This stinks to high heaven

October 29, 2012

Last month’s jobs data according to the household survey was thoroughly implausible. It found that the economy created 873 thousand new jobs in a single month, driving unemployment from 8.1% to 7.8%. That number was wildly at odds with the establishment survey (114 thousand), and its like had not been seen since the height of the Reagan-era boom. (Does it feel like the Reagan boom right now?)

The Obama campaign made the most of this, but not to worry. If the number was a statistical error, which seems likely, it will be balanced out by the October report.

Or perhaps not. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is talking about delaying the October jobs report until after the election. Their excuse is Hurricane Sandy.

UPDATE: The numbers came out on schedule after all, and the unemployment rate did increase from 7.8 to 7.9. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics calls that “essentially unchanged”.)

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Government-run health care

October 29, 2012

This somehow got left out of the Olympics’ paean to the National Health Service:

A 29-year-old woman will die without a new drug that the NHS is refusing to provide despite the manufacturer offering it to her for free, it emerged today. Caroline Cassin, 29, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (CF) has been offered a new drug free of charge for a limited period by the makers but her NHS hospital is refusing.

The drug, effectively allows sufferers to lead a normal life, and has been available in America since January, and is successfully trialled and licenced in this country. However it has not yet been approved for use on the NHS and an expert specialist group is due to make recommendations to health service funding organisations by December.

Procedures take precedence over people’s lives. That’s government-run health care in a nutshell. And that’s what Obamacare is bringing to this country.

(Via Instapundit.)


“Manufactured here in China”

October 29, 2012

Cheating

October 29, 2012

In case you were wondering, yes, Obama is still collecting illegal campaign contributions. As in 2008, he has disabled the standard checks that would prevent foreigners from contributing to his campaign. And, if that weren’t enough of an indication of mens rea, foreigners are being encouraged to give the strange amount of $198. This makes sense when you learn that contributions of $200 or more must be reported to the FEC.


“Otherizing” Romney

October 29, 2012

One leftist meme that I first heard this election year, but apparently goes back at least to 2008, is the racism inherent in observing — or merely “dog-whistling” — that Barack Obama is not like most Americans. Obama may have been raised in Indonesia and mentored by radicals upon his return to the United States, but none of that is a legitimate subject for discussion.

On the other hand, “otherizing” (not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s not really a word) is central to Obama’s campaign against Mitt Romney. The centerpiece is Romney’s Mormonism of course, but it’s dangerous to be too overt about that, so they use his vocabulary as stand-in.

The vocabulary line of attack was one of the very first that Obama adopted when Romney became his presumptive opponent:

President Obama is not only starting to cite Mitt Romney by name, he is seeking to link his likely Republican opponent to at least two things. One, the Republican budget developed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Two, the word “marvelous.” . . .

Obama said Romney is “very supportive of this new budget, and he even called it ‘marvelous’ — which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.”

“It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.”

The New York Times is chiming in with a piece on Romney’s quaint, clean vocabulary. A sample:

At a campaign stop in Rockford, Ill., not long ago, Mitt Romney sought to convey his feelings for his wife, Ann. “Smitten,” he said. . .

It was a classic Mittism, as friends and advisers call the verbal quirks of the Republican presidential candidate. In Romneyspeak, passengers do not get off airplanes, they “disembark.” People do not laugh, they “guffaw.” Criminals do not go to jail, they land in the “big house.” Insults are not hurled, “brickbats” are.

But is his vocabulary really so unusual? Byron York looked into it and found that the New York Times itself likes those same words:

Anyone check frequency with which those words appear in NYT? ‘Smitten’? 707 times in past five years. ‘Guffaw’ 109 times. ‘Brickbat,’ 63.

So all that stuff about vocabulary is really just cover. They’re really just talking about his odd refusal to use profanity, which points directly back to Mormonism.

Now, the left is always fabricating racist connotations out of whole cloth. But we can be sure I’m committing the same error here — drawing a connection to Romney’s religion that isn’t there — because they make it explicit:

His Mormon faith frowns on salty language, and so does he. A man of relentless self-discipline, he made clear to lawmakers in Boston and colleagues in business that even in matters of vocabulary, he “held himself to a high standard of behavior.”

In the end, it’s a strange line of attack. There’s a lot wrong with Mormonism, theologically speaking, but attacking Mormons’ commitment to personal morality is fundamentally wrong-headed. More than that, it’s telling. The Democratic ticket has lately been flaunting their vulgarity, and clearly they think America is with them.


Department of precrime

October 29, 2012

Barack Obama has some troubling ideas on fighting crime:

And so what can we do to intervene, to make sure that young people have opportunity; that our schools are working; that if there’s violence on the streets, that working with faith groups and law enforcement, we can catch it before it gets out of control.

And so what I want is a — is a comprehensive strategy. Part of it is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. But part of it is also going deeper and seeing if we can get into these communities and making sure we catch violent impulses before they occur.

(Emphasis mine.)

Much of this is standard pablum. I can’t help observing that Obama has been president for four years; if he has ideas for using outreach to fight crime, why isn’t he doing it already? And then there’s the ignorant/dishonest call for gun control. But what this about “catch[ing] violent impulses before they occur”?

It’s hard not to see this as sinister. Barring time travel, how is this to be accomplished? Gossip? Pervasive real-time surveillance? Psychological profiling? Is there any interpretation of this that is consistent with a free society?


That was then

October 27, 2012

Remember this guy?

If you were looking for a bunch of partisan rhetoric, I’m probably not your guy.

Or this one?

If you can’t beat your opponent’s ideas, you distort those ideas — maybe you just make some up. If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as somebody people should run away from. You make big elections about small things.

Or this one?

We have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name calling. . .

Me either.


NYT still peddling obsolete spin

October 27, 2012

Astonishingly, the New York Times still seems to think that the Benghazi attack was sparked by a YouTube video:

Beyond the political issues, the film may carry the risk of associating Mr. Obama with any backlash in a Muslim world already inflamed by the YouTube trailer for an insulting film portrayal of its prophet. In September riots erupted in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere as Muslim crowds reacted violently to what they perceived as the unforgivable insults of a scratch production, “The Innocence of Muslims,” some of which was posted on YouTube.

I guess when the Obama campaign switched to their new we-knew-it-was-terrorism-all-along story, the memo didn’t get to the NYT’s television reporters.

Well, at least they ran a correction:

An earlier version of this article misstated the title for Howard T. Owens. He is the president of the National Geographic Channel, not the chief executive.

Oh.

(Via the Corner.)


We knew our story was BS all along

October 27, 2012

Taking their cue from the Obama campaign and the legacy media (but I repeat myself), Obama’s supporters are now saying that Obama called the 9/11/2012 attack terrorism from day one. That’s nonsense, of course, but what’s even more odd is how they seem to think somehow that exonerates him in the Benghazi cover-up.

Quite the contrary, it makes it much worse. They spent a month blaming a YouTube video for the attack. If he now claims that he knew it was terrorism all along, he is admitting that he spent a month lying to the American people.

(Previous post.)


Zefram Cochrane, call your office

October 27, 2012

MSNBC reports that, during his skydive from space, daredevil Felix Baumgartner exceeded the speed of light. Tell me again about the legacy media’s vaunted fact-checkers and editors. . .

BONUS SNARK: The second update here is just mean. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; she’s got it coming.


Exploding toilets

October 27, 2012

One of the scourges the environmental movement has inflicted on us is the low-flow toilet, which reduce flushing power to conserve water. (ASIDE: Of course, at the same time, they have inflicted other policies — such as mandatory washing of garbage for recycling purposes — that waste water. The important thing, I guess, is to lower living standards.) Since 1994, all new residential toilets have been required to use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush. The law was extended to commercial buildings in 1997.

As everyone who has used them knows, low-flow toilets are often ineffective. One strategy to improve their performance is to release the water under high pressure.

Problem: high-pressure toilets can explode.


Second Amendment, what’s that?

October 27, 2012

We need some sort of mandatory civics class for Congress:

Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) on Wednesday forgot what the Second Amendment was when asked about it during a debate in McAllen, Texas.

“I’m drawing a blank on the Second Amendment, but I think it’s the weapons, isn’t it? The NRA?” he said, according to The Monitor.


Low information voter

October 27, 2012

The head of the Democratic party has never heard of President Obama’s kill list. When asked about it, she clearly thinks the questioner is a wacko:

Of course, if you’re not paying attention, the idea does sound rather outlandish. If you’re not paying attention.


L’etat, c’est moi

October 27, 2012

Barack Obama:

When Tunisians began to protest, this nation, me, my administration, stood with them earlier than just about any other country.

POSTSCRIPT: Also, it’s not remotely true.


Obama: military genius

October 25, 2012

Michael Ramirez explains:

But hey, he killed Obama, right? Oh, about that. . .


OMG

October 25, 2012

And if that weren’t bad enough, the same idea was the basis of an ad earlier this year, for Vladimir Putin.


“I always say what I mean”

October 19, 2012

Joe Biden reaches out — twice! — to the families of those who have served in the war in Iran. But hey, Joe Biden always says what he means.

POSTSCRIPT: I’m just old enough to remember the last time we had troops in Iran.


Rules are made to be broken, I guess

October 19, 2012

CNN admits that Candy Crowley deliberately gave Obama more time than Romney in the last debate:

On why Obama got more time to speak, it should be noted that Candy and her commission producers tried to keep it even but that Obama went on longer largely because he speaks more slowly.

Since Romney made better use of his time, Crowley gave Obama more time to compensate. This violated the rules of the debate (indeed, any debate), since the rules allot time, not words, but Crowley didn’t care about that.


Arrow

October 18, 2012

So I watched the pilot for the new television show Arrow, which is based on the DC superhero Green Arrow. The show begins with Oliver Queen (soon to be Arrow) shipwrecked on a desert island. During his time stranded, Queen has developed superhuman strength and agility, and curiously has also become a master bowyer and fletcher, and has learned to hack computer systems. Queen is then rescued and returns to Starling City (in the original comic it was Star City), a city apparently populated entirely by beautiful young people and homeless.

I was never into the DC universe, but I understand that Green Arrow was a liberal superhero, and I have to say, they nailed it. Once Queen becomes Arrow, his first act is to assault one Adam Hunt (a generic wealthy man who happens to be one of the few unattractive people in the city). He disables or kills Hunt’s bodyguards and extorts him for several million dollars. When Hunt refuses to hand over the demanded money by Queen’s deadline, Queen invades Hunt’s home, disabling or killing several more bodyguards, and hacks his computer to steal the money. He then anonymously distributes the money to the needy.

We know that Queen’s violent criminal conduct is morally okay, because his ex-girlfriend is leading a class-action lawsuit against Hunt for unspecified misdeeds, and because Hunt’s name is on a list of bad people that Queen’s father gave him just before he died.

Queen incidentally happens to be a billionaire, but nevertheless he finances his do-goodery with stolen money, rather than with his own.

I don’t know how well Arrow’s producers have captured the essence of Green Arrow (I always assumed he was more of a superhero and less of a supervillain), but I do think they have done an excellent job of capturing the essence of the Occupy Wall Street wing of modern liberalism.


ZOMG!

October 18, 2012

Could Mitt Romney possibly be leading among Jews? Wow. If so, stuff like this probably has something to do with it.

(Via Instapundit.)


Taking the “living constitution” rather too far

October 18, 2012

Chris Matthews, MSNBC’s deranged anchor, says it’s unconstitutional for people to refuse to let the president interrupt them:

I don’t think [Romney] understands the Constitution of the United States. He’s the president of the United States.  You don’t say, ‘You’ll get your chance.’

Here’s the exchange that got Matthews so upset:

ROMNEY: How much did you cut them by?

OBAMA: I’m happy to answer the question.

ROMNEY: All right. And it is — I don’t think anyone really believes that you’re a person who’s going to be pushing for oil and gas and coal. [Gestures.] You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking.

Matthews seems to think that the Constitution makes the president a king, to whom Americans must show deference. Certainly someone misunderstands the Constitution here, but it’s not Romney.


I did not know that

October 17, 2012

President Obama entertains celebrity guests in the White House Situation Room.


Good point

October 17, 2012

Regarding the remarkable fact that judicial nominations have not come up in any debate thus far (and probably will not come up in the foreign policy debate), Glenn Reynolds makes the trenchant observation:

Given the media’s sympathies, you can pretty much assume that if a topic hasn’t come up in the debates, it’s because they think talking about it is bad for Obama.

Indeed, I think there are few areas where the gap between elite and mainstream opinion is wider than the debate between originalism and the “living constitution”.


US appoints anti-Semite to human rights forum

October 17, 2012

For a president who wants to convince Jewish voters that he is not hostile to Israel, this is a peculiar move:

An outspoken critic of Israel who once said the Jewish state should be added to the list of 9/11 terror suspects was recently selected by the Obama administration to participate in an international forum on human rights — sparking outcry from watchdog groups.

The participant, Muslim Public Affairs Council founder Salam al-Marayati, was tapped to be part of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe forum in Poland.

Al-Marayati’s first reaction on 9/11 was that Israel was responsible, and he has insinuated that Israel runs US foreign policy. He defends terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah. His organization (the Muslim Public Affairs Council) engages in the crudest blood libels, such as accusing Israel of harvesting organs from Palestinians. More here.

But the State Department assures us that he’s no anti-Semite. That’s a relief.

POSTSCRIPT: No wonder that approximately zero percent of Israelis believe that Obama is friendly to Israel.


How to hold a better debate

October 17, 2012

I never watch debates any more, and last night’s debate perfectly illustrates why not. In a worthwhile debate, the participants would make comprehensive arguments buttressed by facts. Nothing remotely like that happens in the dreadful political shows that we put on today and call debates.

The very format of political debates prevents any kind of sophisticated argument. The participants are typically given about two minutes to respond to a question, with no chance to prepare in advance, and no time even to consider their answer unless they happen to go second. No notes are permitted, so participants can use only the facts and arguments that they can commit to memory. All this leads to a mere exchange of soundbites, not the clash of reasoned arguments.

Plus, the questions are often stupid. And, worst of all, the moderators — who no one cares about at all — often insist on inserting themselves into the middle of the debate.

And then there’s the whole matter of bias in procedure. Obama and Biden have been given more time in every single debate this year, nine extra minutes in all. The moderators have interrupted Romney/Ryan more times than Obama/Biden in every single debate this year, by a total margin of 74 to 33, when they ought not ever interrupt except to enforce time. Last night Obama got the last word eight times, and Romney only three.

Here’s what they should do instead:

  1. The questions should be determined in advance. Both sides are thereby given the opportunity to prepare an argument.
  2. Notes are permitted. Candidates can bring an entire briefing book if they want, although they may well find that counterproductive. The candidates are thereby empowered to present their best arguments, not just the arguments that they can best commit to memory. The most beneficial ability would be critical thought, rather than memorization, which would align much better with the traits needed to govern effectively.
  3. Each candidate is given the time to make a comprehensive argument. I would suggest that the debate consist of six questions, with 14 minutes per question. (Fewer for longer would be even better, but I suppose the viewing public no longer has the attention span for that.) Each question would be a miniature Lincoln-Douglas debate (by which I refer to the 1858 debates, not the elaborately structured debates that go by that name today). One candidate would make an initial statement for 4 minutes. The second would then get 6 minutes to make his case. Finally the first candidate would get 2 minutes for rebuttal. The remaining two minutes would be spent on 30 seconds of applause after each segment, and 30 minutes for the moderator to read the question.
  4. The candidates would alternate giving the first answer. The first to go first would be determined by a coin flip, which would take place after the order of questions is determined.
  5. Time would be enforced automatically, with each candidate’s microphone active only when it is his turn to speak. A clock showing the time remaining for the current speaker would be visible to each candidate.
  6. The moderator would do nothing other than introduce the candidate, explain the rules, and read the questions. At other times the moderator’s microphone would be inactive.
  7. No applause is permitted other than during the designed times.

The winner in this format would be the candidate who could produce and deliver the best argument, rather than the candidate who can memorize and deliver the best sound bites. I believe it would therefore benefit conservative and libertarian candidates, who have the best arguments. But surely liberals believe otherwise. (It would be interesting to see them develop their class warfare themes into six-minute arguments.)

We would learn a lot about the confidence that politicians have in their ideas by their response to such a proposal. It is telling that Jim Lehrer, who largely let the candidate debate, and only intervened on Obama’s behalf a little bit, has been the target of such vitriol from the left, while the much more interventionist Raddatz and Crowley have been highly praised. Do liberals need a vapid format and interventionist moderator to win debates? We would see.


Taking responsibility

October 17, 2012

Jim Geraghty has some interesting observations about Barack Obama and taking responsibility.


Moderately dishonest

October 17, 2012

Before last night’s presidential debate, Candy Crowley, the moderator, made it clear that she intended to inject herself into the debate, despite the rules clearly prohibiting that. And so she did.

In the egregious intervention everyone is talking about today, Crowley took it upon herself to insert some in-line fact checking, contradicting Mitt Romney to say that Barack Obama had called the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack the day after it took place.

The moderator should not be putting herself between the two candidates this way (particularly since the rules clearly prohibit it), but what makes Crowley’s intervention so egregious is she was wrong.

In Obama’s speech on September 12, he used the word terror one time:

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for

Note that he did not say “these acts of terror”, which is what Candy Crowley apparently thought he said. That would have been a clear statement that the Benghazi attack was a terrorist attack.

One can argue that making that statement in a speech about the Benghazi attack implies that it was a terrorist attack. But that is debatable. He made the statement about acts of terror after mentioning the 9/11/2001 attacks, so he need not have been referring to Benghazi for the statement to be germane.

Moreover, still earlier in the speech, Obama said “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” clearly indicating that (in his view) the attack resulted from the anti-Mohammed YouTube video. This contradicts the notion that it was a terrorist attack, as a terrorist attack — by definition — must be premeditated. And, moreover, the protest-gone-bad theory was clearly the administration’s position for weeks after the attack, as Crowley herself admits.

There’s more. Obama’s remarks were not taken at the time to imply that the attack was terrorism. Both the Associated Press and New York Times made no mention of any such implication in their reports on the speech. (Via Brendan Buck.) The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler says “there is a world of difference” between what Obama said and acknowledging Benghazi as an act of terror. (Via Mickey Kaus.)

On September 20, White House spokesman Jay Carney agreed that the administration had never called the attack terrorism:

Q No, I just hadn’t heard the White House say that this was an act of terrorism or a terrorist attack. And I just —

MR. CARNEY: I don’t think the fact that we hadn’t is not —

(Via American Crossroads.)

Carney refers to “the fact” that the White House hadn’t said that it was an act of terrorism.

Finally, on September 21, Crowley’s own network, CNN, reported:

The White House, for the first time Thursday, declared the attack that killed Stevens and three other people a terrorist attack.

That Thursday, on which the White House declared the attack terrorism “for the first time”, was eight days after the Obama remarks in question.

All in all, the interpretation of Obama’s September 12 remarks as calling the 9/11/2012 attack terrorism is quite debatable. And, wouldn’t you know it, there was actually a debate going on! She should have let the debate happen, rather than dragging it to a halt with her own misinformation.

UPDATE: Added some additional points observed by Mickey Kaus, who comments:

You could say that Obama was calling this attack an “act of terror.” Or you could say that Obama was using the phrase “act of terror” in the vicinity of discussing the “attack” to come close to labeling it an act of terror without actually, logically doing so, preserving his freedom to not do so in the future.

I think that’s probably right; this was a deliberate obfuscation, intended to provide opportunities for future spin. The candidate, not the moderator, should be delivering that spin.

UPDATE: Michael Ramirez nails it, as usual.

(Previous post.)


3 AM call forwarding

October 15, 2012

During the 2008 Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton argued that America would be safer if she were the one making security decisions.

And apparently she is:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

“I take responsibility” for what happened on September 11, Clinton said in an interview. . . President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, Clinton said.

Is Clinton falling on her sword here (which would be very, very atypical for a Clinton) or are they playing some sort of devious political game? As much as Obama would like to be out from under the Benghazi debacle, being seen as completely out of the loop probably isn’t good either.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Contrast with this:

Reagan takes blame for Beirut bombing

President Reagan said today he as chief executive accepts full responsibility for the terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. servicemen. In a hurriedly scheduled press appearance in the White House press room, Reagan said the local Marine commanders “should not be punished” for the lack of proper security in the suicide attack.

“If there is to be blame, it properly rests here in this office, with this president,” Reagan said.

Reagan also never claimed that the attack was a protest against Flashdance that spun out of control.

(Previous post.)


Returning to the dark ages

October 15, 2012

What? There could be consequences for abandoning hydrocarbon and nuclear power? Who ever could have predicted such a thing?

Philipp Rosler said Germany is faced with a repeat of the power shortages experienced last year that threatened to plunge parts of the country into darkness.

“Last winter we had a pretty tense situation, and this year we could see the same again, and perhaps even next year as well,” he said in an interview with the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

The move away from old forms of energy production has become one of Chancellor Angel Merkel’s key policies, and the government wants four fifths of German energy produced by renewable sources by 2050.

I’m sure that people suffering in the cold and the dark will take comfort from their low carbon footprint.


Eternal vigilance is the price of media bias

October 15, 2012

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the distressing headline:

Investigation continues after 3 shot at football field at old Peabody High

Distressing, but also strange. Why refer to a school by its old name?

Answer: The current name is the “Barack Obama Academy”.


Pathetic

October 15, 2012

The New York Times says that Republican cuts to the State Department’s budget are to blame for the Benghazi consulate attack. We are to believe that the State Department just didn’t have the money for competent security!

The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy. . .

ASIDE: Oh, I get the hypocrisy all right. . . The New York Times is saying that it’s wrong to criticize security and also cut advocate cuts to spending on security, a surprising position given the NYT’s positions on the war in Iraq.

Of course, the NYT doesn’t mean a word of it. They just want this thing to go away. And they’re doing their part by keeping it off the front page, which was too much even for the NYT ombudsman.

The Congressional hearings on Benghazi resulted in major revelations, such as (1) contrary to the administration’s story, there was no protest at all before the attack, (2) Benghazi security relied on a local militia that hadn’t been paid in months, and (3) Washington wouldn’t even respond to requests for more security.

All this, and more, the NYT editors deemed insufficiently newsworthy: “I didn’t think there was anything significantly new in it,” and “There were six better stories.” Those better stories included Lance Armstrong (the lead story), taped phone calls at JPMorgan Chase, and a woman who died of meningitis.

Back when Benghazi looked like a negative for Romney, they weren’t so reticent. The editors who were “wary of the political nature of the hearing,” had no problem running a front page story attacking Mitt Romney’s remarks on Cairo and Benghazi.

It’s only news if it’s bad for Romney.

(Previous post.)


Defenseless

October 15, 2012

The Telegraph reports new details on the ineffective security at the Benghazi consulate:

A small British firm based in south Wales had secured a contract to provide security for American diplomatic facilities in Benghazi despite having only a few months experience in the country.

Sources have told the Daily Telegraph that just five unarmed locally hired Libyans were placed on duty at the compound on eight-hour shifts under a deal that fell outside the State Department’s global security contracting system.

Blue Mountain, the [British] firm that won a $387,000 (£241,000) one year contract from the US State Department to protect the compound in May, sent just one British employee, recruited from the celebrity bodyguard circuit, to oversee the work. . .

Other firms in the security industry expressed surprise that Blue Mountain had won a large, high profile contract from the US government. One industry executive said the level of service Blue Mountain provided did not appear adequate to the risks presented by a lawless city. . .

The New York Times last week reported that major security firms with a track record of guarding US premises elsewhere had made approaches to undertake work in Libya but were rebuffed.

The story goes on to say that in addition to having little experience, Blue Mountain was on bad terms with the local authorities. On the eve of the attack, relations between Blue Mountain and its local partners had broken down.

No wonder the State Department originally denied hiring Blue Mountain.

(Previous post.)


Priorities

October 15, 2012

After the 9/11/2012 attack, President Obama apparently jetted off to Las Vegas for a campaign stop without first meeting with his national security team. (I say “apparently” because David Axelrod refused to answer the question, which he surely would have if he had been able to answer yes.)

(Previous post.)


Good thing voter fraud never, ever happens

October 15, 2012

James O’Keefe catches Obama campaign staffers assisting in voter fraud.


We never believed any of that stuff we said

October 15, 2012

The State Department now says they never believed that that Benghazi consulate attack was a protest that spun out of control. They have no explanation for why they kept saying otherwise:

When asked to explain the discrepancy, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she was too “dumb” to explain it. Yes, she really did.

(Previous post.)


The “investigation”

October 15, 2012

Remember how the Obama administration said it couldn’t give out accurate information on the 9/11/2012 attack because the investigation was ongoing? (ASIDE: The excuse, employed countless times by the Obama administration, that they can’t give out accurate information with an investigation ongoing, is complete nonsense, but never mind that.) They have a funny idea of “ongoing”.

The investigators didn’t arrive in Benghazi until October 4. That’s 23 days after the attack.

And recall that they didn’t even secure the compound in the meantime. I’m not sure why the investigators bothered to go at all.

(Previous post.)


Defenseless

October 15, 2012

The Benghazi scandal keeps getting worse. According to congressional testimony, when State Department security officer Eric Nordstrom requested more security for the Benghazi consulate on two separate occasions, the State Department didn’t even respond.

Instead, the consulate was left to depend on a local militia for protection, a militia that had not been paid in months:

(Previous post.)


The Benghazi attack

October 15, 2012

Power Line has a detailed account of how the 9/11/2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate went down, excerpted from a State Department briefing for reporters.

The briefers also took questions and admitted that they had no idea why the administration had put out such bad information for so long.

(Previous post.)


No protest at Benghazi consulate

October 15, 2012

For days after the 9/11/2012 attack, the Obama administration peddled this asinine story about how the attack on the Benghazi consulate was a protest that spun out of control. We knew that wasn’t true on the very first day, and so did the administration, but it it took them over a week to admit it.

But it’s far worse than that. Not only was the attack not a protest that spun out of control, there was no protest. The incident began with an explosion and gunfire.

I saw it suggested, somewhere in the alternative media, that this was the case, but it sounded implausible. If the administration was claiming that the attack was a protest that spun out of control, surely there must at least have been a protest! Surely no one could be so dishonest as to make up such a story without at least having some elementary facts to build on. As it turns out, yes, these people are that dishonest.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s an interesting coda to this development. Why did the administration finally tell the truth? ABC News explains in the video linked above:

A big part of this, Diane, is because you have this major congressional hearing tomorrow, and they wanted to get this out now.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)


Biden: no more tanks

October 15, 2012

Joe Biden says the Army doesn’t need tanks any more. Wow.


Success has a thousand fathers

October 13, 2012

Tom Maguire observes that Obama wants to have it both ways: When intelligence succeeds, as by locating Osama Bin Laden, that’s an administration success. “Obama killed Osama Bin Laden!” But when intelligence fails, as in the Benghazi debacle, it has nothing to do with the Obama administration.

Except it’s worse than that. The intelligence that located Bin Laden used methods vehemently opposed by Obama. And, Benghazi wasn’t a failure of intelligence, but a failure to listen to intelligence.

(Previous post.)


Libya risk seen as high

October 13, 2012

The Obama administration was warned of the dangers in Libya:

Less than two months before the fatal attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department concluded that the risk of violence to diplomats and other Americans in Libya was high and that the weak U.S.-backed government in Tripoli could do little about it.

“The risk of U.S. Mission personnel, private U.S. citizens and businesspersons encountering an isolating event as a result of militia or political violence is HIGH,” a State Department security assessment from July 22 concludes.

But, according to security officer Eric Nordstrom, the administration was determined to give the impression that Libya was safe.

(Previous post.)


Invitation to fraud

October 13, 2012

The New York Times reports:

Computer security experts have identified vulnerabilities in the voter registration databases in two states, raising concerns about the ability of hackers and others to disenfranchise voters. . . It took The New York Times less than three minutes to track down the information online needed to update the registrations of several prominent executives in Washington State.

Fixing this problem would somehow be racist, I’m sure.

(Via Instapundit.)


Sovereign immunity

October 13, 2012

Obama’s Justice Department says that citizens cannot challenge the constitutionality of a law without the government’s consent. No, really:

The Justice Department also argues that the court doesn’t have the right to determine the constitutionality of the law in this case because of “sovereign immunity,” a long-standing legal principle that exempts the government from lawsuits unless the government consents.

Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School and former computer-crime attorney at the Justice Department, said sovereign immunity usually is applied in lawsuits against the government that seek monetary damages, not in cases disputing the constitutionality of a law.

“I would say this is a puzzling argument,” he said. “There has to be a way to challenge the constitutionality of the law.”

The Justice Department declined to comment on the matter of sovereign immunity.

I that in this case declining to comment indicates a recognition that they haven’t a leg to stand on.

POSTSCRIPT: The administration’s argument arises in a case involving a progressive telephone company (a phrase that I previously would not have thought meaningful), that, for ideological reasons, doesn’t want to comply with a National Security Letter. The company is a peculiar civil-liberty crusader, though. They once tried to have the broadcast license for Fox News revoked.


Rule of law

October 13, 2012

John Yoo says in a new paper that Obama’s decision (without the consent of Congress) not to enforce immigration law is unconstitutional. I think he’s right.


Smart diplomacy

October 13, 2012

Barack Obama wanted to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A laudable goal, perhaps, but his strategy for achieving that goal was for America to show weakness. The idea was that our weakness would set a good example for other countries to emulate. Obama’s critics said this was dangerous nonsense; weakness never breeds conciliation in our enemies, but aggression.

Well, we now know who was right. Sigh.


The buck stops with those poor bastards over there

October 12, 2012

The White House now says that Biden didn’t lie last night when he said “we did not know they wanted more security” in Benghazi. According to the White House, Biden was referring to Obama and Biden personally, not to the Obama administration.

So once again, this president won’t take responsibility for his own administration’s actions.

UPDATE: Non-sequitur alert: Jay Carney says that Biden “obviously” wasn’t referring to the administration not knowing, since that isn’t true.

(Previous post.)


Cuba’s nukes

October 12, 2012

The Cuban Missile Crisis was even scarier than we previously thought. It turns out that in November 1962, a month after America thought the crisis had ended, the Soviet Union still had tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba. The United States had never known they were present, and so never demanded their removal.

The Soviets took them back when they became alarmed at Castro’s erratic behavior. He considered the weapons his, and was on the verge of announcing to the world that Cuba was a nuclear power.


Union crooks, government facilitators

October 12, 2012

An Inspector General investigation has found that in 92% of cases, union books are violation of federal disclosure laws. However, the Department of Labor’s audit process, which is supposed to uncover such violations, found only a tiny fraction (16%).


Turkey intercepts Russian passenger plane

October 12, 2012

By the way, the world keeps turning while our election season plods on:

Turkey’s confrontation with Syria spread on Thursday to include Russia, Syria’s principal military ally, when Turkey’s prime minister said Russian munitions intended for Syria’s government had been impounded from a Syrian commercial jetliner forced to land in Turkey.

Syria and Russia protested the interception and grounding of the jetliner. Turkish warplanes forced it to land on Wednesday on suspicion of transporting war matériel while en route from Moscow to Damascus with 35 passengers, including a number of Russians.

Oh my.

(Via Via Media.)


Jackass

October 12, 2012

Well, that was interesting. . . I never watch the debates any more — I generally find them insufferable — but I followed it on Twitter and it was pretty easy to get a sense of it. There’s a saying, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. Joe Biden came in with a third option: blanket them with bluster.

Biden incessantly made faces and scoffed aloud as Ryan was speaking. He also interrupted Paul Ryan 82 times by one count!

I think Michael Barone has it right that a bluster show can work when the audience already agrees with you, but not when they are undecided. This seems to be backed up by CNN’s dial group (for whatever that’s worth), and by CNN’s post-debate poll, which found that registered voters who watched the debate thought that Ryan won by a narrow 48-44 margin. The poll oversampled Republicans by 3 points, so I think we should call this a tie. (A couple other polls found wildly varying results, but both were internet polls of some flavor. CNN’s seems to be the only conventional poll.)

Before the debate, Republicans were salivating about the VP debate, since Biden is an idiot after all. But I read another commentator (sorry, I don’t recall whom) who disagreed. He pointed out that Biden is utterly unconstrained by the truth and could score points just by making stuff up. And that’s just what happened, at least as far as making stuff up (whether he scored points with his lies is harder to say).

ASIDE: Recall how Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign foundered in part because of an incident in which he blustered that he was much smarter than a man he was talking to, based on a set of achievements that he made up. (His campaign also foundered because he was caught plagiarizing speeches and even elements of the life story of a British politician.)

To be clear, I’m not echoing the Obama campaign’s spin of Romney’s debate victory, in which they argued that Romney looked nothing like Obama’s straw-man caricature of him because Romney (not Obama) was lying about all of Romney’s plans. I’m talking about simple facts. For example: Biden falsely said that the Benghazi consulate did not request more security. He falsely said that the HSS contraception/abortifacient mandate does not apply to religious organizations. He even claimed (falsely, of course) to have voted against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The upshot of all this is the Democratic base will be very happy with Biden’s performance, hence the Democrats crowing about his smashing victory. However, he probably lost a little ground with independents. How does this play out in the race as a whole? Democratic partisans who have been depressed since the presidential debate will be encouraged, and Obama needed that (particularly since that group contains the press), but nothing here breaks up Romney’s momentum with independents.

UPDATE: “Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

October 10, 2012

Paul Krugman is a master of two disciplines: international economics — which he no longer practices — and lying with statistics. His latest work is classic. He offers the following graph as evidence that Obama’s economic policies are working:

So employment is back where it was before the recession. Great! (It’s surprising that no one knew this, but okay.)

Except it’s not. Not remotely. If you look carefully at the y-axis, you see “Chg. from Yr. Ago”. The graph doesn’t show employment, it shows the derivative of employment!

We haven’t gotten the jobs back. On the contrary, we’ve only gotten job growth back to where it was as the economy turned into recession. There’s no hint here that we will ever get back the jobs we lost.

Here’s the thing about Krugman: He has a Nobel prize; he knows the difference between x and dx/dt. But he thinks his readers won’t notice.

(Via Power Line.)


Presumption of bias

October 10, 2012

Oh, good grief:

President Barack Obama was a guest at the 1991 wedding of ABC senior foreign correspondent and vice presidential debate moderator Martha Raddatz, The Daily Caller has learned. Obama and groom Julius Genachowski, whom Obama would later tap to head the Federal Communications Commission, were Harvard Law School classmates at the time and members of the Harvard Law Review.

After first trying to stiff-arm the Daily Caller, ABC ultimately admitted that Obama attended. They then resorted to the standard response of a political organization: spin. They claimed that “nearly the entire Law Review” attended the wedding. However, the Daily Caller, pressing the point, found that that was implausible:

When pressed further on Tuesday for a specific number of Harvard Law Review employees in attendance at the wedding, [ABC Spokesman David] Ford could offer none, despite circulating the same unverified approximation . . .

Ford also could not provide The Daily Caller with a specific number of Harvard Law Review employees who worked with Obama and Genachowski during that year. A photo taken of the Harvard Law Review during Obama and Genachowski’s final year of law school contains 70 people.

It doesn’t seem very likely that they would invite 70 people from the law review to their wedding, does it?

My question is, what is the Commission on Presidential Debates about, anyway? This is supposed to be a bipartisan organization, but they can’t pick even a single moderator who is even a centrist, much less right of center.

(Via Instapundit.)


Well, you can’t say he’s lacking in confidence

October 9, 2012

How insulated from reality is Barack Obama? When he walked off the debate stage, he actually thought he had won.

The story also reports that he blew off debate prep thinking that he only had to show up to win. This guy actually believes his press.

(Via PJ Tatler.)


Benghazi update

October 8, 2012

The Obama administration didn’t actually believe the spontaneous-riot story they were using publicly:

In a briefing to Capitol Hill staffers delivered the day after the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the killings appeared to be the result of a terrorist attack. . .

That a State Department official of Kennedy’s rank . . . reached so swiftly the conclusion that the attacks were premeditated and coordinated stands in stark contrast to the opposing narrative pressed at that time, and for several days afterward. . .

Three days after Kennedy’s conference call, for example, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows to insist that the attacks were neither coordinated nor premeditated, but were rather the result of a spontaneous mob action. . . Rice has since told lawmakers that her comments reflected “the intelligence community’s best, current assessment as of the date of my television appearances. . .”

I actually find this reassuring. I hate dishonesty, but I think I prefer it to the kind of incompetence it would have taken actually to believe their story.

(Previous post.)


Yes Virginia, there is election fraud

October 8, 2012

The Democrats consistently defend election fraud against any kind of reform, like voter identification or purging ineligible persons from the voting rolls. Their reason for doing so is transparent, but they need to put forward a story for the gullible (a.k.a. the press). Their story is twofold: anti-fraud measures are racist, and there’s no fraud anyway.

The former argument is risible, but what about the latter? They keep telling us that there’s no fraud anywhere, and when fraud does pop up, it’s always passed off as an isolated incident. Is that plausible? With the government controlling so much today, the amount at stake is enormous. People spend hundreds of millions of dollars to influence the outcome of elections. Is it really plausible that no one would try to stuff the ballot box, especially when it is so laughably easy to do?

The truth is, we aren’t finding fraud because we aren’t looking. Democrats generally quash any effort for the government to look, but now private groups are picking up the slack. And yes, it turns out that if you look, you find fraud.

True the Vote looked at elections in New York and Florida and easily uncovered dozens of instances of fraud. Not enough to change the outcome of an election? Perhaps not, but this is just what a private organization with limited resources was able to uncover when it first started looking. Furthermore, they could only look for violations in one category (ineligible voters). For example, wrong-person voting becomes impossible to detect as soon as the fraudster walks away.

Moreover, there are major examples in which fraud did change the outcome of an election. In the 2004 Washington gubernatorial race, the Democrat won by 129 votes (after weeks of shady recounts), in which 1482 people voted illegally. Nearly all those of those were felons, who overwhelmingly vote Democrat. And then there’s the 2008 Minnesota Senate race, in which the Democrat won by 312 votes, with 1099 illegal votes from felons. That one is particularly notable, because it gave Democrats the 60th vote they needed to jam through Obamacare.

As Obamacare destroys our country over the next two decades (the CBO projects an economic collapse by 2035), remember that it only passed because the Democrats cheated.


Self-parody

October 8, 2012

The New York Times’s Nicholas Kristof laments that we let the rich have more stuff.

POSTSCRIPT: All this talk of income inequality is sheer idiocy. Margaret Thatcher nails it:

(Via James Taranto.)


Not just a river in Egypt

October 8, 2012

Mohamed Morsi commemorates Egypt’s 1973 “victory” over Israel.


How to lose a war

October 8, 2012

If we are losing in Afghanistan, here’s an indication why:

Soldiers were ordered not to open fire on Taliban fighters planting mines in case they disturb local people, it has been claimed. U.S. military chiefs ordered troops to exercise ‘courageous constraint’ and even warned them they could be charged with murder if they shot any Taliban without permission from above.

The claims were made by a former Royal Marine who spoke out following the inquest into the death of Sergeant Peter Rayner last week. At the hearing in Bradford, his widow Wendy Rayner revealed how her husband was blown up days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged.

Wow.


High-larious

October 7, 2012

In Maureen Dowd’s flight of fancy about Obama doing debate prep with the West Wing’s imaginary president Jed Bartlet, there is much to laugh at, but my favorite is this:

BARTLET [playing Romney] “I want to take that $716 billion you’ve cut and put it back into Medicare.”

OBAMA The $716 billion I’ve cut is from the providers, not the beneficiaries.

Oh! It comes from the providers, not the beneficiaries! Well, then!

Jed Bartlet is supposedly an economist, but Aaron Sorkin is not, and it shows. The idea that there is any difference between cutting from the providers and cutting from the beneficiaries is quite hilariously naive.

Honorable mention is this:

BARTLET “You doubled the deficit.”

OBAMA When I took office in 2009, the deficit was 1.4 trillion. According to the C.B.O., the deficit for 2012 will be 1.1 trillion. Either you have the mathematics aptitude of a Shetland pony or, much more likely, you’re lying.

That is so precious. Yes, if you don’t count his first year in office, Obama’s budget record doesn’t look as bad. After ballooning the deficit in the first year with his stimulus boondoggle (among other things), he can keep spending at the new elevated rate and look like a master of fiscal rectitude.

What is hilarious about this isn’t just the chutzpah of charging Obama’s stimulus plan, passed with virtually no Republican support, to President Bush. What is hilarious is to use this absurd talking point in a piece about how Romney is dishonest.

Yes, indeed; Mr. President, please take Maureen Dowd’s advice. I want to see you try to make that argument on the national stage.


Hypocrisy, thy name is Jay Carney

October 5, 2012

Is Jay Carney the world’s biggest hypocrite? Here he is on September 24:

“There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage and, in this case, that’s profoundly offensive.”

Oh, it’s desperate and offensive to grasp at words and phrases to find political advantage, is it?

September 18:

The White House slammed Mitt Romney Tuesday over a leaked video in which the Republican presidential nominee says 47 percent of the country’s population is “dependent upon government” and believes “they are victims.”

For Obama, we can’t hold him to his actual words (the attacks on our consulate and embassy are “bumps in the road”), but when it comes to Romney he’ll nitpick every word until his nitpicker gets sore.


Your lips are moving again

October 5, 2012

Is anything the Obama campaign says true? Not his attack on Mitt Romney’s tax plan:

“To pay for huge tax breaks for millionaires like him, Romney would have to raise taxes on the middle class — $2,000 for a family with children, says a nonpartisan report,” a recent Obama television ad claims. Don’t believe it, because it isn’t true.

The “nonpartisan” report Obama refers to came out in August from the left-wing Tax Policy Center, . . . purporting to show that Romney would have to eliminate $86 billion in middle-class tax breaks to pay for his 20 percent across-the-board rate reduction.

Its authors — one of whom is a recent Obama employee — have subsequently admitted that in the absence of details about Romney’s tax plan, they simply made them up. They also admitted their numbers came out wrong because they guessed which tax breaks Romney would eliminate and which ones were “off the table.”


Your lips are moving again

October 5, 2012

Here’s Barack Obama, claiming that the tax code offers incentives to move jobs overseas:

I want to do the same thing, but I’ve actually identified how we can do that. And part of the way to do it is to not give tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.

Right now, you can actually take a deduction for moving a plant overseas.

Romney’s retort (“the idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case”) was fine, but here’s the full explanation:

It’s a lie. There is no “tax break” for shipping jobs overseas. The tax code treats companies that move jobs overseas the same as anyone else. Companies pay taxes on profits, not revenues. So any business expense is subtracted from revenue before paying taxes.

The “deduction for moving a plant overseas” is exactly the same “deduction” as the one for moving a plant to America, or for buying inventory, equipment, or office supplies. You could just as well talk about “tax breaks” for abortion equipment.

The subtext for this is Democrats have proposed to alter the tax code to create tax penalties for companies that do things Democrats don’t like. (Or claim not to like, anyway.) That strikes me as very bad policy.

Moreover, it’s pretty clear that the Democrats view their proposal as politically unpopular. If they thought it would be popular, they would be forthright about it. But they’re not: rather than talking about creating tax penalties, they’re lying about closing nonexistent tax breaks.


C’mon, the rules don’t apply to Democrats!

October 5, 2012

Harry Reid violates Senate rules by using official resources for campaign purposes. But I wouldn’t hold your breath expecting there to be any consequences.

(Via Jim Treacher.)


Axelrod begs for more bias

October 5, 2012

After Obama’s drubbing in the first debate, David Axelrod begs for the media’s help:

And so today, as the day after, I think the question for you [the media], for the American people is really one of character and whether or not a candidacy that’s so fundamentally rooted in hiding the truth and the facts from the American people and deception is the basis of trust on which you assign the presidency to a person.

So that is what we are going to focus on moving forward. We’re going to hold Governor Romney accountable for the things that he said last night and we’re going to make him justify those claims – as I hope you will make him justify those claims.

This would be pathetic, if it weren’t so likely to work.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, notice Axelrod’s chutzpah here. Everyone who watched the debate now knows that Romney is nothing like the caricature in Obama’s attack ads. Clearly Romney is hiding the truth about himself.

(Via Jim Treacher.)

 


A free city in Honduras

October 5, 2012

I’d very much like to see this succeed:

Small government and free-market capitalism are about to get put to the test in Honduras, where the government has agreed to let an investment group build an experimental city with no taxes on income, capital gains or sales. Proponents say the tiny, as-yet unnamed town will become a Central American beacon of job creation and investment, by combining secure property rights with minimal government interference.

My worry is that the success of a project like this is dependent of the confidence that investors have that the government will honor its pledge. It’s not clear that the best place for this is Honduras, where an insane would-be dictator very nearly took power just a few years ago.


Gunwalker massacre

October 5, 2012

In 2010, the Mexican drug cartel slaughtered 14 children and wounded 12 more using weapons supplied by the US Government.

(Previous post.)


Ha ha ha

October 5, 2012

The truth hurts, Ms. Sawyer.


Trouble with reality

October 4, 2012

Obama today (paraphrased): Last night I debated someone who claimed to be Mitt Romney, but bore no resemblance to the straw man I’ve been attacking these many months. Tonight that guy isn’t here to rebut me, so I’m going back to attacking the straw man.


Benghazi scandal deepens

October 4, 2012

It keeps getting worse: The State Department has reportedly been cutting security in Benghazi for the last six months, even as the mission requested increased security.

(Previous post.)


The world keeps turning

October 4, 2012

Turkey’s parliament has authorized the Prime Minister to invade Syria.


Natch

October 4, 2012

Hugo Chavez endorses Barack Obama:

“If I were American, I’d vote for Obama,” Mr Chavez said in a televised interview that aired Sunday.

Actually, if Chavez were an American, we would have kept him in prison after he attempted to overthrow the government by force.

(Via Instapundit.)


China attacks White House

October 4, 2012

This is troubling:

Hackers linked to China’s government broke into one of the U.S. government’s most sensitive computer networks, breaching a system used by the White House Military Office for nuclear commands, according to defense and intelligence officials familiar with the incident.

We need to take this sort of thing seriously. We aren’t.


Please Mr. Moderator, can we stop talking about jobs?

October 4, 2012

I didn’t watch the debate (I never do any more), but if NPR isn’t even talking about who won it, and Democrats are attacking Jim Lehrer, I guess it must have gone very well.

Here’s Barack Obama crying uncle.

UPDATE: Iowahawk: “Obama traditionally struggles when debating people not made of straw.”


Rule of law, RIP

October 3, 2012

At the White House’s request, Lockheed Martin has agreed to violate the law and not send out layoff notices. The White House doesn’t want the legally-required notices to go out just days before the election, and has promised to pay any fines that Lockheed incurs from taxpayer money.

Somehow they are getting away with this. America isn’t the place that I thought it was.

If a Democratic president need not follow any law that inconveniences him, that’s all the more reason to elect only Republicans.

UPDATE: Megan McArdle comments. Bottom line:

It seems wrong to put the taxpayers on the hook for what is essentially an Obama campaign expense.

(Previous post.)


Still insecure

October 3, 2012

Three weeks after the 9/11/2012 attack, the State Department still hasn’t secured the Benghazi consulate. A Washington Post reporter was able to stroll through and collect sensitive documents. We’re beyond simple incompetence now.

(Via Byron York.) (Previous post.)


The Benghazi scandal

October 2, 2012

If the Benghazi consulate attack wasn’t a scandal before, it is now:

House investigators warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to expect a hearing into their finding that that American staff at the U.S. Embassy in Libya had their request for additional security denied by Washington officials. . .

“In addition, multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the Committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi,” Issa and Chaffetz added (my emphasis). “The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington.”

The committee noted 13 “security threats” in Benghazi, including an attempt to assassinate the British ambassador to Libya.

UPDATE: In case there was any doubt as to the veracity of this, Darrell Issa (R-CA) has released the cables.

(Previous post.)


Defenseless

October 1, 2012

How badly did the administration screw up the security at the Benghazi consulate? Pretty much as badly as possible:

An intelligence source on the ground in Libya told Fox News on Friday that no threat assessment was conducted before U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team began “taking up residence” at the Benghazi compound — describing the security lapses as a “total failure.”

The source told Fox News that there was no real security equipment installed in the villas on the compound except for a few video cameras.

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, the intelligence source said the security lapses were a 10 — a “total failure” because Benghazi was known to be a major area for extremist activity.

The revelation that no threat assessment was conducted directly contradicts the State Department’s claim (cue to 5:04 here):

We did evaluate the threat stream. And we determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew.

The article goes on to explain the security measures that should have been in place. A waiver from Washington was required to proceed without the minimum security, so who issued that waiver, and why?

(Previous post.)


The intelligence, and the insulting of ours

October 1, 2012

Within 24 hours of the 9/11/2012 consulate attack, US intelligence knew that Al Qaeda was likely responsible. (This should not surprise us, since that information leaked almost immediately.) But for some reason (despite the concerns of wiser officials), the Obama administration for days peddled nonsense about how the attack was a spontaneous response to a YouTube video.

The Washington Post has collected a chronology of the administration’s nonsense, and Fox News assembled it into a devastating special report:

UPDATE: Eli Lake has a partial explanation of how this might have come to pass. It seems that the CIA issued a “talking points” document that suggested that the attack was spontaneous, and the administration was using that. Still unanswered: how it happened that the CIA put out a document that was at odds with everything they knew, and why the White House and State Department were so unskeptical about a story that contradicted everything that was being reported.

(Previous post.)


Knock me over with a feather

October 1, 2012

In the least surprising news you will see today: Matt Damon’s anti-fracking film is funded by Middle Eastern oil interests.


The diary

October 1, 2012

The kerfuffle over Ambassador Chris Stevens’s diary is emblematic of the Obama administration’s meltdown over the Benghazi consulate attack. CNN recovered the diary from the compound where he died (astonishingly, it seems that no US personnel searched the premises), and they used it, reporting that Stevens was concerned about growing Al Qaeda activity in Libya and was concerned that he might be on a hit list.

The diary made a mockery of the State Department’s contention that there was no advance information to suggest that maybe the consulate should have some security. So, the Obama administration being the Obama administration, they counter-attacked, saying that CNN should not have used the diary. Now, I have no love lost for CNN, but they were just doing their jobs. Given a scoop of this importance, no self-respecting reporter would sit on it.

Some reporters refused to be distracted, and asked questions about the journal. Byron York asked:

Is fact that US govt didn’t know about Amb. Stevens’ diary indication US investigators didn’t get on case as quickly as White House claimed?

Indeed it was such an indication. In fact, we now know that (at least as of Saturday), the FBI investigators still have not reached Benghazi.

But the reporter who really got under their skin was BuzzFeed’s Michael Hastings, who asked Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines (Hillary Clinton’s spokesman):

Why didn’t the State Department search the consulate and find AMB Steven’s diary first? What other potential valuable intelligence was left behind that could have been picked up by apparently anyone searching the grounds? Was any classified or top secret material also left? Do you still feel that there was adequate security at the compound, considering it was not only overrun but sensitive personal effects and possibly other intelligence remained out for anyone passing through to pick up? Your statement on CNN sounded pretty defensive–do you think it’s the media’s responsibility to help secure State Department assets overseas after they’ve been attacked?

These are all very good questions, and Reines didn’t like being asked them. After a contentious exchange (in which Hastings was the first to use a mild profanity), Reines exploded:

I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated [expletive].

How’s that for a non-[expletive] response?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.

And by good day, I mean [Expletive] Off

Why would Reines lose his cool to the extent of spewing profanity? Because Hastings’s questions were unanswerable: Why didn’t they search for intelligence? Do they still maintain they had no reason for security? Is it the media’s job to collect this stuff for them? And why, as Hastings asked in exasperation during their exchange, don’t they give some answers that “aren’t [expletive] for a change?”

(Previous post.)


Regulation versus jobs

October 1, 2012

Hillary Clinton admits that regulation costs jobs. Too bad she thinks the only people who need jobs are in the Middle East.


Making stuff up

October 1, 2012

Does MSNBC have any standards at all? In their latest bit of creative reporting, they’ve been caught mis-subtitling a Romney event to make Romney seem vaguely pathetic. According to MSNBC, the crowd at a Romney-Ryan event were chanting “Ryan!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”

But, that’s not what happened. The crowds were chanting “Romney!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”

It’s hard to make out from the low-quality audio exactly what was being chanted. It clearly started with an R, but of course that doesn’t help. However, the reports from people who were there are unanimous that they chant was “Romney!” You might set aside the caller on the video, since we have no idea who that was. But there’s also BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins both in a BuzzFeed article and on Twitter. There’s National Review’s Byron York. Even the freaking New York Times reported it.

POSTSCRIPT: The video’s title refers to MSNBC “doctoring” a clip. I think that’s going a little far. They dishonestly mis-subtitled a clip, which isn’t quite the same thing.