This is our compressed version, posted on our Facebook page, of a part of Victor Davis Hanson’s column at PJ Media today. We repeat it here promptly and enthusiastically because it sums up (at least in part) the case against a Hillary Clinton presidency - the very thought of which makes us shudder.
Kerry is played hourly by the Russians and Syrians. He seeks to lecture and pontificate, not persuade and inspire. He ends up doing neither well. The secretary freelances into embarrassment. At times Kerry warns of imminent bombing; at times he champions sober negotiation; at times both and again neither. He talks ponderously and long. Even the Russians cannot stand the pomposity. Kerry inherited and made worse this mess, but did not create it. It was Hillary Clinton, not Kerry or even Obama, who first issued empty red lines that she either had no intention of enforcing or should have known that Obama had no desire to honor. It was Clinton who grandly announced to the world that Kerry and other senators were right in declaring Assad a “reformer” and a “moderate.” It was Hillary who oversaw, along with Samantha Power and Susan Rice, the debacle in Libya. It was Hillary who explained why Gaddafi — the clever monster in rehabilitation doing all that he could do to massage Western oil-hungry and petro-dollar-grabbing elites — had to go, but why the suddenly now satanic Assad should be left alone to reform. It was Hillary who was the architect of “lead from behind,” which proved nothing. Hillary thundered callously “what difference does it make?” over the four dead in Benghazi. Her State Department both stonewalled the Benghazi inquiry and, before the attack, refused to consider requests for more security. It was Hillary who chortled in crude fashion “we came, we saw, Gaddafi died,” and in cruder fashion lied to the families of the dead that a right-wing video, not Islamist militias attacking a poorly defended consulate engaged in secretive arms smuggling, had led to the deaths of their sons. And, yes, it was Hillary who jumped ship to avoid the consequences of her own disastrous tenure, while she hit the lecture circuit to cash in and prep for her 2016 presidential run. Kerry is incompetently cleaning up the wreckage of Hillary Clinton’s disastrous tenure.
The column needs to be read in full.
So it’s coming – war? The big one?
As the Syrian war rages on – now a religious battle between Sunnis and Shiites as much as an armed rebellion against Bashar Assad’s tyranny – the Russians have offered troops to replace the withdrawing Austrian contingent of the UN’s “peace keeping” force on the Golan border between Syria and Israel. It looks likely that Fijian troops will be preferred by the UN, but Putin is nevertheless going ahead and preparing a Golan brigade. He is committed to helping the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad by supplying advanced weaponry, and he has warships near the Syrian coast.
At this juncture, Obama has decided that the US must send military aid to the rebels, composed of al-Qaeda affiliated and Muslim Brotherhood Sunnis. Assad himself is an Alawite, but his main support comes from Shia Iran and Iran’s Shia proxy, Hezbollah.
We quote from the (British) Mail Online .
The chilling headlines:
Could Syria ignite World War 3? That’s the terrifying question as the hatred between two Muslim ideologies sucks in the worlds superpowers.
- Syrian conflict could engulf region in struggle between Sunni and Shia
- Already claimed 93,000 lives and made 1.6million people refugees
- UK, France and U.S. taken different side to China and Russia
The article proceeds:
The crisis in Syria may appear to be no more or less than a civil war in a country many people would struggle to place on a map.
But it’s much more than that: it is rapidly becoming a sectarian struggle for power that is bleeding across the Middle East, with the potential to engulf the entire region in a deadly power struggle between two bitterly opposed Muslim ideologies, Sunni and Shia.
Already, the war inside Syria has resulted in 93,000 dead and 1.6 million refugees, with millions more displaced internally. And those figures are escalating rapidly amid reports of appalling atrocities on both sides.
Fearing that Syria faced the kind of protests that had toppled the rulers of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya during the “Arab Spring”, Bashar al-Assad’s security forces used tanks and gunfire to crush the demonstrations. But it only stoked the fires.
The opposition developed into an armed insurgency, and now Syria has been engulfed in a civil war which has degenerated into a vicious sectarian conflict.
On one side are those who follow President Assad, who belongs to the Alawites — a splinter sect from Shia Islam.
On the other are a loose affiliation of insurgents drawn from the majority Sunni population, some of whom have close links to the Sunni jihadists of Al Qaeda.
The level of savagery is appalling. This week, up to 60 Shia Muslims were reported to have been slaughtered in an attack by opposition fighters in the eastern Syrian city of Hatla. …
Syria might fragment into three or four pieces on sectarian lines, with anyone marooned in the wrong enclave liable to face vicious ethnic cleansing.
And because the conflict is driven by religion, it could easily leap Syria’s frontiers to draw in regional powers.
So who is aligned with whom? Broadly speaking, Assad is supported by Iran (the main Shia power in the Middle East) and its militant Lebanese ally, the terrorist group Hezbollah.
The latter is Iran’s main weapon in any fight with Israel.
As a result, Assad is advised (and protected) by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and there are also between 5,000 and 8,000 seasoned Hezbollah fighters inside Syria. …
The forces against Assad are joined by thousands of fighters flooding the country every week from across the region.
The rebels have also benefited from the ferocious will-to-die of an Islamist group called Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Many more rebels are Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion.
They are supported with guns and money from Sunni states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Such are the complex connections between modern nations, and the globalised nature of international politics, that repercussions could be felt around the world.
What happens in Syria affects Israel, with which it shares a militarised border on the Golan Heights. …
Although President Obama wants to downgrade America’s involvement in the Middle East now the U.S. can rely on reserves of cheap shale oil and gas at home, his own somewhat ostentatious concern for human rights keeps sucking him back in to side with the rebels.
We would correct that to (newly appointed Ambassador to the UN) Samantha Power’s and (newly appointed National Security Adviser) Susan Rice’s concern to be concerned gives Obama the excuse he needs to side with the rebels.
Why do we say “excuse”? In his role as pacifist and demilitarizer he is reluctant to have the US actively involved in another war so soon after the Iraq war ended and the Afghanistan war started winding down. But he is (we are convinced) on the side of the Arabs in their endless hostility to Israel, and he is a consistent supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (sending, for instance, lavish aid to the MB government in Egypt). We guess he would not be sorry to see a Sunni victory – or an Israeli defeat. Regardless of his own prejudices, however, the US has commitments to NATO.
That ["concern for human rights"] is also broadly the position of Britain and France, whose leaders seem swayed by lurid and unverified social media footage of atrocities.
But while leading NATO nations line up in sympathy with the rebels, on the other side President Assad is being backed by Russia — a long-time friend of Syria — and by China.
Russia and China feel they were tricked by the West over the way the Libyan regime was overthrown with Western aid two years ago, and are determined Assad won’t be ousted and murdered like Gaddafi.
The war in Syria therefore has had a destabilising effect on the entire region, and could exert a terrifying domino effect as states disintegrate.
Whether such a nightmare scenario can be avoided — and global superpowers can be persuaded to keep their powder dry — we must wait to see with baited breath.
Obama, having said that if Assad used chemical weapons he would be crossing a “red line”, and having now acknowledged that sarin gas has been used, announced that the US will provide military aid to the Syrian rebels.
While there’s nothing new about the US aiding the Muslim Brotherhood (lavish aid to Egypt’s MB government is a case in point), it will be a strange development for the US to be allied with al-Qaeda. (How, we wonder will the survivors and bereft families of 9/11 feel about it?)
The most fearsome fact is that the powers are lined up now as the Mail reports: China and Russia on the side of the Shias, Britain and France and the US – which is to say NATO – on the side of the Sunnis. And the West cannot allow Russia and China to become dominant powers on the edge of the Mediterranean.
The untruths and hypocrisy hover in the partisan atmosphere and incrementally and insidiously undermine each new assertion that we hear from the president … Indeed, the more emphatically he adds “make no mistake about it,” “let me be perfectly clear,” “I’m not kidding,” or the ubiquitous “me,” “my,” and “I” to each new assertion, the more a growing number of people will come to know from the past that what follows simply is not true. … When we hear the president remind us that he is not a tyrant or monarch, then we assume he laments that fact; “make no mistake about it” ensures that you should believe that the president is not being “perfectly clear.”
So Victor Davis Hanson writes at PJ Media.
Here are more extracts from the same article:
The president had a strange habit, like a moth to a flame, of demagoguing the wealthy as toxic (spread the wealth, pay your fair share, fat cat, you didn’t build that, etc.), while being attracted to the very lifestyle that he damns, a sort of Martha’s Vineyard community organizer. Sometime in 2009, $250,000 in annual income became the dividing line between “us” and “them.” …
I did not think that the administration would be so haughty as to go after the Associated Press and monitor their official and private communications, especially given that the source of most national security leaks par excellence was the Obama White House itself. Recall the sordid details of the AP scandal: the AP sat on a story until they were given a quiet administration go-ahead to publish the account — even as the administration desperately wanted to scoop them and high-five over the story of the Yemeni double agent 24 hours earlier than the AP. The AP was not first advised of the administration investigations, nor were the phone checks focused and narrow. Instead, the administration went whole hog after two months of phone records to send a message to its pets in the press — secure that Eric Holder, in Fast and Furious fashion, could always go to Congress with “I don’t now,” followed by executive privilege and stonewalling.
Meanwhile, in Machiavellian fashion the Obama administration had divulged classified information about the Stuxnet virus, the bin Laden raid, and the drone targeting — in order that sympathetic Washington Post and New York Times reporters might have pre-election fuel for the hagiographic accounts of Obama, the underappreciated commander-in-chief.
While we all knew that a filmmaker did not prompt a riot that just happened to kill four Americans, we did not, until the testimony of State Department officials and the published communications of White House, CIA, and State Department staffers, appreciate just how far the administration would go to further a false narrative. And quite a myth it was: lead-from-behind Libya was still a success; al-Qaeda was still scattered; Obama was still on the global front lines condemning anti-Islamic bigots like Mr. Nakoula, whose religious hatred supposedly had spawned violence that even the Nobel laureate Barack Obama could not deter. …
The IRS, AP, and Benghazi scandals were all adroitly kept under wraps for months before the 2012 election, as [Democrats] thundered about right-wing wealthy people not paying their fair taxes, and the press echoed a “how dare you” when anyone questioned the frightening state of events.
Now the wraps have come off and we find -
Five departments of government are either breaking the law or lying or both: State [Benghazi], Defense [sexual harassment issues], Justice [monitoring of phone lines], Treasury [corruption at the IRS], Health and Human Services [shaking down companies to pay for PR for Obamacare]).
The National Rifle Association is now supposed to be a suspect paramilitary group …
Women [are] suddenly eligible to serve in front-line combat units — no discussion, no hearings, no public debate.
We had a “war on women” over whether upscale Sandra Fluke could get free birth control from the government, but snoozed through the Dr. Gosnell trial. The latter may have been the most lethal serial killer in U.S. history, if his last few years of snipping spinal cords were indicative of his first three unmonitored decades of late-term aborting.
The Obama administration … decided to shut down as many coal plants as it can, stop most new gas and oil drilling on federal lands, and go after private companies ranging from huge aircraft manufacturers to the small guitar concerns — based not on law, but on certain theories of climate change and labor equity. As in the case with the IRS, the EPA is now synonymous with politically motivated activism designed to circumvent the law. The president in his State of the Union address assured us that cap-and-trade will be back, given, he says, the atypical violent weather that hit the U.S. in his term — even as global temperatures have not risen in 15 years, and hurricanes are now occurring more rarely than during the last administration. …
We are in unchartered territory.
The IRS has lost our trust, both for its rank partisanship and its inability to come forward and explain its crimes.
Eric Holder wants us to believe that he has no idea why his office was monitoring the communications of journalists, and yet now warrants the renewed trust of the president.
Susan Rice serially misled on national television about Benghazi and so will probably be promoted to national security advisor. …
On campuses, the Departments of Justice and Education have issued new race/class/gender guidelines that would effectively deny constitutionally protected free speech in universities, a sort of politically correct idea that proper thinking is preferable to free thinking.
If you oppose “comprehensive immigration reform” you become a nativist or worse—and apparently are one of the “enemies” the president wants to “punish.” …
Government has become a sort of malignant metasisizing tumor, growing on its own, parasitical on healthy cells, always searching for new sources of nourishment, its purpose nothing other than growing bigger and faster and more powerful—until the exhausted host collapses.
We have a sunshine king and our government has become a sort of virtual Versailles palace.
I suppose that when a presidential candidate urges his supporters [as Obama did] to get in someone’s face, and to take a gun to a knife fight, from now on you better believe him.
And, finally, the strangest thing about nearing the threshold of 1984? It comes with a whimper, not a bang, with a charismatic smile and mellifluous nonsense — with politically correct, egalitarian-minded bureaucrats with glasses and iPhones instead of fist-shaking jack-booted thugs.
Western Journalism’s analysis of the “Benghazi Accountability Report” in two parts
The following scene is fictitious. Any resemblance between the characters, or the events they refer to, and real people or real events, is purely coincidental.
A stretch of wasteground, deserted but for two figures approaching each other from opposite sides. No buildings in sight. No road, no passing traffic or pedestrians. Both figures, one elderly female (Hillary), one elderly male (Tom), are muffled up to the ears and have hats with brims pulled down over their faces. Both look nervously about them to make sure they’re not being followed or observed.
When they’re close to each other Tom speaks.
Tom: Hi Hillary. So what is it you need to see me urgently and secretly about?
Hillary: It’s the Benghazi thing. We managed to keep it off the front pages, but you know what happened. I got Susan to stick her neck out trying to spread the video story. Told her I’d definitely tell Barack that she was the one to have my job at State when I retire if she’d do that little thing for me. But then some people may they rot in hell let out part of the truth about what really happened, and we just didn’t manage to make the video story stick, and now the Republicans are trying to make a scandal of it.
Tom: So where do I come in?
Hillary: I told Barack we must set up an official inquiry that can take some weeks so it only comes out when we’re safely over the election, and while its going on we won’t have to answer any questions - we can say we don’t want to anticipate the findings. With luck by the time the inquiry’s finished the whole thing will be forgotten or at least seem very stale news.
Tom: And you want me to head this inquiry – right?
Hillary: It has to be you, Tom. You know the area. You know the people. You know how Barack feels about them. The same way you do.
Tom: But why the secrecy? You’ll be making a public announcement that I’ll be heading it, won’t you?
Hillary: Of course. But we have to talk about what your inquiry will find out.
Tom: I get you. Okay, tell me what you want me to hide.
Hillary: Well, its really, really important to Barack to have everyone believe he’s defeated al-Qaeda. You know?
Tom: Sure, I understand that. Though I personally always thought that bin Laden guy was a fine looking fellow. Good at what he did too. Bit of a shame that he had to go. I understand Valerie nearly got Barack to leave him be, but the navy people just wouldn’t stop pushing once they’d found out where he was and they knew they could do it.
Hillary: Thing is, the vast right wing conspiracy has found out that there may have been some al-Qaeda people among the mob who killed Chris.
Hillary: Stevens. Our ambassador to Libya.
Tom: And you want that kept that out of my findings?
Hillary: Well, it’s out now so you may not be able to. They’ve even picked up leads to our weapons transfers.
Tom: Weapons transfers?
Hillary: Yeah – guns and stuff. Stuff left over from when we supplied the rebels against Gaddafi. Stingers – whatever they are. Chris was organizing their transfer through Turkey to the rebels in Syria.
Tom: Good. I mean – bad if anyone found out about that, eh? By the way, who are these Syrian rebels, d’you know?
Hillary: Well, that could be even more embarrassing. Some of them are also al-Qaeda.
Tom: Okay. Okay. Sure. Fine.
Hillary: We don’t want that to come out in the inquiry. And certain other things that you’ll come across will have to be …. you get me?
Tom: Suppressed. Of course. So let me ask you this. What can come out in my report?
Hillary: You can find that Chris didn’t get enough protection. Everyone knows that much by now. But you mustn’t blame me or Barack. You mustn’t find his policies at fault. And Barack himself mustn’t come into it at all. Or me.
Tom: Okay. I see. Fine.
Hillary: Without actually naming names you can hold some of my underlings responsible for refusing protection. I mean, everyone knows we refused more protection when Chris asked for it so there’s no point in trying to hush that up.
Tom: You want anyone in particular named?
Hillary: No. No names. You can say that nothing anyone did is a firing offense. I mean, I might fire a few people anyway just to make it look as if I’m so angry with them that I’m ready to go beyond your recommendations. Zeal. I’ll show zeal.
Tom: And what about Chris himself? Can we put some of the blame on him?
Tom: He asked for too much?
Hillary: Er – rather he didn’t make his needs clear enough.
Tom: They might call that “blaming the victim”.
Hillary: Well don’t make too much of that. What you can make as much as you like of is the Republicans in the House not voting us enough money for the proper protection of our embassies and diplomats.
Tom: Is it true?
Hillary: True enough. There’s a grain of truth … and it’s something people will believe. Above all, keep me out of the picture. Me and Barack.
Tom: Didn’t you make a public statement that you accepted responsibility?
Hillary: Yep. I thought that was a good move. Made me sound courageous. And honest. Didn’t it?
Tom: Sure it did.
Hillary: I was rather hoping it would be enough and I wouldn’t have to do anything more.
Tom: Doesn’t the House want you to answer some questions?
Hillary: Yep. That’s bad. They’ve got film of me saying it was all because of the video when Barack and I met the coffins coming home. I even told one of the dead guys’ father that we would punish the disgusting little man who made the video. But I think I can get out of having to testify. I have important engagements abroad. A wine-tasting in Australia, as a matter of fact. And after that – well maybe I’ll fall sick or something. Bang my head and lose my memory if the worst comes to the worst. I’ll think of something.
Tom: Is there anything else you should tell me now? I mean, what other cats are already out of the bag?
Hillary: Let me see. They may make a lot of noise about us paying local militias to guard our installations.
Tom: You hired Arabs to guard them? Armed?
Hillary: Of course armed.
Tom: Trained to use arms?
Hllary: They knew how to use them. They were militants. No point in …
Tom: Hold it right there a moment. Let me get this straight. You’re saying that you hired terrorists to guard our people in Libya?
Hillary: Don’t use that word! You know Barack won’t allow it.
Tom: (Whistles) I didn’t realize he’d gone as far as that. Didn’t you tell him it would be dangerous? I mean, I know what he’s aiming at, but I thought he was better at the art of throwing dust in people’s eyes than that. I think we should suppress that.
Hillary: It’s already known.
Tom: Already known? (Whistles again)
Hillary: Stop doing that, Tom. It’s not that bad. I don’t want it to be that bad.
Tom: This ain’t gonna be easy, sister. Anything else that could be an impeachable offense? Better you tell me now …
Hillary: Well, there was a secret CIA operation going on. Taking prisoners. Interrogations.
Tom: (Taking a deep breath) I don’t know if I can do this, Hillary. An illegal operation?
Hillary: I don’t know. Honestly, Tom, I don’t know anything about that. I – I – . It wasn’t my idea. I’ll have to get Petraeus to fill you in about that.
Tom: Speaking of Petraeus – he seems to resent Susan putting the blame on the info his people gave her. He seems to be wanting to tell the truth – I mean the real truth. Out loud. In public.
Hillary: Don’t worry about him. I promise you, we’ve got him where we want him.
Tom: You have? I see. I see. But now tell me. What’s the real story why we didn’t send anyone to help them. Our people in Benghazi. Why didn’t we? Don’t worry, you know what you tell me here will go no further. But to satisfy my own curisity. After all, we could have, couldn’t we? We even got a plane from Italy to within a couple of hours from Benghazi. What happened then?
Hillary: I told them … I mean we told them … I mean, Barack said … At least, Valerie said … Jeez Tom, you expect me to know? You can ask Leon. But whatever he tells you, remember what I’m telling you now. Nothing that would be bad for Barack – or me …
Tom: So let me be clear what you want from me. Bottom line – you’re asking for a whitewash?
Hillary: Well yes, of course. But it mustn’t seem like a whitewash. You know? You must make it seem really, really tough. I want them to use words like “scathing”.
Tom: A scathing report. Yep. Sounds right.
Hillary: And make recommendations for how we should get our act together and improve the way we deal with protecting our people abroad. That sort of thing. A whole lot of recommendations. And make them sound … draconian. Make it sound as though we take the whole thing to be a teaching moment and we really want to learn from it going forward.
Hillary: Yes. But not so draconian that I can’t say I accept them. I need to say I accept them all. It will make me sound …
Tom: You’re setting me quite a challenge here.
Hillary: I know you’re up to it, Tom. Will you do it? For the cause. You know what I mean?
Tom: Okay, Hillary. I’ll do it. I’ll do my best … but you understand it might not work?
Hillary: Just do it. We’ll make it work. Me and Barack. Between the two of us we can’t fail. I’m very experienced, you know, in getting out of tight corners. And Barack is incredibly –
Both together: LUCKY.
We delight in the fact that capitalism provides opportunity for anyone to become rich. We applaud those clever/industrious/lucky people who have achieved great wealth in our (comparatively) free society. We feel energized and encouraged by the happy spectacle of “conspicuous consumption” that some visible billionaires display with their mansions, their yachts, their jets, their football teams … For we see them as the living proof to us all that it is perfectly possible to become “filthy rich”. If they can do it, maybe we can to. They’re a spur to noble effort.
We are therefore bewildered by the cognitive dissonance of those self-made billionaires who vote Democratic. For instance, those who have made their fortunes in Silicon Valley by their marvelous inventions precisely because they were able to take advantage of circumstances – freedom, leisure, investment – which capitalism alone can provide. Do they not realize that to vote for Obama and the Democratic Party is to vote for socialism? Do they not know that socialism is a killer of private enterprise? That collectivism puts an end to innovation? We cannot suppose them to be so mean-spirited that, having made their own fortunes, they want to prevent others following in their footsteps. We’d rather conclude that very clever people can be very stupid about things outside their expertise.
The Democrats of course notoriously pour scorn on “the 1%” and long to make them poorer and ashamed of themselves. So a question arises: How come the extremely wealthy political elite of the Left are not ashamed of their hypocrisy?
This is from PJ Media, by Victor Davis Hanson:
I confess I never admired John Edwards … I didn’t think much of Al Gore or John Kerry … I was not surprised when Susan Rice just disclosed that she is worth considerably over $30 million — and has money in Keystone no less. Are they all part of the “one percent”? Did they pay “their fair share”? Do they “spread the wealth”? At what point in his life did Al Gore know that he had made enough money (before barreling ahead and making more)?
Why do a Timmy Geithner and John Kerry preach about raising taxes while trying their best … to avoid them? I remember the Clintons seeking write-offs for the donation of their underwear, Tom Daschle not counting limo service as income, and Hilda Solis with a lien on her husband’s property. Why wouldn’t the above pay too much rather than too little? If Barack Obama did not get free government everything … would he still preach that guys like him need their taxes raised?
Of course, I accept without much worry that government service can lead to the contacts that lead to big money. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld made millions in the private sector in between D.C. jobs. I grant too that old-boy networking is lucrative. George W. Bush’s Texas Rangers small fortune came from having powerful friends in the right places. No doubt Colin Powell and Bill Clinton are multimillionaires. Bravo to them both.
And Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush are not of the Party that pretends to despise the rich. Democrats who are keen on redistributing wealth should start by redistributing their own.
What we cannot stomach is all the sermonizing about “fair share” and “play by the rules” and “the one percent” from those who seek to be exempt from their own rhetoric. Can’t Warren Buffett keep quiet and just leave his $50 billion to his heirs — and let the wonderful federal government do what it must with a $30 billion estate tax on his earnings? … His estate will dodge more tax liabilities than what millions of his proverbial overtaxed secretaries pay. Why isn’t George Soros one of the despised money speculators of the sort that Occupy Wall Street was enraged about? … So weird what constitutes good and bad riches!
I guess the rub is not big or small money, or what you must do to get it and keep it. No, the lesson instead is what you say when you get it. If I were to advise a young rich man, I would promote entering politics or the media and talking up the liberal redistributionist state, the model being a sort of Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Nancy Pelosi, Jon Corzine, or Jay Rockefeller.
If you know what to say against the rich -
You may meet and marry a rich person … all sorts of doors will open that allow you to keep and compound what you garner — and you will feel wonderful in the bargain.
And Larry Elder writes at Townhall:
Ah, the hypocrisy of tax-hikers who do everything they can to avoid the taxes they wish to impose on others.
Sen. John Kerry … tried to avoid $500K in his home state’s sales and excise taxes by docking his newly purchased $7 million 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island.
Massachusetts lowered its state income tax in 2001. Given the presumably large number of rich people who pine to pay more taxes, the state allowed tax filers to check a box and voluntarily pay the old, higher rate. In a liberal state of over 3 million tax filers, how many volunteered to pay the higher rate in 2004? A tiny fraction of 1 percent — 930 taxpayers.
We’re astounded that there were any. To the well-known statement, “tax payers are entitled to arrange their affairs to attract the least taxation”, the retort must be, “what sort of fool would arrange his affairs to attract the most taxation?”
Among those who refused to pay the higher rate? Sen. Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank. …
John Edwards, former senator and Democratic presidential candidate: His wife, Elizabeth, once called him a person of “character” because Edwards voted against his own economic “interests” by voting for higher taxes. Well, OK, but like billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who urges higher taxes, Edwards is less than keen on paying them. As a lawyer winning major jury awards, John set up a subchapter S corporation to pay himself through dividends — and thus avoid $600K in Medicare payroll taxes.
Well, the guy may be nasty – is infamously so! – but he’s not an idiot.
Ted Kennedy and his family shield[ed] their money through a series of complicated family trusts first begun by father Joe Kennedy. The trusts transfer wealth from generation to generation while avoiding estate taxes.
The late Ohio Democratic Sen. Howard Metzenbaum … enjoyed a lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action of 95 (100 being perfect) and a zero from the American Conservative Union. He never met a tax hike he did not like. [But] he moved to Florida when he retired from the Senate. Why Florida? No state estate or personal income taxes.
“Civil rights” leader and MSNB-Hee Haw host Al Sharpton: Though he supports increasing taxes on the rich, Sharpton, it seems, fails to do his part as a member of the 1 percent. As of last year, according to the New York Post, Sharpton owed $3.5 million in state and federal income taxes. His nonprofit, the National Action Network, as of 2011 owes nearly $900K in unpaid federal payroll taxes.
What do these individual instances of hypocrisy say about whether taxes should be increased on the so-called rich? …
The Congressional Budget Office just issued a report on what would happen to the economy if Congress fails to retain the Bush-era tax rates. Keeping the Bush-era rates for all but the rich, the CBO says, adds 1.25 percentage points to GDP. Retaining tax rates for all, including the rich, however, adds 1.5 percent to the economy. In other words, raising taxes on the rich lowers economic output.
Obama cannot really believe that making the rich pay more will help the economy out of recession. Even he knows it won’t. His reason is ideological. He is a communist by breeding and instinct, which is to say an egalitarian, a leveler. He must inform his voting fans, both rich and poor, that he is against the rich in principle. He knows that just so long as he talks that way, it’s okay for him to be rich himself. Okay to be a hypocrite.
So Ambassador Susan Rice is set on being Secretary of State? Another woman to muck up US foreign affairs. She’s so upset that her lies about Benghazi (see here (!) and here) will be held against her and block her advancement, that she is now appealing directly to her critics, chiefly Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
And we know that John McCain is a pushover. He had only to be asked to speak up for Huma Abedin when some Republicans raised the issue of her being a Muslim Brotherhood associate, and queried whether that was the best qualification for her also being chief adviser to the US Secretary of State, for him – without apparently further enquiry or thought – to leap to her defense and swear (in effect) that she was the most trustworthy personage this country has had in the precincts of power since George Washington, and to rebuke his fellow Republicans for being so mean and horrid as to imagine she might be anything less than a loyal American patriot.
We know the lame excuse Susan Rice proffers for having lied to the nation on TV – that the intelligence services gave her false information. What we wait with keen anticipation to hear is the lamer excuse John McCain will make for believing such irresponsible nonsense, and his gallant declaration that it clears her of blame.
Same day, later: Senator John McCain says he is significantly troubled by the answers he has had, and not had, from Susan Rice. We’ll wait a while longer before we are sure that we have done him an injustice by expecting him to be gullible again.
Stephen Hayes writes that the murder of US Ambassador Stevens and three of his staff in Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of 9/11 is a “scandal of the first order”:
Either the intelligence community had a detailed picture of what happened in Benghazi that night and failed to share it with other administration officials and the White House. Or the intelligence community provided that detailed intelligence picture to others in the administration, and Obama, Biden, Clinton, Susan Rice, and others ignored and manipulated the intelligence to tell a politically convenient — but highly inaccurate — story.
If it’s the former, DNI [Director of National Intelligence] James Clapper should be fired. If it’s the latter, what happened in Benghazi — and what happened afterwards — will go down as one of the worst scandals in recent memory.
It seems far more likely that it’s the latter. After all, is it conceivable that White House officials at the highest levels were not actively engaged in interagency meetings to determine what happened in Benghazi? Is it conceivable that intelligence officials, knowing there was no evidence at all of a link between the film and Benghazi, would fail to tell the president and his colleagues that their claims were unfounded? Is it conceivable that somehow the latest intelligence on the 9/11 attacks was left out of Obama’s intelligence briefings in the days after 9/11? It would have been a priority for every professional at the CIA, the State Department, and the National Security Council to discover exactly what happened in Benghazi as soon as possible. Is it conceivable that the information wasn’t passed to the most senior figures in the administration?
No, it’s really not. And therefore, the fact that these senior figures misled us — and still mislead us — is a scandal of the first order.
We agree. We think it is more shameful than Watergate, or the disgracing of the office of president by Bill Clinton.
Mark Steyn writes with his usual wit and acerbity that the events in Libya annoyingly distract the Obama administration from its self-assigned most vital duty of keeping some TV puppets in existence at public expense.
“The entire reason that this has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.” Thus, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, speaking on CNN about an armed attack on the 9/11 anniversary that left a U.S. consulate a smoking ruin and killed four diplomatic staff, including the first American ambassador to be murdered in a third of a century. To discuss this event is apparently to “politicize” it and to distract from the real issues the American people are concerned about. For example, Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki, speaking on board Air Force One on Thursday: “There’s only one candidate in this race who is going to continue to fight for Big Bird and Elmo, and he is riding on this plane.” She’s right! The United States is the first nation in history whose democracy has evolved to the point where its leader is provided with a wide-body transatlantic jet in order to campaign on the vital issue of public funding for sock puppets. Sure, Caligula put his horse in the Senate, but it was a real horse. At Ohio State University, the rapper will.i.am introduced the President by playing the Sesame Street theme tune, which, oddly enough, seems more apt presidential walk-on music for the Obama era than “Hail To The Chief.”
Obviously, Miss Cutter is right: A healthy mature democracy should spend its quadrennial election on critical issues like the Republican Party’s war on puppets rather than attempting to “politicize” the debate by dragging in stuff like foreign policy, national security, the economy and other obscure peripheral subjects. But, alas, it was her boss who chose to “politicize” a security fiasco and national humiliation in Benghazi. At 8.30 p.m., when Ambassador Stevens strolled outside the gate and bid his Turkish guest good night, the streets were calm and quiet. At 9.40 p.m., an armed assault on the compound began, well-planned and executed by men not only armed with mortars but capable of firing them to lethal purpose – a rare combination among the excitable mobs of the Middle East. There was no demonstration against an Islamophobic movie that just got a little out of hand. Indeed, there was no movie protest at all. Instead, a U.S. consulate was destroyed and four of its personnel were murdered in one of the most sophisticated military attacks ever launched at a diplomatic facility.
This was confirmed by testimony to Congress a few days ago … [Yet] for four weeks, the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and others have persistently attributed the Benghazi debacle to an obscure YouTube video – even though they knew that the two events had nothing to do with each other by no later than the crack of dawn Eastern time on Sept. 12 …
Given that Obama and Secretary Clinton refer to Stevens pneumatically as “Chris,” as if they’ve known him since third grade, why would they dishonor the sacrifice of their close personal friend by peddling an utterly false narrative as to why he died? You want “politicization”? Secretary Clinton linked the YouTube video to the murder of her colleagues even as the four caskets lay alongside her at Andrews Air Force Base – even though she had known for days that it had nothing to do with it. It’s weird enough that politicians now give campaign speeches to returning coffins. But to conscript your “friend’s” corpse as a straight man for some third-rate electoral opportunism is surely as shriveled and worthless as “politicization” gets. …
“Greater love hath no man than this,” quoth the President at Chris Stevens’ coffin, “that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Smaller love hath no man than Obama’s, than to lay down his “friend” for a couple of points in Ohio.
The Democrats have lost the plot. Even their own plot. They desperately want to stay in power in order to … stay in power. Give them the bird.
It’s never a surprise when a political act turns out to be a bitter mockery of the humanitarian values it’s supposed to serve.
So the news that civilians in Libya are being bombed by NATO, which intervened in the Libyan civil war to protect civilians, elicits little more than a world-weary sigh from our Roving Eye War Reporter.
REWR, having sent the news but no detailed dispatch home, refers readers to two posts of ours (find them through the research slot): The danger of R2P, March 23, 2011, in which it is explained that R2P stands for Responsibility to Protect, a UN declaration which provided NATO’s pretext; and A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011. They trace the idea of invoking that piece of lethal self-righteousness to three women in the Obama administration:
- Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multicultural Affairs at the National Security Council
- Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations
- Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
To show just how NATO action in Libya is making a mockery of the R2P, we quote from a report by Mike McNally at PajamasMedia:
The fighters of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the rebel movement turned temporary government, have launched what they say is a “final assault” on Sirte — hometown of ousted dictator Colonel Gaddafi and one of the last redoubts of his supporters.
Thousands of civilians have fled the town, but thousands more are trapped inside, unable or unwilling to leave. The Red Cross reports that conditions inside Sirte are deteriorating, with people dying in the main hospital due to shortages of medical supplies, fuel, and water; food is also said to be in short supply.
There are no reliable casualty figures, although pro-Gaddafi forces — not surprisingly — are reporting hundreds of civilian deaths caused by both NTC fighters and NATO airstrikes. …
Even if rebel forces aren’t intentionally targeting civilians, the ramshackle nature of the rebel forces and much of their equipment suggests that much of the shelling and rocketing is indiscriminate. Red Cross workers have reported rockets landing among the hospital buildings. …
You could be forgiven for wondering what the NATO forces who are still engaged in Libya plan to do about the situation in Sirte, given that UN Resolution 1973, under which they’re operating, authorizes them to take “all necessary measures” to protect “civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. …
But far from defending the civilian population of Sirte, NATO warplanes were as recently as Sunday still conducting airstrikes in and around the town in support of the rebels. “Why is NATO bombing us?” asked one man who had fled with his family. It’s a fair question.
NATO had already put a highly elastic interpretation on its mandate under 1973, transitioning swiftly from protecting anti-Gaddafi protesters to flying close air support missions for the rebels.
And adding effective contingents of NATO soldiers to the feeble rag-tag rebel militia for the assault on Tripoli – a fact that NATO has tried to keep under wraps. (See our post Letting Arabs lie, August 24, 2011.)
But even if one takes the view that NATO’s actions from the start of its involvement up to the fall of Tripoli were legally and morally justified, it’s hard to argue that the Gaddafi loyalists besieged in Sirte and elsewhere present an imminent threat to the civilian population in areas now under NTC control. Far from protecting civilians, NATO now finds itself in the position of abetting a humanitarian crisis. Civilians in Sirte face a choice between enduring the shelling and the all-out assault on the town that’s likely within the next few days, and fleeing the city if they’re able. The Red Cross estimates that some 10,000 have fled, but that up to 30,000 more may still be trapped.
So why are NATO and the American, British, and French governments that were so eager to take charge of the “humanitarian” intervention, not doing more to ensure their safety? And where’s the media outcry, along the lines of the reporting which helped to persuade the West to get involved in Libya in the first place? …
At the very least NATO … could arrange the delivery of food, water, and medical supplies …
This is a civil war, and the only crime most of the civilians trapped in Sirte have committed is being on the losing side. Are they now to be denied the protection of the “international community” which a few months ago proclaimed itself so concerned at the loss of innocent life in the country? What happened to the UN’s much-vaunted “Responsibility to Protect”?
Commentators on both left and right raised doubts over NATO’s Libya mission, myself included. The removal of Gaddafi is of course to be welcomed, but while a stable and democratic regime that poses no threat to Western interests may yet emerge, recent events have suggested that outcome is still in doubt.
In doubt? A stable democratic regime in Libya? As in any other Arab country, it’s one of the most unlikely things in the world.
Just how phony the claim is (put out by Obama and his henchwomen*) that the Libyan engagement is all about the “responsibility to protect” civilians, is demonstrated by this report published two days ago on July 18, 2011, by Asia News – and nowhere in the West:
Benghazi-based rebels took Brega over night. The town, which is 740 km east of Tripoli, is the country’s main oil hub. The National Transitional Council (NTC) called the fall of the city its greatest victory since the war against Gaddafi began. However, doubts remain about rebel intentions. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused them of retaliatory violence against pro-Gaddafi regime civilians. … HRW said rebels looted and torched homes in towns that had fallen under NTC control. In villages south of Tripoli, Gaddafi loyalists were beaten, their houses set on fire.
We have little respect for Human Rights Watch having observed their frequent incapacity or reluctance to tell the truth, but in this case their accusation is backed up by another source:
Tiziana Gamannossi, an Italian businesswoman in Tripoli, told AsiaNews that the rebels’ push is causing fear in the civilian population. …
In her view, NATO is funding and arming violent groups that lack any training or code of honour. …
For Gamannossi, a war that was launched to defend civilians is absurd. The latter watch powerless as their cities and country are torn down amid the silence of western media.
“These days, hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated against NATO in Tripoli, Zliten, Ajaylat and Sabha, demanding an end to the air strikes. No newspaper has given such news much importance, calling the protests ‘ demonstrations funded by the regime’.”
Last week the 30-member contact group on Libya, including the United States, China and Russia, “formally recognised the NTC as the sole representative of the Libyan people. This will give the council access to about US$200 billion in Libyan government assets held in foreign banks to fund the rebel advance.”
What makes this contact group expect that the people leading the National Transitional Council will be any better for Libyans, or for other states to deal with, than Gaddafi has been?
The answer is, absolutely nothing. They may even be worse.
* Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council; Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN; Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State. See our post A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011.