THINK TRUMP THE MOST UNPOPULAR PRESIDENT-ELECT EVER? THINK WE ARE THE MOST DIVIDED WE HAVE EVER BEEN? WELL, THINK AGAIN!
in our history!
“Senator, I don’t recall“, is an often heard response to potentially damaging questions when a Washington politico testifies in front of a Senate hearing. It’s a safe way of avoiding the out-right lie one would otherwise have to give to avoid answering in a truthful and damaging way.
When asked by the FBI in July about her use of a private server and handling of classified emails while Secretary of State, “I don’t recall” was an often heard answer from Hillary Clinton.
It seems the “smartest woman in the world” can’t remember ever being briefed on security measures or the proper handling of classified documents. That, despite signing documents acknowledging such briefings while both a Senator and when Secretary of State.
Even more astonishing for someone who thinks she is prepared to be the leader of the country and the “Free World”, Clinton claims she doesn’t even understand how classification of government documents was determined!
Now, I don’t claim to be the “smartest (man) in the world”. But even as a lowly Army sergeant in the 1980s, I understood the proper handling of classified documents. When as a Green Beret I viewed classified material, I had to sign it out of a safe in a “secure room”; read it in that room (without taking notes); and when finished sign it back into the safe before leaving the room.
Understanding also that anything I say about classified operations was assumed to be a violation, compromising my security clearance and risking jail time; was also within my limited intellectual capability.
So how come the “Smartest Woman in the World” didn’t understand, or even recall being taught, how to handle classified material??
One of the excuses Clinton gave the FBI for this incredible gap in her memory was that she had suffered head trauma, and a subsequent blood clot in the brain.
OK. But doesn’t that bring into question her health and capability to perform the job for which she is currently applying: that of President of the United States?
I think either she is either lying about her memory, or (more troubling) she really can’t recall important briefings to which she signed off on.
In either case, her fitness for command is ever more deeply in question.
As a veteran of Special Forces (and a keen observer of military affairs) I decided with my unique perspective to wade through the 800-plus pages of the Select Committee Report on the Benghazi debacle, which as we all know cost 5 Americans their lives. It is, as you can imagine, a rather daunting task; and far too much material to cover in a single post. So, instead, I will comment on those glaring errors in judgement, actions, and questions remaining as strike me (from a military standpoint) while reading the Report; here in bite-sized parts.
It should be keep in mind that the initial attack on September 11, 2012 upon the Ambassador’s residence at the American Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi (not designated as an official “Consulate”) began (approx) at 9:42 local time. It would continue as an off-and-on engagement for the next 13 hours. The fighting would start at the Diplomatic Mission compound where the Ambassador and six other Americans were present; and continue through the dark streets of Benghazi; and, finally, into the early morning hours at the CIA Annex, which came under siege.
During these hours, a senior team chaired (by phone) by Secretary Hillary Clinton debated the ongoing attack and made-up an Action Item List. Missing from this meeting was the Secretary of Defense (or senior deputy), Director of the CIA, or any senior military chief. This meeting will be discussed later. But what was not among the 10 items on their Action Item List was a plan to dispatch an immediate rescue; this at a time when the battle was ongoing and the Ambassador was only reported as missing, not yet dead.
One question that I found myself asking early into the Report was why did the Marine Corps Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (F.A.S.T.) take so long to launch from its base in Rota, Spain to Benghazi?
What is found in the Report, as testified before the Committee by the F.A.S.T. platoon commander on the ground, is truly astonishing to someone who served for many years in Special Forces (myself).
The F.A.S.T. platoon leader in Rota (likely a Marine Corps First Lieutenant or at best a Captain), aware of what was happening at Benghazi through news reports, decided along with his “Gunny” to initiate the “recall order” at 12:45 am (1:45 in Benghazi); and began assembling his platoon in preparation for deployment. At that time, the Ambassador’s residence at the Mission was in flames, and the Ambassador reported as merely missing. The battle had moved to the streets; as the CIA Global Response Staff (GRS) operators, who had gone from the nearby CIA Annex to the Mission to rescue the Ambassador and his Diplomatic Security detail, were retreating to the Annex with the survivors.
AT 2:39 the F.A.S.T.team received official orders to deploy to Libya. The team was fully packed-out and waiting on the tarmac of the airfield at 5:45. Though ready to deploy, the F.A.S.T. platoon in Spain had to wait, as its air assets were not at Rota, as one would expect. They were in Germany, at Ramstein Air Force Base! It was not until NOON that the C-130 arrived from Germany; fully 9 HOURS after the orders to deploy!
Now, I don’t ever remember being hours away from my airfield when my unit was tasked as a “Rapid Response Force” (or the “Ready”, or “Go” unit). What sense does it make to have a fast response force that is hours away from the air assets required to deploy it??
The F.A.S.T.team Marines loaded rapidly and were prepared to depart by 1 pm. However, there was further delay of 4 hours; as decision-makers in Washington debated whether or not the F.A.S.T.platoon should go in uniforms or not (Section 1, p. 154); and whether to deploy with their weapons or without! (To his very great credit, this latter option was dismissed by the Platoon Leader, who refused to consider such a ridiculous option.) Four times the team changed in-and-out of uniform; as conflicting orders continued to come in! The delay was also caused by efforts to get diplomatic permission from the Libyan government (what there was of it). This took fully six more hours. (The Committee failed to discover who was responsible for this farcical display of indecision.)
By the time the F.A.S.T. rescue team actually took off, and landed in Tripoli (not Benghazi), the battle was long over and three more Americans were dead at the Annex.
These delays show the utter lack of preparation and coordination at all levels, an operation that was utterly FUBAR from beginning to end. Only the junior officer commanding the F.A.S.T. platoon at Rota and his men showed the proper alacrity and concern for timeliness necessary to accomplish such a rescue mission as was required of them that night.
(Interestingly, the version of events depicted in the Michael Bay film, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” (2016) seems largely vindicated by the Committee’s highly detailed report. For my review of that film, go here.)
When the hijackers crashed those planes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11; President Bush worked to unite the country against the perpetrators. To their credit, the Democratic opposition rallied (for a brief time) behind him.
By contrast, after an Islamic terrorist carried out the worst mass shooting in American history President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the American political left have chosen to divide the nation; focusing their fury (and the nation’s) not on the enemy trying to kill us. But, instead, on their Republican opposition in Congress, the Republican nominee for President, and the NRA.
On any other day, at any other time, all of the above would be fair targets for Democratic fire. But in the wake of a terrorist attack by an Islamic extremist; and at a time when ISIS is promising more such attacks, this is an opportunity lost. The President and the Democrats could have, like President Bush on 9/11, linked arms with their Republican colleges on Capital Hill and made a show of unit; denouncing ISIS, Islamic extremism, and working together to fight our common enemy. The President could have ignored Donald Trump’s gadfly comments about failed policy and instead shown real presidential stature and leadership; and risen above the political muck to unit the country.
Instead, Obama delivered his most petulant, politicized, contempt-filled speech attacking Trump and the Republicans. It was less an national address than a national temper tantrum. It was the nadir of a wasted Presidency, that began with such high expectations. Sadly, never once did the President mention ISIS in that entire scree. Less than an hour later, in what appeared to be a coordinated effort, Hillary Clinton came out with her own attack on Trump; more-or-less on the same theme as the President.
In Congress, a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando massacre was broken by partisan Democrats; who walked out of the House, followed by angry shouting from the Democrat side of the isle that brought the House to a standstill. The Democrats, mindful of Rom Emanuel’s maxim, never let a serious crisis go to waste, decided to cynically take advantage of this tragedy to push their gun control agenda. Why unite with their Republican brethren and focus on ISIS and the enormous threat of Islamic terrorism; when they can focus on their favorite fund raiser issue, gun control?
This was the time to unite and fight against the real enemy; who, as a candidate named Barack Obama long ago reminded us, is not “Red America”, nor “Blue America”. But, instead, is the people who are trying to kill us; and the pernicious doctrine that motivated the shooter in Orlando. But Obama 2016 seems to have forgotten his own words; and the Democrats to have forgotten the real enemy.
The New York Times, our “newspaper of record”, leaped on with perhaps (and this is saying a lot) the most irresponsible, execrable Op Ed in its recent history; blaming not ISIS for the attack on the Pulse nightclub’s gay club-goers. But chose instead to blame Republicans; for creating an environment where “bigotry is allowed to fester.”
For the record, Omar Mateen (whatever his sexual identity issues) did not say he was going to kill gays because of anger over gay marriage or trans-gendered bathrooms. He claimed to be acting in the name of the “Islamic State”. He pledged his alliance to (ISIS leader) abu bakr al Baghdadi; and said he was striking us because of our culture, and enacting vengeance against the US for our war against ISIS:
“The real muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the west” …“You kill innocent women and children by doing us airstrikes..now taste the Islamic state vengeance.”
Nowhere did he say hatred of gays/lesbians/bisexuals et al, inspired by current political debate, have anything to do with his anger. He was acting on his Muslim extremist beliefs, pure and simple.
The Times also failed to mention that Mateen’s Afghan father, Seddique Mir Mateen, is a Taliban sympathizer. Nor that both the Taliban and ISIS espouse anti-gay beliefs, and execute homosexuals. So if Mateen was acting on an anti-gay bias, the more likely source of his animus was his Islamic extremist beliefs, not Republican opposition to gay marriage or trans-gendered shower rooms.
By focusing on gun control (a comfortable and lucrative issue for progressive Democrats) instead of the much more troubling issue (for them) of Islamic extremism (a term the President, who due to a childhood spent in Muslim Indonesia has a romanticized soft-spot for Islam, has noting but contempt for), the Dems and the left are dividing this country at the very time we should be locking arms.
Reasonable people should be able to agree that making guns less available to the victims of terrorism does little to make them safer. As we saw in Paris, with the attacks on journalists at Charlie Hebdo and later upon club-goers at the Bataclan concert hall , under-gunned police and an unarmed populace are easy prey for well-armed terrorist. France (and the EU in general) have VERY strict gun laws; the kind Democrats are eager to enact here in America. But they have done nothing to keep these weapons out of the hands of terrorists. All that these laws do is make us all more vulnerable to attack.
“This is not about ISIS, this is not any kind of foreign terror, this is about guns in America“. That is how Democratic leader in Congress, Representative Jim Clyburn framed the issue.
With respect to Mr. Clyburn, no, it isn’t.
This is not a gun issue; despite the left’s attempt to identify guns as the common denominator. This is about terrorism and violent jihad; and an enemy who promise more such attacks on our homeland. The President, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats want to deflect from the Islamic threat, because to focus upon that raises questions of what this President has been doing for the last 7 years of his Presidency; and why attacks on the homeland have increased dramatically under his watch.
Today President Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. In the process, he used an often used phrase. He called Hillary the “most qualified” candidate to ever run for the Presidency.
Hyperbole is not unusual in politics; especially in political endorsements. But to call Hillary “the most qualified” ever, in our nation’s history, is an opinion so often voiced by Democrats that it screams out for analysis, and ultimatley rebuttal.
So, with all humility, I will endeavor herein to offer such rebuttal.
Many great (and less than great) men have run and been elected (or not) to the Presidency. Let us examine some of these, and compare their credentials and experience going into their Presidential bids with that of Hillary Clinton.
How, for instance, does she compare with our nation’s “Founding Father” and first President, George Washington?
When Washington ran for President in 1789, he had previously served as the victorious Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in our Revolutionary War against the British. He had before that been a delegate to the Continental Congress which drafted and ratified the Declaration of Independence. Following our independence, Washington was unanimously elected as President of the Constitutional Convention of 1787; where historians credit his support for the draft Constitution with its acceptance.
Not a bad resume going into his presidency, right?
Let’s look at another “Founder” who went on to run for and ultimately win the Presidency: Thomas Jefferson. Also a delegate to the Continental Congress, in 1776 he authored the brilliantly worded Declaration of Independence, the first of our Founding Documents. Before this he had served as a delegate in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 until 1775. In 1779 he was Governor of Virginia, the largest and most prosperous of the 13 colonies. Following our victory in the Revolution, he was a member of Congress and later Ambassador to France. He next served as our first Secretary of State; then, in 1796 became the second Vice President of the United States.
How impressive, by comparison, do Hillary’s credentials look now?
But let’s continue with just a few more former candidates for President.
When Grover Cleveland ran for the Presidency in 1892, his qualifications included having previously served as… President of the United States! You can’t get more qualified for a job than having previously done that job, right? He was both our 22nd and 24th President. Before serving his first term in the White House, Cleveland had been a County Sheriff; the Mayor of Buffalo, New York; Governor of that state; as well as one of New York state’s most prominent attorneys.
Teddy Roosevelt began his run for the Presidency in 1904 from the Oval Office: He was already President of the United States. Vice President to William McKinley, he had stepped into the Presidency when McKinley was assassinated in 1901. So, by the time he ran (successfully) for the Presidency in 1904 he had served in that office for the previous 3 1/2 years. Prior to becoming McKinley’s running mate in 1900, T.R. had been Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York… Oh, and a war hero of the Spanish–American War.
Skipping forward in history, our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge Jr., was also serving as President following the death of his predicessor, Warren G. Harding in 1923. He was therefore a candidate for President in 1924 whose experience included the Presidency. Further, before serving as Harding’s Vice President he was Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts, Member (and later President) of the Massachusetts Senate, then first Lt. Governor and ultimately Governor of the Bay State.
Finally, lets look at a more recent (and still living) former President.
When George H. W. Bush ran for the Presidency in 1988, he was already a two-term sitting Vice President of the United States. Before becoming Ronald Reagan’s VP running mate in 1980, his resume of service included being the youngest Navy pilot in the Second World War, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas, our United Nations Ambassador (1971-1973), Chairperson of the Republican National Committee, American Ambassador to China, and Director of the C.I.A.
This is not by any means a comprehensive list. I could have gone on, and on, and on. But for brevity, this short list makes the point: Hillary is hardly the “most qualified” person to ever run for the Presidency. Such a claim merely illustrates the lack of historical education among much of America’s elites.
Compare Hillary’s credentials to any of these previous presidential candidates. When I last looked at it, she had never served as a Mayor of any city, nor as a State Governor, nor as Vice President of the United States; not to mention serving previously as the President. She never served in the military, much less earned the title of “war hero”, as many of these (and many more other candidates) have.
Hillary has been a US Senator; though one without a single legislative achievement to her name. She was Secretary of State, but with a very unimpressive list of achievements to her name. Finally, she was First Lady of both Arkansas and the United States; during which time she was (perhaps) the most unpopular woman to serve in that capacity.
So, next time a Democrat touts Hillary as “the most qualified”, you can feel qualified to scoff heartily; and if a friend spouts such nonsense, to (gently) correct their misconception.
She is, by historical standards, barely qualified to fill that office.
It is more apparent than ever, during this ripening presidential election contest, that there are two parties in America. One of diversity, youth, vigor, and which challenges the status quo; the other of tired old ideas and of old white guys… and one old gal.
In a “world turned upside down” moment, we see the two political parties flip roles, each become the other’s stereotype.
The Republicans this year have become the party of diversity; running a host of candidates who include two Hispanics, an African-American, an Asian, and a woman. The Democrats, the “Party of Diversity”, are running five old, white men and an old (and very entitled) white woman.
The average age of the 15 Republican candidates (Rick Perry dropped out today) running for President is 52.7 years; and six of which are under 55 years old. Marco Rubio, one of the two Hispanics, is the youngest candidate running this year, at 45.
By contrast, the average age of the 6 Democrats running (including Vice President Biden, should he run) is a decade older, at 67.5 years old. But when you look at the specifics, the picture gets even grayer: Joe Biden is 72, and if elected will be 74 when he assumes office; older than Ronald Reagan was when he was sworn in for his second term (at 73, generally considered too have been too old, nodding off frequently at Cabinet meetings and possibly beginning to feel the effects of the Alzheimer’s Disease he was eventually diagnosed with).
Hillary Clinton, the most likely of the six to get the Democratic nomination, is no spring chicken. Should she win the 2016 election, Hillary will be 69 the day she is inaugurated. That makes her the same age Ronald Reagan was when he assumed office in 1981; the oldest president to ever be inaugurated. Hillary would thus share that honor, in presidential statistics. All the Geritol, none of the charisma.
Bernie Sanders, at this point running second in national polls and actually leading Mrs Clinton in some Iowa and New Hampshire polls, will be 75 two months before the 2016 general election. That would make him the oldest president in US history, should he win.
The rest, O’ Malley (54), Chafee (63), Webb (70) have little to no chance at the nomination; their candidacies merely vanity campaigns (sadly in the case of James Webb; who at least would serve to drag the Democrats back far-left fringe to the political center). Biden’s numbers are good right now. But that will change if he actually gets in and begins taking hits. In any case, the Vice President thus far seems half-hearted at best, and may not jump in. So dismal are the Democrat’s chances this election cycle, with front-runner Hillary Clinton mired in growing scandal, and so weak their bench that there has even been talk of dusting off the 67-year-old Al Gore!
As for “new” ideas, all of the Democrats are running on stale ideas that were born out of the 1930’s “New Deal”, or the 1960’s “Great Society”. That, and the “new” notion of a “war on women”; a line of attack that tries to create victims out of all women, and which fell completely flat in the last election-cycle.
One of the Democrats, Bernie Sanders, isn’t even a Democrat, he is an Independent! Bernie is an avowed socialist; a believer in a political/economic philosophy developed in the 1840s and which as led to economic stagnation and political oppression everywhere it has been tried (and it has been tried in dozens of countries throughout the 20th century). The Democratic Party is the party of socialist elitists, the far-left fringe, and Labor; a movement born at the end of the 19th century in the age of the so-called Robber Barons of industry. While the Labor Movement was very useful in its day; that day has long gone. Today’s labor is busy picking the dead flesh of industrial America, killed by labor’s never-ending demands upon its resources; and which champions such pernicious job-killing policies as a $15/hour minimum wage.
If the Democrats adopted a new idea, it would die of loneliness.
As Chris Wilson of the Times wrote in April, “In fact, the 2016 nomination fight currently looks like a teachers-versus-students charity basketball game.” Let’s hope this geriatric Democrat team are the “shirts”, not the “skins”.
Now who is the party of the “old white guys”?
It seems a long time since the attacks on 9/11/2001; and it seems like yesterday. That’s a trick your mind plays on you with traumatic memories: putting a healing distance between then and now, all the while indelibly imprinting the memory so it always seems fresh; easily recalled as clearly today as when it occurred.
In 2001 I was living in Michigan, a business man who worked out of his home office. That morning, I got my coffee and walked down to my office. It was just a few minutes before 9am on a crystal clear autumn morning. My office had a large window, and as I sipped my coffee I looked out at squirrels playing on my lawn.
As always, I turned on my computer. Back then, Yahoo was my Homepage. As it booted-up, I glanced over and saw the “breaking news” banner: A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
I walked over to the living room and turned on the news. Against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, the live feed from New York City showed the North Tower of the World Trade Center, a huge bloom of smoke pouring from a gigantic rent high on the side of the building.
The commentators in the news studio were speculating as to what could have caused a plane to somehow drift off its flight path and into the World Trade Center. They weren’t sure at that point if it was a small private plane, or a commercial aircraft. At that moment (it was now 9:03am) the second airliner came into view on the screen. A nano-second later, it crashed into the side of the South Tower.
I think I said something trite, like “OMFG!”; and sat my coffee down with a shaking hand.
One female commentator asked if something could be badly wrong with the local Air Traffic Control computers; perhaps erroneously vectoring planes into Mid-Town Manhattan. That question was just as quickly quelled by her partner, who stated (correctly) that this must be a deliberate act of terrorism.
At some point after that, people started jumping out of the burning buildings.
I called my wife, who was working at a local hospital; leaving her a message to call me.
At 9:39, the third plane struck the Pentagon.
I think at that point, I must have gone into a altered state of consciousness; a sort of state of shock. I grew weirdly calm, detached, emotionally uninvolved with the disasters unfolding on the television.
Leaving the television on in the background, I decided this was a good day to paint my house.
Now, for those who know me, that is proof enough that I was in shock. I am not the home-fixer-upper type. But that morning, as the Towers collapsed (“Huh, you don’t see that every day!”) and Jet fighters were scrambled as there were reports of a fourth plane heading toward the Capital, I think my subconscious needed something exceedingly mundane to ground itself in a reality it could process.
I am a veteran of Special Forces, and someone who has faced very difficult and deadly situations before. I don’t normally “lose it”.
But on that otherwise beautiful September day, Barry had “checked out of the net” (as we used to say on the Teams). Elvis had left the building.
That afternoon and early evening, first my wife and children; then my friends and neighbors gathered at my home. I was relatively calm and still detached, discussing somberly the events unfolding when something happened that broke through my detachment; shattering the barrier my mind was busily erecting to protect me: My wife’s father, a happy alcoholic, decided that so many people in one place constituted a party. He put on music, people began to relax and laugh, talking about other things.
For me, it seemed almost sacrilegious to be partying when so many people were dead or dying, when our country had just suffered the greatest attack since Pearl Harbor.
I exploded. I don’t lose it very often, but I did that evening. I upbraided my father-in-law and those sharing his merriment: Didn’t they understand how inappropriate this was, I scolded?
Before making a complete fool of myself, I walked away. Stepping outside onto my lawn, I stood there in the Michigan evening twilight, and allowed myself to cry.
Here is a compilation of news coverage that morning, after the first plane struck but before the second; as they occurred that day.
Here is Bryan Gumbel reporting that morning just after the Pentagon was hit: