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Cleta Mitchell’s tireless work on the IRS scandal has turned up some interesting information:

Cleta Mitchell, who testified Wednesday to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, pointed out to Fox News Channel’s Bill Hemmer that IRS employees belong to the National Treasury Employees Union, which has directed 94 percent of its contributions to Democrats this election cycle.

The union, she said, has given to 11 of the 18 Democrats on the House Oversight Committee.

“And, every time there is a hearing on any aspect of this investigation about the IRS targeting,” Mitchell said, “the Democrats come in one by one and say the same thing over and over again. ‘Let’s shut this down. Let’s shut this down.’”

This fits perfectly into the Democrats’ culture of corruption method of operation. A special interest organization or a government employees union contributes to a powerful Democrat’s campaign and, suddenly, that union’s scandal disappears. It hits the proverbial black hole, never to be seen again for the rest of eternity.

This type of quid pro quo enables corrupt bureaucrats to continue their corrupt practices because they know they’re protected if they’re ever caught. Why wouldn’t the IRS let their ideology get in the way of their professional responsibilities? If their corruption ever got caught, Elijah Cummings would just get in front of a camera and complain that this is a partisan witch hunt, that Republicans were selectively leaking information that lacked proper context, etc.

It isn’t a stretch to think that the IRS’s campaign contributions contributed to the Democrats’ change in tone. When the investigation focused on “rogue agents in Cincinnati”, Democrats were outraged at the IRS’s activities. The minute that people figured out that it wasn’t confined to Cincinnati, the Democrats’ storyline changed. I don’t know when the IRS started contributing to the Democrats’ campaigns but it wouldn’t surprise me if their contributions coincided with the Democrats’ change in tone.

That isn’t proof but it isn’t implausible either.

The Democratic members of the committee pressed the theme that the IRS also targeted progressive groups, though little support for that argument was received from the witnesses.

If I were advising Chairman Issa, I’d authorize Rep. Cummings to put an official committee report that a) listed the specific progressive groups that the IRS targeted, b) highlights what additional scrutiny the IRS gave to these progressive organizations and c) reported how long it took for these progressive organizations to get their applications approved.

Further, I’d impose a deadline that the report is due by. Finally, I’d tell Chairman Issa to prepare a chart listing a) all of the TEA Party organizations that the IRS asked intrusive questions of and b) whether these organizations’ applications were approved and how long it took to get their applications approved.

That way, there could be a detailed, side-by-side comparison between the IRS’s targeting of TEA Party organizations and the alleged ‘targeting’ of progressive organizations.

Imagine the visual contrast if it’s shown how intrusive the additional IRS questions were for TEA Party organizations, how many of the TEA Party organizations still hadn’t gotten their applications approved after 2 years and how the allegedly ‘targeted’ progressive organizations got their applications approved in a short amount of time.

That’s something the Democrats and the IRS couldn’t explain away. That’s because the IRS scrutiny of TEA Party organizations was stifling, improper and possibly a violation of their civil rights.

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One of the reasons why I don’t miss Greta van Susteren’s show is because I always learn things I wouldn’t hear anywhere else on TV. This video is a classic example of what I’m talking about:

During her interview with Greta, Michelle Easton, the president of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, said that “the first thing that the IRS requested was the names of all of our contributors. Well, you know they can’t get that information. That is private information. But we had to fight and fight and fight to secure the privacy of our supporters.”

That’s when Greta jumped in, saying “I think there’s even case law from the Supreme Court asking for the names of the membership, which prevents it.” Less than a minute later, Greta said that the Supreme Court case was the NAACP vs. Alabama.

President Obama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney have repeatedly said that the IRS scandal is a “phony scandal.” That’s an outright lie. When the IRS asks an organization for information it’s prohibited from getting, it’s a real scandal.

Later in the first block, Greta played a video of Lew’s interview on Meet the Press:

During the video, Lew said that “after weeks and weeks of investigations, IG investigations, Justice Department investigations, congressional hearings, there’s no evidence of any political involvement in the decisions leading up to that situation.”

That’s technically true but it’s also spin. Saying that Chairman Issa hadn’t uncovered a smoking gun that the White House micromanaged the political attacks on President Obama’s political enemies after 3 months of hearings is akin to saying Woodward and Bernstein were barking up the wrong tree with Watergate because they hadn’t found a smoking gun after 3 months of investigating. It took them 2 years to put the Watergate puzzle together.

I’m not saying this IRS scandal is Watergate’s equivalent. YET. It’s possible that investigators won’t find that smoking gun but it’s equally possible they will.

What we know now is that the IRS was used as a weapon against President Obama’s political opponents. Further, we’ve learned that the office of the IRS’s Office of Chief Counsel is accused of micromanaging the harassment of the TEA Party organizations. Finally, it’s possible that one of President Obama’s political appointees might’ve played a role in putting the harassing questions together. At this point, we can’t prove that William Wilkins helped put the questions together. We just know it’s possible.

At minimum, the investigation shouldn’t stop until we find out, conclusively, that Wilkins wasn’t involved in harassing his boss’s political opponents. If investigators find out that Wilkins was involved, then the investigation must continue. Anything less wouldn’t be acceptable.

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When a governor asks a newspaper to print his editorial, it’s political courtesy to say yes. That doesn’t mean citizens can’t rip his op-ed. This op-ed would be a paragraph if not for the DFL’s spin:

Foremost, our budget will provide our children the better educations they need for brighter futures. Minnesota’s long-term economic competitiveness hinges on our ability to deliver a world-class education for our kids.

All-day kindergarten isn’t a great investment. It’s a ripoff. Further, teacher accountability doesn’t exist. AJ Kern notes that there are high school math teachers in Sauk Rapids school system who can’t pass the basic skills test to get their teaching certificate. If there aren’t great teachers in classrooms, no amount of spending will deliver a “world-class education for our kids.”

It sounds great. Education Minnesota will certainly praise the Dayton/Bakk/Thissen budget. The reality, though, is that their policies won’t appreciably improve education in Minnesota.

During the political analysis segment of @Issue With Tom Hauser, Brian Mclung noted that the DFL stripped out the basic skills test reform that Gov. Dayton signed after the Republican legislature passed it last year. Mclung noted, too, that the DFL ended graduation testing for students, too.

If DFL policies were leading to “a world-class education for our kids”, why is the DFL gutting policies that verify kids are getting a “world-class education”?

The propaganda continues:

After a decade of steep tuition increases, students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities campuses will benefit from tuition freezes for the next two years. And more than 100,000 State Grant Program recipients from low- and middle-income families will receive additional financial aid to pursue their higher educations.

Tuitions have been frozen, which is the only positive thing in their higher ed budget. Higher ed costs haven’t been reduced. Rather than fixing the problem, the DFL just increased the subsidies for students to attend less-than-average colleges.

We made major investments that will provide thousands of good-paying jobs. They include major expansions by Mayo Clinic, 3M, the Mall of America and others that will create thousands of construction jobs and thousands more for operations.

If crony capitalism worked, the American economy wouldn’t be growing at an anemic 2% rate. Any time that the government raises taxes, then spends some of those taxes on the politically-well-connected, the people that don’t get their “fair share” of corporate welfare are hurt.

That’s before talking the disastrous warehousing tax and the sales tax on telecommunications companies. Those are the worst tax policies ever implemented in Minnesota history. I predict the warehousing tax will be repealed before the end of the 2014 session. If it isn’t, Minnesota’s economy will take a major hit.

Finally, there’s this BS:

And we paid for these investments honestly and progressively. The very highest income earners and some large corporations will pay more in taxes. Except for smokers, middle-class Minnesotans will pay the same state income or sales tax rates while realizing the benefits from $441 million in additional property tax relief, which reverses the property tax increases that resulted from the previous Legislature’s policies.

The warehousing tax will be paid for by everyone, not just “the rich”, in the form of higher pricers for groceries and other products. As for the “$441 million in additional property tax relief,” that’s mostly a myth. Most of that relief is higher LGA payments to cities and counties. In the hands of liberals like Don Ness, Chris Coleman and R.T. Rybak, those LGA payments turn into big spending increases, not into property tax relief.

The DFL pushed things hard this year because they realize Minnesotans will throw the DFL out of the House majority in 2014.

I never thought I’d see the day when a political party would attempt to collect sales taxes from kids shovelling snow, mowing lawns or babysitting. That day just arrived:

Here’s the key exchange between Rep. Kurt Zellers and Minnesota Department of Revenue Commissioner Frans:

REP. ZELLERS: But if I pay him every month $20 or $100, is that going to be or is he going to have to start collecting sales tax and remitting it to the State of Minnesota?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: …He probably would. If it was a monthly charge, then there likely would be a sales tax charge.
REP. ZELLERS: So then someone mowing my lawn, someone shovelling snow for me during the winter time or a babysitter?
COMMISSIONER FRANS: Those services would generally all be covered by the sales tax.

Wasn’t it just 6 months ago that Gov. Dayton and the DFL were insisting that kids mowing lawns and shovelling snow weren’t paying their fair share? Didn’t they insist that babysitters weren’t paying their fair share?

Wait a second. That’s right. The DFL didn’t. The DFL insisted that “the rich” weren’t “paying their fair share.” The DFL insisted that they were the champions of “working families.”

There’s nothing centrist about forcing kids to collect sales tax, then send it into the Minnesota Department of Revenue, because they mow their neighbor’s lawn or shovel their sidewalks or babysit their kids. Only the DFL would think that’s appropriate.

That isn’t disgusting. That’s beyond disgusting. That’s something only the DFL would think of.

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If I gave people the responsibility to put together a blueprint that’d Minnesota’s economy, it’d be difficult to do that quicker than the DFL, under the ‘leadership’ of Gov. Dayton and Rep. Ryan Winkler.

Between Gov. Dayton’s sales tax increase, which hits cities and the middle class hardest, Gov. Dayton’s income tax increase, which won’t hit ‘evil corporations’ but will hit small businesses and Rep. Winkler’s increase in the minimum wage, the DFL is quickly putting together a blueprint that’ll raise property taxes, incentivize entrepreneurs to leave the state and cause unemployment among young people to spike. Rep. Winkler’s delete-all amendment to HF0092, is particularly stunning. Here’s the language that’s particularly stunning:

1.14 (b) Except as otherwise provided in sections 177.21 to 177.35, every large employer
1.15 must pay each employee wages at a rate of at least $5.15 an hour beginning September
1.16 1, 1997, and at a rate of at least $6.15 an hour beginning August 1, 2005. Every small
1.17 employer must pay each employee at a rate of at least $4.90 an hour beginning January 1,
1.18 1998, and at a rate of at least $5.25 an hour beginning August 1, 2005:

1.19 (1) every large employer must pay each employee wages at a rate of at least:
1.20 (i) $8.35 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
1.21 (ii) $9.45 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
1.22 (iii) $10.55 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
1.23 (iv) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016; and
1.24 (2) every small employer must pay each employee at a rate of at least:
1.25 (i) $6.50 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
1.26 (ii) $7.75 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
1.27 (iii) $9.00 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
2.1 (iv) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016.
2.2 (c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), during the first 90 consecutive days of

2.3 employment, an employer may pay an employee under the age of 20 years a wage of $4.90
2.4 an hour. No employer may take any action to displace any employee, including a partial
2.5 displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to hire
2.6 an employee at the wage authorized in this paragraph
at least:
2.7 (1) $6.07 per hour beginning August 1, 2013;
2.8 (2) $7.24 per hour beginning August 1, 2014;
2.9 (3) $8.41 per hour beginning August 1, 2015; and
2.10 (4) the rate established under paragraph (d) beginning January 1, 2016.
2.11 No employer may take any action to displace an employee, including a partial
2.12 displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to
2.13 hire an employee at the wage authorized in this paragraph.

It’s one thing to debate the merits of the minimum wage. It’s quite another to include in the minimum wage bill language that tells entrepreneurs that they can’t cut employees’ hours or benefits while dramatically increasing the employees’ wages.

If Rep. Winkler’s amendment isn’t gutted, these rules would go into effect on August 1, 2013. The spike in youth unemployment will start just prior to that. That’s because the hospitality industry will get hit hardest by Rep. Winkler’s legislation. HINT: The DFL isn’t the friend of young people.

Officials from Plymouth and other cities have testified that the additional expenses they’ll incur will almost zero out the LGA increase. That’s if they’re getting LGA. If they aren’t, these smaller cities will get hit exceptionally hard by Gov. Dayton’s sales tax increase.

This isn’t the blueprint for prosperity and job creation. It’s the blueprint for stagnation, higher property taxes and artificially high project costs.

UPDATE: Check out Mitch’s post about Rep. Winkler’s Brezhnev-style economic theories.

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When I wrote the first part of this series, I accused the DFL of attempting to stifle debate. I noted that Rep. Erin Murphy, the House Majority Leader, was lying in justifying the DFL’s tactics:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

Since I published the first post of this series, I’ve spoken with a number of GOP legislators, all of whom verified that the DFL’s rules change would stifle debate. One legislator confirmed that he’s received input from his constituents during floor debates. That’s why he considers his laptop essential equipment for floor debates.

Since Monday morning, though, I’ve found out more about the DFL’s proposed rule change. What they’re proposing is that, after the GOP has filed their motions 24 hours in advance, the DFL can file “an amendment to amend the amendment.” The DFL would then use that tactic to gut the GOP’s amendments most popular amendments so vulnerable DFL legislators wouldn’t have to cast difficult votes in the hope of hanging onto their seats in 2014.

In addition to gutting the GOP’s amendments to protect their legislators, the DFL’s rules changes would essentially gut the GOP’s ability to represent their constituents. The thing that’ll bite the DFL in the backside on this, though, is that the DFL won’t be able to explain how their gutting the GOP’s amendments strengthened the legislation. The DFL won’t be able to hide the fact that the DFL is pushing an unpopular agenda.

Yes, it’s unpopular. If the DFL’s agenda had widespread support, they’d welcome robust debate. The stronger the legislation, the better they’d look.

This isn’t the first time that the DFL majority has attempted to stifle debate. The truth is that they’re gutless wimps who don’t have the confidence to debate their legislation on the merits. That’s their right…for now.

It isn’t surprising that the DFL wants to limit debate in the Minnesota House of Representatives. When they’re in charge, that’s what they’ve traditionally done. This time, Erin Murphy is the DFL legislator that’s proposing to limiting debate under the guise of transparency:

Democrats in the Minnesota House are proposing to change how the House operates during floor debates.

The plan would require proposed amendments to be filed 24 hours before the debate on a bill starts. It’s a dramatic departure from current rules that allow members to draft and propose changes to legislation as members are debating it.

House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, said she’s making the change to give lawmakers and the public more time to consider proposed changes to legislation.

What’s worst is that Rep. Murphy is lying to justify her proposal:

“The floor debate is where Minnesotans have the least amount of access,” Murphy said. “When amendments are being drafted on the floor and then debated on the floor, it’s hard for representatives to be able to talk to constituents and get answers to questions as to what it means.”

In a pre-Twitter, pre-social media, pre-texting world, Rep. Murphy might’ve had a point. She isn’t right anymore. Citizens have multiple points of access to legislators during floor debates, with Twitter being the most popular. Texting likely comes in a close second.

Most likely, she’s just doing the best she can to BS herself through a terrible predicament. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that it’s never been easier for constituents to contact their representatives during a floor debate. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that livestreaming the floor debate makes it possible to watch the debate, either. Rep. Murphy can’t admit that constituents can read bills thanks to the House of Representatives’ website.

If she admitted that, Rep. Murphy and the DFL would have to admit that their real goal is to limit debate to limit their exposure to common sense amendments that would improve their legislation. The worst part about a truly open amendment process for the DFL -is that it would force DFL legislators to cast votes against amendments that their constituents would want them voting for.

That, in turn, would put already vulnerable DFL legislators in greater jeopardy of losing in 2014. Unfortunately for the DFL, the DFL can’t protect their representatives from their agenda of higher taxes, more wasteful spending and greater intrusions into people’s lives.

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John Boehner is failing. He’s playing President Obama’s game on President Obama’s court. He’s prosecuting the wrong case. Rather than discussing the terms of the fiscal cliff debate, Speaker Boehner should be talking about why Republicans’ pro-growth tax policies are America’s only hope for a variety of Obama-created ills.

First, Speaker Boehner should highlight the fact that President Clinton’s high tax rates didn’t trigger the great economy. He should remind the nation that it was Newt’s capital gains tax cuts that sent the economy into high gear. Prior to those tax cuts, the economy was doing ok. After cutting the capital gains tax, growth exploded.

Another thing that Speaker Boehner must do is remind people that Republicans’ insisting on balancing the federal budget helped strengthen the dollar, which led to a dramatic shrinking of America’s trade deficit. That especially affected gas prices.

Third, Speaker Boehner should shout from the rooftops that revenues during the Bush tax cuts were significantly bigger than revenues are today. If Speaker Boehner asked President Obama why he’s insisting on anti-growth policies that tamp the economy down rather than implementing new pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, President Obama might well blow a gasket.

This is the debate we should start. This is the debate President Obama can’t win. This is the conversation that would expose President Obama’s motivation for imposing higher tax rates.

Rather than the pattern of proposal-counterproposal, then a counter offer to the counterproposal, with each side publicly stating that the other side needs to put forth a serious proposal, Speaker Boehner should ditch that pattern, especially the taunting language.

Instead, Speaker Boehner, followed by every Republican in Congress talking with their local newspapers and TV outlets about how cutting spending is what’s fair to taxpayers and how reforming the tax code, highlighted by fewer deductions and lower tax rates, would strengthen the economy.

Highlight the fact that this was the real reason why the economy was strong during the Clinton administration. Highlight the fact that the economy didn’t take off until Newt changed the trajectory of the debate.

President Obama is too arrogant to be frightened by that debate, which means Speaker Boehner should be able to turn this situation into a discussion on getting America’s economy going for the first time during President Obama’s administration.

With expensive utility bills, shrinking paychecks, high gas and grocery prices and unacceptably high unemployment rates, the indictment against President Obama’s mishandling of the economy should be lengthy and powerful.

Finally, he should unleash Paul Ryan. Speaker Boehner should insist on a televised fiscal cliff summit, with Ryan leading the prosecution of the case against President Obama’s reckless spending. Dave Camp should prosecute the case for why the GOP tax reform plan will strengthen the economy.

GOP senators and governors should take part in this summit, too. One tactic President Obama has overplayed is saying that ‘we can talk about that’ on a variety of policies, then dropping that position the minute he’s out of the room. Republicans should tell him that implementing a pro-growth economic plan is non-negotiable.

Finally, make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates won’t affect the Warren Buffetts of the world because their income comes from investments, not wages. Make the case that raising the top marginal tax rates will hurt small businesses, not the evil Wall Street fatcats President Obama always talks about.

President Obama’s policies are failing. Speaker Boehner’s ineptitude in highlighting those failures has the fiscal cliff conversation heading in the wrong direction. It’s time to change the direction of that conversation.

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It’s time for President Obama, Secretary Clinton, CIA Director Petraeus and Defense Secretary Panetta to be grilled extensively on their decisions, or lack thereof, during the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2012. I don’t want this hearing to be about a ton of peripheral topics. Citizen journalists will sort through Susan Rice’s and Jay Carney’s spin.

This shouldn’t even be about President Obama attending a Vegas fundraiser the day after the terrorist attacks. Again, that’s something citizen journalists can sort through. Here are the things this hearing must be about:

  1. Who was the first senior administration official to get real time reports from the consulate the day of the terrorist attack? Did this senior administration official report this immediately to President Obama? If not, why not?
  2. When did President Obama’s national security team first tell him about the terrorist attack? Was this during his afternoon meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta the day of the terrorist attack?
  3. During his meeting with Secretary Panetta, did President Obama order Panetta to send troops to protect the diplomatic staff in Benghazi? If he didn’t order protection for these American patriots during his meeting with Secretary Panetta, did President Obama order military support later in the day? If not, why not?
  4. Secretary Panetta said that he didn’t send troops in because they didn’t know what they’d be jumping into. Mike Baker dispelled that myth by saying the CIA and military are receiving a “glut of information” in real time from the CIA, specifically the Global Response Staff. Did Secretary Panetta recommend to President Obama that the military jump into the firefight/terrorist attack? If he did, what was President Obama’s response? If he didn’t, why didn’t he make that recommendation?
  5. When did Charlene Lamb first tell Hillary Clinton about the terrorist attack? When she was told about the terrorist attack, did Ms. Clinton immediately contact President Obama? If not, why not? If she did, what time was it that she contacted him?
  6. President Obama was the only person with the constitutional authority to order troop deployments during an act of war. Terrorist attacks on American consulates are without question acts of war. Did he order spec-ops troops to be deployed to Benghazi to protect the diplomats from the terrorist attack? If he didn’t, why didn’t he?

These hearings need to start with focusing in on a single subject so the American people get a detailed understanding of President Obama’s national security team operations and his decisions to protect or not protect Christopher Stevens and his diplomatic staff.

Once that base of information is established and the American people understand President Obama’s failings, then the hearings can expand into other areas. Until then, they must stay focused.
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This afternoon’s hearing on the terrorist attacks to the Benghazi Consulate have been explosive. One such exchange happened between Rep. Raul Labrador, (R-ID), and Patrick Kennedy, the Undersecretary of State for Administration. Here’s the transcript of that exchange:

REP. LABRADOR: Ambassador Kennedy, you said that, if any administration official, including any career official, had been on television on Sunday, Sept. 16, they would have said what Ambassador Rice said. The information she had from the intelligence community — I see how specific you’re being — from the intelligence community — is the same information that I had at that point. Can you explain to me how it was that, on Sept. 12, you told congressional aides that you thought it was a terrorist attack?
AMBASSADOR KENNEDY: Congressman, I told them that because that was my personal opinion and that I also believed that, because of the nature of it and the lethality of it, that it was a complex attack.
REP. LABRADOR: So how can you sit here today and say that the following day, you had an idea that it was a terrorist attack, and you have said that you aren’t a security expert, how can you claim today that you would have said the same thing as Ambassador Rice said?

This is explosive because it’s telling us this administration used Clintonesque wording to spin the terrorist attack into a simple impromptu uprising, something it clearly wasn’t.

Lt. Col. Andy Wood and Eric Nordstrom, both security experts, said security experts knew almost instantly that this was a terrorist attack. The question then turns from why Ambassador Rice relied on the narrowest, Clintonian spin rather than telling the nation that this was a terrorist attack.

The most obvious reason Ambassador Rice didn’t say that was because that didn’t the storyline Democrats spent a week in Charlotte creating. At their convention, speaker after speaker said that we couldn’t trust Gov. Romney on national security, that President Obama had lots of national security experience and a lengthy list of national security accomplishments.

This terrorist attack happened just days after the Democratic National Convention. It would’ve demolished Vice President Biden’s line that “bin Laden is dead and GM is alive.”

The truth is that bin Laden is dead but al-Qa’ida and other terrorist organizations are regrouping. The Benghazi attack is proof of that. Another truth is that President Bush’s strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists is the only strategy that’s capable of stopping terrorist attacks long before they’re set into operation.

President Obama won’t admit it but that’s the truth.

What’s apparent from the hearing is that security experts like Mr. Nordstrom and Lt. Col. Wood painted a dramatically different picture of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Benghazi Consulate than did the political appointees in the State Department.

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