King Juan Carlos once put Hugo Chavez in his place. In 2007, he told him to shut up.
It's too bad a demagogue like Chavez can win power by pandering to the poor and attacking the rich, and then end up making everyone poorer. The rich don't deserve any special sympathy, but those who claim to care for the poor ought to study economic and political history.
Again and again, the world has seen misery when a government that claims to know it all punishes the successful and insists on detaching an economy from the competition, risks and rewards of a free market.
For the record, the unemployment rate at the beginning of President Obama's first term was 7.8 percent.
At the end of that first term, January 2013, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.
In other words, $5 trillion in extremely irresponsible new debt aimed at extremely irresponsible spending was a total failure.
Labor participation down every year. About 12.3 million American workers are out of work, according to January 2013 government figures. Another 8 million workers have part-time jobs but want full-time jobs and can’t find them. And another 2.4 million workers have searched for jobs in the last year, but gave up looking and so are not counted as unemployed.
Most troubling, the U.S. labor participation rate – the share of working-age Americans who work or are even looking for work – is just 63.6 percent, near a 30-year low. Our labor participation rate has dropped every year of the Obama administration.
Now that our increasingly idle working-age population has become accustomed to living off of more than $1,000,000,000,000 a year of new federal debt (more than double President Bush's already-huge average annual deficits), it will be almost impossible to cut jobless Americans off from that imaginary wealth without ugly riots and prolonged misery.
China’s new top dictator Xi Jinping got a wake-up tweet today when actress Yao Chen warned that the Chinese, wealthier for their recent economic freedom, are now impatient for political freedom.
“One word of truth outweighs the whole world,” Yao wrote, quoting one-time Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Her bold tweet into the totalitarian face of the Chinese Communist Party was, in part, a response to the dictatorship’s censorship of Southern Weekend, a Guangzhou-based newspaper attempting to exercise some real press freedom.
A word of truth: There are 1.25 billion Chinese yearning to breathe free, and 83 million Chinese Communists who’ve built careers on oppression. I’m betting on numbers. I’m betting on liberty.
President Obama and the Congress should immediately be cutting at least $200 billion out of the annual deficit (of about $1.1 trillion), if they're to begin saving the economy. I'll bet they don't. And that would mean they've kicked the can over the real fiscal cliff, and the economy is destroyed.
Obama said that, because he won the presidential election, he deserves the $80 billion tax hike without taking any steps to cut the spending that adds a staggering $1,100 billion ($1.1 trillion) a year to the federal debt.
$1 trillion deficits. And why aren’t the Republicans reminding Americans how dangerously large the last four years’ deficits are? More than $1 trillion a year. More than one million million dollars a year. Except for 2008, when the emergency bank bailout brought the deficit to a record $1.4 trillion, George W. Bush didn't have deficits even close to that.
(Not counting the $700 billion bank bailout ((TARP)) in 2008, most of which has been paid back, the average Bush deficit was about $360 billion a year. By the way, when that TARP bailout was paid back, did Obama count that as income? If so, his spending has been even higher than the statistics show.)
Why aren’t the Republicans alerting Americans that, if we become accustomed to a $1.1 trillion deficit in each $3.7 trillion annual budget, there soon will be nowhere left to borrow more money, and one morning we'll wake up to a catastrophic shock folloed by rioting followed by decades of misery and poverty?
Why aren’t Republicans pointing out more clearly that Obama’s plan for $80 billion taxes more would take care of less than 8 percent of Obama’s annual deficits?
Obama's non-plan. Boehner said that, in negotiations, he offered to accept $80 billion in new taxes (which they always report as $800 billion over 10 years), and Obama offered no concession in return.
As Boehner recalled, Boehner put the $80 billion on the table and asked Obama, “What do I get for that?”
Obama replied, “You get nothing. I get that for free.”
With that free pass, Obama would have a deficit next year of “only” $1.02 trillion. With another $40 billion in annual cuts that Obama has occasionally considered, his deficit next year would be about $980 billion. Still mighty close to a $1 trillion deficit. In other words, the unsustainable borrowing would continue unchecked.
'Kick the can' again? This would be “kicking the can down the road,” which Obama promised in 2008 and 2009 he would not do. This would be putting off any serious attempt get rein in the federal deficit spending, which is destroying the U.S. economy.
Obama also has asked for the permanent lifting of the federal debt ceiling. The Congress must never agree to that. Over the last three years, the cowards in the Democratic Senate have failed to even pass a budget, and that illegal inaction has killed each House budget.
With no budget, federal spending has gone wild with almost nothing to check it and no one accountable for overspending. The debt limit is the only thing the House has left to hold spending close to the spending approved by the House.
Economy's last chance. Today, the impending “fiscal cliff” isn’t our biggest economic threat. The biggest problem is that this week -- or possibly the next month -- probably is the last chance the federal government has to reform entitlements and control spending before the ticking debt-time-bomb goes off. We have bipartisan plans for those reforms, and they can be adopted immediately to defuse the bomb. But no one is touching those plans.
The Republicans -– and the Democrats –- should be making it clear that this is he moment to act. Start by implementing Obama's 2009 promise to cut the annual deficit to $700 billion by 2012. If they can’t set a serious path toward a balanced budget when an election campaign is over, they can’t expect to do anything more when the next campaign begins. Then it will be too late.
At this point, “kicking the can” on deficit spending is an irresponsible and immoral choice. Why isn’t Boehner making that case? Does economic reality evaporate when he gets in a room with Obama?
President Obama will take the oath of office next month for a second term that he will owe almost entirely to Candy Crowley, who interrupted the Oct. 16 debate over Obama’s Benghazi debacle and stole the election from Mitt Romney.
This will be the Crowley Term. Over the next four years, Crowley will be responsible for every new $1 trillion in federal debt, for every new year of high underemployment, for every new preventable attack by tyrants on the free, and for every new otherwise avoidable terrorist atrocity allowed by the Obama administration.
Candy Crowley decided the election. On Oct. 16, Mitt Romney’s campaign had strong positive momentum. He had overwhelmed Obama in the first debate and was about to overwhelm him in the second by exposing the president’s cover-up of the fatal failure in Benghazi. But then “debate moderator” Crowley stepped in, embarrassed Romney unjustifiably and eliminated any chance the press would examine or explain the Benghazi scandal between the second debate and the third, final debate.
Laughing at Romney. She cost Romney at least 2 percentage points at the Election Day polls. CNN’s chief political correspondent cost Romney the election.
By bungling the second presidential debate of 2012, Crowley gave Obama another four years to stifle America with inept, pandering, destructive economics. She gave the current administration another four years to further weaken the Free World as tyrants and terrorists grow stronger.
At that second presidential debate, Romney challenged Obama’s claim to have immediately labeled the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack an “act of terror.” Before Romney and Obama could debate the point, Crowley declared Obama was right, inviting laughter at Romney and applause for Obama from the audience at Hofstra University. Crowley then immediately changed the subject, denying the two candidates a chance to clarify their points of contention.
Crowley was wrong. Obama had not directly called the Benghazi, Libya, attack an act of terror. Late in his Sept. 12 Rose Garden statement, the president referred generally to “acts of terror,” but the phrasing was so vague that, later, he just as easily could have cited the same words to deny calling Benghazi an act of terror. In the Rose Garden, he clearly wanted to avoid admitting defeat to the terrorists whom his campaign claimed he already had decimated.
His Sept. 12 speech directly called the Benghazi attack an “outrageous and shocking attack,” a “terrible act.” But never an "act of terror." It also implied strongly that the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were not the result of an organized assault by a terrorist enemy, but a spontaneous riot by Muslims riled up over an American’s anti-Muhammad video on the Internet.
Obama made his cover-up position clear in an interview later Sept. 12, when Steve Kroft of CBS News pointedly asked him why he had not called Benghazi a terrorist attack, and Obama agreed he had not called it a terrorist attack. (It was “too early to tell,” Obama said.) But CBS did not broadcast Obama’s answer that day and again failed to broadcast it immediately after the Oct. 16 debate, when it would have proved Romney’s point. CBS finally released the interview transcript just days before the election. But because Crowley had snuffed the Benghazi debate, few voters could understand the interview’s significance. (And the predominantly Democratic press did its best not to put the delayed CBS interview into context.)
Falsehood to power. It was Candy Crowley who did the important damage. The debate moderator became the debate obliterator. Thanks to her, America’s voters were denied a look into how the Obama administration assesses threats and defends Americans in peril. Thanks to her, America’s voters were shut off from the true story of how the administration responds in a crisis.
Thanks to her, Obama was not held accountable. Crowley owns the next four years. This is her term.
* * *
Footnote: Exactly how did that key exchange at the Oct. 16 presidential debate go? Read on to review Crowley's pivotal role.
Obama: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief.
Crowley: Governor, if you want to...
Romney: Yes, I — I...
Crowley: ... quickly to this please.
Romney: I — I think interesting the president just said something, which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
Obama: That's what I said.
Romney: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror, it was not a spontaneous demonstration? Is that what you're saying?
Obama: Please proceed, governor.
Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
Obama: Get the transcript.
Crowley: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror...
Obama: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
Crowley: He — he did call it an act of terror. (Applause and laughter) It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
Romney: This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
Crowley: It did.
Romney: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the — your secretary —
Romney: Excuse me. The ambassador of the United Nations went on the Sunday television shows and spoke about how —
Obama: Candy, I'm —
Romney: — this was a spontaneous —
Crowley: Mr. President, let me —
Obama: I'm happy to have a longer conversation —
Crowley: I know you —
Obama: — about foreign policy.
Crowley: Absolutely. But I want to — I want to move you on and also —
Obama: OK. I'm happy to do that, too.
Crowley: — the transcripts and —
Obama: I just want to make sure that —
Crowley: — figure out what we —
Obama: — all of these wonderful folks are going to have a chance to get some of their questions answered.
Crowley: Because what I — what I want to do, Mr. President, stand there a second, because I want to introduce you to Nina Gonzalez, who brought up a question that we hear a lot, both over the Internet and from this crowd.
Question: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?
* * *
What’s the most likely thing Obama said to his speechwriter the night of September 11, 2012? A or B?
A: “Mr. Speechwriter, please write me a speech that lets me tell the full truth about my deadly defeat tonight to the terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. Make it clear that I take the full blame for the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans whom I could have protected or saved, but whom I left out there to die. Talk to David. He has the facts. Tell him I want to make public the unvarnished truth of my unforgiveable negligence.”
B. “Mr. Speechwriter, Joe tells me I have to give a Rose Garden speech tomorrow morning on our epic fail tonight in Benghazi, Libya. I have no time to write this. I’ve got a Las Vegas fundraiser tomorrow night to get ready for. It’s big money for my re-election campaign, top priority.
“You’re the one who came up with that great line that I’ve decimated al Qaeda and made Americans safer, so you’re perfect for this Benghazi speech.
“Here’s what you have to do when you write this thing: Hide the fact that Ambassador Stevens – living in the U.S. Consulate out there in Benghazi, Libya – was begging for more protection for months and we failed to give him the security he so obviously needed. Hide the fact that Stevens’ death was a U.S. defeat to a planned terrorist attack on, of all days, September 11th, when we obviously should have been on high alert in an unstable Muslim country like Libya.
“Hide the fact that this attack in Benghazi continued, off and on, for seven hours and that we failed for all seven hours to deliver any effective aid to Stevens, leaving him and three other Americans out there to die tonight as the terrorists burned the U.S. Consulate and attacked the CIA annex nearby.
“And don’t bother David. I’ll use him for the cover-up in a few days. He’ll say whatever I want him to whenever I need him to say it. He’s in my pocket, deep.
“Make that speech sound as if the terrorist attack that Ambassador Stevens foresaw was not a foreseeable terrorist attack at all, but a totally unpredictable riot by a bunch of crazy people who never would have stormed the Consulate had that American not posted the anti-Muhammad video on YouTube. Blame that American. Don’t name him. Just hint strongly that this terror attack -- I mean, this terrible attack -- was the result of his video’s denigrating Islam and stirring up Muslims. The press will eat it up.
“Don’t blame Joe and me for the four Americans who died. Subtly blame that ugly American. And in case our cover-up doesn’t work and somebody tries to catch me not calling this an act of terror, say something about how we generally oppose acts of terror. Don’t give the press anything that they might quote as me admitting I’ve been defeated by a terrorist group. Don’t let me directly call the Benghazi attack an act of terror, but let Candy Crowley think I did.
“Don’t call the terrorists terrorists. That sounds too much like this group planned the attack, which they did. Call them killers or angry extremists, and say we’re going to bring them to justice. Yeah, ‘bring them to justice.’ That sounds like Bush. That’ll confuse the Republicans.
“Cleverly suggest that Ambassador Stevens and the others were the victims of a rally that spontaneously spun out of control, like those Hell’s Angels and Deadheads at Altamont. No, there was no rally or rock concert to spin out of control in Benghazy, but we can hint there was, can’t we? Call the attack outrageous and shocking, a terrible act and nothing more. As you know, I’ve been telling everyone that I’ve decimated al Qaeda. I’ve been telling the voters that, thanks to me, Americans are safe from terrorists.
“So let’s pretend this new 9-11 terror defeat was not preventable. Let’s pretend we could not have saved the four who died, even if we reacted immediately. Let’s not admit I’ve been as miserable a failure at fighting terrorists as I’ve been at creating jobs. Dammit, I’m trying to get re-elected here, and that’s the thing that counts. Look at the facts and forget them. We have to pretend!
“Did Joe fix my teleprompter?”
* * *
NEXT MORNING, in the White House Rose Garden.
“Good morning. Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation. …
“Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi. Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith. We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed. …
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. … And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. …
“Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. … And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. …
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.”
* * *
The president gives his speechwriter the same framework for his Sept. 25 address to the United Nations.
SEPT. 25, 2012, the United Nations.
“In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.
“That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.
“It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well -- for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe. We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.
“I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video. And the answer is enshrined in our laws: Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech. …
“Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how do we respond?
“And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. …
“In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. …
“We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue, nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans. However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders in all countries to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.
“Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child an education. Smashing apart a restaurant does not fill an empty stomach. Attacking an embassy won’t create a single job. …
“It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind. …
“The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt -- it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, ‘Muslims, Christians, we are one.’…
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.”
* * *
SEPT. 27: Federal authorities in Los Angeles arrest Sam Bacile, producer of the anti-Muhammad film “Innocence of Muslims.” He is charged with a probation violation related to a fraud case in which he opened bank accounts using stolen Social Security numbers. His probation violation was the use of an alias in making the film and his failure to tell the video actors of his criminal conviction. Bacile remains in federal prison. His video had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. However, it was the excuse for rioting and dozens of killings in other Muslim nations.
Have you made your choice? Which direction did President Obama tell his speechwriter to go on Benghazi?
A or B?
Last week, there was no chance that Democratic Hollywood would ever make a motion picture about Benghazi and a Democratic president's cover-up of a deadly loss to al-Qaida. Today, the Petraeus resignation guarantees Benghazi will be a memorable movie, and every Hollywood star will want to be in it.
I wonder who will play Candy Crowley and Steve Kroft.
No one has announced such a film, but the plot is too good to ignore.