Truth matters, in politics, culture, personal beliefs

Some big questions have demonstrably true answers. But when they don’t fit powerful narratives, some powerful people are making the questions irrelevant.

Or coming up with pragmatic answers, you know, whatever works at the moment to dodge the truth.

As the Planned Parenthood president just did this week, saying that when life begins is not really relevant to the abortion debate.

“It is not something that I feel is really part of this conversation,” Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos on Thursday. “I don’t know if it’s really relevant to the conversation.”

When pressed, Richards said that in her view life began for her three children when she delivered them.

She explained that the purpose of her organization is not to answer a question that “will be debated through the centuries,” but to provide options for pregnant women.

People who choose to deny the facts may find them debatable or beyond their ability to debate, or just reduce them to an incoherent diversion.

But it is not debatable when life begins. It is scientific fact.

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards dodging the question of human life by saying it’s irrelevant to the abortion debate is seriously dishonest and disingenuous, at best. It provides the occasion to recall former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the original architects of the abortion movement in America, telling the story behind the lies and deceptions for many years after his conversion. Late in his life, in a dramatic effort to help secure legislation in South Dakota that would strengthen informed consent laws, he made this video admission that as one of the original founders of NARAL, they made up the numbers and the ‘facts’, to ‘save abortion at all costs.’

His lesson about the importance of devising and driving a narrative “at all costs” applies to the whole choice movement, and Richards’ response reveals where incoherence inevitably leads.

It happens in other kinds of politics, too often. Remember Hillary Clinton facing a congressional task force inquiry into what really happened in the notorious Benghazi attacks, finally and angrily shouting ‘what difference does it make?

Political commentator Charles Krauthammer says there’s all the difference.

There’s a difference between the truth and a lie. The difference is that people in high office with public trust ought not lie. And if it was a lie, for whatever political or other reason, it shouldn’t have happened, and the administration itself should have traced it down and corrected it. And they didn’t. And that’s what is disturbing and remains disturbing.

And some people are still seeking the truth about that.

Ans, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught, there is an eternal truth, and it applies to all social issues. And those who seek it will find it.

Benghazi Inquiry: Defiance as a tactic

Congressional investigators finally got Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before their panel to ask for answers they long wanted to hear. What did you know? When did you know it? Who did what and when? She turned the tables on them.

In fact, from that table out in front of the high panel of senators, the singular table behind which she faced a group of senators, she dominated them. It was quite a spectacle.

Here’s how Thomas Sowell saw it.

An old-time trial lawyer once said, “When your case is weak, shout louder!”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration’s story last fall that the September 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. ambassador’s quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.

She shouted: “We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Students of propaganda may admire the skill with which she misdirected people’s attention. But those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to think that the truth matters cannot applaud her success.

Let’s go back to square one.

After the attack on the American ambassador’s quarters in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration immediately blamed it on the anti-Islamic video.

Moreover, this version of what happened was not just a passing remark. It was a story that the administration kept repeating insistently. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice repeated that story on five different television talk shows on the same Sunday. President Obama himself repeated the same story at the United Nations. The man who put the anti-Islamic video on the Internet was arrested for a parole violation, and this created more media coverage to keep attention on this theme.

“What difference, at this point, does it make?” Secretary Clinton now asks. What difference did it make at the time?

Obviously the Obama administration thought it made a difference, with an election coming up. Prior to the attack, the administration’s political theme was that Barack Obama had killed Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALs) and vanquished al-Qaeda, and was now in the process of putting the terrorist threat behind us.

To have the attack in Benghazi be seen as a terrorist attack — and a devastating one — would have ruined this picture, with an election coming up.

The key question that remains unanswered to this day is: What speck of evidence is there that the attack in Benghazi was due to the much-discussed video or that there was ever any protest demonstration outside the ambassador’s quarters?

If there is no evidence whatever, then the whole attempt to say that a protest over a video escalated into an attack was a deliberate hoax by people who knew better.

The senators, or some of them anyway, tried to ferret this out. But some didn’t, and even those who did were shut down by Sec. Clinton’s manipulation of the hearing.

Robert George picks up on Sowell’s comments. And asks his own good questions.

Thomas Sowell tells it like it is on Benghazi-gate. But Professor Sowell is a conservative and a Republican. Where are the voices of our liberal and Democratic friends and fellow citizens? Why the lack of curiosity about critical questions of governmental responsibility and accountability? Why the silence?

For heaven’s sake, an American ambassador and three other Americans were brutally murdered by terrorists (terrorists who appear to have links to Al Qaeda). This is a serious business, not a minor political dust up in which partisans can be excused for circling the wagons.

Why have so many on the liberal side of the political spectrum praised Secretary of State Clinton’s theatrical performance before the Senate committee, rather than damning her appalling evasions of the central questions? Why are so few–indeed, none, so far as I am aware (but someone please correct me if I am wrong)–demanding that President Obama tell the public when he became aware of the fact that the murders of Ambassador Stevens and the others were premeditated attacks by a terrorist unit, not (as he and others in the administration stated or implied for nearly a month) acts of spontaneous violence by a mob enflamed by an anti-Islamic film. Where is the Democratic “Howard Baker”?

Is there no one left in the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson, the party of my grandparents and parents—the party to which I myself once gave allegiance—with the integrity and courage to demand answers to the key questions: What did the President know and when he know it?

If it is only conservatives and Republicans demanding answers, they will be dismissed as partisans simply trying to harm their political opponents—and the questions will go unanswered. No one will be held accountable for the falsifications and deceptions that went on for weeks in the run up to a national election. If the public good is to be served—and if we are to deter government misconduct of this nature in the future—it is critical that demands for accountability be bipartisan. Someone must be willing to break the (in this case blue) wall of silence. Someone on the Democratic side must speak.

As Sowell concludes:

Once the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was — a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished — that calls into question the Obama administration’s Middle East foreign policy.

That is why it still matters.

Besides the fact that truth always does.

The town beyond the presidential debate hall

Analysis of almost every angle and moment in the townhall debate can be found just about everywhere online at any site remotely related to news and politics. I have my own moments of talking back to the television screen. And it has taken me days to get it posted because of so many intervening demands. But that hasn’t diminished one bit what happened in that debate.

I started writing this post right after the townhall debate at Hofstra University last week ‘moderated’ by CNN’s Candy Crowley. It’s remarkable that it not only remains relevant, it’s grown in depth of gravity since then. Investigations are ongoing. The terror attack was the incident. The handling of it afterward, even and especially in the presidential debate, have elevated the tension over it.

The day after the debate, comedian Jon Stewart cracked on the Daily Show that when the moment came for Gov. Mitt Romney to challenge President Obama about his response to the Benghazi consulate attack, the president at first protested, and then smugly said, ‘proceed, Governor’ welcoming him to plunge headlong into a faux painted boulder just as Wiley Cayote does to Road Runner. Implying that the president knew he was sending Gov. Romney into a stonewall.

How did that get set up ahead of time so that Obama would have such assurance? Someone on a news show said that though there were suspicions that ‘plants’ were among the townhall participants, the real plant was Candy Crowley.

The moderator in Tuesday night’s presidential debate, after appearing to side with President Obama on the question of whether he called the Libya strike a terror attack from the start, conceded afterward that Mitt Romney was “right” on the broader point — that the administration for days insisted it was a spontaneous act.

“He was right in the main. I just think he picked the wrong word,” Candy Crowley said of Romney on CNN shortly after the debate ended.

Crowley was referring to the tense exchange in the final half-hour of the debate, when Romney questioned whether Obama had called the attack an “act of terror” rather than “spontaneous” violence that grew out of a protest against an anti-Islam video.

Crowley then intervened. Here’s the exchange:

ROMNEY: I think (it’s) interesting the president just said something which — 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 … call it an act of terror.

At which point I was talking back to my TV ‘Not true!’

However, it was an emboldening moment for the president, depicted by Stewart as Wiley Cayote.

Obama, indicating he thought he had just gotten a boost from the moderator, then chimed in: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

However, Obama didn’t explicitly label the Benghazi strike terrorism in those Sept. 12 remarks. What he did say is: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation.”

The general reference to “no acts of terror” instead of the specific one that hit Benghazi was the president’s cover for the plausible deniability he’s crafted into an art.

Crowley, during and following the debate, pointed out that despite Obama’s Sept. 12 remarks his administration was peddling a different story to the public. She said it took two weeks for officials to say more definitively that the attack was more than an out-of-control protest.

But this was a late correction.

And she continued to clarify on CNN that Romney was making a legitimate point.

“Right after that I did turn around and say, ‘but you are totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us that this was about a tape’,” she said.

Not true. Here’s a fack-check:

The infamous incident when she interrupted Romney’s claim about Obama’s refusal to call the Benghazi murders a terror attack:

“It – it – it – he did in fact, sir. So let me – let me call it an act of terror…

Prompted by Obama to say it a little louder, Crowley obliged:

“He – he did call it an act of terror. 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.”

“It did take…two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out”? What does that mean, in its awkward statement? It’s swiftness in moving on meant it was intended to move on.

CBS is apparently one of the remaining media outlets with fact-checkers, and they produced this.

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?… 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… The administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction…”

In Sept. 12 remarks in the White House Rose Garden reacting to the Libya attack, Mr. Obama did refer generally to “acts of terror,” though he didn’t specifically call the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi an act of terrorism.

Just be honest.

It’s true that the administration, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, maintained for several days that the attack was spontaneous and the result of protests over an inflammatory anti-Muslim video. Meanwhile, CBS News reported on Sept. 12 that the assault appeared to be a planned terrorist attack.

In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, Mr. Obama did not give any indication that the attack was an act of terrorism, instead repeatedly referencing the anti-Muslim YouTube video that allegedly spurred spontaneous protests.

 There’s no spinning the increasingly obvious, and the more he does, or his administration does or his surrogates do, the worse it gets. Even Saturday Night Live got it.

The shifting Benghazi narrative

For crying out loud, what happened there, who knew what, and when, and why wasn’t it more secured? This is the first time since 1979 that a US ambassador was assassinated, and it’s a major story.

In the week that I’ve been out of commission but fully on top of the news, there’s been so much. So let’s take it chronologically.

On October 9th, HuffPo was reporting that the ‘official’ narrative broke down under scrutiny.

The deadly September attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya was not precipitated by an anti-American protest, as had originally been reported, the State Department disclosed Tuesday night. According to reports from ABC and the Associated Press, the State Department now acknowledges that “gunfire and explosions near the front gate” were the first signs of danger precipitating the attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

This revelation stands in contrast to the story originally reported by the Obama administration and others, who claimed that a protest against the anti-Islam film “The Innocence of Muslims” outside the American consulate was co-opted by violent extremists.

False. Totally false. Demonstrably false, as it would turn out to be.

The next day, ABC News’ Jake Tapper grilled White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who withered under the questioning.

Jake Tapper of ABC asked White House spokesman Jay Carney if President Obama shot first and aimed later when he blamed the Benghazi attacks on a video.

“President Obama shortly after the attack told 60 Minutes that regarding Mitt Romney’s response to the attacks as specifically in Egypt, the president said that Romney has a tendency to shoot first and aim later. Given the fact that so much was made out of the video, that apparently had absolutely nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi, that there wasn’t even a protest ousiden the Benghazi post. Didn’t President Obama shoot first and aim later?

It has only gotten curiouser since then.

The White House and Obama campaign deflected with a silly talking point about Gov. Mitt Romney wanting to do away with Big Bird, to the point where even the Sesame Street creator had to issue a response.

Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns. We have approved no campaign ads, and, as is our general practice, have requested that both campaigns remove Sesame Street characters and trademarks from their campaign materials.

But it was really aimed at the Obama campaign, which was using it to the hilt, to divert attention from the important issues, like Benghazi. And when they had to address that, they did so reluctantly, with excuses.

But quickly they were exposed as excuses. Though ABC News’ Martha Raddatz was perceived as more sympathetic to the Democrats, as moderator of the Vice-Presidential debates last Thursday she opened with a challengd for VP Joe Biden.

I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9/11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there.

RADDATZ: It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn’t this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Biden?

Biden said they would bring justice to the men who did this, get to the bottom of it, and “wherever the facts lead us…we will make clear to the American public, because whatever mistakes were made will not be made again.”

Investigations have begun in Congress, the media got pulled in once Biden claimed the White House had no knowledge of Ambassador Stevens requesting more security, with a jarringly dissconnected reference to ‘the administration’ doing one thing and ‘the White House’ not knowing about it, though they consitute the one and same Executive Branch of government. And headlines reported that apparently they were throwing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the bus.

Monday, she seemed to comply, for whatever reason.

Hillary Clinton has taken responsibility for the deadly security breach at the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, saying the buck stopped with her and not the White House.

The secretary of state took the blame in an interview to CNN on Monday night in what will be seen as an attempt to deflect Republican attacks on Barack Obama over the affair on the eve of the second presidential debate.

There is so much more to this story. And I trust, or at least hope, it will come out.