Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, February 2, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 15



 Mountain Views News Saturday, February 2, 2013 

HOWARD Hays As I See It


GREG Welborn

 “To Libyans who witnessed the 
assault and know the attackers, 
there is little doubt what occurred: 
a well-known group of local 
Islamist militants struck the 
United States Mission without any 
warning or protest, and they did it 
in retaliation for the video.”

- New York Times, October 15 2012

 Regular readers of my column 
(okay – for the sake of argument, 
let’s assume there are regular readers of my column) 
know the first thing I turn to in the MVN is Greg 
Welborn’s column. That was true last week, as I 
turned to the Left / Right page and read what he had 
to say. And then read it again - and again, a third 

 Greg was upset over Secretary of State Hillary 
Clinton’s lack of concern during her Congressional 
testimony over “who lied about what really 
happened” at the attack on our compound in 
Benghazi, Libya last year. If somebody lied, I’d like 
to know about it. But first, I’d like to know what this 
“lie” is that Greg wants to get to the bottom of.

 I didn’t see what the “lie” is upon first reading. So 
I read the column again – and again. I was hoping, 
but unable, to find something along the lines of, 
“Here’s what was said – and here’s why it’s untrue.” 

 For example, from Greg’s own column one could 
take his statement that Secretary Clinton “blamed 
the failure to protect the diplomatic compounds on 
‘the assistant secretary level or below’”, and explain 
that it’s untrue because it’s something Secretary 
Clinton didn’t do. What she did do in her testimony 
was cite the findings of the commission led by 
retired diplomat Thomas Pickering (who served 
under Presidents Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush and 
Clinton) and Mike Mullen, former Chairman of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Stating it was Ambassador 
Pickering and Admiral Mullen who “blamed” those 
lower-level employees wouldn’t have the same 
“spin” as stating it was Clinton herself who did, but 
the latter statement remains untrue.

 There’s also Greg’s statement that Bill Clinton 
was “Disbarred from practicing law because he 
committed perjury.” At the end of his presidency, 
Clinton made a deal with Whitewater prosecutors, 
accepting a $250,000 fine and a five-year suspension 
of his Arkansas law license in return for their not 
pursuing charges once he left office. Perjury is a 
crime; one which Bill Clinton was never indicted 
for, stood trial on nor pled guilty to. This isn’t “spin”; 
it’s a false accusation of criminality.

 I continued wondering about the “lie” Greg 
referred to. Then I recalled coverage by John and 
Ken on KFI, who, rather than replaying Clinton’s 
testimony, instead offered a background narrative 
so we’d understand what the hearings were about: 
Although our compound at Benghazi was attacked 
by terrorists, the White House pushed the line it 
instead was related to protests over an anti-Islam 
film – and sent out reps, notably U.N. Ambassador 
Susan Rice, to spread that story in the media. This 
was done to help President Obama’s re-election 
prospects. Anyone who denies this must be gullible 
or involved in a cover-up. 

 On Bill Maher’s HBO show, he screened a clip 
from the Benghazi hearing of Sen. Rand Paul (R-
KY) asking (in all sincerity) a question about arms 
from Libya being funneled to Turkey. Secretary 
Clinton responded with a where-the-heck-did-that-
come-from look and a perplexed, “Turkey?!”

 As Maher explained, this had nothing to do 
with information from a State Dept. or intelligence 
briefing, but more likely was something Sen. Paul 
picked up from a Glenn Beck show. It’s what Maher 
calls the “bubble”; stories echoing through Fox 
News and wing-nut radio becoming “reality”.

 Mitt Romney experienced first-hand the danger of 
living within this bubble, as he apparently accepted 
the narrative as repeated by John and Ken. Part of 
the narrative is that President Obama refused to 
refer to the attack as “terrorist” until days later.

 Whatever momentum Romney gained from the 
first presidential debate was lost at the second, when 
President Obama mentioned having referred to 
“terrorists” the day after the attack. This contradicted 
the bubble narrative, so Romney challenged the 
verifiable reality of Obama’s statement – and looked 
stupid in front of a world audience. 

 The NY Times article quoted above reported 
how Congressional inquiries were focused not on 
defending our missions overseas, but in defending 
the bubble narrative used against President 
Obama. One focus was on undercutting Obama’s 
successes against terrorism by directly connecting 
Benghazi attackers to Al Qaeda – with Republicans 
expressing great irritation as witnesses testified such 
connections were tenuous, at best.

 There was the derailing of the nomination of U.N. 
Ambassador Rice for Secretary of State, charging she 
gave false accounts to media outlets following the 
attack. What she actually said is readily available. 
On NBC’s “Meet The Press” on September 16, 
Ambassador Rice said, “the best information we 
have at present” is that “opportunistic extremist 
elements came to the consulate . . . with heavy 
weapons that are unfortunately readily available in 
post-revolutionary Libya.” She said it appeared to 
be “initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just 
transpired hours before in Cairo”, but added, “that’s 
our best judgment now. We’ll await the results of 
the investigation.”

 What Ambassador Rice said was pretty much 
in line with what we knew then, and what we’re 
finding out today. The conflict is not between what 
she said and reality, but between reality and the 
bubble narrative that can be so easily dismantled by 
a couple quick Google searches on primary sources.

 Republicans seem incapable of realizing the 
campaign is over, and Americans expect real efforts 
to tackle serious issues, not desperate attempts to 
defend made-up bubble narratives created for no 
purpose other than to ding the president and his 

 As Secretary Clinton put it, the focus should 
be on bringing those responsible for the deaths 
of four Americans to justice, and to take steps to 
prevent such a tragedy from happening again. 
For Republicans who insist on keeping the focus 
elsewhere, it’s time somebody popped their bubble. 

President Obama has now turned his sights on 
immigration as the next big issue to be “solved”, 
but, like so much of what he does, political 
gamesmanship and positioning is more important 
than concrete results for the very people he wants 
to help. If the president really wanted to help 
immigrants in this country and position them 
and their children to succeed and prosper in this 
country, he would forget the politics and follow the 
conservative lead on how to really fix this problem 
and best serve the country he professes to love.

 The political elites in our country – primarily those 
on the left in politics and the media – have narrowly 
defined the immigration problem and are covering it 
from a president vs. Republican perspective. It’s the 
melodrama of the conflict between approximately 
11 million, largely brown-skinned, people and the 
painted-white and privileged Republicans that 
animates the media and most of those on the left. 
They never think that Republicans might just care 
about people as people and might even have a soft 
spot in their hearts for hard working immigrants. 
So, let me spell out the essential conservative 
position on immigration reform.

 Immigration reform and education reform 
must go hand in hand. They are two side of the 
same coin and can’t be separated if we truly want 
to help immigrants work their way up in our 
system. If Obama and fellow Liberals really cared 
about immigrants, they’d realize that letting them 
stay in the U.S., but consigning them to the worst 
performing schools in the country, doesn’t do them, 
or us, any good.

 There are 1 million children in this country 
illegally and another 4.5 million who are legal, 
but whose parents are not legal residents. In both 
cases, the tough economic situation faced by the 
parents largely relegates these kids to the poor 
urban areas with the lowest performing schools. 
Overwhelmingly, they suffer great hardship because 
of their parent’s situation, but then again because of 
the education they receive.

 What possible justification can there be for self-
professing “progressives” to not let these kids – and 
every other poor kid in America, irrespective of 
skin color, to have a choice of where to go to school. 
Immigration reform AND education reform must 
go together. We have to let parents decide where 
they want their kids to go to school. Education 
choice is the kindest, fairest, and most “progressive” 
policy prescription for these kids and their families, 
and it is a Conservative position, not a Liberal 

 Liberals see the education component as a 
political issue, not a human issue. They see an 
entrenched, financially powerful, Democratic Party 
supporter in the pubic school unions, and they 
are not about to jeopardize that relationship. Any 
mention of choice, charter, or competition in the 
public school sphere sends the union lobbyists out 
threatening to withhold campaign contributions 
from any Democrat that supports these concepts. 

 So let’s not pretend that liberals care and 
conservatives don’t. That lie should have died a 
long time ago, but it has the best life support system 
money can buy in D.C. It was Ronald Reagan, the 
arch-conservative, of all people who first articulated 
the conservative party 
belief that hard working 
immigrants are what built 
this country, will continue 
to be a part of its success in 
the future, and have a solid 
home in the Republican 

 At the same time, 
conservatives are 
justifiably concerned about 
future influxes of people 
who ignore our laws and simply walk across the 
border. Illegal immigration is a problem that we 
believe must be stopped. Legal immigration is a 
resource we want to encourage. The core issue for 
conservatives is not whether to deport 11 million 
people. The key issue is how to treat them so as to 
not encourage others to break the law, thus insulting 
those foreigners who want to come to the U.S., but 
who have thus far obeyed the law and waited their 
turn. It’s a principal that most Americans – right, 
center and left – should appreciate. We come 
together in a Democracy, vote, pass our laws and 
then expect people to obey them. If they don’t, they 
shouldn’t expect to be rewarded.

 Conservatives propose “regularizing” those 
people who are illegally in this country in a way 
that falls way short of deporting them but doesn’t 
simply reward them for what they did. When 
Ronald Reagan signed his immigration reform act 
it was with the express desire, and promise, that by 
dealing with illegal immigrants then, we would not 
have to deal with the same issue in the future. Sadly, 
he was hoodwinked by the Congress, and nothing 
was done to prevent future illegal immigration. So 
we face the same situation today. 

 Accordingly, the last major plank of the 
conservative position is that we have to secure the 
border even as we accept the fact that 11 million 
people are largely going to stay in this country. We 
can find a way to deal with them that is fair, but we 
have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Promises 
that the border will be secured after immigration 
reform is passed don’t fly. Americans have been 
lied to on this issue time and time again. We’re not 
going to kick the football held by Lucy anymore.

 For those who suggest that a fence doesn’t 
work, they should check with Israel. When Israel 
built its fence, the number of suicide and terrorist 
attacks fell dramatically. The technology is not that 
difficult. A double fence construction (two fences 
running parallel) will halt the vast majority of illegal 
immigration. Nothing is 100%. The perfect cannot 
be the enemy of the good.

 In conclusion, spare us the sanctimonious 
pronouncements, Mr. President, about how you 
and your kind are the only ones who care. Save 
us the ugly accusations about the black hearts of 
conservative Americans. And for once, just once, 
please put the country ahead of politics. Join the 
conservatives in helping immigrants join the 
American fabric, giving their kids – and all poor 
kids – a choice of where they go to school, and 
secure the border to secure this nation for everyone 
who lives here, whether they are rich, poor, white, 
black, legal or illegal. 

STUART Tolchin..........On LIFE


Soon after I saw Justice Sonia 
Sotomayor administer the Oath 
of Office to Vice-President 
Biden I became aware that she 
would be doing a book-signing 
at Vroman’s last Friday. I 
mentioned this to my wife, who 
promptly went out and bought 
her book, My Beloved World, 
at Costco. I called my wife and learned that she 
really didn’t want to stand in the rain for three 
hours just to get a book signed and that, if it was 
that important to me, I should buy another book 
and go stand in line by myself. I was disappointed 
but just to show her, I decided to go by myself.

 Well, it really wasn’t just to show her. I am really 
interested in Justice Sotomayor. How could this 
woman, born in great poverty with an alcoholic 
father, dead by the time she was nine, achieve such 
improbable success? Her elevation to the Supreme 
Court is almost as surprising and unlikely as the 
election of a President who really never knew 
his father or his goat-farmer grandfather. Old 
limitations have disappeared and it is time for me to 
learn the new rules.

 Well, the first thing I learned was that it would cost 
me thirty dollars to buy the same book at Vroman’s, 
for which my wife had paid fifteen bucks at Costco. 
I paid it and received a ticket allowing me to get in 
line about a half an hour before the signing was to 
begin. A little before the appointed time, I appeared 
at the back door of the book store and was directed 
to wait at a corner about 2 full blocks away from the 
door. This was a surprise, but I was more surprised 
when I was forced to wait at that corner as a part of 
a huge line that remained stationary for over two 

 Why was I doing this? Somehow I imagined 
by eventually getting close to this woman I might 
possibly learn the new secret path to success. I 
waited; got wet and eventually I was allowed 
to enter the store and walk up the stairs and there 
she was. I reached the front of the room where she 
sat signing. The person in front of me said, “You 
have been my role-model.” The Justice smiled, and 
as she smiled, I said, “Keep rolling”. She laughed 
and made a scrawl across the title page of my book. 
Maybe I had made some small contact.

 I went home and told my wife that she hadn’t 
missed much and that I couldn’t believe I had waited 
for so long in the rain. Really, though, I thought 
I was on to something and I immediately began 
to read the book. It is 308 pages plus an added 
Spanish-English glossary and a Spanish poem. I 
read the glossary first and leaned that café con 
leche is translated as coffee with milk. Not exactly a 
surprise and for me kind of illustrative of the whole 
book. Much of it was very familiar, such as the 
revelation that when studying it is best to underline 
and make notes in the margins; then, right before 
the examination, reread the chapters with emphasis 
on your underlining and marginal notes. I knew 
that. Similarly, don’t just read to learn the results. 
It is more important to understand process than 
products. I know that also. Here is a surprise 
though. Her father was a hopeless alcoholic and her 
mother was cold and seemingly disinterested in her. 
The Justice revealed that this inspired within her, “a 
kind of precocious reliance that is not uncommon 
in children who feel the adults around them to be 

 Curses! No wonder I am such a failure. My 
mother was always interested in me and was 
completely reliable. Still I read the whole book. 
Chapter 26 reveals that the Justice’s genius cousin, 
her soul-mate and almost-twin, died of a heroin 
overdose before he was thirty. She wonders why did 
she survive and prosper, while he did not. She hunts 
for the answer and concludes, “Call it what you like: 
discipline, determination, perseverance, the force of 
will. If only I could bottle it, I’d share it with every 
kid in America. But where does it come from?’

 Where indeed? Of course the question is never 
answered; but after reading the book I had this 
feeling that all things are possible. I need not feel 
eternally restricted by my own past and recognized 
limitations. Sometimes it is a good idea to stand in 
the rain and devote oneself to some vision, however 
improbable. The book of our own lives continues 
and our main task is to stay interested in that life 
even if we think we have already learned its lessons. 
Enjoy another café con leche and realize that though 
we all end up in the same place; it our individual 
journey that matters even if we are hampered by 
reliable parents. Who knew? 

JOE GANDELMAN Independent’s Eye

Can the Republican Party rebrand 
itself after its big 2012 
national election defeat, loss of 
growing demographic groups, 
and polls indicating many perceive 
it as out of touch and too 
extreme? The answer is yes. 
Will it? That answer is more 

There are signs of movement. 

Senate Republicans in the "Gang of 8" reached a 
deal with Democrats on immigration reform. But 
will the Republican House dilute or stop it? Several 
top Republicans suggest the party must be more 
inclusive in tone. Notable non-Sarah Palin fan and 
Fox News bigwig Roger Ailes made the former 
Alaska Governor a lowball-contract-renewal offer 
she could and did refuse, in what many consider 
an Ailes effort to move Fox away from the Twilight 
Zone-ish far right. So Palin joins Glen Beck in Fox 
News exile.


To rebrand, the GOP must extricate itself from the 
talk radio political culture that celebrates political 
brinksmanship, snarkiness, over-the-top verbal demonization 
and division, and considers compromise 
"caving" and consensus as dated. The talk radio 
political culture, coupled with the Just Say No bitter 
political brew of Tea Partiers, have greatly damaged 
the GOP image -- and brand.

If Republicans want to lose six out of seven Presidential 
elections come 2016, they should stay the 
course. There is a market in America thirsting for 
a thoughtful, substantive, Republican Party that offers 
a serious alternative to Democrats, rather than 
zinger-hurling politicians and activists seemingly 
auditioning to be Rush Limbaugh Show substitute 

Current Republican Party rebranding efforts have 
been damaged by reports that in several states, and 
even at the national level, some GOPers may want 
to do what some Virginia Republicans are trying 
to do. Virginia Republicans tried to shove through 
a measure changing the way our political system 
operates by allocating electoral votes according to 
Congressional districts. Several pundits note that 
if this system had been in place nationally in 2012, 
Mitt Romney would have defeated Barack Obama 
-- even though Romney lost by 4.4 million votes.

When Republican National Committee Chair Reince 
Priebus expressed interest in this idea, the story 
spread further and hurt the GOP brand -- since to 
many Americans it (rightfully) made Republicans 
look like sore losers, willing to garbage-bag our accepted 
rules of the game to rig elections to win and 
maintain power. As the imagery damage became 
evident, more Republicans started voicing opposition 
to the idea, which even the Wall Street Journal 
headlined "divisive."

Florida's Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford 
told a reporter: "To me, that's like saying in a 
football game, 'We should have only three quarters, 
because we were winning after three quarters and 
they beat us in the fourth.' I don't think we need to 
change the rules of the game, I think we need to get 

You could say "no duh" -- except there still are an 
awful lot of powerful "duhs" still out there.

 Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal famously declared it's 
time for the GOP to stop becoming known as the 
"stupid party." The National Journal's Charlie Cook 
suggested the party could use sensitivity training 
because Asians and Latinos were turned off by 
"shoot-from-the-lip remarks from various Republican 
candidates, conservative radio and cable television 
talk-show hosts, and guests who were seen by 
many as being, correctly or not, spokesmen for the 
Republican Party."

So are the attempts to rig the Electoral College 
dead? Not totally.

If Republican dominated legislatures shove this 
through in even a couple of states, it will be a godsend 
to Democrats who have their own ideas on 
how to brand the GOP. And if Republicans ever 
did, in essence, gerrymander the electoral college so 
that they can maintain power without winning the 
popular vote, then the U.S. would be on its way to 
becoming a banana Republic -- engineered by "stupid" 
banana Republicans.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for 
newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has 
appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-
in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for 
independents, centrists and moderates. CNN's John Avlon 
named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists 
and Commentators. He can be reached at jgandelman@ and can be booked to speak at 
your event at


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