A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: benghazi

The Increasing Polarization of the American ZZZZZZ…

by evanmcmurry

There’s plenty of meat in WaPo‘s newest poll—Obama’s approval rating, as it has in all recent polls, has held steady despite the “scandals,” nobody cares about the GOP’s harping over said scandals, and Hillary Clinton’s job approval rating remains remarkably high—but this may be the best response ever:

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 11.55.37 AM

Unite! Divide! Unite! Divide! Ask this question in a room with barstools, and you could get a good brawl going.

The Real #BENGHAZI Victim: Editing

by evanmcmurry

Once upon a time, Republicans made fun of Obama for his TelePrompTer usage. This played like gangbusters with the base, causing many GOP presidential candidates to go without a TelePrompTer on the campaign trail in 2012, leading to the very-plausible theory that the sheer tonnage of dumb statements made during the 2012 Republican primary was partially caused by the fact that so many of them were speaking extemporaneously, for hours and hours every day. Turns out a TelePrompTer has a use, and that use is saving you from your own fool mouth.

Substitute “editing” for “TelePrompTer,” and you now have the current Republican predicament. They’ve decided that editing is bad, because some entities (not the White House, it turns out) edited the #BENGHAZI talking points, which is worse than Watergate and Whitewater times a billion.

But what happens when you don’t edit stuff? Well, if you’re the National Republican Congressional Committee, you put up a blog post trying to zing Congressional Democrats in which you get their names wrong, list congressmen no longer in office, and accidentally use a picture of Luis Gutierrez, Mayor of Medellín, Colombia, rather than Luis Gutierrez, Democrat from Illinois.

The NRCC’s response? “This was an early draft that was not meant to be posted publicly because it had not yet been edited.”

Just eleven more drafts and they’ll have it right.

Impeach Darrell “Richard Nixon” Issa or Something!

by evanmcmurry

A muy-confusing development in the #BENGHAZI non-scandal: despite what we’ve been hearing about Ambassador Stevens requesting additional security at the US consulate and not getting it, now we have evidence that he twice turned down additional security. No one yet knows why he’d do so, but if true—a provision that should be appended to every element of the #BENGHAZI story—this deflates the last of the conspiracy angles on the issue, which was that the State Department and the White House were covering their asses for not providing additional security that might have saved Stevens himself.

Even more, it turns out someone—maybe someone named Darrell Issa?—already knew about this:

But a spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, indicated that some lawmakers may have been aware of Stevens’ exchange with Ham.

“Decisions conveyed by Ambassador Stevens were made on behalf of the U.S. State Department,” the spokesman, Frederick Hill, said in an email. “There were certainly robust debates between State and Defense officials over the mission and controlling authority of such forces. The lack of discussion by the public ARB report about the role inter-agency tension played in a lack of security resources remains a significant concern of the Oversight Committee.”

So, wait—Issa knew about previously-hidden elements of the situation in Benghazi, but didn’t release them? Isn’t that, like, a cover-up, according to the newly-lowered bar for the term? Nixonian! Impeach! Impeach!

Today In Things That Are Working The Way They’re Supposed To

by evanmcmurry

Blah blah blah IRS blah blah blah Benghazi, etc. Howevs:

The federal deficit is shrinking more quickly than expected, and the government’s long-term debt has largely stabilized for the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday in a report that could strengthen the Obama administration’s hand in the budget battles with congressional Republicans.

[snip] The deficit projection for this year — $642 billion — is almost 25% less than the deficit the budget office had forecast as recently as February. At the new level, the annual deficit would be back to where it was before President Obama took office. It would continue to fall for the rest of Obama’s tenure, the budget office now projects. 

[snip] Three major factors account for most of the long-term improvement: a better economy, a continued slowdown in the rate of medical inflation — which reduces the cost of Medicare and Medicaid — and higher taxes that Congress approved as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal in January, the budget office said.

Kevin Drum has a good exegesis on that slowdown: namely, it’s been happening for a while, based on numerous factors, some of which may be temporary, or not.

Drum notes it’s far too early to claim that Obamacare the Affordable Care Act is responsible. To which I say: good! One of the primary arguments behind the ACA was that it would drive down health costs by keeping people healthier earlier, thus avoiding more costly illnesses and preventing expensive ER visits and such down the line. If this is true—still an if—and costs are already decreasing, then the ACA should accelerate that decrease—which was stated aim of the legislation.

Here’s the requisite reminder that the House just voted to repeal the bill, again. It’s been repealed by the House so many times that nobody can even agree on a number—somewhere between 33 and 37, depending on whom you ask.

So yeah, IRS Benghazi etc. But one party’s decreasing both the deficit and health care costs, and the other is still throwing a tantrum.

Someone Needs A Credulity Vaccine

by evanmcmurry

Well fiddly-dee, one of the primary mainstream media voices of skepticism on #BENGHAZI also wrote a series on how vaccines cause autism:

Some of Attkisson’s most controversial reporting hasn’t been about politics at all. She has been widely criticized within medical-research circles for a series starting in 2002 about research linking childhood vaccinations to the rise in autism. The stories have been denounced in some circles as “fear-mongering.” Attkisson is, typically, unbowed: “I stand behind it,” she says. “It’s some of the best work I’ve ever done. My only regret is that we haven’t done more.”

Ah, the objective vocabulary of journalism, in which “some circles” means “science.”

As Pierce puts it, Attkisson sounds less like a partisan hack than a sucker.

The Phenomenology of #BENGHAZI

by evanmcmurry

Pareene has good thoughts on why #BENGHAZI—the rabid conservative conglomeration of theories surrounding a series of events last September, not the city or attack it refers to—has reached the level it has, and why it won’t go much further. I’ll add two thoughts:

1. The GOP has figured out a way to deny the foreign policy bona fides Obama earned—swiped, in the Republican reading—by killing Osama bin Laden. The irrefutability of that accomplishment made 2012 very difficult for Republicans, as they just could not plausibly argue that Obama was making the world more dangerous/leaving us vulnerable to terrorism/etc. when he’d gotten the architect of 9/11 after Bush hadn’t. The right tried all manner of misdirection—accusing Obama of hogging the SEAL’s spotlight, for instance—but nothing worked. At the end of the day, Biden could, and did, say, “GE GM is alive and bin Laden is dead,” and the GOP could do nothing but stammer.

Not anymore. The GOP has convinced itself that Obama has four dead American diplomats’ blood on his hands, deaths he callously caused and cavalierly covered up. Obama is now the vain, America-hating evil mastermind the right has always known him to be. Expect any mention of the death of bin Laden to be followed by the wailing of “Benghazi” by any right winger in spitting distance. It neutralizes, at least to the FOX News audience, the killing of bin Laden, something the right has been trying to do since about two hours after the announcement of his death.

2. Nothing in any of this actually implicates Hillary Clinton in any wrongdoing, but there were clearly some failures of communication and security surrounding the consulate in Benghazi, and she’s within their radius. If Clinton runs in 2016, expect a Daily Caller or Breitbart Jr. scribe at every campaign stop asking some arcane question about some obscure #BENGHAZI detail, and expect her answers to be parsed to death in the rightwing blogosphere. Anything Clinton says on the trail that doesn’t match 100% with what she said now—or anybody’s interpretation of what she said now—will be evidence of a coverup.

Clinton is incredibly popular right now. The aura of #BENGHAZI is the first tool that right has found to chip away at the popularity. Unfortunately for the rest of us, this means that if Clinton runs, this is hardly the last we’ve heard of #BENGHAZI.

Benghazi Blueballs

by evanmcmurry

Whistle-blower: Botched talking points hurt FBI probe of Benghazi attack” was the best FoxNews.com could gin up over the House’s Benghazipalooza. And Fox is the New York Yankees of this thing. Are we done now?

Benghazi Donuts

by evanmcmurry

The Benghazi conspiracy now includes donuts. I’m surprised Twicthy didn’t name Bill Ayers as the baker.