Even if Congress were to nix the doomsday deal Obama made with the evil rulers of Iran, Obama could ignore the people’s representatives and continue to help the mullahs become a nuclear armed power hostile to America.
The Associated Press reports:
The September vote on the Iran nuclear deal is billed as a titanic standoff between President Barack Obama and Congress. Yet even if U.S. lawmakers reject the agreement, it’s not game-over for the White House.
A congressional vote of disapproval would not prevent Obama from acting on his own to start putting the accord in place. While he probably would take some heavy criticism, this course would let him add the foreign policy breakthrough to his second-term list of accomplishments.
Obama doesn’t need a congressional OK to give Iran most of the billions of dollars in relief from economic sanctions that it would get under the agreement, as long as Tehran honors its commitments to curb its nuclear program. …
What commitments would those be? Are there any?
With Republicans controlling both chambers of Congress, the House and Senate are expected to turn down the deal.
Obama has pledged to veto such a resolution of disapproval, so the question has turned to whether Congress could muster the votes to override him. And Obama would forfeit the authority he now enjoys to waive sanctions that Congress has imposed.
But Democrats and Republicans have predicted that his expected veto will be sustained — that opponents lack the votes to one-up Obama. More than half of the Senate Democrats and Independents of the 34 needed to sustain a veto are backing the deal. There is one notable defection so far — New York’s Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate and the party leader-in-waiting.
In the House, more than 45 Democrats have expressed support and 10 their opposition.
The president could suspend some U.S. sanctions. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned now. On the financial sector, Obama could use executive orders to remove certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, from U.S. lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to economic penalties.
Only Congress can terminate legislative sanctions, and they’re some of the toughest, aimed at Iran’s energy sector, its central bank and essential parts of its economy. Still, experts say Obama, on his own, can neutralize some of those sanctions and work with the Europeans on softening others.
The September votes won’t be the final word.
One looming question is whether Congress should try to reauthorize the Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes many of the congressional sanctions. Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, have introduced legislation to renew it.
Iran could interpret a U.S. move to reauthorize the law as a breach of the nuclear agreement. Administration officials won’t say whether it is or isn’t, only that it’s premature to address it.
Should Congress push for a different deal? The administration says renegotiating the agreement is a nonstarter. …
[But] Schumer and other opponents think the Obama administration should go back to the bargaining table. In the past, Congress has rejected outright or demanded changes to more than 200 treaties and international agreements.
The only way America can save itself is by electing a president who will tear up the deal. But by then a lot of harm will have been done.
Referring to the Associated Press report, John Hinderaker at PowerLine comments:
That is correct. The president has the constitutional authority to enter into an executive agreement. Which is where debate over the Iran deal began, with an open letter to Iran’s leaders that was signed by 47 Republican senators and posted on Senator Tom Cotton’s web site. The letter explained that the Iran agreement was not being submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. Therefore, as a mere executive agreement, it could be canceled with a stroke of the pen by America’s next president:
First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement. …
What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.
Tom Cotton’s letter was viciously attacked by liberals, but what it said was obviously correct. Now, with majorities in both houses of Congress opposed to the deal, the Associated Press tells us it can still proceed as an executive agreement. Of course it can. And the next president, who will probably be a Republican, can revoke it; and this Congress, or a subsequent one, can pass legislation inconsistent with it. That’s what happens when you don’t have the votes to ratify a treaty.
Even with the best scenario – a future president tearing up the treaty – the Iranians will have got even closer to building their nuclear arsenal.
If they haven’t started building it already. Which they probably have.
If Obama wants this deal to be a big part of his “legacy”, why can’t he understand that to a very great number of people – most of the Western world very possibly – it will be an abominable legacy? That he will be classed among the most destructive and evil leaders in history? Has that thought even occurred to him? And if it has, has he dismissed it as impossible? Is his arrogance that extreme?
Probably, yes. Hatred of America and love of Islam seem to be ruling passions of his life.
At last! The comment on the shooting of black men by police officers in America that the world needs to hear.
It is from PowerLine, by John Hinderaker, who supports his case with an important quotation from Heather Mac Donald:
One of this morning’s big news stories is the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Antonio Martin by a policeman in Berkeley, Missouri – a place that, the Associated Press tells us helpfully, is “just a few miles from Ferguson.” The Antonio Martin shooting is currently the top story on Google News, and it is being headlined on pretty much every newspaper’s website.
But why? What makes this a major news story? The Michael Brown and Eric Garner stories that preceded it, obviously. But what made them worldwide news? Or, to go back in time, what made the Trayvon Martin case a cause célèbre, commented on by the President of the United States and followed breathlessly by millions?
The Antonio Martin case won’t be as big a story as Brown’s and Garner’s deaths. Rather than being your typical “unarmed” 300-pounder, Martin apparently pulled a 9 mm. pistol on the policeman who responded by shooting him. But every shooting of a civilian by a police officer is now deemed an important news story – with the critical qualification that the civilian, but not the officer, be black.
Are these shootings worldwide news because of an epidemic of racist murders being carried out by American policemen? That is what Eric Holder, Bill DeBlasio and Al Sharpton would have us believe. But it obviously isn’t true.
Heather Mac Donald writes:
Police killings of blacks are an extremely rare feature of black life and are a minute fraction of black homicide deaths. The police could end all killings of civilians tomorrow and it would have no effect on the black homicide risk, which comes overwhelmingly from other blacks. In 2013, there were 6,261 black homicide victims in the U.S. — almost all killed by black civilians — resulting in a death risk in inner cities that is ten times higher for blacks than for whites. None of those killings triggered mass protests; they are deemed normal and beneath notice. The police, by contrast, according to published reports, kill roughly 200 blacks a year, most of them armed and dangerous, out of about 40 million police-civilian contacts a year. Blacks are in fact killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict. In 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population. The percentage of black suspects killed by the police nationally is 29 percent lower than the percentage of blacks mortally threatening them.
These stories about the killings of African-American men by police officers (or by a “neighborhood watch captain,” in Trayvon Martin’s case) are … plucked from a nearly endless supply of sad events that occur daily in a nation of 315 million, and are promoted because they further a political narrative.
An unholy alliance of activists and newspaper reporters and editors tries to distort our perception of reality by giving undue emphasis to them. Then, of course, reality begins to catch up with perception, and we have riots, murders of police officers, and so on. But understand that the decision to promote these stories, in preference to others that are equally or more newsworthy, is a choice that is consciously made by people with a political agenda.
“This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool … leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace.”
That, John Hinderaker of PowerLine reports, is what an “audience of diplomats and other officials from all over the world” heard Hillary Clinton say at Georgetown University. The title of her speech was Smart Power: Security Through Inclusive Leadership.
She would respect, for instance, the ISIS decapitators? The Taliban oppressors of women? She can empathize with their “perspective and point of view”? She hopes to “define the problems” in warm chats with them and so “change the prospect for peace”?
John Hinderaker comments:
The hall was at least half empty. Which may not mean anything. … I am not sure whether the public was even invited.
What does deserve ridicule, however, is the content of Hillary’s remarks, which remind us how vapid her thinking is. …
So that’s what they call Smart Power? No wonder it didn’t work: diplomacy as envisioned by a naive but well-intentioned elementary school teacher.
She went on to deplore the scarcity of women in high-level international diplomacy.
Considering the paucity of success in her own career as Secretary of State, and its resounding failures – most notably a failed “re-set” with Russia, and the horrors of Benghazi – she may not be the best representative of the fair sex to advocate for this cause.
One of the problems with the liberals’ approach to national security is that wherever they look, they see opportunities for affirmative action. If it isn’t women in combat, it’s women in the foreign ministry:
Of the hundreds of peace treaties signed since the early 1990s, between or within nations, she said fewer than 10 percent had any female negotiators and fewer than 3 percent had women as signatories.
“Is it any wonder that many of these agreements fail between [sic] a few years?”
Upon which John Hinderaker justly exclaims –
It’s enough to give non sequiturs a bad name!
He goes on:
But beyond the easy ridicule, there is a serious point: liberalism of the Clinton variety is utterly out of ammo.
Hillary has no ideas of any intellectual or strategic significance. All she can do is utter platitudes and pander to 1970s-style feminism.
And for this she gets $300,000 a pop?
But affirmative action requires the US to have a female president next time.
No matter if she cannot think. No matter if she was bad at the only important government job she tried to do. No matter if she, like the affirmative action president now in office, comes out of the Saul Alinsky stable of hate-America communist wreckers.
To the Left, to the foolish voter (I am being redundant here), it is enough that she is a woman. And married to Bill Clinton (ironically, the hound of women!).
Will the American electorate again make a disastrous choice of president in 2016 and elect Hillary Clinton?
Surely not – if a plausible candidate is at last found by the Republican Party.
There’s the rub.
From time to time visitors to this website or our Facebook page query the idea – even the possibility – of there being such a thing as atheist conservatism. They are – almost always, as far as we can make out – Americans whose understanding is that the word “conservative” denotes Christian conservatism. To them, therefore, to speak of “atheist conservatism” is to commit a contradiction in terms. Some have called it an oxymoron.
In Europe too, conservatism has a Christian coloration. Conservative political parties usually declare themselves to be Christian – for example, the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany. But their support does not come only from Christians. And in Britain the established Church of England has been called “the Conservative Party at prayer”, but the party does not exclude members of other Christian denominations or other religions, or the non-religious.
Yet it is an American conservatism that we embrace. It is faithfulness to the Constitution, to the essential idea that the United States was intended to embody as a nation: the idea of individual liberty protected by the rule of law.
The shortest answer we give to those who accuse us of being self-contradictory is to tell them what our prime principles are:
- individual freedom
- a free market economy
- small government
- low taxes
- strong defense
And we point out that those are core principles of American conservatism. The Constitution – southern state critics please be reminded – does not require citizens to be Christian, or religious at all.
Just as often, perhaps even more often, we are told that we cannot be both conservative and libertarian: that the two traditions are separate and even inimical to each other, to the point of being mutually exclusive. Even if that were true (and we don’t think it is), we consider it unnecessary to take tradition into account. The issue needs to be looked at philosophically, not historically. Our conservatism, holding the firmly conservative principles we have listed, is manifestly a conservatism of liberty.
And we think it is now, more than ever before, that the libertarian view should direct the political agenda of conservatism. A heavy counterweight is needed to bring America back from its tipping over into collectivism by the Left. Individual freedom urgently needs to be saved.
What is stopping conservatives from accepting libertarianism as its future? The libertarians themselves. Frequently, their public statements reveal them to be inexcusably ignorant of world affairs. They often advocate naive isolationism. They seem to lack a sense of what matters. The legalization of drugs could be wise and necessary, but it is not worth making a hullabaloo about when jihad is being waged against us. A person should arguably be able to marry any other person or persons – or things – that they choose, but it is much more important that America should remain the world’s sole superpower.
John Hinderaker also thinks that this should be “the libertarian moment”. And he too reproaches libertarians with an underdeveloped sense of what matters to the existence, liberty, safety, and prosperity of the nation.
He writes at PowerLine:
Every major strand of American conservatism includes a strong libertarian streak, because the value of liberty is fundamental to just about all conservative thought. But today, especially, is said to be the libertarians’ moment. What once was a fringe movement, politically speaking, has moved front and center in our political life.
And yet, in my view, libertarians of both the capital L and small l varieties punch below their weight. They have not contributed as much as they should to the conservative movement. This is partly because libertarians tend to founder on foreign policy, where many are merely modern-day isolationists. But it is also because they have tended to focus on secondary, or tertiary, issues of domestic policy.
A couple of years ago I was invited to a gathering on behalf of Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico who then was a libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. I was well disposed toward him, but when he started talking, his first subject was legalization of drugs. Now he is the CEO of a marijuana company. Rand Paul is probably the leading libertarian at the moment; he purports to take seriously the threat that someone drinking coffee in an American cafe will be struck by a drone-fired missile.
American liberty is indeed under attack, and a libertarian movement is needed more than ever. But the threat to freedom is not drug laws or drone attacks.
The principal threat is the administrative state, which increasingly hems in everything we do and depends hardly at all on the will of voters. …
Calvin Coolidge, who knew the Progressives well and understood how antithetical their vision of government is to America’s founding principles [said]:
It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning cannot be applied to this great charter [the Constitution]. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Today we labor under an administrative state that has metastasized far beyond anything Coolidge could have imagined. It constrains our freedoms, it lays waste to our economy, it has largely rendered Congress irrelevant, and it threatens to make just about anyone a criminal, since no one can possibly keep track of all of the myriad regulations with which we are encumbered. And let’s not forget that the administrative state is run by liberals, for liberals.
Despite the fact that it is antithetical to the Constitution and to American traditions, there is little opposition to the administrative state as such. Conventional politicians suggest that regulations can be made less irrational and less burdensome – a good idea, certainly – but hardly anyone questions the fundamental concept of Congress delegating its powers to unelected and mostly unaccountable agencies that are charged with managing just about every aspect of our lives. Nearly everyone considers the administrative state, as such, to be inevitable. …
Why don’t libertarians stake out a “radical” position on domestic policy? Why not argue, not just for a moderation in the inevitable drift toward a more and more powerful administrative state, but for a return to the Constitution’s central principle – the very first words of Article I – that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”, a Congress that is accountable to the people.
A battle is being fought for the liberties of the American people and, frankly, it isn’t going well. The fight has little or nothing to do with drugs and drones. If libertarians are serious about preserving and expanding liberty, they should join the fight that matters. A libertarian movement that focuses on a rollback of the administrative state would be “radical,” but it also would put libertarians in the vanguard, not on the fringe, of American conservatism.
Apparently recalling that it should provide accurate information rather than shill for Barack Obama, CBS has issued this report on the Benghazi disaster more than a year after it happened:
This comes from Breitbart by Joel B. Pollak:
On Sunday evening, CBS News’ 60 Minutes featured an investigative report on the Benghazi attacks by Lara Logan. Logan’s reporting confirmed that the Obama administration had been warned, months in advance, about inadequate security at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, and that it knew the story about a YouTube video was untrue.
It was a reversal for CBS News, which played a key role in the Benghazi cover-up in 2012.
A year ago, CBS News released a previously unaired clip of an interview for 60 Minutes with President Barack Obama on Sep. 12, the day after the Benghazi attack, in which the president suggests clearly that the attack on the U.S. consulate was premeditated. The interview contradicted Obama’s subsequent claims that the attack had been a response to an anti-Islam YouTube video, repeated to the public for several days.
CBS News had withheld that portion of the Sep. 12 interview until Oct. 19, choosing instead to release a portion in which Obama criticized rival Mitt Romney’s condemnation of the administration’s response to events – a repeated theme as the media helped Obama deflect responsibility. …
Whistleblowers testified to Congress earlier this year they were pressured by Clinton’s chief of staff not to cooperate with congressional investigators.
Logan’s investigation featured an interview with one of those whistleblowers, Greg Hicks, who had been the deputy to slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Logan also interviewed “Morgan Jones” (pseudonym), a former British soldier who had been advising the U.S. on security in Benghazi and had warned the State Department that Libyan guards being trained to guard the compound were not up to the job.
Morgan’s warnings came to fruition on Sep. 11, 2012, when he saw the guards disperse after being told by the attackers: “We’re here to kill Americans, not Libyans.” Morgan did what little he could to stop the attack. …
Yet the Obama administration did not send any assistance throughout the night, and is thought to have issued a stand-down order to prevent any intervention.
What Logan’s report makes clear is that there is no way that President Obama or his Secretary of State could plausibly claim that a YouTube video had inspired a spontaneous act of violence on that scale against the U.S. consulate, the CIA annex and their personnel.
That story was a lie when it was told – and it was a lie aided and abetted by the mainstream media, including CBS News and 60 Minutes, which could have exploded the administration’s YouTube video alibi even as Obama and Clinton were telling it to the families of the victims, to the voting public, and to the world.
[This CBS] report is commendable, but as an attempt to atone for malpractice, it is far too little, too late.
John Hinderaker comments at PowerLine:
The person most responsible for the Benghazi disaster is Hillary Clinton.
Is there any logical explanation for how she can be considered a viable presidential candidate, given what we now know about her role in Benghazi, and the lies she told to cover up her own culpability?
If it is possible for the US to have a worse president than Obama, it would be Hillary Clinton.
The two of them have already embarrassed their country more than enough.
She’s done nothing to boast of in her long career as the wife of a politician, her very short career as a senator, and her disastrous career as Secretary of State. But she’s done much to be ashamed of. The worst thing she did was set up a death trap – what difference does it make whether she meant to or not? – for a US Ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi. Then she lied about it. Blamed an obscure amateur video maker. Weird!
Her speeches are flat, dull, unmemorable – inevitably so, because she’s a dull thinker. There have been, and will be, countless speeches by other politicians just as boring and forgettable, but none could ever be more so.
This is from PowerLine, by John Hinderaker:
The aftermath [of the appalling mess in Benghazi] is embarrassing, too. Hillary told the father of one of the murdered SEALs that the administration would stop at nothing to bring that lousy video maker to justice. The man must have thought she was a lunatic. Later, according to an eyewitness, Hillary erupted in rage against a Republican Congressman who suggested that Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Which, of course, she knew it was shortly after it began. Is it bad to be a cowardly liar? Not if you are a Democratic presidential candidate, evidently.
The aftermath didn’t end with the administration’s initial lies, either. It continues to this day. One might think that a Secretary of State who lost an ambassador on her watch would stop at nothing to make sure that the terrorists who carried out the attack were killed or otherwise punished. (Killed, preferably.) If this is a subject in which Hillary has taken interest, she has shown no sign of it.
And this is from Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield:
This week CBS joined NBC and CNN in the Hillary entertainment business. While NBC airs a 4-hour miniseries produced by James D. Stern, the son of a top Bill Clinton donor, whom the New York Times accused of pushing Hillary Clinton’s candidacy eight years ago, CNN will air a documentary about Hillary and CBS is developing Madame Secretary, a television series about a female Secretary of State.
The biggest challenge for all these projects is how small a figure they have to hang so many hours of dead air on.
The NBC series will “recount Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician and cabinet member.” Tellingly, the political side of her life comes last. The CBS series will cover “the personal and professional life of a maverick female Secretary of State as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life.”
It always comes back to the family life, because what else is there? Turn off the cameras and sitting there is the compulsively dishonest and corrupt wife of a compulsively dishonest and corrupt former president. The wife of a dishonest, but popular, president, running for his old job, may have a slight Latin American or Middle Eastern flavor, but it’s not even Evita; let alone Hillary of Arabia.
Hillary’s closest supporters don’t have much to say about her weak tenure as Secretary of State. Once you get past the usual material about serving as a role model for girls and facing the challenges of being a wife and a mother, there are very few specific mentions of what Hillary actually did while in office.
Hillary took a lot of trips and spent a lot of money on art in embassies and green energy, but you couldn’t find her actual accomplishments with a microscope.
The only two moments of her diplomatic career that anyone remembers is the bungled Russian reset button and her clumsy participation in the Benghazi cover-up. Even the most favorable reading of both events, a misspelled gimmicky button and blaming her subordinates for not providing adequate security funding which helped lead to the murder of four Americans, don’t make for much of a resume.
After Hillary stepped out of the State Department to begin her 2016 campaign, the medals and awards came pouring in almost as fast as the television shows.
The National Constitution Center awarded her a Liberty Medal because she “traveled to more countries than any other Secretary of State” and “used social media to engage citizens”. That’s not the bio of a Secretary of State. It sounds like a celebrity getting some meaningless UN humanitarian award for tweeting about Rwanda.
The National Defense University Foundation will follow that up by giving her the Patriot Award in the Ronald Reagan Building in order to celebrate “the American spirit of patriotism” which she embodies in some unspecified way.
The ridiculous parade of awards and shows is a rerun of how Obama, an uninteresting Illinois politician, was transformed into the most interesting figure in American politics through obsessive attention and hysterical praise. But Hillary Clinton, who will be pushing seventy by the time her big moment in the sun arrives, has fewer excuses for needing to slap this much greasepaint on an undistinguished resume.
The positions that will be used as props in her quest for higher office came to her only by way of being married to the former President of the United States. And it’s impossible to find anything revolutionary that she did with those positions, except use them as launching pads for an office she was even less qualified for. …
There is nothing factual in Hillary’s background to justify her inevitability as a candidate. Her time as Senator and Secretary of State was a shapeless blur of undistinguished mediocrity culminating in one final bloody disaster.
And Dan Calabrese writes about Hillary’s dishonesty:
As Hillary Clinton came under increasing scrutiny for her [untrue] story about facing sniper fire in Bosnia, one question that arose was whether she has engaged in a pattern of lying.
The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.
He goes on to tell a little known story of what he mildly terms her “unethical behavior”. One to add to a long list. Find it here.
And this is an extract from Discover the Networks’ survey of Hillary’s deplorable career. (The whole survey is a must-read.)
In July 2012, author and former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy noted the following items about the relationship between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Muslim Brotherhood …
• The State Department has an emissary in Egypt who trains operatives of the Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations in democracy procedures.
• The State Department announced [in November 2011] that the Obama administration would be ‘satisfied’ with the election of a Muslim Brotherhood–dominated government in Egypt.
• Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
• The State Department and the administration recently hosted a contingent from Egypt’s newly elected parliament that included not only Muslim Brotherhood members but a member of the Islamic Group (Gama’at al Islamia), which is formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization.
• On a just-completed trip to Egypt, Secretary Clinton pressured General Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the military junta currently governing the country, to surrender power to the newly elected parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and the newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, who is a top Brotherhood official.
In the summer of 2012,controversy arose over the fact that Secretary Clinton’s closest aide and advisor, Huma Abedin, has longstanding intimate ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Then came Benghazi …
As everybody knows, a short video purporting to be the trailer for a film that was apparently never made, and which hardly anyone noticed for months, was publicly blamed by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and White House spokesman Jay Carney, for an outbreak of anti-US riots in Islamic countries, and for the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
The filmlet – puzzlingly titled “Innocence of Muslims” – mocks the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet Muhammad is a mythical construct (even if based on one or more obscure historical figures of the 7th century), made by his inventors in accordance with their own ideals as an intolerant mass-murdering lecher. And that’s how the filmlet depicts him.
For making it, a small-time hoodlum named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been put in prison. Ostensibly his criminal offense is breaking terms of parole in trivial harmless ways such as going on the internet, but in fact he is a political prisoner who used his Constitutionally granted freedom of speech to say something the regime that now rules the United States of America does not like.
(For more about the video, Nakoula, the riots and how the video was used to stoke them up, see our posts: Muslim evil rising, September 13, 2012; Islam explodes, and Obama lit the fuse, September 14, 2012; The pretext giver, September 15, 2012; To make a mocking movie, September 23, 2012; Muslims made the anti-Muhammad video?, September 26, 2012.)
This is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:
Liberal support for free speech has been waning for a long time, and at present it seems to be just about extinct. The latest evidence is a story in today’s New York Times about Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man who made the video that was falsely blamed for the Benghazi attack, and has languished in jail for the last two months as a result. One might think that the Times would regard jailing a man for exercising his First Amendment rights as an outrage requiring daily denunciations, but no – the tone of the article, by Serge Kovaleski and Brooks Barnes, suggests that Nakoula deserved what he got.
Start with the article’s title: “From Man Who Insulted Muhammad, No Regret.” The Times finds it remarkable that Nakoula isn’t penitent:
“Fuming for two months in a jail cell here, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has had plenty of time to reconsider the wisdom of making ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ his crude YouTube movie trailer depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty, philandering thug.”
So is America now a country where we imprison people so they can rethink the wisdom of making a video with the wrong political point of view? Apparently the Times thinks so; there is strong evidence that Barack Obama does, too.
“Does Mr. Nakoula now regret the footage? After all, it fueled deadly protests across the Islamic world and led the unlikely filmmaker to his own arrest for violating his supervised release on a fraud conviction. Not at all. In his first public comments since his incarceration soon after the video gained international attention in September, Mr. Nakoula told The New York Times that he would go to great lengths to convey what he called ‘the actual truth’ about Muhammad.”
Which raises an interesting point. I have never seen anyone comment on the historical accuracy of Nakoula’s film (assuming that anyone has actually seen it) or the YouTube trailer. Muhammad was, in fact, a “bloodthirsty, philandering thug.” You could say worse things about him than that without straying from the truth. But this question is not one that the Times, or any other media outlet I am aware of, has seen fit to explore.
The Times tries to keep alive the fiction that Nakoula’s video might have had something to do with the Benghazi attack:
“There is a dispute about how important the video was in provoking the terrorist assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the United States ambassador and three other Americans.”
Actually, I don’t think there is any dispute at all. To my knowledge, there is zero evidence that the Ansar al-Sharia terrorists who carried out the attack knew or cared about Nakoula’s video.
The main point of the Times article – the only point, really – is to establish that Nakoula is disreputable and untrustworthy. But this is an odd perspective to take on what appears to be an extraordinary violation of the First Amendment – jailing a man for political speech regarded as inconvenient by the Obama administration. …
The Obama administration doesn’t even pretend that Nakoula was imprisoned for any reason other than as punishment for his impermissible speech. Recall Charles Woods [father of Tyrone Woods, one of the Americans murdered in Benghazi] recounting how Hillary Clinton approached him at his son’s memorial and said, “We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.” And it is blindingly obvious that tossing a probationer in the slammer for using an alias and accessing the internet, notwithstanding that those actions violated the terms of his probation, is not standard practice.
The writer asks –
In the view of the New York Times, is the First Amendment reserved for the honest and the respectable?
And comments –
That certainly wasn’t the Left’s position when Communists were availing themselves of the bourgeois right of free speech.
Now, it seems, it may be reserved for those who submit to Obama and Islam.
In fact, the New York Times and American “liberals” in general have been against freedom as such for a long time now. Collectivists calling themselves liberal – in the manner described by George Orwell as Newspeak – is like Communist tyrannies commonly calling themselves People’s Democratic Republics. Or the main party of the Left in America calling itself the Democratic Party.
11/29/12. The real name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula may have finally emerged. Fox News reports:
An Egyptian court convicted in absentia Wednesday seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor, sentencing them to death on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that had sparked riots in parts of the Muslim world [ie had been used to spark riots]. … The man behind the film, Mark Basseley Youssef, is among those convicted. He was sentenced in a California court earlier this month to a year in federal prison for probation violations in an unrelated matter. Youssef, 55, admitted that he had used several false names in violation of his probation order and obtained a driver’s license under a false name. He was on probation for a bank fraud case.
The picture and the following comments are from PowerLine, by John Hinderaker:
Once we are governed by a majority that no longer believes in the America of the Founding, is there any path back to freedom and prosperity? The next four years will bring unprecedented levels of spending, borrowing and taxation. The national debt will rise to $20 trillion or more. When interest rates increase, as they inevitably must, interest costs will squeeze out other government spending. That might not be all bad, except that defense will go first. If Obama’s second term turns into a disaster, fiscal or otherwise, voter revulsion may return the Republicans to power. But that doesn’t mean that America will be saved.
To me, the most telling incident of the campaign season was a poll that found that among young Americans, socialism enjoys a higher favorability rating than free enterprise. How can this possibly be, given the catastrophic failure of socialism, and the corresponding success of free enterprise, throughout history? The answer is that conservatives have entirely lost control over the culture. The educational system, the entertainment industry, the news media and every cultural institution that comes to mind are all dedicated to turning out liberals. To an appalling degree, they have succeeded. Historical illiteracy is just one consequence. Unless conservatives somehow succeed in regaining parity or better in the culture, the drift toward statism will inevitably continue, even if Republicans win the occasional election.
This is not primarily the job of politicians, but politicians cannot escape it, either. I have been grumbling for a long time that Ronald Reagan was the last politician who made a real effort to teach the principles of conservatism to the American public. Since the 1980s, we have largely been coasting on his legacy. The prevailing assumption has been that America is a center-right country, and if Republican politicians run a good tactical campaign and get their voters to the polls, they will generally win. That strategy no longer works, and conservative politicians need to try much harder not just to appeal to conservative voters, but to help create new ones.
The stark question posed by the country’s unmistakable drift to the left is, does America have a future? Can we once again become a beacon of freedom, or will talented young Americans be forced to look elsewhere for opportunity? Barack Obama’s budget–the one that was too extreme to garner a single vote in either the House or the Senate–projects that in four years, we will have a $20 trillion debt. That debt will be paid off by a relatively small minority of our young people, the most productive. If you were in that category, and had to make a choice between staying in the United States and inheriting a debt that could well be $1 million or more, and starting fresh in another country, what would you do? And if you were an investor, where would you put your money? In the United States, where hopelessness reigns and where high unemployment and close to zero growth are now accepted as normal, or in a country with limited government and a dynamic, growing economy?
These are dark days, indeed.
Yes, they are. We agree with almost all John Hinderaker says.
But what is this other country he speaks of? Where is it? What is its name? Where is there freedom and prosperity? Where is there hope? The whole world is Islamic, communist, or declining. The few other countries that are similar to the United States in that they are genuinely democratic, ruled by law and not a despot, still allow their citizens a fair measure of individual freedom, and so are comfortably prosperous, are afflicted with the same sickness as America and declining like America. They are those first colonized by Anglo-Saxons as Britain spread its empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand. (Switzerland could be added to the short list and seems not yet to have been taken very ill, but how long can it remain immune?) Britain itself, if not quite as bad yet as the rest of Western Europe, has the sickness in an advanced phase.
To try to name the disease is to try to diagnose it. So what are the symptoms and what do they indicate? And once diagnosed, can it be cured?
That will be the subject of another post.
The attacks yesterday (9/11) on American diplomats and their diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya, the killing of members of their staff, and most imperatively the atrocious murder and savage treatment of the dead body of Ambassador Christopher Stevens ought to be treated as acts of war.
This text by John Hinderaker and the pictures come from PowerLine:
Official accounts say that those who were in the vehicle with Ambassador Christopher Stevens as they tried to escape from the violence at the American consulate in Benghazi were shot, but that Stevens died of “suffocation.” This may have an ominous significance. Further, news accounts indicate that the ambassador’s body was dragged or paraded through the streets. This photo is said to be of Ambassador Stevens, and it certainly appears to be him. I can’t tell from the photo whether he was dead at this time or not. I hope so:
This picture is also represented to be of Ambassador Stevens. It is hard to tell; about all one can say is that the shirt appears consistent with the first photograph:
The appropriate reaction to what happened last night in Cairo and, especially, Benghazi is fury. The question is, what are we going to do – not say, do – about it?
UPDATE: This photo, said to be of Ambassador Stevens, has surfaced. It does seem to be him. The caption suggests that the people in the photo are “helping” him; that could be true, I suppose. He is also described as “unconscious.” It is unclear when in the sequence of events these pictures were taken.
Yes, we should rain shock and awe down on Egypt and Libya.
But the answer to the question John Hinderaker asks: “What are we going to do about it?” – considering that Barack Obama, an Islam-loving anti-America pacifist, is in charge of US foreign affairs – is: “Probably nothing more than issue an apology for annoying the murderous Muslim mobs in both countries.”
From sea to shining sea Americans should sit down and weep.
Then rise, throw Obama out of the White House, put a fiery and decisive end to the jihad, and reclaim American greatness.
We found this text, extracted from a speech Mitt Romney is to make in Missouri today, at PowerLine, posted by John Hinderaker:
Along with the genius of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, is the equal genius of our economic system. Our Founding Fathers endeavored to create a moral and just society like no other in history, and out of that grew a moral and just economic system the likes of which the world had never seen. Our freedom, what it means to be an American, has been defined and sustained by the liberating power of the free enterprise system.
That same system has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program or competing economic system. The success of America’s free enterprise system has been a bright beacon of freedom for the world. It has signaled to oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors, and given hope to the once hopeless.
It is called the Free Enterprise System because we are both free to engage in enterprises and through those enterprises we ensure our freedom.
But sadly, it has become clear that this President simply doesn’t understand or appreciate these fundamental truths of our system. Over the last three and a half years, record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs or simply disappeared from the work force. Record numbers of Americans are living in poverty today – over 46 million of our fellow Americans are living below the poverty line. …
This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. …
John Hinderaker comments:
Conservative economic policies don’t just create more wealth than socialism or liberalism, they are morally superior to socialism and liberalism. Let’s hope that today’s speech is just a small preview of what is to come from the Romney campaign.
Socialism creates no wealth at all. It’s a wealth and prosperity killer. Vide Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, France …
As to the morality of socialism, we often say that to take money from someone who has earned it and give it to someone who hasn’t is intensely immoral. And that is what socialist governments do.
Walter Williams writes at Townhall:
Benjamin Franklin, statesman and signer of our Declaration of Independence, said: “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” … Are today’s Americans virtuous and moral, or have we become corrupt and vicious? Let’s think it through with a few questions.
Suppose I saw an elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter. She’s hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention. To help the woman, I walk up to you using intimidation and threats and demand that you give me $200. Having taken your money, I then purchase food, shelter and medical assistance for the woman. Would I be guilty of a crime? A moral person would answer in the affirmative. I’ve committed theft by taking the property of one person to give to another.
Most Americans would agree that it would be theft regardless of what I did with the money. Now comes the hard part. Would it still be theft if I were able to get three people to agree that I should take your money? What if I got 100 people to agree — 100,000 or 200 million people? What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? In other words, does an act that’s clearly immoral and illegal when done privately become moral when it is done legally and collectively? Put another way, does legality establish morality? Before you answer, keep in mind that slavery was legal; apartheid was legal; the Nazi’s Nuremberg Laws were legal; and the Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal. Legality alone cannot be the guide for moral people.
The moral question is whether it’s right to take what belongs to one person to give to another to whom it does not belong.
Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that assisting one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable. Doing the same by reaching into another’s pockets is despicable, dishonest and worthy of condemnation. Some people call governmental handouts charity, but charity and legalized theft are entirely two different things. [And] as far as charity is concerned, James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” To my knowledge, the Constitution has not been amended to include charity as a legislative duty of Congress.
Our current economic crisis, as well as that of Europe, is a direct result of immoral conduct. Roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of our federal budget can be described as Congress’ taking the property of one American and giving it to another. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid account for nearly half of federal spending. Then there are corporate welfare and farm subsidies and thousands of other spending programs, such as food stamps, welfare and education. According to a 2009 Census Bureau report, nearly 139 million Americans — 46 percent — receive handouts from one or more federal programs …
Ayn Rand, in her novel “Atlas Shrugged,” reminded us that “when you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good.”
Would a President Romney return America to virtue as well as to prosperity?
We know better than to hope that any government would shrink itself to the minimal size of the libertarian-conservative ideal. Or that entitlements such as Social Security will ever be entirely abolished.
But Romney respects the idea of individual liberty as the Founding Fathers did; and he knows that only the free enterprise system opens the way for every individual to become prosperous – by his own endeavors. So Romney would be likely to take steps to restore confidence in business, reduce the number of hampering regulations the Obama administration has imposed, encourage innovation, and generally reward self-reliance.
That would be a good start, and the expectation of it a good reason to support his bid for the presidency.