Short Takes

By Jeffrey Page

–You don’t have to be a Republican, a Tea Partier, or a conspiracy nut to agree that Hillary Clinton owes the country another appearance before Congress to explain the increasingly unexplainable circumstances that led to the attack on the mission in Benghazi, the American response (or lack thereof), and the deaths of our ambassador and three other diplomats.

–If Howard Baker were active these days, the question would be: What did Clinton know and when did she know it? Also: What did she do and when did she do it?

–If Clinton can’t or won’t testify, there’s her ex-boss. Ultimately it’s President Obama’s State Department, and Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other three men killed were his diplomats. Surely he has answers, don’t you think? A headline in yesterday’s New York Times: “Obama to Call for More Security at U.S. Embassies.” It sure took long enough; the attack on the mission occurred eight months ago.

–The unintended satire in the Clinton matter is Dick Cheney’s calling for more testimony from her and demanding, “I think [she] should be subpoenaed if necessary.” Cheney calling for facts is like Pinocchio asking for a nose job, and I suggest that when the lawyers start filling out the subpoena papers, they save one for Cheney himself.

–Maybe after being sworn, Cheney will finally inform us about Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction he insisted we go to war to find, the hunt that cost close to 5,000 American lives and wounded 32,000 others. Maybe he could also be asked to explain the intelligence that led him to declare the day before the war against Saddam Hussein began, “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

–Incidentally, Cheney, the personification of gravitas to the people who like him, appeared at a recent private meeting with Republican members of the House and informed all: “We’re in deep do-do with North Korea.” That was our former vice president; that was the man a heart-beat from the presidency.

–While the Obama administration plays games with the First Amendment in charting the telephone calling of 100 reporters and editors at Associated Press, Attorney General Eric Holder revealed something about himself and the way he works. He was discussing with an NPR reporter the Justice Department’s going after those phone records. In a quote that will dog Obama and Holder for the 1,344 days remaining in this administration, Holder said: “I’m not sure how many of those cases I have actually signed off on.” And then he said, “I take them very seriously.” And then he said, “I know I have refused to sign a few, pushed a few back for modifications.” The attorney general twiddles the First Amendment but isn’t sure how many subpoenas he signed?

–Attention Eric Holder: Do the nation a favor and memorize the following 45 words, especially the ones in italics: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

–Speaking of running roughshod over the First Amendment, it is on Obama’s watch that we learn of the Internal Revenue Service’s closer-than-usual examination of applications for tax-exempt status by some conservative groups. Last time anyone looked, conservatives possessed the same constitutional rights as liberals. So yesterday, Obama fired the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. I say “Obama’s watch,” by the way, knowing that other presidents have used the IRS in outrageous ways – the people on Nixon’s enemies list were IRS targets – but somehow I think Americans who happily elected Obama once, and once more maybe not so gleefully, no doubt had thought they were getting better than Nixon.

–And now, for the Quote of the Day as reported in the Huffington Post: “Forty years ago, the United States Supreme Court sanctioned abortion on demand. And we wonder why our culture sees school shootings so often.” This remarkable insight brought you by Rep. Kevin Cramer, (R-N.D.) in a graduation speech at the University of Mary in Bismarck.

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