Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3, 2012

Biggest Big Government can't keep lights on
by Mark Steyn
November 2, 2012

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats ("John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism  Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs") and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he'd instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America "we leave nobody behind." By doing all this, the president "shows" he "cares" – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn't care. So John Brennan, the Counter-terrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on Sept. 11, 2012, when a little counter-terrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counter-terrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counter-terrorism bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, FEMA rumbles on, the "emergency management agency" that manages emergencies, very expensively, rather than preventing them. Late on the night Sandy made landfall, I heard on the local news that my state's governor had asked the president to declare a federal emergency in every New Hampshire county so that federal funds could be "unlocked." A quarter-million people in the Granite State were out of power. It was reported that, beyond our borders, 8 million people in a dozen states were out of power.

But that's not an "emergency." No hurricane hit my county. Indeed, no hurricane hit New Hampshire. No hurricane hit "17 states," the number of states supposedly "affected" by Sandy at its peak. A hurricane hit a few coastal counties of New Jersey, New York and a couple of other states, and that's it. Everyone else had slightly windier-than-usual wind – and yet they were out of power for days. In a county entirely untouched by Sandy, my office manager had no electricity for a week. Not because of an "emergency" but because of a decrepit and vulnerable above-the-ground electrical distribution system that ought to be a national embarrassment to any developed society. A few weeks ago, I chanced to be in St. Pierre and Miquelon, a French colony of 6,000 people on a couple of treeless rocks in the North Atlantic. Every electric line is underground. Indeed, the droll demoiselle who leads tours of the islands makes a point of amusingly drawing American visitors' attention to this local feature.

If you're saying, "Whoa, that sounds expensive," well, our government is more expensive than any government in history – and we have nothing to show for it. Imagine if Obama's 2009 stimulus had been spent burying every electric pole on the Eastern Seaboard. Instead, just that one Obama bill spent a little shy of a trillion dollars, and no one can point to a single thing it built. "A big storm requires Big Government," pronounced The New York Times. But Washington is so big-hearted with Big Government it spends $188 million an hour that it doesn't have – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and Ramadan. And yet, mysteriously, multitrillion-dollar Big Government Obama-style can't do anything except sluice food stamps to the dependent class, lavish benefits and early retirement packages to the bureaucrats that service them, and so-called government "investment" to approved Obama cronies.

So you can have Big Government bigger (or, anyway, more expensive) than any government's ever been, and the lights still go out in 17 states – because your president spent 6 trillion bucks, and all the country got was a lousy Air Force One bomber jacket for him to wear while posing for a Twitpic answering the phone with his concerned expression.

Even in those few parts of the Northeast that can legitimately claim to have been clobbered by Sandy, Big Government made it worse. Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance since that snowstorm a couple of years back. This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system – just as, in the previous crisis, the municipal titan who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger proved utterly incapable of regulating any salt on to Sixth Avenue. Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that's leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats.

Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats' calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He's all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America's uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world's biggest "counterterrorism" bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.

Read more:

Unfolding Benghazi Disaster Destroying American Confidence
by Elise Cooper
November 3, 2012

If you are an American warrior, not only do you have to worry about the enemy, but you also need to wonder if the American government will have your back. As more and more details come out about the Benghazi attack, it becomes clear that the president and his advisers had ample notice and time to send in reinforcements. The statement, by the founders of Special Operations Speaks PAC, summarized the feelings of many in the military: "When Obama called the SEALs, they got bin Laden. When the SEALs called Obama, they got denied." American Thinker interviewed some former American warriors to get their opinions on what transpired.

Slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, and the security officers there repeatedly reported the intensifying lawlessness and violence in eastern Libya as reasons why more security was requested. It is obvious that the Obama administration was aware of the threat months ago and should have heeded the warnings by putting measures in place. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, told American Thinker, "Even though the 'fog of war' may have prevented them from knowing what to do during the attack, they should not have been caught off-guard completely, given the deteriorating security. A fundamental question is, what was the plan for security, since an attack like this was always possible? Everyone knew this was a very dangerous place and getting worse. There was no lack of evidence of the threat."

Why did this administration watch passively for seven hours and make no attempt to put people in position to respond to the consulate attack once it began? All interviewed agree with a former CIA operative who said that some sort of help should have been sent. "During a sense of urgency, we should do anything humanely possible to help. Not doing anything is not the way it goes. There should always be an understanding to try to save the lives of Americans when attacked."

Former army veteran and captain in the National Guard Pete Hegseth, who heads Concerned Veterans for America, does not give any credence to the "fog of war" excuse being used by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He cites all the factors that should have shown this administration what was happening in real time: an aerial drone providing surveillance, a real-time video, mortars being fired, and e-mail requests being sent out. He believes that "the reality is there was no appetite for anyone to be sent there. The job of any commander, including the commander-in-chief, is to cut through uncertainty. In this situation, we had people on the ground relaying what was happening, so how much uncertainty could there have been? We needed a decisive leader who understood his priorities. It is shameful we did not do everything we could have to rescue them. This is no surprise, since President Obama doesn't sit down to get many intelligence briefings." Hegseth went on to say that those serving overseas in dangerous places would wonder if this administration puts American lives first.

Fred Rustmann, a member of OPSEC and a former CIA operative, was appalled by this administration's priorities. The reason this administration did not send out a rescue force and had a "stand down order" is because it is "more concerned about collateral damage than saving CIA and SEAL lives. [Obama] chose not to upset the Arab world instead of saving American lives. There was instantaneous communication from the embassy and the annex. I know how it works. It's not a question that they did not have enough information, because they were getting real-time data from the situation reports. If the president did not know, it is due to the fact he chose not to know. Maybe because he did not want to show Americans how destabilized Libya has become." Rustmann went on to say that he cannot believe that the mass media is giving the president all this press regarding his leadership on Hurricane Sandy but has not questioned his leadership regarding Libya, "which has been deplorable. I am sure that those at the CIA would have done anything to rescue their peers. This has always been our code. Someone violated that code." It's something, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a former CIA director, obviously never learned. 

Read more:

Obama parties like a prince, while presiding over a pauper economy
by John Hayward
November 2, 2012

Startling new video from the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which has been totaling up the cost of the lavish state dinners Barack Obama loves to throw, even as he tells Americans trapped in the thick malaise of his high-tax, low-employment economy to tighten their belts another notch:

As the video points out, Obama has held dinners that cost more than the notorious GSA bacchanalia in Las Vegas, which became a symbol of government waste.  It’s always nice to get a steaming load of class warfare rhetoric from a celebrity-President who throws million-dollar dinner parties with other peoples’ money, isn’t it?

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