Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Mattered This Week?

I continue to believe that the civil war in Syria matters a lot beyond the borders of that nation -- the chances of it disrupting the region in general remain high, and scary. So this I'll note this week's developments there.

The question of who will be Secretary of State matters, but I wanted to throw in a bit of a reality check: it's less important than some of the other personnel questions, especially top White House staff.

At any rate -- what do you have? What do you think mattered this week?

36 comments:

  1. Despair sets in among the House Republican Caucus, (per Joshua Green) as they finally realize they are well and truly f*cked on the fiscal cliff negotiations.

    What's finally dawned on them I think, is that their conservative base isn't going to cut them any slack whatsoever no matter how this ends up, which significantly diminishes their personal chances of survival in 2014 -- the deep reds could get it in the primaries, while the pinkos in the remaining swing districts have to worry about the general.

    Reason I think its important is that it could have a lasting effect on their behavior -- and not just in the budget talks.

    Don't know if the change will be for better or worse, though -- as hard has the latter is to imagine.

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  2. Republicans continue to govern as Not-Obama; the negative of the president instead of any real policy.

    Perhaps it's too early to tell, but to my eyes, it indicates a prolonged jaunt in the wilderness.

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  3. maybe it won't matter until next week or soon afterwards, but whatever the Supreme Court decides on gay marriage is going to matter a lot. The economic numbers point to a steady improvement of the economy, which matters. Filibuster reform looks increasingly likely. Palestine getting upgraded UN recognition matters, though it's not clear what the short- or long-term impacts will be.

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  4. The potential Rice nomination matters because, if successful, it would represent the politicization of the State Department and of the truth itself. That was the basis of Susan Collins' objection to Rice this week. The stakes are high for the administration, because if Rice becomes the Secretary of State it would mean that official Washington has made its peace with the Benghazi lie. It doesn't look like it will be quite so easy, and that's a refreshing thing to see in Washington these days. (As long as a Rice appointment isn't traded for tax cuts for the rich. Grr...)

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    1. Couves, I actually started my musings below before your comment appeared, so it was not actually a response to this, although I suppose it could have been. Needless to say, I think you're off base. There was no Benghazi lie, and there really aren't any high stakes apart from the tragic deaths of those who fell victim. If I may engage in self-advertising, let me refer you to http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2012/11/23/confusion-in-benghazi/ and http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2012/10/30/security-in-benghazi/

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    2. I'm willing to bet that Benghazi doesn't matter at all. If anything it confuses the average voter. What is the GOP upset about? What are they always upset about? Why aren't they working on the fiscal cliff thing? I read a poll about how some percentage of Americans agreed that the Administration had been covering something up, and a bunch of commentators decided that this was evidence that the GOP was having an effect. Yeah right. I bet that, at any time, you could ask the average person "do you think the President (any President) is lying about (any issue)?" And a ridiculously high percentage of people would answer yes. There was no wrongdoing, no cover up, no nothing. The GOP is wastin it's time... Just like they've been doing since January of 2009.

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    3. Scott, it’s hard to know for sure what people’s motivations were, but I don’t think anyone disputes that the official story was misleading. From NPR’s All Things Considered:

      DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The Obama administration knew within 24 hours that terrorists linked to al-Qaida were responsible for the attack against the consulate in Benghazi. But that's not what it said publicly.

      http://www.npr.org/2012/11/16/165301290/petraeus-testifies-on-benghazi-at-closed-hearing

      Whether this information was withheld for valid reasons of national security or for political reasons, the end result was that the American people were told a story that was misleading to the point of outright falsehood.

      What’s yet more confounding is that the State Department went with the initial mistaken CIA account of a Cairo-copycat protest-turned-violent, even though they knew it was wrong based on their own detailed accounting of events that day. It was only through unnamed State Department sources, operating under the moral burden of knowing that the official story was wrong, that we learned that there was never any Benghazi protest.

      I could go on, but I hope we can at least agree that there was a serious failure to convey an accurate picture of what happened in Benghazi. If there’s one good thing to come from this, perhaps it’s that we will approach the official story in such cases with more skepticism in the future.

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    4. Anon, when the truth isn’t forthcoming, you’re forced to “waste time” uncovering it.

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    5. "Whether this information was withheld for valid reasons of national security or for political reasons, the end result was that the American people were told a story that was misleading to the point of outright falsehood."

      1) How is "outraged protestors attacked the consulate" any better politically than "Al queada linked terrorists attacked the consulate?" If anything, I would say that mentioning "Al queada" is probably better politically. How is "extremist" politically better than "terrorist?" Do average people make any distinction?

      I'm with Kevin Drum in his analysis of this whole "scandal." It's simply not clear where the scandal part of the scandal is. I'm shocked that Fox News hasn't started to "connect the dots" to show how Chris Stevens had super-secret information to take down the Administration and that Obama targeted him for secret evil assassination under the guise of a terrorist attack. At least then this ridiculous "scandal" would make sense.

      2) Has the real story about Benghazi come out at any slower or faster of a pace, as compared to other international terrorist attacks? A more complete picture of what happened was available to the American people weeks before the election. Within a few weeks we pretty much knew everything... you editorialize to make it sound like anonymous sources in the State department leaked the real story under "moral burden." Seems to me that the story emerged the way these things always do... slowly and with plenty of ambiguity to fill in later as the gov't figures everything out. Which brings us to the last point...

      3) if the details were withheld to some degree due to "valid reasons of national security," is there anything wrong with that? Isn't that how these things always end up working?

      If you're so upset about the politicization of the State department, it seems to me that you're angry at Lindsay Graham who is using the issue as a way to get a head start on what's likely to be a very difficult primary challenge next year. Have you read McCain's statements? Collins'? They're absolute garbage... they pretty much admit that what they're upset about are minor details.

      As for "representing the politicization of the truth," I recommend that you Google the lead up to W. Bush's adventure in Iraq. It'll give you a good example of what incompetence and lying actually look like.

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    6. Anon, to be honest I'm not really convinced that there could be a valid national security reason to withhold the truth in this case. Nor am I inclined to automatically trust the intelligence community. As a student of the Iraq war, I assume you're not either.

      I think it’s possible that the President and perhaps parts of the intelligence community didn’t want people to think we’d been attacked by al Qaeda again on 9/11. In the case of the President, it would obviously hurt his campaign claims to have al Qaeda on the ropes. At the very least, the story about the video was a useful distraction, which played into a narrative that had nothing to do with the President’s performance.

      If it weren’t for the Republicans making a big deal about this, most people would still think the attack was part of a spontaneous protest. Maybe you and I would read the page 3 details as they emerged weeks later (assuming they would, absent external pressure), but we’d be the minority. Remember how many Americans believed that Saddam was behind 9/11? It’s VERY easy to mislead people with a mixture of half-truths and plausible falsehoods, released in the right way at the right time.

      I know your point regarding Iraq was meant as a partisan provocation, but you've actually hit upon the bigger issue here -- our government has a perennial problem with secrecy and the truth. The Libyan President was upfront about what happened within a couple of days of the Benghazi attack. Just compare that to the tales we were told... it's embarrassing.

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    7. Couves, perhaps if a group of people just committed a crime and were currently at large, and an individual read off some talking points on international news that said, "The biggest guns are now out for Group X," what do you think would happen?

      The horse is dead, guy; it can't feel the blows anymore........

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    8. Anon, I don't understand the question.

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  5. Regarding secretary of state, following Susan Rice's meetings on Capitol Hill this week, it's beginning to look like her goose is cooked. McCain et al. don't have to make sense to stifle the nomination. I'm a bit perplexed by their attitude. Jon Western at Duck of Minerva suggests they're riled by the fact that the Democrats don't seem to take the issue seriously. I think it's serious in the sense that the security arrangements should be investigated and improved (Congress has been cutting State's budget--and Diplomatic Security's budget--for years, by the way), but otherwise it doesn't really represent any sort of policy failure. It was a localized event in a chaotic postrevolutionary country, a horrible tragedy, but things like that happen and life goes on. It certainly doesn't represent any revival of al-Qa'ida as a threat to the US. Couves believes Rice's statements on TV were politically motivated, and I don't thing Couves feigns anything (unlike senators); that may well be the thinking lying behind their outrage. Lindsey Graham said the argument that the Internet video played a role is political, not intelligence based (although the CIA seems to disagree), and that people must be held accountable. Now, I'm not opposed to accountability on principle, but that reminds me a bit of Iraq's notorious WMD. He's decided inside his own head what the truth is, and he seems to be demanding that people and government agencies prove him right, or at least agree with him. In October 2002, George Tenet told Congress that if the Iraqis had WMD, they were more likely to use them if they were attacked then if they weren't, and Condi Rice phoned him and forced him to issue a retraction because it didn't support the administration's thinking on the subject. It's the same sort of attitude, although McCain and Graham aren't in a position to invade anyone at the moment.

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    1. Scott, I don’t know how you can say there wasn’t a failure in policy or leadership. Of course it doesn’t help that we can’t even get answers to the most basic questions -- ie. why was the additional security that was requested never provided? But at the very least, when the Ambassador to a country we were bombing just a year earlier asks for more security, I would expect that to land on the President’s desk the next day. Did that happen? If not, why not? If so, how did the President respond? Yes, sh*t happens, but these deaths could have been prevented with proper security.

      Do you believe that Susan Collins’ statements are politically motivated? I don’t think she had said anything about Susan Rice until they met, at Rice’s request. Collins isn’t exactly a partisan firebrand and she was clearly troubled by whatever Rice said during their private 90 minute meeting.

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    2. It seems like only yesterday the GOP was approving budget cuts to the security details that were previously assigned to our consulates overseas. Convenient how it works... the GOP slashes government spending and then attacks the government for not providing services.

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    3. Anon, if the problem was lack of money to provide the security requested by the Ambassador, then he should have been told to pack up and leave like the British did.

      There are lots of unanswered questions that the administration is hoping will just go away.

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    4. Exactly, because when an Ambassador of the United States of America faces a threat he should run home to Washington and then go on various Sunday talk shows to "repair the damage" by talking in English to other Americans about how states in the Arab world should be. Then he should yell a lot because that shows your independence (please to note the difference between New York and Libya). He should go on "Meet The Press" with John McCain and do the Washington shuffle. In no way should he talk about his experiences or the relationship of our country and the world's billion Muslims. No, he should yell, and yell about partisan politics. Yes it's a tragedy that those four American patriots died, died serving our country in the foreign service, but the fact that the whole thing has become just sad. We talk a lot about Behngazi stuff, almost never does a GOP Senator talk about foreign policy, because "foreign policy" seems to describe yelling about how some woman's talking points on a Sunday talk show were wrong, or yelling about something else, it gets hard for me to follow, mainly because Lindsay Grahm and Jon McCain lied a great deal after 2001.

      Also I fell asleep on the couch tonight and then woke up, it was one of those sleeps that doesn't make you groggy like a nap, but wasn't the same as a good night's rest, it was a weird thing in the middle. And so that's why I'm up and writing blog posts. I think this is more important than the fact that the CIA gave Rice some talking points that weren't quite right for a Sunday talk show.

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    5. longwalk... +1. The only reason why this story "matters", is because it shows, once again how Republicans see conspiracies and cover ups every time this administration does or doesn't do something. Just wait for the Senate hearings to begin, and you'll see the batshit crazy in spades. McCain still has his balls in an uproar because Rice said some unflattering things about him during the 08' campaign. This from the man who called his wife a cu.. in public! Republicans are just plain pissed off because there has not been a scandal that has tarnished the Obama administration. This is nothing more than power politics at work, and the public, with the exception of the 27%, see it for what it is. If I were in Obama's shoes, I'd either appoint her for the job, or recess appoint her if she isn't getting a fair hearing. What really mattered this week, is that the president made the decision to stop negotiating with himself, and is taking his case directly to the public. You know it is working when McConnell is complaining that the president should be in Washington talking to congress instead of campaigning.

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    6. long walk, I'm talking about ensuring the security of our embassy staff. That doesn't have anything to do with "partisan yelling," unless of course yelling is the only way to get answers.

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    7. Couves, I do want to stress one important thing here: you say, I'm talking about ensuring the security of our embassy staff.

      This was not an embassy; it was a consulate. And guess what? It's the hosting government's job to provide consulate security. There's a big difference between and embassy and a consulate office; the embassy is the territory of the embassy's government, not the government where the embassy is located. A consulate, however, is the part and parcel of the host nation. Their laws are in force; and it's the hosting government's job to provide security.

      I also want to challenge the notion that we should turn all embassies and consulates in troubled parts of the world into mini armed fortresses; not the best way to make friends with the natives. Diplomatic staff in troubled parts of the world always work in harms way; their jobs are dangerous. It's tragic when lives are lost in the line of duty. But there are also tragic consequences for over-reaction and diplomatic over-reach in the name of security.

      It's a difficult and delicate balance, and that balance is not improved by becoming a political football for a party out of power.

      I really recommend you try a different news source for some balance of your own. You could, for instance, go to google news, and change your location to the UK, Egypt, or any nation of your choice, and then google the attacks; hear what others around the world have to say.

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    8. zic, actually it's not a consulate, even though most news reports call it that. In the summer of 2011, when Christopher Stevens sneaked into Libya to act as U.S. liaison to the rebels, the rebels were based in Benghazi, and this site was his headquarters. (Actually, it became his headquarters after the hotel where he was originally staying was attacked--which miraculously never became a political issue in Washington.) When the rebels moved to Tripoli, the US delegation moved there and became an embassy. (I'm not sure if it was considered an embassy while it was in Benghazi or not, but I suspect not.) After the move, however, they hung onto the Benghazi site, extending the lease through the end of 2012. The State Department referred to it as a mission, as a post, and sometimes as the Benghazi office of the embassy. The Libyan government should have provided perimeter security but was incapable of doing so and assigned a local militia, the February 17 Brigade, to do it. (Ansar al-Shari'ah was performing the same function for the local hospital.) The militia did not do a very impressive job. I presume that the reason for keeping the Benghazi site open, even though lightly staffed, was to maintain contact with the various political groups in eastern Libya, which is one of the things that embassies do. That is what Stevens was doing there at the time. It's also possible that it was serving as some sort of cover for the CIA operation in Benghazi, even though that was located at a separate site 2 kilometers away. I wonder whether its vague status was part of the problem in getting it staffed with adequate security.

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    9. Scott, thanks for filling in some details.

      Zic, wherever embassy staff are sent as part of their official duties, the US government should take reasonable steps to ensure their security. Along those lines, we should get answers to what happened when Ambassador Stevens requested additional security. If his request was received and the security situation was assessed and found to be adequate, then perhaps this was simply an act of God. But since Stevens made multiple requests, that suggests that the issue was never addressed to his satisfaction. In any case, this is a country we were recently at war with -- Stevens should have had a direct line to the White House.

      Yes, technically it is the host country’s responsibility to provide security, but we’re talking about an extremely unstable country that’s still recovering from a civil war. Islamic terrorists were known to be active in the country and the British actually left not long before the attack in response to the same concerns Stevens voiced. In that environment, would you feel secure with only “local militia” responsible for your security? We’re talking about a country that lacks uniformed security services and you’re saying: Well, it was their responsibility. We have Marine contingents to protect our embassy staff in many countries where my grandmother would feel safe enough to go on vacation.

      Regarding sources of information, in the days after the attack I actually got a lot of my information from the BBC. It was VERY different than the information we got here -- for anyone paying attention, it quickly became clear that we weren’t being told the truth, even before they brought Susan Rice out.

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  6. I saw a great quip by Matt Yglesias where he said something like "The economy grew by 2.7% last quarter, there's your election right there." Good point, and I'd say yes the economic news matters a bunch. Also a lot of stuff in the Middle-East that mattered, Syria, a power struggle in Egypt and the whole vote in the UN mattered because states will act because of it.
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    Can I make a terrible confession? I haven't been following the whole Benghazi-gate stuff as much as I could have. I like to think of myself as some who reads a lot of news and politics but this thing was just to much. From what've I've read it seems to be something about how the talking points communicated by Rice on a Sunday talk shows given to here by the CIA weren't "right" enough. I just can't get started with this, why? Because the same party (the same Senators!) who told us about Iraq's WMD's and now screaming about this. And there have just been so many lies since then (the entire numerical career of Paul Ryan comes to mind). So I just can't get started. Four Americans died in and an ambush in Bengahzi. That's very bad. The fact that nobody in one of America's great political parties can talk about Africa or the Muslim World outside of being outraged about what an ambassador said on a Sunday talk show, that's just pathetic.

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    1. Thanks longwalk. I also just don't see the sturm und drang of this Benghazi mess up as important, other than as national(US) political infighting.

      Neither is the back and forth of the austerity crisis important at the moment. The moment will come, but it's not now.

      What is important now is that Obama is exerting his muscles and defining his emphasis for progress as the second term takes root.

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  7. Another curious thing about the Benghazi controversy is that the senators keep saying it was unacceptable that Rice relied on a short, four-sentence declassified statement when she had access to the full unclassified story. Apart from the fact that I don't believe the unclassified story will bear out their position (and that may be why they were so mad after their meeting with Rice and the interim CIA director), I really can't see them saying, "Well, she went on TV and blurted out classified information, so she has my vote. That's really what I'm looking for in a secretary of state."

    I agree that the the Benghazi story is overhyped, but I find the thought processes behind the controversy fascinating.

    Couves, speaking of thought processes, one of the problems, I think, is the symbolism that this internet video has taken on. Some people seem to think that if they hadn't heard of it before then it couldn't possibly be significant. Some seem to believe that if you make any reference to it, then you are claiming that it provoked apolitical moms and dads at the mall to rush to the sporting goods store to buy RPGs and then assault the consulate (which was not a consulate at all, but that's another story). No one claimed that. They said it was "extremists." The only part of the public story that has been recanted was that a demonstration preceded the attack. The CIA still says it was a local group inspired by the events in Cairo earlier that day. The attackers told bystanders at the time that they were mad about the video. As far as we know so far, there's no evidence that it was planned in advance of the Cairo attack or that it was planned or sponsored by anyone outside Benghazi.

    I agree that the security questions should be investigated and addressed, and investigations are under way, but that's not what McCain et al are talking about.

    Collins is an interesting question. I'm afraid I haven't read her statements in detail, and I probably should before saying anything. She apparently linked this somehow to the al-Qa'ida attack against the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, when Rice was assistant secretary of state for African affairs. I guess that should have made Rice more aware of the threat of terrorist attacks, but I'm not sure what that was supposed to have changed.

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    1. Curiously, Collins's web site has no press release at all regarding Susan Rice. In a brief video on politico.com, she says Rice was playing a political role by presenting the administration's position during the election season. That only makes sense if you assume the administration's position was different from some other position. As far as I know, she was working from the say unclassified statement that was sent to the Congress, which was originally drawn up at the request of Congress so that they could answer the public's questions without revealing classified information.

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    2. In the first paragraph above, that should say "when she had access to the full classified story" and "I don't believe the classified story will bear out their position." Sorry.

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    3. Scott, people were watching spontaneous Egyptian protests, presumably about this video. The official story was that something similar happened in Benghazi. The reality is that there was no such protest and the event was a probable al Qaeda attack. That's a very different story, isn't it?

      And the idea that the truth could be "classified" and thus force the President to mislead people is absurd. I expect my President to cut through the secrecy and bureaucratic nonsense and just be honest with people. And if he was unwilling to alter the “classified” nature of the truth, he should have the guts to tell people that the government is withholding key information. It’s bad enough when the government won’t tell us something -- but as we’ve seen in this case, not telling us that it’s not telling us something is often the same as lying.

      I though the President’s supporters expected a transparent administration, but all I see is a “rally ‘round the blue neck tie” attitude.

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    4. Couves, I'm afraid this isn't the only thing that they're not telling you they're not telling you about. That tends to be the habit regarding intelligence.

      You're right that there was no protest, but it appears the classified version was wrong about that as well. So if they had released the classified version, that part, the only part that they have subsequently rescinded, would have been the same. They don't consider it an error or a distortion when they say "extremists" instead of naming names. That it was a probable al-Qa'ida attack is your assumption. According to reports, Ansar al-Shari'ah informed al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Magreb about it after the fact, but AQIM was not involved in the attack and AQIM is not the group most people think of when they hear "al-Qa'ida." The relationship between Ansar and AQIM hasn't been fully deciphered either. (Remember part of George Bush's evidence of a connection between al-Qa'ida and Iraq was the presence of an al-Qa'ida leader in Iraq, but it turned out he was the head of a rival group, not al-Qa'ida, and his purpose for being in Iraq, realistic or not, was to overthrow Saddam Hussein.) The ODNI said they cut out the specific names because the evidence was "tenuous." You say it's more honest, if you don't know, to say it was "probably" al-Qa'ida and get the public agitated. Their preference is to be vague and say "extremists." Politically, the last thing the intelligence agencies want to do is make a public statement and then find out it was wrong. In this case, they guessed about the wrong part of the statement.

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    5. "Couves, I'm afraid this isn't the only thing that they're not telling you they're not telling you about. That tends to be the habit regarding intelligence."

      I'm not expecting to get access to drone feed #217 out of Pakistan. I just want to know who attacked our country... to consider such information an official state secret is extremely dangerous. And if it does have to be kept secret temporarily (while the trail is “hot”) then at least make it clear that information is being withheld.

      Regarding the rest: The State Department knew there was no protest, yet they went with the CIA's bad intelligence. Maybe they doubted their own internal information. Maybe things weren't quite clear. But Susan Rice didn't convey the sense that there was uncertainty about the existence of a protest, rather it was the cornerstone of her whole story. And in the wake of the raucous Cairo protests everyone saw, she knew that everyone would accept this without question.

      Of course, we’re now told that Rice knew nothing about this but the bad intelligence she received, which she then misrepresented further… Don’t you wonder why someone from the State Department with presumably no knowledge of what the State Department itself knew was the person chosen to speak to the public? Doesn’t that strike you as more than a little odd?

      Regarding al Quida's involvement, that's what intelligence sources believed at the time. As I quoted from NPR, above:

      DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: The Obama administration knew within 24 hours that terrorists linked to al-Qaida were responsible for the attack against the consulate in Benghazi. But that's not what it said publicly.

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  8. On a completely different topic, I think people are a little hung up on the various public statements about the status of the fiscal cliff talks. We should keep in mind that the statements, whether Obama in Pennsylvania or Boehner on TV, are just the public side of the ongoing negotiation process. They're not definitive, neutral assessments of the situation.

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  9. Even though McCain and Graham are being absolutely insane with their conspiracy mongering, I'm kind of surprised Obama is digging his heels in over this. He's probably planning to get a treaty or two through the Senate, right? Does he think he can get to 67 votes without McCain or Graham? Does he think that if he muscles Rice through somehow, that McCain or Graham will put their resentments aside and evaluate treaties on their merits? Because the very fact that we're having this controversy disproves both of those--there's no "there" there when it comes to Rice/Benghazi (there are plenty of good questions about Rice and plenty of good questions about Benghazi, but everything connecting the two has been resolved by any honest measure). If Graham and McCain are willing to spout this kind of nonsense, and Collins is willing to go along with it, then any hope of the Senate passing a treaty with Rice as Sec of State is lost.

    I totally understand emotionally not wanting to give in to McCain and Graham's special blend of sanctimony and disingenuousness--hell, not even Lieberman's willing to go along this time. But we've had to swallow our pride over bigger stuff (e.g. Cheney's still walks a free man), and the reality is the Constitution gives Senators a lot of room to be assholes and get their way. But if Obama really can't let this go, the solution is to nominate Kerry on the condition that he offers a full-throated defense of Rice right in McCain's face at confirmation hearings.

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    1. I'm kind of surprised Obama is digging his heels in over this. He's probably planning to get a treaty or two through the Senate, right?

      If Obama's paying attention, there are no treaties getting passed this term. None. Those obstructing the treaties don't recognize the entity signing them on behalf of the "United States of America" as legitimate. It's an act of patriotism in defense of the real America, to stymie them instead of amend them, or horse-trade for their passage.

      The GOP senate caucus has basically taken the stand of the Orleanists and Bonapartists of the French Third Republic.

      Those parties, in the parliament of 19th c. France, had no real interest in participation in government, because the Republic was illegitimate to begin with.

      The only lawful and legitimate thing to actually do is to shut the assembly down, and hasten the Restoration thereby.

      When the King/Emperor comes into his own again, a legitimate regime can begin, and the real work of the state can start -- courtiers jockeying for grace and favor, pensions and preferment, governorships and monopolies.

      Parliament then can go back to its real role -- a talking-shop that occasionally votes the King credits for his wars.

      The weirdest transformation of political terminology hasn't been what happened to the word 'liberal' since John Stuart Mill -- it's what happened to the word 'republican'.

      (One could also point to left-wing versions of the same stance taken by Socialists of the same era, but they usually -- until the split over ministerialism -- didn't enter Parliaments, and especially cabinets, at all.)

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    2. I see no scenario under which McCain will set aside his resentments and consider something proposed by Obama on its merits. Attempting to placate McCain ends up being an exercise in chasing your tail.

      Regarding the Republicans in general, I think there are two possibilities. They either give up their broad opposition to everything, or they don't. They won't be enticed to give up their broad opposition to everything by goodwill or nice gestures from Obama. They will only give up their broad opposition to everything if they (or a significant number of them) believe it is not politically viable to do so. It is not politically viable for them to do so, but most of them don't recognize this yet. If they don't give up their broad opposition to everything, then I hope to see (a) filibuster reform so routine bills and appointments can get through the Senate, and (b) hardball negotiating by Obama, because the debt ceiling proved that soft, cooperative negotiating with this iteration of the Republican Party does not work.

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  10. The Leveson commission report in the UK detailing abusive practices by Murdoch and official coverup - is a pretty big deal which may fundamentally affect the workings of the press there and may bring about the downfall of the government.

    There's been plenty of speculation as to whether and when Murdoch practices here in the US will be similarly investigated. My tin foil hat side wonders if a whole part of the motivation behind Benghazi coverage is to provide Fox et al with cover – I.e. any investigation of Murdoch's practices in the US will inevitability be characterized as administration political retaliation.

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  11. How many people in the United States really care about Syria? Only the people who can't mind their own business do..

    Visit: www.whitehouse.cm and see the hidden facts about Syrian army.

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