I Take Responsibility *

What a noble thing to say: I take responsibility.

Especially for a high-ranking public official to say, amid a clamor for accountability, after something has gone terribly wrong under that official’s watch. But what does the statement really mean when followed by an asterisk, and the asterisk becomes more significant than that which precedes it?

Regarding the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Hillary Clinton has stated, “I take responsibility, but I was not making security decisions.” When asked by Bret Baier, of FOX News, “What exactly are you taking responsibility for?” her response was, “I took responsibility for being at the head of the State Department at that time.”

Come again?

One could surmise that Mrs. Clinton has  ruled out accepting responsibility for the safety of our murdered ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and the other three Americans murdered along with him; pretty much counted out the systemic security failures that left our diplomatic compound in Benghazi vulnerable to attack; as well as the failure to be open and forthcoming, in the days following the attack, about what had occurred on that now infamous night.

What Mrs. Clinton so nobly took responsibility for – being at the head of the State Department – was really nothing more than a pre-existing condition. So, she was Secretary of State … at that time … big deal. She was also Secretary of State a week earlier. I guess she takes responsibility for that too? What the heck, she might as well take responsibility for getting out of bed that morning and being driven to work that day.

Mrs. Clinton expects to enjoy the power and privilege of high office, yet attempts, however clumsily, to avoid the accountability that attaches to such office.

Instead of saying … I take responsibility, she might just as well have said … I want to have my cake, and I’ll eat it right in front of you.

Variation on a Scandal: Third Movement

Mr. Obama’s objective is entirely political – to divert attention, to buy time. That’s why this IRS email charade is easily compared to Obama’s Benghazi video charade, which was, on its face, too ludicrous to be taken seriously, much less believed. It was intended to obfuscate, to run out the clock on the president’s 2012 re-election campaign. Obama’s object now is to run out the clock on his presidency … to survive.

He may pull that off. But that’s about all, since he has lost the confidence of the American public – including moderate voters who were crucial to his presidential election victories, and even many Democrats. His leftist base remains, and will no matter how bitter it gets.

As to credibility, Obama’s has been squandered, repeatedly, on half-truths, non-truths and incompetence (matters including but not limited to: Fast & Furious, the Benghazi fiasco, phony red lines in Syria, misreading Putin’s Russia, misjudging the threat from extremists in the Middle East, repeated and brazen lies about ObamaCare, the abuse of our veterans by the Veterans Administration, and the deliberate, politically motivated targeting of American citizens by the IRS). Already flirting with lame duck status, the president and his administration risk being seen a discomfiting exercise in self-parody and political toxicity.

Mr. Obama will not regain credibility unless – and this is a huge unless – he acts boldly. First and foremost, he must have Eric Holder (the aforementioned Attorney General who’s running interference for him) appoint a special prosecutor to fully and aggressively investigate the IRS scandal.

That’s what it would take, to begin with. Anyone care to lay odds?

Variation on a Scandal: Second Movement

The ‘missing’ IRS emails are likened to 18.5 minutes of Richard Nixon’s Oval Office audiotape, erased during the height of the Watergate cover-up (way back in the 1970s), and never heard publicly. Those 18.5 minutes of purportedly incriminating audio remain a mystery and most likely always will.

These emails, however, are a different matter since such correspondence is required to be backed up, secured, which would make it retrievable. But wait … there is more … as it is now claimed by IRS officials that the suspect emails are not backed up after all, not secured, therefore not retrievable … how convenient for Ms. Lerner, and for the president.

An ongoing attempt to deny the ‘lost’ emails’ existence, if indeed they do exist, or to have caused their deliberate destruction, in the face of a congressional investigation, would constitute criminal conspiracy. But isn’t that small potatoes for the Obama administration? An annoyance to be kept at bay? So long as they have the liberal media and a U.S. Attorney General to run interference for them?

Variation on a Scandal: First Movement

The IRS tells us that, due to a computer crash, they inadvertently lost more than two years worth of Lois Lerner’s emails. Not all IRS emails during that period, mind you, just the ones most likely to incriminate Ms. Lerner (who oversaw the IRS’s discriminatory targeting of conservative groups) and others in the Obama administration.

More than a mere strain on credulity, this is an insult to the intelligence of, well, pretty much anyone who’s got any. And that doesn’t appear to include many of the liberal media establishment (a.k.a. the ‘mainstream’ media), given their nonchalant reaction to the IRS cover-up. It seems Democrats don’t need to enact nefarious conspiracies in a clandestine manner; they can do it in broad daylight, in the spotlight, under a microscope even, while the liberal news media shrug, yawn and look the other way.

Chatting Coffee and Krugman

By David Lewis

So, I’m sitting in my neighborhood java house, with my latte, minding my own business and reading a favored book of poetry, Road-Side Dog, by Czeslaw Milosz; really do like how that guy’s pen works. We each attend our own ritual in this West L.A. shrine to the coffee life. Some read while others tap away on laptops, chat business or conduct job interviews; still others come in for bags of dry beans and leave straightaway.

I glance up and notice, sitting at a table next to mine, Julia Louis Dreyfus, the talented actress who played Elaine on nine seasons of Seinfeld. She appears to be having a business meeting. Part of me wants to gain her attention, just to compliment her body of work; but I follow the protocol de rigueur in Brentwood – no celebrity stands out in this neighborhood – we’re each quite special, thank you very much.

Once, however, I did take a moment to tell Will Ferrell that I enjoyed his work. This was several years ago, when he was transitioning from Saturday Night Live to the status of Hollywood movie star. It was just the two of us, in an elevator, in Beverly Hills. I would’ve felt silly pretending I didn’t recognize him, and so we nodded politely to each other.

“I really enjoy your work,” I said, smiling.

“Oh, thank you very much,” he replied, smiling back at me. “I appreciate you saying so.” Then the elevator doors opened and we parted company.

Back to java … so there I sit, and Paul Krugman – well-known economist, committed lefty, overly confident, you know the type – walks in and saunters up to the counter. The woman working there, sporting a lip ring, appears to know the Keynesian snoot, and they share some small talk, which I, of course, can overhear.

“How’s business?” Krugman asks.

“Sucks,” she replies. “Sales are way down. People seem to be watching their pennies. Even here. Got any advice?” And a smile curls across his previously pursed lips.

“What’s your monthly outlay on coffee beans?”

“Just enough to keep the bins full.”

“Double it.”

“What?”

“Better yet, triple it.”

“Even if I saw the sense in that, which I don’t, I don’t have the budget.”

“Borrow it.”

“But why?

“Look, you’re not going to grow yourself out of these doldrums unless you spend a lot of money that you don’t have on coffee that no one will buy.”

“Doesn’t sound very efficient.”

“What’s efficiency got to do with it? It’s about spurring economic activity. Just spend money you don’t have and borrow more than you could ever hope to pay back.”

“We could go out of business that way.”

“Your competitors won’t let that happen, you’re too big to fail. Spend like there’s no tomorrow, and you’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, sure. Thanks. Uh, here’s your change. Enjoy your tea.”

Nudge, wink … only seen Krugman on the telly.

Hillary & Elizabeth … Seriously?

So, Hillary Clinton is once again on tour, promoting the latest sleep-inducing version of herself. Despite that – or perhaps because of it – I harbor doubts about her supposed inevitability in 2016. Running for president would not be as easy for Hillary as many predict, and for many reasons, not the least of which is the still unfolding Benghazi fiasco and her role in it. Other baggage would surely come to the fore, including her dearth of accomplishment as Secretary of State, or as anything else. She’s also a bit on the older side of life’s equation and not, shall we say, light on her feet – can’t really picture her prancing down the stairs from Air Force One a la Obama, can you?

Recently I saw Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus (a sillier name, by the way, is hard to imagine) as much as predict that Hillary will not run for president again. I also saw Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, on the Colbert Report, promoting a vapid tome of her own, and perhaps jockeying for early position in the upcoming Democrat primaries, should Hillary politely step aside. Well, let’s just say Ms. Warren didn’t do herself any favors … okay, I’ll say more.

When it comes to politics and recent American history, Ms. Warren is so thoroughly ensconced in her left-wing cocoon as to appear delusional. In a nutshell, she seemed to suggest to Mr. Colbert that things had been pretty darned good for middle-class Americans until Ronald Reagan became president, at which point our country took a pronounced turn for the worse; rich, greedy capitalists were cut loose to cheat ordinary Americans out of their hard earned money, and to continue doing so (apparently during both Democrat and Republican administrations) until our economy came crashing down upon itself in 2008. Her thesis really wasn’t more complex than that bit of populist pap – good heavens! This woman may actually run for president, and among left-wing kook Democrats (apparently there are lots of them) that’s considered a good thing.

Republicans should be so lucky.

Chatting of the Climate

The rhetoric of Paul  Krugman and the climate change hawks … how it takes me back …

It was the summer of 2007, scorching temperatures across the nation, even in West Los Angeles. I enjoyed an air-conditioned respite in my neighborhood Peet’s Coffee. A friend of mine sat next to me, read from the New York Times and leaned toward me every so often, shaking his anxious head, repeating, “It’s global warming.”

In those days, pretty much anything unwanted, including a hot summer day, was blamed on ‘global warming’ – since ‘climate change’ hadn’t been invented yet. I paused from my LA Weekly, leaned toward my friend and asked, “How much time do you think we still have, really, before it’s too late to save the planet? And ourselves?” He considered my query for a good while.

“Ten years,” he told me, with a straight face.

“Well then,” I replied, “We’re doomed.”

“God, I hope not.”

“Think about it. Even if we all devote ourselves to switching from fossil fuels to some cleaner form of energy, I mean real devotion, that’s an admirable goal. But that’s a huge transition. It would take decades to occur, at least, what, half a century? Maybe longer?”

He looked back at me like he might cry. And there really was nowhere for the discussion to go. I felt bad for my friend, and leaned toward him again.

“So, seen any good movies lately?”

After all, nothing like a bit of escapism to get one through the day.