American Elephants

The Benghazi Hearings. It Matters A Lot. by The Elephant's Child

Like many political junkies, I have been fascinated with the Benghazi hearings today, and with what is being written about the hearings.  Investors said “Testimony by the Benghazi whistle-blowers presents clear evidence of shameful political manipulation of the truth seven weeks before an election and a willingness to let four Americans die to maintain a campaign narrative.” Read the whole thing.

That pretty well sums it up. We had three witnesses testify today. 1). Eric Nordstrom was a regional security officer of the U.S. Mission to Libya from September 2011 to July 2012. 2). Mark Thompson, a former Marine and official with the State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau, who said he was not interviewed by the State Departments Accountability Review Board, testified that he was rebuffed by the Whit House when he asked for a Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST) that’s been activated in past threats to diplomats. This is a unit made of special operations personnel, diplomatic security, intelligence and other officers. 3). Greg Hicks, US. Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya that night, who was near tears at times, recounted how a Special Forces team, including one member hobbling with a cast on his leg and a heavy machine gun on his shoulder, was ready to deploy on a Libyan C-130 to Benghazi, only to be forbidden from doing so by U.S. Special Operations Command South Africa.

What we know for sure is that UN Ambassador Susan Rice lied to the UN and to the public, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lied to Congress, Vice President Joe Biden lied to reporters, and President Barack Obama lied to the American people. There was no “demonstration” about the video that no one watched.  There was only an organized attack by Ansar al Sharia, an Iranian supported terrorist group allied with al Qaeda.

The Obama administration has done its best to confuse and conceal what actually happened. There are lots of officially unknowns: Why was Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi in the first place? And on September 11? The ‘consulate’ there was just a residence, not up to State Department standards, and Stevens needed special authorization from Sec. Clinton to go there. Why was the security for the ‘consulate’ removed? Who refused help at every opportunity?

If you recall your history, Watergate concerned some Republican “plumbers” who broke into a Democratic campaign office. No one ever claimed that President Nixon either knew about it, nor was responsible, but it was embarrassing that his people had done it and they tried to cover it up. Yet Watergate was supposed to be the most dreadful scandal ever to touch the American presidency.

We had an American Ambassador, his tech guy, and two former SEALs — employed by the CIA — who were first denied security, denied help, and denied rescue at the highest level of the American government.

The Big Media is in full defensive mode. They are rallying around the administration in the very way that was so desperately needed by our people in Benghazi. The New York Times is oddly unaware that there is a place in Libya called Benghazi.

Time magazine’s Joe Klein demonstrates the obtuseness of the American media’s complete failure to perform the most basic task of a supposedly free press.

The Republicans, apparently with nothing better to do, are still chasing their tails over the tragic events in Benghazi on September 11.

Actually, no. That’s not true. They’re chasing their tails over what happened after the tragic events of September 11. They’re mostly concerned that the Obama Administration tried to cover up the fact that this was a terrorist attack by a local militia (translation: local street gang) which aspired toward bad-butt Al Qaeda status. This is a pretty hard sell since, the day after the attack, the President called it an “act of terror.”

It does seem that the Administration’s talking points were massaged a bit after the President’s candor. This may have been attributable to the presidential campaign and the Administration’s desire to low-ball the Al Qaeda threat. If so, this was a venial, not a mortal, sin. It affected not one life.

No, Joe Klein, it not only affected four lives, it ended them.  Security was denied, Safety was denied. Help was denied, because an election was coming up and no one wanted any bad publicity, particularly when an Iranian-supported group of terrorists called Ansar al Sharia who were closely affiliated with al Qaeda (who was supposedly ‘on the run’ because Obama had called in the SEALs.) The same people as those two valiant men who went to rescue the remaining personnel at the ‘consulate’ and who begged for help while they stood off that “local street gang”. There was help available and the order to stand down reportedly had to come from the president.

The Big Media in our nation — the Free Press — a term they revel in, are not now, and have not been, performing their most basic task, being a watchdog on government. They quit that a while back. The Democrats give better parties I guess. The public is coming to the realization that they are useless, and the media is slowly going broke.  I can even remember when Time was a thick magazine, bulging with lots of advertising and important articles that made news and created a stir.  Long ago and far away.


There’s Plenty of Revenue: The Problem is Spending! by The Elephant's Child

No wonder the White House hates Fox News so much. They ask real questions and don’t accept administration prevarication. Awkward. This administration has an unusual propensity for getting caught telling whoppers, and the media arm of the White House usually tries to cover up.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner appeared on Fox News Sunday yesterday to talk about the rude and uncooperative Republicans who were not agreeing promptly to raise taxes on the rich the way Obama wanted.

The problem is that Chris Wallace is usually very well-informed. He challenged Tim Geithner on the lack of real spending cuts in the proposal he brought to Capitol Hill last week.  Geithner objected, claiming that the White House has trillions of cuts in their proposal — from ending the wars.

Wallace reminded Geithner that no one planned to keep fighting those wars in the first place. Geithner lost his cool and started complaining about Republican gimmicks.  That’s funny. These are the people who double count the same savings, create imaginary ones, anything in order to keep from cutting spending at all. They have no intention of cutting spending. None.

WALLACE: Or they now say because you’re not willing to cut spending enough.

GEITHNER: No, but that’s not true. Again, if they want to do more on the spending side than the $600 billion we proposed on top of the trillion already enacted, in top of the savings from the wars, then they can tell us how they propose –

WALLACE: Savings in the wars that we were never going to fight?

GEITHNER: No, that’s not true. We’re — as you know, we’re winding down two wars.

WALLACE: I understand that.


WALLACE: And you are thinking savings that nobody thought that you were going to spend that money anyway. It’s a budget gimmick, sir.

GEITHNER: No, that’s not right. You know, let me say it this way, those were expensive wars, not just in Americans lives but in terms of the taxpayers’ resources. And when you end them as the president is doing, they reduce our long term deficits and like in the Republican budget proposals, the world should reflect and recognize what that does in savings.

And we propose to use those savings to reduce the deficits and help invest in rebuilding America. We think that makes a lot of sense.

WALLACE: But it was money that wasn’t going to be spent anyway, and –

GEITHNER: If those wars have gone on, they would be spent.

WALLACE: I understand. But you’re not saving — you’re not ending the wars for budget purposes. You’re ending the wars because of a foreign policy decision. The wars weren’t going to be fought. You’re not really saving money.

GEITHNER: Chris, we all agree –

WALLACE: I mean, it’s a budget gimmick, but it’s money never intended to spend.

GEITHNER: No, it’s not a budget gimmick unless you are — when Republicans propose, it’s a budget gimmick?

WALLACE: Sure, absolutely.

GEITHNER: And you should address that to them. But what it does is –

WALLACE: Well — so, I’m addressing it to you.

Watch for the attempt to use the $716 billion that Obama already took out of Medicare payments to providers, and the funds saved by not invading Canada. That should be a lot. Geithner has already insisted that there will not be a fiscal-cliff deal unless Republicans agree to hike taxes on the Rich. How embarrassing to have to try to sell this phony stuff. Geithner knows better.

The rich already pay far more than their “fair share.” The top 10% of taxpayers pay 70.5% of all taxes.The bottom 90% of taxpayers (the rest) pay 29.5% of all taxes. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay just 2.3% of all taxes. So who’s not paying their “fair share?” American income taxes are among the most progressive in the world.

The problem is not a lack of revenue. It is the spending habits of this particular president. He is way out of his depth, and it becomes more obvious every day. Better go back to the drawing board, Mr. Secretary.

Maybe if the House could revoke that $4 million the president is going to spend on his vacation, it would get his attention.

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