Our AWOL President

“Listen, doctor.  I’ve got a boy here in cardiac crisis.  You can’t treat that with Coca-Cola or Bisquick.  We’re going to have to use real medicine this time.  Now I’m sending him to Athens General.  You’re his regular f*cking doctor, you get your fat ass out of bed, get down here and go with him!”

          —Michael J. Fox as Dr. Benjamin Stone in Doc Hollywood

 

This is unforgivable.

As reported in the last post, last Wednesday Paris went into almost total lockdown mode after Islamist terrorists went on a bloody rampage at the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve, including an unarmed police officer.  They killed another cop on Thursday, and later engaged in a fiery hostage standoff with French police.  Ultimately, seventeen people died in the biggest terrorist assault on French soil in memory.

Last Friday Obama paid lip service to U.S. support of the French in the wake of the hostage standoff:

“It’s important for us to understand—France is our oldest ally.  I want the people of France to know that the United States stands with you today, stands with you tomorrow.”

Apparently Friday’s promise of tomorrow didn’t extend to the day-after-tomorrow.

On Sunday millions—literally millions—took to the streets of Paris in peaceful demonstration of solidarity against the barbarism of militant Islam.  Some 40 presidents and other world dignitaries were there at the head of the march.  Among those joining French President Francois Hollande were German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.  Hell, even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas managed to be civil enough to show up at the same event together. 

So, where was U.S. President Obama?  I don’t know for sure—it’s a little early to be working on a March Madness bracket, even for him—but I can tell you where he wasn’t:  he was not in Paris to join the other leaders of the free world in demonstrating for free speech and against Islamist terrorism.

He didn’t even bother to vote “present” this time.

Rusty, surely he sent Vice President Joe Biden to represent the U.S., didn’t he?

Um, nope.

Well, of course he sent John Kerry then, right?  I mean, that is kind of right down the middle of the job description for the Secretary of State, isn’t it?

It is, but sorry, Mr. Kerry couldn’t be troubled to reschedule his appointments in India.

The highest level U.S. official anywhere near the scene was lame-duck Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Paris for a previously-scheduled anti-terrorism conference, but skipped out prior to the rally so he could tape a softball interview for Meet The Press.  [As an aside, query why an anti-terrorism conference is a task for the Attorney General as opposed to, say, the Secretary of Homeland Security, except that I guess it presents one last opportunity for a European vacation boondoggle on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime.]  Thus, the U.S. delegation at the demonstration consisted of Obama bundler-turned-ambassador Jane Hartley.

Um, who?

In other words, when the whole of the civilized world finally stood up and stood together against the barbarism of radical Islam, the United States was effectively nowhere to be seen.

This is embarrassing beyond description.

Following the 9/11 attacks, President Bush—correctly, by the way—made the case that the struggle against the Islamists—he was more politically-correct than he should have been and labeled it a “war on terror”—was not just an American cause, but it was a cause for the entire free world.  And on that theme he went to our allies around the world and persuaded them to join us in a campaign to root out and destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan as a message to all who would slaughter innocents in the name of Allah.  France joined in that struggle, and 88 Frenchmen have made the ultimate sacrifice in that effort.

In short, when we sounded the clarion call for volunteers to man the ramparts against radical Islam, the French answered, “Oui!”.

Yet when it was France’s turn to be on the wrong end of a bloody scimitar, where was the U.S.?

It’s not about offering assistance, contrary to the flaccid excuses offered by Secretary Kerry.  The French never needed our help tracking down and destroying the perpetrators of the immediate crisis at hand.   It’s about leadership and solidarity against the greater global threat.  Say what you will about the Al Sharpton, Quanell X, Jesse Jackson, and the like; at least these would-be black leaders know when to show up.  When it comes to uniting the civilized West against the Islamists, the great superpower of the West simply cannot just post “#JeSuisCharlie” on Twitter and call it a day.

Of course, the first step towards recovery is admitting you have a problem, and this is where the rubber meets the road for this Administration.  This President and his lackeys have a long and well-documented aversion to recognizing that the world faces a real and serious threat from the Islamists.  Attending a global-scale rally would have been a tacit admission that last week’s events in Paris go beyond an isolated one-off incident, and are instead part of a much broader and much more serious problem.  And that’s simply too much for an Administration that has the hardest time even pronouncing the word “terrorism,” much less using it in the same sentence with any form on the word “Islam.”

So what does it tell our allies that, when they gather to mourn their dead and cry out in defense of freedom in the face of Islamist violence, the U.S. essentially R.S.V.P.s “Non”?

What does it tell the Islamists that, when the Western world rallies in defiance against their acts of terror, ostensibly the most powerful nation on the planet can’t or won’t show its face?

Like it or not, the U.S.—at least until the Chinese call in our debt—occupies a unique position in the world, particularly the West.  We cannot play ostrich and hope that by ignoring it or just not speaking its name the Islamist threat will just go away.  The U.S. must be the tip of the spear at the vanguard of this fight, not hiding on the back bench behind the cheerleaders.  We must lead.

This is a serious fight with serious stakes.

And we must be present to win.

Defanging

Put away that gun, this part is simple

Try to recognize what is in your mind

God help us, help us lose our minds

These slippery people help us understand

What’s the matter with him? (He’s all right)

How do you know? (The Lord won’t mind)

        —Talking Heads, Slippery People

 

Just a little food for thought today.

Having successfully stalled on immigration so his party didn’t have to face the voters on the issue, President Obama is now locked and loaded to move forward with unilateral executive action on amnesty, bypassing a Congress that come January will be controlled by the largest Republican majority in some 60+ years.  It used to be that “elections have consequences,” but I guess that’s only true if you still believe the Constitution and its concepts of separation of powers and enumerated (read: expressly limited) powers still mean anything.

Article I is really pretty clear on this:

“The Congress shall have the Power . . . To establish an [sic] uniform Rule of Naturalization[.]”

To the extent that the authority to regulate the border is exclusively the province of the Federal government, that power is vested solely in Congress.  It appears nowhere in Article II, and thus is not among the powers granted to the President.  In the land of the New Imperial Presidency, where a Republican landslide gets spun as simply an electoral mandate to give Obama whatever he wants, however, it appears that things are going to work a little differently.

But an added development is a little chilling.

NBC’s Tuscon affiliate is reporting that the Office of Border Patrol Training and Development has been inspecting border agents’ M4 carbines (the modern version of the old M-16, the military version of what we civilians carry as the AR-15).  I’m all for training, and periodically inspecting the weapons deployed in the field to ensure they are in good working order seems like a reasonable practice, except there’s just one minor problem:

The agents aren’t getting their rifles back.

That’s right, when the DC boys come to inspect, many of these rifles are not being returned, nor are they being replaced.  Agents are left with so few rifles that they are forced to share from a common pool, meaning no one has a rifle with sights adjusted to their particulars.  And many of the rifles removed from service have only routine minor maintenance issues that frankly any competent armory ought to have sufficient parts in stock to accomplish the repair on site.  Yet the men and women charged with securing the border are being left without adequate firepower to do it effectively, let alone safely.

We face an unprecedented wave of illegals, encouraged by the Imperial President’s promises of amnesty.  Reports that nearly a half million were caught last year—begging the question how many weren’t—were cleverly suppressed until after the election.  Now the Emperor’s minions are systematically disarming your Border Patrol.  But let’s look at this in its broader context.

This is the same administration that deliberately furnished thousands of military grade weapons to Mexican drug gangs, then lied about it, and is now hiding from it.  This is the same administration that is militarizing non-security-related government branches such as the Department of Education, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, purchasing thousands upon thousands of weapons and billions of rounds of ammunition.  And they can’t manage to find spare parts to get Border Patrol rifles back in service?

Obama and his Progressive hoardes have been trying to disarm you, the American Citizen, for years.  You no longer need guns for self-defense—not that that’s the valid Constitutional inquiry—they argue, because you have government security in the form of, among other things, the Border Patrol and Police.  Now they’re actually disarming the Border Patrol.  Meanwhile the likes of Eric Holder are stoking the embers of what will inevitably become an anti-police inferno in Ferguson, Missouri, thus effectively disarming the police nationwide, as they now face the Hobson’s choice of either not defending themselves, or being subject to politically-driven automatic murder indictments regardless of how legitimate the evidence shows their actions to have been.

Obama’s already gutted the military.  Now he’s rendering the Border Patrol and local police operationally impotent.  Which begs the question:

Who’s minding the gates to the castle?

Chickenshit

Umpire:          You’re pushing it, buddy, you’ll find out.  You want me to run you?  I’ll run you!

Crash:            Oh, you want me to call you a cocksucker?

Umpire:          Go ahead.  Try it! 

Crash:            You want me to call . . . beg me!

Umpire:          Try it! Call me a cocksucker!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            Pretty please, beg me!

Umpire:          Call me a cocksucker, and you’re outta here!

Crash:            You’re a cocksucker.  You’re a cocksucker!

Umpire:          You’re *outta* here!

        —Stephen Ware as the Umpire, and Kevin Costner as “Crash” Davis in Bull Durham

Why does the Obama administration hate Israel?  More specifically, why does this administration, and Obama in particular, hate Benjamin Netanyahu?

Just this week, a piece in The Atlantic quoted multiple unnamed “senior officials” in the Obama administration referring to the Israeli Prime Minister as “chickenshit,” saying the former commando and combat veteran has “no guts.”

Wow.  Really?

That’s a hot one coming from this President and this administration, particularly while hiding behind journalistic anonymity.  But apparently this is just the latest in a running list of derogatory references to Netanyahu that The Atlantic catalogues as including: “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’”

Is this really how we speak about the leader of one of our closest allies?

Meanwhile, last week in response to the killing of a 17 year old Arab-American by the IDF, the Obama administration issued a statement expressing “its deepest condolences to the family.”  That’s fine, so far as it goes, but when State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was informed of reports that the teen was killed while throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli civilians when he was shot (and later buried wearing a Hamas handkerchief), she refused to identify that as an act of terrorism, thus denying the IDF’s action any cloak of legitimacy.  I note this is exactly the same tactic used by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist apologists when they simultaneously denounce “terrorism” yet refuse to condemn Hamas or Hezbollah.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new, and the Obama administration’s mistreatment of Israel and Netanyahu is well documented.  For example:

March 2010:  Obama abruptly leaves a meeting with Netanyahu to have dinner in the White House private residence, leaving Netanyahu to twiddle his thumbs.

May 2011:  Just prior to a UN vote on the recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Obama publicly calls for a return to the pre-1967 borders, thus undermining Israel’s negotiating position.

November 2011:  Forgetting he has a hot mic, Obama complains to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “You’re fed up with him?  I have to deal with him every day.”

September 2012:  Obama refuses Netanyahu’s request for a meeting, despite Netanyahu’s volunteering to fly to the District to do it.

July 2014:  While Israel is actively engaged in an effort to stop Hamas from firing rockets from Gaza into Israel, the administration announces $47 million in aid for Gaza, where instead of building hospitals and homes, Hamas builds tunnels for smuggling terrorists into Israel.  This is on top of the $400 million a year the U.S. sends to the Palestinian Authority, which under the unity government arrangement, helps fund Hamas.

Why are we being like this?

The Atlantic, for its part, blames the soured relationship on Israel, in particular on the continued building of settlements on the West Bank.  To be sure, the settlements tend to present a stumbling block on the road to peace, as they increase Israel’s hold on buffer zones she views as necessary to her national security.  But The Atlantic—and, apparently, the Obama administration—forget that Israel has a history of giving up land for peace only then to be attacked from the very land she gave up (see, e.g. Israel’s withdrawal from settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005).

And Israel has good reason for concern.  Israel is tiny; with about 8,000 square miles of territory and a population of 8.2 million, she is roughly the same size as New Jersey.  Discounting the West Bank, Israel is barely 8 miles wide at her narrowest point, which makes for a very precarious defensive situation.  She is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, and hostile Islamic states to the south (Egypt), east (Jordan), and north (Lebanon and Syria).  She has been invaded or threatened with imminent invasion by those states three times in the last 60 years (1948, 1967, and 1973).  Calls for the destruction of Israel are common in the Islamic world, which is becoming increasingly influential on the international stage; the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a permanent delegation to the UN, and its 57 member states typically vote as a bloc together with permanent Security Council members Russia and China, and is a primary driver behind pushes for UN resolutions criminalizing any speech deemed “insulting” to any religion (read: anything that upsets Islam).

And ISIS now controls areas barely 200 miles from the Israeli border.

You’ll forgive the Prime Minister if he’s more than a little frustrated and impatient with a U.S. administration that has little serious time (or regard) for him, even as it inches ever closer to a deal that will ultimately allow Iran to become a nuclear power.  Iran has repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, declared its desire and intention to erase Israel from the map.  There is no reason not to take them at their word; if the Iranians get a nuclear weapon, they will use it on Israel, and they will do so immediately (Iran’s Shahab-3 cruise missile has a range of 1,200 miles, placing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv within easy striking distance from western Iran).

And that’s where the rubber really meets the road, because what it tells us is that in this drama there are, in fact, good guys and bad guys.

In contrast to Iran, or Hamas in Gaza (at least tolerated, if not supported, by the ruling Palestinian Authority in the West Bank), or Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel has never called for the destruction of any nation or group of people.  And what’s telling about that is that Israel could long ago have cleaned Gaza and the West Bank of every living Arab if she wanted to.

But she hasn’t.

To the contrary, Arabs in Israel enjoy full citizenship, the same as Jews or anyone else.  They can and do vote, serve in the Knesset or the courts, and own property.  They pay the same taxes and receive the same government benefits as Jews.  They can freely and openly practice their religion.  Women, homosexuals, and even Muslim Arabs enjoy more freedom in Israel than anywhere else in the Middle East.

That we won’t stand firmly with what is obviously the only open, free, democratic society in the region—and indeed, why we instead are almost openly hostile to it—is flabbergasting.  And it stems directly from this administration’s pathological inability or unwillingness to call a spade a spade.  If we learned nothing from the Harry Potter franchise, it’s that you can’t fight an enemy until you have the courage to call it by its name.  Yet these people are so wrapped up in their hyper-politically-correct worldview that they can’t acknowledge reality.  They can’t accept that there are in fact good guys and bad guys, and identify them.  They can’t call terrorism terrorism.  They can’t call evil evil.

I suppose we shouldn’t really be surprised at this point.  This is the same administration that blinked at its own “red line” in Syria; couldn’t pull the trigger on defending the consulate in Benghazi, and then repeatedly tried to blame it on a stupid internet video rather than call it terrorism (and two years later, Obama still has never had enough spine to stand before the American people like an adult leader and discuss that incident); insisted on calling the shootings at Fort Hood “workplace violence” despite convicted killer Nadal Hassan repeatedly shouting “Allahu akbar” as he did it; still hasn’t taken meaningful action to curb the growing threat from ISIS; delayed an attempt to rescue ISIS hostages until the intelligence on their location was stale (two have since been beheaded); and three times canceled the raid to capture/kill Osama bin Laden.  Not coincidentally, this is the same administration that repeatedly gets caught spying on our closest allies (no wonder Obama almost never sits down with any of them one-on-one); has repeatedly hidden from legitimate inquiries behind stalling and bogus claims of executive privilege; never takes live press Q & A; and routinely engages in sophomoric gamesmanship.

And now we know this is the same administration that anonymously badmouths its friends to the press.

We have a word for that:

Chickenshit.

Dropping The Ball On Ebola

If the world is a monster

’bout to swallow you whole

Philomath, they know the lowdown

Throw your troubles out the door

(I’ve been there, I know the way) Can’t get there from here

        —R.E.M., Can’t Get There From Here

 

I’ve been holding off on this, because I hate stating the obvious; but sometimes there’s just no way around it.

On March 25, the Centers for Disease Control reported an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, with 86 suspected cases resulting in 59 deaths.  In less than a week, that had expanded to 112 cases and 70 deaths in Guinea, and reports of infection were spreading to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Reaction from the White House?

Nothing.

Within two weeks the numbers in Guinea had risen to 151 cases and 95 deaths, and cases were further spreading in Liberia and Sierra Leone.  By the end of April the number of cases had passed 200, with 146 dead.  After five weeks, had the Administration blocked travel to/from these places?  Nope.

But it had managed to send a heavily armed team of federal agents to a ranch in Nevada to collect a tax bill.

Through May and June, the virus continued to spread.  By the end of June—90 days after CDC reported the outbreak—there were over 400 cases in Guinea, over 200 in Sierra Leone, and over 100 in Liberia; numbers double or more what they had been a mere eight weeks earlier.  Did the Administration move to block travel to the places battling the infection?  No.

But it did find time to make an illegal swap of five Taliban generals for alleged Army deserter Bo Bergdahl (as an aside, despite the apparently unanimous consensus of his unit as to what happened, we conveniently won’t have the results Army’s investigation until after the midterms).

CDC’s reported cumulative combined case totals continued to explode through the summer, as the virus further spread to parts of Nigeria (I’m only giving samples of the semi-daily updates here for space reasons; you can see them all here):

July 7:                 779 (481 dead)

July 14:               888 (539 dead)

July 21:            1,048 (632 dead)

July 28:            1,201 (672 dead)

August 4:        1,603 (887 dead)

August 12:      1,848 (1,013 dead)

August 19:      2,240 (1,229 dead)

August 28:      3,069 (1,552 dead)

In the five months since CDC first reported the pandemic, the number of cases had risen from 86 to over 3,000, with a fatality rate of over 50%.  By now, at least two Americans were among the medical aid workers infected while trying to care for the sick and dying.  Yet there was essentially no reaction from the Obama administration, and no move whatsoever to curtail traffic to the U.S. from the infected region.

On September 6, CDC reported that the infection had spread to Senegal, and was also being reported in Congo (although somehow CDC had determined that the latter was unrelated to the outbreak in West Africa).  Curiously, CDC for the first time included in its report—almost defensively—that no confirmed cases had been reported in the U.S.  Even more curious, CDC stopped including the cumulative numbers from West Africa in its semi-daily updates.

The following day—and I’ll leave it to you to speculate whether the CDC’s change in reporting the day before was mere coincidence—President Obama was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where he told Chuck Todd he was sending the Army to go build isolation units in Africa and that we need not worry about Ebola here:

“Well, Americans shouldn’t be concerned about the prospects of contagion herein the United States short term, because this is not an airborne disease.”

Just three weeks later, CDC confirmed infection of a man in Dallas who had flown here from Liberia.  He died October 8, and at least two of his U.S. caretakers have contracted the disease.  Now six-and-a-half months in, there have been nearly 9,000 cases, and nearly 4,500 deaths.  The disease has now been reported in Spain as well as in the U.S.  Although there is now some minimal level of pre-flight screening at some African airports, and post-flight screening at a total of five U.S. airports (beginning only this week), there is still no ban on travel to/from the affected areas.

This is inexplicably inept, or criminally derelict.

Efforts to aid local treatment to contain the disease are commendable, although one can question whether that’s within the U.S. federal government’s constitutional mandate; it’s almost certainly not a proper role for an already over-stretched military.  But if your objective is to protect Americans, the obvious and easiest first step is to ensure that that the disease can’t get here from there. And indeed, the WHO emphasizes the importance of keeping healthy people separated from the sick as critical to preventing spread of the disease.  Duh.  While it may be true that the Ebola virus itself is not airborne, its infected hosts certainly can be.  Airport screening is only as good as your ability to catch infected people; if they’re not yet symptomatic—it can take as long as three weeks after infection to show symptoms—or if they lie, you may well not find them until it’s too late.

Say what you want about the competency of CDC’s protocols, or the Dallas hospital’s initial response to the first case of infection.  None of those things would have been an issue if people from the affected region simply couldn’t come here in the first place.  Although Thomas Duncan would, tragically, almost surely still be dead, the two American nurses who are now fighting the disease wouldn’t be infected, and the dozens or more who have had contact with his caregivers (and so on . . . and so on . . .) would not now be at risk.

Unlike the crazies on the Left who to this day believe George W. Bush deliberately created Hurricane Katrina by executive order because he hates black people, I do not blame the Ebola outbreak on Obama.  Its presence now in the U.S. for the first time, however, rests squarely on the shoulders of his indecisiveness and the incompetence of his response once it came.  This really should have been a no-brainer, maybe not on the day of the first CDC report in March, but certainly by July when the pandemic was clearly exploding and was beginning to affect American aid workers in West Africa.  Yet although Obama told Chuck Todd in September he had made the Ebola issue a priority for his national security team what is now nearly four months ago, the one action item with the best chance of protecting Americans at home still hasn’t been taken.

Why?

That question becomes even more jarring when you compare the delay and non-response on Ebola to the speed with which the Administration acted to ban travel to Israel.  On the morning of July 22, a Hamas rocket landed about a mile from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv.  One rocket.  Within 24 hours, the FAA had ordered U.S. domestic carriers to suspend flights to Israel.  Presumably the idea was to protect American lives that might be at risk should the fighting result in a commercial aircraft being hit.  Never mind that in living memory—someone please correct me if I’m wrong—no commercial airliner coming into or out of Ben Gurion has ever been hit by ordnance from the 60 year old Israel/Palestine conflict.

Clearly this Administration knows how ban travel, and to do it quickly, when it so chooses.  Why the inaction on Ebola?

Is the President afraid of damaging our critical diplomatic ties with Liberia?  Does he want to preserve our essential trade relations with Sierra Leone?  Does Guinea have some strategic position that is vital to our national defense?

Is it because the affected region consists almost entirely of heavy Muslim-majority countries (Liberia being the lone outlier)?

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given this President’s track record of having no strategy to deal with ISIS in Iraq or with Russia in Ukraine, and complete inaction to secure the Southern border, among some of his more recent failures.  But we really have to ask in this instance how this President has managed to miss something so basic as taking the most concrete measure possible to prevent the virus from getting to the U.S. in the first place.  After all, how did Ebola get into Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria?  An infected person traveled there from Guinea where the initial outbreak began.

Now it may be too late.

Hither, Dither, and Yon

Borodin:    Captain, I would never disagree with you in front of the men, you know that.  But in this case, Viktor is right: it would have been better if you had *not* informed Moscow.

Ramius:     Oh, Vasili, Moscow is not the worry, nor the entire Soviet Navy.  I know their tactics.  I have the advantage.  No, the worry is the Americans.  We meet the right sort, this will work.  We meet some “buckaroo”. . .

        —Sam Neill as First Officer Vasili Borodin, and Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius in The Hunt For Red October

 

I have complained many times in this space about this President’s lack of visibility and more-than-curious refusal to address the nation on serious crises.  I’m beginning to re-think that, and maybe it’s better sometimes if he’d just keep his mouth shut.

On Thursday Obama broke from his usual pattern and actually gave a press conference to address the situation with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  During those remarks, the President said, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

What?

This is troubling on a number of different levels.  First, if you don’t yet have a strategy, why on earth are you holding a presser to announce that fact to the world, including ISIS?  As we’ll discuss in a moment, this is not an isolated incident for this, er, Commander-in-Chief.

Second, how is it that the President has no strategy for dealing with ISIS?  The group has been part of the anti-Assad uprising in Syria for years.  Although he cavalierly dismissed them as the “JV” back in January of this year, the intelligence community has been warning about them since about that same time.  And it’s been all over mainstream Western news for months that ISIS was taking vast territories from a badly overmatched Iraqi army.  On June 9, ISIS captured the key Iraqi city of Mosul.  Yet nearly three months later, the Obama administration still doesn’t have a plan for dealing with them?

This comes on the heels of Obama in effect announcing that he doesn’t yet have a plan for dealing with increased Russian aggression in Ukraine.  There he went a step further by announcing what his plans would not be, explicitly taking any military response off the table.  I am not suggesting that military intervention necessarily is the appropriate response to the situation in Ukraine, but why on earth would you say out loud that it’s not an option?  By doing that, Vladimir Putin now knows the worst risk he faces is economic sanctions, and with winter approaching a Europe that depends on Russian gas he knows the U.S. is not likely to get significant European support for much beyond what is already in place.

And this is not new for the Obama administration.

Recall March 2012, when Obama—thinking he was off-mic—told then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that after the election he would have “more flexibility” regarding U.S. missile defense systems in Europe.  Translation: he told the Russians that if they would just be patient, he would be able and willing to give them what they want.

If publicly telling your adversaries that you’re taking options off the table is bad, the reverse—publicly making threats you are not willing to carry out—may be worse.  Rewind to August 2012, when the President told the world that the use of chemical or biological weapons in the Syrian conflict would be a “red line” for the U.S. as far as military intervention.  Fast-forward to August 2013, when alleged evidence that the Assad regime was using such weapons against civilians prompted calls for action, and Obama denied he said what he said, and then he did nothing.

As not quite an aside, this is essentially the same thing he did with respect to Benghazi, when he promised to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice, and has done basically nothing since. He is now in the process of doing precisely the same thing with respect to the murder of journalist James Foley.  Yet while on his recent vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, he found time to work in eight rounds of golf, raising his total to 35 rounds this year, and 192 rounds since he took office.  It is also worth noting that while ISIS and the Russians have been on the march and the administration did not have a plan, the Commander-in-Chief had time to attend over 40 fundraisers this year; that’s over eighty in his second term, nearly three times Bush 43’s second term tally.  Obama’s total of nearly 400 is second only to Bill Clinton.

Time and again, the President has publicly shot off his mouth about strategies and plans—or the lack thereof—with respect to foreign policy matters.  He has absolutely no grasp of the concept of playing it close to the vest when dealing with adversaries.  Sun Tzu, writing some 2,500 years ago, emphasized the importance of information, particularly about the capabilities and intentions of your opponent, in deciding conflicts; Obama seems to have missed that one.

This administration lives in a state of total denial regarding the threat from our enemies. In point of fact, the administration has expressly denied that ISIS is at war with the U.S., despite the fact that ISIS has expressly and repeatedly said that it is.  Instead of acknowledging the reality and dealing with it for what it is, the Obama administration steadfastly refuses to take them at their word, and has consistently attempted to deal with ISIS and other Islamists as civilian criminals, rather than soldiers at war.  Further, FreeBeacon.com reports that the latest FBI domestic threat assessment refuses to include Islamist jihadis among those threats, focusing instead on things like anti-government militia groups, black separatists, and both sides of the abortion debate.  The FreeBeacon piece notes that the FBI is advised on domestic terror threats by operatives of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

This childish game of insisting it won’t be so as long as we refuse to name it is dangerous.  You may choose not to defend yourself, but you have no choice about being in a fight if the other guy wants to fight.  When you broadcast your every move to the world, ignore what your adversaries tell you are their intentions, and on top of that allow those same adversaries to advise you on how to respond to threats, your ability to defend yourself even if you wanted to is reduced to nil.

Perhaps we could do with a little less talking, and a little more doing.

Isn’t It Ironic

 

It’s like rain on your wedding day

It’s a free ride, when you’ve already paid

It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take

Who would’ve thought . . . it figures

        —Alanis Morissette, Ironic

 

WARNING: THIS PIECE HAS STRONG LANGUAGE; PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED

i∙ron∙ic  (ī ränˊik) adj.  1 meaning the contrary of what is expressed  2 using irony 3 opposite to what is or might be expected  Also i∙ronˊi∙cal—i∙ronˊi∙cal∙ly adv.

Just some quick observations today (in no particular order) for your consideration about the often curious positions the Federal government and the Progressive Left that runs it take these days.  I’m sorry, I haven’t linked to everything . . . time’s a bit short, I’m not getting along with my new laptop, and most of this is relatively undisputed common knowledge, even if not loudly reported in the media.

The Obama administration gave up five Taliban generals to spring an alleged Army deserter imprisoned in Afghanistan (actually Pakistan, but who’s counting?).  And so dire was Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl’s medical condition, there was no time to consult with Congress as required by federal law (thus justifying Obama’s unilateral enactment of an “urgent need” exception to the legislation passed by Congress).  Somehow just six weeks later he’s healthy enough to return to active duty.  Yet that same administration hasn’t lifted a finger to free a Marine rotting in a Mexican jail for making a wrong turn.

A photo I.D. is required to see the U.S. Treasury building, a facility each of us owns.   But the Left in Congress screams RACISM and the Department of Justice files a lawsuit any time a State has the audacity to require that same I.D. simply to ensure that people showing up to vote are in fact who they say they are . . .

. . . Yet it drops charges against New Black Panthers caught on tape intimidating voters at a polling place.

I’m just sayin’ . . .

That same Department of Justice—which reports to the President—also sues States to prevent them from enforcing existing federal border laws.  They say that’s an exclusive job for the federal government, and none of the states’ business.  But then when the feds fail to discharge that responsibility—and indeed the administration adopts a policy of almost total tolerance—the President comes asking the States for their help to house the all-too-predictable flood of illegals.

Speaking of the border crisis, the Progressive Left sees in it a grand and indeed holy humanitarian opportunity to serve God’s children.  Yes, that does tug at the heartstrings, doesn’t it?  Until you remember that these same people crying over Guatemalan and Salvadoran 19 year old “children” who are very much alive, have said absolutely nothing about the 50 million American babies lawfully killed in the U.S. since 1972 by conspiracies between their mothers, their mothers’ doctors, and the Progressive Left other than to complain that State statutes restricting the practice to the first six months of pregnancy are somehow a “war on women.”

While we’re at it, um, Your Holiness, I’ll wait here while you have a chat with Archbishop Cordileone (Archdiocese of San Francisco, Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) home diocese) about the ramifications of a parishioner publicly advocating a position so emphatically not consistent with the Church’s most fundamental moral tenet, because I know the Church is concerned about the sanctity of human life and wants those taking the sacraments to be “in communion” with the Church . . .

. . . I’m still waiting . . .

Yeah, still waiting . . . I mean, I think they still teach about Henry VIII being excommunicated over a divorce,don’t they, and he hadn’t even killed anybody, at least not at that point . . .

Shall I just move on, since the Church has no credibility any more on this issue when the second most public and powerful female on the planet consistently claims to be Catholic yet consistently declares herself  against human life and there is exactly zero reaction from the Church of which she laughably claims to be a part? . . .

OK

The Obama administration’s spy and security apparatus is tapping your phones, watching your email and internet traffic, and sending drones to shove GPS tracer chips up your backside while you sleep (okay, I mostly made the last one up—I hope).  Yet it has spent the last six years avoiding any substantive engagement with the press, and has fought tooth and nail to provide any information to Congress or to the American people about what it’s doing.

While it was shielding—or destroying—documents and stonewalling Congress, the administration also put up a fence to keep veterans and everyone else from accessing monuments on the National Mall.  And it maintains a fence patrolled by armed K-9 units to keep U.S. citizens away from the White House.  By the way, both facilities are owned by the American people, the very people being kept out.  Yet the Obama administration specially opened the National Mall for a pro-illegal-immigration rally, and steadfastly refuses to fully deploy a fence to help secure the Southern border. This, despite the 95% decrease in illegal border crossings in San Diego (recognized even by NPR) once the fence there was complete.

Obama and the Left crammed through Congress a sweeping takeover of some 1/6 of the economy with the passage of FUBARCare.  They passed that monstrosity over the loud objections of a significant majority of Americans in part on the promise that its requirement that people purchase a product whether they like it or not was not a tax.  Then having jammed it down the American peoples’ throats, they then defended the supposed constitutionality of that legislation before the Supreme Court on the basis that it was in fact . . . a tax.

The Obama administration funneled billions of dollars of taxpayer money to campaign donors via bad “loans” to dubious “green energy” startups like Solyndra, yielding little except sophomorish “aw shucks” jokes that “shovel-ready” wasn’t as shovel-ready as they thought.  Meanwhile it used the IRS—you know, the agency that collects that tax money in the first place—as a political weapon against Conservative groups.

And then lied about it.  And then covered it up.

The administration screams bloody murder that law-abiding citizens—presumably that’s you—need to be deprived of their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.  But that same administration shipped huge numbers of military grade guns—guns you are in fact already prohibited from owning in the U.S.—to the chronically homicidal Mexican drug cartels, resulting in hundreds of dead Mexicans and at least two dead Americans.

And then lied about it.  And then covered it up.

While it was busy arming Mexican drug lords with one hand, the administration with the other was deploying armed federal agents to “monitor” peaceful Tea Party rallies.   Yet when the “occupy” demonstrations spent weeks disrupting commerce, vandalizing private property, crapping on police cars, trafficking in illegal and dangerous drugs, and committing rapes, the administration and Progressive Left did, well, nothing—except cheer them on. 

Speaking of rape and cheering them on, the Progressive-controlled Democrat Party has been pushing the mantra of the Right’s “war on women” for several years.  Yet the keynote speaker at their 2012 national convention was serial cheater and sexual abuser Bill Clinton.

Are you kidding me? You’re going to accuse me of waging a war on women just because I don’t want to pay for your abortion, and you’re going to invite Bill-I-seduced-a-20-year-old-intern-to-blow-me-in-the-oval-office-and-then-I-ruin-her-life-on-national-TV-Clinton to headline your convention?

I don’t normally use this language in this space—In my private life, those who know me know better, so sue me—but there’s really no other way to put it: your government-of-the-people-by-the-people’s reaction to you is: fuck you.

That’s your federal government these days in the hands of the Progressive Left, where everything is doublespeak, and who wins and who loses has everything to do with who you are.  And have you noticed who’s always on the losing end, even if it means flipping prior logic on its head?

Isn’t it ironic? Yeah, I really do think.

Trading Bad

“What I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games.  Sometimes it seems like a bad trade.  But bad trades are part of baseball.  Who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake?”

        —Susan Sarandon as Annie Savoy in Bull Durham

 

I suppose these things happen.

In 1989 the Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys five players and six draft picks (including three #1 picks and three #2 picks) for an aging Herschel Walker and a couple of mid-late round draft picks that, other than receiver Jake Reed, didn’t turn into anyone you’ve ever heard of, and the Vikings haven’t even sniffed the Super Bowl since.  Dallas converted those picks into (among others) Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith, Pro Bowlers Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland, receiver Alvin Harper, and three Super Bowl wins in four years in the early-to-mid-1990s.

A lopsided deal, to be sure.  But as far as I know, nobody died in the process.

By now you’ve seen that the Obama Administration made a deal with the Taliban to exchange five jihadists from Guantanamo Bay for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held prisoner in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2009.  On its face this doesn’t seem like a major issue, and one might even call it a victory any time we can secure the return of an American POW.  The U.S. government has on many occasions and under a number of administrations engaged in spy swaps and other forms of prisoner exchanges.

But this one struck me as different from the get-go, and as more facts emerge—and I confess we’re still pretty early in that process—the worse this thing looks.

To begin with—and maybe this is just my ignorance—I thought it a bit odd that the Taliban even had a U.S. prisoner to exchange.  I did not know they were in the business of keeping live American prisoners, and indeed it turns out that Sgt. Bergdahl was the only one they had.  Which in itself begs the question why they had him alive in the first place; what value was he to them?

Then there was the notion of the exchange rate.  I do not mean to imply that any human being is more or less valuable than any other, but in return for this single infantry sergeant the Obama administration gave up five reportedly senior Taliban officials and military leaders, including men with direct ties to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden (don’t sweat that, because Obama got a pinky-promise from the government of Qatar that they’ll keep an eye on these guys for the next year, just to make sure they don’t revert to their more violent tendencies; you’ll forgive us, however, if we wonder if that’s as good as the one Obama gave Bart Stupak (D-MI)).  Not only is that effectively trading generals for foot soldiers, but it’s not even a 1:1 deal.  Of course, we’ve seen how Obama negotiates with anyone outside the GOP, so that isn’t particularly a surprise.

But I can excuse all of that.

What I can’t excuse are the details that are emerging about the apparent circumstances of Bergdahl’s “capture,” and the way the President went about making this deal.

All the facts are not in; the Pentagon says it will investigate the matter, and unlike the many other promises from this Administration that it will investigate this, that, or the other thing and hold those responsible accountable—see Benghazi, Fast & Furious, IRS, NSA, VA, etc.—this one I sort of believe.  But what appears to be coming clear is that Bergdahl was not an ordinary POW captured in combat.  Multiple reports from men in his unit—apparently until now suppressed by the Pentagon, undoubtedly at the direction of the White House—indicate that Bergdahl instead was a deserter who walked off his post and voluntarily into the hands of the Taliban (which might explain in part why he was in the unique position of being in Taliban hands alive).

That’s bad enough, and I understand that the military takes such a dim view of desertion that the penalties for such an action are, well, somewhat on the stiff side.  One could reasonably ask why you would give up anything in exchange for a deserter.  But what really should bother everyone about this is the fact that the U.S. military spent as much as 60 days trying to find and rescue Bergdahl, and as many as 14 U.S. soldiers died in the process.   Add to that the however many Americans killed in the process of capturing the five jihadists released from GITMO in order to get Bergdahl back.  By making this deal, the Obama administration has cheapened those sacrifices, if not nullified them entirely, all for what really amounts to a political smoke screen—since when does Obama give a crap about the military—aimed at distracting attention from the VA debacle (which was distracting attention from the Benghazi and IRS scandals, which were distracting attention from FUBARCare . . . ).

That ought to make you sick to your stomach.

Worse still, all of the nearly 3,000 Americans killed in Afghanistan—every one of them a volunteer, by the way—presumably died defending this country and the American way of life; a way of life that was supposed to be grounded in the rule of law and separation of powers guaranteed under the Constitution.  Say what you will about whether that’s what we’re accomplishing in Afghanistan from a policy standpoint—and it’s a fair complaint after twelve mostly rudderless years, and three years after the last plausibly legitimate objective was achieved—for people who volunteer to go there and serve, that’s what they believe they’re doing, and it’s why they’re doing it.  Yet, the Bergdahl trade represents yet another act in this Administration’s continuing imperial erosion of that concept.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act, the White House was obligated to give Congress 30 days’ advance notice before releasing any GITMO detainees.  Obama ignored this, and told no one in Congress ahead of time, except apparently Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who claims he was notified just before it happened.  Even liberal Harvard law professors and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) acknowledge that this was a violation of the law.  The Obama Administration claims—depending on when you ask them—it could not give notice because Bergdahl’s health was deteriorating such that his life was in immediate danger and they could not risk a delay scuttling the deal, or that the Taliban was going to kill him; but video of Bergdahl’s release appears to show him in reasonably good health, and it’s unclear why he would have suddenly been in immediate danger after having been in captivity for five years.  At this point in this Administration, does anyone with a mind even bother listening to the explanation du jour?

Part of the problem here is that it turns out that an exchange of GITMO prisoners for Bergdahl had been under consideration as far back as 2011—in itself begging the question why the sudden urgency now—and Congress told the President no.  But the bigger issue is the underlying attitude of this Administration that if in its sole judgment circumstances warranted a more expedited approach, then the law passed by Congress and signed by him simply didn’t apply.  This President has such utter contempt for Congress, the Constitution, and the separation of powers, and views himself so above the law, that none of it matters.  This prisoner exchange, like so many actions by this lawless President, is totally at odds with the framework of freedom so many have died in that godforsaken hellhole to defend.   Left unchecked, it leaves us yet another step down the path of voiding the price those servicemen and servicewomen paid.

And that’s a bad trade, indeed.

Mysterious Ways

Mobster:       Clay Bertrand?  Sure I know him.  He comes around the Quarter.

Broussard:    Who is he, Joe?  I’ve been to all the bars.  No one wants to talk.

Mobster:       I told your uncle I never met a lawman who wasn’t a punk.  You, too, Bill, even if you’re family.  He’s a big shot businessman.  I seen him on the TV news a lot with all the other big shots.  Guy’s a fag, you know?  Goes by another name down here.

Broussard:    What’s the other name?

Mobster:       Shaw.  Clay Shaw.

Broussard:    Clay Bertrand is Clay Shaw?  The guy who used to run the International Trade Mart?

Mobster:       Yeah, what’s the big mystery?  Everybody down here knows the guy.

        —J.J. Johnston as the Mobster, and Michael Rooker as Bill Broussard in JFK

 

Over the last several days, whistleblowers have been coming forward to expose rampant incompetence, inefficiency, and outright fraud within the Veterans’ Administration.

Color me shocked.

Actually, I and many others have for years used the VA as Exhibit A for why FUBARCare was going to prove a bad idea.  Indeed, the VA is the poster-child for the problems inherent in central-government-provided service organizations.  And the fact that the VA was a trainwreck was so well-understood by everyone that FUBARCare’s proponents never even attempted to challenge it, relying instead on the evasion that things just would be different this time.

Everyone, apparently, except the President, who we’re told just got wind the other day from CNN that the VA sucks and is corrupt.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was fielding questions about the VA mess, in particular about when the President first learned of the problems.  He had this response:

“You mean the specific allegations that I think were reported first by [CNN] out of Phoenix, I believe?  We learned about them through the [news] reports.”

This is, of course, bullcrap as is everything else that spews forth from Carney’s, er, mouth.  But taking him at face value, here’s my question: where have I heard this before?

February 3, 2009:  Former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) ultimately withdrew from consideration as Health & Human Services Secretary after ABC News broke the story that he had failed to pay over $100,000 in taxes.  Speaking about the issue with NBC’s Brian Williams, Obama said “I screwed up,” and that he was “frustrated” and “disappointed” in himself and his team.  Screwed up what?  Frustrated and disappointed about what?  About not catching—and presumably quashing—that information ahead of time.  In other words:

I did not know my HHS nominee had a tax problem until I saw it on the news.

June 13, 2011:  Recall the heady days of 2009 when the new Administration and the Democrat supermajority in Congress was cramming through the first $800 billion round of “stimulus.”  A central—and oft-repeated—premise behind Stimulus was that a vast ocean of “shovel-ready” jobs would keep unemployment below 8% and eventually cut it to 5.6%.  That, of course, didn’t happen, leading Obama to wisecrack—because, you know, flushing $800 billion down the toilet is nothing if not funny—that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”  In other words:

I did not know there weren’t as many “shovel-ready” jobs as I thought until they failed to appear.

October 12, 2011:  We’ve covered Operation Fast & Furious many times in this space, and I will assume you remember the basic story.  Talking about the program with CNN Espanol, Obama said, “I heard on the news about this story that—Fast & Furious—where allegedly guns were being run into Mexico, and ATF knew about it, but didn’t apprehend those who had sent them.”

Everybody say it with me:

I did not know about Fast & Furious until I heard it on the news.

September 20, 2012:  You will also recall the September 11, 2012 assaults on the U.S. Consulate compound in Benghazi, and the Administration line (read: lie) tying the attacks to a wider outbreak of protests over a YouTube video.  Obama continued pushing this tale during a Univision town hall when asked whether the attacks in Libya were a terrorist attack:

“Well, we’re still doing an investigation, and there are going to be different circumstances in different countries . . . What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests.”

The Administration would later claim that the YouTube video story was the result of bad information from the intelligence community, but we now know that claim to be a lie.  However, taking the President at his word, once again the Administration’s essential message in response to a negative event was:

We did not know about it.

May 13, 2013: The President of the Associated Press announced that the Department of Justice secretly obtained phone records of individual reporters and an editor, including home phones and cell phones.  Jay Carney, in his daily press briefing, said, “Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP.”

We did not know DOJ was seizing phone records until the AP reported it.

May 16, 2013:  Then-IRS official Lois Lerner was forced to admit that the IRS was targeting conservative groups for investigation into, or delay or outright denial of, tax-exempt status.  Of course, at the time the IRS denied any higher-level officials knew about it, and Jay Carney denied any knowledge of when the White House knew about it.  For his part, President Obama told a press gathering, “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general’s] report beforehand.”  By May 20, that story had morphed into an admission that senior white house staffers in fact did know about it, but didn’t tell the President.  In other words:

Obama did not know the IRS had been weaponized until it was reported in the press.

August 7, 2013:  Shortly before NSA was forced to admit publicly that it was gathering email, telephone, and Internet data on Americans, Obama went on the Tonight Show and told Jay Leno, “There is no spying on Americans.”

I did not know about spying on Americans until Edward Snowden told the world.

October 22, 2013: After four years of planning and hundreds of millions in development costs, the FUBARCare signup website opened as a colossal failure, and even as late as mid-November, nearly half the site still had yet to be constructed.  HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNN’s Sanjay Gupta that Obama did not know prior to the launch that the website had serious problems, although we would later learn that senior administration officials had been warned months earlier that the site would not be ready in time.  Once again:

Obama did not know about it until he read about the site failures in the news.

October 27, 2013:  After it came to light that NSA was also listening in on the heads of state of our European allies, NSA officials claimed—you guessed it—Obama was never told about it.

Obama didn’t know about spying on Angela Merkel until it was reported in the news.

If ignorance is bliss, Obama’s got to be the happiest guy on the planet.  But seriously, how many times does he get to claim the ostrich defense before he loses all credibility?  Every single time something bad happens, the response from the White House and its defenders is Obama didn’t know.  Every.  Single.  Time.  How can that be?  Even Alfred E. Neumann would be embarrassed by now.

Either—and this is my bet—he’s just a pathological liar and congenitally incapable of taking responsibility for anything, or he is galactically incompetent.  I understand a President has to delegate.  But he cannot be so detached that he has absolutely no idea—none—what’s going on within his Administration until he hears it from Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s The Situation Room.

We should simplify things and ask instead what Obama does know.  Maybe he can answer that before he grabs a dog at the turn.

The Bigger Picture

Dorothy:         I don’t like this forest! It’s dark and creepy!

Scarecrow:     Of course I don’t know, but I think it’ll get darker before it gets lighter.

Dorothy:         Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals?

Tin Man:        Mmmmmmm.  We might.

Scarecrow:     Animals that—that eat straw?

Tin Man:        Some, but mostly lions, and tigers, and bears.

                        —Judy Garland as Dorothy, Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, and Jack Haley as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz

 

Oh, my.

Those of you who have been following the news—at least as it gets reported by outlets like Fox News and the Drudge Report—are aware that the Benghazi fiasco has resurfaced.  In the wake of fresh emails released after a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch, House Speaker John Boehner has finally moved to convene a special committee to investigate the administration’s response to the September 11, 2012 attack on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.  I will touch more on that below, but it occurs to me that there is a broader issue here.

One of the hazards of focusing so much on the news of the day—and, I suppose, a collateral benefit to the administration of having serial scandals—is we tend to forget the news of yesterday.  In so doing, we lose the forest—the broader pattern of behavior—for the trees.  More importantly, we tend not to inquire about the underlying reason for that pattern.

We don’t ask why.

Rewind to October 2008.  Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, talking about bringing “a new era of responsibility and accountability . . . to Washington.”  It was an old message for him.  At a September 4, 2007 roundtable conference in New Hampshire, Obama lamented the “culture of corrosive politics,” and then not only called for more trust and accountability, but touted the pursuit of those virtues in government as his raison d’être:

“The American people want to trust in our government again—we just need a government that will trust in us.  And making government accountable to the people isn’t just a cause of this campaign—it’s been a cause of my life for two decades.” (emphasis mine)

Ah.  So we’re to believe that Barack Obama spent 20 years of his life—when he wasn’t “organizing communities,” collecting a paycheck for being on sabbatical to write the first of two audacious autobiographies about a life with zero substantive accomplishments, and voting “present” in the Illinois State Senate—crusading for government transparency and accountability.

Oh, OK.

As President, Obama signed a directive to the heads of all executive departments proclaiming a new era of government transparency and accountability:

“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.  Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government . . . Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.”

Let’s leave for another time the terrifying implications of a Chief Executive who chooses to capitalize “Government,” but not “citizens.”  What’s important for our purposes here is to note that this President has repeatedly and for years emphasized the importance of, and his claimed commitment to, government transparency and accountability.  And lest we get caught up in some Clintonian semantic debate, Obama was clear that what he meant by that was providing information to the public about what the government is doing, if for no other reason than “[i]nformation maintained by the Federal Government (again, his caps, not mine) is a national asset”—in other words, he knows that that information belongs to you.

With that backdrop, let’s return to the issue of Benghazi.  It has been 603 days since the attacks, and the President of the United States still hasn’t substantively addressed the American people about it.  He also has yet to explain where he was or what he was doing during the 10-12 hours the two attacks were taking place, despite having been informed within 2 hours after the first attack began that it was happening, and that it was a coordinated military-style terrorist assault.  We know from others where Obama wasn’t, and what he wasn’t doing: he wasn’t in the Situation Room, and he wasn’t on the phone with his Secretaries of Defense or State, or with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff inquiring as to what was going on.

We now know from the emails finally released to Judicial Watch last week that the bullcrap tale about protests and a YouTube video then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday talk shows a few days after the attacks came from the White House’s political spinsters.  My question is this: why did it take a Judicial Watch lawsuit to secure the release of that document?  It’s been the subject of a Congressional subpoena for nearly two years, but was withheld after persons unnamed retroactively changed its status to “classified” (and by the way, look for yourself and see if you can figure out just what about that email merits a “classified” designation).  Why does Judicial Watch now have more information than Congress?

While you’re chewing on that, recall that on November 9, 2012 the House Foreign Affairs committee asked then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify on the Benghazi matter, which she refused to do.  It took a subpoena and nearly three months to get her on the record, and even then she hemmed, hawed, whined, and ultimately ran out the clock without providing any substantive information.  This week, current Secretary of State John Kerry likewise refused to honor a subpoena to appear before Congress to discuss the administration’s response.  Meanwhile, the Obama administration has persistently refused to turn over documents, and has blocked access to witnesses.

Why?

This is not an isolated occurrence.

Congress has been trying for years to get information about Operation Fast & Furious, the botched gun-running sting that led to the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  The Department of Justice has stonewalled the production of documents, eventually hiding behind a bogus claim of “executive privilege.”  Attorney General Eric Holder was caught lying about when he learned of the program, and was ultimately held in contempt of Congress after repeatedly changing his story and withholding documents.  Other DOJ officials have pled the Fifth and refused to testify.

The IRS got caught targeting conservative political groups for delay or denial of tax-exempt status, and sharing taxpayer information with Democrats, then got caught lying about the issue being isolated to low-level line workers in Cincinnati.  Then-IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by making a self-serving opening statement, then pled the Fifth and refused to testify—twice.  She has also been held in contempt of Congress.

FUBARCare is, well, FUBAR.  Yet when called earlier this month to testify about it before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Heath, and Human Resources, outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. . . you guessed it . . . refused to testify, even as she delays her “retirement” just long enough to qualify for lifetime federal pension benefits.

Obama administration officials use personal email accounts for official communication so they can shield it from FOIA requests and subpoenas, which can only reach their official public email accounts.

For all of Obama’s bluster about being all about government transparency and accountability, we know nothing about what this administration is doing, and they not only refuse to tell us, but they arrogantly flip us the bird in the process.  And if they manage to hold out long enough, if we continue to ask questions we then face juvenile retorts of “Dude, this was like, two years ago.” The President doesn’t take serious questions from the press.  His administration officials refuse to release documents or testify before Congress, and conduct untold amounts of official business in inaccessible private shadows.  Everything seems calculated to hide, divert, or delay any attempt to learn what is going on.

Meanwhile NSA is tapping your phones (gonna be different this time) and the federal government is watching you through drones, while non-military agencies of the federal government arm themselves to the teeth with no explanation.

Why?  Why is the government going to such lengths to avoid telling anyone (except Vladimir Putin—how does that extra “flexibility after the election” look now?) anything about what it’s doing?  And why is almost no one asking why?  The press won’t do it.  Hell, the GOP will barely do it anymore.  Why?

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Willful Blindness

Valerie:           Liar!  Liar!  Liiiaaarrr!

Miracle Max: Get back, witch!

Valerie:           I’m not a witch, I’m your wife.  But after what you just said, I’m not even sure I want to be that anymore!

          —Carol Kane as Valerie, and Billy Crystal as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride

 

Some of this would be really, really funny if it weren’t so damn dangerous.

It turns out that some people who thought FUBARCare was a great idea, that it was going to make life all peaches and cream for everybody, and that there was just no way in the world it would result in them losing their medical insurance—and you know who you are—are getting bitten in the ass by it.  In a closed-door meeting—gee, I wonder why it was closed-door?—Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) told members that his son had received a notice that his insurance was being canceled; Donnelly voted in favor of FUBARCare in 2009 when he was in the House.  The Washington Post, in a piece on consumer backlash over FUBARCare sticker shock told the story of one disillusioned FUBARCare supporter:

“Marlys Dietrick, a 60-year-old artist from San Antonio, said she had high hopes that the new law would help many of her friends who are chefs, actors or photographers get insured.  But she said they have been turned off by high premiums and deductibles and would rather pay the fine.

‘I am one of those Democrats who wanted it to be better than this,’ she said.

Her insurer, Humana, informed her that her plan was being canceled and that the rate for herself and her 21-year-old son for a plan compliant with the new law would rise from $300 to $705.  On the federal Web site, she found a comparable plan for $623 a month.  Because her annual income is about $80,000, she doesn’t qualify for subsidies.

A cheaper alternative on the federal exchange, she said, had a premium of $490 a month—but it was an HMO plan rather than the PPO plan she currently has.  ‘I wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor I’ve been going to for years,’ she said.  ‘That is not a deal.’”

Meanwhile, unions are striking or threatening to strike over job losses and cuts in hours caused by their employers’ efforts to deal with the compliance requirements of FUBARCare.

Told ya so.

I can almost understand if back in 2009 and 2010 you were one of those true believers, and you were just ignorant about how insurance works.  You could dismiss our warnings as the fear mongering rants of an extreme and racist Right.  But it’s impossible that you don’t see the reality now; and frankly you should be embarrassed at what is now the Obama administration’s doubling-down on the lie.

By now you’ve heard over and over again the reminders of the President’s promise that if you liked your medical plan and your doctor, you’d be able to keep them.  A large part of the reason you’re hearing about it over and over now, is, well, because he said it over and over.  Yesterday, unable to keep running from that pledge, the President took the position that he never actually made it; that what he really said was “you could keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law was passed.”  The trouble is, in the nearly thirty-odd times he’s gone on record with the if-you-like-it-you-can-keep-it promise, not once has he ever included that caveat. 

Not once.

In fact, on at least one occasion—in a 2009 speech praising the AMA for its support—he was beyond crystal clear that your ability to keep what you had was absolute:

“So let me begin by saying this:  I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage—they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor.  And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise:  If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor.  Period.  If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan.  Period.  No one will take it away.  No matter what.”

There was no hedging, no qualifying, no beating around the bush.  No matter how we reform health care—i.e., regardless of what’s in that law once we pass it to find out—you will keep your plan and your doctor, and no one will take it away no matter what.  Period.  Period.  He was trying to assuage the fears of people who wanted to keep the insurance and doctors they had, and he wanted them to understand and believe that they would be able to do so; he wanted them to rely on that assurance in choosing to support FUBARCare. 

In the law, we call that “fraud.”

For Obama now to argue that he was simply not as clear as he would have liked, and that what he was trying to convey was anything other than the plain, absolute assurance that no one would lose coverage under FUBARCare is pure fantasy.  He flat lied about you keeping your insurance.  It’s that simple.  He lied about it on purpose.  And now he’s lying about having told the lie in the first place.

The doublespeak spin on this is so childish, and so crude, that you should find it insulting.  People aren’t being canceled, they’re being “transitioned.”  People aren’t being screwed over in the transition, because although they liked their prior coverage and wanted to keep it, the new alternative coverage they don’t want that costs a hell of a lot more than their old coverage they did want is, in the Left’s infinite wisdom, “better.”  The FUBARCare website isn’t crashing, it’s just running slow.  And now the President says he didn’t really promise you could keep it, but only that you could keep it unless and until, and he just forgot to say the unless and until part.

You gonna believe me, or your lying eyes?

Yes, they think you’re that stupid, and only through an impossibly desperate act of self-deception can you not see that.  And it’s not the first time this Administration has brazenly denied the President said what 300 million people plainly saw and heard him say (and got him on videotape doing it).  They denied Obama told small business owners that they “didn’t build that.”  They denied Obama drew a “red line” on Syria.  But this latest attempt to deny ever making what was the repeated central sales pitch of Obama’s signature “achievement” would make even Eddie Haskell blush.  And yet his capacity to lie nonetheless appears to know no bounds.

This is what happens when you get blinded by your own ideology.  Reality will always be reality, and all your wishing and wanting won’t change that.  You’ve been lied to.  Some of us tried to tell you, and if you made a mistake that’s one thing.

But if you can’t at this point admit the reality that Obama lied to you, then you are a liar, too.