Fourteen days after Ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered by Islamists, President Barack Obama stood up in front of the United Nations and declared that the “message” of a movie virtually no one will ever see “must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity,” that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” and that we all should “condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims.”
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So many things wrong in so few words. Why this video, and not Theo Van Gogh’s Submission, or Lars Vilks’ animation of Mohammed wanting to go to a gay bar, the “Super Best Friends” episode of South Park, or Funny or Die’s “How to Pick a Pocket”? Is it the degree of the insult, the craptasticness of the production values, the size of the release, or the vociferousness of the outrage expressed?
Obamagate: a three part scandal encompassing the IRS harassment of conservative groups, the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records, and the handling of the Benghazi attacks.
As Moe Lane said, “This is not a failure of the system. This is the system.”
Late Monday came the breathtaking news of a full-frontal assault on the First Amendment by his administration: word that the Justice Department had gone on a fishing expedition through months of phone records of Associated Press reporters.
And yet President Obama reacted much as he did to the equally astonishing revelation on Friday that the IRS had targeted conservative groups based on their ideology: He responded as though he were just some bloke on a bar stool, getting his information from the evening news.
In the phone-snooping case, Obama didn’t even stir from his stool. Instead, he had his press secretary, former Time magazine journalist Jay Carney, go before an incensed press corps Tuesday afternoon and explain why the president will not be involving himself in his Justice Department’s trampling of press freedoms.
Three serial shocks (and their continuing aftershocks) are sufficiently grave to produce a form of trauma in those who hitched their hearts to Obama:
1. Facing proof from one of their own that Obama and his administration lied and then continued to lie to the faces of the White House Press Corps through Jay Carney about Benghazi casts serious doubt on other claims of his they have supported and defended;
2. Continuing revelations of the IRS’s misbehavior toward the hated tea partiers and conservatives calls into question which side are the good guys (see point 1);
3. And finally the revelation that all their loyalty bought them no consideration at all when it came to secretly grabbing records of their communications in AP, tells them loyalty is one way street with this guy and his crowd.
Thank goodness Sgt. Schultz is in charge of the Justice Department: I see nothing!
GAO auditors found calculating errors totaling at least $829 million between 10 taxpayer accounts with balances equal to or exceeding $32 million, which went undetected by the agency’s internal review procedures.
“…IRS does not have a detailed listing, or subsidiary ledger that accurately tracks and accumulates unpaid tax assessments and their status on an ongoing basis,” the [GAO] report said.
It’s a wonder anyone trusts the police, who are the tip of the spear of the state.
“My brother spent the last eight minutes of his life pleading, begging for his life,” said Christopher Silva, 31, brother of the dead man. He said he’s talked to witnesses but did not see the incident himself.
At about midnight, Ruben Ceballos, 19,was awakened by screams and loud banging noises outside his home. He said he ran to the left side of his house to find out who was causing the ruckus.
“When I got outside I saw two officers beating a man with batons and they were hitting his head so every time they would swing, I could hear the blows to his head,” Ceballos said.
Silva was on the ground screaming for help, but officers continued to beat him, Ceballos said.
Thank goodness we pay them well and give them great pensions, otherwise the cops might get really upset with us citizens….
For about eight minutes, Ms. Melendez said, the man screamed and cried for help. Then he went silent, she said, making only choking sounds.
Finally, having hogtied him, a number of witnesses said, two officers picked up the man and dropped him, twice. One deputy nudged the man with his foot. When he did not respond, they began CPR.
“He was like a piece of meat,” said Ms. Melendez, 53, who was visiting her son at the hospital after he was injured in a car accident. “We were telling them: ‘He’s dead. You guys already killed him.’ ”
Responding to a call, deputies had arrived at the scene to find the man, David Sal Silva, a 33-year-old father of four, on the pavement. Their attempts to rouse him resulted in the altercation, the authorities said. Mr. Silva was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Kern Medical Center.
A presidency that began with such high hopes of “hope” and “change” has conducted itself just like so many administrations before it. A president who, just ten days ago, mocked “voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity,” has been caught presiding over an Internal Revenue Service that, yet again, applied inquisitorial scrutiny to critics of the government, a Justice Department that, once more, snooped on journalists, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation that can’t help spying on the public’s communications. These abuses remind us not that the Obama administration has invented new ways to abuse power, but rather that even this supposedly fresh start commits the same old excesses that inevitably result from a surfeit of coercive power and plenty of targets of opportunity on which to wield it.
So, as we prepare to hand authority over our health care system to a tax agency that has, time and again, wielded its power for political purposes on behalf of whoever is currently in power, we owe thanks. Thank you, Mr. President, for demonstrating that you’re just as untrustworthy a bastard as all of your predecessors. Thank you for reminding us that, no matter the public assurances we receive, every iota of power given to the government will be misused. We repeatedly forget these lessons, and we need our reminders.
Eighteen Starbucks shops can be found in the three-mile walk from DuPont Circle to the U.S. Capitol. Not one of them had a line less than seven people deep on a recent Wednesday afternoon.
Twenty-one construction sites filled with workers on girders and cranes towering over whole city blocks can be found on the same walk.
Commerce bursts from every angle of this city: small businesses packed with shoppers, hair salons charging more than the monthly mortgage payment on my first house for a cut-and-blow-dry, and main as well as side streets clogged with traffic.
America’s capital seems bubble-wrapped in its own vibrant economic boom, while great chunks of the nation struggle with uncertainty about how to keep the engine going.
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The centralized power and wealth in our nation’s capital are becoming so disconnected from the rest of this country that it is palpable to everyone except those who live in Washington.
In most people’s lives, the driving issue is economic security. Washington’s obsession is with social and cultural issues that drive bigger wedges between Us and Them.
It’s only a matter of time before the rest of America’s complaints will burst Washington’s bubble.
It used to seem shocking that five of the ten richest counties in the United States were part of the DC Metropolitan Statistical Area, but the 2011 American Community Survey numbers released yesterday show that the DC suburbs now account for seven of the ten richest counties in America.
Loudon, Fairfax, and Arlington in Virginia lead the way followed by Hunterdon County, NJ then Howard County in Maryland; Somerset, NJ; Prince William and Fauquier in Virginia; Douglas, CO; and Montgomery County, MD.
Chuckles Schumer, our bud, with a few other hacks.
In 1997, Chinese-born entrepreneurs began regularly scheduled long-distance bus services that picked up passengers on the street. Tickets were priced so low that it was hard to figure how the operators could be breaking even, much less making a profit. Faced with declining market share, Greyhound and Peter Pan imitated the Chinatown model by teaming up to create a new venture called BoltBus. Then Coach USA got into the game with Megabus. Today, “curbside” buses—lines that begin and end their routes at the sidewalk as opposed to a traditional station—make up the fastest growing form of intercity travel in the U.S.
But over the past two years, the government has forced 27 bus companies based in Chinatown to close. The regulatory clampdown was fueled by a government study that found curbside carriers were disproportionately killing their passengers. Released by the National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency, the study concluded that curbside bus companies were “seven times” more likely to be involved in an accident with at least one fatality than conventional bus operators. That finding was reported by The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Businessweek, USA Today, the New York Daily News, WNYC, and Reuters, among others. Although the study did not single out Chinatown bus companies the headline in Businessweek read, “Chinatown Buses Death Rate Said Seven Times That of Others.”
The study is bogus. Not only is the “seven times” finding incorrect, the entire report is a mangle of inaccurate charts and numbers that tell us virtually nothing meaningful about bus safety. There’s no evidence that curbside or Chinatown buses are any less safe than any other kind of bus.
“Everybody in the mission” in Benghazi, Libya, thought the attack on a U.S. consulate there last Sept. 11 was an act of terror “from the get-go,” according to excerpts of an interview investigators conducted with the No. 2 official in Libya at the time, obtained by CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
“I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Greg Hicks, a 22-year foreign service diplomat who was the highest-ranking U.S. official in Libya after the strike, told investigators under authority of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Hicks, the former U.S. Embassy Tripoli deputy chief of mission, was not in Benghazi at the time of the attack, which killed Chris Stevens – then the U.S. ambassador to Libya – and three other Americans.
When he appears this week before the committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Hicks is expected to offer testimony at odds with what some American officials were saying in public – and on “Face the Nation” – just five days after the attack. Benghazi whistleblowers have rallied attention to discrepancies among the administration’s reaction to the attack, which The Weekly Standard suggests was frayed by ever-evolving talking points that sought to remove references to al Qaeda.
On Sept. 16, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice hit the media circuit, appearing on all five Sunday talk shows to dispel the notion that the strike was a premeditated terrorist act and to perpetuate the case that it began “spontaneously” out of protests in Egypt. Rice’s spot on “Face the Nation” that day was preceded by the new President of Libya Mohammed al-Magariaf, who said his government had “no doubt that this was preplanned, predetermined.”
This week, CNN interviewed Tim Clemente, a former FBI counterterrorism agent, about whether the FBI would be able to discover the contents of past telephone calls between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife. Clemente stated that the FBI had ways of accessing those calls, and that all calls are recorded.
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CLEMENTE: “No, welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.”
On the night of Sept. 11, as the Obama administration scrambled to respond to the Benghazi terror attacks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a key aide effectively tried to cut the department’s own counterterrorism bureau out of the chain of reporting and decision-making, according to a “whistle-blower” witness from that bureau who will soon testify to the charge before Congress, Fox News has learned.
That witness is Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine and now the deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s counterterrorism bureau. Sources tell Fox News Thompson will level the allegation against Clinton during testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
Fox News has also learned that another official from the counterterrorism bureau — independently of Thompson — voiced the same complaint about Clinton and Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy to trusted national security colleagues back in October.
No matter what happens with Darrell Issa’s congressional committee meetings this week, we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the Obama administration, and the cause is Benghazi. It’s impossible to overestimate the blowback that has been gathering steam for the past seven months, now about to erupt with full force. Few reputations will emerge unscathed, Obama’s presidency will be crippled, Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 candidacy will be destroyed — and perhaps some new heroes will be born.
The Air Force official in charge of its sexual-assault prevention program was arrested for groping, authorities said Monday.
Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, 41, was removed from his position as head of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office pending an investigation, the Air Force said.
The incident happened just after midnight Sunday when a drunken Krusinski allegedly approached the woman in a parking lot in Arlington, Va., and grabbed her breasts and buttocks, according to a police report.
Police said the woman fought off her assailant and scratches can be seen on Krusinski’s face in his mug shot. He was charged with sexual battery.
It’s time for a free-market corporate social responsibility. Conservatives who rail against government hand-outs should also blast companies who seek shelter from Washington.
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The Republican attack on President Obama’s economic policy has changed subtly, but significantly, in the last three years. In 2009, he was allegedly a “socialist” and a “Marxist” who lusted for government control of the entire economy. But lately, that has given way to more nuanced charges of “crony capitalism” — of giving special, friendly treatment to certain companies and industries, or allowing powerful corporations to essentially write the laws, themselves.
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Voters despise government officials who get in bed with corporations. But what about corporations who cozy up to government? Are companies who use cronyism to grow their profit acting unethically?
The question makes some free-marketeers uneasy. After all, we not only tolerate the fierce pursuit of profit, but also we defend it against taxes and heavy-handed regulation. Milton Friedman famously said, “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.”
But in the age of crony capitalism, libertarians must declare that some means of pursuing profit are immoral and call on executives to reject them. This would create a positive case for capitalism — arguing that the pursuit of profit, in the context of fair and open competition, helps the whole society. The new corporate social responsibility, redefined for libertarians, must stand athwart crony corporatism yelling “stop.”