Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Hillary's Future






Tuesday, 29 January 13



It was impossible to miss the foreshadowings of the future as Hillary Clinton's week of public appearances wound down to its ending. This, was, of course, the arranged love fest on "60 Minutes," a program that was once the pride of CBS, an unequalled model of investigative journalism. 

Whatever the object of this piece of investigation was would have been hard to say—but its results, like Mrs. Clinton's appearance before the Congress earlier in the week, left us with a powerful sense of the candidacy to come in 2016. A candidacy not only very much like the one that culminated in the victory of Barack Obama—but one modeled on all its claims, its assumptions.

Mr. Obama had won office despite an astounding lack of experience and a negligible record. His indisputable political skills, his race and all symbolic values attached thereto—not to mention the promise, now apparently abandoned, of a new and unified America that transcended race—had swept him into office. No one can miss the parallel track the outgoing secretary of state is set to pursue.

What is already clear—what should stand out blazing in neon—are the extraordinary claims now being made for Mrs. Clinton's achievements as secretary of state. One of the greatest secretaries of state America has known, according to the president—and his is one of the more modest assessments. It's not the sort of view, to be sure, for which she can be held responsible, but it is an indicator of the passions that would drive her candidacy for the White House: the first woman president.

No one would dispute Mrs. Clinton's hard work, her travels across the globe, her famous capacity to show up armed with encyclopedic detail on every issue, every side of every question. She has been the most dutiful of secretaries of state, has obligingly and diligently carried forth Mr. Obama's designs for shrinking the American presence in the world. She leaves office having left behind no imprint of a vision, no evidence of concerns other than the dictates of diligent obedience.

None of that is likely to matter in the race to come. If Mrs. Clinton is a candidate, her record and her achievements will be accorded sacrosanct status—a kind that will be familiar to Americans who have watched the past two elections. The 2016 election is, we're regularly reminded, a long way off, but to watch Hillary Clinton this week was to grasp, with a small chill of recognition, just how close it actually is.



JANUARY 29, 2013
The skeet shooter among the pigeons

Barack Obama is really just one of the guys. He wants to take away Joe Sixpack’s guns, but he wants everybody to know that he’s a shooter and intends to keep his own shootin’ iron.

Mr. Obama hunts pigeons, not deer or ducks or even pigeons with feathers, but clay pigeons. He’s quite a marksman in a sport that attracts even the country-club elites. “Up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” he says. “ I have a profound respect for the traditions that trace back in this country for generations, and I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake.”

No more about “God and guns” this week. He learned his lesson about that one. This ain’t San Francisco. In an interview with New Republic magazine, he sounded like he might join the National Rifle Association if only someone would ask him. “If you grew up and your dad gave you a hunting rifle when you were 10, and you went out and spent the day with him and your uncles and that became part of your family traditions, you can see why you’d be pretty protective of that. “

But he took pains to say neither of his daughters, 11 and 14, join him and the guys for a round of skeet shooting. He wouldn’t dream of exploiting children, at least not his own. Nevertheless, trapshooting, as hunting for clay pigeons is formally called, is popular with the ladies. The president might not know there’s a Trapshooting Hall of Fame and many women have been honored with membership.

Some of the loudest and shrillest Democrats in the campaign to disarm those who don’t get to shoot pigeons at Camp David are now discovering repressed memories of happy days with a trigger. Joe Biden, the vice president and the man Mr. Obama put in charge of his disarmament campaign, boasts that he owns a shotgun. No word yet on whether he frightens the clay pigeons in his neighborhood.

More secret gun owners are expected to slip out of the closet in coming days, now that the president has put his seal of approval on hunting and shooting, at least in certain highly restricted and supervised circumstances. We might even see Michael Bloomberg and Dianne Feinstein posing with their Red Ryder BB guns. The mayor sometimes gets to hold one of the guns worn on the hips of his bodyguards, and Mrs. Feinstein, who so far as we know does not “carry,” is always at risk of getting smacked with an errant omelet pan when she strolls the streets of San Francisco.

The mayor’s bodyguards recently hassled a reporter, Jason Mattera of Talk Radio Network, for asking His Honor whether “in the spirit of gun control, will you disarm your entire security team?” The mayor replied with the familiar eloquence of the politician cornered by an embarrassing question: “Umm, uh, we’ll get right back to you.”

The mayor didn’t, but his bodyguards did, asking the reporter for his identification, his address and the date of his birth, not necessarily to send a birthday present or even a card. Mr. Mattera, famous for asking the impertinent questions that all reporters once routinely asked, once so provoked Joe Biden that the vice president all but challenged him to pistols or sabers at dawn under the dueling overpass somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey, where almost anything with guns and knives can happen, and often does. “Let’s get it straight, guy,” the veep told him. “Don’t screw with me.”

The natives are definitely getting restless. The White House received a petition Monday from a group called “We, the People” (not necessarily the same We the People in the Declaration of Independence, but a reasonable facsimile thereof) asking that, in the spirit of the times, all government officials, from the president on down, forgo their armed government bodyguards. The idea, obviously, is that if the congregation can’t defend itself with a gun, the preacher shouldn’t, either.

Despite the president’s caution and compassion, the campaign against guns continues. Louis Farrakhan, the eminent divine, noted constitutional scholar and leader of the Nation of Islam, told his congregation Sunday that the Second Amendment is irrelevant and the right to bear arms is a right for the trash bin. It might be dangerous to the government. He's been building to the idea. “This nation was built on violence,” he said in a sermon a couple of weeks ago. “Uncivilized, uncultivated, brutal, wild . . . “

Louis Farrakhan

And that was just the good part. No wonder the president and his veep have armed themselves against the pigeons.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

Sunday, January 27, 2013



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 23, 2013.

The Obama Simulacrum
This administration sneers at reality and its consequences.
By Mark Steyn

 If I’m following this correctly, according to one spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band, at Monday’s inauguration Beyoncé lip-synced to the national anthem but the band accompanied her live. However, according to a second spokesperson, it was the band who were pretending to play to a pre-recorded tape while Beyoncé sang along live. So one or other of them were faking it. Or maybe both were. Or neither. I’d ask Chuck Schumer, the master of ceremonies, who was standing right behind her, but he spent the entire performance staring at her butt. If it was her butt, that is. It might just have been the bulge of the Radio Shack cassette player she was miming to. In an America with an ever more tenuous grip on reality, there’s so little to be sure of.

Whether Beyoncé was lip-syncing to the band or the band were lip-syncing to Beyoncé is like one of those red pill/ blue pill choices from The Matrix. Was President Obama lip-syncing to the Founders, rooting his inaugural address in the earliest expressions of American identity? (“The patriots of 1776 . . . gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”) Or maybe the Founders were lip-syncing to him as he appropriated the vision of the first generation of Americans and yoked it (“preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”) to a statist pitch they would have found utterly repugnant.

The whole event had the air of a simulacrum: It looked like a presidential inauguration, but the sound was tinny and not quite in sync. Obama mouthed along to a canned vocal track: “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.” That’s great! It’s always reassuring to know the head of state is going to take issue with all those people wedded to the “belief” that America needs either to shove every granny off the cliff or stake its newborns out on the tundra for the wolves to finish off. When it comes to facing the music, Obama is peerless at making a song and dance about tunes nobody’s whistling without ever once warbling the real big numbers (16 trillion). But, like Beyoncé, he’s totally cool and has a cute butt.

A couple of days later, it fell to the 45th president-in-waiting to encapsulate the ethos of the age in one deft sound bite: What difference does it make? Hillary Clinton’s instantly famous riposte at the Benghazi hearings is such a perfect distillation that it surely deserves to be the national motto of the United States. They should put it on Paul Krugman’s trillion-dollar coin, and in the presidential oath:
“Do you solemnly swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?”
“Sure. What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Well, it’s the difference between cool and reality — and, as Hillary’s confident reply appeared to suggest, and the delirious media reception of it confirmed, reality comes a poor second in the Obama era. The presumption of conservatives has always been that one day cold, dull reality would pierce the klieg-light sheen of Obama’s glamour. Indeed, that was the premise of Mitt Romney’s reductive presidential campaign. But, just as Beyoncé will always be way cooler than some no-name operatic soprano or a male voice choir, so Obama will always be cooler than a bunch of squaresville yawneroos boring on about jobs and debt and entitlement reform.

Hillary’s cocksure sneer to Senator Johnson of Wisconsin made it explicit. At a basic level, the “difference” is the difference between truth and falsity, but the subtext took it a stage further: No matter what actually happened that night in Benghazi, you poor sad loser Republicans will never succeed in imposing that reality and its consequences on this administration.

And so a congressional hearing — one of the famous “checks and balances” of the American system — is reduced to just another piece of Beltway theater. “The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigor were fled,” as Gibbon wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But he’s totally uncool, too. So Hillary lip-synced far more than Beyoncé, and was adored for it. “As I have said many times, I take responsibility,” she said. In Washington, the bold declarative oft-stated acceptance of responsibility is the classic substitute for responsibility: rhetorically “taking responsibility,” preferably “many times,” absolves one from the need to take actual responsibility even once.

In the very same self-serving testimony, the secretary of state denied that she’d ever seen the late Ambassador Stevens’s cables about the deteriorating security situation in Libya on the grounds that “1.43 million cables come to my office”– and she can’t be expected to see all of them, or any. She is as out of it as President Jefferson, who complained to his secretary of state James Madison, “We have not heard from our ambassador in Spain for two years. If we have not heard from him this year, let us write him a letter.”

Today, things are even worse. Hillary has apparently not heard from any of our 1.43 million ambassadors for four years. When a foreign head of state receives the credentials of the senior emissary of the United States, he might carelessly assume that the chap surely has a line of communication back to the government he represents. For six centuries or so, this has been the minimal requirement for functioning inter-state relations. But Secretary Clinton has just testified that, in the government of the most powerful nation on earth, there is no reliable means by which a serving ambassador can report to the cabinet minister responsible for foreign policy. And nobody cares: What difference does it make?

Nor was the late Christopher Stevens any old ambassador, but rather Secretary Clinton’s close personal friend “Chris.” It was all “Chris” this, “Chris” that when Secretary Clinton and President Obama delivered their maudlin eulogies over the flag-draped coffin of their “friend.” Gosh, you’d think if they were on such intimate terms, “Chris” might have had Hillary’s e-mail address, but apparently not. He was just one of 1.43 million close personal friends cabling the State Department every hour of the day.

 Four Americans are dead, but not a single person involved in the attack and the murders has been held to account. Hey, what difference does it make? Lip-syncing the national anthem beats singing it. Peddling a fictitious narrative over the coffin of your “friend” is more real than being an incompetent boss to your most vulnerable employees. And mouthing warmed-over clichés about vowing to “bring to justice” those responsible is way easier than actually bringing anyone to justice.

And so it goes:
Another six trillion in debt? What difference does it make?

An economic-stimulus bill that stimulates nothing remotely connected with the economy? What difference does it make?

The Arab Spring? Aw, whose heart isn’t stirred by those exhilarating scenes of joyful students celebrating in Tahrir Square? And who cares after the cameras depart that Egypt’s in the hands of a Jew-hating 9-11 truther whose goons burn churches and sexually assault uncovered women?

Obama is the ultimate reality show, and real reality can’t compete. Stalin famously scoffed, “How many divisions has the Pope?” Secretary Clinton was more audacious: How many divisions has reality? Not enough.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is the author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2013 Mark Steyn




Senator Richard Durbin

The Madness of Dick Durbin
When partisan prevarication trumps statesmanship.
By George Weigel


In his 1960 book We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition (which remains, happily, in print), Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray raised a cautionary flag about the American future that seems, today, eerily prescient:

What is at stake is America’s understanding of itself. Self-understanding is the necessary condition of a sense of self-identity and self-confidence, whether in the case of an individual or in the case of a people. If the American people can no longer base this sense on naïve assumptions of self-evidence, it is imperative that they find other more reasoned grounds for their essential affirmation that they are uniquely a people, uniquely a free people. Otherwise the peril is great. The complete loss of one’s identity is, with all propriety of theological definition, hell. In diminished forms it is insanity. And it would not be well for the American giant to go lumbering about the world today, lost and mad.

An example of an America lost, mad, and dangerous to itself and international security was on offer at the January 23 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Benghazi disaster. There, Senator Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), a man who my Chicago friends tell me considers himself a future president, had the following to say after several of his colleagues dared to raise questions with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism strategy and the administration’s decision-making during the Benghazi attack:

I do want to make a point, for the record here, about whether the American people are told everything right away, in the right way, so that they can be fully informed. And I would like to refer to five words for them to reflect on: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. We were told by every level of government here there were Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that justified a war, the invasion of the United States. We’re still searching for those weapons. They didn’t exist. Thousands of American lost their lives. We could have a hearing on that, if you like.

That’s a hearing I, for one, would welcome. In addition to straightening out Senator Durbin on who invaded what in 2003, a serious hearing on the decision-making prior to the invasion of Iraq and the deposing of the Saddam Hussein regime would clarify the following essential points:

1. Every American intelligence agency and every allied intelligence agency, as well as the United Nations, was convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction before the U.S. and an international coalition invaded Iraq.
2. The decisions made by the U.S. government were based on an acceptance of that unified judgment by the intelligence community (which CIA director George Tenet described, it may be remembered, as a “slam dunk,” an image with which a Chicago Bulls fan like Durbin should be reasonably familiar).
3. The authoritative Duelfer Report, with which the Bush administration cooperated as it was being prepared, made patently clear that, while Saddam had no operational WMD at hand when the U.S. and its allies invaded, he maintained the façade that he indeed had WMD for his own political and strategic purposes (which explains his continued defiance of the U.N.) and he was ready, eager, and willing to operationally ramp up his WMD programs again after the U.N. sanctions regime had crumbled and the no-fly zones over Iraq had been lifted.
4. While concern about Iraqi WMD was a prominent part of the case for taking Saddam and his regime out (and was the case pressed at the United Nations because Tony Blair insisted on it, to cover himself with squirrely Labour backbenchers), it was in fact one component in a complex tapestry of causation, which included Saddam’s innumerable and horrific human-rights violations, his support of various terrorist organizations and sheltering of international terrorists, and the perceived strategic imperative to break up the variables in what had become a manifestly lethal Middle East combination of dictatorship plus oil plus support for terrorism plus defiance of international law. (On this last point, perhaps Senator Durbin could call as a witness Professor Fouad Ajami of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, as the senator clearly has not read Ajami’s book The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq.)

Such a hearing might also be an occasion to instill a little seriousness in the U.S. foreign-policy debate, which got off to a bad second-term start when the president, in his inaugural address, said that the past decade’s worth of wars was coming to an end — a claim that was surely news, if welcome news, to al-Qaeda and its affiliates throughout North Africa, the Gulf, and South Asia. Whatever the president may say in fits of rhetorical exultation that seem better fitted to his “permanent campaign” than to serious policymaking, these wars are manifestly not over, and they are not going to be over for decades.

Moreover, it will be impossible for the United States to form the political will to successfully prosecute this new, extended, and strange form of national defense and international security-building in the future until Americans with serious public responsibilities, like Senator Durbin, stop prevaricating about the past, and doing so by invoking the memory of juvenile slogans like “Bush lied and thousands died.” President Bush did not lie. The thousands who died gave their lives in an honorable cause (the positive results of which we may hope the second Obama administration does not completely fritter away), and it is despicable to suggest that they died in vain.

If Senator Durbin and other Democrats cannot acknowledge these elementary facts of the historical record — if foreign policy and serious strategic thinking are trumped time and again by the “permanent campaign” and its toxic partisanship — then we may well expect the worst, as Father Murray predicted in 1960. Durbin’s comments were disgraceful, and the fact that they were not immediately called out as such is yet another depressing indicator of national decline.
To repeat: “It would not be well for the American giant to go lumbering about the world today, lost and mad.”

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.


One should not forget that it was Senator Richard Durbin who, as Chairman of the Senate Committee charged with writing the Afordable Healthcare Act (OBAMACARE), gave the American people that monstrosity of a bill that Nancy Pelosi said would have to be passed so that we could find out what was in it.  We are now finding out what was in it!

- Leo Rugiens

Monday, January 21, 2013



  Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

Please take a moment to digest this provocative article by a Jewish Rabbi from Teaneck , N.J.  
The article appeared in The Israel National News, and is directed to Jewish readership.
It is far and away the most succinct and thoughtful explanation of how our nation is changing. 

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck , New Jersey70% of American Jews vote as Democrats.  The Rabbi has some interesting comments in that regard.

"The most charitable way of explaining the election results of 2012 is that Americans voted for the status quo – for the incumbent President and for a divided Congress.  They must enjoy gridlock, partisanship, incompetence, economic stagnation and avoidance of responsibility.  And fewer people voted.

But as we awake from the nightmare, it is important to eschew the facile explanations for the Romney defeat that will prevail among the chattering classes.

Romney did not lose because of the effects of Hurricane Sandy that devastated this area, nor did he lose because he ran a poor campaign, nor did he lose because the Republicans could have chosen better candidates, nor did he lose because Obama benefited from a slight uptick in the economy due to the business cycle.  Romney lost because he didn’t get enough votes to win.

That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. 

Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.

The simplest reason why Romney lost was because it is impossible to compete against free stuff.

Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool.  

Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both dis-incentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote.  The lure of free stuff is irresistible.

The defining moment of the whole campaign was the revelation of the secretly-recorded video in which Romney acknowledged the difficulty of winning an election in which “47% of the people” start off against him because they pay no taxes and just receive money – “free stuff” – from the government.

Almost half of the population has no skin in the game – they don’t care about high taxes, promoting business, or creating jobs, nor do they care that the money for their free stuff is being borrowed from their children and from the Chinese. 

They just want the free stuff that comes their way at someone else’s expense.  

In the end, that 47% leaves very little margin for error for any Republican, and does not bode well for the future. It is impossible to imagine a conservative candidate winning against such overwhelming odds.

People do vote their pocketbooks.  In essence, the people vote for a Congress who will not raise their taxes, and for a President who will give them free stuff, never mind who has to pay for it.

That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed.  Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism.  That is the indelicate way of saying that too many people vote with their hearts and not their heads.  That is why Obama did not have to produce a second term agenda, or even defend his first-term record.

He needed only to portray Mitt Romney as a rapacious capitalist who throws elderly women over a cliff, when he is not just snatching away their cancer medication, while starving the poor and cutting taxes for the rich.

During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai Stevenson: “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!”  Stevenson called back: “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”  Truer words were never spoken.

Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending.

Similarly, Obama (or his surrogates) could hint to blacks that a Romney victory would lead them back into chains and proclaim to women that their abortions and birth control would be taken away. 
He could appeal to Hispanics that Romney would have them all arrested and shipped to Mexico  and unabashedly state that he will not enforce the current immigration laws.

He could espouse the furtherance of the incestuous relationship between governments and unions – in which politicians ply the unions with public money, in exchange for which the unions provide the politicians with votes, in exchange for which the politicians provide more money and the unions provide more votes, etc., even though the money is gone.

Obama also knows that the electorate has changed – that whites will soon be a minority in America  and that the new immigrants to the US are primarily from the Third World and do not share the traditional American values that attracted immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries.  

It is a different world, and a different America . 
Obama is part of that different America knows it, and knows how to tap into it.  That is why he won.

Obama also proved again that negative advertising works, invective sells, and harsh personal attacks succeed.  

That Romney never engaged in such diatribes points to his essential goodness as a person; his “negative ads” were simple facts, never personal abuse – facts about high unemployment, lower take-home pay, a loss of American power and prestige abroad, a lack of leadership, etc. 

As a politician, though, Romney failed because he did not embrace the devil’s bargain of making  unsustainable promises.

It turned out that it was not possible for Romney and Ryan – people of substance, depth and ideas – to compete with the shallow populism and platitudes of their opponents.  

Obama mastered the politics of envy – of class warfare – never reaching out to Americans as such but to individual groups, and cobbling together a winning majority from these minority groups.   

If an Obama could not be defeated – with his record and his vision of America , in which free stuff seduces voters – it is hard to envision any change in the future.

The road to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and to a European-socialist economy – those very economies that are collapsing today in Europe – is paved.

For Jews, mostly assimilated anyway and staunch Democrats, the results demonstrate again that liberalism is their Torah. Almost 70% voted for a president widely perceived by Israelis and most committed Jews as hostile to Israel . 

They voted to secure Obama’s future at America’s expense and at Israel’s expense – in effect, preferring Obama to Netanyahu by a wide margin.  A dangerous time is ahead.

Under present circumstances, it is inconceivable that the US will take any aggressive action against Iran and will more likely thwart any Israeli initiative.  The US will preach the importance of negotiations up until the production of the first Iranian nuclear weapon – and then state that the world must learn to live with this new reality.

But this election should be a wake-up call to Jews.  There is no permanent empire, nor is there an enduring haven for Jews anywhere in the exile.  The American empire began to decline in 2007, and the deterioration has been exacerbated in the last five years.  This election only hastens that decline. 

Society is permeated with sloth, greed, envy and materialistic excess.  It has lost its moorings and its moral foundations.  The takers outnumber the givers, and that will only increase in years to come.

The “Occupy” riots across this country in the last two years were mere dress rehearsals for what lies ahead – years of unrest sparked by the increasing discontent of the unsuccessful who want to seize the fruits and the bounty of the successful, and do not appreciate the slow pace of redistribution.

If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone.  And, sad for the world, it is not coming back.

Friday, January 18, 2013



JANUARY 18, 2013

The second time and the thrill is gone


Ike rekindled romances, presidential inaugurations are rarely much fun the second time around. Been there, done that, the bloom is off the rose, familiarity breeds boredom, et al. Barack Obama can’t believe that déjà vu comes even unto him.

Four years ago, the nation’s capital was electric with excitement, the airports and Union Station abuzz with the noise of arriving political thrill-seekers, many of them in Washington for the first time. Nobody could find a hotel room, and some residents with grand-enough houses rented them to high rollers for big-enough bucks.

This time, not so much. The gaiety, what there is of it, is forced, like the gaiety of Christmas dinner at the home of your mother-in-law.

The president is trying manfully to manufacture a few cheap thrills. He recruited eight people who have had nice things to say about him and he’s bringing them to town so they can say them again and ride on a float down Pennsylvania Avenue. One is a Detroit auto worker, another is a gay pilot in training, still another is a woman with a brain tumor who, by the president’s telling, has been saved by Obamacare. Organizers are said to be scouring orphanages to scare up a few more children to use as presidential backdrops.

Four years ago, celebrity entertainers were bumping each other out of the way to sing, dance or crack jokes. “Anybody who could croak a note was looking for a microphone,” recalls one organizer in 2009. Nobody goes to an inaugural ball to dance, and a good thing, because there aren’t nearly as many balls this year and everything is definitely B-list. So is most of the entertainment. One ball will be entertained by something called the Goo Goo Dolls. No Aretha Franklin or Jon Bon Jovi this time.

The crowds will be smaller, too. Nearly 2 million men, women and children jammed the National Mall four years ago. Organizers are expecting less than half that this time. More than that and a lot of folks will be squirming from one foot to the other, because this year they ordered only 1,500 Porta-Potties, down from 7,000 four years ago.

President Obama may try to electrify the crowd, or at least bump up the wattage a little, with his eloquence. He must keep in mind what happened to William Henry Harrison in 1841. Arriving on horseback, having ridden from his rooming house in a steady rain with neither hat nor coat, Harrison proceeded to speak for more than two hours. He came down with a cold three weeks later, not likely because of his speech in the rain, but his death-by-bloviation, according to one of the most popular inauguration legends.

More likely he was killed by his doctors. His cold quickly worsened, and became pneumonia and pleurisy. He couldn’t rest because the White House was being noisily plundered by office-seekers. His doctors applied several “cures,” using opium, castor oil, leeches and snakeweed. On April 4, 1841, he called in his vice president, John Tyler, to hear his last words, which would shame the Obama White House: “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.” He had nothing else to say, and promptly died.

No danger of any of that now. The president and the first lady will ride to the Capitol in bulletproof splendor, and if it rains, there will be someone to hold two umbrellas over him. He can talk as long as he likes; there’s no one with a hook for a president even if he goes on too long. But some things don’t change.

Tip O’Neill, the late longtime speaker of the House, recalled sitting next to one George Kara, a wealthy fat cat but otherwise obscure Boston businessman at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Kara nudged the speaker and said, “you know, one day historians will look at the photographs of this and wonder how I got such a good seat.” O’Neill saw the new president that night at a ball at the Mayflower Hotel, and told him of George Kara’s remark. The president grinned and replied: “Tip, you’ll never believe it. I had my left hand on the Bible and my right hand in the air, and I was about to take the oath of office, and I said to myself, ‘how the hell did Kara get that seat?’”

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.





The simplest statements sometimes are the most insightful. For an example, consider this one on Wednesday from Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, in reaction to President Obama's gun-control proposals: "I would welcome the opportunity to debate these issues on the floor of the Senate, and would encourage Majority Leader [Harry] Reid to schedule a full and open debate."

In these seemingly innocuous words are a key to GOP revival. What may be the most overlooked story of the past two years is how Harry Reid has subverted the democratic process, successfully allowing him to both protect his party and keep the focus on Republicans. If the GOP wants to start winning a few battles, this dynamic has to change.

The Founders created a legislative process that was deliberately different from the parliamentary systems of Europe. In the "regular order" of things, the House works its will. The Senate works its will. Those two bodies meet in conference. The president may then sign or veto the resulting legislation.

In Mr. Reid's Washington, the House works its will, the Senate does crossword puzzles. Its committees do not produce bills, its senators do not debate or amend, the body does not vote. The House, to accomplish anything, is forced to engage in backroom wrangling with the White House, the results of which are presented to the nation as a fait accompli. The Senate claims total deniability.
Mr. Reid's Senate has not produced a budget in three years. The majority leader rarely moves on a bill, and when he does, he uses tricks to block senators from amending legislation, or he shuts down debate in such a way as to kill legislation. Regular order and conference reports are nearly nonexistent.

He does not want a debate on gun control, as it would force Democratic senators to choose between President Obama and their own pro-Second Amendment constituents. The majority leader would not offer a bill during the fiscal-cliff negotiations because many Democrats disagreed with their president's proposed tax hikes. He has not produced a budget because to do so would expose the party's real spending ambitions, which would create political problems back home for his members.

Mr. Reid knows there is a brilliant added bonus to making sure the Senate is inactive: It keeps all the attention on Republicans. The press is by now so used to Senate nothingness that reporters automatically turn every spotlight on the House. This allows the White House and Democrats to avoid ownership of problems that they have created by casting Republicans as the cause of every legislative crisis and as the barrier to solutions. It also keeps the focus on divisions within the GOP.

An example of how this works: Tax bills must originate in the House, so the GOP in August dutifully passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff by extending rates for one year. With regular order, the Senate would have taken this up, amended it and gone to conference. No crisis.

But Mr. Reid didn't want his members to have to vote on a bill that either undercut the president or undercut their own re-election prospects—so he did nothing. As the clock ticked down to the expiration of the Bush tax rates, the White House (and the press) then claimed it was incumbent on the GOP to either cut a deal directly with the administration or be held responsible for tax hikes on everyone. Mr. Obama sat back to enjoy a public GOP brawl over its tax strategy, followed by his tax victory. Nowhere was it noted that the entire breakdown of the process—the entire reason for the crisis—rested on Mr. Reid's refusal to act.

Republicans are getting very wise to all this, as hinted by Mr. Coburn's polite request that the Senate debate gun control. In GOP circles, the talk is increasingly on ways to force Mr. Reid to re-engage with democracy. House Speaker John Boehner's recent declaration that any further debt deals will be done through "regular order" was in part an acknowledgment that dealing directly with Mr. Obama is folly. But it was just as much a declaration that Mr. Boehner intends to pressure Mr. Reid to do his job.

The constitutional system of checks and balances limits the House's ability to force the Senate majority leader to act. Republicans nonetheless have the means to elevate this issue in ways that could prove highly embarrassing to Mr. Reid and his party.

Mr. Reid may sense this is coming, which could explain his recent complaints about the filibuster. His intention is to suggest that it is Republicans—not the man in charge—who are to blame for Senate gridlock. The GOP has fought back vigorously against that canard, which is all to the good.

They'll have to do more. The Democrats' great victory in recent months has been in making the public forget that they own the majority of power in Washington, and laying everything on the GOP. Republicans need to remind the country of who, in fact, is at the wheel.

Write to kim@wsj.com
A version of this article appeared January 18, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Harry Reid's Great Disappearing Act.




What happened to Lanza's 4 handguns?

Exclusive: Jack Cashill analyzes media contradictions over role of rifle

On Saturday morning, Dec. 15, one day after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NBC’s chief justice correspondent, Pete Williams, spoke with “Today” show host Matt Lauer.
Williams shared “new information this morning from a couple of federal officials and state officials.” Said Williams, “They say now that there were actually four handguns recovered inside the school, not just two as we were initially told; four handguns and apparently only handguns that were taken into the school.” (Italics mine)

Williams said that Lanza also brought an “assault style, AR-15 style rifle” with him to school, but, he added, “We have been told by several officials that he left that in the car.”

Later that same Dec. 15, Dr. Wayne Carver held a press conference. Gun-control zealot Piers Morgan did not like what he saw and savaged the conspicuously lab-coated Carver via Twitter.
“Extremely disrespectful press conference going on with #Newtown medical examiner,” Morgan tweeted. He added later, “Really disgusted by this medical examiner’s showboating behaviour – should be kept well away from cameras in the future.”

What Morgan did not foresee, however, was that the showboating Carver had introduced a new bit of information, that, whether true or not, Morgan would exploit for weeks to come.

As Carver explained, he and his team of his team of 14 assistants had started the autopsies of the 20 children that morning and finished by 1:30 p.m. Only in the Q-and-A did a question arise about the weapon used:

Reporter: Doctor, on that examination, could you tell which caliber of the handgun compared to the rifle on these shooting victims were?
Carver: It’s a good thing there’ll not be a prosecution ’cause then I couldn’t answer that. All the wounds that I know of at this point are caused by the one weapon.
Question: So the rifle was the primary weapon?
Carver: Yes.
Question: What caliber was used?
Carver: The question was what caliber were these bullets. And I know I probably know more about firearms than most pathologists, but if I say it in court, they yell at me and make me answer. So I’ll let the police deal with that for you.

As he admitted, Carver had only done seven of these hastily performed autopsies himself. He did not even know the caliber of weapon used. He and the reporters seemed unaware of Williams’ authoritative report just hours earlier that federal and state officials had only found handguns at the scene.

To watch Carver in his fumbling 15 minutes of fame is to understand that he was only accidentally part of a media-government plot to focus on “assault” weapons.

The initial reporting on the press conference likewise failed to grasp the narrative that was about to emerge. I could not find a single headline that mentioned assault weapons. “Children at Sandy Hook were shot multiple times” was one common theme. “Worst I’ve ever seen,” was another.

In the days that followed, the story would shift to the AR-15, not as the exclusive weapon – two handguns remained in the narrative – but as “the primary weapon used in the attack.” On Dec. 19, CNN reported, “Police say Lanza’s rifle used numerous 30-round magazines.”

This, of course, may be true, and Williams’ sources may have been wrong, but my investigations into TWA Flight 800 and the Oklahoma City bombing have taught me that the early reporting is often the most reliable, especially when there is a Democrat in the White House with an agenda.

Although the word was not used back then, the Clinton White House, with the help of a complicit media, rewrote the TWA Flight 800′s “narrative” to assure re-election.

To control that narrative, the White House allowed the FBI to talk only to the New York Times. Four weeks after the 1996 crash that killed 230 people, the Times would report, “Now that investigators say they think the center fuel tank did not explode, they say the only good explanations remaining are that a bomb or a missile brought down the plane.”

A missile attack was too obvious and ominous. So a week later, likely under White House pressure, and without any new evidence, the FBI shifted its story line from a missile to a bomb.

“Prime Evidence Found That Device Exploded in Cabin of Flight 800,” reported the Times above the fold on Aug. 23, just a few days before the Democratic National Convention. The Times reached this conclusion by interviewing exactly none of the 270 FBI eyewitnesses to a missile strike.

But even this scenario threatened the peace-and-prosperity message to be promoted at the Democratic National Convention just days away. And so the story was allowed to die. For the next three weeks, there was no meaningful reporting at all.

In mid-September, two months after the crash, the FBI shifted the narrative once again from a bomb to a center fuel tank explosion, a possibility that had been ruled out a month earlier. The other media unquestioningly followed the Times.

In a similar spirit, media alchemy made Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City accomplice disappear. A week after the 1995 bombing, the Washington Post reported that McVeigh was ordered held without bail.

This order followed four hours of testimony from FBI Special Agent John Hersley in which “he described eyewitness accounts of a yellow Mercury with McVeigh and another man inside speeding away from a parking lot near the federal building.” (Italics mine)

For the next six weeks, the swarthy John Doe No. 2 was the most hunted man in the world until, without explanation, the FBI and the media lost interest.

Why the loss of interest? A third conspirator, especially an Islamic radical, would have ruined the “Republican revolution caused this” narrative that the White House had learned to exploit with great success.

So desperate was the White House to enforce its narrative that in McVeigh’s trial it did not put a single witness on the stand who could place him in or near Oklahoma City. These witnesses could not be allowed to testify because every one of them saw McVeigh with his foreign-looking accomplice.

Bottom line: If the Democrat-media complex can turn an obvious missile strike into a mechanical failure and lose John Doe No. 2 to history, turning four handguns into an assault weapon is child’s play.

Read other Thursday WND columns on gun control:
Guns don’t kill people, the mentally ill do by Ann Coulter
The consequences of volatile speech by Phil Elmore
It’s all about safety by Craige McMillan
Guns and government by Andrew Napolitano
‘Gun Culture’ – what about the ‘Fatherless Culture’? by Larry Elder

Thursday, January 17, 2013



Top 5 Movies: 65 Violent Scenes, 185 Victims

When a weekend at the movies is a bloodbath, stars should rethink calls for gun control.
There was another theater massacre last weekend. Casualties ran to nearly 200. Victims were incinerated, bludgeoned, beaten, stabbed, pulled apart by cars (really) and, oh yes, gunned down by the dozen. 

It all happened on the screen, to fictional characters. But when Hollywood stars begin demanding gun control for the rest of us, as many have in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it’s worth taking a hard look at the violence they portray and often glamorize. 

The five top grossing box office movies for the weekend of Jan. 11 were “Zero Dark Thirty,” “A Haunted House,” “Gangster Squad,” “Django Unchained” and “Les Miserables.” Even with the presence of the PG-13 musical “Les Miserables” and the spoof comedy “A Haunted House,” it was a violent, bloody weekend at the movies.

How bloody was the weekend? Between those five films, there were 65 scenes of violence, with 185 individual victims, most but not all of whom died as a result. What’s more, 38 of the 65 scenes depicted gun violence. Movies being what they are, the number of victims is probably low. In fast moving scenes of mayhem, with explosions, car chases, multiple shooters, etc., it’s often impossible to know how many people were hurt or injured, and prudence dictates erring on the low side.

To be sure, a lot – perhaps most – of the violence was committed by good guys pursuing justice or other noble ends. In “A Haunted House,” the violence was for comedic effect, and “Zero Dark Thirty” was purporting to show a historical event (the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden.) “Les Miserables” is set in part against the backdrop of revolution. But since assault weapons bans, new laws limiting the capacity of magazines and other gun control measures don’t distinguish good from bad or divine intent, violence in Hollywood films should be held to the same standard.

Two of the films stood out, accounting for a massive share of the violence. In “Gangster Squad,” a period piece about 1940s Los Angeles cops fighting organized crime, eight of the 12 violent scenes involved gunplay, and 65 people were killed or wounded on-screen. In just the first 10 minutes, a man was pulled in half by two cars, another lost a hand in an elevator fight and an attempted rape was narrowly averted.

The mob henchmen of villain Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) fared especially badly. Failing the boss resulted in being locked in a fire-bombed building for some. Another was killed with a power drill to the head. (Cohen: “You know the drill, boys.”) 

“Gangster Squad” has the distinction among the five films as the only one actually impacted by real-world violence. The film’s trailer debuted along with “The Dark Knight Rises” last summer. It played before that movie the night the gunman opened fire in the Aurora, Col. theater in August. The trailer featured the film’s original climax scene, in which men with Tommy guns rampaged through a movie theater, murdering patrons. Wisely, the studio shot a new ending for “Gangster Squad.” In it, nearly 25 people are shot. But they’re not in a theater.

Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” was the other high-body count offering. Of its 19 violent scenes, 12 included guns, and there were at least 69 victims of violence in the film. 

The title character of “Django Unchained,” played by Jamie Foxx, is a slave turned bounty hunter in the antebellum South. Offered the job, Django said, “Killing white folks and getting paid for it? What's not to like?” Hosting “Saturday Night Live” in December, Foxx included a variation of the line when discussing “Django” in his monologue: “I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?” 

But less than a month later, Foxx appeared in a video among other celebrities called “Demand a Plan to End Gun Violence.” 

(Foxx is far from alone in his hypocrisy. The trailer for “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” features star Jeremy Renner telling an actress how to recognize his signal: “It’ll be me blowing one of these bitches’ head off.” Renner is very prominent in the “Demand a Plan” video.)

Tarantino, who’s stock in trade is lovingly depicted, over-the top violence, recently dismissed the notion that on-screen mayhem can spur the real-life kind. To question the link between entertainment and violence is, he said “totally disrespectful to [the Sandy Hook victims’] memory. Obviously, the issue is gun control and mental health.” 

But it’s not that obvious to everyone. In the Jan. 15 USA Today, Robert Simmermon, “a psychologist who specializes in media,” was quoted on violence on TV. The graphic bloody depiction “desensitizes us, and in a sense dehumanizes us.” 

“Criminals toting AK-47s are ‘the equivalent of old cowboys,” he says, “and that’s very dangerous. It appeals to a very primitive part of us.” 

Tarantino’s derision to the contrary, when five contemporary films show nearly 200 people victimized by violence of one kind or another – but especially highly stylized gun violence, there just may be something to the idea that society is impacted by culture. 

(It should be noted that two very violent films, “Jack Reacher” and “Texas Chainsaw 3-D” were among last weekend’s top five. Further, prior to the screening of “Gangster Squad,” five of seven trailers were for violent action or suspense films, including the “Hansel and Gretel” movie mentioned above.)


Matt Philbin rightly mentions Quenting Tarantino because Tarantino's "stock in trade" really is "over-the top violence."  Philbin should have referred to Tarantino's previous film, INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, in which the climax of the film shows the doors of a theatre being barred with the audience being killed by gunfire.  Only God knows if the killer of the theatre audience in Aurora, Colorado was inspired by that scene in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS but my guess is that there was a direct causal relationship.

- Leo Rugiens

Saturday, January 12, 2013







As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.






Hagel Should Be the Red Line for Pro-Israel Dems

Senator Chuck Schumer hasn’t publicly taken a side in the Chuck Hagel debate yet, but as Politico reports, his final decision could tip the scales:
Schumer, the most powerful Jewish Democrat in Congress, has been noncommittal in his public statements on Hagel’s nomination. But privately, several sources say he has told senators it would be “very hard” for him to support Hagel as the next defense secretary because of his positions on Israel over the years. In New York, Schumer has told allies and power brokers in the Jewish community that he’s uneasy about Hagel’s nomination, a concern he reiterated at a private breakfast in Manhattan’s posh Park Avenue Winter restaurant on Wednesday.
If Schumer were to oppose Hagel, it would almost certainly amount to a fatal blow to his candidacy since a number of pro-Israel Democrats who are squeamish about the nominee could very well be influenced by the No. 3 Democrat’s position. It would also give bipartisan political cover to Republicans and neocons fighting Hagel’s nomination.
Still, Schumer could also provide critical support for Hagel’s nomination. Should he support Hagel, it very likely would ride on what the former Nebraska GOP senator eventually says on Israel at an upcoming one-on-one meeting with the New York Democrat and during his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Schumer declined to be interviewed Thursday for this story. The White House also declined to comment.

It’s hard to overstate Schumer’s power in this debate. Pro-Israel Senate Democrats who aren’t getting much guidance on this issue from AIPAC (at least not officially) will look to Schumer for cues. This is particularly important in the case of his fellow New York Senator, Kirstin Gillibrand, whose vote on the Armed Services Committee could be the deciding factor in whether Hagel’s nomination is referred to the floor.

But If Schumer backs him, it would essentially give Hagel’s views the kosher seal of approval, letting the White House claim that any criticism of his Israel record is a faux controversy drummed up by the GOP. Politically, Schumer probably has an interest in doing this: the White House would owe him a major favor, and he’d be able to dodge a high-profile fight he has a real possibility of losing.
Pro-Israel Democrats should ask themselves this. How did they get to a point where the leader of their party is nominating one of the most anti-Israel senators who ever walked the halls of the Capitol–a man who routinely made the anti-Semitic Washington Report of Middle East Affairs’ annual Congressional Hall of Fame list?

The party is shifting around them. The ranks of the pro-Israel Democrats in Congress are shrinking. Representatives Rothman, Frank, Berman, Ackerman, Weiner, and Senator Joe Lieberman are gone. The advocacy groups and think tanks incubating the next generation of Democratic leaders are increasingly moving against Israel.

There is still a strong up-and-coming generation of pro-Israel Democrats. But they have fewer leaders to look to and fewer roles to fill in the party. If people like Schumer won’t stand up against Hagel, what message would this send to these young activists and operatives working in the trenches? That they should either change their opinions or their party affiliation?

Hagel is the red line. He is the most anti-Israel defense secretary nominee in memory, chosen at a time when Iran is on the verge of nuclear weapons capability. If pro-Israel Democrats cave on his confirmation, what would they possibly stand against?

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