Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Benghazi Report Critical Of Clinton State Department

In the aftermath of the September 11th attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the State Department launched an internal investigation to determine what went wrong. The findings were made public yesterday and I suspect Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an advanced copy of the report. Perhaps that is why she fainted and suffered a concussion this weekend.

According to the Accountability Review Board, our ambassador and three other Americans died as the result of “systemic failures” and “leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” within the State Department. Fox News writes that the report also found “a pervasive realization among personnel who served in Benghazi that the Special Mission was not a high priority for Washington when it came to security-related requests.”

Furthermore, the report also rejected claims by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and others in the Obama Administration that the attack was the result of a protest against an anti-Islamic film.

The Associated Press reports that three top State Department officials resigned this morning as a result of Review Board’s findings.

Obama Announces Commission On Gun Control

During a White House press conference today, President Obama announced that he is forming a commission, led by Vice President Joe Biden, to draft policy proposals on gun control. The president said that the Biden-led commission will develop “concrete proposals” by January, which he “intend[s] to push without delay.”

I hope that the commission will be mindful of public opinion. An ABC/Washington Post poll released this week found that 52% of the public thinks the shooting “reflects broader problems in American society.” I would submit that the breakdown of the family and reliable standards of right and wrong should be at the top of any list of “broader problems in society,” but I doubt Biden’s commission will see it that way.

When asked what was the best way to reduce gun violence, only 32% said “passing stricter gun-control laws,” while 49% said “stricter enforcement of existing laws.” And 71% said they opposed a nationwide ban on handguns.

More importantly, I hope the commission is respectful of the Constitution. This administration has repeatedly circumvented the constitutional process and stretched the limits of its authority. Some on the left are urging the president to use executive orders to limit our Second Amendment rights if he is unable to get any legislation through the divided Congress.

President Obama needs to respect the limits of his authority. If the left has a problem with the Second Amendment, then launch an effort to repeal it. But ruling by emergency degree is unacceptable. We will be watching the Biden commission very carefully.

Mandate Update

Here’s some tentative good news in the fight against Obamacare’s assault on religious liberty. Yesterday the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Obamacare’s contraception mandate filed by Wheaton College and Belmont Abbey College.

A lower court had dismissed the case on the grounds that the government was reportedly revising the mandate. That wasn’t good enough for the Court of Appeals. The appellate court did not overturn the mandate, but it did demand evidence from the Department of Health and Human Services that serious revisions to accommodate religious institutions were in fact being made.

This decision is similar to an opinion two weeks ago by a federal judge in New York, who also rejected the government’s argument that cases should be dismissed because the bureaucrats were tweaking the regulations. In his opinion, Judge Brian Cogan wrote, “There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution. To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction.”

Mourning Robert Bork

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Judge Robert Bork this morning. Bork was an intellectual giant and one of America’s finest constitutional scholars. It was a great loss for America that he was denied the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court.

But while praising Bork, let me remind you why he never got that opportunity. He was smeared so badly that his vicious confirmation battle gave rise to a new term — “to Bork someone,” meaning to assassinate their character.

The man who led that lynching was Ted Kennedy, who went to the Senate floor and lied. Here’s what he said:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.”

At the time even many on the left thought Kennedy was over-the-top in his vitriol. But Kennedy set the template for how the left deals with its political opponents. Do you see the “war on women” theme? The “conservatives are racists” theme? And “religious conservatives are extremists and anti-science” theme? It was outrageous then, but it has become commonplace now. Sadly, some conservatives are still taken by surprise when it happens today.

Robert Bork was a good man. I will miss his leadership and wisdom. Please join Carol and me in prayer for his wife, Mary Ellen, and the Bork family.