There’s a fellow named Ben Rhodes (b. 1977) who has been getting some attention of late. He was just past 30 when he wrote the inane Cairo speech of 2009. Politico had a rather breathless piece on the writing of the speech at that time. He is or was the only speechwriter on foreign affairs for the White House, and so Ed Lasky zeroes in on him when it comes to the bad fiction delivered on Benghazi. We’ll see how that develops.
One shocking thing we learned in reading the Politico piece is that Rhodes is or was the senior speechwriter. The other speechwriter, Jon Favreau, is four years younger and started writing for the Chicago team when he was 24 or so. So when the administration gets its history wrong on everything from D-Day to the Berlin Airlift, there’s a reason. The facts are coming from young ignoramuses who don’t know much American history.
The American people ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be fooled by two dolts in dunce caps. Far worse than that, however, is that the media celebrate their work by deifying the fellow who delivers the rubbish they peddle. Imagine: a country of 300 million taken in by two young fools and a guy with a mellifluous voice.
the mere existence of the edits — whatever the motivation for them — seriously undermines the White House’s credibility on this issue. This past November (after Election Day), White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that “The White House and the State Department have made clear that the single adjustment that was made to those talking points by either of those two institutions were changing the word ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ because ‘consulate’ was inaccurate.”
Remarkably, Carney is sticking with that line even now. In his regular press briefing on Friday afternoon (a briefing that was delayed several times, presumably in part so the White House could get its spin in order, but also so that it could hold a secretive pre-briefing briefing with select members of the White House press corps), he said:
The only edit made by the White House or the State Department to those talking points generated by the C.I.A. was a change from referring to the facility that was attacked in Benghazi from “consulate,” because it was not a consulate, to “diplomatic post”… it was a matter of non-substantive factual correction. But there was a process leading up to that that involved inputs from a lot of agencies, as is always the case in a situation like this and is always appropriate.
This is an incredible thing for Carney to be saying. He’s playing semantic games, telling a roomful of journalists that the definition of editing we’ve all been using is wrong
There are a number of takeaways from this. First, the MSM apparently really believed their guy when he spoke rubbish and grandiosity lo these many years. They believed their guy even though most every word that came out of his mouth was to be measured in terms of its political usefulness, not by its truth. That accounts for the tone of surprise and incredulity in the New Yorker piece.
Second, the White House is equally unprepared and surprised. As we know from the days of Richard Nixon and Ron Ziegler, the press secretary’s orders come straight from the top. So when Carney looks like a buffoon telling lies that are long past their sell-by date, it’s because there’s confusion, disorganization and maybe even a little panic at the top. And why wouldn’t there be? Here was this Chicago Way politician with a nice voice getting treated as a god. Heaven on earth.
The MSM is now coming to grips with the fact that, despite it was Republicans saying so, there actually was a cover-up and they ignored it because they wrote it off as partisan politics. Oops! Whether the media get to the central issue is another matter. Contrary to the received wisdom in these matters, the cover-up is not always worse than the crime. In Ron Ziegler’s “third-rate burglary” that was true. In Benghazi, the opposite is the case. The crime in Benghazi was not taking whatever diplomatic and specifically military actions that might have saved four lives. Whether or not the efforts would have been successful is not the issue; orders to “stand down” are the issue. We know where the order came from. Whether the media are willing to go there is another thing entirely.
The media have started to wake up. How far will it go in this much-more-serious-than-Watergate scandal? PL:
Obama and Hillary Clinton are on trial — not yet before a court, but in the minds of thoughtful people everywhere. It appears (given the limited evidence we have so far) that they were grossly negligent before Benghazi, criminally incompetent that night of the attack, and then that they aided and abetted a conspiracy to lie about the murders—all for the obvious political reasons and because Obama and Clinton (and nearly all their leftist friends) believe that Americans are stone-stupid. But the real trial deals with other suspects.
It is the Democratic Party that’s on trial today; and to a lesser extent, America’s mainstream media. For Democrats (and especially Democratic senators) it is put-up-or-shut-up time: are they Democrats or Americans first? Obviously their first instinct was to defend the Democratic administration. Republicans would have done the same. But starting with the Hayes story on the Rice propaganda points (and the neo-Soviet process that turned them from truth to lies), and then the Issa hearing Wednesday (and a recent ABC news piece focusing again on the phonied-up talking points), no honest observer can fail to suspect this administration of doing unspeakable things. It is Congress’s duty to find out the truth.
How would Republicans act if a GOP administration were under this sort of cloud? We know exactly how. It was the radically partisan Edward Kennedy who proposed that a senate select committee investigate Watergate—but in February 1973, the Senate voted unanimously to create that committee. Republican Senator Howard Baker was vice chairman, and asked the key question: ”What did the president know and when did he know it?” Which Democratic senator will ask that question today, now that the issue isn’t breaking-and-entering but lying about four murders, including the murder of an American ambassador? Which cabinet member will be Eliot Richardson and resign rather than continuing to be part of a coverup?
The original CIA talking points had been blunt: The assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi was a terrorist attack conducted by a large group of Islamic extremists…“with ties to al Qaeda”
Someone with access to White House / State Department emails is also talking. Here’s the beginning of the final one of the 12 revisions obtained by ABC prior to the Rice talk-show marathon five days after the attack:
The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo
One of the State Department employees who was punished has written a poem about his lynching by the Queen’s servants. There are many people unhappy that they have been thrown under the bus in the most inept cover-up ever. Everyone knew exactly what happened day one, and yet the leadership at the State Department and the White House conspired to create an unnecessary false narrative. It’s not hubris as long as the media stay tame.
Roger Simon remembers when the Washington Post became famous:
We are in a fascinating period of unraveling. Whistleblowers in the defense community are appearing. I’m sure at State, some are looking over their shoulders, waiting for the “Night of the Long Knives” to begin. It probably has already. How far will it go? We will soon, no doubt, be in the period of “limited hangouts.” (The attempt by Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, to play the “Benghazi happened a long time ago” dodge on Wednesday arguably fits this definition.) Who will be the John Dean, the Erlichman, and Haldeman? Is “Deep Benghazi Throat” talking at this moment? While we are making Watergate analogies, it’s worth noting this is far worse than that noxious moment in American history or the other recent impeachment episode — Clinton. In the former, some dumb zealots broke into the campaign headquarters of the opposition party in an election that wasn’t remotely close. Nevertheless, the paranoid Nixon destroyed himself by trying to cover up the idiocy. Clinton wagged his finger at us and lied about sex under oath, while his wife — an important figure in Benghazi where she has already been caught dissimulating — similarly lied by publicly blaming her husband’s philandering on the “great right-wing conspiracy.” (What power!) Creepy behavior all around and certainly nothing remotely presidential, but, compared to Benghazi, no one died or was even injured. As far as I know, no one even stubbed a toe. Benghazi, on the contrary, was an important battle in the Global War on Terror, which has now reached our shores more than once. It will undoubtedly do so again. Those who take this casually in the slightest are conscious or unconscious traitors or fools — or so self-interested as to be beneath contempt.
Meanwhile, the deputy chief of mission in Libya and two others will testify before Congress this week:
Hicks was in Tripoli at 9:40 p.m. local time when he received one of Stevens’ earliest phone calls amid the crisis. “We’re under attack! We’re under attack!” the ambassador reportedly shouted into his cellphone at Hicks. Chaffetz, who subsequently debriefed Hicks, also said the deputy “immediately called into Washington to trigger all the mechanisms” for an inter-agency response. “The real-life trauma that he went through…I mean, I really felt it in his voice. It was hard to listen to. He’s gone through a lot, but he did a great job.”
It was obvious what had happened at Benghazi from the very beginning. The cover-up was pathetic, and only worked because the media actively assisted in it. Because the cover-up is so inept, it requires that enormous pressure now be put on both the whistleblowers and the media, and the Chicago Way certainly knows how to do that. The most interesting thing will be to see if anyone in the media choir defects.
We repudiated entirely customary morals, conventions and traditional wisdom. We were, that is to say, in the strict sense of the term, immoralists. The consequences of being found out had, of course, to be considered for what they were worth. But we recognised no moral obligation on us, or inner sanction, to conform or to obey. Before heaven we claimed to be our own judge in our own case…we repudiated all versions of the doctrine of original sin, of there being insane and irrational springs of wickedness in most men.
We may live in a post-Judeo-Christian world but we don’t live in a post-hysteria world.
The Russian intelligence services had alerted U.S. intelligence about the older brother, as well as the mother, indicating that they might be sympathizers to extremists. The FBI investigated that older brother. It’s not as if the FBI did nothing. They not only investigated the older brother, they interviewed the older brother. They concluded that there were no signs that he was engaging in extremist activity.
Shouldn’t the head of DHS be urgently trying to figure out how the FBI screwed up, and tighten procedures so they don’t continue to make egregious mistakes after being warned by foreign governments? Oh wait, that wasn’t the head of DHS.
The notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no-man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al Qaeda core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan — the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried, that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.
It’s a pity that Noam Chomsky isn’t president. If he were, he could just snap his fingers and give the order and Gitmo would be gone. Oh wait, that wasn’t Noam Chomsky.
There’s the military, there’s ESPN, and there’s the Life of Julia generation. We don’t know if the country can survive the media and tenured Boomers’ invention of the Julia generation, and we won’t live long enough to see what the generation after these youngsters is like. But some generation along the line is going to be pretty angry about all the good that is being destroyed.
We made no predictions, but we’re not terribly surprised at the outcome. These folks made predictions and gave deep analyses of one sort or another — um, really of one sort only. Note the Tomasky piece. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.
Atlantic: “New technology and a little-known energy source suggest that fossil fuels may not be finite. This would be a miracle — and a nightmare.” The article runs almost 11,000 words. There’s a lot of research, but to little avail. The author is trapped in the CAGW trap about the earth heating at a dangerous pace, despite the fact that it’s been cooling for some time, while the minuscule amount of CO2 continues to expand apace.
It’s a very odd piece, written as though by an alien visiting earth and discovering that, surprisingly, burning things makes CO2; speaking of alien, the author seems to have some detached globalist perspective, certainly not beginning at what’s best for the USA. The same can not be said of James Lewis’s piece in AT which is all about shale beating shariah. We think that’s pretty likely, as long as the worshippers of Gaia can be defeated. Strange turn of events, isn’t it, when technological and economic constraints have ceased to be a problem, but the US is trapped by its own modern pagans and their strange superstitions?
The FBI questioned Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother, after the Russians asked us to look into his radicalization. (Moscow’s murky role is another story.) It appears that the agents asked him, Are you a Muslim fanatic? To which he replied, No. End of investigation…this is a case of just how idiotic a politically correct bureaucracy can be. The father of the Tsarnaev punks only had to declare himself an asylum-seeker afraid for his life in the Russian Federation and our consular officials fell all over themselves to get him to America. Nobody cared that “fearful” Pops retained his Russian citizenship and passport, then voluntarily returned to Daghestan, a jihad-roiled Russian province, to live. Or that his elder son’s dream vacation appears to have been a terrorist training session. If you’re a highly educated, ambitious West European who wants to become an American, your chances are near zero. If you’re a radical America-hater from a hostile region, all you have to do is shout that you’re a political refugee and we’ll give you residency and benefits. There’s no reason that anyone from Chechnya should be granted a US visa. It’s a gangster mini-state (within the Russian Federation) at war with home-grown Islamists. There are no good guys. Chechnya’s sole export besides terror, Chechen mafiosi, make Mexican drug cartels look like Franciscans. And some of the cruelest jihadis our troops faced in Iraq and elsewhere were Chechens…Our immigration system is one of terrorism’s best allies.
The idea of life-saving asylum doesn’t make any sense when supposed refugees, like both of the Tsarnaev parents, can return to live safely in Russia. The elder of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan, himself had likewise just spent six months in a supposedly deadly homeland — for what exact reasons we can only speculate. Do our immigration authorities really believe that Russia is so dangerous for Muslims that they must be allowed unquestioned admission to the United States, but not so dangerous that they cannot from time to time choose to revisit their deadly place of birth? Can a resident alien no longer be summarily deported for breaking the laws of his host country — in the case of the skilled boxer Tamerlan, for domestic violence against his non-boxing wife, or, in the case of his mother, for shoplifting over $1,600 in merchandise? Does being on public assistance years after arrival in this country, like the Tsarnaev family, no longer qualify a resident alien for deportation? Does being investigated by the FBI for apparently loud and public expressions of support for anti-American radical jihadists not mean much? In short, if a Tamerlan Tsarnaev cannot be deported, then perhaps no resident alien can be under any circumstances. I am sure that in theory there are all sorts of laws to the effect that asylum seekers must prove that they would be in constant peril in their homelands (cf. Obama’s Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Onyango), that they must become self-sufficient residents of the United States (cf. Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Onyango), that they must not break American laws (cf. Aunt Zeituni and Uncle Onyango), and that they must not promote anti-American activity. But what do such theoreticals matter if, for reasons of laxity or political correctness or connectedness, these statutes are ignored
Proposals: (a) all bills that have “comprehensive” in the title should be defeated: and (b) any proposed law that seeks to replace similar laws that are not being enforced (cf 2007 and 1986) should be defeated, since there is zero reason to believe that the new law will be respected any more than the old ones.
Until we fully understand what turned two brothers who allegedly perpetrated the Boston Marathon bombings into murderers, it is hard to make any policy recommendation other than this: We need to redouble our efforts to make America stronger…the best place to start is with a carbon tax. A phased-in carbon tax of $20 to $25 a ton could raise around $1 trillion over 10 years, as we each pay a few more dimes and quarters for every gallon of gasoline…It’s the only way to revive the country and a moribund Republican Party.
Imagine the nonsense you have to believe in order to write the words above. But then again, “to be in Tahrir Square tonight, to feel the energy and pride of a people taking back the keys to their country and their future from a tired old dictator, was a privilege.” QED.
News from Massachusetts: “the suspects are being held on immigration violations.” Hmmmmm. If the Schumer bill passes, would the Boston 12 be all legal? And would more background checks have prevented the shootout the other night that killed this gentleman? Reality, it seems, has intruded for a brief moment on the utopian fantasies of Washington and the media. It’d be nice if it lasted a while. HT: GP
scholars cautioned Friday against concluding that the Tsarnaevs’ motives were purely religious. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in a firefight with police early Friday morning, appeared to sympathize with Islamic extremists agitating for Chechen independence from Russia. But family, neighbors, friends, and social media sources painted a complex picture of the brothers’ religiosity. “The story that seems to be developing here is more along the lines of standard alienated man goes out and commits atrocities, much more like the school shootings we’ve seen than organized Islamic insurgency,” said Yuri Zhukov, a fellow at the Program on Global Society and Security at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center who studies extremism in the Caucasus.
Scholars: what would we do without them? Andy McCarthy has a thought or two. HT: RLS
• By 21 percentage points (65% to 44%), native-born citizens are more likely than naturalized immigrants to view America as “better” than other countries as opposed to “no better, no worse.”
• By about 30 points (85% to 54%), the native-born are more likely to consider themselves American citizens rather than “citizens of the world.”
• By 30 points (67% to 37%), the native-born are more likely to believe that the U.S. Constitution is a higher legal authority for Americans than international law.
• By roughly 31 points (81% to 50%), the native-born are more likely than immigrant citizens to believe that schools should focus on American citizenship rather than ethnic pride.
• By 23 percentage points (82% to 59%), the native-born are more likely to believe that it is very important for the future of the American political system that all citizens understand English.
• By roughly 15 points (77% to 62%), the native-born are more likely to believe that that there is a unique American culture that defines what it means to be an American.
• By 15 points (82% to 67%), the native-born are more likely than immigrant citizens to support an emphasis in schools on learning about the nation’s founding documents.
This country is in trouble. The perfidious rubbish that the universities and high schools teach today turns Americans into Julia. Is it any wonder then that some immigrants have “been assimilated into a nullity.” The tenured Boomers have ruined the education system and wrecked many under 30. Consider the statistics above. 60-80% of the native born think America is an excellent place overall, but how many of these are the old, as opposed to the Julias? Imagine being an immigrant being educated in a very blue state today? How great is the gulf between some in that group and the older guys who are hockey fans? HT: PL
“The thinking, as we have been reporting, is that this is a domestic extremist attack,” declared Dina Temple-Raston, NPR’s “counterterrorism correspondent.” “Officials are leaning that way largely because of the timing of the attack. April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals. There’s the Columbine anniversary, there’s Hitler’s birthday, there’s the Oklahoma City bombing, the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.” Miss Temple-Raston was born in my mother’s homeland of Belgium, where, alas, there were more than a few fellows willing to wish the Führer happy birthday back when he was still around to thank you for it. But it was news to me it was such a red-letter day in the Bay State. Who knew? At NPR, “counterterrorism” seems to mean countering any suggestion that this might be terrorism from you know, the usual suspects.
We wrote about Beslan on several occasions (here and here), after those children were killed nine years ago, and now it comes out that the two murderers above were Chechens. The Secretary of State said that US gun laws scare away foreign students. Not enough apparently.
The chart above is from a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief. Since Catholics are 20% of active-duty military, it appears that there is a large cabal of extremists within the military. The training documents credit the Southern Poverty Law Center as a source, so the content of the presentation should come as no surprise. Steyn has more.
Politics is downstream from culture and culture is downstream from religion. Today we have bizarre religions, as Chesterton predicted. You have the religious nuts who think that earth is headed for catastrophe because of a 0.0001 change in the amount of CO2 in the air (though that religion is teetering). And no one is more religious than an ardent atheist. No wonder things are so screwed up today.