(Humor) Klavan on why crony capitalism isn’t capitalism

October 31, 2012

One of the occasional frustrations I experience happens when I discuss economics and the economy with liberal friends (1). When I praise capitalism and free markets, they point to corrupt practices by business and its government allies as proof that capitalism can’t work, and that we need more government regulation to make the system “more fair.” (“Fair” must be the new “F-word.”)  (2) When I counter that the problem is government intervention and that the picking of winners and losers is what creates the cronyism, they just roll their eyes in pity at my lack of understanding and we go on to the next topic.

Well, Andrew Klavan (3)  makes the same point I do, only –as usual– in a much more witty and entertaining fashion. Maybe, the next time the topic comes up, I’ll just whip out my Kindle Fire and play this video for them:

via Roger Kimball

Footnotes:
(1) Hey, this is California. You can’t avoid having a few. And, other than being wrong, they’re really nice people.
(2) Their faith in government is touching. Childlike and in denial of reality, but touching.
(3) Who used to make the “Klavan on the Culture” videos I’d post. He needs to start that series again. Now. Please?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: pushback for Petraeus, and what’s important

October 30, 2012

What really matters

In an earlier post, I quoted news reports that called into question the role General David Petraeus, the CIA director, regarding his analysis of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi. Since then, PJM’s Bryan Preston published information that speaks in Petraeus’ defense:

A U.S. intelligence official disputed the characterization of Petraeus’ briefing to lawmakers on Sept. 14, saying: “The first briefing (to the Hill) carefully laid out the full range of sparsely available information, with briefers noting that extremists — including those with possible links to AQIM and Ansar al-Sharia — were involved in attacks that appeared spontaneous. The talking points (from that weekend) clearly reflect the early indications of extremist involvement in a direct assault.”

As for the current assessment of the Benghazi attack, a U.S. intelligence official said no one is ruling out the idea militants may have aspired to attack the U.S., though the bulk of available information supports the early assessment that extremists — with ties to al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia — did not plan the attacks for day or weeks in advance.

One source who heard Petraeus brief also told Fox News, “I can confirm that he explicitly stated both to the House and the Senate oversight committees that members of AQIM and AAS participated in the attack in Benghazi. That assessment still stands.”

So, who’s right? Right now it’s the word of one side’s source against another, with, it seems, the White House and its political appointees on one side, and the Defense and Intelligence bureaucracies on the other, both with daggers drawn.  Meanwhile those of us outraged over the multiple scandals apparently wrapped in the Benghazi affair are left to throw our hands in the air and demand someone –anyone– tell us the truth.

Amidst all the details of who said what when, let’s not forget what’s important here: After months of Washington failing to give adequate security to our diplomatic mission in Libya, the consulate in Benghazi was attacked by an al Qaeda-aligned force, resulting in the death of our ambassador and three other Americans, two of  whom were former SEALs who fought like lions to defend their fellow Americans until help could come.

But that help never came, denied by someone for some reason never adequately explained. And the Ambassador, the mission staff member, and the two SEALs died.

And the ultimate responsibility for that lies with President Barack Obama, who has been blowing smoke in our eyes over this since the day it happened, hoping to get past the election.

Like the deaths in Operation Fast and Furious, the dead of Benghazi and respect for their survivors demands answers, accountability, and, if need be, punishment.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Hurricane #Sandy and a tale of two campaigns

October 30, 2012

Call it a study in character, where actions speak louder than words:

As Sandy slammed into the East Coast, the Romney campaign in Virginia asked supporters to bring relief supplies to its campaign offices, which it would then distribute on one of its own buses:

Having canceled campaign events in the area, Romney spokespeople are saying the bus will be used to transport donations of basic supplies to those in need.

“Bring donations to VA Victory offices. Romney bus will deliver them to those affected by #Sandy. #RomneyRyan2012,” Curt Cashour, Romney’s Virginia communications director, tweeted.

ABC’s Emily Friedman added: “Romney campaign will load storm relief supplies into Romney bus in Arlington Va today an will collect supplies at all VA victory offices.”

Conservative-leaning sites are describing the move as a “true example of leadership,” though the more politically cynical could interpret the move as a shrewd campaign strategy to shake off Romney’s “elitist” image.

And from CNN:

“Governor Romney’s concern is the safety and well-being of those in the path of Hurricane Sandy,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Monday morning.

The campaign is loading supplies into a campaign bus for delivery in Virginia. In Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania – all battleground states in the presidential campaign and all expected to be impacted by this storm – Team Romney is collecting supplies at their campaign offices for local relief efforts.

Now, I have no doubt the cynics mentioned in the first quote have a point; I’m sure anyone in the Romney campaign with more than minimal wits can see the potential political benefit in this.

But I also have no doubt that scoring political points is of secondary concern to the candidate and his campaign, well-behind a straightforward urge to help during a crisis. The Romneys are well known for their acts of charity and kindness, several examples of which we heard about during the convention. I’ll point to just one: the time when “heartless capitalist” Mitt Romney essentially shut down “evil” Bain Capital to lead his staff in a search for a missing girl.

Contrast that with the Obama campaign. Sure, the president flew to D.C. to monitor developments regarding the storm (1), but what was the Obama campaign doing during Sandy?

Asking supporters in the affected areas to call other people to stump for The One.

GOT A PHONE? GET HIS BACK. CALL.BARACKOBAMA.COM

Classy, no?

And before anyone says “that’s just the campaigns,” think about this: the campaign reflects the candidate. Each candidate sets the tone and attitude of their respective campaign, and each campaign absorbs the values and priorities of its candidate.

One campaign redirects itself to help those in need. The other says “Hey, you’ve got nothing better to do, how about making some calls for our guy?”

Think about that. Think about what it says about the character of each man and then ask yourself which candidate would serve the nation better in the Oval Office.

I think the answer’s pretty clear.

PS: Romney-Ryan 2012, because after four years I’m sick of narcissistic, callow jackasses in the White House.

PPS: You may not have your own bus, but you can still help.

Footnote:
(1) So, he thinks it’s important to be in D.C. to monitor Hurricane Sandy, but, when our consulate was under attack and our people dying in Benghazi, he went to bed? Okay….

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: lawmakers briefed on al Qaeda role two days after the attack

October 29, 2012

US Consulate, Benghazi

And yet the White House and its spokespeople maintained for weeks afterward that the attack on September 11th was the result of a mob demonstrating against a video, a spontaneous “happening,” like a 60s love-in. They went so far as to have our UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, proclaim this on all five Sunday shows the week after the attack. Secretary Clinton swore to get the maker of the video. And Obama himself repeatedly blamed the video in his speech before the UN General Assembly on September 25th.

So why, then, were the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) telling lawmakers it was likely an al Qaeda operation on September 13th, just two days after the massacre?

Two days after the deadly Libya terror attack, representatives of the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center gave Capitol Hill briefings in which they said the evidence supported an Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-affiliated attack, Fox News has learned.

The description of the attack by those in the Sept. 13 briefings stands in stark contrast to the now controversial briefing on Capitol Hill by CIA Director David Petraeus the following day — and raises even more questions about why Petraeus described the attack as tied to a demonstration.

The Sept. 13 assessment was based on intercepts that included individuals, believed to have participated in the attack, who were celebratory — as well as a claim of responsibility.

FBI and NCTC also briefed that there were a series of Al Qaeda training camps just outside of Benghazi, where the attack occurred and resulted in the deaths of four Americans. The area was described as a hotbed for the militant Ansar al-Sharia as well as Al Qaeda in North Africa.

Fox News is told there was no mention of a demonstration or any significant emphasis on the anti-Islam video that for days was cited by administration officials as a motivating factor.

The FBI and NCTC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News for comment.

(Emphasis added)

This raises several troubling issues, including the recurrent question of why the administration stuck to its ludicrous story about an obscure video being at fault for weeks after the event, even when their own counter-terrorism people were saying otherwise. Remember, the only target of this… “fable spinning” was us, the American people. Everyone else, including al Qaeda, knew the truth.

My own guess is that the Obama administration, facing a tight election and having promoted itself as the slayers of bin Laden and the team that beat al Qaeda, now found themselves facing proof that not only were they wrong, but fatally so. In a panic they latched onto some reports about this video, which had been mentioned in jihadist forums in the weeks preceding the attack, and decided that would be their scapegoat, so they could avoid blame for their incompetence. And once the lie was told, they couldn’t abandon it without looking even more foolish, until they were finally forced to, and then lied about having lied.

The main issue raised by this report, though, is the role of CIA Director Petraeus, who apparently insisted to Congress that fault had to lie with the video and its maker, and that the deaths of our people were the result of demonstrations that got out of hand. We have to ask ourselves, and Congress must ask Director Petraeus, why he…

…characterized the attack as more consistent with a flash mob, where the militants showed up spontaneously with RPGs. Petraeus downplayed to lawmakers the skill needed to fire mortars, which also were used in the attack and to some were seen as evidence of significant pre-planning. As Fox News previously reported, four mortars were fired — two missed the annex, but the mortar team re-calibrated and the next two mortars were direct hits.

Fox News is told that Petraeus seemed wedded to the narrative that the attack was linked to a demonstration and was spontaneous as opposed to pre-meditated.

Fox News is told that Petraeus was “absolute” in his description with few, if any, caveats. 

Petraeus, of course, is the architect of our victory in Iraq in 2007-08, literally saving was was becoming a losing effort, and so he has a lot of credit banked with Congress. One can understand their anger at being given such a faulty, even nonsensical, report by someone they trusted, presented as fact when it flew in the face of information being reported by other intelligence agencies.  It calls into doubt his judgment, and perhaps his integrity.

There are many, many questions unanswered about the massacre in Benghazi, from the decisions leading up to it, to the events and decisions made that night and the evident coverup that’s taken place since.

To that list of questions we now have to add the role of the CIA Director.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: Petraeus throws Obama under the bus

October 26, 2012

I’ve said before the intelligence community will not play the sap for Obama. And now The Weekly Standard reports (via JWF) that CIA Director Petraeus has thrown his boss under the bus:

Breaking news on Benghazi: the CIA spokesman, presumably at the direction of CIA director David Petraeus, has put out this statement: “No one at any level in the CIA told anybody not to help those in need; claims to the contrary are simply inaccurate. ”

As Bill Kristol writes, the decision to do nothing in Benghazi had to have been a presidential decision. (If not, that has its own scary implications.)

This is unraveling fast. You can bet more will come out before the election.

The spooks won’t play the sap.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: was there an AC-130 over the battle? UPDATE: Yes

October 26, 2012

If so, this makes an awful situation even worse. Bob Owens at PJMedia writes:

There were two AC-130Us deployed to Libya in March as part of Operation Unified Protector.

The AC-130U is a very effective third-generation fire-support aircraft, capable of continuous and extremely accurate fire onto multiple targets. It has been used numerous times in Iraq and Afghanistan to save pinned-down allied forces, and has even been credited with the surrender of the Taliban city of Kunduz

It was purpose-built for a select number of specific mission types, including point-defense against enemy attack. It was literally built for the kind of mission it could have engaged in over Benghazi, if the administration had let it fire. As the excerpt above clearly shows, we had assets on the ground “painting” the targets with the laser.

…and…

What this means is that we have the forces in the air and on the ground to have stopped the attack at any point, eliminating the terrorists and saving American lives.

I’m not as sure as Bob that a gunship was circling Benghazi during the fight, though it would explain why the American on the roof was painting the mortar crew with a laser (and, God, what he must have been thinking!), though the fact remains we had forces within a couple of hours’ travel that could have done something. Yet Obama did nothing.

Except go to bed. And then Las Vegas.

I honestly hope there wasn’t an AC-130 overhead — can you imagine what they must’ve felt when told to hold fire?

UPDATE: via Blackfive, a retired Delta Force soldier says it was either an AC-130, or an armed Predator:

Having spent a good bit of time nursing a GLD (ground Laser Designator) in several garden spots around the world, something from the report jumped out at me.

One of the former SEALs was actively painting the target. That means that Specter WAS ON STATION! Probably an AC130U. A ground laser designator is not a briefing pointer laser. You do not “paint” a target until the weapons system/designator is synched; which means that the AC130 was on station.

Only two places could have called off the attack at that point; the WH situation command (based on POTUS direction) or AFRICOM commander based on information directly from the target area.

If the AC130 never left Sigonella (as Penetta says) that means that the Predator that was filming the whole thing was armed.

If that SEAL was actively “painting” a target; something was on station to engage! And the decision to stand down goes directly to POTUS!

This is awful…

(via Fausta)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Benghazi Consulate Massacre: CIA refused help?

October 26, 2012

“You’re on your own.”

Message from the Obama Administration to all overseas personnel: If you get into a jam, the cavalry isn’t coming:

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. Consulate and subsequent attack several hours later was denied by U.S. officials — who also told the CIA operators twice to “stand down” rather than help the ambassador’s team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11.

Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. Consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.”

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the Consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The quick reaction force from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the Consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Specter gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Sigonella Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

(Emphases added)

And why were they denied help? From the Los Angeles Times:

U.S. military commanders decided against sending a rescue mission to Benghazi during the attack against the American diplomatic mission last month because they didn’t have enough clear intelligence to justify the risk to the troops, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Thursday.

Panetta, in his fullest comments yet on the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, said Pentagon officials were aware of the assault by armed militants soon after it began Sept. 11. But he said they never had more than fragmentary information during the course of the attack.

The “basic principle is that you don’t deploy forces into harm’s way without knowing what’s taking place,” Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon briefing. “This happened within a few hours, and it was really over before we had the opportunity to really know what was happening.

He said he, Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all believed“very strongly that we could not put troops at risk in that situation.

(Emphases added, h/t The Anchoress)

I have a one-word response to Secretary Panetta, but I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination.

No opportunity to know what was happening? Go read that FOX article, again. They were in constant radio contact with the CIA annex, from which the brass in DC were told at least twice that they needed help — and I bet they got plenty of detail about what was going on. They knew enough to move a Special Forces team from Central Europe to Sigonella — and then told them to stand down?

Remember, the attack started at 9:24 PM local time. Woods and Dougherty, the former Navy SEALs who defied orders in order to rescue their fellow Americans, weren’t killed until 4 AM, when they were taken out by a mortar round. That’s more than seven hours after the fighting started, yet Panetta says they didn’t know enough?

This is disgraceful. My father was in the US Navy in China in the 1930s. The place was a bigger mess than Libya: weak government, bandits everywhere, civil war. It regularly happened, he would tell me me, that Americans and other foreigners would find themselves in danger, so his ship’s CO would form an armed shore party to go deal with it.

No hesitations over not having enough intelligence, no qualms about risks. American lives and property were in danger, you’re the military and you go protect them.

And don’t tell me Panetta and Ham made these decisions on their own. We know the White House was in the loop. On something this big, the decision to intervene would have gone to Obama. Maybe he was getting warnings from the DoD about not risking “another Mogadishu,”, which, yes, is something he would have to take into account, but that was his moment to exercise leadership and say “find a way.”

But he didn’t. While our consulate burned and our people begged for help before dying, our forces were told to stand down.

Imagine what those people were thinking. Did they hold out hope that help would yet come? Or had they resigned themselves to their fates and decided to sell their lives dearly, knowing they had been disowned by their own government?

At the memorial service on the return of our dead to America, Vice President Joe Biden asked the father of Tyrone Woods, one of the SEALs killed in Benghazi, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”

I don’t know, Joe. But I do know your boss and his administration have none.

LINKS: More at Hot Air (and here), Pirate’s Cove, Q and O, and Power Line. Legal Insurrection thinks this revelation came from the CIA, which is refusing to take the fall. Earlier on Public Secrets, “Where was the military help?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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