Holding People Accountable

“Knox, for the ninth time, there is no bat.  If there were, we would find him, we would arrest him.”

            —Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon in Batman

 

I’m going to make a bit of a strange connection, but stick with me here.  It’s all about accountability.  Just ask Obama.

Speculation and accusations continue to swirl around the White House over Benghazigate, as the President’s position that he didn’t know anything and couldn’t do anything and never lied about anything becomes increasingly untenable.  Perhaps the most fundamental problem Obama faces is that even in his world, he can’t blame this one on Bush, since the Libyan Spring took place on his watch and with his overt support; under Bush we had no consulate in Libya for terrorists to attack.

Having painted himself into a corner, Obama has now been forced to acknowledge that the Benghazi incident reflects some potentially serious problems.  Speaking on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday, Obama said that “[I]f we find out that there was a big breakdown and somebody didn’t do their job, then they’ll be held responsible.”

This somebody will be held responsible line sounded like something I’d heard from this administration before.  So I did a little digging, and shockingly, this isn’t the first time Obama has said something about holding people accountable.  Indeed, he’s said it many times, in many different contexts.  Here’s what I could find without too much work:

On the banking industry:

And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible[.]”  February 24, 2009 address to joint session of Congress;

On burning Korans:

We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible.”  February 23, 2012 letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai

On the economy:

One nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable.”  February 2, 2009 on NBC’s Today

On Operation Fast & Furious:

There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case then we’ll find out, and we’ll hold somebody accountable” (eerily similar to the Benghazi statement).  March 22, 2012 interview on Univision

On security leaks:

[S]ince I have been in office, my attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks[.]”  Obama during June 8, 2012 press conference; Senior Adviser David Plouffe “[O]bviously people need to be held accountable if they did something wrong.”  June 17, 2012 interview with CNN’s Candy Crowley.

Perhaps the most interesting to me, however, is President Obama’s statement about accountability in his discussion of the Stimulus during his February 24, 2009 address to a joint session of Congress:

“That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort—because nobody messes with Joe.  I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend.”

Every member of his Cabinet will be held accountable for every dollar they spend, huh?  Well, that got me wondering again how that whole Department of Energy green energy stimulus giveaway program was going.  So in the interest of accountability, I thought it might be time for an update of the green energy subsidy casualty list I published back in February.

UPDATE: A123 Systems—Bankrupt, October, 2012

A123 began in 2001 from a research lab at MIT on $100,000 in federal seed money.  In 2009 it received $249 million in DOE loan money to develop electric car batteries for the Fisker Karma (which later proved to have serious defects resulting in the recall of all 239 Karmas produced).  This, despite public admissions in their SEC filings that they had “never been profitable.”  A123 is $144 million in debt and filed for bankruptcy on October 16.

UPDATE: Abound Solar—Bankrupt, July 2012

Abound was a Colorado-based manufacturer of thin-film solar panels.  In December 2010, it received $400 million in DOE loan guarantees, about $70 million of which it cashed in.  Unable to compete, and unable to find a buyer for itself as a going concern, Abound filed for bankruptcy liquidation on July 2.

UPDATE:  Solar Trust of America—Bankrupt, April 2012

This one didn’t get much press.  Oakland-based Solar Trust of America holds the development rights for the Blythe Solar Power Project in Southern California.  It received $2.1 billion in DOE loan guarantees in April 2011, but ran short of cash when its 70% majority owner—German company Solar Millennium AG—filed for bankruptcy in Germany in December.  Solar trust filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. April 2.

Ener1—Bankrupt, January 2012

Ener1 was a New York-based parent company of a firm that received $118 million in federal “stimulus” grants to produce electric car batteries in part for the Fisker Karma (see below), a deal that ultimately fell through in favor of A123 (see above).  Ener1 filed for bankruptcy in January.

Beacon Power—Bankrupt, October 2011

Beacon received $43 million in DOE loans.  Beacon declared bankruptcy in October 2011, and began selling off its assets in December.

Evergreen Solar—Bankrupt, August 2011

Evergreen was a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of solar panels.  It received government grants including an estimated $5.3 million in federal “stimulus” money.  Evergreen went bankrupt in August 2011, and in November sold its assets to a Chinese firm.

Solyndra—Bankrupt, August 2011

You all know the Solyndra story.  Solydra netted a $535 million loan over the objections of financial analysts, and the debt was later restructured to move taxpayers behind Obama bundler George Kaiser in the creditor queue.  Solyndra declared bankruptcy in August 2011, and later sold its assets for pennies on the dollar to a new outfit also partly owned by Kaiser.

Spectrawatt—Bankrupt, August 2011

Spectrawatt was a New York-based manufacturer of silicon cells used in solar panels.  It received $500,000 in “stimulus” grants in June 2009.  Spectrawatt filed for bankruptcy in August 2011, and was bought by a Canadian firm.

Nevada Geothermal—Insolvent, October 2011; UPDATE: Auditors Doubt Viability, July 2012

Nevada Geothermal is a Nevada-based geothermal energy company that received $66 million in federal grants, and another $79 million in DOE loans; loans it immediately used to pay off or renegotiate other loans that were or were about to be in default.  A July 4, 2012 report said internal auditors were questioning the firm’s viability going forward: “[M]aterial uncertainties case significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going-concern.”

Amonix—Layoffs, January 2012; UPDATE: Closed Main Plant, July 2012

Amonix was a California-based solar systems manufacturer with a plant in Nevada, partly owned by Obama mega-bundlers John Doerr, Daniel Weiss, and Steve Westly.  Amonix received $5.9 million in federal “stimulus” grants in 2010.  It laid off two-thirds of its workforce in January, and closed its main plant in July.

Sunpower—Insolvency/Layoffs, November 2011

Sunpower, yet another California-based solar firm, received a $1.2 billion DOE loan in September 2011.  Barely a month later, it announced hundreds of millions of dollars in losses, and that it was “reorganizing” and cutting jobs.  It is now owned by the French oil giant Total, without whose backing it would be bankrupt.

Fisker Automotive—Layoffs, February 2012

Fisker Automotive is a California-based manufacturer of luxury electric cars.  It received a $529 million DOE loan to produce its $102,000 Karma, which it manufactures in Finland.  After producing—then recalling—a grand total of 239 units, Fisker announced in February that it was laying off employees in its Delaware and California locations.

Hundreds of billions of your tax dollars at risk or gone, on a program that’s seen eight bankruptcies and counting, at least two insolvencies, and three sets of layoffs and plant closures.  That’s in addition to jobs being sent overseas (Fisker) or entities being taken over by foreign ownership.  All to “create”—giving the administration the most charitable benefit of the doubt—a few hundred jobs.

Yet neither Secretary Stephen Chu or anyone else has been fired or even taken to task by the administration.  Come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone getting fired over banking failures, burning Korans, the economy, or security leaks, and only one low-level scapegoat firing in Fast & Furious.  And my bet is as long as Obama is in office, no one gets fired over Benghazi.

Maybe “holding people accountable” doesn’t mean what the Obama administration thinks it does.

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Oooh, That Smell

“Did you hear that?  He just let the guy die, man.  He just gave him up.  Gimme that headset.  That’s like pulling the trigger yourself.” 

            —Paul Gleason as Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson in Die Hard

 

To quote Genius Joe (albeit speaking in another context), “This is a big f***ing deal.”  And the longer it goes on, the more disgusted I get.

You are no doubt well aware that on September 11 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and burned, resulting in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.  What we now know is that there were actually two separate coordinated attacks—one on the consulate proper, the other on a “safe house”/CIA base about a mile away—carried out over several hours.  But as this story continues to unravel, it increasingly demonstrates—once again—the colossal naiveté and gross incompetence of this administration.

And its pathological inability to tell the truth.

On September 12, President Obama gave a five minute address in the Rose Garden before jaunting off to Vegas to raise campaign money.  Now 49 days later, this is the one and only time Obama has addressed the nation on the attack.  Lest I be accused of taking something out of context, the entire transcript as published by the White House itself is available here.  But at the beginning of his remarks, Obama said this:

“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to [sic] this type of senseless violence.”

Plainly, the President was drawing a connection (i.e., suggesting a motivation) between the Benghazi attack and the stupid anti-Mohammed video Innocence of Muslims.  Obama made no mention—none—of the nearly simultaneous riot and burning of the embassy in Cairo, no mention of al Qaeda, and only once at the end did he make a single generic reference to “acts of terror.”

Over the next several weeks, the message out of the White House was garbled at best.  On September 13, Press Secretary Jay Carney linked the regional unrest to the video: “The protests we’re seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie.”  On September 16 U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice made the same connection on Meet the Press.  On September 18 Carney reiterated it: “Our belief based on the information we have is it was the video that caused the unrest in Cairo, and the video and the unrest in Cairo that helped—that precipitated some of the unrest in Benghazi[.]”  And as late as September 20—nine days later—President Obama was still linking the two during a town hall interview on Univision.

But when this it was a spontaneous protest narrative began to unravel, the administration began looking for scapegoats; so it blamed bad intelligence.  The message was confusing and inaccurate, you see, because they were only reporting what CIA was telling them, and CIA was getting it wrong.  There’s just one problem:

The administration had the actual information in real time.

It turns out, an unmanned Predator drone was over Benghazi, watching the attack as it happened.  And the administration—including the White House—was informed of the situation via email during the attack.  You can argue about what was motivating the attack or who, specifically, was behind it, but those issues are totally irrelevant while the attack is going on.  The immediate issue during the attack is defending against it—whoever is behind it or why—and protecting Americans in danger.

Not only did the Obama administration know that Benghazi was under attack as it was happening, but there now are reports that the CIA detachment in Benghazi made multiple requests for military help and they were not only denied that help, but told to stand down and not go to the aid of the besieged consulate.  This, despite having military assets available at multiple locations within short travel times of Benghazi.

What’s worse, it didn’t take much to see this coming.  The Benghazi mission was bombed twice in the five months leading up to the September 11 attack.  U.S. and British diplomats were attacked in June, and the British closed their consulate their shortly thereafter.  And the U.S. diplomatic mission had repeatedly requested additional security, but was denied.  Not only that, but it was denied ostensibly due to a lack of funding, even as the State Department was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy Chevy Volts for the embassy in Vienna.  Say what you will about whether the administration had specific advance warning of an attack; even without an engraved invitation specifying the time, place, and manner of the assault, it should have been obvious that Benghazi, Libya was an exceedingly dangerous place for a U.S. diplomatic mission, and it begs the question why there wasn’t enhanced military security—i.e., heavily armed Marines—already in place heading into the 9/11 anniversary.

Maybe if the President attended a security briefing once in awhile, he would have had a better grasp on this situation in advance.  Maybe if he weren’t spending literally millions of dollars hosting lavish State dinners there would have been room in the budget for additional security in Benghazi.  Maybe if he spent less time partying with Beyonce and more time protecting American lives and American interests, Chris Stevens and the other 3 Americans would still be alive.

And this highlights the most disappointing aspect of this whole episode.  Rather than stand up and deal with the issue, once again this administration’s first instinct was to hide, deflect, distract, and blame.  Interestingly, when he spoke in the Rose Garden on September 12, Obama said nothing about the drone coverage or emails telling them about the attack in real time—4 p.m. in D.C.  Instead, he said “ . . . last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi,” as though they found out about it after-the-fact on the nightly news like the rest of us.  Obama went on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart—as an aside, isn’t Comedy Central sort of beneath the office of President?—and the best he could say was that the deaths of four Americans was “not optimal.”  Meeting with the father of slain Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods in a staged-for-TV service at Andrews Air Force Base, Obama gave him a dead fish handshake, wouldn’t (couldn’t?) look him in the eye, and managed only an insincerely mumbled “sorry.”  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for her part, blamed the video and said they would prosecute the filmmaker, even though we now know she knew better.  This is not the behavior of genuinely sympathetic human beings, but of pure political hacks with something to hide, looking for cover.

This administration, and this President, are simply incapable of telling the truth or accepting actual responsibility for anything.  We’re going to learn more over time, although I fear the real core telling truths won’t come out until after the election.  But what is apparent now is this:

  • The administration had ample information ahead of time that there was a need for additional military security in Benghazi and didn’t provide it;
  • They watched the attacks as they were happening and refused to send help, and four Americans are dead as a result;
  • Then the administration lied about the whole thing.

Mr. President, the smell of death surrounds you.

Drinking the Kool-Aid

“We’re going inside of ‘em.  We’re going outside of ‘em.  Inside of ‘em! Outside of ‘em!  And when we get them on the run once, we’re going to keep ‘em on the run . . . We’re gonna get ‘em on the run, we’re gonna go, go, go, go!  And we aren’t going to stop until we go over that goal line!  And don’t forget, men — today is the day we’re gonna win.  They can’t lick us . . . The first platoon men, go in there and fight.  Fight, fight, fight, fight!  What do you say, men!”

            —Knute Rockne

 

I went to early voting yesterday.  And I have to confess I’m starting to drink the kool-aid.

Yes, I have the same nagging feeling I get every August when I start believing the two-a-days reports that this is finally the year my Rice Owls will break through to respectability that I’m just setting myself up for disappointment.  And maybe I’m in denial that this country can actually walk to the edge of the abyss, look down, and then gleefully jump in, all the while joyfully chanting yes we did.

But I think Romney’s going to win it.  And he has the potential to win it big.

I don’t think there’s much doubt now that he’s going to win the popular vote.  Not by Reagan-esque numbers, but I think it’s very likely that Romney will net north of 50% nationally.  The problem has always been the way the electoral college shakes out, and as I wrote back in May, Romney basically had to run the table to make up for what Obama already had as locks.

But that was a loooong time ago in election year terms.  Since then we’ve had Benghazi-gate, Obama’s Denver debate no-show, and Joe Biden’s continuing to embarrass himself.  More importantly, I think Governor Romney has finally had an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s not the caricature that Obama has tried to cast him as, and with his straw man exposed, Obama has had no “Plan B” as far as a campaign strategy.

What that’s done is bring states back into play that 3-4 months ago were considered solidly in Obama’s pocket.  States like Nevada and Colorado.  Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and even Michigan are up for grabs.  And states that were once battleground states—Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia—are now looking like they’re breaking for Romney.

So when I revise my electoral map, I see Romney taking Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia.  He’s likely to take Colorado and Iowa.  I think he’ll win Nevada and may win New Mexico, but for these purposes I’ll give them both to Obama, along with New Hampshire.  That leaves Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

And I think Romney’s going to win Ohio.

And that, friends, is 281 electoral votes, and a Romney win.

Here’s where it gets really interesting.  As I said, I think Romney has a good chance to take Nevada (6) and New Mexico (5).  While it was unthinkable as recently as a month ago, my sense is Romney may well take at least one (maybe more—we’ll get to that) of the Michigan/Pennsylvania/Wisconsin trio; my bet here is it’s Wisconsin (10).  I don’t think at the end of the day Romney will be able to overcome the UAW in Michigan.  But the Pennsylvania coal country is now VERY close, and the wild card here is Hurricane Sandy.  This storm looks like it’s going to make landfall right through Eastern Pennsylvania Tuesday or so, and will likely disrupt things for several days.  If they have significant power outages as a result, greater Philadelphia could be largely shut down through Election Day, sharply reducing turnout in the metropolitan area Obama must have in order to carry Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.  At a minimum it’s going to disrupt early voting.  If all of that comes to pass, it’s Romney 322, Obama 216.  Not a landslide, but that’s a very sound beating against an incumbent.

None of this is certain, and there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work left.  But there’s good reason for optimism.  Make sure you vote.  Make sure your friends vote.  And make sure you check your ballot carefully—Hannity had a woman on his radio show Friday who said she tried to early vote in Nevada, and her electronic ballot machine was defaulting to a vote for Obama when she selected Romney; the technician who fixed it—remember Nevada is where the SEIU invaded to steal the 2010 Senate race for Harry Reid, who was a sure loser without their, er, “support”—gave her NO explanation as to what the problem had been.  There is much potential for hanky-panky, so be vigilant.

And pray.

**********************

Benghazi Count:  As I write this it’s been 47 days since our consulate in Benghazi was blown up and our ambassador killed, and the President still hasn’t addressed the nation.  But he’s had time for Vegas, Beyonce, The View, Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Nickelodeon, 60 Minutes, and any number of sugar-coated local top-40 radio appearances.

The Prurient Left

Polonius:        What is it between you?  Give me up the truth.

Ophelia:          He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders of his affection to me.

Polonius:        Affection!  Pooh, you speak like a green girl, unsifted in such perilous circumstance.  Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?

Ophelia:          I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Polonius:        Marry, I’ll teach you.  Think yourself a baby that you have ta’en these tenders for true pay which are not sterling.  Tender yourself more dearly.  Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, running it thus—you’ll tender me a fool.

            —William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, scene 3

What is it with the Democrats and their obsession with sex?

This whole campaign season we’ve been inundated with Sandra Fluke, contraception, abortion, and gay rights.  A gaggle of protesters dressed as giant vaginas showed up outside the RNC convention.  Then there was the absurd DNC e-card urging women to “vote like your lady parts depend on it.”  Apparently the Republicans and the Right have a platform based on mandatory radical hysterectomies and vaginal removals for all women.  I think that will be as much news to Mitt Romney & Co. as it was to me, but it doesn’t stop there.

Now the Obama camp—sponsored by the same people who brought you women’s champion Bill Clinton—has come out with an ad featuring a 20-something woman looking into the camera and talking about her “first time”:

“Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody.  You want to do it with a great guy . . . someone who really cares about and understands women . . . It was like this line in the sand.  Before, I was a girl.  Now, I was a woman.  I went to the polling station. I pulled back the curtain . . . I voted for Barack Obama.”

This isn’t cute.  It isn’t clever.  And it isn’t funny.

It’s disturbing.  And it’s beneath the office.

Now, I understand full well the ad isn’t to be taken literally, but the double-entendre is obvious and undeniable.  The Obama campaign is not only drawing a parallel between voting and sex, but it’s saying in essence that young women—of voting age, of course, we wouldn’t want to accuse them of soliciting voter fraud; that would be racist of us—should give up their virginity to Barack Obama.  And the egomania inherent in approving this kind of messaging is scary.  Adolph Hitler fancied himself adored by flocks of swooning young girls, and he avoided marrying or publicly displaying a mistress (Eva Braun was almost never seen with him in public) in a deliberate effort to promote this image of Hitler as a virile and sexually available dominant male.  The current Obama ad reeks of a 21st Century repackaging of the same idea.

Women on both sides of the aisle should be coming unglued about this.

Not only is this ad bordering on sexual predatorism, but it’s reducing women to base objects, incapable of thinking past their labia.  Apparently none of you women reading this can understand, much less give a crap about, the economy, jobs, the debt, the deficit, national security, etc.  Otherwise, why isn’t the Obama campaign talking to you about these issues?  They could have run the identical ad, with the same woman doing the same thing, but rather than wistfully reminiscing about her “first time,” having her explain all the great things he’s done in office, and all the great things he’ll do if given a second term (see, e.g.,  Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” ad).  Instead, she’s looking straight into the camera suggesting you give up your virtue to him.  Don’t vote for him because he’s got a good substantive track record, but because he’s sexy and he cares.

Of course I love you.  Of course I’ll respect you in the morning.

Ladies, is that really as far as your thought processes go?

Didn’t think so.

Then there’s the outright lies built into this whole “war on women” bullcrap.  As I’ve posted before, this whole contraception = women’s health care = opposition to Obamacare is a “war on women” equation is simply a false premise designed to manipulate you; once again, the Left inherently assumes that you women can’t think for yourselves and make informed judgments about actual issues.  Contrary to this ad, or what Obama has been saying on the campaign trail, there is no platform plank to take away birth control.  If Mitt Romney is elected President, you’re not going to wake up on January 22 and suddenly be unable to get a condom.  Or The Pill.  Or the patch, plug, implant, or whatever your contraceptive of choice is.  Neither the government, nor your employer—even if you work for the Catholic Church—is going to stop you.  Not now, not the day after Romney is inaugurated, not at any time over the ensuing four or eight years.

Moreover, the vast majority of women who use The Pill are not doing so to realize ancillary health benefits, but to avoid getting pregnant, and the Obamacare coverage mandate goes well beyond The Pill to cover exponentially cheaper contraception alternatives that have no medical application at all.  So this isn’t about “health care,” but sexual convenience.  And nearly 90% of insurance plans already cover contraceptives even without the mandate.  So not only is it a false premise, it’s a non-issue.

The Democrats keep bringing up this “war on women.”  Well, consider that they don’t think any more of you than than to set you up to fear a fictitious boogeyman, and talk to you about your genitalia, instead of addressing your mind with the truth about real-life, real-world substantive issues.    What is this telling my wife, who put herself through college and law school, and was on Law Review?  What is this telling my 14 year old daughter?

You took me out to wine, dine, sixty-nine me, but didn’t hear a damn word I said.

There is no vast Right-Wing conspiracy to take away the franchise, or otherwise destroy women.  The Tea Party isn’t the least bit interested in whether you use contraceptives.  Here’s what people on the Right are concerned with, and this is what Romney’s been trying to get out and what Obama is running from:

  • The national debt stands at over $16 trillion, almost $6 trillion more than when Obama took office;
  • The deficit is over $1 trillion a year;
  • Real unemployment is stagnant at nearly 15%, and 5 million people have left the workforce altogether since Obama took office;
  • Welfare rolls have skyrocketed since Obama took office;
  • Billions are being spent on unconstitutional bailouts that haven’t worked, and have been given to failed businesses operated by Obama’s cronies;
  • National security is being routinely compromised, either through express policy, chronic “leaks,” or naïve and irresponsible “off the record” dealings;
  • Iran is out of control;
  • Afghanistan still won’t end, and although only 1/3 of that conflict has been on Obama’s watch, 2/3 of the U.S. casualties have occurred during that time;
  • The current administration is consistently overriding the Constitution by executive fiat;

And on and on.

Ladies, vote how you will (because I know you will).  But when you do, do it because of what you think based on the facts, not because of how some smooth-talking player makes you feel as he’s getting you liquored up.

Tender yourselves more dearly, indeed.

*********************************

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Sorry I’ve been away from my keyboard for awhile.  I’ve had a lot of time demands that have kept me too far behind the news cycle to say anything that hasn’t already been said, and my muse went on vacation.  Hopefully we can overcome both.  Keep the faith as election day nears.  And go vote as early and as often as is legal in your area.

Ryan v. Biden

Were you born an asshole, or did you work at it your whole life?

Either way, it worked out fine, ‘cause you’re an asshole tonight.

            —Jimmy Buffett, The Asshole Song

 

A few thoughts on Thursday night’s Ryan/Biden VP debate.  Up front let me say I think there was something there for you to be happy about coming out of it, no matter who you were or what your political persuasion was.  Because of that, I don’t think at the end of the day it did anything to move the needle on the election.

And given the climate over the last week since Romney v. Obama I, that’s advantage Romney.

To his credit, Vice President Joe Biden accomplished the two biggest tasks he had going in.  One, he avoided saying anything colossally stupid, like calling J-O-B-S a “three-letter word.”  Two, he did a good job of staying on offense, and that will no doubt have helped shore up a deflated base that was discouraged by Obama’s disappointing performance last week.  And he worked in the Democrats’ major campaign points—I thought he was particularly effective in casting the Romney/Ryan foreign policy plan as warmongering (not that it necessarily is, but that’s the Democrat spin on it, and I thought he got that message out).  So if you were an Obama supporter, you likely left the debate feeling pretty decent.

Ryan likewise did a lot of what he needed to do.  Like Biden, he needed to avoid a major gaffe, and he did that.  He needed to present himself credibly, and he needed to stay on message.  Check.  And he needed to keep his cool and explain the realities in the face of the Left spin, and as he always does, he did that nicely.  He made nice points on the mathematics that there aren’t enough rich to tax to pay for current levels of spending, and on Middle East foreign policy.  He tried to explain the BS behind the Democrats’ straw man attacks on the ticket’s Medicare and Social Security plans.  So if you went in as a Romney supporter, you likely also left the debate feeling pretty decent.

Where I think this went well for the Republican ticket, is once again the Democrat’s performance in the split-screen format when the Republican was talking came off very poorly.  Last week it was Obama’s palpable disinterest in the whole process.  This week, it was Biden acting like a pre-pubescent ass (and as they did last week with Obama, the RNC wasted no time in taking full advantage).  Virtually every word out of Ryan’s mouth prompted derisive laughter, adolescent eye-rolling, condescending head-shaking, and not-so-under-the-breath commentary from Biden.  It was beneath the dignity of his office and of the election and debate process.  This is not how grownups have intelligent adult discussions, but that’s how Biden and the modern Left are.  If what you say isn’t in lockstep with them, rather than talk about it—which is what a “debate” is—they ridicule it.  You may disagree with what Paul Ryan had to say Thursday night.  But none of it was so off-the-wall nonsense that you could just dismiss it with a giggle and a shake of the head.

Biden also—with some help from moderator Martha Raddatz, an ABC Senior Foreign Correspondent—repeatedly interrupted Ryan, routinely refusing to let him finish points.  Again, I think this came off as childish and rude, and a majority of those who aren’t dazzled by Obama’s cult aura will have found it a real turn-off.  I’ve seen some complain that Ryan should have been more aggressive in pushing back, but I disagree.  Ryan respectfully chided him one time that “I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we didn’t keep interrupting each other,” but otherwise let him go, and I think that was the right thing to do.  Biden hurt himself more than he helped by the way he acted.

And Biden provided a little additional help that may take a few days to start paying dividends.  One, taking a page from John Kerry, he flat lied about his voting record on Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming he had always opposed those actions when in fact as a Senator he voted in favor of both.  Two, he flat lied about the administration having had no information that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi had been requesting additional security, when for the better part of Thursday several former security officers were testifying before Congress that they had repeatedly requested and been denied additional security.  And three, notice that his position on the administration’s misinformation campaign about the Benghazi attack was based on incorrect intelligence, while his position on Iran’s nuclear program is that we should trust the intelligence network to let us know when that threat is imminent.  All of these should make for some nice ad fodder in the coming days.

In the end, I don’t think Ryan scored the knockout I thought he might—but he didn’t need to.  What he needed to do was not lose ground, and he did at least that.

Obama’s Racism

Angel in Devil’s shoes

Salvation in the blues

You never looked like an angel

Yeah, yeah, angel of Harlem.

            —U2, Angel Of Harlem

I want to reset on something that was making the news circuit last week.

You probably saw that an old video of a 2007 campaign speech has re-surfaced, in which then-candidate Barack Obama, speaking to a group of black pastors, praised his “mentor” Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and espoused some shall we say extreme racial views, including the idea that racism basically caused the disaster that was Hurricane Katrina.  Now the Obama campaign has pooh-poohed this as old news, and it is.  And a lot of folks have clung to the notion that George Bush’s hatred of black people caused fatal delays in marshalling and delivering aid to New Orleans (an act that was unconstitutional regardless of its timeliness, but that’s a different discussion for another time).  I don’t want to get into a debate over the substance of Obama’s comments, or whether the video is taking him out of context, because in this case I think the real issue isn’t in what Obama said but in how he said it.

Now I want you to click on the link and really listen closely to Obama speak.  Close your eyes and listen.

Does that sound like the Barack Obama you’re familiar with?

Normally, Obama’s vocal patterns are virtually indistinguishable from those of Speaker of the House John Boehner, who has never been mistaken for being black.  Think Steve Carell, not Steve Harvey.  Yet, in 2007 when he was campaigning before a gathering of black church leaders, he suddenly—and deafeningly temporarily—picked up a deep south lilt laced with more than a hint of an accent characteristic of distinctly black speech patterns.  To put it bluntly, he sounded black.

Um, Rusty, he is black, so what did you expect, and what’s the big deal?

True enough, and frankly I don’t care that he’s black, or that he might sound black when he speaks . . .  if that were his normal speech pattern.  But it’s not, and it never has been.  Don’t believe me?  Click and listen:

That’s not how Obama sounded in 1990 discussing his election as the first black President of the Harvard Law Review.

That’s not how he sounded in 1991 leading a protest in favor of his professor friend (and Critical Race Theory—look it up—proponent) Derek Bell.

That’s not how he sounded in a 1995 interview promoting Dreams From My Father.

That’s not how he sounded in his 2010 State of the Union address when he chewed out the Supreme Court over its Citizens United decision.

And it’s not how he sounds in his current campaign ads.

The above clips (and any of a billion others you can find on YouTube) are clear that this—middle-aged Midwestern smoker—is his normal speech pattern, even in situations where race was at issue and his being black was part of what was making him the star of the show.  So why, when he went in front of a group of black pastors in 2007 did he suddenly sound like he walked straight off the set of Good Times?

There are those who have suggested that what you hear in that 2007 video is the real Obama, that he’s been hiding his true anti-white self behind a carefully crafted public façade.  Maybe so.  But rather than engage in this sort Obama’s-really-the-angry-black-man conspiracy theory, let me suggest we give him the benefit of the doubt, and that what you normally hear from him really is the way he normally talks.  If that’s the case—and I think it is—here’s what I can’t understand:

Why wasn’t/isn’t the black community absolutely outraged?

Imagine, for a second, that Mitt Romney went before the NAACP back in July in blackface.  The black community, the Left, the media, and in fact most rational people would have come unglued, and rightfully so.  Why?  Because doing that would have been mocking black people, putting on a “costume” based on physical stereotypes.  Worse, he would have been doing it to try to endear himself to them by posing as a caricature of themselves, and in the process telling them he’s something that he’s not.  Offensive?  You bet.

Well, that’s exactly what Obama did by adopting that accent in front of the black pastor’s group.  In a transparent attempt to convince them of his “blackness,” he put on an act that played to stereotype.  And in so doing, he sold them short, as the professional race-baiters and perpetuators of the black victim mentality always do.  Rather than give them credit for being intelligent, thinking adults capable of understanding and voting based on substantive issues—and addressing them accordingly by simply presenting himself as himself—he assumed that their voting intellect was literally only skin-deep.

Those in attendance, and the black community at large, should have been outraged.  Why are you coming in here and pretending you’re something you’re not?  Why don’t you talk to me about the issues instead of pretending to be extra-black?  Obama’s opportunistic faking of a black accent and its inherent presumption of a black audience’s inability to look beyond race were every bit as racist as Romney donning blackface would have been.  That Obama is in fact black doesn’t change that.

Alternatively, if the 2007 accent is in fact real, the black community should still be outraged.  By picking it up when he needs them, but dropping it “in public,” he’s effectively disowning them.  He’s telling them you’re good enough for me to be like you when I’m with you in private, but I can’t let the rest of the world know that I’m like you.  In other words, you’re not good enough to be seen in public.

Either way, Obama is a racist.

Romney v. Obama, Round 1 Thoughts

It’s only fear that makes you run

The demons that you’re hiding from

When all your promises are gone

I’m the only one.

            —Melissa Etheridge, I’m The Only One

Several of you have inquired where’s the debate post-mortem?  Well, the truth is I had planned on posting my running notes, but real life intervened.  I spent 2 hours Wednesday evening trying to rescue my 7 year old from having to go through RCIA even though both her parents are Catholic (one by birth) and she’s been raised Catholic since before she could talk.  Fortunately, reason ultimately prevailed, but with that and picking up dinner, I got home just as Jim Lehrer was kicking off.  Then between getting the kids fed, homework checked, spelling words reviewed, etc., I wasn’t able to focus as much as I wanted, and I got hopelessly behind in trying to take notes.  But since a number of you have asked, I will offer a few quick thoughts.

Let me say first, I’m not sure I saw the same debate that apparently everyone else in the country, right or left, saw.  By all accounts, Romney pummeled Obama.  If this were boxing, he would have had at least one knockdown, and the judges would have scored the round 10-7.

I hate to rain on the parade, but I had it closer to 10-10.

To be sure, Romney came out swinging, as he had to.  And I thought he did a good job of staying on offense, demonstrating that he had a grasp on detailed facts, and walking the country through both Obama’s failed record, and his lies.  So in that sense I thought Romney did well.

But performance is relative, and you have to weigh it against the game situation.  This isn’t a tied game in the 1st Quarter; from an electoral college perspective—the only one that matters—Romney’s behind, and it’s late.  Yes, Romney was more on offense and scored more points.  But he had to, and even then he was going to need some help from Obama, and I didn’t think he got it.

By contrast, Obama didn’t need to score.  If we learned nothing else from Tin Cup (forgive me for mixing my sports metaphors), it was that sometimes par is good enough to win.  That was the situation Obama was in, and I thought he likewise did a good job of just keeping it in the fairway and avoiding any penalties by talking enough to run out the clock, while saying as little as possible.  So when you look at the debate in light of what the respective candidates needed to accomplish, both basically did what they needed to; and that’s advantage Obama.

Further, while Romney indeed scored his points, I felt like at times he was trying too hard.  And his frequent running over time, walking over the moderator, and interrupting Obama struck me at times as childish.  To be fair, Obama did his share of that, too, and frankly those who complain that Lehrer did a poor job of controlling the discussion and managing the clock have a point.  But I don’t think that favored one candidate over the other (you’ll note that for all his interruptions, Romney got 4 minutes less speaking time than Obama did).  But the bottom line for me was I was more bothered by Romney’s conduct than I was by Obama’s (maybe I’m just so conditioned to be irritated by everything Obama does, I didn’t notice it as much).

Now, what I didn’t see live, but I now appreciate having seen some replays, is Obama’s demeanor really did come across as that of an arrogant and cranky brat.  Interestingly, though, that was most evident when Obama wasn’t talking, a point brilliantly illustrated in the RNC’s Thursday morning video ad The Smirk.  The split screen view really hurts the President, because you get the full brunt of his “This whole exercise is beneath me” arrogance.  You can bet his handlers will have coached that out of him by the next debate.

If they can.

All in all, while I preferred Romney’s substantive message, I just didn’t see it as the catastrophic ass-whipping it’s being made out to be.  I thought it was more a very slight edge to Romney, which isn’t enough, given his game situation, but I seem to be alone in that view.  Now some of that may just be the media trying to drive the story, or the Left trying to shore up a complacency problem.  But what’s interesting is the level of panic we’re seeing.  Public displays of horror from the likes of Chris Matthews and Michael Moore.  Al Gore is out there blaming the altitude (I thought both candidates were at the same elevation, but maybe Obama having his nose in the air cost him in that respect).  And this may be useful, because if the panic is real, there’s a good chance that the Obama camp will overcorrect in its future preparations.  Remember, their game situation isn’t that they need to win, but that they need to avoid major mistakes.  The more aggressively they try to go on the attack, the greater the likelihood they make exactly the kind of mistake they can’t afford.

Compounding that problem is where they are in the batting order: next up for them is Genius Joe on Thursday.  That, friends, could get fun.

But perhaps the best of the post-debate reaction, however, came from Obama campaign advisor David Axelrod, who said:

“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 . . . Because we need an honest and a genuine and realistic plan to move forward and not a bunch of lines designed to get you through a debate.”

Deal, David.  But you might want to mention it to Barack.

Does Baby Really Got [Your] Back?

“Hey, Maverick, I’m curious.  Who was covering Cougar while you were showboating with this MiG?”

            —Val Kilmer as Lt. Tom “Iceman” Kazansky in Top Gun

 

One of the hallmarks of Obama the Campaigner is how cool and up-to-21st Century speed he is.  He’s all over iPads, iPhones, iPods (I, I, I . . .) and social media.  And he’s all about the latest hip lingo.  If you browse his website or canvass coverage of what he and his surrogates are saying on the campaign trail, you’ll find a lot of talk about “having someone’s back.”

The idea of “I’ve got your back” is typically understood to refer to a personal relationship of protection.  I’m watching out for youI’m going to defend you against what you can’t see and against which you can’t defend yourself.    Of course, the way Obama uses it in appealing to the mass of voters as part of his whole “we’re all in this together” routine, what he’s really talking about is collectivism.  But I want you to consider something else.

When he asks you whether you’ve got his back, or to wear t-shirts and post yard signs proclaiming that you’ve got his back, implicit in that request is the notion that he, in return, has yours.  So the question I want to ask you (or, more appropriately, you should ask yourself) is this:  does Obama really have your back?

Did Obama have Brian Terry’s back?  Terry was the U.S. Border Agent killed in a gunfight involving illegal weapons that the Obama Justice Department—not Bush, Obama—deliberately allowed to move into the hands of Mexican drug gangs as part of Operation Fast & Furious.  Obama and his Attorney General have steadfastly denied any knowledge of the program, all the while refusing to provide Congress with any of the documents that would presumably prove that.  And as far as I know, Obama has never even called to offer condolences to the Terry family, and they still don’t have any answers.

Did Obama have Chris Stevens’ back?  Stevens, of course, was the U.S. Ambassador to Libya killed along with three other Americans in a September 11 al Qaeda attack on the embassy in Benghazi.  An attack Obama and his administration repeatedly denied was a terrorist action despite knowing within 24 hours that it was, and having a pretty good idea who was behind it.  An attack as to which there is mounting evidence the Obama administration was warned in advance, yet did nothing to beef up security despite lax security being a known issue, and the obvious significance of the impending 9/11 anniversary.

But Obama’s got your back, right?

Oh, come on, Rusty.  You know perfectly well that Obama can’t literally be everywhere protecting everyone.

OK, well what about his family and friends?

Did Obama have George Obama’s back?  George is Obama’s older brother in Nairobi.  When he needed $1000 for medical treatment for his son, he could not get it out of his multi-millionaire brother.  Instead, he had to turn to Dinesh D’Souza, the author/producer of the anti-Obama book Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream and film 2016—Obama’s America.

Did Obama have his grandmother’s back?  When the caustic sermons of Reverend Jeremiah Wright were causing Obama headaches during the 2008 campaign, he went on national TV and called her a racist.  And what about his mentor and inspiration Jeremiah Wright; did Obama have his back?  In that same national TV address he “threw [Wright] under the bus” (Wright’s phrase) after he refused Obama’s repeated attempts to bribe him into silence.

Still counting on Obama to have your back?

Rusty, you’re nitpicking about stuff that has nothing to do with being President.

I see.  How about this?

Did Obama have the back of D.C. schoolchildren?  One of his first acts as President was to kill a voucher program that allowed underprivileged kids to attend charter schools that their parents would otherwise be unable to afford, condemning them to the underperforming D.C. public schools.  Meanwhile, he sent his daughters to the most expensive and elite private schools available, and his buddies in the teachers union got to stay in business without real performance accountability.

Did Obama have the back of the U.S. taxpayer?  His Department of Energy forced taxpayers to invest in not-ready-for-prime-time green startups like Solyndra owned by his mega-campaign donors.  And when they headed for bankruptcy, Obama allowed his donors to move to the front of the creditor line (thus recouping their money) and cut sweetheart deals to pull the assets out of the company on the cheap, while taxpayers lost hundreds of millions.

Did Obama have the back of public shareholders of GM?  Obama used TARP bailout money to pull GM out of the normal bankruptcy process in order to preserve UAW pensions and turn over effective control to the UAW.  Meanwhile, those who owned stock in GM got essentially nothing, and once again, taxpayers lost millions.

And you trust Obama to have your back?

Did Obama have Benjamin Netanyahu’s back?  With the Palestinians pushing for U.N. recognition as an independent state, Obama pre-empted the Israeli Prime Minister by publicly declaring that Israel would have to accept a return to its pre-1967 borders, thus undercutting the Israeli negotiating position.  And of course there’s the infamous open-mic incident when Obama basically called Bibi an a-hole in what he thought were candid private comments to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.  He may be behind Netanyahu’s back, but whether he’s “got” it is another story.

Did Obama have the back of the pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran?  After the 2009 elections, thousands took to the streets to protest election fraud on the part of the Ahmedinejad/Khameini regime.  But although that Iranian administration is objectively and obviously evil and contrary to U.S. interests, Obama did and said essentially nothing.

Whose back did Obama have when he told Dmitry Medvedev to tell Russian President-Elect Vladimir Putin—again, he thought privately, but inadvertently captured by an open mic—to be patient, and that he would “have more flexibility” (presumably to yield to Russian demands regarding U.S. missile defense in Europe) after the election?

Whose back did Obama have when his Justice Department repeatedly dropped cases against the New Black Panther Party for making armed threats outside a Philadelphia voting station, and for soliciting kidnapping and murder in connection with the Trayvon Martin shooting?

Whose back did Obama have when his Justice Department has repeatedly indicted whistleblowers under the Espionage Act for exposing government misconduct?

Forget what he says.  Time and again, Obama’s actions (or inaction) have demonstrated that unless there is substantial political gain in it for him, he’s not in the least bit interested.

Obama asks you whether you’ve got his back.  I submit to you that he’s already got that covered himself.

Do you really think he’s also got yours?