Twenty minutes ago, message from a high school buddy of mine who is a teacher in the Oklahoma City Public School system:
I don’t think it’s really hit me yet what happened this afternoon in Oklahoma…. This all started less than an hour before school was to be dismissed, and our administration acted quickly to make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible. I work with some very dedicated and wonderful teachers, and we all did what had to be done – with sirens blaring – to keep our kiddos safe, and we were very fortunate indeed!
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At least 51 are dead tonight.
A tornado at least a half mile-wide with 200mph winds churned through Oklahoma City’s suburbs Monday afternoon, killing at least 51 and causing significant property damage for the second day in a row, forcing rescue crews to search for survivors in the debris of flattened homes, businesses and two schools.
Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, said the death toll is expected to rise. Oklahoma City Police say seven of those deaths were children at Plaza Towers Elementary School, which was hit by the tornado, Fox 25 reports. Oklahoma police also told Fox News’ Casey Stegall, on the ground in Moore, Okla., that at least four people were killed at a 7-11 convenience store.
Television footage on Monday afternoon showed homes and buildings that had been reduced to rubble in Moore, which is south of Oklahoma City. Footage also showed vehicles littering roadways south and southwest of Oklahoma City.
OU Medical Center spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said the hospital and a nearby children’s hospital are treating approximately 85 patients, including 65 children, with conditions ranging from minor injuries to critical.
Both the Salvation Army and Red Cross have activated their disaster response teams.
[...] were investigating Benghazi, I’d be homing in on that 10 p.m. phone call. That’s the one between President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — the one that’s gotten close to zero attention.
Benghazi is not a scandal because of Ambassador Susan Rice, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, and “talking points.” The scandal is about Rice and Nuland’s principals, and about what the talking points were intended to accomplish. Benghazi is about derelictions of duty by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton before and during the massacre of our ambassador and three other American officials, as well as Obama and Clinton’s fraud on the public afterward.
A good deal of media attention has quite appropriately been lavished on e-mail traffic between mid-level administration officials in the days leading up to Sunday, September 16. That is the day when Ms. Rice, a close Obama confidant, made her appalling appearances on the Sunday-morning political shows. Those performances were transparently designed to mislead the American people, during the presidential campaign stretch run, into believing that an anti-Islamic Internet video — rather than a coordinated terrorist attack orchestrated by al-Qaeda affiliates, coupled with the Obama administration’s gross failure to secure and defend American personnel in Benghazi — was responsible for the killings.
Fraud flows from the top down, not the mid-level up. Mid-level officials in the White House and the State Department do not call the shots — they carry out orders. They also were not running for reelection in 2012 or positioning themselves for a campaign in 2016. The people doing that were, respectively, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.
Obama and Clinton had been the architects of American foreign policy. As Election Day 2012 loomed, each of them had a powerful motive to promote the impressions (a) that al-Qaeda had been decimated; (b) that the administration’s deft handling of the Arab Spring — by empowering Islamists — had been a boon for democracy, regional stability, and American national security; and (c) that our real security problem was “Islamophobia” and the “violent extremism” it allegedly causes — which was why Obama and Clinton had worked for years with Islamists, both overseas and at home, to promote international resolutions that would make it illegal to incite hostility to Islam, the First Amendment be damned.
All of that being the case, I am puzzled why so little attention has been paid to the Obama-Clinton phone call at 10 p.m. on the night of September 11.
Even in the conservative press, it has become received wisdom that President Obama was AWOL on the night of September 11, after first being informed by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in the late afternoon, that the State Department facility in Benghazi was under attack. You hear it again and again: While Americans were under attack, the commander-in-chief checked out, leaving subordinates to deal with the crisis while he got his beauty sleep in preparation for a fundraising campaign trip to Vegas.
That is not true . . . and the truth, as we’ve come to expect with Obama, is almost surely worse. There is good reason to believe that while Americans were still fighting for their lives in Benghazi, while no military efforts were being made to rescue them, and while those desperately trying to rescue them were being told to stand down, the president was busy shaping the “blame the video” narrative to which his administration clung in the aftermath.
We have heard almost nothing about what Obama was doing that night. Back in February, though, CNS News did manage to pry one grudging disclosure out of White House mendacity mogul Jay Carney: “At about 10 p.m., the president called Secretary Clinton to get an update on the situation.”
Obviously, it is not a detail Carney was anxious to share. Indeed, it contradicted an earlier White House account that claimed the president had not spoken with Clinton or other top administration officials that night.
The earlier story better fit Obama’s modus operandi, which is to disappear in times of crisis. His brief legislative career was about voting “present” because he prefers to be absent when accountability knocks. The idea is to be the Obama of Evan Thomas lore: “standing above the country, above — above the world, he’s sort of God.” He reemerges only after the shooting stops and the smoke clears: gnosis personified, here to diagnose our failings. He is not a commander-in-chief for the battle but the armchair general of the post mortem.
In this instance, though, Carney’s hand was forced by then-secretary Clinton. Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, she recounted first learning at about 4 p.m. on September 11 that the State Department facility in Benghazi was under attack. That was very shortly after the siege started. Over the hours that followed, Clinton stated, “we were in continuous meetings and conversations, both within the department, with our team in Tripoli, with the interagency and internationally.” It was in the course of this “constant ongoing discussion and sets of meetings” that Clinton then recalled: “I spoke with President Obama later in the evening to, you know, bring him up to date, to hear his perspective.”
Yes, the 10 p.m. phone call.
[...] at 8 p.m. Washington time, Hicks spoke directly with Clinton and some of her top advisers by telephone. Not only was it apparent that a terrorist attack involving al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia was underway, but Hicks’s two most profound fears at the time he briefed Clinton centered on those terrorists: First, there were reports that Ambassador Stevens might be in the clutches of the terrorists at a hospital they controlled; second, there were rumblings that a similar attack on the embassy in Tripoli could be imminent, convincing Hicks that State Department personnel should evacuate. He naturally conveyed these developments to his boss, the secretary of state. Clinton, he recalled, agreed that evacuation was the right course.
At about 9 p.m. Washington time, Hicks learned from the Libyan prime minister that Stevens was dead. Hicks said he relayed all significant developments on to Washington as the evening progressed — although he did not speak directly to Secretary Clinton again after the 8 p.m. briefing.
That is the context of the 10 p.m. phone call between the president and the secretary of state.
We do not have a recording of this call, and neither Clinton nor the White House has described it beyond noting that it happened. But we do know that, just a few minutes after Obama called Clinton, the Washington press began reporting that the State Department had issued a statement by Clinton regarding the Benghazi attack. In it, she asserted:
Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.
Gee, what do you suppose Obama and Clinton talked about in that 10 p.m. call?
Interestingly, CNS News asked Carney whether, in that 10 p.m. phone call, the president and Secretary Clinton discussed the statement that Clinton was about to issue, and, specifically, whether they discussed “the issue of inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
Carney declined to answer.
We now know from the e-mails and TV clips that, by Sunday morning, the White House staff, State Department minions, and Susan Rice were all in agreement that the video fairy tale, peppered with indignant rebukes of Islamophobia, was the way to go.
How do you suppose they got that idea?
And even more importantly — in light of this — when was the stand-down order given.
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that the President and his tight group of advisers were worrying about narrative-shaping, spin, plausible deniability, and being able to string the tragedy out beyond the election. Part of that calculus was to keep military engagement out of the equation and play the attacks down as a spontaneous uprising.
And while they were plotting the political strategy — which Clinton, who has her own political aspirations, would have happily gone along with, the upshot being, she hoped, that her gross incompetence not come to the fore — a couple of brave men died alone, exhausted, unsupported, on a rooftop in Libyan.
– All while Obama and Clinton planned alibis and the cover up.
Did Obama know that the two SEALS had attempted a rescue and were calling for backup? Did he care that the CIA annex was being attacked — knowing that the nature of the facility would allow him keep much of the information classified?
Where is Charlie Gibson to once again ride the cultural referent for scandal, coming to the air and intoning gravely, as he did during Bush’s presidency, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., grilled outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller about the IRS targeting a pro-life group in Iowa.
“Their question, specifically asked from the IRS to the Coalition for Life of Iowa: ‘Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers,’” Schock declared.
“Would that be an inappropriate question to a 501 c3 applicant?” asked Schock. “The content of one’s prayers?”
“It pains me to say I can’t speak to that one either,” Miller replied.
After Schock pressed him further, Miller explained that although he couldn’t comment on the specific case, it would “surprise him” if that question was asked.
The report comes from the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm for religious liberty.
Any questions about this Administration’s attacks on nearly every right secured under the Bill of Rights and the Declaration and Constitution?
Or perhaps better, Alles klar, Herr Komissar?
“What do you expect when you target the President?” This is what an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent allegedly said to the head of a conservative organization that was being audited after calling for the impeachment of then-President Clinton. Recent revelations that IRS agents gave “special scrutiny” to organizations opposed to the current administration’s policies suggest that many in the IRS still believe harassing the President’s opponents is part of their job.
As troubling as these recent reports are, it would be a grave mistake to think that IRS harassment of opponents of the incumbent President is a modern, or a partisan, phenomenon. As scholar Burton Folsom pointed out in his book New Deal or Raw Deal, IRS agents in the 1930s where essentially “hit squads” against opponents of the New Deal. It is well-known that the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used the IRS to silence their critics. One of the articles of impeachment drawn up against Richard Nixon dealt with his use of the IRS to harass his political enemies. Allegations of IRS abuses were common during the Clinton administration, and just this week some of the current administration’s defenders recalled that antiwar and progressive groups alleged harassment by the IRS during the Bush presidency.
The bipartisan tradition of using the IRS as a tool to harass political opponents suggests that the problem is deeper than just a few “rogue” IRS agents—or even corruption within one, two, three or many administrations. Instead, the problem lays in the extraordinary power the tax system grants the IRS.
The IRS routinely obtains information about how we earn a living, what investments we make, what we spend on ourselves and our families, and even what charitable and religious organizations we support. Starting next year, the IRS will be collecting personally identifiable health insurance information in order to ensure we are complying with Obamacare’s mandates.
The current tax laws even give the IRS power to marginalize any educational, political, or even religious organizations whose goals, beliefs, and values are not favored by the current regime by denying those organizations “tax-free” status. This is the root of the latest scandal involving the IRS.
Considering the type of power the IRS excises over the American people, and the propensity of those who hold power to violate liberty, it is surprising we do not hear about more cases of politically-motivated IRS harassment. As the first US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy” — and who better to destroy than one’s political enemies?
The US flourished for over 120 years without an income tax, and our liberty and prosperity will only benefit from getting rid of the current tax system. The federal government will get along just fine without its immoral claim on the fruits of our labor, particularly if the elimination of federal income taxes are accompanied by serious reduction in all areas of spending, starting with the military spending beloved by so many who claim to be opponents of high taxes and big government.
While it is important for Congress to investigate the most recent scandal and ensure all involved are held accountable, we cannot pretend that the problem is a few bad actors. The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process, thus the only way Congress can protect our freedoms is to repeal the income tax and shutter the doors of the IRS once and for all.
As many of you here know, I have my share of problems with Ron Paul. As does, eg., Mark Levin. And yet I think in this instance you can find a near perfect convergence between Ron Paul’s libertarianism and the classical liberalism / legal conservatism of people like myself and Levin and many in the TEA Party movement.
In fact, what Paul has written here isn’t much different from what I wrote last week, when I pointed out that the establishment ruling class — regardless of party — was likely interested only in appearing outraged and gathering up the necessary fall guys so that they could pat themselves on the back for pretending to restore integrity to the IRS while keeping it largely the same. Because in the final analysis, politicians like having the ability to bully opponents and keep the people frightened of their power, and the IRS has become the agency that best exemplifies that (though other bureaucratic agencies and Departments such as the EPA and Interior and HHS are starting to give them a run for their money).
Establishment politicians hate change. And we’ve seen virtually no attempt by GOP leadership to bring to the fore the idea of abolishing or attenuating the IRS and replacing it with a much more equitable (and classically liberal) tax system, one that promoted actual fairness and equality and made it so that all Americans had a degree of skin in the game.
Instead, they are content to play with the Marxist progressive tax framework, because within it, they can please cronies and punish enemies and wield enormous power and influence. And without it? Not so much.
So we’re going to see show trials and arrests and some flunkies get flushed. None of which will matter. Because what’s needed is systemic change, and everyone knows it. It’s just that a vanishingly few in power desire to make the changes — and they’re hoping that we can again be sated by impassioned words of condemnation and a few scapegoats.
Not me. Not this time. Spit.
So congrats to the ruling class, which has managed to bring me, Mark Levin and Ron Paul (mostly) together (Paul had to throw in his trademark sop to cutting military spending, which is ludicrous at a time when the world is on the brink of some sort of global war, but let’s let it slide this time, because it’s almost like a tic to him, and I honestly don’t think he can help himself) in our calls for how best to reform the government.
And that is no easy feat.
So. The President met with an anti-Tea Party IRS union chief the day before agency targeted Tea Party.
Is anyone — and I do mean anyone, including even Rick Moran (I’ve long believed that some centrist Republicans were the last of the credulous hold-outs, that the left knew all along who and what Obama was, and approved of both him and his methods) — at all surprised to learn of this?
Now, we’ll be told that no laws were broken, that the meeting was over something else entirely, that the timing was completely coincidental, and that we’re all racist (and likely even white supremacists) and misogynist for even noting the meeting, much less its proximity to the targeting of the TEA Party and other small government groups.
But honestly, doesn’t that faux-outraged denial just make you want to slap a bitch at this point? The President told us he’d learned of this IRS scandal from news reports. And yet the Treasury knew about the investigation and the targeting before the 2012 election. Now this.
Does Obama really expect us to believe his own political appointees kept him in the dark? And that he’s nothing more than an absent and incompetent puppet who is otherwise out of the loop?
His ego is too big to let that kind of thing stand, fortunately, so we should press it as our narrative of his increasingly absurd and dismal presidency. That way, before all is said and done, I believe if somebody asks him the right set of questions, he may just cop to ordering the code red on Private Santiago.
And then we could all bathe in the cleansing waters of Ezra Klein’s endless tears.
(h/t Darth Levin and sdferr)
A group of self-styled Robin Hoods who scamper around the streets of a New Hampshire city and feed expired parking meters for strangers has been hit with a harassment lawsuit.
The city of Keene says its three parking inspectors have been taunted, insulted and followed by the group — to the point that one of them says he has suffered heart palpitations and is thinking about quitting his job.
In its lawsuit, the city is asking a court to order the group not to come within 50 feet of the parking inspectors.
The suit names six defendants, most of them bloggers for Free Keene, which describes itself on its Facebook page as “your connection to the liberty activism movement in New Hampshire.”
One of the six, Ian Freeman, told NBC News that “The Robin Hooders have always been courteous in my experience” and pointed out that the city has not charged them criminally with harassment.
“The city is upset because they are losing revenue and are coming up with anything they can to try to stop it,” he said.
He also noted that the city’s job description for parking inspectors, included as part of the lawsuit, requires that inspectors “endure verbal and mental abuse when confronted with the hostile views and opinions of the public.”
The city attorney in Keene did not immediately respond to a call for comment from NBC News.
Look, the sooner we make it clear that government only works — and is only legitimate to begin with — when it is founded on the consent of the governed, the sooner we’ll beat back the petty tyrants and the attempted lawfare the bureaucrats use to keep themselves flush with power and our money.
Any judge hearing this case should throw it out. And the meter fairies should file continue doing what they are doing and then file a wrongful arrest and prosecution lawsuit against the city should any law enforcement official attempt to enforce any dictate that would prevent anyone from obeying the law by feeding the parking meters before they expire.
Local governments don’t have a “right” to catch meters running out. And meter maids aren’t being “harassed” when they’re beaten to the punch by kids with quarters.
I love that the complaining parking service thought that they could throw the race card on the table and make things go away, though. It shows me that there is a national standard being set at the top for how to deal with problems and it’s an ugly one.
Thanks, first post-racial President!
… how DARE you question Us!
King Barry’s toady, Dan Pfeiffer is making the rounds of Sunday shows and is clearly demonstrating the abject contempt this administration has towards anyone who does less than lick the King’s ankles.
“Republicans owe Susan Rice an apology”
“the law around the IRS targeting of conservatives is irrelevant.“
“I can’t speak to the law here. The law is irrelevant. The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed so we ensure it never happens again,” Pfeiffer said.
Stephanopoulos asked Pfeiffer if he really thought the law is “irrelevant.”
“What I mean is, whether it’s legal or illegal is not important to the fact that the conduct doesn’t matter. The Department of Justice has said they’re looking into the legality of this. The president is not going to wait for that. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again, regardless of how that turns out,” Pfeiffer said.
Then there’s that word irrelevant again, when it comes to where and what the King was doing while Ambassador Stevens and three others were being murdered, and non-umbrella-holding military personnel were told to Stand Down!
WALLACE: with all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. what did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: he didn’t talk to the secretary of state except for the one time when the first attack was over. he didn’t talk to the secretary of defense, he didn’t talk to chiefs. the chairman of the joint who was he talking to?
PFEIFFER: his national security staff, his national security council.
WALLACE: was he in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: he was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: do you know know whether he was in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: i don’t know what room he was in that night. that’s a largely irrelevant fact.
WALLACE: well –
PFEIFFER: the premise of your question, somehow there was something that could have been done differently, okay, that would have changed the outcome here. the accountability roof board has looked at this, people have looked at this. it’s a horrible tragedy, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
WALLCE: here’s the point, though, the ambassador goes missing, the first ambassador in more than 30 years is killed. four americans, including the ambassador, are killed. dozens of americans are in jeopardy. the president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the chairman of the joint chiefs to deploy forces. no forces are deployed. where is he while all this is going on?
PFEIFFER: this has been tested to by –
WALLACE: well, no. no one knows where he is, who was involved, the –
PFEIFFER: the suggestion of your question that somehow the president –
WALLACE: i just want to know the answer.
PFEIFFER: the assertions from republicans that the president didn’t take action is offensive. there’s no evidence to support it.
WALLACE: i’m simply asking a question. where was he? what did he do? how did he respond in who told him you can’t deploy forces and what was his president?
PFEIFFER: the president was in the white house that day, kept up to date by his national security team, spoke to the joint chiefs of staff earlier, secretary of state, and as events unfolded he was kept up to date.
The chutzpah is breathtaking.
President Obama’s most recent budget request would reduce borrowing by $1.1 trillion over the next decade compared with current law — almost entirely through higher taxes on the rich, large estates and smokers, congressional budget analysts said Friday.
In addition to raising nearly $1 trillion in new taxes, the president’s blueprint would also cut spending modestly, according to the analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
However, those savings include money the government never intended to spend anyway, such as a contingency fund for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly $300 billion in unneeded disaster relief. [...]
On Friday, Democrats ignored the messy details and focused on the report’s bottom line: Obama’s budget request would cancel harsh automatic cuts to agency budgets known as the sequester while shrinking the national debt even more than White House projections, pushing it below 70 percent of the economy by 2023. [...]
Republicans, meanwhile, noted that the president’s budget proposes significant new tax hikes on top of the increases that took effect in January, while never approaching balance.
“This new report shows that the President’s budget doesn’t come close to solving the problem,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a written statement. “The federal government will take in a record haul over the next ten years. And the President wants yet another massive tax hike…. The government is taking more from hardworking taxpayers only to spend more in Washington.”
NYSlimes sets about to shove criminal IRS behavior down the memory hole
The Washington Post has two front-page above-the-fold articles on the scandal, a news story and an in-depth look at the IRS in the wake of the controversy. There’s also a tough lead editorial expressing renewed outrage at the IRS’s conduct and demanding thorough reform.
Yet after the first dramatic day of congressional hearings, the New York Times has no front-page coverage at all of the scandal per se. Instead we have a story on President Obama’s efforts to move his agenda forward, beyond “distraction.” The Times story quotes White House aides accusing Republicans of seizing on “woes” to thwart the president’s agenda. The paper itself seems to be taking the White House line.
Just below the Times story on Obama’s attempts to move past “distraction,” a tiny squib notes that there is an article about the IRS on page 12. The teaser is: “Republicans are widening their aim at the Internal Revenue Service.” The headline of the page 12 Times article itself is: “Republicans Broaden Scope of I.R.S. Inquiry, Hoping to Entangle White House.” For comparison, the Post’s front-page news story headline is: “Panel grills IRS on tax targeting.” In other words, the Times treats the scandal as little more than a Republican-hyped distraction, while the Post takes it as a matter that should concern everyone. In contrast to the Post, there is no Times editorial on the scandal today.
New line of idiocy from DailyKos (I will NOT link to them) is that 3 “Democrat-leaning” groups may have received same letter from IRS so SHUT UP, wingnuts, he said.
More chilling, is Leftists taking up Nancy Pelosi’s line that this is the fault of Citizen’s United and that no one anywhere should be allowed to donate money without their personal information in a government database.
For the Transparency!