HUCKABEE TO LIGHT UP SUMMIT: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Fox News host and 2008 presidential contender, joins Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, commentator Jonah Goldberg, and Benghazi critic K.T. McFarland on stellar lineup for Western Conservative Summit 2013, July 26-28. Learn More & Register >
This you can hardly believe.
David Rhodes, president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser.
Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Obama's special assistant.
Ciaire Shipman, national correspondent for ABC's "Good Morning America," is married to Jay Carney, Obama's press secretary.
Virginia Moseley, deputy bureau chief for CNN in Washington, is married to Tom Nides, deputy security state for management and resources (under Secretary Clinton and now under Secretary Kerry).
So how aggressively can we expect CBS, ABC, and CNN to pursue the truth about Benghazi?
If Cheryl Atkisson, the CBS reporter who seems to want to pursue the truth, is muzzled or let go, would the David Rhodes - Ben Rhodes brother team (covering for the latter's key role in changing the talking points) possibly have something to do with it?
('76 Contributor) Stretching Oscar Wilde’s adage “I never put off til tomorrow what I can do the day after,” some in the mainstream media have finally started to Think Again about the Benghazi attack launched last year on the anniversary of 9/11 — thanks to new revelations by high-ranking State Department whistle-blowers including experts in security, counterterrorism, and the No. 2-ranking diplomat in Libya under slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Contrary to the “spin” that the U.S. Consulate assault was a spontaneous response to an anti-Islam YouTube video, the truth is that American officials knew “from the get-go” that it was a premeditated terrorist attack by al-Qaida-linked terrorists. In fact, failures to heed Stevens’ calls for increased security due to heightened terrorist threats and decisions to have Special Forces “stand down” rather than respond to the attack proved lethal for four brutally murdered Americans.
While most in the media prefer covering the Jodi Arias murder trial and the coming-out of gay basketball player Jason Collins, CBS News elder statesman Bob Schieffer and colleague Sharyl Attkisson aren’t buying White House press secretary Jay Carney’s line that “Benghazi happened a long time ago.” On Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Schieffer probed “whether there was a cover-up” based on “startling new details about the Benghazi attack ... totally at variance with what some American officials were saying in public on this broadcast five days after the attack.”
Schieffer cited an investigative report by the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes describing the wholesale rewriting of the CIA’s post-attack talking points, edited to eliminate references to terrorism, al-Qaida and five previous attacks in Libya. These talking points never mentioned an anti-Islamic YouTube video, providing fresh evidence that “senior Obama officials knowingly misled the country about what had happened in the days following the assaults.”
As if in the Soviet Union, where dissidents joked, “The future is known; it’s the past that’s always changing,” the fraudulent narrative about a YouTube video was peddled by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the victims’ caskets and their grieving families, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on five Sunday news shows, President Obama in his September address to the U.N., and consistently by Carney.
Weeks later, those who disputed this false narrative because it jeopardized U.S. national security — including Mitt Romney — were accused by media mavens such as “Meet the Press”’ David Gregory of “launch(ing) a political attack even before facts of embassy violence were known.” But wasn’t the administration guilty of politicizing Benghazi by deliberately misleading the world about a deadly terrorist attack they failed to anticipate?
Consider Watergate, another cover-up that preceded a presidential election, though there were no deaths or lost consulates. Imagine Woodward and Bernstein averting their eyes had Richard Nixon deflected responsibility for Watergate by accusing his opponents of “politicizing” the matter or asking, as Hillary Clinton asked about Benghazi, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Good journalists know what difference it makes, as did Abraham Lincoln, who said, “If given the truth, (Americans) can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
Yet the media — CBS News notwithstanding — seem to have abandoned their constitutionally protected role to safeguard Americans from the government, tending instead to protect the government from Americans.
Why else do they show scant interest that no senior administration officials have been held accountable for the four deaths, nor have the terrorists who launched the attack — although the YouTube filmmaker is in jail? Considering the terrorist-infested region, why didn’t leaders equipped with the world’s strongest military have contingency plans available to rescue the two Navy SEALs who lasted seven hours before succumbing? Sixty-plus years post-conflict, we have military capacity in Germany, Japan and South Korea; why not North Africa?
As Vladimir Lenin understood, government accountability derives from an active media and an informed citizenry. That’s why the Soviet people were subjects, not citizens. As Lenin explained, “Ideas are much more fatal things than guns. Why should any man be allowed to buy a printing press and disseminate pernicious opinion calculated to embarrass the government?”
But America’s founders guaranteed a free press so we’d be informed citizens — not helpless subjects. As Thomas Jefferson said, “When the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.” All wasn’t safe for Americans abandoned in Benghazi, which reminds us that as a self-governing people, it’s our duty to be informed enough to safeguard one another’s life and liberty.
This is the answer to Hillary’s question — “What difference does it make?” When armed with the truth, “We the People” can humble governments, secure justice, frustrate deceit, help the disenfranchised and know the world that is, not the utopia politicians try to sell us.
Think Again — shouldn’t all presidential aspirants be able to answer Hillary’s question?
Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. Her column runs every other Thursday. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at email@example.com.
A couple of hundred people, 100 each from the Weekly Standard's May 2-4 policy conference and the Colorado Front Range, had signed up for a half-day interactive training session on May 3 called Conservative Persuason Bootcamp, jointly hosted by Centennial Institute and the magazine.
But when the day came, bootcamp organizers John Andrews, Krista Kafer, Melanie Sturm, and Rich Sokol were surprised to have more than 300 show up at the Colorado Springs event.
The learning objective for the Colorado Springs event was: "To equip each trainee, by active participation,with knowledge, skills, and attitudes for winsomely vindicating with our fellow citizens America’s founding principles."
Bill Kristol, editor of the Standard, and Stephen F. Hayes, one of its writers, both of whom are frequently seen on Fox News, were interviewed by Andrews and Kafer during the first part of the program about how to persuade (see photo below).
In the second part of the program, Centennial Institute facilitators led role-playing discussions at each table so trainees could practice making their case both intellectually and emotionally. They were given imaginary skeptical questions and a briefing packet with backgrounders on several major issues, linked here: Bootcamp Issue Packet 050313.pdf (689.86 kb)
Participants' feedback forms rated the bootcamp as "very good" or "good" by 79%. Centennial Institute is preparing to offer two more rounds of Conservative Persuasion Bootcamp this summer, July 28 in Denver and August 16 in Aspen.
(Denver Post, Apr. 28) Watch closely as the legislature enters its final ten days of the 2013 session. This year is shaping up as a game-changer for the way Coloradans govern ourselves and seek the common good.
Over the decades, we’ve seen a Republican-led House and Senate confronting a Democratic governor, and vice versa. We’ve seen the House and Senate controlled by opposite parties. We’ve seen the GOP in complete control, as they were briefly under Gov. Bill Owens, and the Dems in complete control, as they are now under Gov. John Hickenlooper.
But never in my 40 years here have we seen so aggressive an ideological agenda rammed through by one party – and with a nasty kicker in the form of rigged election rules that could lock in the dominant party’s gains for a generation. That’s what I mean by game-changer.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino and Senate President John Morse, with Hickenlooper riding along, have done nothing wrong. Democrats got the car keys when voters turned over five House seats last November, and their leaders wasted no time in steering leftward and mashing the accelerator. Fair enough.
It’s been a joyride for the Obamian progressives. The result for Colorado working families, however, may be a hollow feeling like that bumper sticker you’ve seen: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.” After this year’s liberal legislative rout, we’ll all be diminished as citizens – because bigger, bossier government is on the way.
Majority Dems in both chambers are decent people with good intentions. Most are sensible enough to see the joke in saying you’re from the government and you’re here to help me. Yet they’re also utopian enough to think that in their own case, it’s really true. So from a leftist viewpoint, no doubt their 2013 agenda looked noble. But not when viewed from the right.
For all of us who believe that citizens’ possibilities are nearly unlimited when government is limited, the future that Morse, Ferrandino, and Hickenlooper envision is a very different Colorado than we’ve known – a Colorado where opportunity and liberty are narrowed.
Look at what this legislature has done with the bills that have already passed, or that are likely to pass before adjournment on May 8. They’ve impaired job-creators and employers to the advantage of unions and trial lawyers. They’ve obstructed oil and gas production and raised the cost of electricity with draconian green mandates. Economic growth will be the worse for it.
They’ve infringed the constitutional right of self-defense with unenforceable universal background checks and pointless ammunition restrictions. The emotional outlet of passing such laws won’t prevent the next Aurora massacre – but it may embolden the next Tsarnaev brothers.
There’s more. The legislature has signaled “Come on in” to border-jumpers and visa-jumpers with subsidized college tuitions and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. If this is the rule of law, Chris Christie is a ballerina.
They’ve doubled down on a dysfunctional Medicaid program – unsatisfactory for patients and providers alike – by expanding it with megabucks of borrowed federal money; the same money Dick Lamm recently called “economic cocaine” in these pages. And that money will soon taper off, sticking Coloradans with the tab; the same Coloradans this legislature hopes will raise school taxes by a billion dollars.
The diabolically clever topper is something called House Bill 1303. It mandates fraud-friendly same-day voter registration. Upon its passage (effective even this fall), presto – Democrats will have tilted the electoral playing field permanently their way. Republican chances for regaining power and repealing any of this stuff will fade.
When progressives in 1913 passed the income tax, currency manipulation by the Fed, and new election rules for senators, they gave us a very different America. Progressives’ legislative rout in 2013 will give us a very different Colorado. Brace yourself.
(Centennial Fellow) It is an easy, and not entirely inaccurate, observation to make that an overly latitudinarian and morally relativistic society is at least partially to blame for last week’s bomb attacks in Boston. It is not entirely accurate, either; in the final analysis, it is terrorists, and the strictures that motivate them, that are to blame for acts of terror. More importantly, it is how a society responds to such attacks that matter, and whether that response will be framed by an unchecked barbarous emotion on one extreme, a fanatically tolerant, multi-culturalist approach on the other; or a more pragmatic, realistic one that recognizes the incompatibility of our own culture with that of radical, fundamentalist Islam.
Like any such event, the bombings led to a bout of national self-reproach and second-guessing. Much criticism has centered on the Presidents apparent oscillation over the terminology – i.e. use of the word “terrorism”, or conspicuous non-use of the word “Islamic”.
Now, to be fair, “terrorism” is one of those words that tend to slip the fetters of appropriately restrained usage. I use, as reference, the definition once offered by Benjamin Netanyahu, whose credentials on such matters are, I contend, well-established. He defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.” Not every act of mass violence is an act of terror, as the term ought to be applied; neither should the bar be set too low on what constitutes “political ends” – i.e. not every crackpot Sirhan Sirhan wanna-be with a personal drug- or disorder- fueled manifesto meets the standard. So terminological prudence in the early days of the situation was entirely called for. I think that we now, however, have enough information at our disposal to begin forming both a picture, and a framing an appropriate reaction.
What should that reaction be? Well, it needs to start with a cold recognition of who and what we as a society are dealing with. America is no longer the nation that no so very long ago rather naively believed that terrorism was something that happened on TV, in other places – in Israel, or Lebanon, or Uganda, or Belfast, or (at nearest) aboard a cruise ship or TWA airliner. 9-11 changed that paradigm. But like statecraft in general, the war on terrorism (if in fact we remain committed to the fight in more than just a receiving role) requires flexibility. We are confronted now with the possibility of a new breed of terrorist – the radicalized, but loosely amalgamated, Islamic fundamentalist; the independent jihadist.
It is immensely difficult to institute preemptive security measures that will prove 100% reliable. Probably the most effective preemption would be a moderate Muslim voice persuasive enough to dissuade the would-be Jihadist, a voice which seems sadly absent. So the American government still needs to develop a coherent policy to effectively deal with the problem. A timely example of what this could look like comes from across the Atlantic.
It was both perverse and oddly poignant that the funeral for the Right Honourable Margaret Thatcher was held on the same week as the bombings. As much, probably more, than any contemporary western leader (save perhaps her good friend, Ronald Reagan,) Baroness Thatcher demonstrated the proper reaction to such acts. As Prime Minister of Great Britain, Lady Thatcher made it official policy to stare terror, aggression, and evil in the face, and to counter it with moral certainty and the decisiveness that naturally followed, as she ably demonstrated in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, and the Cold War. In so doing, she revived a British spirit that had been left for dead, in a manner reminiscent of Winston Churchill or Queen Elizabeth I, and ultimately prevailed against the IRA, the Argentinians, and the Soviet Union.
A dismissive, self-loathing, ACLU-style fanatical interpretation and misapplication of civil rights based on moral and cultural relativism will not serve our interests. The Boston terrorists may well have been acting on their own accord. But the underlying ideology that catalyzed their actions remains a force moved by international impulses, and backed (currently) by organized elements and certain nation-states, and (soon) by nuclear, not pressure cooker, bombs.
Attacks like the one in Boston last week demand an official response. Those in charge of such things can choose to make that response one steeped in politically correct, egalitarian, relativistic terms – like the call for utterly pointless new gun laws following the Sandy Hook massacre – or they can choose to recognize and apply, as did Baroness Thatcher, cold, hard realities, and the existence of moral truths and the imperatives that follow.
('76 Contributor) In his 1831 book celebrating America, Alexis de Tocqueville warned, “In democratic societies, there exists an urge to do something even when the goal is not precise, a sort of permanent fever that turns to innovations, … (which) are always costly.”
After a spate of traumatic tragedies that impact the gun and immigration debates, feverish politicians are rushing to innovate complex legislation without thoroughly and publicly examining the underlying problems and before “we the people” consent to their solutions. Lawmakers should Think Again, considering that only 4 percent of Americans currently “mention guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation,” according to Gallup. Americans' top concerns are the economy, jobs and dissatisfaction with the way government works.
If irony is the hygiene of the mind, much about the Boston Marathon massacre is clarifying, though boggling. Intent on massacring Bostonians on Patriots Day, the immigrant brothers Tsarnaev received state welfare benefits funded by the taxpayers they killed and maimed. Then they murdered a police officer en route to hijacking a car with a “Coexist” bumper sticker. Perhaps inspired by “Coexist” sentimentality, the fugitive sociopaths allowed the car's owner to live “because he wasn't American,” assuring their capture and non-coexistence in the American community they shunned.
Sadly, despite new laws since 9/11 and $50 billion spent annually on robust security precautions, there is little a free and open society can do to prevent Boston-style bombings or public mass shootings by lawbreakers. While there are crime-prevention measures that could deter public attacks, civil libertarians and constitutionalists claim that they encroach on Americans' constitutionally protected natural rights to self-defense, due process and free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union opposes measures that infringe on the First Amendment rights of makers of violent video games and background checks that could lead to the institutionalization of the mentally impaired and the infringement of their privacy rights; psychiatrists resist reporting patients fearing it would deter treatment-seekers; and the National Rifle Association opposes measures that inhibit the rights of responsible, law-abiding citizens — often victims of gun or domestic violence — to protect their person, family and property. They believe the best response to a criminal trying to kill civilians is a civilian equipped to deter him.
These are complex and challenging issues entailing important security-versus-liberty trade-offs. Americans need and deserve thoughtful and informed deliberations to derive consensus-driven solutions, not hyperpartisan demagoguery that casts opponents as uncaring and evil. If politicians truly want to prevent the next Newtown, why do they push legislation that, by their own admission, fails this test — unless they want to sow discord for political gain? If public safety were their paramount concern, why couldn't they legislate enhanced school-security measures, like those enacted in airplanes after 9/11?
The irony is that while politicians insist on expanded law enforcement capabilities to protect society from gun-wielding lawbreakers, they resist enforcing immigration laws, as if we're not a sovereign nation of laws and legal immigrants — many with relatives who suffered tragic fates after being denied entry.
Imagine treating gun-law violators, insider-traders or thieves with the same kid gloves with which we treat those who violate our immigration laws. Would we care that they live in the shadows, fearful that their lawlessness might be exposed? Would we permit city sanctuaries that protect lawbreakers from law enforcement, or would we insist that private employers be law enforcers?
The truth is that our immigration system is broken. Those we most want — the millions of law-abiders and entrepreneurial American dreamers who, like our forefathers, want to come to America to adopt our way of life — must wait years to earn an American visa. Meanwhile, according to official U.S. immigration data since 1970, significantly larger percentages of immigrants possess lower skill levels, live in poverty and rely on public assistance, as compared with non-immigrant Americans. Consequently, low-skilled Americans suffer $402 billion in wage losses annually, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, while taxpayers bear the cost of welfare benefits.
These statistics belie the fact that, as the most multiethnic nation on earth, America possesses unique cultural and economic strengths that underlie our unity and prosperity. Unfortunately, for the past 50 years, we've migrated away from the secret sauce that accounts for our success — “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one) — toward a “separate but equal” hyphenated Americanism. As the Tsarnaev brothers demonstrate, it's not in America's interest to import foreigners who remain foreign and lost outsiders.
Tocqueville said, “The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.” If we're to avoid the Balkanization that triggers disaffection and ethic strife elsewhere and preserve the vitality that's historically attracted new Americans, we must resume acculturating immigrants to American values so they can integrate into American society.
Think Again: For this definition of “coexist” to prevail in America, our politicians must coexist better.
July 26-28, 2013Hyatt Regency, Denver, Colorado"Freedom's New Day"
Scott Walker, KT McFarland, Jonah Goldberg, Kellyanne Conway and TEN OTHER STAR SPEAKERS
BOOTCAMP MAXES OUT:
Two hundred registered but 300 came, when Bill Kristol and Stephen F. Hayes were guest instructors at Conservative Persuasion Bootcamp, May 3 in Colorado Springs. Read More >
Media favoritism to President Obama is:
Leading the Centennial Institute are John Andrews, Director, and Bill Armstrong, Chairman. Both have decades of experience in Colorado's government and thought-life. Centennial Institute Fellows include Mark Hillman, Marilyn Musgrave, Douglas Groothuis, and a dozen more.
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