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Monday, October 26, 2015

Cruising the Web

While the media would like to portray Hillary Clinton's appearance before the Benghazi committee as a triumph because they see everything in partisan, electoral terms, there were actually some clear evidence presented during her testimony to demonstrate that she and the Obama administration deliberately lied to the families of the victims and the American people about the attack. They knew at the time that it was a terrorist attack. Andrew McCarthy summarizes,
Not only had the siege occurred on the eleventh anniversary of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 atrocities. Not only was Obama informed in the first minutes that a terrorist attack was underway. Not only had terrorist attacks in Benghazi been threatened and executed for months. Not only were mortars deployed by trained jihadists. Not only had Gregory Hicks, the senior State Department official on the ground in Libya after Ambassador Stevens was killed, directly briefed then-secretary Clinton about the then-ongoing terrorist attack — the same Gregory Hicks who would later testify that the anti-Muslim Internet video was a “non-event” in Benghazi.

Besides all that, we now know that, while the siege ensued, Clinton emailed daughter Chelsea to explain that Americans had been killed in Benghazi by “an al Qaeda-like group.”

This was about an hour before Clinton and Obama consulted by phone, immediately after which the State Department published Clinton’s mendacious “blame the video” announcement:
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.
Yes, Clinton and Obama knew it was a terrorist attack but tried to con the country into believing it was a spontaneous response to a video.

A State Department memo documents that on the very next day after her duplicitous public statement, Clinton informed Egypt’s prime minister: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. . . . It was a planned attack — not a protest.”

That was just two days before Clinton, in cold-blooded disgrace, looked Charles Woods in the eye and said, “We are going to have the filmmaker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son.” That was at Andrews as they were receiving the body of Ty Woods, killed while saving American lives in the late hours of a terrorist siege during which his government made no effort to save American lives.

That was moments before Clinton blamed the “awful Internet video” for the massacre.

To repeat, Clinton and Obama knew it was a terrorist attack but tried to con the country, very much including the families of our dead, into believing our heroes had been killed by a spontaneous response to a video....

In reality, though, it was the video that had nothing to do with the rage and violence directed at Americans, first in Egypt, then Libya, then beyond.

The violence at the U.S. embassy in Cairo had been threatened for months by al-Qaeda operatives and was clearly planned to erupt on the eleventh anniversary of the terror network’s 9/11 atrocities. The jihadists had been empowered by both the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, orchestrated by Obama and Clinton, and the Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt, championed by Obama and Clinton.

In the weeks before September 11, 2012, al-Qaeda saber-rattled about a potential Tehran 1979–style attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo — perhaps they’d burn it to the ground, perhaps they’d take hostages to trade for American concessions like release of the Blind Sheikh (imprisoned for terrorism convictions in the U.S.).

Administration officials knew there would be trouble on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. They also knew that, if the trouble was perceived as the foreseeable fallout of their Islamist empowerment policy, it could mortally damage Obama’s 2012 reelection bid and Clinton’s 2016 election ambitions.

So the administration swung into action. The obscure video trailer had been condemned by a fiery mufti in Egypt. Word of it began to circulate, but almost no one had seen it. Though in some small circles it was added to the endless list of Islamist grievances against America, those grievances are ideologically driven — and Islamist ideology is incorrigibly anti-American, regardless of what pretexts are cited for acting on it.

So Clinton’s opportunistic underlings pounced, seeing the video as their chance to shape a fraudulent narrative. As Muslims — including al-Qaeda operatives — began menacing the Cairo embassy, the State Department put out a series of tweets, a transparent effort to spin the inevitable rioting as incited by the video, not enabled by the administration’s own promotion of Islamic supremacists.

The Benghazi siege began a few hours later.

In the aftermath, of course, the administration edited intelligence-community talking points in order to promote the video fraud and conceal the terrorist victory — even as Obama touted al-Qaeda’s purported demise in campaign speeches. Susan Rice, an Obama confidant and a top official in Clinton’s State Department, was dispatched to lie to the public on the Sunday shows. Obama and Clinton indignantly condemned the video in public-address announcements for Pakistani television, paid for by American tax dollars. Obama took to the podium at the United Nations to proclaim to the world that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

The administration then put the criminal-justice system in service of the fraud. Making good on Clinton’s deceitful vow, police raided the home of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the video’s producer — arresting him in the dead of night, as if he were a violent criminal, even though he had been cooperating with law enforcement.

Why was he cooperating with law enforcement? Far from a crime, the making of the video was constitutionally protected activity — the kind of activity the executive branch is duty-bound to protect. But Nakoula went to law enforcement because Obama and Clinton’s smear had put his life in danger.

They did that, willfully, because they needed a scapegoat: Nakoula could serve the dual purposes of deceiving Americans into linking Benghazi’s dead to the video while convincing Muslims of Obama and Clinton’s longstanding commitment to subordinate constitutional free-speech rights to sharia’s blasphemy standards. Nakoula, a small-time con man whose prior conviction made him susceptible to revocation of parole, was the perfect foil.

He spent nearly a year in prison while Obama celebrated his reelection, Clinton plotted her campaign to replace him, and the Democrat-media complex helped them bury Benghazi as “old news.”
This is all very clear from the facts we've learned. But the media do not seem interested in such "breathtaking mendacity."

Once Joe Biden announced that he was not running, it was clear that Hillary is the Democrats' last, best hope for retaining the White House. And the supine media have jumped on her bandwagon. It's interesting to speculate how they would have covered the hearing differently if Biden had announced he was running or was still on the fence. They were willing to weaken her with stories about her private server before it was clear that there would be no one else to save the party. Now, she's all they've got and they'll do their job to further her preferred storylines.

And here is another lie told by Hillary and her campaign.
One of the sticking points in Mrs. Clinton’s testimony in front of the Benghazi panel was her claim that 90% to 95% of her work emails were automatically preserved in the State Department’s system.

Late in Mrs. Clinton’s marathon, 11-hour long appearance on Capitol Hill, she told the panel’s Republican chairman that “90 to 95% of my work related emails were in the State’s system, if they wanted to see them, they would certainly have been able to do so.”

But State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Friday said the figure is something her campaign is using and referred questions to them for “the rationale or the background behind it.”

“I’m not aware that we have given that figure,” he said at a press briefing. “I’m not in a position right now to confirm that.”

During her testimony, the former secretary sourced that statistic to the State Department, and stuck by it upon questioning from the panel’s Republican chairman, Trey Gowdy.

“We learned that from the State Department and their analysis of the emails that were already on the system. We were trying to help them close some gaps that they had,” said Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front runner in the 2016 presidential race.

The question goes to the heart of the controversy over Mrs. Clinton’s email arrangement: Did her use of a personal server adversely impact the federal government’s ability to keep records about her time in office?

Mrs. Clinton’s defense is that when she emailed government officials, she used their work email accounts and therefore most of her emails should have been captured on government servers and available there.

But electronic and paper government recordkeeping systems are far from perfect, and searching every inbox across the entire federal government to get access to Mrs. Clinton’s email records would be a logistically impractical — if not impossible — way to obtain her full email archive, which has long been sought by journalists, investigators and Republican opposition researchers.

A spokesman pointed to a Clinton campaign fact sheet from March as the possible source of the statistic.
How convenient. Her campaign puts out a misleading statement and then she can repeat it over and over as if it's a fact.

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Derek Hunter ponders >what it would be like if the media honestly reported on Hillary Clinton.
How, during an 8-hour attack, does she speak with the president only once and not speak with the secretary of defense or the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at all, yet claim there was nothing the military could have done? I can be in London in six hours, yet in the first hour of the attack can she determine not a single military asset would get to Benghazi in time in a region marinating in our military assets? She can say these things only because she knows they won’t be fact-checked....

There was a lot that was learned from Thursday’s hearing, and you’d know a lot more about it if we had an honest media. As it stands, “journalists” were on the exact same page as the Democrats on the committee – step over the bodies of four dead Americans and protect Hillary. Agenda Über Alles.

....PS: Just when you’d thought they’d hit bottom, these same media press release reprinters found a new way to spin for Hillary. When both Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out of the race, the story was framed as a victory for Hillary. Two men with a collective ZERO in the polls whom the media had all but completely ignored suddenly became worthy of attention because the story could be reflected onto her.

Kyle Smith points out how the hearings revealed that Hillary Clinton "lives in a bubble of deniability."
In the 2008 campaign, Hillary Clinton asserted that she was the candidate best equipped to take a 3 a.m. phone call. What she didn’t tell us was that her number would be unlisted.

In the bipartisan grandstanding of the latest Benghazi committee hearing last week, the mostly inept Republicans managed to extract one piece of information that will stick: that our murdered Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens didn’t have Clinton’s e-mail address.

Clinton stammered a bit as she confessed this, realizing that she was contradicting her earlier characterization of Stevens as someone she knew and respected, the personal anecdotes that suggested a close relationship and her statement that she had personally asked him to take the job.

Clinton family retainers like Sidney Blumenthal, a notorious conspiracist who was barred from working in her State Department by the Obama administration, were able to reach her whenever they pleased — but men and women on the front lines of dangerous places had to go through depressing, labyrinthine bureaucratic channels.

Stevens and his team requested more security for the doomed Benghazi compound 600 times. Clinton’s response: Sorry, I didn’t know. Nobody told me. Oops.
Why didn’t anyone tell her? Because no one, outside a carefully handpicked circle of cronies and sycophants, could reach her. Her inner circle treated her the way courtiers treat a queen — with comical levels of deference and jealous protection of their privilege. Nobody wants to bring Hillary bad news.

None of this happened by coincidence. That’s the kind of leader she is. The lesson Hillary took away from the 1990s is that her enemies are everywhere, so she must live in a virtual panic room at all times.

She is today an aloof, isolated leader who walls herself off from anything that could potentially be bad for her. Any president is automatically at high risk of being surrounded by a bubble that can’t be penetrated by adverse information.

This is why President Obama initially promised to create a team of rivals modeled after Lincoln’s strategy of inviting advice from competing and contrasting sensibilities. If Clinton becomes president, expect a team of Blumenthals.

Paul Mirengoff is struck by how the media would have acted if Clinton had been a Republican.
Can you imagine what the MSM would be saying about a hearing in which a Republican Secretary of State was shown to have presented one set of Benghazi facts to her own family, but another to the family of the victims and the American public? “Secretary lied, Americans died” comes to mind.

The hearing also highlighted a conversation between Clinton and Egypt’s prime minister on the day after the attacks. Clinton told the prime minister: “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film; it was a planned attack – not a protest.” Yet Clinton persisted with the “protest caused by a video” narrative for days thereafter.

Such clear evidence of lying to the American people would be considered a “smoking gun” if it were presented against a Republican. Presented against a Democratic presidential contender, it receives no mention in the Washington Post’s lead story about the hearing. Nor does Hillary’s email to Chelsea.
That is the Washington Post which ran a story a day for weeks about George Allen's use of the nonsense word "macaca" and what that supposedly said about Allen and race. Yet they couldn't be bothered to mention what Hillary herself had to admit she'd written and said during the attack on Americans at Benghazi and how that was different from what she told the American people. They have an amazing set of priorities there at the Post.

Jonah Goldberg has some of the same thoughts.
Remember, in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, the Obama White House used the video lie to launch a national conversation on the limits of free speech. Obama even went to the U.N. and, before the whole world, put our free-speech rights in the dock. Blaming America, specifically our attachment to the First Amendment, is a much easier conversation for this White House — and the praetorian pundits who cover for it — than the White House’s unpreparedness and ineptitude in the face of Islamic terrorism.

If George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice had instantly blamed a terrorist attack on a video and then it was revealed they deliberately lied about it to win reelection, newsrooms across this country would be aflame in outrage. What is the response when the same fact pattern applies to the Obama and Clinton? “Meh.”

Please note: I am not paraphrasing. That was literally the response of Glenn Thrush, Politico’s chief political correspondent.

And this brings us to the most clarifying lesson from the last week. It’s less a clarification than a reminder. The mainstream media will never, ever, be a friend to the Republicans. That’s not to say that they will always come to the rescue of Democrats. Hillary Clinton has gotten some tough but fair coverage from the MSM. But whenever there’s an unavoidable choice to be on one side of the cultural divide or the other, the MSM will stand with the Democrats because, at the end of the day, they are Democrats and they think Democrats are normal people.

This is an important point because I think conservatives have a tendency to see things like this through the prism of ideological bias. That is obviously part of the equation. But an under-appreciated factor is that the press just sees Democrats as normal and Republicans as “the other.” The Clintons have always been brilliant at exploiting this. They’re gaslighting the press and the country. Republicans respond with anger and overreach, and the press takes the bait. It’s much easier for them to forgive the Clintons for their wanton and brazen lies than it is to look past Republican tantrums — real or perceived. The social circles of the elite press and the Democratic party overlap almost completely. Friends, spouses, and former colleagues go to work for Democrats or become media peers. Vast networks of them rely on the Clintons one way or another. And they become corrupted by it, in large ways and small. That’s why I keep saying “lie” and “liar” with regard to the Clintons. We shouldn’t let anyone get away with the idea that the Clintons are just like other politicians or that what they’ve done isn’t what it is. It makes all of the right people wince when you call Hillary a liar, because the truth still stings.

Clarice Feldman imagines the campaign video she would make with what came out of the hearing.
My campaign video would be short -- it would be Hillary before the caskets of the four Americans slaughtered in Benghazi blaming an obscure video and its maker for the incident; Hillary telling the father of one of the deceased, Ty Woods, that the video maker would be arrested (“we are going to have the film maker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son"), and her testimony before the committee that she never blamed it on the video. The ad would take just a couple of minutes. . Message at end -- are you ready for a president who lies over the bodies of dead American patriots?

Maybe I’ve misjudged the voters. Maybe they really would like a brazen, self-seeking consummate liar. Because that’s what she certainly is.
I'm sure that there is some GOP Super PAC out there ready with such an ad. The only question is whether it's better to air it early and drive her numbers down like the Swift Boat Veterans did to Kerry or to wait closer to the election.

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Well, isn't this the oddest story?
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is dating Jerry Hall, the former girlfriend of Sir Mick Jagger, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Jeff Jacoby describes the similarities between Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Of all the candidates running for president, the one who most resembles the incumbent is not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or Martin O'Malley. To be sure, the Democrats' policy views largely overlap with Obama's. But when it comes to attitude and self-image, it's Obama and Trump who are birds of a feather.

Everyone knows about Donald Trump's bottomless narcissism; this is a man who has affixed the name "Trump" to everything from hotels to golf courses to cologne. Asked the other day which world leaders he would reach out to upon being elected, Trump replied that he wouldn't need to call anyone: "I think I'd probably have them call me."

But Obama's march to the White House also involved startling displays of self-glorification, from Greek-style columns to a triumphal foreign tour to his own official seal (complete with Latin motto). From the earliest days of his presidency, it was clear that Obama was deeply enamored of himself, and had no doubt that the rest of the planet was just as smitten. "I am well aware," he told the UN General Assembly, "of the expectations that accompany my presidency around the world." He gifted the queen of England with an iPod that included his own speeches. Obama's addiction to the first-person singular pronoun — "I," "me," "my" — has been remarked on by many; he has even referred to "my military" and the troops "fighting on my behalf."

Anyone who finds such vanity attractive should relish the prospect of a Trump presidency. Trump, after all, never doubts his own brilliance. He's always the smartest person in the room; just ask him. Sound familiar?

"I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters," Obama told campaign aides in 2008. "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

When a presidential candidate talks that way, what could possibly go wrong?

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Ah, the true leadership and truth-telling of the Donald's campaign. First his Twitter account retweeted out an offensive response to the news that Ben Carson was ahead in the polls in Iowa. Then he blamed a "young intern" for the tweet. Because the buck stops with the boss, right? I thought it was funny to learn that the Donald wasn't the one tweeting his account because Trump has used it as his selling point for what a straight-shooting type of guy he is and how he's in control and not the type to have someone speak for him. Well, not so fast.
onald Trump quickly shifted blame Thursday to a "young intern" employed on his campaign after an insult to Iowa voters was retweeted on his account -- but one Trump intern says running the GOP front-runner's Twitter account is not in his colleagues' job description.

A person identifying himself as a Fordham University student who works at the New York campaign headquarters told International Business Times via email Friday that interns do not have access to Trump's account. "As an intern for the internal headquarter campaign, we do not manage or in that case have any access to Mr. Trump's personal Twitter," said Garrison Groeschke, whose personal site and LinkedIn list him as a 2016 intern. "From my understanding and what I've been informed of by my superiors is that Mr. Trump's tweets and Twitter responses are done by him personally. All email accounts, however, associated and endorsed by the Donald J. Trump for President Campaign are managed by interns and other associates within the organization."
So now Trump is trying to muddy the waters about who is in charge of his tweets.
Trump's campaign denied the intern’s assertions Friday afternoon, but did not clarify whether interns are primarily responsible for managing social media. “There are a handful of people who help execute tweets,” said Hope Hicks, a Trump spokesperson, in an email.

Trump himself has been unclear about whether he runs his own Twitter account. “Well, I do retweets, and I mean, to a certain extent, I do, yeah. I think that’s right. Do you want me to say no? You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason,” he said earlier this year.

A Washington Post profile of one of his aides reported that Trump dictates his tweets to staff.
A real person could not have it both ways, but then this is Donald Trump. I just find it ludicrous that we've come to the point in this country where we discuss tweets and retweets as big news stories. It's a new world out there in campaigns.

Donald Trump, who has based his whole campaign on the strength he has shown in the polls, just can't be bothered with polls if he's not in the lead.
fter 100 straight days atop the national polls, Trump got his first taste of electoral adversity this week when retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson surged to the top in Iowa. Carson led Trump by nine points in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Friday, and by eight points in a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Trump couldn’t quite believe it.

“I love Iowa, and I honestly believe those polls are wrong,” he said. “I’m a Presbyterian, I’m a great Christian.”

Later, Trump questioned the motives of the pollsters themselves, although he has touted polling by the same outlets in the past.

“Those pollsters do not like me,” he said.

For the real estate tycoon, whose candidacy is fundamentally rooted in the concept of winning, polling has been at the center of his campaign message. At a recent rally in Richmond, Va., Trump opened his remarks by reading off recent poll results, state by state, for 10 minutes.

Much of that material was still intact Saturday: Trump still leads nearly everywhere else, and he received a rousing cheer from the crowd when he mentioned his strong standing in Florida. But he dwelled on the news out of Iowa.

When the most recent poll was released, Trump said, “My wife called and she said, ‘Are you OK?’ And I said, ‘How bad is it? How bad is it?’”

The media’s interpretation, he concluded, “made it sound like it’s the greatest defeat in history.”

Another immediate consequence of the polling seems to be that Trump has found a new target for his attacks: Whereas he has taken pleasure in criticizing Jeb Bush as “low energy,” Carson is now “super low energy” in Trump’s estimation.

“We need tremendous energy,” he said Friday.

And as Trump recited his signature promise to “bring back jobs from China,” he added this new line: "Honestly, Ben Carson cannot do that, folks."
And, apparently, Trump isn't above making a bit of a backhanded slam at Ben Carson's religion and then denying that that was what he was doing. He doesn't even have the courage of his insults. I guess that is what a high-energy candidate does.

Yeah, I guess in Trump's mind bombast is a sign of high energy which is in turn a sign of strength. So Carson's gentle manner is taken as a weakness instead of one of his most appealing characteristics. There are plenty of things Trump could find to criticize Carson for, especially some of what Carson has actually said or not said. But that would leave Trump open for criticism on all the boneheaded things he himself has said. So all he's got left is that he doesn't believe the polls. Because leading in the polls = leadership and so Trump has been able to argue that he's a great leader because he's leading in the polls. What does Trump have to offer the public other than that? It's not his personal record. It's not his own policy prescriptions. It's his guarantee that somehow only he can make the best deals in the world with everyone in the world. How do we know he can do that? Because he's told us so. And the people believe him and put him first in the polls. So Iowans must be crazy not to be buying his whole shtick. That's all he's got for us.

Yid with a Lid wonders if there is "ANYTHING Donald Trump won't take credit for?" Now Trump is taking credit for Ford deciding not to move their plant to Mexico and tweeting that it is due to his rhetoric in the campaign that convinced them to stay here. Yid writes,
That would be an outstanding accomplishment if it were true. Ford IS moving the plant from Mexico to Ohio, but “The Donald” had nothing to do with it. It was Ohio Gov. Kasich who convinced Ford to move to Ohio and the move was announced in December 2011 (see video below). Which was pointed out by Kasich in post back to Trum.

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For those who were hoping for the Freedom Caucus to block the ascension of Paul Ryan to Speaker of the House, the fact that 70% of them supported him has got to be a disappointment. Matt Lewis explains what was going on.
It’s impossible to know for sure, but I have a theory: The most bitter opponents of Ryan are motivated almost solely by the issue of immigration reform — but the Freedom Caucus has a lot of members who are (or have been) open to some type of reform (which makes sense, considering the libertarian framing of the name “Freedom Caucus”).
Lewis goes on to give several examples of members of the caucus who have been open to immigration reform that might include some sort of way of giving those in the country now illegally a path to citizenship. Such a proposal is anathema to the Laura Ingrahams and Mark Levins of the world, but not to those members of the Freedom Caucus.
Politics is messy. And while members of the Freedom Caucus are hard core conservatives, they do not share the same passion that animated the people who were most actively opposed to a Speaker Ryan. Additionally, Ryan has assured them he will not seek immigration reform while President Obama is in office.

Once you get past the “amnesty” issue — which was a deal breaker for some — Ryan is obviously the most conservative candidate who could ever realistically get the job. And a super majority of conservatives in the House, it seems, agree.

Matthew Continetti waxes almost optimistic as he contemplates Paul Ryan's leadership and how he came to be the one man acceptable to the rambunctious GOP House caucus.
The story begins in 2008. The GOP was approaching a nadir—unpopular, exhausted, in the minority. What did Ryan do? He authored the first version of his budget, the Roadmap for America’s Future. He called for spending and tax cuts, changes to Social Security and Medicare.

He became the unofficial GOP spokesman for free markets and fiscal restraint. No one ordered him to do this. He alone among House Republicans took the initiative, much like his hero Jack Kemp had done in the 1970s.

You might disagree with Ryan’s ideas—Lord knows I have my differences—but you can’t deny his courage to stand in the public arena, his commitment to his program, his readiness to defend it.

The GOP moved toward Ryan. In 2010 he updated the Roadmap and submitted it to the Congressional Budget Office for analysis. His colleagues were curious about the plan, how to discuss it with their constituents. Ryan taught them the details. His dissection of Obamacare as Obama sat glaring before him made Ryan a viral video star.

Everyone on the left, from President Obama to the most insignificant troll on the most obscure DailyKos comment thread, went after him. Indeed, it was the left that made Ryan the figurehead of the GOP.

But the attack backfired. GOP gains in 2010 were historic. The Mediscare tactic didn’t work. And when Republicans took control of the House in 2011, Ryan turned the roadmap into a budget plan, the Path to Prosperity. The House passed it. Republicans were on record. The GOP was the party of spending restraint, tax cuts, entitlement reform.

There have been two elections since. The Republican House majority is now larger than it was in 2010. The Republicans hold the Senate. Remember the ad where a Ryan lookalike pushes grandma off a cliff? A big fail.

So gripping did Republicans find this vision that the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, chose Ryan as his running mate—an implicit endorsement of the Path to Prosperity. In the space of four years, a relatively unknown congressman from Wisconsin had become the chief ideologist and spokesman for the GOP.

Yes, they lost the election. But no one on the right doubted the capacity of that ticket to lead, or the seriousness of Romney and Ryan’s proposals. And the party didn’t abandon the Ryan plan, didn’t jettison Ryan himself. On the contrary: The acclamation that greeted his decision to run for speaker is evidence of the regard in which he continues to be held by conservatives.

Ryan’s election as speaker would be the culmination of a long journey not only for him but also for his party. This journey began when he embraced the so-called third rail of American politics—reform of Social Security and Medicare—and refashioned it into the GOP platform.

What have we learned along the way? Tackling entitlements needn’t be political suicide. Republicans needn’t dismiss the subject of poverty. Compassion, civil society—these are categories that should influence our thinking. Ideas, even controversial ones, are not hindrances in politics but boosters. They propel you to the top.

We have learned that the Republican Party is in demographic transition. John Boehner is 65. Paul Ryan is 45. Marco Rubio is 44—but, he likes to say, he feels 45. Ted Cruz is 44, Cory Gardner is 41, Tom Cotton is 38, Elise Stefanik 31. Liberals are terrified of what these young conservatives might accomplish.
Why should the Democrats be worried? They have Hillary Clinton turning 68 today. Bernie Sanders is 74. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are 75. Joe Biden is 72. Even their liberal heroine, Elizabeth Warren is 66. Who are their young guns? I remember when Ronald Reagan's and John McCains age were used against them as disqualifiers. How times have changed.

John Hinderaker ridicules President Obama's characterization of Washington's Republicans as "alone on their own shrinking island."
Currently, Republicans control the House by a whopping 247-188 margin, and the Senate 54-46. But those aren’t the most important numbers: at the state level, the GOP is more dominant than it has been for almost a century. As of 2015, 32 states have Republican governors, compared with only 18 that are governed by Democrats. Republicans control a stunning 68 of the nation’s 98 partisan legislative chambers, more than double the Democrats’ 30 chambers.

One of America’s parties is turning, increasingly, into a Washington, D.C.-based island that has alienated most voters. But that describes the Democrats, not the Republicans, and Barack Obama is a major reason for the Democrats’ downhill slide. But neither self-knowledge nor contact with reality has ever been a strong suit for President Obama.

Ross Douthat thinks that Marco Rubio is the front-runner right now for the GOP nomination, but that he makes an "unusual front-runner.
But I make that prediction gingerly, not boldly, because Rubio is a very strange sort of front-runner. He has never led a national poll. He is not cleaning up endorsements, nor raking in the cash: His recent fund-raising totals were weak given his seemingly-enviable position. Nobody seems impressed with his early state organization. He’s earned a round of favorable coverage after each debate without making much progress overall.

It’s also easier to imagine him winning a national primary than it is to figure out which early state he’ll win: He’s a little too moderate for Iowa, a little too conservative for New Hampshire, perhaps not quite combative enough for South Carolina … and so he might end up in the Rudy Giuliani-esque position of banking on his native Florida.

It is possible to win a party’s nomination without winning the earliest states, if the candidates who do win seem unelectable: That’s how Bill Clinton won in 1992, and Rubio’s candidacy has certain obvious similarities to Clinton’s.

It’s also quite possible that there will be a consolidation of money and support around Rubio that enables him to eke out a narrow Iowa or New Hampshire win, in which case he could very easily run the table thereafter.

But the question people keep asking — I had a smart political reporter ask me just the other day — is why that consolidation isn’t happening already. If Rubio is actually the front-runner, shouldn’t a few more big donors be drifting from Jeb’s camp into his? Shouldn’t a few more debate-watching voters be saying to themselves, and then to pollsters: The Donald is fun and I admire Carson, but let’s get real: I’m going to vote Rubio?

I think they will. I predict they will.

But in the event they don’t, I’m guessing that Mitt Romney is still ready to serve.

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Once again, we have to worry about what Russia is really up to.
Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

The issue goes beyond old Cold War worries that the Russians would tap into the cables — a task American intelligence agencies also mastered decades ago. The alarm today is deeper: The ultimate Russian hack on the United States could involve severing the fiber-optic cables at some of their hardest-to-access locations to halt the instant communications on which the West’s governments, economies and citizens have grown dependent.

While there is no evidence yet of any cable cutting, the concern is part of a growing wariness among senior American and allied military and intelligence officials over the accelerated activity by the Russian armed forces around the globe. At the same time, the internal debate in Washington illustrates how the United States is increasingly viewing every Russian move through a lens of deep distrust, reminiscent of the Cold War.

Deals in Appliances

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Deals in Kitchen and Dining

Deceived by Palestinian leaders, the media is helping to invert reality of what is happening in Israel and now assailants are being portrayed as victims when they're prevented from completing their murderous attacks.
Exhorted by their leaders to defend Islam's holy sites, Palestinians are fed lies about marauding Jews planning to take over the Al-Aqsa mosque. President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel's purported peace partner, calls on Palestinians to prevent Jews from "defiling" the Temple Mount "with their filthy feet." He promises that "every martyr will be placed in Paradise." His call is repeated by political and religious leaders on TV and social media, illustrated with graphic images of bloody knives.

As if on cue, Palestinians eager to find that promised paradise leave their homes with butcher knives to seek out Jewish victims. A young Israeli couple are ambushed and killed before their children. A vicious attack on a family returning from the Western Wall leaves two dead. The gruesome scene is filmed by Arab onlookers who casually watch the victims die, sipping Coke and refusing to help.

Within days, a wave of violence has engulfed the city. The festive streets filled with holiday celebrants have become eerily deserted. No one knows when or where the next knifing will occur.

I am awakened one night by the sharp staccato of gunfire, followed by the long wailing of ambulances come to evacuate the latest stabbing victim, a 15-year-old boy, and his assailant, Fadi Aloun, shot dead by police. On his Facebook page is Aloun's declaration that he intends to become a shahid (martyr). Film clips show him walking along the train tracks after the attack, while Jewish youths behind the guardrail point him out as the perpetrator, telling arriving patrolmen to shoot.

Palestinian sources proclaim that "Martyr Aloun" was "murdered in cold blood." The Globe and Mail follows, reporting that Aloun "was accosted ... by a mob of Israelis, who accused him of carrying out a stabbing some time before" and "prodded" police to kill him. The perpetrator is turned into the victim.
And this inversion of the truth is happening over and over again. And the American media had joined in the deception along with the Obama administration.
On one particularly brutal day of violence, two teenage cousins, Ahmed and Hassan, walk through the streets with knives, looking for victims. They slash an Israeli man and then come upon a 13-year-old boy riding his bicycle. They throw him down and repeatedly stab him, leaving him nearly dead. Much of this shocking barbarism can be seen on surveillance film made public. A CCTV clip also shows Israeli police approaching Hassan, who rushes at them with knife aloft. He is shot dead. Ahmed runs into the street and is struck by a car. Cell phone footage shows him afterward, lying with his legs bent beneath him, blood on the ground. Someone is heard cursing him.

The story quickly becomes inverted. The Palestinian prime minister calls Hassan's shooting an "assassination in cold blood." Abbas's spokesman blames the Israeli government for Hassan's "execution." In a televised speech, President Abbas accuses Israel of "executing our children in cold blood, just as they did to the boy Ahmad Manasra and to other children in Jerusalem and elsewhere."

Inconveniently for Abbas, Ahmad is filmed, alive and well in an Israeli hospital. Prime Minister Netanyahu calls the Palestinian leadership out, accusing them of lying to encourage more violence. Yet some Western media continue to distort the story. An NBC website article conveys the false Palestinian claims as credible and questions the accounts of Israeli spokesmen in a he-said, she-said scenario, despite clear-cut footage of the perpetrators chasing their victims and charging toward police with a knife.

With each attack, the facts are twisted by Palestinian media and leaders. Terrorists shot or killed in self-defense are held up as victims of Israeli savagery. Truth is turned on its head.

The story continues to be distorted here, too. The reality of knife-wielding Palestinians shot in self-defense becomes a "cycle of violence." Victim and perpetrator are equated, distinctions blurred.

Headlines mislead: MSNBC describes an armed Palestinian lunging at security officers as "Man shot after rushing past police in Jerusalem." The LA Times declares "Four Palestinians Killed in Israeli Violence" while USA Today writes "Israelis Kill 4 as Violence Surges" without noting that the four killed were actively engaged in violence.

The president's spokesperson parrots Palestinian accusations of excessive force and terrorism by Israelis. Secretary of State John Kerry blames the outbreak of Palestinian violence on "massive" Israeli settlement building.
Evil is being perpetrated. Why should the American government and media acquiesce in the spin that the Palestinians are putting on the violence that they themselves are perpetrating?

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