Author Archives: J. Brunner

Clinton Concussed

This was kind of surprising, since Hillary Clinton is not currently playing for any NFL teams, but she has suffered a concussion right before she was scheduled to testify about the Benghazi attack. Now, this is curious development, since we have seen her duck out of this a number of times now.

Special Report Video – Does Clinton Have a Benghazi Allergy? [foxnews.com]

In any case, we hope that the Secretary of State is ok and that she can go before congress to shed light, that so far has been sadly lacking, on the attack on our consulate and the senseless death of our diplomat.

Taking Bacon in Vain

I just wanted to make sure everyone saw this, because it is almost comical. It is serious, yes, but even for someone who has lived in Illinois, seeing a politician being so openly corrupt is surprising.

Detroit Politician Feels Entitled to Bacon from Obama [nydailynews.com]

Not That Anyone Should Be Surprised

But there is a talk about doing away with a minority party’s filibuster rights in the Senate. I don’t need to write very much about this because its pretty obvious that its a clear indication Democrats have little interest in working with Republicans in the next 4 years. It basically boils down to this: if this was an honest attempt to work together, why are you trying to end discussion with the opposition in the Senate, aka “the most deliberative body of government on Earth” (for now).

Democrats put their finger on the ‘Nuclear Option’ [Washington Post.Com]

Susan Rice – Judgment and Defense

With some interesting timing, moving into the holiday weekend, Susan Rice called a press conference to defend herself. Probably her main point is outlined below. I have provided a link to a very down-the-middle recount from Politico below. Trust me when I say there are some articles out there that get a little more friendly and a lot more unfriendly.

When discussing the attacks against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. . . I made clear that the information was preliminary and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

— United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

Susan Rice Defends Benghazi Remarks [Politico.com]

Briefly, the quote above is at odds with testimony on the hill from former CIA Director Patraeus. Most likely, she means to say that she was relying on the public position that the administration had put out, because the intelligence community’s report did not reference a protest as the genesis of this attack and it said Al Qaeda or its affiliates.

Its pretty uncommon for a UN ambassador having to come out to defend things that they have said. No doubt she is feeling some heat from some criticism from congress, some of which is pretty poorly or indelicately stated.

The most important point here is that if she is up for the nomination to Secretary of State, we need to know that we have a person who is qualified and very sharp. There is little doubt that Susan Rice has the job experience to assume the role, but having the boxes checked is a little less important than having done a good job. There are a lot of people out there that we work with that may not have our best interests in mind, and some of them are very clever, themselves. Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to Egypt this week is a good example of that. The President, himself, has said they are not our ally.

Almost anyone can look at the basic facts of this–an attack on September 11th against a US embassy in a not-so-friendly part of the world with heavy weapons, the kind of stuff you wouldn’t  be carrying around with you even in dangerous parts of the world–and tell you instantly this isn’t a handful of civilians picketing. Is that where the investigation starts and stops? No, absolutely not. Is it reasonable to call into question Ambassador Rice’s judgment or world view based on this, particularly since she had access to more information?

The answer to that is pretty obvious, too.

The French Nation and a French State

Predictably, Moody’s downgraded France’s AAA bond status due to large, unfunded liabilities and an impressive unwillingness to make needed reforms to their budget even in the face of certain economic hardships.

France Stripped of Prized AAA Credit Rating [Telegraph.co.uk]

A little closer to home in the Land of the Illini (or as the French would say Illinois), the Governor of Illinois attempts to launch a PR campaign to increase public support for reforming pension plans that are strangling the state’s budget, crushing jobs, and causing cuts to other programs, like Education. This is just Act I of this play. Most are labeling it a comedy so far because it would appear the State of Illinois thinks its citizens are children, given the simplistic presentation and lack of any solutions, and because it is totally unnecessary. Governor Quinn, a Democrat, presides over a House of Representatives and Senate dominated by double-digit Democratic majorities.

Governor Quinn Pension Reform [Tribune.com]

Ultimately, Governor Quinn is right, though. Illinois’ fiscal situation is a nightmare. It would be best if the people of Illinois fixed their own problems rather than being at the mercy of the federal government which should most likely dictate terms of a bailout.

Patraeus, Benghazi, Rice, and More Questions

Predictably on a Friday, retired General and ex-spymaster Patraeus testified on Capital Hill behind closed doors regarding what the CIA knew about the attack on the consulate in Benghazi and the death of our ambassador and 3 CIA operatives. There is expected to be further testimony from him in the future.

What we found out from the hearings so far is basically we were not told the truth from the beginning. The administration’s opinion on what its opinion was at one point has shifted over time. The basic truth is that this wasn’t acknowledged as a terror attack until more than a week later. Patraeus’ testimony this week shows that it was the initial assessment was that this attack was performed by Al Qaeda or one of its affiliates. This information was given to the administration that (for a period of almost two weeks) insisted this was a spontaneous demonstration-gone-bad and the Sunday within this period sent the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice out to all the major Sunday news talk show to distribute this fiction.

http://www.examiner.com/article/petraeus-indicates-obama-rice-lied 

What is not immediately clear is why this was done, who came up with this narrative, and why. Patraeus indicated that he does not know who edited/created this alternative scenario, only that this would be a decision that would have been made in the White House.

President Obama state that Rice is blameless and she was presenting the best information available to her at the time. This is not true, of course. If she was given only the White House’s opinion and ran with it, then she might have been telling us the truth so far as she understood it. She does have access to classified information, though, so she could have known the whole truth. Ultimately, this means that one or both people lied, and they both intentionally mislead the country for reasons that probably start with wanting to not poison the President’s election chances, but could be worse.

Why does this matter from here? We still don’t understand why we were lied to, and what else, if anything, might be beneath these lies. We do not know why Patraeus’ initial testimony was so at-odds with his more recent statements to Congress. Considering the recent events in his personal life, the investigation by the FBI, some have suggested he was leaned on. I’m not ready to jump to this sort of conclusion, but this would be a pretty serious crime if that was the case. There are lessons to be learned that cannot be learned if we do not understand what happened, and the administration’s willingness to acknowledging reality here and its seriousness leaves a lot to be desired. That makes life more dangerous for the other people who serve our country.

Also, Susan Rice is a candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. She will likely not be affirmed with this cloud hanging over her head. Also, there are very legitimate questions about her suitability if she honestly thought 5 days later this somehow wasn’t terrorism… on September 11th. The President does not think it is appropriate for people to come after her, and that if people are angry about what happened, they could come after him. Given what we learned this week, we can probably be assured that will happen for the foreseeable future.

On the ‘Death of America’

There has been a great deal of lamentation over this last election. In part, it was because the stakes, as seen by some, have never been greater. Indeed, the aspiration of a far-reaching all-powerful state did seem to face off against the very thought that it is government that crushes inspiration, if not people or their dreams themselves. This was perhaps more the reality of an ‘in’ crowd as opposed to the actual reality of the debate–by that I mean not any individual Presidential debate, but the overall narrative of the last two years (if not four).

I found myself talking with some relatively like-minded friends of mine regarding the election, its ramifications, and what we can expect for the future. The overwhelming tone seemed to be something akin to “We are finished.” It is already a story that has been told a thousand times, but that is so much more driven by a media, like a hydra, with many heads, each of which ‘needs’ to fill the space around it with noise than it is the actual defeat of libertarian ideals.

Indulge me briefly in two points:

Shortly after the events of September 11th, all America united around the flag, the President, and our shared values. Support for our shared goals became so favorable for such a long period of time that eventually the question was asked “if the Democrats keep going along with all of the Bush White House’s ideas, do they risk becoming a permanent minority.” This was before the Iraq war. Almost immediately you saw a good number of Democrats change their tune. Certainly the war in Iraq did not help the Republican’s chances of maintaining a long-standing control of government. Democracies hate war, and eventually that war became a perceived over-step. This actually lends insight into two facets of the ever-changing balance of power in Washington; that real and perceived oversteps will poison the faith of Americans and that this discussion about which party is finished is rather common.

Certainly, anyone who knows about payroll knows that there are some very large, very real ways that the Democratic party has already signaled its willingness to not only put a gun back to the head of the American economy, but to pull the trigger.

Second, most of the people who I have heard commiserating on this election have treated it as a defeat of this ideology or of the swan song of the Republican party. The former is simply not played out by the facts and the latter is simply the current banner party of conservative government. The point there being that even if the Republican Party dies, it is hardly as though those ideas so popular in American culture would die with it, never to be thought again. Without getting too deep into that, let me address the idea of limited and fiscally responsible government. We did not see from the Romney/Ryan ticket a well leveled debate on the role and size of government.

We did not see the Republican Party waging a war in the large and open fields of economic and tax policy where clearly the argument is hugely weighted in favor of people like Ryan. Obama’s interest in the budget and deficit is so fleeting, I was surprised to hear him even mention the words. We probably all keep or at one time kept a budget and just about anyone can understand that eventually the money and the credit runs out. When that happens everyone under that roof suffers. This is easy stuff, and so self-evident it resonates with most responsible people. Instead, the fight was taken to defensive skirmishes about Pel grants and an imagined ‘war on women’ with only occasional references to bad things the Obama administration had done.

So when we lament the defeat of our conservative values, its really because we are looking at this as a war of ideas. This battle is happening somewhere, it wasn’t really what we just witnessed. Equally so, Obama’s assertion that he has ANY mandate is false. He divided. He conquered, but only by bribing the human aspiration into submission, by turning his opponents into monsters in the minds of the uninformed, and stoking flames of vengeance against our neighbors for real or imagined sins.

The fight for the hearts and minds of America goes on, and the call for smaller, more responsible government can and should be made in the next four years. The smart money is on the next four years being pretty rough on the world and America along with it. It will, unfortunately, be a prize example of how the bankruptcy of the Democratic party is surpassed only by our annual deficits.