American Elephants

Bill Kristol Has a Few Questions for the President. by The Elephant's Child

In response to questions regarding the events of September 11, in Benghazi,  the president said this:

“Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do. But we want to make sure we get it right, particularly because I have made a commitment to the families impacted as well as to the American people, we’re going to bring those folks to justice. So, we’re going to gather all the facts, find out exactly what happened, and make sure that it doesn’t happen again but we’re also going to make sure that we bring to justice those who carried out these attacks.”

The interviewer followed up: “Were they denied requests for help during the attack?”

“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”

Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard mentioned that since the president was in the White House from the time the attack began at around 2:40 pm ET until the end of combat at the annex, sometime after 9 pm ET.  So Mr. Kristol had a few simple questions about what he did that afternoon and evening, which should be easy by just consulting meeting and phone records.

1.) To whom did the president give the first of his “three very clear directives”—that is, “make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to?”

2.) How did he transmit this directive to the military and other agencies?

3.) During the time when Americans were under attack, did the president convene a formal or informal meeting of his national security council? Did the president go to the situation room?

4.) During this time, with which members of the national security team did the president speak directly?

5.) Did Obama speak by phone or teleconference with the combatant commanders who would have sent assistance to the men under attack?

6.) Did he speak with CIA director David Petraeus?

7.) Was the president made aware of the repeated requests for assistance from the men under attack? When and by whom?

8.) Did he issue any directives in response to these requests?

9.) Did the president refuse to authorize an armed drone strike on the attackers?

10.) Did the president refuse to authorize a AC-130 or MC-130 to enter Libyan airspace during the attack?

The Weekly Standard awaits the response from the White House. The rest of us do too.


The Benghazi Scandal Is Like Peeling A Rotten Onion: by The Elephant's Child

The story gets uglier, the questions larger and more insistent. Over at National Review in the Corner, David French had an apt metaphor:”Benghazi is like peeling an increasingly rotten onion. Each layer is fouler than the last.”

He adds”Our embattled diplomats literally had the enemy in their sights, we had military assets in range, and not only were air strikes denied but special operations was told to wait. We abandoned our people, left them to die.”

An editorial at Investors pulls no punches:

Despite real-time video, emails to the White House and desperate cries for help, our defense secretary says we didn’t send rescue forces to our Benghazi consulate because we didn’t know what was going on.

In a statement bordering on the Kafkaesque, Leon Panetta told a news conference Thursday that four Americans, including our Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens, were left to die without a rescue attempt by nearby U.S. military forces because there’s “a basic principle here, and the basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s going on, without having some real-time information about what’s taking place.”…

Excuse us, Mr. Secretary, but your administration had a drone over the consulate on Sept. 11, and you and President Obama had a meeting that included Vice President Joe “Nobody Told Us” Biden in the Oval Office at 5 p.m. Washington time, a little more than an hour after the onset of the attack. There were at least 50 minutes of real-time video of the attack as the battle was sent streaming directly to the Situation Room in the White House.

Real-time emails were also pouring into the Situation Room detailing that 20 armed terrorists were attacking our Benghazi consulate, that Ambassador Stevens was crouched in a safe room waiting for help as the al-Qaida terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia was taking credit for the attack. Most claims of responsibility for a terrorist attack come days after the event. This was, as they say, in “real-time.”

Read the whole thing here. Fox News update of their outstanding timeline report ‘Special Report’ Investigates Benghazi—New Revelations: Watch on Sunday @3PM and 10PM ET. You will notice that the watchdogs of the mainstream media aren’t covering Libya. There are more and more questions, and when cover-ups get white-hot, the search for answers gets more persistent. As they say: the truth will out.

It Is An Ugly Scandal, And It Just Keeps Getting Uglier. by The Elephant's Child

The Benghazi Scandal just keeps getting uglier and uglier. The security situation in Libya was clearly deteriorating, the naive dreams of an “Arab Spring” and a new burst of democracy and freedom were proving just to be the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood, and a more radicalized Middle East, but President Barack Obama and his campaign had adopted a theme on which they pinned the president’s re-election hopes. Obama’s great accomplishment was the “gutsy call” that ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and now the terrorist group al Qaeda was “on the run.”

Al Qaeda had chosen a new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood alum, and moved to play a larger role in the Middle East. It was moving to gain power in Tunisia. In Egypt, the most populous of the Arab nations, the Muslim Brotherhood had won elections and begun to dominate that country’s political life. The Muslim Brotherhood established the Islamic supremacist ideology that gave rise to al Qaeda.

Then came the riots and attack on the embassy in Cairo, and the attack on the consulate in Benghazi. That spoiled the narrative. But the riots in Cairo presented an out. The Benghazi attack could be blamed on the clumsy YouTube video that had been out for months and which nobody had seen.

Four Americans died in the attack. It was the first time an American ambassador had been killed in over 30 years. It took American investigators three weeks even to reach the burned consulate compound. The American government paid a reported $70,000 to air TV ads in Pakistan blaming the movie and apologizing for it, as if we should apologize for our Constitutional rights of free speech. Secretary Clinton spoke of the “despicable video”. Five days after the attack the administration dispatched UN ambassador Susan Rice to five Sunday talk shows to blame the video. The man who made the video was identified by the government, picked up and imprisoned on a “parole violation” and sentenced to solitary confinement until after the election.

But the administration story kept falling apart. It was not a riot or spontaneous attack, but an organized military assault. We had a drone overhead that recorded much of the attack. Although there were military bases in Sicily that could have reached Benghazi, nothing was dispatched.

Now we learn that there were two AC-130 gunships overhead,that had been stationed in Libya since March, ready to fire on the attackers, but they were not allowed to fire. A spokesman at the CIA, presumably at the direction of General Petraeus, said “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need, claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate.” The Secretary of Defense could not have made such a decision on his own. It would have been a presidential decision. Although Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called criticism of the administration’s handling of the terror attack “Monday Morning Quarterbacking.” Secretary Clinton’s legal counsel said that Clinton has asked for more security, but President Obama denied the request. Circling the wagons.

In an interview with 9News in Denver today, reporter Kyle Clark committed some actual journalism and asked the President some simple direct questions— Were the Americans under attack in Benghazi denied requests for help?

Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.

Apparently we will just keep investigating exactly what happened until well after the election, and a month and a half after the attack, it’s still all just a mystery. But we will identify those who carried out those terrible attacks one of these days, and send a drone after them.

The President of the United States has some clear Constitutional duties, none of which involve deciding which kind of fuel is the energy of the future, nor health care overhauls, nor reforming the schools, nor picking winners and losers from America’s businesses. The Constitution stipulates that the president will defend and uphold the Constitution and its guarantees of American freedoms. So this is not just about refusing to defend our ambassador, but goes to the oath of office, and a simple matter of ethics and character.

Fox News is continuing to follow-up on this story, and they are adding to and expanding on their earlier and excellent video timeline tomorrow at 1 pm Eastern, and again on Sunday. Look for it.

Paul Ryan’s Speech At Cleveland State University. by The Elephant's Child

On Wednesday, Paul Ryan delivered an entire speech at Cleveland State University on income mobility and poverty. Poverty rates are rising, food stamp use is way up. A Romney Ryan administration would offer real reform. Not by increasing the amounts that government spends on poverty programs, but by creating good jobs and a growing economy. Getting the nation’s spending and debt under control to avoid a financial crisis are vital because the poor and the vulnerable are always the hardest hit.

It was an impressive speech, advancing a positive social vision. I am unable to embed the videos here, There are two, that can be found here. Very worth every minute of your time. Paul Ryan is a very impressive young man, and he’s talking about solid ideas for returning America to the income mobility we have always known. “One is six Americans are in poverty today — the highest rate in a generation. In this war on poverty, poverty is winning. We need a better approach.”


Guess Who Says “The Math Doesn’t Work”? by The Elephant's Child

There was a moment in the Foreign Policy debate in Boca Raton when Obama said indignantly:

Look, Governor Romney’s called for $5 trillion of tax cuts that he says he’s going to pay for by closing deductions. Now the math doesn’t work, but he continues to claim that he’s going to do it. He then wants to spend another $2 trillion on military spending the our military is not asking for.

Well I almost spewed my coffee all over my keyboard. Barack Obama who has run up a trillion dollars more debt every year, who sent a budget to Congress that even his own Democrats rejected unanimously, who double counts the same numbers, and who has dreamed up a health care plan so noxious that Secretary Sebelius has to issue waivers to practically every participant. That Barack Obama is going to challenge Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on math? Really? To quote Barack Obama on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

“The math stuff was fine up until about 7th grade,” Obama said. After that “I’m pretty lost.”

That is possibly why he never mentions that 16 trillion number. He does have trouble with numbers, he simply can’t seem to get them right.

— Obama has a new ad out in which he claims to have added 5.2 million new jobs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy has eked out a net gain of 325,000 new jobs since January 2009, when Obama first took office.

President Obama claimed that the idea of using deep, automatic, across-the-board domestic and defense spending cuts to force Congress to address the nation’s growing federal deficit originated with Congress, not the White House.

“What the president said is not correct,” Woodward said Tuesday. “He’s mistaken and it’s refuted by the people who work for him.”

— Officials at the White House and State Department were advised two hours after attackers assaulted the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that an Islamic militant group had claimed credit for the attack, official emails show. The Libyan group called Ansar al-Sharia asserted responsibility for the attacks. The man who made the video supposedly to blame for everything, remains in solitary confinement until “after the election.”

— Now that there’s only about two weeks until the election, the Obama campaign has issued a leaflet that “describes” Obama’s agenda for the next four years. Lots of pictures of Obama, and it trumpets “green energy” as an avenue of economic growth. Not very likely. The list of bankrupt solar and battery companies continues to grow. There is no second term agenda, only more of the first.

China began a state-led bailout of solar companies to save them from the crashing price of solar panels. Their attempt to save the industry is projected to cost about $11 billion. Siemens and GE’s energy division are souring on green energy. In the third quarter, wind-turbine sales fell 69 percent, reducing the energy division’s profits by 20 percent. DuPont sees a flat market for solar panels in 2013. Germany is facing 800,000 people in dire fuel poverty. With the EPA’s radical power-grab for after the election, we may be facing fuel poverty as well.

— Coal remains the nation’s principal source of electric power generation because it’s cheap. In terms of real dollars per unit of energy, the cost of generating electricity from coal is a fraction of the cost of any other energy source. The recent boom in shale gas production has led to an over-supply of natural gas and lower prices. But for natural gas to become the dominant feedstock for power generation, there are problems of infrastructure, transmission to storage and pipeline capacity. President Obama touts his “All of the Above” energy policy, but like so much of the Obama agenda, it’s only words.

Plentiful cheap energy means that America can be a world leader in manufacturing, plentiful energy means plentiful jobs. Nationally 175 coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be shut down from 2012 to 2016. The EPA has advanced a series of major environmental regulations totaling billions in new operating costs and compliance costs, unprecedented in scope and cost.

The National Economic Research Associates reported that only two of the proposed EPA regulations could lead to a net employment loss of 60,000 jobs just in Pennsylvania between now and 2020. The EPA wants to shut down coal production and power generation. They also want to shut down Hydraulic Fracturing.  If we shut down these annoying sources of power, then people will be forced to turn to the energy sources of the future.  Except they aren’t. Solar energy is too diffuse, and cannot exist without vast government subsidies; Wind is too intermittent.

— Perhaps it’s time to turn the “math stuff” over to a couple of men who thoroughly understand balance sheets, budgets, how to cut spending, and the intricacies of why so many businesses are not hiring under the Obama economy. Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have demonstrated expertise, and they got a long way past 7th grade.

Finally — Proof of Death! by The Elephant's Child

Finally — Proof of Death

There is finally conclusive evidence that Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi are dead.

Yesterday, they both registered as Democrats to vote in Chicago.

Borrowed shamelessly from Doug Ross@Journal who borrowed it from Papa B

Political Correctness Gone Rogue by The Elephant's Child

Three years after a man with ties to Islamic radical groups killed twelve people while screaming “Allahu Akbar” over and over at the Fort Hood Army Base, the incident is classified as “workplace violence.” You might classify this one as a cover-up as well; it is at the very least, political correctness gone amok.

Major Nidal Hassan was a U.S. Army psychiatrist scheduled to be deployed. He was a loner, and increasingly under the influence of al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. His superiors were increasingly aware of his odd behavior and Muslim radicalism. But no one did anything about it. The Obama administration has been reluctant to call any incident “terrorism.” Homeland Security has played around with other designations — “violent extremist” seems to be the most popular at the moment. That is a term they are still using for events at Benghazi.

The failure to recognize Islamic terrorism is rooted in a desire to avoid saying anything that would alienate Moslems. Islam, everyone keeps repeating, is a religion of peace. But there are Islamic terrorists and they do have an agenda. Refusing to call it by its correct name is simply a failure to recognize the agenda of those “violent extremists.”

The inaccurate designation of the incident as “workplace violence” is meant to suggest that it is just an ordinary “going postal” situation that could happen anywhere, and don’t even think of blaming Hassan’s superiors for not noticing that he was a danger to everyone around him.

The “workplace violence” designation also deprives Staff Sergeant Shawn Manning, who was shot six times during the attack, of the disability compensation that other wounded service members receive, and eligibility for Purple Hearts or medals for valor. And the twelve dead soldiers are deprived of the recognition they deserve.

Some members of Congress are fighting the classification, but it has not yet been enough. The constant avoidance of not just the designation, but the reality of terrorism, is just wrong and distorts Americans’ understanding of their own nation’s foreign policy.

Heritage’s James Carafano wrote earlier this month:

Clearly, acknowledging that terrorism is alive and well looks bad for the Obama Administration’s rhetoric, which has portrayed Obama as having vanquished Osama bin Laden and thus ending the “war on terrorism.

Playing politics with terrorist incidents and indulging in cover-ups to prevent public knowledge is more than unbecoming, it is dishonest, and unworthy of the office.

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