Sept. 11. This revelation undercuts White House assurances that then-counterterrorism adviser John Brennan had ”convened numerous meetings,” and the president and his national security principals discussed “steps taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad.”

Perhaps they they did. But it remains unknown why the head of AFRICOM would not be include in those discussions.

Hamm insisted that no one told him to stand down, there simply weren’t assets available to counter the attack. He repeatedly argued that having an F-16 do a fly-over in  Benghazi wouldn’t have made any difference, despite that tactic being routinely employed to disperse enemy forces in Afghanistan.

AFRICOM and Pentagon officials insisted they were more worried about threats emanating from Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan on Sept. 11, 2012. “As I look back at the intelligence, I don’t see the indications of imminent attack in Benghazi,” Ham said. Yet Maj. Gen. Darryl Roberson, vice chief of operations on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon that night, seemingly confirmed the lack of military preparedness. ”We were postured as appropriately as we can be and we thought we should be around the world. It wasn’t just in Africa, in North Africa, that we had issues. We had issues around the world.”

“Appropriately postured”–but with “issues”?

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) remained skeptical of Hamm’s assessment. ”The extraction took an exceptionally long amount of time,” he noted. ”I still don’t understand, with two men down by 10:00 p.m. local time and then another attack at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, how at 6:05 in the morning the Department of Defense prepares a C-17 to go down, and that doesn’t actually depart Germany until 2:15 p.m. and doesn’t return back to Germany until 10:19 p.m. I have flown with you from Germany to Libya. It is not that far a flight.”

Another infuriating fact revealed by the documents regards a FAST team of Marines in Rota, Spain. They were apparently forced to deplane and change out of their uniforms before flying to Libya. “When we got people down do you really have — do you really actually let somebody push the military around and say, well, you are in the wrong uniform,” Chaffetz asked in disbelief. “Is that really a reason to delay the FAST team coming in to protect Americans, that they are not wearing a t-shirt?”

Nothing should surprise anyone with regard to Benghazi anymore. Not the administration’s wholesale lying about a video. Not the callousness of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who wondered aloud in congressional testimony, “what difference at this point does it make?” regarding the how and why of the attack. Not the equal amount of callousness demonstrated by a president who handed off responsibility for the operations to Panetta and Dempsey, and promptly disappeared, even as he showed up at a Las Vegas fundraiser the next day with his oft-repeated campaign slogan that was also a lie: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead,” Obama told the audience.

That would be the same al Qaeda that, according to CNN, “appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.”

The can be no doubt any longer what the president knew and when he knew it. On September 11, 2012 four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack. The president was aware of that reality shortly after 5 p.m. EST, even as a drone flew over the battlefield relaying video in real time. And despite all the lying, and incompetence, not a single person has been fired or held accountable, nor has even one member of the media asked the president where he was between the time he left Panetta and Dempsey, and boarded a plan for the fundraiser in Las Vegas.

Last Sunday, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates may have inadvertently given America some insight in that regard. He was describing Obama with regard to Afghanistan. “As I write in the book, it was this absence of passion, this absence of a conviction of the importance of success that disturbed me,” Gates said.

Americans might ask themselves whether that lack of compassion and absence of conviction extended to Benghazi.

Or perhaps former Carter campaign worker Pat Caddell had it right at an Accuracy in Media conference in June of 2012, when he lambasted the media and their unrelenting efforts to cover for Obama. “If a President of either party—I don’t care whether it was Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or George Bush or Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush—had a terrorist incident, and got on an airplane after saying something, and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified!” he declared.

Perhaps that time is coming.

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Photo: Reuters

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