January is a good time to reflect on recent events. Here are my thoughts on a couple of them.
On the night of Sept. 11, 2012, an organized group of al Qaeda terrorists attacked the American Embassy in Libya, killing four Americans and destroying the embassy. The attackers have not been apprehended.
Some time later, Jim Lee, in a lengthy opinion column on these pages, and quoting Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, laid the blame for this attack squarely on the fact that the Republicans in the House of Representatives, in their zeal to cut government spending, had cut security budgets for the State Department, making our embassies more vulnerable to terror attacks.
Four months later, I do know this: The Accountability Review Board appointed to investigate the matter found "systemic failures" in the handling of consular security; Secretary of State Clinton has acknowledged that she did not read the urgent cables from Benghazi; UN Ambassador Susan Rice, the President's choice to replace Clinton, has declined the nomination; and as many as five or six high ranking State Department employees have resigned or been demoted.
Al Gore's fall from grace has been stunning by any standard. A former congressman and senator from Tennessee, Vice President under Bill Clinton, presidential candidate in 2010 and self-described "inventor of the internet," Gore left politics after the Supreme Court ruled George Bush the winner in the 2010 election. Shortly thereafter, he divorced his wife, Tipper, added 50 pounds and started a long running, worldwide attack on fossil fuels.
He assisted with the production of the movie "An Inconvenient Truth," a controversial picture which added momentum to the growing environmental movement. He became known as the "carbon billionaire" and later formed a television channel "Current TV" which promoted a left-of-center agenda.
In December, Gore and his investor group announced the sale of Current TV to Al-Jazeera, a Pan-Arab news channel owned by the government of Qatar, one of the world's largest oil and gas producers, prompting The New York Times to note that the deal was rushed through at the last minute to avoid paying the higher U.S. taxes that would be due after Dec. 31. Gore was also awarded a Nobel Prize for his work with the International Panel on Climate Change. This year I nominate Al Gore as Hypocrite of the Year.