Benghazi

SOTU Speculation

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

#PutiTrump: Protest image of Vladimir Putin, artist unknown. Donald Trump addresses supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016.

Take the note, via Steve Benen:

On Jan. 30, 1974, exactly 44 years ago today, Richard Nixon delivered his State of the Union address and argued that the investigation into the Watergate scandal should end. “One year of Watergate is enough,” the Republican president said at the time.

And this, of course, is a setup to noting that Rep. Steve King (R-IA04), never known as a bastion of measured rhetoric, described the content of a House Republican staff-written memorandum as worse than Watergate. Similarly, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) attacked the Special Counsel investigation into the #TrumpRussia affair as corrupt and worse than Watergate. And famed conspiracist Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) worried that collusion to stop Trump’s election is Worse than Watergate. President Trump himself adores making Watergate claims: Uranium One, imagined wiretapping, and Benghazi conspiracism, at least, he declares on par with Watergate. The Birther conspiracy? Even bigger than Watergate. This is hardly a new GOP obsession; Benen counted at least ten assertions of scandal in the Obama White House that Republicans chose to compare to Watergate, and that was in 2013.

It is easy enough to wonder if perhaps a soberish president carefully reading staid remarks prepared by professional hands would be sufficient to win critical praise, but given the state of things, it starts to seem more likely that Mr. Trump will, instead, afford himself the indulgence of simply going off.

For public safety, drinking games ought to be prohibited.

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Image note: #PutiTrump — Protest image of Vladimir Putin, artist unknown; Donald Trump addresses supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016.

Benen, Steve. “The bar has already been lowered too much for Trump”. msnbc. 29 January 2018.

—————. “The curious Republican preoccupation with Watergate”. msnbc. 30 January 2018.

—————. “‘Worse than Watergate'”. msnbc. 11 November 2013.

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The Donald Trump Show (Basketeers)

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, December 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

This is a long problem in the political discourse:

If you follow Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site, you already know that statistics suggest that if only women voted for president, Hillary Clinton would win in a landslide. Yet Trump’s female supporters are some of the most ardent folks on his side. He seems to appeal to women supporters as a candidate who will keep them safe and protect the borders from the bad hombres.

They don’t trust Clinton. And the endless stories about her emails don’t help build confidence with supporters of either gender. Yet when I ask for examples of what bothers people most about the emails, the answers seem to come directly from the Trump playbook. According to Trump supporters, the emails prove that Clinton is funding ISIS, ordered the massacre in Benghazi, is plotting to steal the election and is actually a pimp who procures women for her husband. “It just proves just how nasty she is,” one male voter told me.

When asked about the notion of breaking the glass ceiling by electing a woman to the White House, they all resoundingly said, “Not that woman.” Several women suggested that Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate in 2008, would make a great first woman candidate. “She is so much more prepared to serve than Hillary Clinton,” a stay-at-home mom from California said.

(King Collier)

It’s very nearly petulant, and comes in a variety of flavors. This time around it’s pretty straightforward: It is not that your voice does not matter; rather, forfeiture of reality simply does not constitute a middle ground. There is nothing we can do when the compromise point with conspiracists is granting the conspiracy theory.

And, frankly, it sounds like neurotic desperation, an excuse for supporting terrible people and ideas. The thing about self-indictment is that, for the most part, conscience will out; it’s part of being human. Relatively few of the infamously-designated deplorables actually celebrate their hatred; most of them try to find some way to believe they’re good people. We should find that encouraging; they want to be good. It’s just … I don’t know. This is the challenge. Pathos is one thing; self-imposed alienation is something else entirely.

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Image note: Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during the 2016 Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, D.C., 3 December 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

King Collier, Andrea. “What are they thinking? Talking to Trump voters without judgment (and while black)”. Salon. 5 November 2016.

Pedantry in High Dudgeon

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

“In a press release Thursday, the committee accused the Pentagon of not being upfront about what it knew:”

Amanda Terkel

This is a pet peeve.

Look: “Upfront” is not a word.

(more…)

Responsible Gun Ownership (#Benghazi!)

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Ángel González of the Seattle Times landed the unfortunate duty of penning the article:

Dane Gallion, 29, told officers he took the gun to Regal Cinemas 14 at the Landing on Thursday night because he was “concerned about recent mass shootings in public places,” according to a police account in a probable-cause statement released Saturday.

That same anxiety prompted him to keep the gun unholstered in his waistband, the statement says.

This is one of those. Gravity. Downhill. Abyss of stupidity. Really, it only gets worse.

(more…)

Chairman Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, speaks in an interview 16 October 2015.  (Detail of photo by Getty Images)

“I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life. Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically―at least it is for me.”

Rep. Trey Gowedy (R-SC04)

The first point, to wonder what it is Mr. Gowdy, the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, thinks he is doing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should meet resistance; set that urge aside. There is a lot going on, here. Rachel Bade of Politico hopes to explain:

Gowdy says the specifics of his rebuttals don’t matter; he feels he “just can’t win.

“I think that’s just [the Democrats’] MO: If you can’t attack the facts, you can attack the investigators … just attack, attack, attack and something will take hold,” he said. “[A]t some point, maybe something will stick, or maybe you get them off track or you get them to do or say something stupid, then you can seize on that.”

He also lays some blame at the media’s feet, arguing they’re too quick to report Democrats’ accusations without checking the merits, or the story of an ex-committee staffer who accused the panel of focusing on Clinton.

“You can work your entire career to have a reputation, and then someone you have no recollection of ever meeting sits down with a reporter and you’re immediately in a position of having to defend and it’s impossible to prove a negative,” he said.

This is a basic political maneuver very much associated with Karl Rove: Assign your greatest weakness to your opponent. With Republicans, it has pretty much become a tell: “I mean, honestly,” Gowdy complained of Huma Abedin’s testimony, “have you ever heard a more absurd critique than leaking the fact that one of the more recognizable people in the world was coming to Capitol Hill?”

This is a problematic complaint. Trey Gowdy is simply not an honest man.

(more…)

Snow Day Tinfoil

Andrea Tantaros, of FOX News.

One of life’s blessings is that our society includes plenty who watch FOX News so the rest of us don’t have to suffer through it. Meanwhile, of course, tinfoil conspiracy theories are the new black among conservatives, and especially since the House Republican finding that there was no conspiracy theory to hide what happened at Benghazi only serves as proof of how good the conspiracy theory is, well, Republicans are struggling―to put it kindly―for new traction.

Oh, come on. At the intersection of FOX News and tinfoil? You know it’s going to be … amazing.

Fox News host Andrea Tantaros and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) asserted on Monday that liberals were using snow days as a plot to remove religious holidays from schools ....Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI07)

.... On Monday’s edition of Outnumbered, Fox News host Jedediah Bila argued that schools should start earlier to “avoid angering this religious group or that religious group, and let everyone have their religious holiday.”

But Duffy said that there was something more sinister going on.

“That makes too much sense,” the Wisconsin Republican quipped. “Don’t let any good crisis go to waste, and if you want to take religion out of the public square, look at Boston and look at all the snow and say, ‘What a great reason now, we can take these religious holidays out of our school system.’”

“It’s using the crisis to the liberal benefit,” he added.

(Edwards)

If Mr. Duffy’s name sounds familiar, the Congressman from Wisconsin’s Seventh was last seen dancing with infamy last month, when he sounded off with the losing faction of a Republican rift about vaccination.

Three words: Republican quality standards.

Oh, right, that’s too complicated. One word: Vetting.

As to FOX News, no words will suffice that have not already fallen away from their deaf souls.

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Edwards, David. “Fox News host Andrea Tantaros: Snow days are a liberal plot to strip schools of religious holidays”. The Raw Story. 16 March 2015.

Acevedo, Nicole. “GOP rep: Vaccinating children should be parents’ choice”. msnbc. 3 February 2015.

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What Americans Wanted

Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC04), chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Conspiracy Theories.  (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP).

Post-something?

The election of President Obama in 2008 was heralded by some as the beginning of a “post-racial” society; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that hope had not come to pass.

President Obama himself hoped to be a “post-partisan” president; then reality set in and Republicans reminded us why that could not happen.

Some have gone so far as to speculate that the GOP has become “post-policy”, and there is considerable evidence for that argument.

But on Benghazi, Republicans appear to have set a new standard. Post-reality? It is hard to say.

Speaker John A. Boehner announced Monday he will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy as chairman of the Select Committee on the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya in the 114th Congress.

“On September 11, 2012, four Americans were killed in a brutal terrorist attack in Libya. Two years later, the American people still have far too many questions about what happened that night — and why,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why I will reappoint Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Republican members of the House Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi in the 114th Congress. I look forward to the definitive report Chairman Gowdy and the Select Committee will present to the American people.”

(Eldridge)

Let us consider:

The House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House Armed Services Committee, and the State Department’s independent Accountability Review Board have all published reports on the 2012 attack, and each found the same thing: none of the conspiracy theories are true.

In addition, the attack has been scrutinized by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the House Oversight Committee, and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, each of which has held hearings, and each of which failed to find even a shred of evidence to bolster the conspiracy theorists.

Do Boehner and other Republicans believe their own allies are somehow in on the conspiracy? That GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have somehow been co-opted into hiding imaginary evidence?

(Benen)

There is no point in complaining. This sort of determined paranoia is exactly what Americans just voted for.

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Eldridge, David. “Boehner Reappoints Gowdy to Head Benghazi Panel”. Roll Call. 24 November 2014.

Benen, Steve. “When even ‘definitive’ isn’t enough for the House GOP”. msnbc. 25 November 2014.

¡Benghazi! (Walk and Chew Tinfoil Mix)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) thinks his fellow Republicans are full of crap because they couldn't find a way to support his pet tinfoil conspiracy theory.

Sometimes we need a specific setup to make the punch ilne; this isn’t high comedy theory, or anything, but part of the latest episode in the Benghazi debacle only stands out in relationship unto itself, that this is the House Intelligence Committee report:

A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.

(Dilanian)

So let that be a lesson; yes, when it comes down to the proverbial brass tacks, Congress can occasionally be expected to do its job. There are, of course, any number of explanations for the GOP’s partisan pandering over the interim, and a lot of it just comes down to fundraising to the one and the difference between acknowledging or exploiting human frailty to the other. The tinfoil scheme was largely a fundraising gig, you know? Intended to fleece willing sheep. Right?

“I think the report is full of crap,” [Sen. Lindsey] Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union” ....

.... CNN host Gloria Borger then told Graham that the House report concludes that the administration received bad information at first and did not lie.

“That’s a bunch of garbage,” Graham shot back. “That’s a complete bunch of garbage.”

(MacNeal)

Oh.

I guess tinfoil is as tinfoil does.

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Dilanian, Ken. “House intel panel debunks many Benghazi theories”. The Big Story. 21 November 2014.

MacNeal, Caitlin. “Lindsey Graham Won’t Accept New Benghazi Report: It’s ‘Full Of Crap'”. Talking Points Memo Livewire. 23 November 2014.

Something, Something, Something, Benghazi

Benghazi burns, 11 September 2012

There really is nothing new about the idea that American politics is something akin to a cross between professional wrestling and late-night comedy, but Republicans of late have set their own standards for Conservatives Gone Wild. Steve Benen compiled a top ten list of strange Republican reactions to the news of a Special Operations Forces raid that captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, allegedly the ringleader of the 2012 attack against the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. No, really, a top ten list.

4. Obama should put Ahmed Abu Khattala in Guantanamo. This gem, pushed by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, argues that the terrorist suspect shouldn’t be tried in courts with a great track record for convicting and imprisoning terrorists. (Wasn’t McCain the guy who, in 2008, said the United States needs to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay? Does McCain even remember his own position?) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, after hearing about McCain’s and Graham’s appeal, was quoted as saying,”Oh for God’s sake ….” which seems like the appropriate reaction.

Yes, really. And, well, yes, there certainly is idiocy on the list exceeding a U.S. Senator announcing that he has no faith in the United States and their people. Book tour IRS? Something about golf? Not good enough? Not fast enough? Maybe President Obama should have taken a note from his predecessor’s book and announced, six months after the attack, “I truly am not that concerned about him. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, to be honest with you.” After all, when Bush decided he was not concerned about catching Osama bin Laden …?

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Benen, Steve. “‘Good news … I guess'”. msnbc. 17 June 2014.