The Great American “Scandal” Scam, Part 3: The Benghazi Boogie

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They’re mad as hell, and they’re not gonna take it anymore. Yes, the Obama Haters Inc. have made it clear that they won’t stand for the president’s audacity in getting himself elected (twice, no less), and they’re gonna do whatever it takes to put him in his place. Sooner or later, they’re going to reach the holy grail of impeachment, even if it takes 20 years.  And they’re not the least bit deterred by having no actual grounds for impeachment; they’ve been known to suggest that they can impeach now, and come up with a reason later, and they know how to generate “scandals” until the cows come home. Surely one of them will eventually stick.

They’ve previously brought you the NSA “scandal” and the IRS “scandal”, among many many others. (For the record, the NSA has indeed indulged in behavior that might be considered scandalous, but it was going on long before Obama came along; and it’s not a matter of the agency “spying” on the American public, though it’s almost always spun that way. And the real scandal with the IRS is not that it has targeted “conservative” groups, but quite the reverse; it has allowed them excessive leeway to flout rules and guidelines — and in the process viciously malign their Public Enemy Number One, The President of the United States.) Both of these “scandals” failed to topple the guy who has “stolen” THEIR country; so now they’re really pinning their hopes on Benghazi. STILL.

It doesn’t matter how many times their myths are debunked, how many documents are declassified to show that the “scandal”  is bogus; every new scrap of information is twisted and spun as “proof” that Obama lied, covered up and/or collaborated with terrorists.

The myths they love to perpetuate about the Benghazi attack include these:

1. That the Obama administration ignored terrorist threats.

(Nope. Perhaps they’re confusing him with George W. Bush. But intelligence found no evidence of any imminent threat in Benghazi.)

2. That the Obama administration issued a “stand down” order to forces in Libya.

(Nope. There’s no evidence such a thing ever happened, and nobody actually involved has ever made such a claim.)

3. That the Obama administration abandoned personnel to die.

(Nope. The president ordered all available assets dispatched to the scene post haste.)

The T-word

An especially silly (and therefore especially popular) tack is the obsession over when exactly the president called the assault terrorism.  You’d think that after Mitt Romney so thoroughly humiliated himself on this point in a presidential debate, having to be schooled by moderator Candy Crowley, that they’d give up this narrative. But they seem absolutely impervious to self-embarrassment, so they keep hammering away at it, even though it’s a matter of public record that the president used the T-word within 24 hours.

Romney also had made a fool of himself on the day of the attack by echoing another popular right-wing talking point, saying:

It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Contrary to what the Haters frequently assert, the president has never “sympathized” with nor “apologized” to or for terrorists. Moreover, the statement Mr. Romney chose to label “sympathizing” was actually issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. And it was issued before the attack. Other than that, I suppose Mr. Romney was fairly accurate. While he was willing to take great liberties with the facts himself, he indulged in the pettiest of semantic hair-splitting with regard to the timing of the president’s denouncement of terrorism.

When confronted with the evidence, however, the critics insist that Obama wasn’t explicit enough that he was specifically referring to Benghazi (even though his first use of the word was in a Rose Garden speech especially presented to address that attack), or that he used the words “act(s) of terror” instead of “act(s) of terrorism”. They also spin and twist subsequent remarks by Crowley into some kind of admission that she’d been wrong at the debate. For example Breitbart,com (the man is gone, but his brilliant legacy lives on) ran a blog post with the title “CNN’s Crowley Admits Obama Didn’t Call Benghazi A Terror Attack”, but the ensuing text delivers no such blockbuster; it merely mentions that someone else at CNN asserted she was wrong. Even the Washington Post Fact Checker jumped on the bandwagon, awarding the president FOUR Pinocchios — a rating normally reserved for the most blatantly bald-faced falsehoods — for insisting that he used the T-word immediately.

The V-Word

Doubling down on the asininity, the Haters have really gotten their thong in a bunch over the administration’s suggestion that a video may have played a role in motivating the attack. What they’re systematically ignoring (or, to put it in their terms, lying about, downplaying or covering up) is that it appears the video indeed did play a role. Eyewitness accounts to that effect were reported in numerous media sources immediately. And not just the fabled librulmedia, either.  Even Rev. Moon’s beloved Washington Times, a revered Beacon Of Truth for faithful “conservatives” from Ronald Reagan to Glenn Beck, got it right:

But in telephone interviews with The Washington Times, several residents in Benghazi said there had been two distinctly different groups involved in the assault on the U.S. diplomatic post.

The residents described a scene that began as a relatively peaceful demonstration against a film produced in the United States that had been deemed insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.

The situation did not turn violent until a group of heavily armed militants showed up and “hijacked” the protest, the residents said. The original group of protesters was joined by a separate group of men armed with rocket-propelled-grenade launchers. (Emphasis added, rather emphatically.)

But wait. Can it be… is The Times possibly suggesting that an incident like this could have more than one cause? While such an idea has been known to make small brains explode, it appears that yes, that could indeed have been the case.  But the Obama Haters are ignoring/ lying about/ covering up such a possibility. They’re also ignoring/ lying about/ covering up the obvious fact that in the first days after the violent outbreak, things were rather confusing, and what few facts were available might have seemed contradictory. You hardly can blame the president and his administration for being cautious about drawing conclusions before all the pieces were assembled.

If it had turned out that the assault had not involved terrorism, I unconditionally guarantee that the Haters would have insisted that he had unequivocally declared it had. And they would have raked him over the coals for that just as they have been doing for supposedly trying to avoid saying it. The moral of the story is that there is absolutely nothing this president can possibly say that these people will consider the right thing to say.

Wherefores and Whys

Chances are that if anyone else were president, nobody would give a big rat’s ass about his timing of the T-word. But the Obama Factor makes it somehow a matter of cosmic importance. And the official spin, you see, is that he had a good reason for trying to downplay/ lie about/ cover up the terrorist element: he was afraid it would impact his chances in the upcoming election. Which is patently absurd for at least three reasons.

First, the election was still a couple of months away; and the voting public, as it has demonstrated repeatedly, has the memory span of a gnat. Second, even the Haters acknowledge that the president ultimately did use the T-word — the standard spin is that it took him at least 2 weeks to do so. And according to the calendar I use — the same calendar commonly in use throughout North America — 2 weeks is even closer to the election date. Third, if Obama’s predecessor is any indication, a terrorist attack would not have damaged his electoral fortunes at all; on the contrary, it would have enhanced them greatly.

On the watch of George W. Bush — who, if anyone cares, seized The White House without being elected — there were 13 attacks on U.S. consulates and embassies, killing at least 98 people and injuring dozens; two of these sites were attacked TWICE during this time. But far from clamoring for investigation and impeachment, the punditocracy  rhapsodized endlessly about the commander-in-chief’s “leadership”, “courage” and “resolve”.

And then there was that attack on American soil in September of 2001 — the exact date eludes me — in which a mere 3000 or so Americans were murdered. And unlike the victims in Benghazi, who accepted a certain amount of risk as part of their government jobs, the victims in the U.S. were mostly civilians going about their daily business. At the time terrorists struck, Bush was attending at photo-op at a school in Florida. Keeping his priorities straight, he appears to have continued attending the photo-op for at least half an hour after getting the news (not merely 7 minutes, as Michael Moore suggested), and didn’t lift a finger while hundreds of Americans were roasting alive in Manhattan. (There is evidence that he even knew about the attack before he went into that classroom.)

His eventual “response” was to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attack, and that was ruled over by one of Osama bin Laden’s enemies. This little undertaking has cost thousands of additional American lives (the vast majority of them during the Bush years) as well as the lives of probably hundreds of thousands (nobody’s really keeping count) of Iraqi men, women and children. The end result was that, according to terrorism experts, the U.S. was left even more susceptible to terrorism.

Bush and members of his administration fabricated evidence to support their scheme and persecuted those who dared try to expose the fraud. They lied about the siege of Iraq dozens (if not hundreds)of times, and repeatedly changed their story about the reason for initiating it. The company that was awarded a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq just happened to have a cozy relationship with Dick Cheney. And George W. Bush continued to maintain cozy relations with Saudi Arabia — one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships — which supplied 15 of the 19 hijackers.

And how did all of this impact Junior’s standing with the public? Well, for starters, it scored him (heavily aided by media manipulation) the highest presidential approval rating in polling history. Nice. So obviously, President Obama should embrace the T-word lustfully, eh?

But wait. How silly of me. We’re talking apples and oranges here. George W. was a whitebread Republican from the beefsteak-red Republic Of Texas (actually lilac-blue Maine but shhh! don’t tell his supporters) while Obama is an ethnically challenged Democrat from surf-blue Hawaii (which the Haters keep mistaking for Kenya). And those differences totally turn the world on its ear.

Just look at what happened when the Obama administration brought down Osama bin Laden — who, lest we forget, was the suspected mastermind of the terrorist strike that gave Bush his biggest PR godsend. The punditocracy went absolutely bonkers (well, even more bonkers than usual) trying to discredit the president. They claimed he waited too long to kill bin Laden, they claimed he tried to claim he’d killed bin Laden singlehandedly, they claimed he didn’t kill bin Laden mercifully enough, they claimed bin Laden wasn’t really dead. But at the same time, they must have considered bin Laden’s killing a great accomplishment, because they did their best to credit it to George W. Bush — who had been out of office for more than two years, and had long ago said he was not concerned about bin Laden.

If Islamic radicals attack Americans when a Republican is in The White House, then Muslims — all Muslims — become The Enemy. If it happens when a Democrat is in The White House, then the president and his fellow Democrats become The Enemy. This “scandal” is not about Benghazi. It’s not about terrorism. It’s about Barack Obama. Or more accurately, it’s about Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Snope It Out!

As mentioned previously, wacky rumors are still circulated on the Internet quite frequently these days – perhaps more often than ever. Which is really bewildering since it is easier than ever to discredit them, thanks to a number of online resources, some dedicated especially to deflating myths. One of the best is Snopes.com. They do a thorough, prompt and even-handed job of examining myths, urban legends and rumors, and they do so without partisanship – therefore, not surprisingly, they’re often accused of “liberal bias”. (In fact, the site was founded by a Canadian citizen and a registered Republican.)

Snopes doesn’t just cover political rumors, though, but rumors in 41 categories. So if you read it in a forward, chances are you can see it debunked there. I can’t guarantee that the site is infallible, but I’ve never known it to err yet. At the very least, it’s an excellent place to start.

Since it was an Obama rumor that sparked this whole discussion, it’s worth noting what his coverage on Snopes indicates about the intense campaign of hatred and rumor mongering that has been waged against the current president. It’s especially illuminating to compare his “Snopes index” with that of his predecessor.

George W. Bush governed with an arrogant “my way or the highway”, “you’re with ME or with THEM” stance that is guaranteed to make some enemies. (It was the kind of chest-thumping insolent insularity that has dominated his party as a whole for the past 30 years or so- but ratcheted up a notch or two.) Even though in the 2000 election he lost (at the very least) the popular vote, he admonished congressional Democrats to get aboard his agenda or “be left behind”. After the 2004 election, which itself was rather close, he boasted, “I earned political capital, and I intend to spend it”. (He was referring to both elections, incidentally.) The media spun this hubris as “strong leadership”; and the ever-entertaining National Review, while jumping on that bandwagon, also suggested that perhaps his greatest asset was his modesty. Seriously.

Naturally, this kind of polarizing figure is going to inspire some rumors. Accordingly, after his 8 years in office, Snopes has listed 46 Bush rumors, 20 of which are true and 17 false. (Nine of them are partly true, doubtful, or undetermined.) We should acknowledge that not all of these rumors are negative; one includes the claim that Bush’s house is more ecologically friendly than Al Gore’s. (This is true as far as it goes, but there are additional facts you might want to consider before circulating it – particularly if your aim is to peg Gore as a “hypocrite”.) The vast majority of the rumors, however, are considerably less complimentary.

Now consider Barack Obama, who’s spent less than 3 years in office. Unlike Bush, he’s been quite willing to compromise and work with the opposition -just compare the boldness of the original healthcare bill with the emasculated version that barely survived. (To the spinmeisters this makes him, simultaneously, a pussy and a tyrant.) His Snopes total so far is 103 rumors – more than double that of Bush in less than half the time.  Of these, only 12 are true (11% compared to 43% for Bush) and 69 false (67% compared to 37% for Bush). The number of decidedly false rumors circulated about Obama considerably exceeds the total number of rumors circulated about Bush. All of which solidly underscores the conclusion that the vendetta against Obama is based on something besides his actual performance on the job.

But the purpose here is not to defend or denounce any particular politician. The purpose is to remind you that sooner rather than later, you will be forwarded some breathtaking allegation about Obama. Or Bush. Or Hillary Clinton. Or Jane Fonda. Or somebody. And you may be so outraged that you’re tempted to pass it on, particularly if it reinforces beliefs you already hold. But you might want to pause and snope it out first. It just might prevent you from making a fool of yourself.

 

NOTE: (Added 11/4/11) Some Internet rumors include the claim that the information has been “verified by Snopes” when it hasn’t. In some such cases, Snopes has even discredited it. There’s no substitute for checking it out yourself.

Taxing Soundbites

 

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Raise taxes on the wealthy? Them’s fightin’ words, mister! Everybody knows it’s positively un-Amurrcan.  And if you dare to even think such a think you’re gonna get pelted with a few soundbites. In fact, you’re gonna get pelted with the same tried and true soundbites that have greeted such a recommendation for, lo, these many years. To wit:

“High taxes stunt economic growth and low taxes encourage it.”

You have to conclude that people who conclude this must be peering into a crystal ball. They certainly haven’t been peering into a history book. History shows that higher taxes on the rich have normally accompanied economic growth while lower taxes on the rich have accompanied economic downturn. Of course, there are ramifications that make such generalizations risky. But if you’re going to generalize, it clearly makes much more sense to do so in favor of higher rather than lower taxes.

“It penalizes success.”  “It destroys incentive.”

These twin soundbites, the Tweedledee and Tweedledum(b) of anti-tax spin, are founded on or at least imply three curious presumptions: (1) that the rich are all greedy bastards who care about nothing but stacking up profits; (2) that increasing taxes means raising them to a level of 100%; and (3) that tax revenues, once collected, are flushed down a toilet. The first of these really ties your brain into a Gordian knot: in hearing arguments in favor of higher taxes, the anti-taxers huff over the suggestion that the rich are all greedy (a suggestion nobody has made) while giving indications they harbor such greed themselves, and then by invoking these soundbites, intimate that the rich are motivated by nothing but greed. Phew.

Well, some of the rich are motivated by nothing but greed – otherwise there wouldn’t be so much resistance to taxes. But there are plenty of exceptions. Bill and Melinda Gates have pledged to give away a whopping 90% of their fortune. (Do you really suppose they’ll ever miss it?) But aside from sheer greed, another major problem is myopia, bred by the Ayn Rand mentality that pictures the wealthy (or successful, if you will) as existing in a vacuum, conjuring money out of thin air utterly independently of the unwashed masses who try to leech off their incentive, and dogged by the socialist government regulations that try to hamper their achievements and drag them down to the level of mere mortals.

The truth is that unless you enjoy a hell of a sweetheart deal with the U.S. Mint, every dollar you acquire came from someone else; and it ends up in your pocket through the exchange of goods or services, the generosity of a donor, or good old-fashioned theft. No matter how you look at it, you become wealthy by obtaining money from other people. Even if you were born wealthy -and it’s especially amusing to hear complaints about penalizing the “success” of George W. Bush or the Walton heirs.  Far from “penalizing” your success, taxes allow you to reinvest in the system that makes it all possible. (True, government officials don’t always use your taxes for the most constructive of purposes. But that’s another discussion.) Paying little or none in taxes might help safeguard your past income, but it seriously jeopardizes your future returns.

Many rich people understand this, including the super-rich Warren Buffet, who in an insightful editorial in the New York Times, urges Congress to raise his taxes and blows a big gaping hole in the oft-repeated assertion that higher taxes will discourage him and his fellow investors from investing.

The highest marginal tax rate in U.S. history was in 1952 and 1953, at 92%.  That’s more than double what Obama is proposing. So if taxing the rich makes you socialist, then you’d have to surmise that Eisenhower was at least twice as socialist as Obama. Nobody is ever going to propose that anybody be taxed 100%, but let’s suppose for the sake of an extreme example that the top rate rose to 99%. Would that “destroy incentive”? Assume that you, a tycoon, derive no satisfaction whatsoever from providing quality goods or services or jobs for your fellow citizens. Just focus on what really matters: the moolah. Can you imagine how much dough you’d have to pull in to be taxed at 99%? Probably not, if you’re like most of us. But suppose it left you a mere million after taxes (in reality, it would probably be much more). Can you conceive that such a paltry sum would constitute any incentive whatsoever? Being a patriotic American, do you think you could bite your lip and bear it?

“It’s class warfare.”

This is the granddaddy of them all, and you can always expect it to be trotted out at the slightest provocation. But what you must always remember is that “class warfare” is waged in only one direction: against the rich. Never, never, never against the rest of us.

When politicians, egged on by wealthy supporters, block increases in the minimum wage, that’s not class warfare. When assistance to the needy is slashed to the bone, that’s not class warfare. When CEOs get millions in bonuses while hundreds of thousands of jobs are cut, that’s not class warfare. When you have an Enron, that’s not class warfare. When you block disaster relief or medical benefits for 9-11 responders, that’s not class warfare. When you cut benefits for veterans, that’s not class warfare.  When Barrick Gold (a major mining concern with ties to the Bush family) bulldozes sacred burial grounds of the Shoshone tribe and allegedly buries alive as many as 50 peasant miners in Africa, that’s not class warfare.

But if you try to restore the taxes on billionaires to their pre-Bush level and bring them in line with those of working stiffs – that, by god, is class warfare.

And here’s the really cool thing. That “conservative” brother-in-law of yours who so predictably spouts these soundbites is almost certainly in the bottom 99% income stratum rather than the top 1%. That is, assuming he still has a job at all.  And yet he will swear to you, with fist-pounding, spittle flecked-fury, that it’s really those poor, defenseless billionaires who are the victims of class warfare.

Ain’t propaganda beautiful?

Don’t Like History? Just Rewrite it!

“We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term.” — Dana Perino, Fox “News”

“I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that time (2000-2008)”.   — Eric Bolling, Fox “News”

(Bolling later explained that he meant post 9-11. He was still ignoring a number of attacks, including three that the Bush administration itself labeled as terrorist.)

“Obama often complains about the problems he inherited from George W. Bush, but he also inherited a record of zero successful attacks on America after 9/11.”  — Michael Goodwin, NY Post

“The Bush administration had seven years after 9-11, no successful attacks in the United States.”  –Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post (speaking on Fox “News”)

“We had no domestic attacks under Bush. We’ve had one under Obama.” — Rudy Giuliani (yes, THAT Rudy Giuliani)

(NOTE: The one “attack” under Obama was actually a FOILED plot – which under a Democratic president counts as a failure rather than a success. During the Bush administration, on the other hand, there was the foiled “shoe bomber” plot, which counts as a resounding triumph for him, and therefore is not included in the attack tally by Giuliani or the others.)