Sunday, November 18, 2012

My 10 Questions on Benghazi

Here are my 10 questions on the Benghazi situation (scandal?):

1. Let' back up a bit. Did Libya attack the USA, and I missed it? (We were told that George Bush was wrong to take military action in Iraq – a country that had not attacked us. What justified Obama / Clinton taking military action to assist in the killing of a foreign leader in Libya? A potential massacre in Benghazi? Saddam Hussein routinely killed 100,000 of his own people every year through starvation and torture, but we were wrong to stop it there and required to stop it in Benghazi?

2. Did Libya attack NATO, and I missed it? (President Obama / Hillary Clinton / Susan Rice took military action in Libya at the behest of NATO and the Arab League, and without the consent of the US Congress – which they did not seek. Was the NATO treaty obligation triggered by an attack by Libya on a NATO signatory country and I missed it? We had no national interests in Libya. Why did we go there?)

3. Who were the “rebels” that Team Obama armed for their mission to kill Khadafi?  (President Obama signed an Executive Order authorizing the arming of “rebels” in Libya. Who were the rebels? What affiliations did they have with al-Qaida linked groups or other radical Islamist groups? What efforts were made to determine the affiliations or agendas of the “rebels”? )

4. Were any of the weapons provided by the US to the “rebels” then used in the deadly attack on our Consulate? Where did the mortars used to kill Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods originate?

5. What national interests justifies a US Consulate in Benghazi, one of the most dangerous parts of the world in the expansive and explosive “Arab Spring” movement, and were we conducting covert and nefarious business from that Consulate? ( Right before the organized terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, the US Ambassador to Libya had dinner with the Turkish ambassador. What was the purpose of that meeting? Is there fact to the rumor that we are currently running guns through Turkey to take down the next government leader – Assad of Syria?)

6. Who is responsible for the complete lack of security for a US Ambassador in a most dangerous part of the world. Embassy security is the responsibility of the Secretary of State – who signed ROE orders for that region limiting security, and who outsourced the security to a British firm who contracted Libyans who ran away? (unofficial WH advisor Valerie Jarrett had round the clock secret service protection on 9/11. Ambassador Stevens had nothing, and was savagely murdered by terrorists on Clinton’s watch.)

7. Why hasn’t Secretary Clinton, or anyone on her staff, been fired or resigned for the complete dereliction of duty that resulted in the death of a US Ambassador and 3 others and the black flag of al-Qaida raised over US embassies on an anniversary of 9/11? What does it take to get fired in this corrupt Chicago-machine style administration? What outrage is too much?

8. Why was there a separate CIA station operating one mile from the consulate? What nefarious business are they up to? Gun-running? Gun retrieving? Terrorist detention? What?

9. Why did President Obama send his UN Ambassador Susan Rice – a full Cabinet member on his staff – on five Sunday shows 5 days after a terrorist attack killed our US Ambassador to LIE to the American people and say that there was “no evidence” that this was a terrorist attack but it was instead a reaction to the YouTube video? (Clearly, evidence that al-Qaida affiliates were alive and well and capable of killing our Ambassador on an anniversary of 9/11 ran contrary to the Obama campaign narrative that al-Qaida had been decimated and had to be denied until “AE” – after the election. Team Obama clearly knew real-time that this was a terrorist attack. They had qualified eyes on the ground lasering mortar positions and drones watching the 7-hour attack at two locations.) This week President Obama was outraged in his press conference that Rice would be criticized, when she had "nothing to do with Benghazi". Then why send her on 5 Sunday shows to answer the media?

10. Was CIA chief Gen. David Patraeus blackmailed by the White House to lie to Congress during his original testimony to support the YouTube video story? Of course he was. He has now amended his testimony to say that he knew it was a terrorist attack within 24 hours. Conveniently, after the election but before he was to testify again to Congress Obama’s DOJ took Patraeus down with a sex scandal. Convenient.

Bonus question to my Democrat friends: why do you accept the administration's obvious and pervasive lies on Benghazi at face value?
The Benghazi story is not going to go away. I know some of you thought this was about the election. It was, but only on Team Obama's part. We're still asking the questions.

Friday, November 16, 2012

So Far Gone

Congressman (and erstwhile Presidential candidate) Ron Paul offered a stirring speech on the floor of the House on the event of his retirement after 12 terms this week. It said, in part:

"We're so far gone. We're over the cliff," the Texas Republican told Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop" program. "We cannot get enough people in Congress in the next 5-10 years who will do wise things."
Indeed. We are far gone, from fiscal responsibility and from liberty in the era of ever-expanding government, and it was a problem for the GOP in this last election.
I have said this for a long time now, but:
- You can't be 39 years and 53 million abortions down the road from Roe v. Wade and expect to make an argument on the morality of abortion. There are too many people - patients and spouses/partners/families - invested in the decision to have an abortion. They do not want to be told it was unwise, immoral, or problematic legally.
- You can't be $16 Trillion in total debt and $1.5 Trillion in annual deficit - numbers so gigantic as to defy practical and tangible understanding or concern - and make a case for fiscal responsibility and austerity.
- You can't be 15 million illegal aliens into an invasion of your border - generationally so - and make a case for border security. People don't want to be told that they - or their constituency base - have acted illegally and are a burden on our country.
People want rights, not responsibilities. People want to do illegal things and not be called on it. People want stuff, debt be damned. And Americans want abortions. Lots and lots of abortions.
So, the GOP has a choice. Do we stand on fundamental conservative principles or do we cave in to electoral realities?
Why cave? We already have a party that panders on those essentials. Why do we need two parties to do so?
Run a real conservative next time. Make the case anyway. That's my take.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It is Going to Be a Long Four Years

I am still bummed out from Tuesday night's election results. So much so that my coworkers nicknamed me "suicide watch" on Wednesday at work. Ouch, what a beating. So, what happened to the election?

You can read a lot of election post-mortems on the web. Pick a version: conservative sour grapes or liberal gloating. I personally like Paul Kengor's take on the strategies and Nick Nolte's mea culpa on the polling data.

Please indulge me my simple musings on what happened on this quadrennial first Tuesday in November wrestling match.

First, about the results:

I was wrong, and my frient J. David Van Dyke was completely and utterly right. There, I said it. Dave and I have had a bet on this election for at least a year, with the payoff being admission of rightness of the other plus some version of humiliation at EbertFest 2013. I have paid off half, and hope to pay off the rest in April in Champaign-Urbana. Dave made the case daily that it was a simple case of "the math" of the electoral college votes (EV). He predicted the states that Obama would win, which add to more than 270 and a win, and that's that. The popular vote is interesting, but not determinative - which is of course right.

The kicker here is that "the math" is variable depending on the turnout model used. Democrats (and Dem/media polls) were all in that the turnout would mirror the 2008 election and be D +6 or better. Republicans (and conservative media) were all in that 2008 was a historic anomaly, and that turnout would revert to the 2004 model of D +3 or less, which would yield a Romney win. I believed the latter, and believed that Democrats would not turn out in the same numbers that they did in 2008 - which I think is right - because their Hope candidate now had a record to defend. I also believed that Republican intensity - our shared disgust for the President's agenda - would be high, higher than in 2008, and that the D +3 or less was right. This was wrong. The GOP intensity turnout did not materialize. The result was that the ratio stayed the same as the 2008 model and the D +6 model was right. Exactly as Team Obama and the Mainstream Media (MSM) polls called it. Not at all as Team Romney and the conservative media polls called it. Dang. Dave was completely right.

Note: Looking back, I had to disregard a lot of fundamentals to stick with my prediction. Fundamentals, like the history that says incumbents almost always win. (I was swayed by Michael Medved's case that it wasn't so this time.) Indicators, like the jarring fact that 5 out of 7 of my management-type coworkers were voting for Obama when I thought they would be natural GOP voters. ("Nothing will change, so why make a change?" Wow.) I noted those things, but stayed with my pick and my confidence that the polls were oversampling Dems. At the very end, Michael Barone's call kept me in my position. I was wrong. The polls that I thought were the worst (PPP) were in fact the best. The polls that I thought were the best (Rasmussen) were in fact the worst. Dang. Lesson learned.

As of today, with the votes not all completely counted, the popular vote came out around 50% to 48%, in Obama's favor. A 2% win, much lower than his percentage win over McCain in 2008. Isn't 2% within the margin of error for polling? And Democrats - before you gloat much - shouldn't an incumbent who you regard as the best president ever with a great record win by a bigger margin than 2%? Just asking.

But if you win by 2% or better in 8 out of 9 battleground states, as Team Obama did, you get the landslide 303 EV win that was Tuesday night's result. Decisive, and inarguable. A big win. Congratulations to my Democrat friends. You were right. (Have I said that enough yet? :) )

Second, on a Dozen Factors leading to the result, in my humble opinion, in no particular order:

1. The Gift from John Roberts: I thought back in June that the election was over when Chief Justice John Roberts changed his vote and upheld ObamaCare with his tortured logic that it was a tax, not a mandate. What? Backstabber. This went a long way to take away the GOP argument that it needed to be repealed.

2. GOTV: Team Obama was much more effective in spending their war chest to Get Out the Vote than was Team Romney. They delivered the 2008 model. Kudos to David Axelrod, the evil genius.

3. Culture Change: Andrew Breitbart was right - politics is downstream from culture. We (the right) have lost the culture, and the election as the natural consequence. We've had the culture war, and the 1960's won. Dennis Miller said it for me, resigned to the results on O'Reilly: "This is where America is at. It's not the America I grew up in from 12 to 58, nor will it ever be again." Culture was the number one word that I saw on conservative Twitter on Wednesday. I am now an anomaly in my own country. I accept that.

4. Demographics: In the end, it wasn't about Ohio as everyone said. It was about a demographic shift that was not just an anomaly in 2008. It's the future. Pat Buchanan has been warning about that for a long time, and one day the wolf comes. This election was about the Latino and Asian votes, both of which went 71% or so for Obama. Much will be said now about GOP outreach - or lack thereof - to those two influential voting blocs.

5. Low information voters: I know that the gloating meme is that conservatives are the low information voters trapped in the conservative media bubble. It's not true. I read both. Folks on the left never read Drudge, Breitbart, TownHall etc. I was frustrated daily by Obama voters who watched not one minute of either convention or one second of any debate yet were quite certain that they knew how they went - and that "binders full of women" must be something really awful - because Yahoo News told them so. One friend is "proudly uninformed" and told me "There are more of me than there are informed voters like you." Sadly, true.

6. A bruising primary: Romney raised and spent more money, but had to spend a lot of it in a bruising primary defeating one conservative challenger after another. Obama was able to spend his smaller warchest immediately on the general election. That matters.

7. What conservative?: GOP primaries predictably produce the wrong candidate through a process where the group of conservatives SPLIT THE VOTE! and the one liberal emerges as the nominee. McCain in 2008. Romney - a NorthEast liberal who did ObamaCare before Obama - in 2012. Don't blame me. I voted Santorum in the primary.

Ann Coulter used to say that if you offer a choice between a liberal-lite and a real liberal America will choose the real liberal every time. She was right then. But she went all in for Romney in the primaries this time. Go figure.

8. Media Partners: More so than any election that I've participated in since 1980, the MSM went over the line in activism this time. They didn't just call the race, they shaped the race. They did so by tanking stories unfavorable to Obama (ex: Benghazi) and by overplaying stories unfavorable to Romney (ex: dog on the car roof, statement 9/11). Blatant bias. Influential bias.

9. the Nice Guys: Team Romney made the same crucial mistake that McCain made - at the instruction of their "expert consultants". That would be a decision not to go after Obama personally. They foolishly believed that the bad economy was enough for voters to make a change. They played it safe. They sat on their lead from the first debate. They stuck to a civil / positive message of "Obama is a nice guy, but we're more competent". Maddeningly foolish.

Team Obama - staffed by long-term players in the corrupt hardball Chicago Machine - had no such compunctions about civility. They spent their $400M ad buy savaging Romney in a nasty divisive personal attacks. He's a liar. He's a tax cheat and a felon. He'll put you back in chains and take away your birth control. He killed a guy's wife with cancer. It's all crap, but all cumulatively devastating and effective.

10. Santa Claus: People do not want austerity and cuts. They want stuff from their government. Obama had the checkbook to give it to them. Obamaphones. Auto bailouts. Amnesty and work permits. On and on and on, debt be damned. Rush is right: you can't beat Santa Claus.

11. "Osama bin Laden is dead, and GM is alive." This was brilliant. The most memorable slogan from the campaign. It's true as far as it goes, but misleading. bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida is alive and well and dangerous in the Arab Winter. Obama didn't save GM, he saved the UAW pension fund. GM will go bankrupt again at a huge taxpayer loss. But, man, that slogan is brilliant.

12. The Courageous choice of Paul Ryan as VP. Marco Rubio would have been the wise crassly-political choice to court the Florida vote and the Hispanic vote. That might have made the difference. Romney made a non-political grown-up choice instead, knowing that the economy was the crucial issue if he was to govern and that Ryan was the capable man on the economy. Rubio is not ready. He will be in 2016 though, so there's that.

Last, on the future of elections: I deserve no predictions on this. I was so wrong this time.

But, if I was to predict the future of elections I would say this: this loss was pivotal and total. The GOP is done. The Tea Party is done. We are now in the zone similar to my state of Illinois. Sure there are some GOP officeholders around. But, they are irrelevant. We are effectively a one-party Democrat state. (Related: the 2nd brokest state in the union.)

Why? Because of ObamaCare. It is the singular achievement - the fundamental transformation - that locks in a permanent Democrat majority going forward. It is now unstoppable - the law of the land. It will make government dependents of many more people, perhaps all of us, and the Party of Government will be the beneficiaries for the foreseeable future. Irreversibly. The American Experiment in liberty is over, and we are Europe. Chosen by the slimmest of majorities in a bitterly divided America, but chosen nonetheless and locked in. It's ever-expanding government from here until the collapse. Depressing, but cold hard reality.

That's my take, anyway. Leave a comment with yours.