Propaganda Factors that Boosted Mitt’s Chances (Part 2)

Benghazi consulate

Factor # 3: Obama Derangement Syndrome

Rule of thumb: to ensure that large numbers of people swallow a rumor, no matter how wacky, just insert the word “Obama” into it. From birth certificates to death panels to socialized medicine to Islamic Nazism to FEMA concentration camps, nothing is too idiotic for people to believe if it attacks the current U.S. president. But of course none of it could possibly have anything to do with racism. So don’t you even suggest such a thing.

But in addition to the usual rumors that we’ve already discussed in the post The Biggest, Baddest, Brassiest Lies About Barack Obama (and a Few Dishonorable Mentions), the stage of world events dropped a new gift into the laps of the Obama Haters just a few weeks before election day: the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Now we all know what happens when there is a terrorist attack against Americans: Americans put aside their differences and unite behind their commander-in-chief.

No, wait. That was during the Bush years.  On his watch there were no  fewer than 7 — count them, SEVEN — deadly attacks on U.S. consulates and embassies. No big deal, eh? But that was then, and this is now; and the new way of the world is to exploit such an occasion to the hilt for political partisanship and fresh smears against the cat in The Oval Office.

First, there was a major brouhaha about Obama failing to call the incident a terrorist attack immediately. That’s right: “conservatives” who love to kvetch about the “word police” associated with “political correctness” were chomping at the bit to impeach the president over a single word — not because he used it, but because he didn’t.

Except that, um, he did. The day after the attack, he delivered a speech about it from The Rose Garden, in which he said:

“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America…”

Hmmm… The purpose of this speech was to make a statement about the attack in Benghazi. So you don’t think it’s possible that maybe he meant the words acts of terror to apply to that event? Well, if not, there was another speech a day later, in which he said:

“So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.”

So for those who want to make a major issue out of his terminology, there you have it. Not good enough for Mitt Romney and many others, however, who insist that the administration didn’t officially and explicitly label it as terrorism until 14 days later, which would prove… well, something, I’m sure.

And after all, there was also speculation that an anti-Islam video might have helped inspire the timing; and if that’s the case, it couldn’t possibly also be a planned act of terror, could it? Apparently not, at least not in right-wing fantasyland. (In fact, some of the attackers themselves commented that the video was the catalyst for their actions.) To top it off, the president’s officials stated that the administration was still investigating the incident — and heaven forbid that a president actually should do his homework.

But the silliness didn’t end there. Led by Fox ‘News” which seemed determined to dissolve any lingering trace of doubt about its utter lack of scruples, right-wing extremists launched the meme that there was a “cover-up”  of Benghazi, even if they didn’t quite make it clear just what was being covered up or why, and spread the outrageous lies that the administration was slow to respond, had refused back-up to personnel there (back-up actually arrived almost immediately), and “abandoned Americans to die”. They were determined to make a scandal out of the tragedy, to paint it as yet another in the president’s series of supposed Watergates.  (At least one source reports that security had been scaled down that evening at the request of the late Ambassador Stevens himself, who was having a tryst with his boyfriend. If Obama is “covering up” anything, it could be that, out of respect for Mr. Stevens.)

It’s especially galling to see Republicans try to lynch the president for his supposed laxity in security when they themselves have been gutting the funding for State Department security. As Dana Milbank notes in The Washington Post:

For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

Playing the “Liberal Bias” Card

800px-Orson_Scott_Card_at_BYU_Symposium_20080216_closeup

And it’s especially disconcerting to see noted science fiction/ fantasy writer Orson Scott Card, for whom I’d heretofore had a great deal of respect and admiration, commit himself to this nuthouse, excoriating the president in the vilest terms imaginable — including, natch, plenty of Hitler references. Card is, like Mitt Romney, a Mormon; and I suppose it’s understandable that such ideological kinship might jaundice his judgment and lead him to conclude that Romney is “a decent, intelligent, moderate, honest man of proven ability”. (You may pause here to catch your breath before resuming.) But that hardly accounts for or excuses his delusions about President Obama, whose response to Sandy was, he affirms, at least as inept as Bush’s response to Katrina. No, seriously.

One suspects that Mr. Card has kept his head in the fantasy realm so much that he’s taken up permanent residence. In his alternate universe (where Kenneth Starr is a noble and intrepid muckraker who was doing the media’s job for them) the librulmedia conspired with Obama to cover up The Truth About Benghazi and get him reelected; and Fox “News” is the last bastion of honest and conscientious mainstream journalism. Meanwhile, here in our own universe, Fox’s coverage of Benghazi was, like its coverage of everything else, an orgy of smears, misinformation, irresponsible conspiratorial speculation, and wholesale fabrication. The network was instrumental in torpedoing the nomination of Susan Rice for Secretary of State, crucifying her for stating — CORRECTLY — that U.S. intelligence suspected — CORRECTLY — the offensive video was a catalyst. Fox and others even tried to link the Benghazi “scandal” to the sex life of Gen. David Petraeus. I kid you not.

Since Card makes such a point of comparing the media’s treatment of Obama to that of George W. Bush, we might remind ourselves, in case anyone forgot, that exactly 11 years before the Libya massacre, there was another terrorist attack against Americans – not on the other side of the world, but right on American soil. It didn’t kill 4 Americans, but a mere 3000 or so. And Bush, a Republican (which made him, according to Card and  many others, an object of media scorn) was in office then. His administration, unlike Obama’s, had received some very explicit warnings about the impending strike, but brushed them aside.

Now we must note here that most of the criticism of how Obama handled Benghazi (and even some of the criticism about how Bush handled 9-11) can be attributed to a perception bias that is sometimes called creeping determinism. Which is a fancy way of saying that when we’re armed with hindsight, past events often seem much more predictable than they actually were when we were armed only with foresight. Even so, one might make a case that Bush’s lack of preparation was impeachably negligent, depending on how much “noise” (i.e., similar warnings that proved false) he’d had to filter out.

His handling of the attack after the fact was unmistakably less than stellar. When informed that a major terrorist strike against the U.S. was in progress, he didn’t do a goddamn thing for at least half an hour except pose for photos while Americans were roasting alive in Manhattan. His eventual “response” was to continue being chummy with Saudi Arabia (a brutal dictatorship that supplied 15 of the 19 hijackers, thank you very much) and instead launch an invasion (justified by fraudulent “evidence”) of another country that was ruled by one of bin Laden’s enemies. This action has resulted to date in the deaths of thousands of additional Americans, as well as untold thousands – quite possibly millions – of  Iraqi civilians. Not to mention a price tag in the billions. And if you want to talk about lies and cover-ups, the Bush administration lied at least 230 times about the conflict, and changed its story about the motive for invading at least 30 times.

Yet you never heard about any of this from the mainstream librulmedia until Michael Moore shone such a bright spotlight on it that some of them must have felt too embarrassed not to give it at least a cursory mention. There was little probing into the Bush family’s longstanding close relationship with the Saudi royal family, and it scarcely was deemed worth mentioning that both the Bush family and the bin Laden family had strong ties to The Carlyle Group, a significant U.S. Defense contractor. (But fear not, a few years later the same media cartel would go apeshit over Barack Obama’s passing acquaintance in the past with “terrorist” William Ayers.) The attitude of the mainstream media toward Bush was best summed up in the words of Dan Rather:

“Wherever he wants me to line up, tell me where.”

And line up they did, praising his brilliant “leadership” in a time of crisis, and his “courage” and “strength” and “resolve” in waging his “War on Terror” that probably encouraged more terror. Under the media’s prodding, Dubya was handed a second term, and achieved the highest presidential approval rating in the nation’s history — despite his having seized the office through nepotism, cronyism and election tampering.

Liberal bias, anyone?

Son of the Return of the Revenge of the Birthers from Planet X – the Endless Series

Like an interplanetary blob that keeps managing to resurrect itself for B-movie sequel after B-movie sequel no matter what the heroes do to squelch it, birtherism just will not die. Birthers absolutely live to hate President Obama; and unwilling or unable to challenge him cogently on the issues, they instead resort to ad hominem attacks and the malicious rumor mill:  he’s a “socialist” and/ or a Nazi who “pals around with terrorists” and “can’t speak without a teleprompter”; he’s the most secretive and power-mad and corrupt president in history; and furthermore, he ain’t even Amurrcan. (But of course it has nothing to do with racism, so don’t you even suggest such a thing.) And proving them wrong only encourages them.

They have indeed been proven wrong, soundly and repeatedly. As we previously observed, the president posted an official copy of his birth certificate on the White House website; and it holds up to the inevitable charges that it’s a forgery. For what it’s worth, I even know of a medical professional who was acquainted with the doctor who delivered Obama. And it didn’t happen in Kenya.

But what do facts matter when you have an ideology to push and an Obama to hate? In several states, certain fringe elements (to put it as kindly as possible) have even filed lawsuits to try to establish, despite the insurmountable proof, that the president is not a U.S. citizen. Some states (notably Arizona, which seems to be trying to corner the market on kooky legislation) are pondering “birther bills” that would require the President to prove his citizenship (again!) before his name can be placed on the ballot there.  And a few days ago, the following headline began to spread like an oil slick across the Internet:

Obama Lawyer Admits Birth Certificate Is Forgery

Now you might think that a headline like that would raise an army of red flags among even the most acute sufferers from Obama Derangement Syndrome. You’d be mistaken. It appears that none of them questioned it. Instead, they just passed it on as gospel. Indeed, this non-story quickly attained what I call Search Engine Overload Bias– meaning that the Internet became so saturated with it that any story refuting it (if in fact anyone connected to the administration bothered to respond to it at all) was pushed so far down the ranking of web pages as to be invisible. (Likewise, it’s all but impossible to dig up an honest appraisal of measures regulating firearms, because the gun lobby has co-opted the term “gun control” and transformed it into a Satanic invective, and has absolutely deluged the Internet with claims that it’s ineffective and downright counterproductive. But that’s another story.)

Try doing a search for “Obama Lawyer Admits Forgery” and see how many hits you get, all parroting a single source: that hallowed bastion of impeccable journalism,   The Tea Party Tribune, which was in turn quoting The Daily Pen. Yep, this earth-shattering “news” story is brought to you by the same crowd that previously proclaimed Obama had hiked their taxes and outlawed fishing; that “Obamacare” is “socialized medicine” that establishes “death panels”; that the United Nations owns the National Parks; that ACORN stole the 2008 election; and that global warming is a “scam”.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. And it would be most extraordinary indeed if a president admitted that an official document posted on the White House website was fraudulent. So where is the proof from these folks who keep saying “show me the proof”? Well, um er… It turns out that while The Daily Pen is the original source of this story, its own source – like the source of so many Obama rumors – was someone’s ass.

The article does not include a quotation, even a fabricated one, from Obama legal representative Alexandra Hill admitting that the birth certificate is a forgery, and for a very good reason: it isn’t, and she didn’t. But it does contain, like any yarn from a spinner of tall tales, embellishment upon embellishment. For instance, there’s this:

Hill went on to contort reasoning by implying that Obama needs only invoke his political popularity, not legal qualifications, in order to be a candidate.

It certainly would “contort reasoning” to suggest that she said any such thing. But nothing is more contorted than saying that

arguments from an Obama eligibility lawyer during a recent New Jersey ballot challenge hearing reveals the image was not only a fabrication, but that it was likely part of a contrived plot by counterfeiters to endow Obama with mere political support while simultaneously making the image intentionally appear absurd and, therefore, invalid as evidence toward proving Obama’s ineligibility in a court of law.

Huh?????

As evidence that the certificate is a not only a forgery but a deliberately absurd forgery, the Pen reproduces an enlarged section of it with a couple of “suspicious” details highlighted:

First, the word “the” appears to be misspelled, and heaven knows there were never any typos in those days of manual typewriters. Second, the first letter in the registrar’s signature includes a couple of erratic marks which are clearly intended to depict … are you ready for this… a SMILEY FACE! I’m not making this up. Never mind that smiley faces are always very distinct frontal images, and these stray marks would make a very indistinct smiley profile. Clearly, it’s proof the whole document is a sham.

In a perfect world, I might be asking whether anyone really believed The Daily Pen’s story. Instead, I find myself asking -rhetorically at least -whether there’s anyone who didn’t believe it. But I also find myself asking just who benefits from a story like this. And as I see it, there’s only one person who might even conceivably benefit: President Obama himself.

The guy surely has his shortcomings – he’s only human. (He also has his strengths, which don’t receive nearly the attention they deserve.) Wouldn’t it do the public a better service to focus on evaluating those actual weaknesses, thus pressuring him to address them? But legitimate criticism of his performance on the job tends to get brushed aside in the frenzy over the tin hat stuff, such as this obsession with his birth certificate. If he really does have even a fraction of the evil about him that the Obama haters claim, he must be howling with fiendish delight right about now.