Benghazi Report Revives Troubling Questions

“What difference, at this point, does it make?”

That was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s angry response to a question about the State Department’s account of the attack on the Benghazi consulate where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were murdered on Sept. 11, 2012.

Her response was cheered by leftist commentators on MSNBC. Righteous indignation is so attractive.

But of course it makes a difference. Hillary Clinton is leading in polls for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination and general election. It’s always legitimate to examine the performance of a front-runner for the presidency. And of the president himself.

You can find such an examination in the Interim Progress Report that five House Republican committee chairmen released last Wednesday.

Democrats complain that this is a partisan effort. Sure, but Democrats are free to present their own view of the facts. My sense is that they would rather squelch critical examination of Benghazi and the Obama administration’s response, as they did with the help of most of the press during the 2012 presidential campaign.

The interim report sets out copious evidence of the rash of security threats in Libya during 2012. There were more than 200 “security incidents” between June 2011 and July 2012 in Libya, 50 of them in Benghazi, it reports.

Britain and international agencies withdrew personnel from Benghazi. The United States reduced security forces despite a plea for increases from then-Ambassador Gene Cretz in March 2012.

“In a cable signed by Secretary Clinton in April 2012,” the Interim Report reads, “the State Department settled on a plan to scale back security assets in the U.S. Mission in Libya, including Benghazi.”

Later requests from Stevens after he replaced Cretz in May were also denied.

That contradicts Clinton’s testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in January 2013. She said the cable traffic never made its way to her.

If so, why was her name appended to a response? Maybe there’s an explanation in the internal processes of the State Department. And, it should be said, high officials often make decisions that with hindsight seem obvious mistakes. But she has given us just an exclamation, not an explanation.

And, as the Interim Report goes on to explain, the accounts given by the Obama administration at the time were misleading — deliberately so.

It noted that State immediately reported the attack to the White House Situation Room and two hours later noted an al-Qaida affiliate’s claim of responsibility. There was no mention of a spontaneous protest of an anti-Muslim video.

Yet Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and press secretary Jay Carney spoke repeatedly for days later of a video and a protest. Clinton assured one victim’s family member that the video-maker was being prosecuted.

In the meantime, a CIA draft of talking points for the House intelligence committee was edited at the behest of State Department officials. Omitted were references to previous Benghazi attacks, the al-Qaida affiliate in Benghazi and intelligence estimates of threats in Libya. Also struck, the Interim Report says, were “any and all suggestions that the State Department had been previously warned of threats in the region.”

These changes were made, the chairmen conclude, not to protect classified information — reviews of the draft were circulated on unsecure email systems — and not to protect the investigation by the FBI.

“This process to alter the talking points,” concludes the Interim Report, “can only be construed as a deliberate effort to mislead the American people.”

The resulting talking points were delivered to Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for her five Sunday talk show appearances on Sept. 16, in which she denounced the “hateful video.”

Who might have ordered this “deliberate effort”? The Interim Report mentions Barack Obama only twice as recipient of letters of inquiry, but this comment seems aimed clearly at him and his first secretary of state.

We know that Obama was informed of the attack while it was occurring, that he ordered Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to respond to it (as he was already doing) and did not confer later with officials that evening. The next morning he jetted off to Las Vegas for a campaign event.

Benghazi threatened to undermine a central element of Obama’s appeal, that his presidency would reduce the threat of Islamist terrorism. He managed to obfuscate that during the rest of the campaign. But maybe not forever.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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Assaulting Innocuous Christians and Coddling Terrorists

America’s political and cultural left is, step by step, demonizing and marginalizing Christians and Christian values, to the point that even the congenitally apathetic should be concerned.

Fox News’ Todd Starnes reports (https://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/military-blocks-access-to-southern-baptist-website.html) that the U.S. military has blocked access to the Southern Baptist Convention’s website on an undetermined number of military bases because it supposedly includes “hostile content.” Just a few weeks before, as noted in this space, an Army briefing labeled evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics as religious extremists.

The information about the Southern Baptist Convention’s website surfaced when an Air Force officer reported that he was unable to log on to SBC.net and that he had received a message that his Internet usage was being monitored and logged because he had tried to visit a blocked website.

The notice, from an organization that guards the Department of Defense’s computer network, said, “The site you have requested has been blocked by Team CONUS (C-TNOSC/RCERT-CONUS) due to hostile content.”

SBC spokesman Sing Oldham said he found this “deeply disturbing” and was not completely satisfied with the Army’s response. “While the deputy chief of operation of the U.S. Army has assured us this is a random event with no malicious intent,” said Oldham, “the Army must run this to the ground to assure that this is the case.”

Random event? Isn’t that the same excuse we heard when complaints were made about the Army briefing that labeled Christians as extremists? “Nothing to see here. Just an isolated incident. Move along.”

Well, how do these similar “isolated” incidents keep occurring? What makes these alleged lone wolves think they can get away with such revolting behavior? Is there not a growing tendency in this culture, which has now obviously permeated the Army, to make it fair game to paint Christians as fringe misfits with dangerous ideas?

Even if some anti-Christians in the military believe Christianity is offensive, what in God’s name would make them believe they have the right to become thought police and selectively suppress First Amendment freedoms (speech, expression, religion, association) — freedoms our armed forces are charged to protect?

This is further evidence of the intolerance and totalitarianism of the political left, whose “isolated” miscreants continue to trample the very principles they profess to hold sacred.

Some are speculating that it’s the SBC’s positions on same-sex marriage and abortion that are causing these “isolated” assaults against Christians and religious liberty. Apart from the outrageousness of these recurring attacks on Christianity under color of federal law and military authority, what, in God’s name, is hostile about Christian views? Are those who believe in protecting innocent, unborn life hostile? Are those who support traditional marriage hostile to homosexuals? No and no, but those trying to pervert the English language to redefine disagreement as “hate” and “hostility” are themselves objectively guilty of both, not to mention warped and tyrannical thinking.

Starnes lists a number of other relatively recent assaults on Christian liberty involving the military or Defense Department.

Christian groups were identified as potential threats in a war games scenario at Fort Leavenworth. A 2009 Department of Homeland Security memo listed evangelicals and pro-life groups as possible national security threats. A West Point study of the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center linked pro-life advocates to terrorism. Evangelist Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service was revoked because of his comments on Islam. Houston National Cemetery banned Christian prayers from its funeral services for veterans. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center banned Bibles — and then later reversed itself. The military removed Christian crosses and a steeple from a chapel in Afghanistan because Christian icons supposedly disrespect other religions. The secretary of the Army forbade Catholic chaplains from reading a letter to parishioners from their archbishop relating to Obamacare mandates and their incursion on religious liberties, because the letter could be interpreted as calling for civil disobedience.

I filled 400 pages of my book “Persecution” with examples of such assaults on Christians and Christian liberty in the United States, examples that extend to all areas of our society, not just the military. Perhaps it’s time for a sequel.

It is truly breathtaking to reflect on the left’s contrasting attitude toward innocuous Christians and radical Islamic jihadis. Many view Christians, who threaten no one and defend everyone’s liberty, as menaces but go out of their way to coddle actual Islamic terrorists, bending over backward to apologize for their acts of savagery and brutality.

Does this make the slightest bit of sense to you? Many Americans rightly complain that moderate Muslims rarely denounce the violence of Muslim extremists. Well, how about liberals who profess to be Christians? Isn’t it time you joined us other Christians in roundly condemning these targeted assaults on Christians and Christian liberty? We’re waiting.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

America’s Insane Asylum for Jihadists, Hustlers and Frauds

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon killing spree by foreign-born jihadists, see-no-evil bureaucrats in Washington are stubbornly defending America’s lax asylum policies. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Tuesday that the screening process is rigorous, effective and extensive.

These people can’t handle the truth. Or tell it.

The Tsarnaev brothers reportedly were granted asylum by “derivative” status through their parents. After entering on short-term tourist visas, the mother and father (an ethnic Chechen Muslim) won asylum and acquired U.S. citizenship. Next, younger son Dzhokhar obtained U.S. citizenship. Older son Tamerlan, whose naturalization application was pending, traveled freely between the U.S. and the jihad recruitment zone of Dagestan, Russia, last year before the bombers’ gunfight in Watertown, Mass., last week left the Muslim terrorist dead.

Though they had convinced the U.S. that they faced deadly persecution, the Tsarnaevs’ parents both returned to their native land and were there when their sons launched last week’s terror rampage. Authorities will not reveal any details of the sob stories the Tsarnaevs originally spun to win asylum benefits for the entire family.

The whole thing stinks. And it’s an old, familiar stench. Immigration lawyers have been working the system on behalf of asylum con artists for decades. The racketeers coach applicants with phony stories and documents from “chop shops” and game their way through “refugee roulette.”

Asylum and refugee claimants are being rubber-stamped at all-time-high rates. Government data analyzed by the nonpartisan TRAC website show that “the odds of an asylum claim being denied in Immigration Court reached an historic low in FY 2012, with only 44.5 percent being turned down. Ten years ago, almost two out of three (62.6 percent) individuals seeking asylum lost their cases in similar actions. Twenty years ago, fewer than one out of four (24 percent) asylum applicants won their cases, while three out of four (76 percent) lost.”

The game is rigged in favor of identity-group hustlers, who mau-mau adjudicators whose approval rates don’t meet their approval.

Soft-on-enforcement lobbying groups argue that it’s better to err on the side of allowing bogus asylum-seekers and refugees to stay than to get serious about cracking down on fraud and send undeserving foreigners home. It’s not “practical” or worth it, they say.

But what about the “if it saves just one life” standard set by President Obama? Why does it only apply to gun control? Why won’t Washington err on the side of public safety by reexamining and overhauling our fraud-riddled asylum, detention, deportation and visa issuance policies after the Boston jihad?

In case you’d forgotten, the Tsarnaevs were not the first murder-minded jihadists to benefit from ineffective policing of our asylum and refugee policies. As I’ve reported previously:

—Ramzi Yousef landed at New York City’s JFK airport from Pakistan and flashed an Iraqi passport without a visa to inspectors. He was briefly detained for illegal entry and fingerprinted, but was allowed to remain in the country after invoking the magic words “political asylum.” Yousef was released for lack of detention space and headed to Jersey City to plot the deadly 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

—Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer, a Palestinian bomb-builder, entered the U.S. illegally through Canada in 1996-97. He claimed political asylum based on phony persecution by Israelis, was released on a reduced $5,000 bond posted by a man who was himself an illegal alien and then skipped his asylum hearing. In June 1997, a federal immigration judge ordered Mezer to leave on a “voluntary departure order.” Mezer ignored him. He joined the New York City bombing plot before being arrested in July 1997 after a roommate tipped off local police.

—Mir Aimal Kansi, convicted in 1997 of capital murder and nine other charges stemming from his January 1993 shooting spree outside the CIA headquarters in McLean, Va., also exploited our insane asylum laxity. Despite his history as a known Pakistani militant who had participated in anti-American protests abroad, Kansi received a business visa in 1991. After arrival, he claimed political asylum based on his ethnic minority status in Pakistan. While his asylum application was pending, he obtained a driver’s license and an AK-47, murdered two CIA agents and wounded three others.

—Somali national Nuradin Abdi, the al-Qaida shopping mall bomb plotter convicted in 2007, first entered the U.S. in 1995 using a false passport. He entered again illegally from Canada in 1997 and secured asylum on false grounds. Abdi then was able to fraudulently obtain a refugee travel document, which he used to fly to Ethiopia and, yes, Chechnya for jihad training.

—Among the convicted Fort Dix (N.J.) jihad plotters were three ethnic Albanian illegal alien brothers, Dritan, Shain and Eljvir Duka, who snuck into the country through Mexico with their parents. In 1984, the father applied for asylum, but the feds ignored them for two decades. In the meantime, as America showed the Dukas’ refugee community unmatched compassion and generosity, the Muslim trio returned the favor by planning to massacre U.S. soldiers.

As always, political correctness and political pandering are the handmaidens of terrorism.

Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

At Every Turn, Things Were Spinning out of Control

Chaos. Things seemed to be spinning out of control on many fronts this week.

Starting, of course, with the Boston Marathon bombing Monday. The bombers chose a significantly festive time and place for their attack.

The marathon is held every year on Patriots Day, the Massachusetts state holiday commemorating the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Even before the identity of the bombers became known, it seemed likely that they were enemies of America.

And their attack was a reminder that this free and open country remains a soft target. There is no way we can be entirely safe.

If the marathon bombings brought back memories of the Sept. 11 attacks, the news on Tuesday and Wednesday that letters containing the poison ricin were sent to Sen. Roger Wicker and President Obama brought back memories of the anthrax-laden letters discovered the week after 9/11.

It was a comfort to see how well bystanders and first responders reacted to the marathon bombings and how law enforcement personnel, led by the FBI, were careful to avoid premature announcements.

Comforting also were Barack Obama’s appropriate remarks in Boston on Thursday and the release by the FBI, after his departure, of photos of the two suspects.

Law enforcement invited the public to supply information and identify the killers. This contrasted favorably with the way law enforcement quarantined information about the Beltway snipers in October 2002.

But in the meantime, other things spun out of control.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted down gun control proposals, with the closest vote coming on the background check provision sponsored by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

In the Rose Garden, Obama spoke angrily and called the votes “pretty shameful.” But they were an inevitable response to his cynical exploitation of the grief of parents of the Newtown victims to get votes for measures that would not have prevented that or other mass killings.

Obama made much of polls showing 90 percent support for background checks. But those polls didn’t measure the response to arguments against those measures.

This was a test of Organizing for America, the offspring of the Obama presidential campaign. The idea is that OFA could pressure members of Congress just as it had turned out voters for Obama last fall.

But that ignored some relevant political numbers. The Obama campaign did motivate enough voters to carry 332 electoral votes. But those votes were heavily clustered in central cities and university towns.

Obama carried only 26 states. They elect only 52 senators, well under the 60 votes he needed in the Senate on gun control. And he carried only 209 congressional districts, less than a majority of the House.

Wednesday also saw an extraordinary outburst in the Senate Finance Committee’s hearings on Obamacare, as committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “I just see a train wreck coming down.”

HHS, he noted, is way behind schedule on issuing regulations implementing the health care law. Small businessmen in Montana, he said, don’t know how they can comply.

“The administration’s public information campaign on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act deserves a failing grade,” he told Sebelius. “You haven’t given me any data. You just give me concepts, frankly.”

Liberals grumbled that Baucus was skittish about 2014, when he is up for re-election in a state that voted 55 to 42 percent for Mitt Romney, and threatened to run ads against him.

Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo pointed out that Baucus was one of the chief authors of the law whose implementation he was now criticizing. Nonetheless, Obamacare seemed to be spinning out of control.

Similar disarray was apparent on foreign policy in hearings Thursday, as noted by the American Interest’s Walter Russell Mead.

Secretary of State John Kerry testified that we are working “very, very closely” with “the moderate legitimate opposition” to the Assad regime in Syria. But Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey testified that it was getting harder to “clearly identify the right people” in the opposition than it was six months ago.

George W. Bush and his party suffered at the polls in his second term after things seemed to be spinning out of control in New Orleans and Iraq.

Things aren’t that far out of control, yet. But this hasn’t been a good week for Obama or for America.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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A Shameful Day for President Obama

I wonder why President Obama feels he has the right to be outraged when legislators don’t automatically roll over to his policy demands. I suspect that his moral indignation is more about personally losing than it is about policy issues themselves.

For indeed, President Obama was obviously furious when his gun control bill failed to muster sufficient votes to pass the Senate. Politico reported, “More than anything, it was an emotional blow to Obama, who was as irritated at the four members of his own party as he was at the 90 percent of Republicans who defeated the bill.”

Politico revealed that an administration official said Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s refusal to support the bill especially rankled Obama because she “refused to go along with the bill even after White House chief of staff Denis McDonough visited her office to make Obama’s case on Tuesday.”

Do you see clues to Obama’s mindset here? How dare a member of a coequal branch of government, especially one in his own party, defy Obama’s wishes and refuse to succumb to his fabled powers of persuasion?

Politico would have us believe that the impetus for Obama’s emotional investment in the bill was that he was “shaken to the core by the massacre of 26 innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School.” He was allegedly so upset that he “broke his own informal ‘Obama Rule’ — of never leaning into an issue without a clear path to victory.”

I’m not buying any of it. I don’t believe that Obama was any more personally shaken by Sandy Hook than he was by the Gosnell abortion clinic infanticide atrocity. What I do know is that Obama is a leftist gun control zealot who seizes on crises as opportunities to advance unpopular policies.

And what’s this about an “Obama Rule”? That, too, is poppycock. Obama has tried to overreach many times, refusing to take the public’s and Congress’ “no” for an answer, from Obamacare to Stimulus Jr. to cap and trade to high-speed rail to various tax hikes for the “rich” to the financial reform bill to campaign finance reform to education reform to his push to close Gitmo to New START to the DREAM Act to his unanimously failed budget proposals. It took him several tries on many of those initiatives, brutal arm-twisting on others, and on still others, he just issued executive orders or had his administrative agencies unilaterally issue their own rules to do end runs around the recalcitrant Congress.

Obama’s defeat on the gun control measure must have been particularly annoying to him after he had exploited and showcased the poor parents of Sandy Hook victims in furtherance of his legislation. Everyone, left to right, agrees that Obama reacted angrily and bitterly and lashed out at his opponents — a most unpresidential performance, to be sure, but nothing out of the ordinary for Obama, who has demonstrated his petulance on numerous occasions. Just ask Rep. Paul Ryan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, who sat silently for his regal tongue-lashing during a State of the Union address.

After his bill went down to defeat, Obama said: “Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders … to protect the lives of all of our children. A few minutes ago, a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it.”

Don’t let those nasty words slip by you. The president of the United States actually accused certain senators of calculating that it wasn’t worth it “to protect the lives of all of our children.” This is an exceedingly harsh moral judgment and a vicious personal attack.

Obama then proceeded to accuse “the gun lobby and its allies” of “willfully” lying about the bill. He said: “There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this. It came down to politics.” He said those voting no “caved to the pressure.” According to Obama, “this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Obama clearly depicted those who opposed his dictates as caring less about preventing gun violence. He said, “The point is those who care deeply about preventing more and more gun violence will have to be as passionate and as organized and as vocal as those who blocked these common-sense steps to help keep our kids safe.”

But fear not; in keeping with his usual practice, Obama promised to move forward through executive action to get his way: “Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities.”

If Obama truly cared about preventing gun violence, he might look at the unspeakable gun violence in his home city, Chicago. He might investigate solutions actually designed to address the problem rather than to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights with measures that will not prevent or reduce mass shootings.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

The World Is Upside-Down

What right-minded person can deny the current uncanny applicability of the admonition by the Prophet Isaiah, uttered some 2,700 years ago, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness”?

Increasingly today, what is undeniably evil is depicted as good and what most traditionalists, at least, used to agree is good passes often for evil.

What’s striking to me is that many aren’t merely rationalizing evil in an attempt to excuse their indefensible actions. They have systematically turned our entire moral code upside down. They have attacked the very basis for that code and declared that belief in its divine author itself is evil — and dangerous.

Many deny that there is an affirmative war against Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, but they apparently haven’t heard or read the words of some of the New Atheists — or anti-theists, as some call themselves — who conflate all religions and blame them all for most of the evil and war in the world.

Others scoff at the notion that Christianity and Christian values are being assaulted, arguing that it’s absurd to believe a majority belief system could be under attack.

Let me share just three disturbing stories that caught my attention the past few days.

During an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training briefing on extremism, evangelical Christianity, Catholicism and Islamophobia were listed along with al-Qaida, Hamas, the Ku Klux Klan and other groups as examples of religious extremism.

An Army spokesman confirmed that this occurred but told Fox News that this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army.”

Well, that’s good to know, but it doesn’t change the fact that we see this kind of wrongheaded insanity with ever-greater frequency in our culture. The idea that evangelical Christianity and Catholicism can be listed as extremist organizations by anyone is troubling enough — but even more so in a publication paid for by taxpayer dollars. This episode may be isolated as far as the Army is concerned, but the thought process giving rise to this twisted perspective is anything but unique, as those paying attention can attest.

Next, we turn to the Florida Statehouse, where legislators were considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion — the same type of bill President Obama opposed as an Illinois state senator.

Townhall reports that Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion is the prerogative of the mother and her abortion doctor. It must not escape your attention that Snow repeatedly affirmed that she was speaking not on her own behalf but on behalf of her organization.

If this doesn’t repulse you, you might need a stimulant to jump-start your moral blood pressure. If you think this is isolated thinking, then you might need to do a little more research into Planned Parenthood and the overall culture of death we are witnessing in this nation.

When Snow was pressed on her position, she reportedly betrayed no moral reservations about her organization’s position. Rep. Jim Boyd asked her, “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that’s struggling for life?”

She replied, “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.”

Stop right there. Pro-abortionists will still argue, disingenuously, I believe, that abortion does not involve the killing of a live human being, but no one can argue the procedure in question is anything short of premeditated murder. Let me repeat: premeditated murder. Yet we have a woman, representing a major organization that is cherished by the political left and receives government funding, arguing for the right to commit murder. There are no synonyms for “shocking” and “depraved” that can adequately describe this evil.

Finally, The Washington Times has reported that Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane, has endorsed the concept of human ownership by the state.

I don’t have the space to delve into this one, but it suffices to say that it fits nicely with the first two examples as another assault on our society’s foundational institutions and values.

These incidents used to be rare, fringe occurrences but have now elbowed their way into mainstream culture.

Please don’t accuse me of whining, pessimism or fatalism for calling these matters to your attention. I’m not saying the culture war is over, but I am saying the forces of evil have the upper hand and will ultimately prevail if the prevailing attitude of apathy and moral indifference continues to imprison our will to fight for what is right. It’s up to us.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Thatcher Insisted on Facing Hard, Uncomfortable Truths

“Divisive.” That’s a word that appeared, often prominently, in many news stories reporting the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

One senses the writers’ disapproval. You’re not likely to find “divisive” in stories reporting the deaths of liberal leaders, although every electoral politician divides voters.

“Divisive” here refers to something specific. It was Margaret Thatcher’s special genius that she systematically rejected the conventional wisdom, almost always well-intentioned, of the political establishment.

Instead, she insisted on hard, uncomfortable truths.

British Conservatives like Harold Macmillan accepted the tyranny of trade unionism because they had guilty memories of the slaughter of the working-class men who served under them in the trenches in World War I.

Thatcher, who as an adolescent before World War II saved money to pay for a Jewish girl to escape from Austria to England, felt no such guilt.

She could see that strikes of shipyard workers, auto union members, newspaper printers, gravediggers and garbage collectors were ruining Britain’s economy and undermining democratic governance.

She worked hard and patiently, building up coal inventories, to prevent the year-long illegal coal miners’ strike led by Arthur Scargill from shutting down the nation’s power plants.

She rejected the idea, fostered by the great and the good of the British ruling class, that ordinary people needed public housing. Instead, she let them buy their houses at favorable rates.

She rejected the conventional wisdom that government had to pay for money-losing nationalized industries. Instead, she privatized coal, steel, utilities and transport, and let employees and citizens buy shares in them and partake of the profits.

When Argentina’s military dictators occupied the Falkland Islands, she was urged to accept the result. The Falklands were far away, and only 1,800 Britons were affected.

But for Thatcher, they were part of the British nation. She would no more allow them to be thrust under a dictator’s heel than she would allow Irish Republican Army terrorists to force Britain out of Northern Ireland against the will of the majority there.

Much has been made, and rightly, of Thatcher’s closeness to Ronald Reagan — though they did have their disagreements. They both hated communism and Soviet tyranny.

But first Thatcher and then Reagan perceived that Mikhail Gorbachev was, in Thatcher’s words, “someone we can do business with.” The result was a peaceful end to the Cold War.

When Thatcher became prime minister in 1979, the consensus was that Britain was in inevitable decline. She hated that idea and proved that it was wrong. The great and the good never forgave her.

They never forgave her either for her suspicion of an ever-closer European Union and opposition to the creation of the Euro currency.

Continental elites saw European unity as a way to prevent the horrors of another world war. American elites assumed a United States of Europe would be as benign as the United States of America.

Margaret Thatcher disagreed. She believed that the nation-state, with its long heritage of shared values, democratic governance and economic practices, was the essential unit in politics and economics.

A single European currency, she argued, could not work in a continent whose nations had different economies, cultures and traditions.

In her 1993 and 1995 autobiographies, Joe Weisenthal points out in Business Insider, she recounts the arguments she pressed on her successor, John Major.

She noted that Germany “would be worried about the weakening of anti-inflation policies” and that the poorer countries would seek subsidies “if they were going to lose their ability to compete on the basis of a currency that reflected their economic performance.”

This has worked out exactly as she expected and warned. Fortunately for Britain, Thatcher’s successors were stopped, perhaps fearing her disapproval, from ditching the pound and lurching into the euro as the great and good almost unanimously advised.

“Crunchiness brings wealth,” wrote the Economist’s Nico Colchester. “Wealth leads to sogginess. Sogginess brings poverty. Poverty creates crunchiness.”

By crunchiness he meant “systems in which small changes have big effects, leaving those affected by them in no doubt whether they are up or down.” In contrast, “Sogginess is comfortable uncertainty.”

Margaret Thatcher was crunchiness personified; that is what reporters are referring to when they say she was “divisive.”

Her death is a reminder that elites revel in sogginess and that every nation needs a restorative dose of crunchiness from time to time. Britain got hers from Margaret Thatcher.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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IRS Now Robo-audits Your Spending

These are the types of invasive tax maneuvers that boiled the blood of our Founding Fathers. But there’s still a way out of all our Internal Revenue Service wars and woes.

U.S. News & World Report highlighted some more encroaching news this past week in the article “IRS High-Tech Tools Track Your Digital Footprints.”

The IRS is “collecting a lot more than taxes this year,” the report explained. “It’s also acquiring a huge volume of personal information on taxpayers’ digital activities, from eBay auctions to Facebook posts and, for the first time ever, credit card and e-payment transaction records.”

It added, “The agency reveals little about how it will employ its vast, new network scanning powers … sweeping changes being implemented with little public discussion or clear guidelines.”

Edward Zelinsky, a tax law expert and a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and Yale Law School, explained that taxpayers should understand that whatever they say and do electronically can and will be used against them in IRS enforcement.

And what is the IRS’ official response to its gargantuan Big Brother violation of our personal lives?

No comment.

But Dean Silverman, senior adviser to the IRS commissioner and the head of data analytic efforts at the IRS through the Office of Compliance Analytics, explained last year in a speech to insiders at the Predictive Analytics World for Government conference that the new system will “improve voluntary compliance.” (Interpretation of “improve voluntary compliance”: bully and threaten citizens into submission.)

Silverman also boasted in trade publications about the IRS’ new intrusive monetary reconnaissance: “Private industry would be envious if they knew what our models are.”

The last thing American citizens need is more government regulation and overreach into our private lives, pocketbooks, electronic banking and credit card purchases.

What we need now more than ever is not a new electronic way of monitoring taxes or even a complete overhaul of our run-amok taxation bureaucracy. What we need is to shut down the IRS and initiate the FairTax.

The IRS is an unconstitutional system that has no checks and balances; it can’t be held accountable to the people, who posses the real power in our republic. Moreover, the present tax code penalizes productivity and cripples entrepreneurs and our capitalist economy. And it is inequitable and unfair in its implementation.

As The Heritage Foundation and countless watchdog organizations have reported, the top 10 percent of income earners pay 70 percent of income taxes, while more than a third of U.S. households pay no income taxes — and 47 percent pay no federal taxes.

It’s time we had a system through which people didn’t have to figure out ways to cheat or even wade through 66,000 burdensome pages of IRS codes in order to save their own money. And the FairTax is that system.

The FairTax is a simple consumption-based tax system, in which equity would rule and no one could dodge his dues. With the FairTax, the harder you worked and the more money you made the better off you and our economy would be. You would pay taxes only when you bought something, which means that you could control how much you’d be taxed and that you never would be penalized inequitably for working hard.

Another huge plus about the FairTax: It would bring back to the U.S. economy trillions of dollars hiding in offshore accounts, which would give a monumental boost to our economy. As Mike Huckabee, my friend and the former governor of Arkansas, has said, “the FairTax is a completely transparent tax system. It doesn’t increase taxes. It’s revenue-neutral. But here’s what it will do: It will bring business back to the United States that is leaving our shores because our tax laws make it impossible for an American-based business to compete. … The FairTax was designed by economists from Harvard and Stanford and some of the leading think tanks across the country.”

The FairTax would be the biggest stimulation package ever. As it says on FairTax.org, “think of it as the world’s biggest economic jumper cables.” (Of course, the FairTax rate would have to be palatable with or even incorporate state taxes, too.)

And there’s one last benefit worthy of noting here. As Huckabee has often asked, “wouldn’t it be nice if April 15 were just another sunny spring day?”

If you would like it to be, call or write your representatives, and then contact the White House at 202-456-1111 or https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments to share your sentiments about abolishing the IRS and enacting the FairTax.

With April 15, Tax Day, falling next week, the fight and title of my next article will be “America’s Founders vs. the IRS.”

Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s “Official Chuck Norris Page.” He blogs at https://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CHUCK NORRIS

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Remembering (and Forgetting) Thatcher

The legendary British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died, and the national media tried to pay their respects, not only for breaking Britain’s “glass ceiling” with a “bruising” political style, but for transforming Britain and helping wind down the Cold War.

Still, Thatcher was a conservative and one of Ronald Reagan’s staunchest friends in the world, so you can be sure these journalists were Thatcher-bashers when she was in power. Some of them were American anchors and reporters.

Let’s start with a few quotes from long after she left 10 Downing Street. On Nov. 19, 1999, NBC reporter Jim Avila brought the liberal contempt in a story on a sex scandal in higher education: “Hillsdale College is supposed to be different: a liberal arts college where liberals are unwanted, where Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan are regarded as heroic deep thinkers, prayer is encouraged and morality is taught alongside grammar.”

That knock on “heroic deep thinkers” shows that Avila wrote the story before he showed up at Hillsdale. Reagan and Thatcher were great leaders and certainly great combatants in the war on ideas. But Hillsdale teaches Locke and Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville. One wonders if TV reporters have heard of those philosophers before they mock conservative “deep thinkers.” Obviously, if a Fox News reporter mocked college students viewing Obama and Bill Clinton as “heroic deep thinkers,” they would be dismissed as street rabble who’d never opened a book.

In 2000, Time magazine and CBS News picked the most important people of the 20th century. On CBS on Christmas Eve, Bryant Gumbel and Dan Rather took turns suggesting Thatcher wasn’t worthy. Gumbel began: “On the women’s front, Eleanor Roosevelt is obviously a given. Do we agree with the Margaret Thatcher pick?” Rather replied: “I don’t, to be perfectly honest.”

Gumbel agreed: “I don’t either.” Rather demeaned her: “My guess, Margaret Thatcher is there, as much as any reason, because she is a woman.”

I’m not making this up. Eleanor Roosevelt, best known as a First Lady and then as an esteemed lecturer of liberal nonsense, is to Gumbel and Rather “obviously a given” on the world stage, while Margaret Thatcher is a mere footnote, only worth mentioning because she was a woman. Neither took exception with the other American woman on the list of the century’s leaders: radical leftist Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.

During Thatcher’s time in power, as she boldly argued for less socialism at home and less communism across Europe, American reporters often brought the same dismissive rhetoric to their Thatcher stories that they did to their Reagan stories. On May 3, 1989, NBC reporter Peter Kent asserted, “Thatcher has ruthlessly applied her conservative solutions.” NBC didn’t report that Obama “ruthlessly applied his liberal solutions” when he forced Obamacare down America’s throat in 2010.

On that same night, a foolish ABC reporter named John Laurence made Thatcher sound like a despot: “Mrs. Thatcher has proved to be an Iron Lady at home and abroad. … And in the process, she converted 10 Downing Street into what’s been described as an elective dictatorship.”

That’s what the Left says when conservatives win repeated landslides.

This tilt may have been established in part because when Mrs. Thatcher sat down for interviews with the American networks, she brought her usual firm approach. In her memoir “Reporting Live,” CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl tells of interviewing Thatcher in the depths of Iran-Contra, pushing the prime minister to admit Reagan as a liar, feeling that she was “demolished” by Thatcher “seeming to question my love of country.”

“What are you doing your level best to put the worst foot forward? Why? America is a great country,” Thatcher insisted. “I beg of you, you should have as much faith in America as I have.”

Stahl told of receiving bags full of negative mail. Thatcher was originally livid at Stahl’s quite-typical battering, but changed her mind when the letters came in, like one telling Stahl “We applauded when Mrs. Thatcher chopped you into bits.”

Our media devoted many more hours of weepy airtime to Princess Diana in 1997 than the spare minutes they’ll offer in Thatcher’s memory. They have already treated her as faded and forgotten. In 2009, when Michelle Obama came to London, NBC turned to an “expert” named Helen Kirwan-Taylor, who proclaimed Mrs. Obama is “absolutely terrifying for the British, because the British like their women subdued and doe-eyed, modest and soft-spoken, I mean, Princess Di. And here comes this woman who’s in your face. Everything about her says ‘I’m confident. I know what I want. I can do anything.'”

This quote can only be disseminated by people who know this is Thatcher-ignoring nonsense. Liberals claim to love strong women, but not when those women are conservatives.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM

Mexico Becomes a Stable, Politically Diverse Neighbor

We Americans are lucky, though we seldom reflect on it, that we have good neighbors.

In East Asia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines face challenges from China over islands they have long claimed in the East China Sea.

In Europe, Germany and other prosperous nations face demands for subsidies from debt-ridden nations to avoid the collapse of the Euro.

When Southern Europeans look across the Mediterranean, they see Muslim nations facing post-Arab spring upheaval and disorder.

The United States has land borders with just two nations, Canada (on which more on another day) and Mexico, where Barack Obama is headed next month. They’re both good neighbors.

I realize that most of the recent news on Mexico has been about violent drug wars. You get 500,000 hits when you Google Mexico “failed state.”

But that’s a misleading picture. The war on drug lords waged by President Felipe Calderon from 2006 to 2012 has had considerable success and has been de-emphasized by his successor Enrique Pena Nieto.

The focus on the drug war ignores Mexico’s progress over the last 25 years as an electoral democracy. For 71 years, it had one-party rule of the PRI (Party of the Institutional Revolution). Under PRI rule, a president selected by his predecessor selected his successor.

But under PRI Presidents Carlos Salinas (1988-94) and Ernest Zedillo (1994-2000), Mexico established a clean election system under which the opposition conservative PAN and leftist PRD parties won state and legislative offices.

This was capped when PAN candidate Vicente Fox was elected president in July 2000. When Zedillo came on television and said, “I recognize that Vicente Fox is the next president of Mexico,” thousands of Fox supporters gathered around Mexico City’s Angel of Independence and stomped so strongly in unison that the earth shook.

Fox and his PAN successor Calderon had some significant policy successes. But they were frustrated in getting changes in the energy sector, in which the state-owned monopoly Pemex has lagged behind, and in education, where teacher jobs are handed down from parent to child.

The reason is that since 2000, none of Mexico’s three parties has had majorities in Congress. That’s one result of genuine political competition, in which voters have imposed rotation in office in governorships and legislative seats.

But it also meant that the PAN presidents could not get reforms through Congress if they were opposed by the PRI and the PRD.

Things have been different since the 2012 presidential election. PRI candidate Enrique Pena Nieto seemed a depressingly conventional politician, who as governor of the state of Mexico (which surrounds central Mexico City) won publicity for dating a telenovela star.

Pena won the July election handily and on taking office in December called for major reforms. He issued a 34-page Pact for Mexico, which proposed greater competition for Pemex in the energy sector plus education and judicial reforms.

Remarkably, it was endorsed by PAN and PRD, as well as the PRI. Pemex has been a sacred cow in Mexico since the 1930s, when President Lazaro Cardenas seized foreign oil operations and created the state-owned monopoly.

The Pemex union was a pillar of the PRI establishment. Now a PRI president was proposing to reform it, and his move was endorsed by a PRI party convention in March.

Pena also acted on education. In February, Congress passed a law establishing a transparent system for teacher hiring and evaluation.

The next day, the government arrested the head of the teachers’ union and charged her with spending $156 million of union funds on luxury goods.

And Pena has moved to deregulate telecommunications, which threatens the position of telecom billionaire Carlos Slim.

There is other heartening news from south of our border. Mexico’s economy is moving ahead with 5 percent growth.

Since the NAFTA treaty went into effect in the 1990s, it seemed that Mexico’s economy was tethered to ours, leaving it unable to close the gap with the United States. Now as our economy slogs along slowly, Mexico is moving toward catching up. It is, as former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda has proclaimed, a majority middle-class country now.

It is also a country from which, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, there has been no net migration to the United States since 2007.

All this vindicates our previous four presidents, who pressed for closer ties with Mexico. But most of the credit belongs to the leaders and people of Mexico. Good neighbors.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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