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Trayvon, Zimmerman, and the Man in the Mirror


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First, let me start by saying I didn’t pay that much close attention to the George Zimmerman murder trial.  To me, it didn’t much matter, because as we now see, it solved nothing.  Half the country still thinks Zimmerman is a murder, while the other half believe justice was done.  Zimmerman was found not guilty, but is considered a murderer by half the country…so what did the trial ultimately achieve?  Who knows.

From the beginning of this case, I knew this is where we would end up.  There was no satisfactory ending here.  If Zimmerman had been found guilty, I am sure there would be a large segment of the population decrying the end of the right to self defense in this country.

The legal aspects of the case are of little consequence to me at this point.  I think the jury did what it had to do, and there was little prosecutors could do otherwise.  I don’t believe Zimmerman is innocent though…he is not guilty under the view of the law.  But common sense, in hindsight, would say that Zimmerman should never have left his car that night.  I wonder, in his most honest moments, if he wouldn’t admit that himself.

But moving past the legal arguments, what is of more consequence is how this reflects on us as a nation.

After the election of Barack Obama, many people believed we had reached a ‘turning point’ on race relations.  Of course, we now see that maybe no such thing exists.  We once again are faced with a highly charged teachable moment, showing us that under the calm demeanor of the public, the angst of the African American community is unchanging.

In many respects, this is the mirror image of the O.J. Simpson trial.  After O.J.’s acquittal, Black communities cheered, regardless of the fact that few believed that O.J. was really innocent.  It did not matter; it was a victory from the legal system that minorities so distrusted, and that was preeminent.  They won; the facts were irrelevant.

Today, those same communities feel betrayed.  They feel Trayvon was murdered, for no cause, and justice was not done.  We complete the circle, and appear to not advanced one inch.

I wish there was some possibility of closure, some moment of clarity, a beam of sunlight that would make this better.  There isn’t.  We currently have leaders unable to bring any divergent groups together.  We as a nation are as divided as we have been at any time in my lifetime. There is no grand conciliator waiting in the wings, to bring Americans of all stripes and colors together, to morn for a young man’s death, while accepting the ruling of the Justice system.

What is even more frightening is that Zimmerman is not really even a great example of the oppressive white majority that the media would like to make him out to be. Zimmerman’s father is white, a US Army veteran who became a magistrate in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Zimmerman’s mother is Peruvian, and her own grandparents were…of African descent.

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Zimmerman’s maternal grandmother, Cristina, who had lived with the Zimmermans since 1978, worked as a babysitter for years during Zimmerman’s childhood. For several years she cared for two African-American girls who ate their meals at the Zimmerman house and went back and forth to school each day with the Zimmerman children.  Zimmerman dated African Americans in high school, started his first business with an African American friend…this was no skin head bigot we are talking about here.

George Zimmerman is a member of a minority, a liberal Democrat.  Zimmerman is about as a mixed ethnic child of America as you can provide…and now, he is the definition of the racism in America.

Does it matter?  Does it matter that Zimmerman, a white/hispanic/and even partially African child of America is supposed to be a white oppressor of African Americans?  I have no answers.  I simply don’t know.  I do know it makes me immensely sad. I have tears in my eyes when I see Trayvon’s parents, who I am sure are unable to bring any closure to this tragedy.  And yet, I am not sure the justice system did anything wrong, in which case…what the hell are we supposed to think?

I do know this:  for all the supposed honest talk about race we are supposed to be having, there is a lot of dishonesty going around.

At the end of the day, a young African American teenager is dead, for no good reason, with his family’s life torn apart; Zimmerman is technically free, but his life will forever be defined by those four minutes in a dark sidewalk in his neighborhood, so in many respects he will never be free.  And moreover, the country once again regresses, as the race baiters and race dividers in our country once again score a victory.  And we as a nation learn nothing.

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Pacific Rim: Movie Review

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There are few genres of movies that can unite geekdom quite like the megamonster flick.  Since the days of Ray Harryhausen and stop action, to Godzilla stomping around tiny Japanese people in Tokyo, it has been at the leading edge of science fiction.

Of course, in many ways, this genre has died off as special effects have become more computerized.  The last Godzilla movie was an unmitigated disaster.  The only decent movie of this type I can think of in the last several decades is Cloverfield, and even that was more about the individuals involved then the drama of seeing monsters play out on the big screen.

No such worries in Director Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

Del Toro makes the monster movie relevant again, and for that, the geek in me is overjoyed.

In this tale, an interdimensional portal opens deep along the floor of the Pacific Ocean, through which come a myriad of aliens…each a hundred feet tall, and ready to smash the most convenient coastal city available.

Humans respond by building a giant robotic fighting machine that can match the aliens size and strength.  The technology is so complex, a single human pilot cannot handle it; thus, you have a pair of co-pilots, who allow their consciousness to intermingle and control the machine through a process called ‘drift’.

Initially, the program fails…and the nations of the world resort to enormous walls to try to keep the aliens out.  This, obviously, also fails, and all that is left is to stand and fight with the megamachines available to the world.

The bulk of the movie is pure action, though not totally devoid of some character development, sentimentality and intrigue.  But this is a monster movie, dammit!  And things must be stomped, smashed, and destroyed.  As well they are.  This is geekdom at its finest.  Del Toro goes all out in the breathtaking fight scenes that are seen in cities and oceans, as robot and giant alien collide, head on.

Clearly, this movie is targeted to a certain demographic, and if you are not of that demographic, you are probably going to be disappointed.  But if you are a fan of the classic Godzilla movies and other films of this sort, this will be pure, unadulterated joy. Those of us that are fans of this movie, I am guessing, will want to see this over and over again.

 

 

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Monsters University: Movie Review

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It has been more than a decade since the original Monsters, Inc. opened in theaters.  Amazing how time flies.  The first movie was in many ways one of Pixar’s most ambitious adventures: they had to successfully create an alternate universe of monsters that frightened children as a basic part of their culture…and make those characters lovable.

Obviously, they succeeded.  Monsters, Inc. still remains the most watched Pixar film of all (in a close race with Cars; but I am willing to bet that is because I have two young boys). My younger son has been addicted to the movie for almost a year…still can’t say ‘Sully’, so he calls him ‘Bear’.

Surprising that it took them this long to come up with a concept for a sequel though, considering the mega-success of the original.

All things considered, it seems like they hit another homerun.

This movie is technically a prequel, as it shows Mike Wazowski (Bill Crystal) entering college, into the prestigious ‘scare program’.  There, he runs into James P. Sullivan (John Goodman), who becomes his roommate.

And they immediately…hate each other immensely.

Mike is the classic know-it-all…brilliant, book smart…but has none of the characteristics to make a good ‘scarer’.  Sully is a natural, but lazy and not intellectually strong.

One of the really cool characters is Randall (Steve Buscemi), who if you remember plays a villain in Monsters, Inc., but here, is early on a prime candidate to become one of Mike’s friends.  An interesting character development.

There are numerous new characters, some boring, some fascinating.  But the story revolves around the development of Mike and Sully’s relationship as best friends, as they prepare for the ‘Scare Games’, and must succeed to move on to achieve their dreams to reach the Scaring floor.

I would say this film is a half step behind the best films in the Pixar library, including Monster’s Inc.  It is fun to see how Sully and Mike become friends, and there are some great gags in the film.  It doesn’t have the emotional depth of the best Pixar movies.  However, there is still some great life lessons for children, including the fact that sometimes the goals you set are not necessarily what will make you happy in the end.

But still, compared to most of the animated choices you have out there, this is brilliant entertainment for both adults and children alike.  I am sure I will end up seeing this a few times more, getting dragged to the theater by my youngest, to see ‘Bear’ one more time.

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World War Z: Movie Review

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Lets get one thing straight right now:  this has very little to do with the book World War Z, written by Max Brooks.

Just get that out of your head right now.

I am a big fan of the book; in many ways, it transformed the entire genre of zombie fiction, and led to the renaissance of zombie flicks on TV and elsewhere that we see today.

This movie?  It might as well be named ‘Generic Zombie Flick 2013′.  The name means little else.

That said, if you have read the original source material, you know that there was no way that book was ever really going to be made into a movie.  Maybe a miniseries, but not a 2 hour long Hollywood flick.  (Though, I will still admit, the Battle of Yonkers is something I really wanted to see on film; oh well).

This is in many ways a more traditional Hollywood disaster movie. We have our spectacular hero (played by Brad Pitt) who basically, for some practically unknown reason, is the only person on the entire planet that can halt the scourge of this disease. He does, like the hero in the book, travel from site to site across the globe, but in this iteration of the story he is doing it real time, as the plague expands to devour humanity.

To be fair, there are some interesting twists here that the book, nor most other zombie fictional portrayals, do not use.  For example, these zombies are as fast as humans, run at full speed, and cannot be avoided easily.  Furthermore, they act almost like insects, tracking their prey, instead of almost unintentionally coming in contact with other humans, as we see in other zombie films, including the Walking Dead.

But in the end, this is not much better than many other attempts at the genre, including 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, or even the Romero zombie flicks. In that respect, unlike the book which transformed the entire genre, this movie is a yawn.  It is ok to waste a few hours on a Sunday afternoon…but nothing more.

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Man of Steel: Movie Review

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Superman was the first superhero that excited me as a child.  I remember watching the Richard Donner movies starring Christopher Reeve, and being hooked.  But as I grew older, there simply wasn’t enough depth in the character and plot line.  What fun is a superhero that is virtually invulnerable?  What suspense is there in that?

And that pretty much defines the arc that Superman franchise has gone through over the years.  In the more innocent era of the mid-portion of the last century, Superman fit the ideal we were striving for.  Truth, justice, and the American way.

Today, in a darker, more dreary, a more realistic and fatalistic era, Superman seems as out of place as milkmen and paperboys. .

And the repercussions show.  Superman is largely ignored by the young set.  My son, who is seven, barely cares about Superman at all.  Even when watching cartoons of the Justice League, he gravitates more to Batman and even the Flash before Superman.

It is into that environment that Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) and screenwriters Christopher Nolan and David Goyer (the Dark Knight film trilogy) bring Man of Steel.  They were, because of reality, forced to update the Superman/Clark Kent saga for a new era.  First, the bring this new version of Superman, played wonderfully by Henry Cavill, into the modern era. Some of the changes are at first shocking.  For example, Clark Kent is almost a depressing figure at the beginning of this movie.  In the prior era, Clark was at times goofy, honest…a Boy Scout.  Here, Clark is brooding, and not always on his best behavior.  This actually fits with some of the comic book interpretations of the character, but we certainly haven’t for the most part seen that side of Clark on film.  Second, even as an adult, he seems to have a general distrust of humanity…something former iterations of the genre of lacked.

But in many ways, Snyder/Nolan/Goyer make the changes that are necessary to bring this character back to life.  Superman/Kent lives in a world where governments are not to be inherently trusted, and humanity can be its own worse any enemy.  In other words…the real world.

The other fascinating tactic they take is to give much more depth and time to the Kryptonian back story.  Some of my friends have mixed feelings on this, but I loved it. I loved seeing more texture given to the planet of Krypton, including its culture, government, history and people. And Russell Crowe (Jor-El) virtually steals every scene he is in.

On the other hand, the Smallville angle of Clark Kent’s history is basically told only in passing, mostly in flashbacks and other storytelling techniques.  We get brief scenes with Pete and Lana Lang, but nothing substantial.  Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) is another depressing figure in this movie.  In the past, he was at the heart of the good hearted nature that is at the center of his son’s character; in this film, he is dreary, and is much more concerned about his son’s safety than the future of the planet.

Michael Shannon as General Zod is fantastic.  He gives the character depth, and is able to portray a rigidness and single mindedness that is essential to getting to the heart of the character.  Not to get too political, but Zod is the classic statist; everything, including war, cruelty, and violence, are acceptable for the common good.  And the common good in this case is the survival of the Kryptonian people…and if a few humans get in the way, what matter is it to him?

Without giving the plot away, the directors also flip many of the plot points of former Superman story lines on their head.  I absolutely loved Amy Adams as Lois Lane; she isn’t some hot bimbo that the last film portrayed her as, but is a thoughtful, deep personality that is the definition of what a good journalist is supposed to be.  And her relationship with Clark Kent/Superman is, in many ways, unique to the way it has been portrayed before.  The ‘reveal’ at the end of the movie, in many ways, shows the heart of the way the writers took a new look and all new angle to the entire approach.

The final scenes, which of course result in a massive battle, are spectacular.  You seen Superman and Zod basically destroy the city of Metropolis in, what is ultimately, a grudge match.

Now, is this movie perfect?  Far from it.  Some of the plot details were probably unnecessary.  There are scenes in the movie that seem like they are a good idea, but in retrospect really add nothing (if you see the movie, pay attention to the church scene with the priest).  And some of the dialogue, especially for Cavill, is clunky.

Additionally, one wonders in hindsight:  what powers do the Kryptonians really have that make them ‘Supermen’?  The plot goes back and forth on what really gives them their strength, speed, etc; and thus, in battles, you come to wonder:  why are some battles even an equal match?  Shouldn’t they obviously be weighted to one side or the other, based on the premise of the source of their powers?

But ultimately, fans can get past these small qualms.  The movie delivers on all the levels that matter.  They gives us a Superman with depth, a character dealing with the realities of the world as it exists in the 21st century.  We have a Clark Kent that is not goofy but is thoughtful and emotional, and hides from humanity as much as he can.  And you have Superman coming into his own with a threat from his past, where he must face his ultimate limitations.

I have already heard comparisons of this movie to the Dark Knight series, which is unavoidable with Nolan’s involvement in both films.  Let me say this: this is a far superior film to Batman Begins, the first film of that trilogy.  I would say it is at least as good as the first Iron Man as well.  My point is:  Snyder et. al. have done their job.  They have established a platform for future Superman movies (and may I dare dream:  Justice league movies?) and the real first entry into the wider DC comic universe.

So, an imperfect movie, to be sure, but still a movie that must be seen, and a movie that hits all the high marks.  The future for the DC Universe is now bright.

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It’s Not Paranoia If They Are Really Out To Get You

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I am anything but a conspiracy theorist.  In fact, I basically reject most conspiracy theories?

Why?

Simple:  conspiracies require secrecy, and humans for the most part are terrible at keeping secrets.  Oh, sure, one or two people can keep a secret. But 50?  100?  Not a chance.

And thus, vast government conspiracies don’t interest me all that much.

But that doesn’t mean sometimes the paranoid among us aren’t right.

The specifics of the various scandals floating around the Obama Administration will be parried and argued, prodded and pulled, until some version of the truth comes out.  It will take years or longer for us to really understand the depth of what has happened to our ever increasingly hidden big government apparatus.

Whether we are discussing the IRS scandal in targeting conservatives, the DOJ scandal going after reporters, the NSA kerfuffle about wide ranging wiretaps, the AP and other reporters being targeted by our Department of Justice…it all comes down to a simple truth.

Our government is so massively large, no one knows what is going on.

This is, of course, the ultimate result of an ever expanding Executive branch, rarely if ever checked by the Legislative branch and the Judiciary, and even less commonly checked by the voters of America.  When you have an entity that grabs power in the name of the greater good, without anyone asking if their reasons are relevant or just, corruptions ensues.  It is the nature of humanity.

Some of these ‘scandals’ really didn’t occur out of malice, in my humble opinion.  The discussion over the National Security Agency’s massive data trove of cell phone and internet records, I honestly believe, began as a way of trying to track down terrorist infiltrators.  It began as a just cause; an honest attempt to protect America.

But at some point, the problem is the leviathan feeds itself.  The system is top secret, so the public is blocked from knowing its inner workings.  Congress is supposed to be the check-and-balance, but according to numerous Senators, including Democrats Senator Ron Wyden, they are not told everything either, because of the need to remain in the shadows.

You often get exchanges like this, when the legislative branch questions the executive:

Here’s another congressional-subcommittee transcript highlight of the week. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois asks the attorney general if he’s spying on members of Congress and thereby giving the executive branch leverage over the legislative branch. Eric Holder answers:

“With all due respect, senator, I don’t think this is an appropriate setting for me to discuss that issue.”

Senator Kirk responded that “the correct answer would be, ‘No, we stayed within our lane and I’m assuring you we did not spy on members of Congress.’” For some reason, the attorney general felt unable to say that. So I think we all know what the answer to the original question really is.

And even when they ask questions, they get misleading or outright falsehoods, like Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did in a Senate hearing when questioned by Sen. Ron Wyden (D).

And so, a program that began with good intentions grows, and grows, feeding upon itself, until one wonders if it s achieving its goals, or for that matter, what its goals are anymore.

Here is a simple question that must eventually be answered:  what personal information is the government not allowed to obtain, store, and mine?

President Barack Obama tried to put the horse back in the barn last week, to no avail:

“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.” Obama added that the National Security agents behind the surveillance programs “cherish our Constitution…You can shout Big Brother or program run amok, but if you actually look at the details, I think we’ve struck the right balance,” he explained.

He may be right, but there is an inherent problem:  trust is not blindly given, but earned.  And what trust was earned by this President’s administration in last year’s election is quickly melting away.

Big bureaucracies inherently are corrupt.  It is a fact of humanity.  There isn’t a single example of a growing government that isn’t rife with such backstabbing and intrigue.

Maybe we  should keep that in mind every time we choose big government to supposedly fix our societal problems.

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Memorial Day: Freedom is not Free

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Memorial Day historically is for those members of the Armed Services who valiantly fought and died for their country.  Many have served and given their lives…but many others lives were taken away, regardless of their service.  I would like to remember our military, as well as all the others, who have given their lives for this country, in one manner or another.

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Always remember: FREEDOM IS NOT FREE.

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Star Trek Into Darkness: Movie Review

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Star Trek Into Darkness continues to take us into the JJ Abrams view of the Roddenberry created world…and Abrams continues to surprise us with every turn.

The story arrives several years after the events of the first movie.  The universe that we knew with Shatner and Nimoy no longer exists; time changing events in the first film have significantly altered the reality of these characters, and the universe they live in.  And those changes have wide ranging ripple effects that leave us without truly understanding the reality as it ‘currently’ exists.

The primary villain is John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is waging a war against the Federation for reasons that are unknown at the beginning.  When those reasons become known, all hell breaks loose.

Our main characters, James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) have grown into the close friendship that defined the original Star Trek series.  And at the core of this movie is their relationship…and how it grows, but differs, from the original time line that we know so well.

What has also changed in this Abrams Universe is the underlying character of Starfleet.  Roddenberry’s Federation and Starfleet were about utopian ideals; Abrams’s version is about hard realities in a new universe where the technology to destroy planets and kill billions exists.  All of a sudden, we are dealing with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ on a global scale.

Headline that difference is Peter Weller playing Admiral Marcus, the father of Carol Marcus.  Carol Marcus is a character well known to Trekkies, but in many ways, her appearance in this film is almost a distraction to the underlying reality of what is going on.

There are major spoilers, especially about specific characters, that I will leave out.  And that makes it difficult to talk in any detail about the plot.  But ultimately, what Abrams has created is a universe that is almost a ‘Bizarro’ version of the original Star Trek.

The characters, at their heart, are the same.  But nothing else is.  The utopian nature of the Federation is no more.  There is technology that now exists that should not.  And with the Vulcans basically wiped out, their calming influence on Starfleet is sorely lacking.

I have read many reviews about this movie.  It simply breaks down as follows:  if you are not a Trekkie, this is a simple action/adventure with space ships and guns, and nothing more.  A good, but not great, film.

However, if you are a Star Trek fan, and love the original series, this is a fascinating take on the original.  How can one incident change an entire universe?  Can one moment in time have such a wide ranging effect to basically change the nature of all existence?

Abrams basically says yes.

So as a Star Trek fan, I highly recommend this movie.  If you are not a Trekkie, I still recommend it, but you simply won’t understand or appreciate much of the nuance and irony.  But still, an excellent sequel, and another must see for what is shaping up to be an excellent summer movie season.

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Scandals Distract Us From The Conservative Cause

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Fast and Furious.  Solyndra.  Benghazi.  IRS targeting conservatives.  Department of Justice targeting reporters.

This week, the list of scandals has exploded, and seems endless.

Many of these scandals tell us what we already knew about the Obama administration. That they are highly politicized, they use the mantle of power to target their enemies, and that when they are incompetent and their failures are discovered, they blame anyone but themselves for the error.

As the minority party, the GOP must spend political capital investigating these issues.  It is the duty of the opposition to hold the party in power in account.  It goes to the heart of what we as Americans have come to understand as the basic ‘checks and balances’ of our Federal Government.

But at the same time, we should be wary.

It is very easy to get engrossed into the ‘culture of scandal’.  It gives some of us great joy to be finally shown as correct in our analysis of this current administration.

But there is a small truth hidden under the morass of the Obama scandals.  Not one investigation, not one whistleblower, not one new revelation will truly further the cause of conservatism.

Sure, it will give us a political advantage for some time.  As in past eras of scandal, most hurt the party in power and degrade the public’s faith in their ability to lead. Certainly, Obama’s credibility has been hurt by these stories, and will continue to be damaged.

But although it does give us a political opening, it does not ultimately lead the country down to the path of fiscal and philosophical conservatism.  That is a case that we as conservatives must make separately.  No amount of scandal will convince the public to follow us. It may convince them that Obama cannot lead them, but one does not automatically lead to the other.

So yes, keep your focus on the scandals.  Make sure those in power are held in account, especially if there was unethical and illegal activity. It is one of our duties as American citizens.

But at the same time, keep your eye on the ball.  Our primary focus should always be in furthering the cause of conservatism…and in that pursuit, these scandals are largely a distraction.

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Capitol Hill hearings today featured three compelling witnesses, all State Department veterans: Gregory N. Hicks, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Libya and the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat in the country at the time of the Benghazi jihad attacks; Mark I. Thompson, a former Marine who now serves as deputy coordinator for operations in the agency’s Counterterrorism Bureau; and Eric Nordstrom, a diplomatic-security officer who was the top security officer in Libya.

Clearly, those that testified today appeared overall to be much more non-partisan and professional than some of the people questioning them.  Anyone that watched the testimony is going to be hard pressed to label Hicks and the others as some kind of political firebrands.  Tears were in the eyes of many of these whistleblowers, as they told of how their friends died while they watched.

A few questions clearly remain after today’s testimony:

1.  Not once, but TWICE, there was a ‘stand down’ order made on the night of 9/11/2012.  We can argue whether or not this action could have saved any lives; there is some dispute of whether the force in Tripoli could have made a difference, and whether there were other assets in the area.  Only the Defense Department review of events of that night will answer that question.

However, Hicks argues that even an Air Force fly over may have pushed the rebel insurgents back.  That is only his theory, however.

That said, we know the military was ready to move.  According to Hicks, the deputy chief of mission in Libya, special forces in Tripoli were “furious” when they were told to stand down during the Benghazi attack. “I will quote Lieutenant Colonel Gibson,” Hicks told the House Oversight Committee in hearings today, “He said, ‘This is the first time in my career that a diplomat has more balls than somebody in the military.’”

Mark Thompson, the deputy coordinator for operations at the State Department’s bureau of counter-terrorism during the Benghazi attacks, testified in previous testimony, that the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST)—a special unit comprised of special-operations officers, FBI officers and diplomatic security personnel—was not deployed on the evening of the attacks.

“I alerted my leadership indicating that we needed to go forward and consider the deployment of the Foreign Emergency Support Team,” Thompson said. He added that he was told that meetings had already taken place. “I was told this was not the right time to deploy the team.”

So who made the decision to stop deployment? Maybe it was the right decision, maybe it wasn’t, but 8 months after the attack, we don’t know who in the leadership made the call.  I presume it was President Obama.

2.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was personally called by Hicks at 2 A.M. that night…did she issues the ‘stand down’ order herself?  Is that even legal?

What is more important about this call is that at that time, he told Ms. Clinton, in no uncertain terms, that this was clearly a terrorist attack, according to Ambassador Stevens himself, who told this to Hicks as the attack was starting.  Why Clinton then repeated the rhetoric that it was a ‘spontaneous protest’ days later, even at the funeral of one of the dead, remains a mystery.  Some intelligence sources in D.C. remained unsure of the facts, but if your own diplomatic personnel say it was a terrorist attack…why wouldn’t you believe your own people on the ground over intelligence sources in Washington?

3.  Following up on the previous, one thing is clear:  The “protest” about a YouTube video was a complete fabrication by the Obama administration. There was at no moment in time any evidence that this was spontaneous or that it was instigated by the video.  Not according to the people in Libya at the time.

4.  There was clear push back from allies of Ms. Clinton in allowing these whistleblowers to testify to Congress. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills on multiple occasions put up road blocks and pressured the witnesses to limit their testimony.  Why?  If Ms. Clinton supported full openness and transparency, there was absolutely no reason for these actions.

Further worsening the appearance of this, Hicks testified that he basically has been demoted; and the demotion came only after his intent to testify and bring his version of the facts came to light.  So much for whistleblower protections in the Obama Administration.

The reality is, ultimately, this testimony will do nothing on the larger scale.  Liberals dismissed this testimony without every hearing a second of it, and the media will aid their wish to remain ignorant.  They feel they know everything they need to know, even though there were numerous facts today that were omitted in the internal review performed by the State Department, and out right contradictions to testimony by Sec. Clinton and others.  It has gone so far as the White House complaining to CBS that Sharyl Attkisson, who has done brilliant work on Benghazi, should basically be ‘shut down’.  That is what transparency means to this White House and to the media today.

Furthermore, because of the lack of transparency from the White House, we don’t know who gave the ‘stand down’ order. If it was the President, he should admit it.  It was clearly his right, but to pass the buck to low level staffers who should never have had that responsibility is simply unfair.

However, Republicans have failed to show an outright cover-up.  The clearest we get to such a ‘crime’ is the Susan Rice debacle, with the repetitive blaming of the YouTube video for the riot instead of it clearly being, by all evidence even on the day of the attack, a coordinated terrorist event.  Was this a true cover-up, or was the administration really so stupid to believe their own story?  This is the most politically slanted part of the story, and my guess is neither side will accept the other’s version completely. Let us accept this much: it is reasonable to say the administration was clearly and utterly incompetent, and honestly should never have even mentioned the video in relation to Benghazi.

Ultimately, the country learned a lot about how the Obama Administration works today.  The blame, when things go wrong, will never reside with the President or his key advisers, but will be displaced to low level players that have no political leverage.  When those low level advisers try to tell their story, they are treated as pariahs and they are attacked mercilessly.  Democrats in that hearing today had no respect whatsoever for the concept of ‘whistleblower protections’, and sadly, future whistleblowers in this administration surely will have learned that lesson; they will get no protection from this President.

As for the night of the attacks, there was poor execution for any response, and even with the ‘fog of war’, the Obama people performed poorly and in hindsight, were completely taken aback by the events.  What is more disturbing is that on 9/11, one of the few days on the calendar when we should be prepared for a terrorist attack…our President and his administration were woefully unprepared.

One final point.  What is also clear, and that we have long known, is that those that died that night were left alone, without enough security, and still did their duty to our country.  They died as heroes.

This was cross posted at the Spitcracker Picayune

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