Obama/Hillary Doctrine In Tatters

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Egypt burns.  Syria lies in ruins.  Libya is falling apart.  Iraq may be close to civil war itself.  And Afghanistan never really improved after the Obama surge.

Here lies the remnants of Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama’s largest foreign policy vision, the Arab Spring.

President Barack Obama, aided by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, believed their own audaciousness could push many of the world’s hot spots into more peaceful methods of dialogue and understanding.  This was most prominent in what ended up to be called the ‘Arab Spring’.  Obama tried to take credit for those results, by pointing to his now famous/infamous 2009 Cairo speech.  That speech basically was an apology for the 8 years of George W. Bush, and letting the world know that there was a new order, led by his compatriots.

This month, we can pretty much evaluate the Obama policy: it is a complete and utter failure.

Egypt has always been a troublesome partner.  But the Obama people simply misread the situation over the past couple years; and the results are horrific.

When they helped urge the ouster of Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the results could have been predicted.  Countries don’t just evolve like a phoenix from the ashes of totalitarianism.  It takes time and effort to build the democratic infrastructure necessary. With Mubarak gone, there was no one other than the Egyptian military to do that.  The military is a force of stability throughout the Middle East; the naive mistake for the Obama State Department is, that does not make them necessarily a force for good.  They forget the history that the military was largely responsible for placing those totalitarian dictators in place in the first place.

So when Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood came to power, the Military was unhappy, and it showed. There was immediate friction.  And of course, the US had no interest in maintaining Morsi; however, despite how the media wants to spin it, the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi did clearly win the election (not that the election was anywhere near perfect; what election is in the Middle East?).  So we side, once again, with the Military, this time against Morsi (and refuse to call it a coup in the process)…and believe our standing among the Arab street would improve?

Now, the Military acts like they always do…they have a problem that looks like a nail, and they hammer it.  They will try to crush the Muslim Brotherhood.  The problem? If you believe surveys and polls, the Brotherhood’s support is growing. It was already about a third of the country, and may be pushing 40% now.  You cannot wipe out 40% of the nation.

You can see the incompetence repeated time after time after time; Egypt is just the newest example.  In Afghanistan, Obama took Bush’s successful surge concept from Iraq, and used it…and failed.  Afghanistan is probably more unsettled today than before Obama took office.  In Iraq, we have left the country; and as such, the only stabilizing force there no longer exists.  The country teeters on the edge of civil war, and we have no power to stop it.  In Syria, we could have helped by getting involved three years ago with simple outside assistance; today, there is full-blown Civil War, where both sides are actually our enemies.  Only a fool would try to get involved there.  And Libya has been spiraling from the moment Obama claimed victory there after Qaddafi’s killing.  The country is basically a failed state.

The Hillary Clinton/John Kerry Secretaries of State tandem may go down in history as one of the most incompetent ever.  They had an unsurpassed amount of good will upon Obama’s election in 2008; and they have squandered it.  The US is now less respected  in most countries than it was…under Bush.  That is quite an accomplishment.

Kerry travels around and makes ignorant statements, which the administration the next day has to rescind or alter just to save face.  As for Hillary, she begins her campaign for 2016; tell me, has anyone ever been more undeserving of praise than her?  It is the Democrat equivalent of Donald Rumsfeld failing at the Defense Department and then running for President.  Hillary, by every metric, failed at the State department, from Benghazi to Syria to Russia to China…and yet here she is, the presumptive favorite for her party’s nomination.

By every metric known to man, the Obama Administration foreign policy in the Middle East has failed.  It will take time for the media to catch on, as they are slow learners.  It will take even longer for Democrats, because they must at all costs protect Hillary’s legacy. But the truth is there to see, today.

 

This was crossposted at Neoavatara.

Thoughts On The Benghazi Hearing

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Capitol Hill hearings today featured three compelling witnesses, all State Department veterans: Gregory N. Hicks, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Libya and the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat in the country at the time of the Benghazi jihad attacks; Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine who now serves as deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic-security officer who was the top security officer in Libya.

Clearly, those that testified today appeared overall to be much more non-partisan and professional than some of the people questioning them.  Anyone that watched the testimony is going to be hard pressed to label Hicks and the others as some kind of political firebrands.  Tears were in the eyes of many of these whistleblowers, as they told of how their friends died while they watched.

A few questions clearly remain after today’s testimony:

1.  Not once, but TWICE, there was a ‘stand down’ order made on the night of 9/11/2012.  We can argue whether or not this action could have saved any lives; there is some dispute of whether the force in Tripoli could have made a difference, and whether there were other assets in the area.  Only the Defense Department review of events of that night will answer that question.

However, Hicks argues that even an Air Force fly over may have pushed the rebel insurgents back.  That is only his theory, however.

That said, we know the military was ready to move.  According to Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya, special forces in Tripoli were “furious” when they were told to stand down during the Benghazi attack. “I will quote Lieutenant Colonel Gibson,” Hicks told the House Oversight Committee in hearings today, “He said, ‘This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.’”

Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations at the State Department’s bureau of counter-terrorism during the Benghazi attacks, testified in previous testimony, that the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST)—a special unit comprised of special-operations officers, FBI officers and diplomatic security personnel—was not deployed on the evening of the attacks.

“I alerted my leadership indicating that we needed to go forward and consider the deployment of the Foreign Emergency Support Team,” Thompson said. He added that he was told that meetings had already taken place. “I was told this was not the right time to deploy the team.”

So who made the decision to stop deployment? Maybe it was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t, but 8 months after the attack, we don’t know who in the leadership made the call.  I presume it was President Obama.

2.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was personally called by Hicks at 2 A.M. that night…did she issues the ‘stand down’ order herself?  Is that even legal?

What is more important about this call is that at that time, he told Ms. Clinton, in no uncertain terms, that this was clearly a terrorist attack, according to Ambassador Stevens himself, who told this to Hicks as the attack was starting.  Why Clinton then repeated the rhetoric that it was a ‘spontaneous protest’ days later, even at the funeral of one of the dead, remains a mystery.  Some intelligence sources in D.C. remained unsure of the facts, but if your own diplomatic personnel say it was a terrorist attack…why wouldn’t you believe your own people on the ground over intelligence sources in Washington?

3.  Following up on the previous, one thing is clear:  The “protest” about a YouTube video was a complete fabrication by the Obama administration. There was at no moment in time any evidence that this was spontaneous or that it was instigated by the video.  Not according to the people in Libya at the time.

4.  There was clear push back from allies of Ms. Clinton in allowing these whistleblowers to testify to Congress. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills on multiple occasions put up road blocks and pressured the witnesses to limit their testimony.  Why?  If Ms. Clinton supported full openness and transparency, there was absolutely no reason for these actions.

Further worsening the appearance of this, Hicks testified that he basically has been demoted; and the demotion came only after his intent to testify and bring his version of the facts came to light.  So much for whistleblower protections in the Obama Administration.

The reality is, ultimately, this testimony will do nothing on the larger scale.  Liberals dismissed this testimony without every hearing a second of it, and the media will aid their wish to remain ignorant.  They feel they know everything they need to know, even though there were numerous facts today that were omitted in the internal review performed by the State Department, and out right contradictions to testimony by Sec. Clinton and others.  It has gone so far as the White House complaining to CBS that Sharyl Attkisson, who has done brilliant work on Benghazi, should basically be ‘shut down’.  That is what transparency means to this White House and to the media today.

Furthermore, because of the lack of transparency from the White House, we don’t know who gave the ‘stand down’ order. If it was the President, he should admit it.  It was clearly his right, but to pass the buck to low level staffers who should never have had that responsibility is simply unfair.

However, Republicans have failed to show an outright cover-up.  The clearest we get to such a ‘crime’ is the Susan Rice debacle, with the repetitive blaming of the YouTube video for the riot instead of it clearly being, by all evidence even on the day of the attack, a coordinated terrorist event.  Was this a true cover-up, or was the administration really so stupid to believe their own story?  This is the most politically slanted part of the story, and my guess is neither side will accept the other’s version completely. Let us accept this much: it is reasonable to say the administration was clearly and utterly incompetent, and honestly should never have even mentioned the video in relation to Benghazi.

Ultimately, the country learned a lot about how the Obama Administration works today.  The blame, when things go wrong, will never reside with the President or his key advisers, but will be displaced to low level players that have no political leverage.  When those low level advisers try to tell their story, they are treated as pariahs and they are attacked mercilessly.  Democrats in that hearing today had no respect whatsoever for the concept of ‘whistleblower protections’, and sadly, future whistleblowers in this administration surely will have learned that lesson; they will get no protection from this President.

As for the night of the attacks, there was poor execution for any response, and even with the ‘fog of war’, the Obama people performed poorly and in hindsight, were completely taken aback by the events.  What is more disturbing is that on 9/11, one of the few days on the calendar when we should be prepared for a terrorist attack…our President and his administration were woefully unprepared.

One final point.  What is also clear, and that we have long known, is that those that died that night were left alone, without enough security, and still did their duty to our country.  They died as heroes.

A Positive Few Weeks For The GOP

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It has been an inglorious few months for the Republican brand.  Everything that could go wrong has, and the momentum politically has been all in the direction of the President and his allies.

The past couple weeks however marked the first time since the election that is not the case.

It began, predictably, with gun control.  I predicted long ago that the gun control fight would be a political road bump that the Democrats would not pleased by.  Last week saw the first inkling of that reality.  Mr. Obama released his presidential orders (of which, all that can be said is they were of no real consequence, either to defenders of the 2nd amendment or prohibitionists).  He then followed with his legislative plan for Congress.  This week Senator Feinstein released her plan to the public as well.

And that was largely responded to with a big ‘thud’.

What is glorious about the gun control debate for Republicans is that this is a fight that will be fought completely on the Democrat side.  For the most part, Republicans will vote against any assault weapons ban.  They may be willing to look at background checks, the so-called ‘gun show loophole’, and other fringe items.  But the prohibitionist wing of the Democrat Party demand a Brady-like assault ban.

To have any chance of getting this through, they need to be able to get it through the Senate.  Even if somehow they can get around filibuster rules, it is uncertain whether they can get 51 votes needed to pass the measure.  At least 10 Democrats (including 7 from red states running for re-election in 2014) have signaled distaste for the ban.  And of course, they don’t want to be holding the bag if the House GOP vote against it.

Boehner, in a moment of great wisdom, refused to take a stand on the issue…thus leaving the onus on Senate Democrats.  That is precarious position for them.  First, they refused to overturn the filibuster rules, which means on top of having to take unpopular votes, they need several Republicans to side with them.  And with momentum in the media and in polls significantly slowing for gun control, time is running out.

The GOP had little to do with the gun control debate, but had to a lot to do with the shift in the debate on the debt ceiling and the sequester.  This week, they made public a plan to give a short term extension to the debt ceiling, but promised progress only if the Senate held up their legally bound duties and passed a budget.

Again, this is a situation where the GOP has now shifted the responsibility, to some extent, to Democrats. The fight over the artificial debt ceiling was a defensive posture for the GOP, and not they were ever going to win.  However, we see the first rays of light that this posture may pay dividends.  From the Washington Post‘s editorial board, lauding the move:

Mr. Obama must distinguish between the Republicans’ unreasonable positions and their reasonable ones. Refusing to consider tax increases and holding the debt ceiling hostage were examples of the former; both have now been significantly modified, if not abandoned.

Insisting on serious reforms to entitlement programs, however, was the GOP’s reasonable demand, one the Republicans have not abandoned. This presents Mr. Obama with a choice: He can continue driving a hard bargain, in both political and policy terms. That would presumably entail refusing to deal on entitlements until the Republicans capitulate with regard to the sequester and a partial government shutdown on March 27.

Or the president could act on his past promises to tackle entitlements and engage in good faith with Republicans now, so that they have no further reason to exploit the sequester or threaten a shutdown. In that regard, a reference Friday by the White House to purported GOP plans for “drastic cuts in Medicare” was not an encouraging development. There is still plenty of time for Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid to show that they are willing to treat the GOP’s change in position as an opportunity to address the country’s long-term fiscal needs, rather than their party’s short-term political ones.

This is the first times in months that I can remember a major liberal publication taking any GOP argument’s side in the debate.  Surely, others like the New York Times will pull a ‘Pelosi’, and argue that any discussion of a normally passed budget and proper appropriations process is, in her words, ‘ludicrous’. But most common sense people have been arguing for this for at least four years.  The budgetary system is broken.  Yes, Republicans played a part in it.  But now, the Republicans are willing to fix their mistakes; are the Democrats?  I think it is doubtful, but this places the responsibility for failure back on the shoulders of Harry Reid and Barack Obama, squarely where they belong.
The last shift may be the most important, in the long term.  Sen. Marco Rubio finally released major portions of his long awaited immigration plan.  Rubio’s plan would allow illegal aliens to get a pathway to a green card and citizenship, but unlike Obama, would not allow them to ‘jump the line’, as it were, and demand they enter the normal naturalization process with all those that have followed the law and applied for entry in the United States in the proper way.
Rubio’s position was quickly supported by Paul Ryan and others, and likely allows the GOP a workable way forward in the immigration debate.  Rubio’s position is actually much more logical and a stronger position than that of Obama, which would give preference to illegals over those that followed the law; a policy which I believe the public would find abhorrent.
Whether the far right would accept this, or would still call it ‘amnesty’ is up for debate, and also there still needs to be a discussion about how to shore up border security.  However, for the first time since President Bush suggested immigration reform in 2005, we are in a position of discussing policies, instead of simply playing a defensive posture going forward.
The path for the Republican Party is quite clear in these three examples.  We must first accept the reality that we do not, in any real way, control Washington. Second, although the above is the case, we must still provide policy solutions to the problems at hand, and more specifically, show why Democrats positions are either untenable or simply ludicrous.
There are of course many potholes on the way for the GOP.  And a comeback, politically speaking, is a long way off.  But the seeds of how to get the Republican party moving in the right direction is here…if we look hard enough and accept it.
This was cross posted at Neoavatara

Police In Every School? Not As Insane As You Might Think…

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A politician, with the support of the National Rifle Association, fairly recently suggested that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants to place more police officers in schools and help even the youngest kids cope with their problems.

And liberals did not have a conniption fit.

What?

Its true.  That was in 2000, by then President Bill Clinton, who on the one year anniversary of Columbine suggested that the country consider a national program to place more armed guards in schools to protect our children.  Clinton unveiled the $60-million fifth round of funding for “COPS in School,” a Justice Department program that helps pay the costs of placing police officers in schools to help make them safer for students and teachers. The money was to be used provide 452 officers in schools in more than 220 communities.  During its duration, the program placed almost 3,000 armed officers in a thousand schools nationwide.

The nerve of that gun-loving extremist.

The public, as usual, is far ahead of the media and liberal politicians on this issue.  Several polls show the public is solidly behind this idea as well.   In a Pew poll, 64% of Americans support having armed guards in schools.  However, 57% do oppose arming teachers and other staff.  A recent Rasmussen poll showed the following results:

Fifty-four percent (54%) of American adults would feel safer if their child’s school had an armed security guard. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 26% would feel safer if their child attended a school where no adults were allowed to have guns. Another 20% are undecided.

Among parents of school-aged children, support for armed guards is even higher. Sixty-two percent (62%) of such parents would feel safer with an armed security guard at the school, while 22% would feel safer if their child attended a gun-free school.

This issue is an issue where Democrats previously have had a lot of support for this idea.  Forget Bill Clinton, who now appears far to the right of the core of the Democrat Party.  Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were actually proponents of federal funding for more armed guards, especially after the Columbine incident.  Obama often talks about old ideas supported by both parties…well, this is a classic example. That is why after there was an immediate knee jerk reaction to NRA President Wayne LaPierre’s suggestion of more armed guards in schools, the Obama Administration is reconsidering the proposal.  The rumors are that Vice President Biden now supports a small scale program along the lines of Clinton’s earlier endeavor.

I personally oppose a federal program for this, however.  There is absolutely no reason for Federal funding to be involved, except to allow politicians to appear like they are doing something.  This should be a local issue, district by district, and frankly, school by school.  Even in a single district, I would prefer parents have a choice to send their kids to schools without armed guards, if they prefer, if it is possible within reason.  Furthermore, a third of all states (18, to be precise) allow teachers and others to carry guns with the appropriate permits, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia have measures supporting armed guards in schools if necessary.

One complaint I have heard is that it is not fiscally feasible.  I am not so sure.  Approximately 1/3 of all schools have armed guards already.  The nation has slightly less than 100,000 schools.  If you estimate the cost of placing guards in each school at $100,000 per school, the cost per year would be $10 billion.  That is probably a high end estimate as well, considering that many districts already place police at schools, and could shift already paid for policemen to school duty.  Furthermore, think of paying this on a local level.  If the average school has 500 students, the cost to pay for security for each student is $200.  In the scheme of all of our safety initiatives, this would be by far one of the most cost effective measures we could think of.

This is one of many, many issues where it is clear how far left the Democrat Party has moved.  When their idol, Bill Clinton, fought for this cause during his presidency, and where a majority of Americans still support such common sense solutions, and yet liberals decry it as outlandish, and the media remains as clueless as ever.  But their views does not change the fact that of all the real world solutions provided for the safety of our children in school, this is the only one that may have prevented the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

Dr. Robert Bernat, in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, stated the problem most eloquently, despite being a supporter of more liberal gun control:

What happened at Sandy Hook was not the failure to plan; it was the failure of the plan. The teachers and administrative staff executed their school district’s plan heroically in trying to save lives, some at the loss of their own. Police departments changed their policies after Columbine and now rush to the source of an incident inside a school building at great risk to themselves. But a major flaw in such plans persists to this day—namely that it takes just a few unguarded minutes for a catastrophe to unfold.

Some criticize putting our children in an ‘environment of violence’.  I say to them they are living in an alternate reality.  In a world where 1st graders are being killed and our children see the evidence on the news; in an era when they play video games and watch movies with far more violence than anything they will witness in their school; what lies are we telling ourselves as parents to make us sleep easier at night?

No solution is perfect.  But from all the imperfect solutions so far suggested, by far the one that has the best chance of actually saving lives is this one.  Why there is such opposition from some quarters based on this reliable fact is beyond me.

 

This was cross posted at Neoavatara

Why Obama Can’t Override The Debt Ceiling

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No, this is not a blog post about the legal implications of Obama’s alternatives to avoid the debt ceiling.

That is a nice discussion to have, but basically that comes down to this:  14th amendment solution is likely not legal, and even if it is, it is a terrible idea; the platinum coin solution is probably legal, but makes Obama look like the head of a banana republic.  It would be no different than the Federal Reserve and Treasury printing another $1 trillion in dollars, and depositing it.  In other words, a brilliant inflationary solution, but nothing more.  Luckily, the Treasury has said they will not even consider the coin.

No, this post is the real reason why Obama can’t use either of the two above alternatives:  practical reality.

Yes, I know. The Beltway loves to ignore practical realities as much as any organization in the history of mankind.  They avoid truths and facts like it were a leper colony.  But in this debate, there is a practical reality Mr. Obama cannot ignore.

For all the talk on the left, Obama realizes he has four more years of having to deal with a House that most likely will be controlled by Republicans, and more than likely by John Boehner.  The math is clear:  barring a wave election, it is far more likely that Republicans take the Senate than Democrats take the House.

So what would any of these alternatives bypassing Congress do?  They would make the partisan divide deeper and wider.  They would give the conservative wing of the Republicans more, not less, voice as we go forward, as they argue that there is little reason to compromise with such a radical executive in charge.

Liberals can whine and moan as much as they want (as they often do).  But a simple fact remains: not much can get done without the Republicans compromising.  And any avoidance of Republicans on this issue would make compromising on anything going forward almost impossible.

But hey,  never underestimate the stupidity of those within the Beltway.

This is crossposted at Neoavatara