CONTENTS: Abortion’s underside; Sowell – tunnel vision; Disability up 195 months; IRS manages OCare; Two oil states; Erickson – Sanford wins; Ericson – Cruz; Levin – Immigration repairs; Immigration $6.3T; Castor drops out; Knepper- pension overhaul; Harrisburg fraud; PA drivers fee hike; Hanna defends ‘Net sales tax; McCarthy – red-lined; Benghazi – CSPAN; McCarthy – Hillary’s GOP guard; Charen –Benghazi ghosts; BO to leave?; Don’t count on it; Hayes – BenG talking points; Babbin- BenG bull chips; Hillary’s fault; Ugly Philadelphians; Announcements
“. . .the latest data show that the rate of homeownership today is lower than it has been in 18 years. There was a rise of a few percentage points during the housing boom, but that was completely erased during the bust.” Thomas Sowell http://nationalreview.com/article/347541/fannie-freddie-and-political-tunnel-vision
“I believe that before it’s all over, this president will not fill out his full term,” he said. “I know that puts me on a limb. But this is not minor. It wasn’t minor when Richard Nixon lied to the American people and worked with those in his administration to cover up what really happened in Watergate.
“But, I remind you – as bad as Watergate was, because it broke the trust between the president and the people, no one died. This is more serious because four Americans did in fact die.” Mike Huckabee.
1541: Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River.
1884: General Zachary Taylor won the first major battle of the Mexican War at Palo Alto, Texas.
1886: Druggist John S. Pemberton sold the first Coca-Cola at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.
1914: Congress established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
1945: Americans celebrated victory in Europe over Nazi Germany (VE Day). (Bennett & Cribb, 2010)
May 8th, 7 PM: West Chester TEA: Daryl Metcalf; East Goshen Twp Building
Jillian Kay Melchoir, NRO: “Abortion’s Underside”
“Kermit Gosnell is not the only seedy backroom abortionist operating in the age of Roe v. Wade.
“. . . The Gosnell case prompts the question of how common similar practices are. A National Review investigation revealed the troubling history of three Florida abortion clinics, located in Miami, Hialeah, and Miramar, that have had several run-ins with the law. After a 2004 tip proved accurate, two owners and two staff members were successfully prosecuted for unlicensed medical practice; and, although there was no conviction, it appears that Sycloria Williams’s baby was born alive and murdered at the Hialeah clinic in 2006. Furthermore, some of the clinics’ doctors have records best described as routine medical violence against women. Yet despite their fraught past, the three clinics remain fully operational today. And they are a critical but often-neglected part of the picture of abortion in America. . .”
Thomas Sowell, NRO: “Fannie, Freddie, and Political Tunnel Vision”
“Bipartisan folly from the housing bubble to the quest for Middle East democracy
“If you are driving along and suddenly see a big red rubber ball come bouncing out into the street, you might want to put your foot on the brake pedal, because a small child may well come running out into the street after it.
We all understand that an inexperienced young child who has his mind fixed on one thing may ignore other things that are too dangerous to be ignored. Unfortunately, too much of what is said and done in politics is based on the same tunnel-vision pursuit of some ‘good thing,’ in utter disregard of the repercussions. . .”
“. . . Politicians are of course more articulate than small children, so the pols are able to not only disregard warnings but ridicule them. That was what was done by Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd, among many other politicians who made the pursuit of higher homeownership rates the holy grail.
In pursuit of those higher homeownership rates, especially among low-income people and minorities, the many vast powers of the federal government, from the Federal Reserve to bank-regulatory agencies and even the Department of Justice — which issued threats of anti-discrimination lawsuits — were used to force banks and other lenders to lower their standards for making mortgage loans. . . .”
“. . . Pursuit of the bright red bouncing ball of “universal health care” has already begun to produce collisions with reality in the form of rising insurance premiums to cover the cost of generous government-mandated benefits, to be paid for by someone else.
Here again, there have been many warnings, but the political response to those warnings was to rush Obamacare to a vote before even the congressmen who voted for it had a chance to read it. Now, one of the Democratic senators who voted for it — Senator Max Baucus — has called it “a train wreck.”
“The same mindset has prevailed internationally. Trying to make Middle East countries more “democratic” is the bipartisan bouncing ball of American foreign policy. Some of these countries existed thousands of years before there was a United States — and, in all that time, they never came close to being democratic. Maybe democracy has prerequisites that do not exist in all places at all times. And maybe pursuing it in utter disregard of the repercussions — which we have already begun to see in Libya and Egypt — is one of the most dangerous pursuits of a bouncing ball.”
TRENDS . . .
Terence Jeffrey, CNS: “10,962,532: U.S. Disability Beneficiaries Exceed Population of Greece”
“. . . According to newly released data from the Social Security Administration, the record 10,962,532 total disability beneficiaries in April, included a record 8,865,586 disabled workers (up from 8,853,614 in March), 1,936,236 children of disabled workers, and 160,710 spouses of disabled workers.
“According to its latest census, Greece had only 10,815,197 residents.
“April was the 195th straight month that the number of American workers collecting federal disability payments increased. The last time the number of Americans collecting disability decreased was in January 1997. . .”
Mark Koba, CNBC: “When It Comes to Health-Care Reform, the IRS Rules”
“Get ready for the Internal Revenue Service to play a dominant role in health care. When Obamacare takes full effect next year, the agency will enforce most of the laws involved in the reform—even deciding who gets included in the health-care mandate.
“The impact of the IRS on health-care reform is huge,” said Paul Hamburger, a partner and employee benefits lawyer at Proskauer.
“‘Other agencies like Social Security will be checking for mistakes, but the IRS is the key enforcer,’ Hamburger said. ‘It’s also going to help manage who might get health care.’
“In its 5-4 ruling last year, the Supreme Court upheld the law’s mandate that Americans have health insurance, saying that Congress can enforce the mandate under its taxing authority and through the IRS.
“As a result, the agency has to administer 47 tax provisions under Obamacare. They include the right to levy a penalty against businesses and individuals who don’t provide or acquire insurance. Noting that the IRS will collect the penalties, the decision labeled them a tax. . .”
WSJ: “Two Oil States”
“Texas and California have been competing for years as U.S. growth models, and one of the less discussed comparisons is on energy. The Golden State has long been one of America’s big three oil producing states, along with Texas and Alaska, but last year North Dakota surpassed it. This isn’t a matter of geological luck but of good and bad policy choices.
“Barely unnoticed outside energy circles, Texas has doubled its oil output since 2005. Even with the surge in output in North Dakota’s Bakken region, Texas produces as much oil as the four next largest producing states combined. The Lone Star State now pumps nearly two million barrels a day, and Texas Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman (who is also oil commissioner) says “total production could double by 2016 and triple by the early 2020s.” The entire U.S. now produces about seven million barrels a day.
“The two richest fields are the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas, where production is up 50% in the last year alone, and the 250-square mile Permian Basin. Midland-Odessa in the Permian is one of America’s fastest-growing metro areas.
“More than 400,000 Texans are employed by the oil and gas industry (almost 10 times more than in California) and Mr. Smitherman says the average salary is $100,000 a year. The industry generates about $80 billion a year in economic activity, which exceeds the annual output of all goods and services in 13 individual states.
“Now look to California, where oil output is down 21% since 2001, according to Energy Department data, even as the price of oil has soared and now trades in the neighborhood of $95 a barrel. (See the nearby chart.)
“This is not because California is running out of oil. To the contrary, California has huge reservoirs offshore and even more in the Monterey shale, which stretches 200 miles south and southeast from San Francisco. The Department of Energy estimates that the Monterey shale contains about 15 billion barrels of oil, which is about double the estimated supply in the Bakken.
“Occidental Petroleum, the big oil player in California, has recently purchased leases from the Interior Department to drill in the Monterey shale, but in April a federal judge blocked the breakthrough drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the state. The judge ordered an environmental review of the drilling process that Texas, North Dakota and other states have safely regulated for years.
“A large part of the explanation for the Texas boom and the California bust is the political culture. Despite their cars, California voters have elected politicians who consider fossil fuels to be ‘dirty energy.’ . .”
Erick Erickson, Red State: “Mark Sanford Wins”
“Mark Sanford has won the special election in South Carolina’s first congressional district.
He was abandoned by much of the South Carolina congressional delegation.
He was abandoned by the NRCC and its fundraising.
The Democrats outspent him by more than a 3 to 1 advantage.
But the district favored him to begin with. Despite panic a few weeks ago, he recovered rapidly and closed a ten point gap.
I was with Mark Sanford in the beginning despite unmitigated hell from lots of Republicans who were outraged by my supporting him. As I said then, he was the most risky candidate, but potentially the greatest reward in how he’d vote in Congress.
I am glad the voters of South Carolina chose to give him a second chance. Mark Sanford wins again. I guess the Democrats will blame [Elizabeth Colbert-] Busch.
from Matt Drudge, 5/8/13
Erick Erickson, Red State: “They Wouldn’t Act This Way If Ted Cruz Weren’t Putting Points on the Board”
“The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is upset with Ted Cruz for leading a filibuster against gun control.
John McCain tweeted out the Journal’s editorial in a moment of wackiness.
Bill Richardson, the scandal plagued former Governor of New Mexico, says Ted Cruz can’t be called hispanic despite being hispanic because Ted Cruz isn’t a race baiter like Richardson.
And now Harry Reid calls Ted Cruz a schoolyard bully for Cruz objecting to Harry Reid trying to expand government in a bipartisan fashion.
Most interesting to me is this part of Harry Reid’s statement of frustration:
He pushes everybody around and is losing and instead of playing the game according to the rules, he not only takes the ball home with him, but he changes the rules that way no one wins except the bully who tries to indicate to people that he has won.
Harry Reid is right. Ted Cruz is not playing by the rules. The rules have, for years, been that the conservatives sit on the back bench and the let the Senate’s Republican and Democratic leadership collaborate to grow government. The rules say that Senate “adults” can leak to the New York Times about conservative senators, but those conservative senators have to take it.
The rules have been stacked against conservatives and Ted Cruz isn’t playing by those rules. . .”
IMMIGRATION . . .
Yuval Levin, NRO: “Five ways to fix the Gang of Eight’s legislation”
“. . . My ideal approach to reform, roughly outlined here last year, would look very different from the Gang of Eight bill and indeed would not be a single comprehensive bill at all. But I think there are ways to improve the Gang of Eight bill that would allow it to do more good than harm and be worthwhile.
I would propose five kinds of amendments:
- 1. Rebalance labor-based immigration. The worst aspect of the Gang of Eight bill is its approach to the lower-skill end of America’s labor market; the best is its approach to the higher-skill end. The basic trouble is that the bill treats both segments the same way — as though there is a shortage of workers in both, and if only we addressed that shortage with immigrant workers, it would also help everyone involved and the country as a whole. This is true for high-skill workers, but it is decidedly untrue for low-skill workers. . .
- 2. Add actual triggers for legalization. The Gang of Eight bill establishes a process by which illegal immigrants can immediately apply for the newly created Resident Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, and mere proof of their application enables them to work legally. . . The privileges of the RPI status are not very different from those of permanent residence (especially because they include the ability to travel abroad), so illegal immigrants would immediately gain the right to work legally once the bill becomes law and then would gain more or less all the other privileges they care about once DHS merely informs Congress that it has begun to do something about the border. That’s ridiculous.
- 3. Require civic education. Our approach to immigration must be grounded in an idea of citizenship — in the end, we are discussing how to elevate foreign newcomers to the exalted status of Americans and initiating them into our cultural and political traditions. The Gang of Eight bill does almost nothing to advance that cause, and most of what goes by the name of integration in the bill involves signing people up for the new RPI status, not teaching them anything about what it means to become an American. ..
- 4. Verify sooner. The new employment-verification system established by the bill takes far too long to get into place. Employers with more than 5,000 employees have to use it for all new workers starting two years after DHS publishes regulations implementing the system, those with more than 500 workers have three years, and everyone else has four years. There is no serious reason for such a long delay.
- 5. Cut the pork. The Gang of Eight bill includes a variety of narrowly tailored and often state-specific giveaways and favors. On page 817, we find a special provision for “meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers.” On page 767, we find a favor for ski instructors. On page 774 is a special protection for foreigners brought to America — mostly to Florida, one imagines — to perform maintenance on cruise ships. There are surely many more.
“Obviously such special goodies have long been part of how Congress passes large and politically complicated pieces of legislation. But that’s no excuse for doing it here. . .”
Fox: “Study pegs cost of immigration bill’s mass legalization at $6.3 trillion”
The comprehensive immigration overhaul being taken up in the Senate this week could cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion if 11 million illegal immigrants are granted legal status, according to a long-awaited estimate by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The cost would arise from illegal immigrants tapping into the government’s vast network of benefits and services, many of which are currently unavailable to them. This includes everything from standard benefits like Social Security and Medicare to dozens of welfare programs ranging from housing assistance to food stamps.
The report was obtained in advance by Fox News
Byron York, Washington Examiner: About Immigration
Cost Jumped by Ten
“. . . The original bill said this: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $100,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department [of Homeland Security] to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this act.”
“The substitute bill reads differently: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $1,000,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this Act. . .”
Hispanic voters . . .
PA . . .
Keegan Gibson, PoliticsPA: “Breaking: Castor Rules Out 2014 Run”
“In an emailed statement he said:
‘After a great deal of consideration, I have decided not to run for Governor in 2014.
‘I want to thank all those who encouraged and advised me over the last six months. Simply put, my duties as Montgomery County Commissioner, a lawyer with Elliott Greenleaf, and the responsibilities to my family, make a massive undertaking such as running governor impossible for me this election cycle.’
“It’s good news for Corbett, who’s had positive but not overwhelmingly strong “numbers among Republican voters in a variety of polls. . .”
Leo Knepper, CAP: “Legislation to Overhaul Government Workers’ Pensions Introduced”
“Pennsylvania’s state employee and teacher pension programs (SERS and PSERS respectively) are drastically underfunded. Combined they have an unfunded liability of over $47 BILLION.
“An unfunded liability is the amount that the future payment obligations exceed the present value of the funds available to pay them. It is like to being in debt. However unlike a debt the amount “due” is can be changed through accounting tricks. The Economist magazine provided a solid explanation in a recent article:
“Suppose a car company borrowed $10 billion in the form of a 20-year bond to build a manufacturing plant and planned to pay off the debt with the profits from running the plant. The car company will assume a higher return on capital than its financing cost (otherwise it should not build the plant). But it still has to recognise the $10 billion bond liability on its balance-sheet. It cannot say it owes only $2 billion because it expects a very high return.
“The reason is clear. If the plant fails to earn a high return, the firm will still be liable to repay the bond. Similarly, if pension schemes fail to earn a high return on their assets, they still have to pay benefits. Final-salary pensions are a debt-like liability.”
(Note: The entire article is worth reading if you have a couple minutes.)
In February Governor Corbett proposed making sweeping changes to the state employees’ and teachers’ pension programs. On May 7th identical legislation was introduced in the House and Senate that would finally put SERS and PSERS on a path to sound finical footing.
“The proposed legislation would put ALL new hires into a defined contribution retirement plan (similar to a 401k). In addition, the legislation would make necessary changes to the formula used to calculate future benefits for current employees and cap on the maximum pensionable income.
“These changes are critical. Pennsylvania taxpayers cannot afford to continue offering lavish pensions to government employees.
“Take a moment to contact your Senators and Representatives. Tell them that we cannot afford lavish pensions for government employees any longer. . .”
Melissa Daniels, PA Independent: “SEC charges PA capital city with fraud”
“HARRISBURG — Federal investigators say city of Harrisburg officials misled the public and investors about how bad the municipality’s finances really were.
“The Securities Exchange Commission on Monday charged the city of Harrisburg with securities fraud in connection with misleading financial statements made to the public. The SEC said the misinformation meant investors risked dealing in securities based on incomplete or outdated knowledge.
“The city has reached a settlement with the federal agency and will implement new policies to prevent such inaccurate information from being made public in the future, according to the court order. . .”
Melissa Daniels, PA Independent: “PA drivers one step closer to paying higher fees, gas prices”
“HARRISBURG — In 1997 a postage stamp cost 32 cents, a dozen eggs about $1.17, and a gallon of gas about $1.32.
“It was also the most recent time Pennsylvania lawmakers touched the state gas tax to raise more money for roads and bridges, said Senate Transportation Minority Chair John Wozniak, D-Cambria.
“As consumer costs have risen, so have the costs for roads.
“‘I challenge anybody to say they’ve stopped at a convenience store and a cup of coffee is the same today as it was 15 years ago,’ Wozniak said. ‘Government isn’t immune to market forces.’
“As a result, drivers may have to pay more, too.
“Wozniak was among the lawmakers who voted in favor of a $2.5 billion transportation funding package, which passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday morning in a 13-1 vote.
“That was the first step in what’s shaping up to be a tense legislative debate pitting transportation needs against new costs for drivers. Senate Bill 1 brings increases on a variety of motor vehicle fees and potential jumps in the cost of gasoline.
“But it’s the first comprehensive legislation on the table since Gov. Tom Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Committee identified $3 billion worth of vital infrastructure needs. . .”
Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring: Internet Sales Tax
Mr. Hanna argues in a recent email:
“. . .No one is in favor of piling new tax burdens on hard-working Americans, least of all Let Freedom Ring, but this bill does not impose any new taxes. As conservatives,(emph added, jb) we must:
a) ensure that all businesses and entrepreneurs are able to compete under the same rules on a level playing field,
b) that the rule of the law is upheld, and
c) affirm the principle of federalism.
Further, we should ensure the cost of government is not hidden from its citizens. The Marketplace Fairness Act addresses each of these conservative goals. . .”
People who plead for “fairness” usually don’t have another platform. On the other hand, elimination of all sales taxes is the conservative thing to do . . .
Briick-and-mortar is the modern dinosaur complaining about the mice . . . let freedom ring . . .
Read: Steele, Shelby (2006/2007) White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. NY: Harper Collins.
Goldberg, Jonah (2012) The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. NY: Sentinel.
MIDDLE EAST . . .
Andrew McCarthy, NRO: “About That Red Line . . .”
“Readers who follow our debates here know that I am a naysayer on U.S. intervention in Syria because I believe there are no vital American interests at stake. For us, the so-called rebels, dominated by Sunni Islamic supremacists (prominently including the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda affiliates) are every bit as bad as, if not worse than, the Iran-backed Assad regime. We have no interest in either side’s winning; in fact, since the conflict is weakening both of them, our interests are served by staying out of the way as long as they insist on having at each other.
“The pro-intervention camp, which is led by Senator McCain (he of the equally unwise Libyan intervention that brought us Benghazi), now includes NR’s editors (albeit with a good deal less enthusiasm). This camp contend that the case for American involvement (actually, more American involvement — we are already quite involved) has been strengthened by the Assad regime’s reported use of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, as I countered last week, this case is more premised on a reckless remark made by President Obama than any real American interest. As is his wont, Obama said something he did not mean for purposes of political expediency, namely, that the regime’s use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” for him, and thus counsel a shift toward (more) intervention in behalf of the rebels. But as I pointed out in last week’s post, (a) it is by no means clear that the regime used chemical weapons, (b) even if it did, the kinds of weapons it uses do not alter the anti-American character of the opposition, and (c) the al-Qaeda elements of that opposition have sought chemical weapons for decades (and, by the way, would be a lot more likely to use them against us than would Assad).
“Now, a U.N. investigation is alleging that it was the rebels, not Assad . . .”
Benghazi Hearings . . . 11:30 AM today, CSPAN
Mona Charen, RCP: “Benghazi Ghosts Haunt White House”
“My iPhone buzzes on a regular basis with “news alerts” from Politico, The Hill and other sources. Politico provides breathless, this-cannot-wait-till-you-get-to-your desk “breaking news” sirens on every hiccup emanating from the White House. On April 22, for example, the news flash permitted me to learn without delay that “President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will on Thursday attend a memorial service for the victims of last week’s explosion in West, Texas.”
“When three career employees of the State Department announced their intention to testify before Congress — contradicting the Obama administration’s carefully constructed storyline about events in Benghazi, Libya — my phone was silent. News is very much in the eye of the beholder.
“One of these whistle-blowers, Gregory N. Hicks, was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya and reportedly the last American to see Ambassador Chris Stevens alive. His testimony about the nature of the Benghazi assault should be illuminating. Mark Thompson, deputy coordinator for the State Department’s counterterrorism bureau, will apparently testify that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was keen to obscure the terror links of the attackers in Benghazi and accordingly kept the counterterrorism officers at State out of the loop in planning the response to the attack.
“In anticipation of the hearings, which begin Wednesday, a few basic questions ought to be on the minds of members of Congress. . .”
Andrew McCarthy, PJM: “Clinton’s Republican Guard”
“With each new revelation, what has always been obvious becomes more pronounced: the State Department’s self-proclaimed final word on the Benghazi Massacre, the risibly named “Accountability Review Board” investigation, is a fraud. Yet, like the rest of the Obama administration’s obstructive wagon-circling, the ARB’s report continues serving its intended purpose: to thwart efforts to hold administration officials accountable. Even on Fox News, which has been admirably dogged covering a scandal the Obamedia has done its best to bury, the refrain is heard: How could the ARB report be a whitewash when its investigation was run by such Washington eminences as Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Admiral Michael Mullen?
“The answer is simple: Pickering and Mullen were not chosen by accident; then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tapped them because, to insulate herself, she needed a pair of Beltway careerists held in high esteem by the progressive-friendly Republican establishment. As night follows day, Pickering and Mullen produced exactly the shoddy, politicized report that was expected of them – bleaching away the malfeasance of Clinton, a central figure in the scandal whom they did not even bother to interview.
“Mrs. Clinton is a master of this game . . .”
Bob Unruh, WND: BO to Leave?
“To this day, it is not known what role President Richard Nixon played in the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, but the tape recordings from the White House confirm he and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman discussed using the CIA to slow down the FBI investigation.
“It was the cover-up, as history records, that eventually brought about Nixon’s resignation in disgrace.
“Now, Congress is investigating an alleged cover-up of the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2012, on the U.S. foreign service facility in Benghazi, Libya, amid predictions from prominent voices that the scandal will bring down the Obama administration. . .”
Another side: Gary DeMar, Political Outcast: “Don’t Count on Benghazi Exploding on Obama”
“. . . The Republicans won’t get any public traction for at least six reasons: (1) Barack Obama is not Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, or Bush 1 or Bush 2, (2) the Justice Department and State Department will drag their feet and obfuscate, (3) the Obama administration will not cooperate, (4) the Democrats will circle the wagons after initially expressing outrage on the Benghazi debacle, (5) the media won’t report aggressively on the story, and (6) the media, Democrats, and Obama will find a scapegoat to blame. . .”
Stephen Hayes, Weekly Standard: “The Benghazi Talking Points”
“And how they were changed to obscure the truth
“. . . As intelligence officials pieced together the puzzle of events unfolding in Libya, they concluded even before the assaults had ended that al Qaeda-linked terrorists were involved. Senior administration officials, however, sought to obscure the emerging picture and downplay the significance of attacks that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. The frantic process that produced the changes to the talking points took place over a 24-hour period just one day before Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, made her now-famous appearances on the Sunday television talk shows. The discussions involved senior officials from the State Department, the National Security Council, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the White House. . .”
Jed Babbin, American Spectator: “Benghazi Bull Chips”
“The Benghazi scandal won’t bring down the Obama administration. And it’s too early to decide whether it will sink Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2016. There are plenty of other things quietly waiting to do that.
But that scandal — persistent, patient, and always just around the corner from the White House — just won’t go away.
In just the past few days, we’ve learned a lot. For starters, from Stephen Hayes’s reporting in the Weekly Standard, we learned that the State Department is guilty — and that’s the proper word — of making “heavy substantive revisions” to the CIA talking points that State was supposedly relying on to tell the truth about the September 11, 2012 attack on the American consulate outpost in Benghazi. . .”
“He also reports that about two hours into the eight-hour-long attack, it was obvious that al Qaeda terrorists were taking part in it. Shortly after that, the State Department was already working to remove those references including those to Ansar al Sharia, an al Qaeda-connected group that had already claimed credit for the attack.
Just yesterday we learned (from a House committee leak) that Greg Hicks, one of the Benghazi whistleblowers, will say in a hearing Wednesday that “I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning.” That, according to a CBS News report. Hicks is described as a 22-year Foreign Service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the attack.
Also yesterday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said that the Obama administration had literally threatened one or more of the Benghazi whistleblowers and that hospital records had been tampered with to conceal the identity of at least one of the survivors of the attack.
So what is the Obama administration trying to hide? Pretty much everything. . .”
“. . .Was it a terrorist attack? Of course it was. Was al Qaeda involved? Ditto.
“The Republicans need to answer the “where’s the beef?” question. If they’re going to produce something that the Obama administration will find indigestible, it’s not going to be in the fact that the State Department disapproved requests for more security in Benghazi. And it’s not in the fact that the hospital records were altered.
“The facts that are important — and the only ones that the Republicans should focus on — are in the State Department’s massive, misleading revisions to the CIA talking points and in the utter failure of the Obama administration to attempt to rescue Americans under fire.”
Paul Mirengoff, Powerline: “Hillary Clinton — culpable for Benghazi from beginning to end”
“When it first became clear that the CIA’s Benghazi talking points had been altered, many of us viewed the White House as the prime suspect. After all, it served President Obama’s political purposes to claim, at the height of a political campaign in which he was taking credit for the fall of al Qaeda, that the death of a U.S. ambassador was down to spontaneous outrage over a video, rather than pre-planned terrorism.
“It turns out, however, that the State Department was the prime culprit. It was State that pushed back hard against the original talking points. The White House, probably for the political reason cited above, took its side.
“Why did State want the talking points changed? Because it had ignored warnings about rising terrorist activity in Libya and had reduced security rather than beefing it up, as our embassy requested.
“Under these circumstances, it would not do to attribute the Benghazi killings to the terrorism about which top State Department officials had been warned. Much better to lump what happened in Libya together with the protests that occurred in Egypt, and thereby characterize it as a demonstration that went too far, rather than premeditated terrorism.
“Was Hillary Clinton directly involved in this cover-up? It’s difficult to see how she could not have been. . .”
From Matt Drudge, 5/7-8/13
End Notes . . .
The top 10 cities with the least attractive people
1. Anchorage, Alaska
2. Baltimore, Maryland
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . . .