September 8, 2013

One Year On, Fox’s Chris Wallace Presses McDonough on Why Benghazi Terror Attack Leader Is Still Free, Gets No Answer

If there’s one thing Chris Wallace at Fox News does well that most others in the press don’t — at least when interviewing Democrats and liberals — it’s his refusal to let a question go until his interviewee either answers it or makes it obvious to viewers that he or she won’t answer.

Such an incident took place today with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on Fox News Sunday (video is here). The question, which I strongly doubt was even broached on any of the left-leaning Sunday talk shows today, concerned why the Obama administration hasn’t been able to apprehend the September 11, 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack ringleader (bolds are mine):

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As AP Hypes Models Claiming Global Warming Involvement in Fiercer Storms, UK Media Points to Massive Arctic Ice Cap Growth

As is all too often the case, in certain matters affecting things here in the United States, if we didn’t have news fron Britain, we wouldn’t have any real news at all.

Take “climate change” aka “global warming.” At the Associated Press, Seth Borenstein on Thursday hyped the idea that man-made global warming increased the likelihood of about half,” or six of 12, of “2012′s wildest weather events.” His “evidence”? Computer simulations. But on Friday, the UK Telegraph and Daily Mail took note of the cold, hard fact of growing Arctic ice cover, as well as its possible implications.

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VDH on Why We Are Where We Are in Foreign Policy

Link (line breaks added by me; letter order corrected):

Obama thinks in an untrained manner and for all the talk of erudition and education seems bored and distracted—and it shows up in the most critical moments. Had he wished to stop authoritarians, prevent bloodshed and near genocide, and foster true reform in the Middle East, there were plenty of prior, but now blown occasions:
a) the “good” war in Afghanistan could have earned his full attention;
b) the “bad” Iraq War was won and needed only a residual force to monitor the Maliki government and protect Iraq airspace and ensure quiet;
c) the green revolution in Iran was in need of moral support;
d) Qaddafi could have been continually pressured for further reform rather than bombed into oblivion;
e) postwar Libya needed U.S. leadership to ensure that “lead from behind” did not lead to the present version of Somalia and the disaster in Benghazi;
f) long ago, the president could have either kept quiet about Syria or acted on his threats when Assad was tottering and the resistance was less Islamist;
g) he could have warned the one vote/one time Muslim Brotherhood early on not to do what everyone in the world knew it would surely do;
h) he need not have issued tough serial deadlines to Iran that we have not really enforced and probably have no intention of enforcing.

Instead, Obama relied on his rhetoric and talked loosely, sloppily and inconsistently from crisis to crisis, the only common denominator being that he always took the path of least resistance and thus did nothing concretely to match his cadences. Usually to the degree he made a decision, he made things worse with empty, first-person bombast.

Politico Pity Party: ‘President Obama’s Toughest Syria Hurdle’ Is ‘The Calendar’

Poor Barack Obama can’t catch a break. If the world would just stop and pay attention to him for a while, things would be so much better for and so much easier on Dear Leader.

That’s the takeaway from a pathetic piece (“President Obama’s toughest Syria hurdle: The calendar”) by Reid Epstein at Politico. It’s as if no other president has had to compete with Monday night football, primetime TV lineups and the like. Please. “The calendar” isn’t nearly as big a hurdle as, say, proving that it was the Syrian government and not Syrian rebels who actually used chemical weapons, the fact that Great Britain has pointedly refused any military involvement, and the administration’s fabricated accounts and subsequent bungling related to last year’s Benghazi terrorist attack. Excerpts from Epstein’s execrable effort follow the jump.

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Coverage of Ore. Couple’s Refusal to Make Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Wedding Cake Ignores Its Constitution’s Definition of Marriage

Following a voter-approved referendum in 2004, Oregon’s constitution (Article XV, Section 5A) has stated that “… only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.”

For some reason, that doesn’t seem to matter in the “Sweet Cakes” controversy over Aaron and Melissa Klein’s refusal earlier this year to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple’s (not legally recognized) “marriage.” The turned-down couple has filed a civil-rights complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Oregon Department of Labor and Industry. In the meantime, the Kleins, who have experienced ongoing harassment and threats against anyone and everyone who might refer business to them, have closed their storefront business and are operating it out of their home. Aaron has taken employment elsewhere. No press coverage that I have seen has raised the seemingly valid issue of how the Kleins can be forced to do something in support of a ceremony, i.e., same-sex “marriage,” which is not legally sanctioned and could construed to be an illegal act.

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NYT Changes Headline, Content of Report on Obama’s Failure to Win ‘Wider Backing’ For Syria

On Friday, as seen in Google News search results showing posts and feeds at other web sites, a report at the New York Times by Peter Baker and Steven Lee Meyers had the following headline “Obama Fails in Bid for Wide Backing for Syria Attack.”

On Twitter, self-described “conservative academic” Will Antonin wondered (HT Twitchy), “How long until this NYT headline is changed?” The answer: Not long. Sometime before the story got to the Old Gray Lady’s September 7 print edition, the Baker-Meyers story’s headline was changed to “Obama Falls Short on Wider Backing for Syria Attack,” and its content had been changed. The original story, which had opened by saying that “President Obama emerged from the Group of 20 summit meeting with a few international supporters,” is no longer present on the Times’s web site.

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Obama’s Extra-Constitutional Abdication

Deliberately tying his own hands, and possibly those of future presidents. 

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This column went up at PJ Media late Thursday evening, and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday morning.

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President Barack Obama’s sudden decision – after a 45-minute Friday walk on the White House grounds – to go to Congress for authorization to intervene in Syria is far more than a simple, predictable act of accountability avoidance. Regardless of whether he gets the support to which he and Secretary of State John Kerry apparently feel entitled (amid serious doubts over who has really deployed chemical weapons in that country), Obama’s move has potentially far-reaching negative consequences. Congress must do all it can to avoid them.

The first hint that there is more to this than Obama’s typical politically calculated reluctance to take responsibility for his actions came from long-time left-wing writer Walter Shapiro. Shapiro called Obama’s decision “the most important presidential act on the Constitution and war-making powers since Harry Truman decided to sidestep Congress and not seek its backing to launch the Korean war.” Hardened leftists — who can be counted on to see America as the bad guy in every conflict which legitimately involves American interests, but who wish to shame us into military action when they are not — must be thrilled.

The second clue came during Chris Wallace’s Sunday morning interview of Kerry. The secretary of State and 2004 presidential candidate — who, by the way, has frequently boasted of his service in Vietnam and promoted fabricated stories of atrocities committed there by U.S. troops — was on a mission to declare Obama’s decision to go to Congress “courageous.”

As Kerry attempted an about-face from the sense of urgency he had passionately advocated for just days earlier, Wallace reminded him that the urgency certainly still exists for innocent Syrian civilians and refugees. He then indirectly and perhaps inadvertently made the key bipartisan constitutional point:

Ronald Reagan did not think he needed congressional approval to go after Qaddafi in Libya. Bill Clinton did not think he needed approval to go after Kosovo or to go after al-Qaeda. This president seems to think … he needs political cover.

There are quite a few other examples Wallace could have cited, such as Reagan’s 1983 decision to invade Grenada and George H.W. Bush’s 1989 decision to send troops into Panama to depose Manuel Noriega. In neither of these cases, nor in the ones Wallace cited above, did our nation’s president consider formal congressional authorization a requirement (in the case of Kosovo — according to Kerry — Clinton tried and failed, but went ahead anyway).

Why? Because the president is the nation’s commander-in-chief. Yet Obama apparently believes now — per Kerry’s words to Wallace — that showing “the best face of our democracy” and “a unity of purpose” is more important than timely action.

If he succeeds in getting the congressional authorization he claims he doesn’t need, that maneuver will set the precedent-setting expectation that a president must seek congressional blessing for all military actions. Obama, whether he means it or not, claims this will be quite a small one: he has been selling the idea of a few strategically targeted cruise missiles “striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal,” and that this will “probably last no more than two days.” (This is, of course, a reversal of the administration’s Congress-ignoring, law-defying position on Libya. But Libya occurred when Obama had to demonstrate interest in being an accountable commander-in-chief during a reelection campaign. He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.)

Leftists hope that “should turn to Congress every time” becomes “must turn to Congress every time.” If that occurs, the U.S. will, by virtue of the delays and indecisiveness congressional authorization will inevitably involve, become a much less important force for worldside stability and security. With this precedent set, civilization’s enemies know that they have another three-and-one-half years during which any action of theirs — short of a large-scale direct attack on U.S. interests — will be met by delay, followed by … perhaps nothing. They also know that the next president will have to break that tradition, likely against the wishes of the media.

At least a few people understand what’s going on here. New York Congressman Peter King got it exactly right on Saturdaywhen he said: ”President Obama is abdicating his responsibility as commander-in-chief and undermining the authority of future presidents.”

House Speaker John Boehner has already indicated support for a military response. There’s nothing wrong with that. But Boehner and Congress need to make clear in their resolution’s language that what they are providing is only a sense of congressional sentiment and not a formal authorization for use of force.

The president can then take that sense of Congress — which could be for or against, as it really won’t matter — and weigh it in his decision. But it still must be his decision as commander-in-chief. Barack Obama needs to put on his big-boy pants and make it.

Sunday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (090813)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

If you are on the front page, you may need to click “more” to see today’s items (updated sporadically; items time-stamped 6:05 a.m., if any, were posted earlier and held).

3:00 p.m.: Bush didn’t do this

The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases, according to interviews with government officials and recently declassified material.”

… What had not been previously acknowledged is that the court in 2008 imposed an explicit ban — at the government’s request — on those kinds of searches, that officials in 2011 got the court to lift the bar and that the search authority has been used.

Together the permission to search and to keep data longer expanded the NSA’s authority in significant ways without public debate or any specific authority from Congress.

Positivity: ‘Un-gala’ fundraiser draws awareness to homeless ministry

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

Denver, Colorado:

Sep 6, 2013 / 02:04 pm

Putting a unique spin on a typical charity fundraiser, the young missionaries of Christ in the City recently hosted an “un-gala” to raise awareness of efforts to serve the Denver homeless.

“For an “un-gala” gala, we wanted people to know first that we’re going to ask for money, that’s why we really used the term gala,” said project director Yvonne Noggle in a Sept. 5 interview with CNA.

“But we also wanted to make it clear to come as you are, because that’s what the homeless do, they come as they are.”

Christ in the City, a project founded in 2010 by Catholic Charities of Denver, seeks to “love until it hurts” in order to serve those most in need. It offers resources and assistance to Denver’s poor and homeless through the service of college-aged youth who commit to spending a summer, a semester, or a year in various ministries.

Participants receive spiritual and intellectual formation and partner with local homeless shelters, schools, Hispanic ministry centers, elderly homes and crisis pregnancy centers. They also perform street ministry, working directly with the homeless on the streets of Denver to provide for their material, spiritual and emotional needs.

During their Sept. 4 fundraiser, the missionaries served their guests the same way that they typically serve the homeless, offering a simple, homemade meal of grilled chicken, potatoes and salad.

“We wanted them to be served by the missionaries with the same love and care that we serve the poor,” Noggle said. “It wouldn’t feel right having a big gala where we’re eating steak, and salmon and shrimp, when we are called to serve and live a simple life.”

“We wanted it to be in the Christ in the City style, which is more of a humble nature,” she said.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, who was also present at the event, shared in the spirit of humble service, taking up an apron and salad tongs to help to serve the other guests along with the missionaries.

The apron-laden archbishop gave a short address to the attendees, offering some personal reflections on what it means to be a missionary, particularly in light of the past three Popes and their emphasis on an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. …

Go here for the rest of the story.