Sailing Away to Irrelevance, Part IV: The Benghazi Scandal vs. The Benghazi Scandal™

On election night at Fox News there was one question that was asked over and over by desperate anchors, experts and reporters alike:

Why had the American people ignored the Benghazi story? Or to be more specific, why had their fellow citizens reelected this President despite sweeping coverage of a scandal that conservative media promised would end Obama’s career – if it didn’t put him behind bars first?

It’s a damn good question.

The preliminary answer guessed at by the FOX staff was similar to what I saw from conservatives elsewhere, including here: The mainstream media, in an attempt to ensure the reelection of an unqualified Commander In Chief, had conspired with Obama to bury the story.  And if you tend to be the kind of person that believes the White House is preparing to let the United Nations take your guns away, then I suppose that cloak and dagger theory doesn’t sound particularly far-fetched.  After all, it cannot be denied that the public did not focus on a Benghazi story that, in another place or time, would surely have garnered more interest.

But what if the fault of the country’s collective yawn lay not with the mainstream media, but rather with the right wing media machine?  What if the need to frame actual condemnable miscues by the Obama administration around a preposterous, sensational narrative designed to boost ratings was what ultimately gave the White House a pass?    Voters had spent months (actually, years) being told by the conservative media that they had elected a sleeper-cell president bent on destroying America; would it be really be so outlandish to imagine that those voters tuned out the media machine’s lupine cries at a time they actually needed to be heard?

What happens when you construct a fake scandal where a real one might already exist?

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On September 11 of this year the White House confirmed events that were just starting to be mentioned by the press: An attack on an American post in Libya had led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens.  At 10:08 pm, Secretary of State Clinton issued a statement condemning the attack and the perpetratorsSixteen minutes later, then-candidate Romney issued a statement condemning the White House for “not [condemning] attacks on our diplomatic missions, but [sympathizing] with those who waged the attacks.”  In retrospect, it appears that the Romney camp was attempting to use sleight of hand to obfuscate the attack in Libya with a press release from a US embassy official in Egypt; the Egypt embassy had issued the release in an attempt to placate an angry, violent mob in Cairo. (It should probably be noted that the White House had in fact disavowed the Cairo press release prior to Romney’s statement.)

If conservative media is questioning why the American People did not rise up against President Obama on Libya, I might suggest that the answer starts here – right here – with Romney’s statement and the conservative media meme it begat.

As I reported back in September, I had the opportunity to see live and in person many of the country’s most prominent conservatives discuss the Benghazi attack less than 48 hours after the story broke.  And when I say prominent, I really mean it: Among those that I saw discuss the attack were Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan, US Rep. and presidential primary candidate Michelle Bachmann, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Rep. Jim DeMint, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett, Tony Perkins, Rep. Steve King, Star Parker and Governor Jan Brewer.

Though almost none of these people mentioned Mitt Romney (at all), Mitt’s comment had already been adopted as Truth by the media machine, its spirit already deeply absorbed into their comments.  Speaker after speaker discussed the president’s refusal to condemn the atrocities, and lashed out at his cheering on the terrorists who had killed Stevens.  Some spoke of the attack as being the first step in the president’s plot to implement Sharia law here in the United States; others warned of inside information that if elected, Obama would make Christian and Jewish houses of worship illegal in this country.  In addition to being covered extensively by the right wing media machine, all of these speeches were shown live on CSPAN.

Of course, none of this was remotely true.  By this time the president had already issued an official statement that condemned the attack; there was not (and has not been since) any statement from the White House or any other US government officer or agency that cheered the killing of Stevens.

As with the story of Obama coming to take your guns, the driving force behind the narrative was not the GOP’s attempts to build a credible case against their opponent – it was the media machine’s desire for ratings and ad revenue.  Mitt might have thrown out a questionably timed stink bomb, but it was the conservative media that backed him that made the decision to run with it 24/7.  Also like the UN gun treaty story, the fact that the mainstream media was ignoring the (entirely fictitious) story was announced by the conservative leaders I saw as proof that it was God’s truth.  And to be fair to the media machine, this narrative was exactly what its audience was requesting.  As I wrote in September:

One of the memes people want to talk to me about my first day is that President Obama issued a statement applauding the Libyan terrorists for killing Ambassador Chris Stevens.  I mean, a lot of people tell me this; they bring it up without my mentioning the President, Muslims, or the Libyan attack.  They are outraged. They mention it so consistently, in fact, that I finally Google the actual White House statement (which condemned the actions) on my phone, and I start reading it to people who are making this claim to get their reaction.  Each person’s response is some variation of noting that of course after the public outrage both the White House and the Associated Press were going to claim that that was the original statement, but clearly it had been changed to cover the President’s tracks.

As the days dragged slowly on to election, the media machine found other ways to craft narratives that excited its audience, but turned everyone else off completely.

There was much gnashing of teeth over how many days it took the White House to stop saying that they were still looking into the event before making a definitive statement about what had happened.  Did the White House take more time than it needed to make the call?  Maybe.  Was it the proof of a President that was purposefully working against US interests, as it was presented?  No.  Those not already regular customers of the media machine found the argument both uncompelling and uninteresting.

To make matters worse, at the exact same time that the media machine’s biggest dog was screaming “Benghazi!” at the top of its lungs, it was also getting caught on a regular basis creating fictitious government spending statistics, unemployment rate analyses and National Pirate Day scandals.  If you were not already drinking the anti-Obama Kool-Aid, the criticisms had long since lost any semblance of credibility.

And then, what do you know, the media machine finally got its hands on something tangible – something that might have actually been the smoking gun they had sought.

In October the press obtained several cables from Ambassador Stevens, over a period of two months, requesting he be allowed to keep additional security through mid-September.  The request was not granted, and the SST team assigned to the post was withdrawn as was previously scheduled. Had the request been granted, Benghazi might have ended differently and the Americans that perished there might be still alive today.

It is hard to see how this could not be a black eye for the White House, especially a month before an election.  Congressional hearings will be held; when they are it’s possible that the reasoning behind the failure to grant Stevens’ request might make sense.  Perhaps it will charitably be seen as the best choice given resource availability and what was known at the time.  It might be determined that extra security would have simply led to additional American bodies.  It might turn out that there were pressing intelligence reasons not to discuss all of this publicly after the attacks.  But however you slice it, that’s a lot of “mights.”

Whatever we discover in the months ahead, the stone cold fact that cannot be denied is that the attack did happen, and it did lead to the death of four Americans.  That’s a giant fail, pure and simple.  I don’t believe that there was any way that this story could have changed the outcome of last week’s election.  If voters had been paying greater attention than they were, however, I can easily see where it might have made it a little more interesting.  But they didn’t really pay that much attention, and part of the reason for they didn’t was that the conservative media continued to report the narrative that sold ad revenue instead of the actual story at hand.

For example, one of the “stories” covered non-stop by the right wing media machine was that only the right wing media machine was covering the story.  The Stevens cables existed, the pho-story went, but the mainstream media was continuing to bury them in an attempt to reelect the president for whom they were in the tank. This “scandal” fit in neatly with the larger narrative the conservative media had been constructing over the past four years, and its audience at it up.  (To this day this claim is still made by League commenters and contributors alike.)  However, this “scandal” would have come as rather curious news to the mainstream media viewers Romney desperately needed to sway: Those Stevens cables that finally provided a potential smoking gun for the actual, real-life, non-made up scandal?  They were first obtained by ABC, who made them their top story on October 8 and continued reporting on them throughout October.  The story was also reported throughout the month by NBC, CBS and CNN.

In addition, the right wing media began pushing the incredibly bizarre story that Obama refused to order any CIA forces in to assist in Libya… while reporting on the tragedy that two of the four American dead were part of  CIA forces sent in to assist in Libya.[1]

But of course the real moment that the Republicans lost any hope of voters tuning them in on the Benghazi story occurred over a two-minute period on October 16.  And even though it was Mitt Romney alone that thrust the final dagger, there is absolutely, positively no doubt in my mind that the echo-chamber of misinformation employed by the right wing media machine is entirely to blame.

In the days leading up to the second presidential debate, conservative pols and pundits warned liberals to look out: Mitt Romney was going to get a chance to confront the President of the United States on Benghazi on live TV, and it was going to be one of those moments that would be played over and over on YouTube for all eternity.  (They were certainly right about that last part.)  As we all now know, Romney got his chance and took it with a vengeance.  In fact, as you will see below, the President himself opens the door to the idea of his office holding back information for political reasons – something it now appears that they actually did.

If you’re enough of a political junkie to be reading this post then you’ve already seen this clip multiple times.  But I’m going to ask your indulgence to take another look now, paying very careful attention to Romney’s face:

Did you look at Romney’s face?  You should have.  Because there, for your edification, is the danger that the right wing media machine now poses to the Republican Party in a nutshell.

Remember, the falsehood that the President refused to condemn the terrorist act in Benghazi was one started by Romney’s own camp just 30 days earlier.  Somewhere in between the time when his team decided to float that lie and the debate – with the “story” that President refused to call the attack an act of terror being echoed 24/7 in the conservative media – they actually came to believe the lie that they themselves had kicked off.  The transcript of the Presidents remarks in the Rose Garden weren’t hidden; indeed, they must have been read multiple times by Romney and his staff immediately after they were made.  And yet when I watch his face, there is no doubt in my mind that when Mitt makes his case he has talked himself into believing it to his core.

And just like that, Benghazi was officially a non-issue for any on-the-fence independents and moderates still up for grabs.

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This past Monday evening, the League’s conservatives gathered and recorded a Leaguecast about last week’s election results and the future of the Republican Party.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.  Their analysis is thoughtful, honest, varied and insightful.  It even featured two League commenters, WillH and Dennis Sanders, who absolutely knocked it out of the park.  If it is a little long at two hours, it is so because they take the time explore ideas rather than spit out sound bites.  Each of them takes the time to provide the kind of quality the right wing media machine should be providing its own audience.

I will, however, disagree with one conclusion that many of them came to regarding the conservative media: It was said by several on the panel that Fox, talk radio and right-wing websites aren’t consumed by moderates, and because of this the media machine provides no real downside to the GOP’s chances of electoral success.

Later this week I’ll zoom out and make a more detailed case for why I actually think the GOP has reached the tipping point where its media machine is hurting the party more than it’s helping.  I’ll explain why I think what we’re seeing is actually unprecedented, and why it is far different and more self-destructive than what the left is doing with its media.

Until then, for those conservatives that are truly upset about the way that the White House handled the Libyan attacks and disappointed that the story did not resonate more with voters, I offer this mental exercise:

Imagine an alternate universe that is exactly like ours, save this: In this alternate reality, the GOP has long since ceased to be dependent on its own media machine.  Further, imagine that instead of making up constant sensational yarns to drive ratings, the media machine took the expertise, man-hours and airtime needed to build credible cases against its Democratic foes (because let’s face it, there is more than enough material with which to work).

Imagine as well that in this universe the media machine had not spent the past four years trying to convince Americans that Barack Obama was born in Kenya… or that he was a Kenyan Anti-Imperialist (or that that’s even a thing)… or that he was raised as a Muslim in a madrassa… or that he was the secret illegitimate son of Malcolm X… or that he pals around with terrorists… or that, despite having been President, a Senator, and the head of the Harvard law Review, he is unable to speak in coherent sentences without the use of a teleprompter… or that he is working with the Muslim Brotherhood… or that he’s working with George Soros to turn you into a Communist… or that he celebrates the killing of cops… or that he’s replacing FBI agents with Muslim thugs for the next phase or that he’s created Death Panels to kill all the old people… or that he wants to create a Nazi Youth Program to brainwash your child… or that he’s secretly bringing 100 million Muslims to America in order to do something Muslimy… or that he is about to make it illegal to go to church…  or that his campaign killed his grandmother to cover up his nation of origin… or that he and is wife use the word “whitey”… or that he and Michelle’s playful fist bump was really a terrorist call sign… or that he is planning to give US islands to Russia… or that he killed Andrew Breitbart… or that he refuses to salute the flag… or that any government statistic that makes the economy look like its getting better is a fake, but any that shows the economy isn’t is real… or that he has white slaves fling kittens high in the air at the White House Trap & Skeet Range (ok, ok, I made that one up)…  or that he might be the Anti-Christ… or that he exiled his gay lover… or that he secretly speaks Arabic… or that he was planning on faking an assassination attempt to garner sympathy before this election… or that he faked Bin Laden’s death… or that (because, it really, really is my favorite) he tries to quietly seduce the nation into submission with pictures of pirates.

Are you imagining such a universe, conservatives?  Good.  Now, I want you to ask yourselves:

In that alternate universe, would voters have been more likely to listen to you about Benghazi?

 

[1] There are lots of reasons I can think of that the right wing media machine would try running the brain-hurting narrative that no assistance was sent to Benghazi in the middle of a story about the different levels of assistance that were sent to Benghazi.  Maybe they got carried away in the moment, or maybe they have absolutely no respect for their audience, or maybe its just an unspoken agreement the machine and its audience has – as long as it’s anti-Obama,  the story doesn’t actually have to make sense.  Maybe at that point they just didn’t care anymore.

But my favorite theory, which I will confess I just made up now, is this:

This “Reporting That They Wouldn’t Help in the middle of a Story About How They Helped” narrative is actual a tactical weapon to be used against our country’s newest and most insidious enemy. President Barack Hussein Obama is now in league with… the evil androids from “I, Mudd!”

 

Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts about the right wing media machine, and how it has gone from being an asset to a liability for both the GOP and the advancement of conservatism in America.  

The initial post, which was written back during the Sandra Fluke affair, can be found here.  The second installment, where I began to ague that the tipping point I worried about last spring had finally arrived this past election is here.  A look at this summer’s right wing media meme that Obama was working with the United Nations to eliminate the second amendment and take your guns is here.  A wrap-up post, where I will argue why this is more serious than conservatives are willing to admit, will go up later this week.

 

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157 thoughts on “Sailing Away to Irrelevance, Part IV: The Benghazi Scandal vs. The Benghazi Scandal™

  1. 5…4….3…2…1…… until posters start saying how you are missing the hugetastic, bigger than 2o Watergate’s, 10 Iran-Contra’s and 3 Teapot Domes combined scandal here that shows how O isn’t fit to be dogcatcher because of ( insert Fox news factoids here).

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    • I just saw that today on my tablet while I was in court. Batspit crazy, nucking futs people are buying into it. Who happen to be state legislators. Parroting the a warmed-over version of the same crap the John Birch Society was peddling in the Lyndon Johnson Administration.

      Delphi is an interesting if falliable technique for forming consensus and gathering the collective thoughts of a group of subject matter experts about any of a number of things.

      Here’s how this might have worked, say with Monday night’s Leaguecast. Instead of Elias serving as the emcee for eight panelists talking about the Republican party, instead he would have e-mailed each of the eight of us a question. “Was Romney a flawed candidate, and if so, why?” Then the eight of us would have each e-mailed our responses back. Elias would read them all and compile them into a summary of ideas — in essay form, in a bullet-point list, however he thought it best to get the ideas there. The originator of each of the concepts in the compilation is not identified, only the concept; how often each concept was repeated is not reported, and particular wording of the concepts can be edited to eliminate “tells” of the originator(s).

      Then Elias’ summary of every individual’s thoughts gets republished back to the panel, along with a second question: “Did the right-wing media affect the election?” Now each panelist does two things — first, comment on and evaluate the compiled response to the first question, then answer the second. The written responses go back to Elias (the moderator) who re-compiles the responses to the first question and does the compiling of the second question.

      Repeat until all the questions are answered, then continue circulating, commenting, until consensus is reached.

      In a way, it’s like a blog where everyone’s anonymous. And yes, the end product can suffer from too heavy a touch by the moderator, which is a big vulnerability of the back-and-forth to the nucleus. If the right person moderates, though, the end result is a good reflection of the collective thoughts of the panelists. In our case, Elias would have done fine because he did not inject his own opinions in to the process (until the very end) and let the panelists opine and disagree productively.

      Such conflicts between the panelists would have been reduced to something like “One opinion is that the GOP would realize a net gain in performance at the ballot box from relaxing rigid standards on social issues, but another opinion is that if it did so, it would lose the vitality, energy, and money of the social conservative movement.” Then, the panelists would react to the conflict of ideas itself and not to any heat or personality that was vented along with the substantive intellectual clash. Clinical, perhaps.

      It’s a fine way of documenting the evolution of groupthink, useful when the personalities of disputants threaten to override the dispute itself, and as methods for evaluating ideas on their merits goes, there’s a lot going for it. But as “mind control” goes, though, it’s weak stuff. No panelist is ever required to abandon any beliefs or assertions, only to see whether the idea stands up to criticism from the unseen peers. If there is not some sort of pressure to change one’s mental position, it’s not really “mind control” so much as “persuasion,” and it’s difficult to contend that particularly in the realm of politics, persuasion is somehow wrongful.

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  2. or that he has white slaves fling kittens high in the air at the White House Trap & Skeet Range

    So that’s what they do with all the guns they’ve confiscated.

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  3. This is why when conservative and libertarian friends start quoting Fox News, or any editorial from fellows out of Cato or AEI, I just quietly knock my forehead against the desk.

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  4. RTod, my man, this is a truly epic post. The argument is clear, based on tangible, real evidence, and the conclusion – especially the thought experiment at the end – is devastating. I’m in awe and actually a bit envious of your talents to have collected – and been able to utilize! – so many links to ridiculous conservative memes we’ve all been subject to over the years. And for a very useful end. The GOP and conservatism has indeed run off the rails. I just want to say I think the case you make here is devastating.

    I don’t have anything to add, except this. You wrote

    For example, one of the “stories” covered non-stop by the right wing media machine was that only the right wing media machine was covering the story.

    and that’s the GOP/conservative/media-machine nexus in a nutshell. It’s epistemic closure on steroids.

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  5. “Cold reading” is a process by which someone makes a lot of rapid guesses and seeks immediate, if brief, feedback to find out if the guesses are right. You can see charlatans claiming to be psychics, people like John Edward or James Van Der Praagh, claiming to communicate with the dead loved ones of the people they are actually cold reading:

    “I’m seeing water involved somehow in your grandmother’s death.” “Yes! She died next to a bathtub.” “And I’m getting an ‘M’. Does ‘M’ mean anything?” “Um… the cat’s name was Marlowe.” “She loved that cat a lot, didn’t she?” “Not really, it was kind of her husband’s cat.” “Then it’s not the cat. Someone else important with an ‘M’ name.” “She had her retirement account with Merrill Lynch?” “Yes, it’s about the retirement money. What happened to that money? She wants to know who got the money!” and so on.

    Part of what makes it work is that the cold reader moves very quickly past the bad guesses, the ‘misses’ and then dwells on the ‘hits.’ Another part of what makes it work is to play on things known or at least strongly suspected to be of interest to the subject. When it’s done well it can look superficially a lot like scoring a lot of hits but when you go back and watch the tape the guesses are often worse than what you’d expect if the ‘psychic’ had used chance. And the overall impression — the ‘narrative’ if you will — is that the ‘psychic’ is communicating with a dead loved one when in fact what the ‘psychic’ is really doing is reacting on the fly to the emotional responses of the subject.

    I think you can see where I’m going with this. What Tod describes here with the exceedingly long laundry list (thanks for all the links on it!) of “scandal” after “scandal” is not so much FOX and Friends crying wolf as it is cold reading, hoping that something would stick and resonate with the audience enough to form a part of a narrative that would resonate. It doesn’t have to make logical sense at all. It doesn’t have to be coherent, and it can even be internally contradictory. What it has to do is emotionally resonate, based upon initially small amounts of the desired emotional feedback, and then play into and amplify that feedback until the subject wants to buy in to the narrative.

    And every once in a while, just as by chance a ‘psychic’ will actually guess something sensitive that seemingly could not have been known beforehand, so too might the right wing media machine breathlessly condemn something that really does deserve criticism.

    So what’s fascinating here is Tod’s theory that the right wing media is a victim of its own success at emotionally manipulating its target audience. I can’t recall that there was any emotional response on the part of the consumers of FOX to the maybe-there’s-something-there story about flubbing up Benghazi as qualitatively or even quantitatively different than the outrage over Fast and Furious or the outrage over Obama’s college transcripts. The volume of everything that makes it out of the cold read is set to maximum. To run with the Star Trek analogy, the phasers are never set to stun.

    And if you aren’t buying in to the narrative, if you can see through the cold read to see what it really is, then on those occasions that the ‘psychic’ actually gets one right, you can dismiss it as a lucky guess, and you might even minimize the importance of what has just been revealed. That’s an interesting dynamic too, and I confess that I am vulnerable to that dynamic. If I hear something first reported on FOX that sounds like it’s being floated as the Outrage Of The Week, I immediately minimize it and begin mentally apologizing it away to irrelevance. FOX’s credibility is so shot with me I simply assume that whatever it’s telling me is blown up out of proportion and distorted into something with only a vague resemblance to the truth.

    “Well, that’s how conservatives see The New York Times” is the next statement, and that’s all well and good, but the number of times the Gray Lady has been caught in tabloid-style sensationalism if not outright lies over the last decade is a small (not zero) amount compared to the number of times FOX News has been caught doing the same thing in the last thirty days.

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    • Yeah, I guess that’s it; that the media machine has progressed into the terminal stage 3, meaning my own criticisms of them may well be out-of-date.
      The way I call it, they were useful at first, because they: 1) sent out an underplayed message, and 2) by doing so, gave it a greater air of commonality. [Note: I always hated Limbaugh, and the first two years of the Clinton presidency were the first time in my adult life that I actually thought we had good governance in that office*. That ended with Waco.]
      Stage 2 of the machine (where my own criticisms lie) is where the machine stopped promoting a message and became gatekeepers to the party, leading to the use of the term ‘RINO’ and the decline of regional disparities (which is completely opposed to conservative ideals of federalism, btw).
      It looks like stage 3 is when they finally lose touch with reality. Really, it looks like they bought into the notion of subjectivity of values (again, opposed to conservative ideals).

      I could never understand the claims that Obama was a socialist. Even when explained to me thoroughly, it seemed more like making mountains out of molehills; and there were even times where I warned some others of loss of credibility in the use of the term so loosely.
      I’m glad I tuned out.
      Seriously, they have cheapened conservative ideals to the point where they’re only an advertising scheme.
      No wonder Romney lost. With friends like that . . .

      * With the first two years of the Obama presidency being the second.

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      • Limbaugh had his “America Held Hostage” insanity.

        Hannity’s been running his “the Stop Obama Express” stuff into the ground and re-upped it after the election. Apparently they’re going to “Stop Obama”, meaning whoever runs after Obama’s term. I’m confused as to what focusing on the 2016 election has to do with Obama, but apparently it makes sense to Hannity.

        The entire party operates on histrionics these days. None of them sell logic or reason, it’s all about the outrage of the day and trying to keep the newest “scandal” running for as long as possible to keep their base fired up and angry.

        Give it another 2 years, they’ll all be dead of heart attacks at this rate.

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        • Actually I just realized, that may be their dastardly plan. The entire right wing all has heart attacks at once in early 2015, forcing Obamacare to cope with the new epidemic and spiking medical costs and care requirements across the nation, causing most of their otherwise-baseless “predictions” about Obamacare to come true as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

          (I am, just so everyone knows, being ENTIRELY facetious about this idea.)

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  6. I wonder if 20-30 years from now if we are going to get two rival narratives on the Obama administration. One that covers it fairly and realistically, pros and cons, warts and all. And then the Fever dreams that are currently being presented right now by the Radical Right-Reactionaries.

    The question I have is that can we truly say that these people are sailing to irrelevance? There are plenty of people who lap up this stuff and sincerely believe it. As far as we can tell, the narrators are not merely sellers of snake oil but true believers in their own product. We have no conclusive evidence that they are secret P.T. Barnums. There are also plenty of young people who grow up and remain in the cocoon. See all the teenagers who made racist tweets right after the election.

    I wonder how Richard Hofstadter feels about being right on his most famous essay over fifty years from the initial publication:

    http://karws.gso.uri.edu/jfk/conspiracy_theory/the_paranoid_mentality/the_paranoid_style.html

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    • I like the way you’re phrasing this question. For all the gloom and doom hypotheses about the GOP as it’s currently constructed, Romney had a respectable showing, state legislatures (in lots of states) are wildly supportive of the GOP, and at the local level the crazy will have an even better chance of finding expression in public policy. So, I wonder about that too. I mean, Romney’s conservative-pandering lies and epistemic-closure-confirming distortions and conspiracy-mongering attacks garnered him 48% of the vote. That total needs to be considered in light of the evidence Tod presents on the OP.

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      • I would say that there is a small silver lining in that local crazy can become national news thanks to the Internet. The Maine GOP story from today is a good example. Previously he would have been able to make his racist remarks and not become a national story.

        2012 does show plenty of the 18-30 or so crowd rejecting the GOP. So maybe there is hope. Only time will tell to use the cliche.

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        • Well, I think the GOP isn’t going anywhere, myself. It’ll take a long, long time – you know, a long time – for it to go the way of the Dodo. I think their challenge in the short term is to garner a larger share of the non-white-male demographic, and in order to do that they have to pretty much reinvent themselves. I think they will. One way or the other. For better or worse.

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        • Charlie Webster. This isn’t the first time he’s gone around claiming voter fraud. Last time, it was ‘bus loads of college students.” And the legislature overturned same-day voter registration. Which some of us considered voter surpression, another form of voter fraud disguised as ‘protecting the integrity of elections.’ We fixed that with a referendum question next election.

          But Republicans* keep beating the they’re-stealing-the-election drum. They. Bus loads of blacks. Bus loads of college students. Them. Bus loads of bullhockey. Damn them.

          *Just to be equal opportunity: I wonder of there’s a correlation between GOP voter-fraud politicians like Webster and attendance at ALEC indoctrination camps.

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      • King County, Texas.

        2000 population: 356
        2010 population: 286

        Other relevant statistics.

        Vote count for this election: 139 Romney, 5 Obama. And of those, most of the county thinks Obama is a “kenyan muslim” and are old enough to have voted for Herbert Hoover.

        Why do I bring this up? That’s the current Republican base. May they fade away along with the generational racists that brung them.

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        • I agree that they are fading but there are still plenty of young guns. Paul Ryan is only 40-something and I think will still be relevant. There are still plenty of people on the right who worship Reagan and got their far-right stripes as teenagers.

          However, I do think that my generation (late Gen X people born from 1977-1982) and the next generation will be much more liberal*. Mainly on social issues, economic issues is going to be more interesting. Though I think we are more kind to the idea of beneficial government.

          *There are plenty of people who say “Just wait until you start moving to the suburbs”, I am not sure why this is going to make us more conservative. Why would moving to the suburbs turn us against social liberalism?

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          • There are still plenty of people on the right who worship Reagan and got their far-right stripes as teenagers.

            And are dumb enough to not understand Reagan at all.

            Reagan considered the right to unionize a basic human right.
            He raised taxes more often than he cut them, and he reached across the aisle to compromise and get things done rather than calling for his way or the highway more often than not (of course, it did help that he had Democrats running Congress, but he actually worked with them and they correspondingly worked with him). Maybe that had something to do with his previously having been a Democrat, though.

            The running gag is that none of these dumb “young buck” Republicans are old enough to remember Eisenhower, but they think Reagan was Eisenhower through the delusions of whatever they were doing at age 12 when they should have been learning something instead.

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            • And are dumb enough to not understand Reagan at all.
              True.
              I remember seeing Mike Pence on This Week with Christiane Amanpour, where David Stockton was also a guest.
              Stockton ripped Pence a new one when he got started on that Reagan kick, and Amanpour set him up splendidly.
              But he was still elected governor of Indiana.
              And I thought his political career would have been pretty much over after that.
              A far worse gaffe than that of Akin, IMHO.
              Akin had a misinformed view, which could easily be corrected with adequate information.
              Pence actively repelled adequate information in favor of stupid.

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            • I’ve said this before, but the thing we owe Regain the most for is his ability to see Gorbachev’s sincerity and willingness to negotiate in good faith. This came under immense attack from the hardliners like Cheney and Rumsfeld and the right-wing punditry like George Will, who insisted that Gorbachev was a KGB-trained super-spy who was leading poor, trusting Reagan over a precipice. When the hardliners got back into power during the Bush II administration, they showed us what a precipice really looks like.

              My point is that, as M.A. says, Reagan was a pragmatist, not an ideologue, and as such far too wishy-washy for today’s base.

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        • Here’s the national map with percentages. The Great Plains population is shrinking back to the edges, the transportation corridors, and the few rivers. Many parts of the Plains have reached the positive-feedback stage: in a lot of places the population has shrunk to the point that it can’t support services (both public and private) and without services more of the population flees. Similar, although not as drastic, things happening in rural areas across most of the country. Given the Republicans’ miserable showing in urban counties this month, this ought to be a really discouraging image for them.

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  7. Tod, great post. And for the conservatives around here–I hate to say this, but you ought to be listening to this guy. Because he’s giving you an extremely fair reading here. You’re never going to convince me–but you’ve got a chance with this guy! The fact that the conservative movement has managed to alienate Tod is not a hopeful sign for them.

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  8. To do this justice, I’ve got to go read all those links.

    I will, but not tonight.

    Massive effort, deserves massive kudos. Consider them given from this humble reader. Thank you.

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  9. It might be instructive to look back to the Clinton years, which had basically all of this.

    Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster killed, remember?

    The 90s were an endless drumbeat of Clinton scandals, conspiracy theories, and special prosecutors. And after tens of millions of dollars, the full weight of the FBI behind a special prosecutor, and god knows how many thousands of man hours what we got was…

    Bill Clinton got a hummer from an intern then denied it.

    Not any of the various ‘gates — heck, I can’t even remember them all. Kenneth Starr moved from one to the next to the next — starting with a money-losing land-deal and finally culminating in finding out Clinton, like pretty much every other occupant of the White House, was dipping his pen in someone other than the First Lady’s ink.

    With Obama, I think part of the frustration is simply…nothing sticks. At all. Clinton had…an air about him. In addition to undeniable charm and ability to connect, he had an aura that fit into certain mythos about Southern politicians — you know, good ole’ boys, all at least a bit corrupt.

    Obama, for all the attempts to cast him as a villian from the Chicago Machine, never has had that air. (Nor the air of an angry, thuggish black man — another, less reputable attempt to hang a persona on him). Faux scandals don’t even get traction. They slid off Clinton quickly enough, but Obama? They don’t stick for a second.

    Maybe that’s fatigue — there’s a reason the special prosecutor law was allowed to lapse. Maybe it’s the far more ludicrous nature of the scandals — Clinton’s started out fairly serious, if convoluted (land trading deals from a decade or so before) — Obama’s started out with Birthers.

    It’s hard to stick a scandal to a man — especially one built entirely on suposition — when there’s a past history of prominent partisans accusing him of not just lying about his birthplace, but there literally being a conspiracy that started before his actual birth to do so.

    I

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  10. A few things jumped out at me.
    In addition to being covered extensively by the right wing media machine, all of these speeches were shown live on CSPAN.
    Wow.
    That must have been really embarrassing.

    . . . but clearly it had been changed to cover the President’s tracks.
    . . . and unfortunately, they had already alienated Julian Assange.
    Still, nothing ever disappears from the internet. It may hide for awhile, but it never disappears.

    the media machine found other ways to craft narratives that excited it’s audience, but turned everyone else off completely.
    That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
    I don’t see it as a viable marketing strategy.
    From what I understand, gaining market share is typically a big issue with such concerns.
    Not this one, it seems like.

    In October the press obtained several cables from Ambassador Stevens, over a period of two months, requesting he be allowed to keep additional security through mid-September. The request was not granted, and the SST team assigned to the post was withdrawn as was previously scheduled.
    So, after all the intrusiveness with the Patriot Act, the Dept. of Homeland Security, and the TSA, that still wasn’t enough to get the exchange of information in the “intelligence” community up to par to where they could even perform basic operations, such as providing reasonable security to ensure that our embassies aren’t attacked and diplomats deployed there killed.
    I’m really not thrilled about that.

    they didn’t really pay that much attention, and part of the reason for they didn’t was that the conservative media continued to report the narrative that sold ad revenue instead of the actual story at hand.
    This is really an editorial decision.
    It has to be understood that Fox really isn’t an arm of the Republican Party, but an independent venture.
    Sad thing is, it’s really not taken as such.

    . . . that instead of making up constant sensational yarns to drive ratings, the media machine took the expertise, man-hours and airtime needed to build credible cases against its Democratic foes (because let’s face it, there is more than enough material with which to work).
    That’s what’s really so fundamentally wrong about the whole anti-Obama fervor.
    Even more, I would say that solid conservative ideals have an appeal and staying power of inherent vitality apart from what the other guy may or may not be doing.

    And I remember that from the debate. It was the only one that I caught part of, but I was listening on the radio.
    I didn’t understand what they were talking about at the time.

    Which brings to mind the issue of a Republican that’s crossed Rush being able to win the nomination.
    Which makes me think that I’d like to see Jindal stand up to Rush rather than kicking a whipped dog in the a** on his way out.

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      • I read through the link, and I saw an awful lot of commentary without much in the way of addressing any specific language in the Act.
        So, with a bit of Google-fu, I came up with this.
        I don’t see what the fuss is about.
        I think it’s just another instance of commentary supplanting substance.

        Now, even if it were the case that he did in fact allow the teaching of creationism in public schools, I really don’t care.
        For one thing, I can think of all the people that have gone on to study in genetics and research, and wonder whether having been exposed to the teaching of creationism in schools proved to be an impediment later in their careers.
        For crying out loud, Darwin himself was probably exposed to the teaching of creationism. How do you think that one turned out?

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          • I’m with Will. There’s no there there.

            The bill says that teachers will apply critical thinking and analysis to the theory of evolution, origins of life, and human cloning. It says nothing on ID, much less young-earth creationism (and the two are VERY different – ID is the idea that evolution occurred, but was guided by God, whereas young-earth creationism is the idea that the earth was created several thousand years ago in six days and there is no evolution to speak of. So regardless of your views on the legitimacy of either, it’s highly inaccurate to conflate them). There’s nothing in it that can come even remotely close to qualifying as “establishing a state religion”.

            There are ways the study program described in the law could be taught well and ways it could be taught badly, but that goes for pretty much any curriculum.

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          • That’s where it pays to examine the thing itself, rather than to examine comments regarding that thing.
            If you would have clicked on the link, which is the text of the Act, you would have seen R.S. 17 § 285.1(D):

            This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

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            • This Section shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.

              A BS disclaimer does not reality make.

              From Kitzmiller et al v. Dover:

              The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.

              Every time these knuckle draggers want to try to insert their religious views into the classroom, they start off with the same boilerplate:

              “teach the controversy”
              “it’s an alternative theory”

              And so on and so forth. Inserting a boilerplate “disclaimer” in their law is the exact same sort of nonsense rejected in the courts in Kitzmiller. LSEA is nothing more than a re-badging of the old equivalent Louisiana law, which was thoroughly unconstitutional (Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987, I’d link it but I don’t want to trip the moderation filter with too many links); the main difference is a BS disclaimer and the insertion, to hide the agenda from direct wording, of the ability for “local school boards” to authorize whatever unscientific, garbage “supplemental materials” they see fit.

              I give you this as final point.

              From a strategic standpoint, ID creationists’ current tactics are merely the retooled creationist strategies that were used decades ago. After a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Epperson v. Arkansas, declared unconstitutional a 1928 Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution, creationists in the 1980s tried the “balanced treatment” approach that Edwards struck down in 1987. The only ploy left after Edwards was to disguise creationism so that federal judges either would not recognize it or, if they did, would find their hands legally tied by sanitized language that creationists hoped would—in a narrow, technical sense—pass constitutional muster. Just as earlier creationists had to shift their tactical approach and terminology following federal court defeats, the ID movement now must take a similar tack following their own defeat in the first legal case involving ID, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School Dis­trict (2005), “the Dover trial.”

              In 2004, the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board required that a statement be read by biology teachers instructing students that ID is an alternative to evolutionary theory, which, according to the statement, “is not a fact.” The Discovery Institute tried to dissuade the school board from adopting this statement because it referred explicitly to “intelligent design” and was sure to be litigated, since ID had been exposed as creationism. ID would clearly be the central focus of the plaintiffs’ case, meaning that the Discovery Institute’s entire agenda was jeopardized. Nonetheless, the board plowed ahead and suffered a resounding defeat, just as Discovery Institute strategists feared. Like adherents of “creation science” after Edwards, ID creationists now needed another legal subterfuge. They had learned from the earlier defeats that the terminology of any legislation or policy proposal must be strategically altered—a recognition that brings us again to Louisiana.

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              • This argument denies the validity of your position.

                Fact: Edwards was decided in 1987.
                Fact: Kitzmiller was decided in 2005.
                Fact: The Act in question was passed into law in 2008.
                Fact: It’s stood for four years, though voiding it should have been rather easy were either Edwards or Kitzmiller remotely applicable.
                Fact: There are a bunch of people around that would have jumped at the opportunity were that the case.
                Fact: The law stands.

                And more commentary on the law is simply commentary, regardless of its source.
                The Congressional Research Service has a lot of overviews, outlines, and sketches of various laws and classes of laws, but they don’t carry the weight of law.
                Hearsay is hearsay, and expert opinion is expert opinion. Neither one carry the weight of direct examination of the thing in question.

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  11. Elections have always been about money, of course, and money is what comes out of elections, because money comes with power. But I think an interesting phenomenon on the right is that the machine that, in some ways, has come to drive the Republican party, both in terms of its constituency and its message, is making so much money that it’s become less concerned with winning elections than with making money. A good analogy might be the subprime lending crisis: a bunch of people (well, a few big companies, at least) were making money hand over fist short term by sacrificing long term security, because the reinforcement that comes from that short term reward is just too great to pass up. The right wing money-making machine is making so much money right now that it’s perfectly willing to make choices that could hurt it in the long run.

    Of course, the Republican party (and its money-making machine) is too big to fail, so it won’t.

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    • I’m cynical enough to believe that several of the folks at Fox News, as well as conservative celebrity commentators like Limbaugh and Beck, are secretly happy that Obama won because it makes it that much easier to sell outrage to their audiences. Obama win = bigger profits.

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  12. As awesome as folks have said.

    Just to reiterate a point I’ve made before: there’s no such thing as “X should be a bigger scandal.” There’s”I care about X, and here’s why you should too.” But that’s as far as one person or faction can go. If a story, whether Benghazi explanation-management or Elizabeth Warren’s law licensure, doesn’t achieve escape velocity outside of a left- or right-wing echo chamber and never expands into a mainstream scandal, then that’s the verdict of the ultimate scandal-jury. A scandal is a scandal because people are scandalized. If people aren’t scandalized, then it;s not a scandal, even if it may very well be outrage. And if only people in one quarter are scandalized, then it’s a scandal in a certain quarter of the political world, but not a general mainstream scandal, and that’s just the verdict of that-which-decides-what’s-a-huge-scandal-and-what-isn’t, i.e. the public.

    My view on Benghazi has always been that even if just about the worst facts you could imagine being behind the broad outlines of the story could be shown to hold, the extent of the scandal would be limited simply because the magnitude of the event is limited in light of the decade or so that the country has just experienced. That’s not an argument saying, move along there’s nothing to see here. I want to see what’s here as much as the next person. I’m just not holding my breath expecting every single new scrap of info to finally be the spark that lights the fire of general scandalized outrage. It was simply an incident of too limited scope to ultimately produce that kind of outrage in light of the last decade. The world’s a dangerous place. The biggest political effect the incident was ever likely to have was to be a sharp we-told-you-so to opponents of the Libya intervention, which it very well is on current info. But there aren’t a lot of people who were arguing for a much larger U.S. footprint in Libya, nor is it clear that would have led to better security in Benghazi on that day. There are going to be dangerous diplomatic missions (and CIA stations), and the fine people who choose to staff those missions know this is a dangerous world. These things will happen. We should review the decisions that were made that led to Stevens being there that day, but there’s no outstanding reason to go into that review with the assumption that grievously wrong decisions must have been made for something like this to transpire. It just can and sometimes will.

    And by the way, the political opposition’s making its focus the state of the administration’s intelligence and its candor (or possible ‘cover-up’ of the true nature of the incident) in the days after the incident only distracts from and delays the more fruitful questions about what led to the Ambassador’s being there with such thin security on September 11th in the first place. Given their implacable focus on that, and the information that has since come out about what the Benghazi site actually was (anyone seen that Ryan Reynolds-Denzel flick?), I increasingly wonder about whether those who want to focus so much on the administration’s statements after the incident do so not because that is what’s really important, but because as it turns out, given their institutional commitments, they’ve realized they really can’t poke as strongly at the questions of what the U.S. was up to in Benghazi and why the Ambassador was there without much personal security as they initially thought perhaps they wanted to, or that there isn’t as much they can use to discredit the administration there as they had thought/hoped, at least, again, consistent with their own institutional commitments. There could be nothing to that, but I’m beginning to wonder.

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  13. I’ve got a busy week ahead of me and I wanted to respond in more depth, but for now I will just ask this question very seriously: how do you know that for an increasing number of these people it’s not a matter of partisanship or team spirit – it’s because they’re genuinely, truly, batsh*t insane?

    Crazy people can have Amex gold cards, wear nice suits, drive expensive cars and shower once a day. They’re not all living in boxes under bridges.

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  14. The Benghazi affair is no no different than Fast&Furious in that while Barry and co. lie and obfuscate the liberal press ignores it until the moment has passed so that anyone who brings the subject up is met with a silly look and a question about what scandal?

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  15. “the stone cold fact that cannot be denied is that the attack did happen, and it did lead to the death of four Americans. That’s a giant fail, pure and simple. ”

    THIS

    I glossed over the whole “right wing batshit media” stuff since I don’t watch Fox, or left wing batshit media for that matter either, but this whole fiasco needs to be investigated.

    1) We need to know what actually happened and what the administration thought was happening AS it was happening, and what their actual responses were.
    2) We need to know why the security was at the level it was and why added security was denied.
    3) We need to know what the purpose of that facility was for and what were the purposes of the other facilities in the area.
    4) We need to know the activities of our people in country, up to, and during the night in question.
    5) And, since politicians and ‘crats are, by their very nature, CYA weenies, it all needs to be done with subpoenas in an official investigation and not behind closed doors. If a failure was identified, and I’m sure there were several, heads need to roll/consequences need to occur. I’ll use a well-known issue / event as an example:
    If we learn that administration intentionally mislead the public about the nature of the attacks (i.e. it was a protest) when they had info to the contrary, or didn’t know for sure, I want their head. If and admin official who spoke to the public relied on an underling (cia, fbi, nsa, whatever) for this info and was “innocently” misinformed, I want the underling fired. If there is no documentary proof the underling mislead the public official, the assumption is the public official had the most correct and accurate info on the subject and we revert to scenario 1. If there was an intentional misleading of the public for political reasons, I want mass firings of any ‘crat who went along and didn’t immediately informe the public that this was an active deception. If there were diplomatic reasons for this deception, I want a full disclosure as to why it was considered necessary to lie to the public.

    You may consider this extreme, I don’t.

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    • I’m all good with an investigation and potential consequences for those who dropped the ball. Whether firings are appropriate or not is something I’ll reserve until the facts are known.

      The point here is that when it’s the villiage maniac who shouts and scream about everything all the time who breaks the news of something, it’s going to take a while for the rest of the townsfolk to take the message seriously. And all indications are that FOX isn’t interested in recapturing whatever credibility it might have had. Serving up hysteria in its programming turns out to be profitable.

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      • And all indications are that FOX isn’t interested in recapturing whatever credibility it might have had.

        I think the problem is that to ~30% of the USA, FOX “News” still has credibility. It’s a function of the decades-long war against the “Mainstream Media” (or as they now call it, “Lamestream Media”); that 30% or so of the population think that Fox’s piss is wine and get the rest of their “information” from the affiliated talk radio and blog networks to reinforce that idea, and no amount of proof otherwise from outside the echo chamber will dissuade them from the notion.

        The local morning guy was on a Benghazi rant this morning making guesses about “what Petraeus will say” today, and every one of his callers responded as if Petraeus had already said the most damning things imaginable, accused the Obama admin of using him as the fall guy, and asserted that the previous callers and the hosts were all the proof they needed.

        Can we call them the village idiots? Sure. I’m just not a village survives when 30% or more of the population are the village idiots.

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    • Yes, I consider your response extreme. While I do think there should be an investigation of what occurred, the attack on Benghazi was hardly the first terrorist attack on a U.S. embassy or consulate, nor is it likely to be the last:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrorist_attacks_on_U.S._diplomatic_facilities

      There’s no such thing as perfect security, and right wing hysteria over this most recent attack makes it all the more difficult to get to the bottom of the story and whatever lessons it might hold for keeping our embassies as safe as possible. The Fox spokespods and rightwing radio screamers aren’t likely to be satisfied with any explanation that stops short of resulting in Obama’s impeachment.

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    • There isn’t any left wing batshit media on television. There isn’t any left wing media on television, period.

      The left-wing varieties of crazy are basically restricted to poorly-made and little-frequented websites.

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                • I agree. This is why I won’t vote for anyone who is willing to let corporations steal (for pennies on the dollar) nuclear plants from the public till.

                  What policy positions are batshit insane to you?
                  How’s this: “Veterans Benefits are the New Welfare”
                  Crazy, right?

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                • So in your opinion, Rachel Maddow saying that the US should adopt single payer healthcare is just as problematic and batshit crazy as, say, a report by Fox News alleging that the UN is going confiscate all privately held firearms in the US? You really don’t see the qualitative difference here?

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                    • There are certainly batshit left-wing conspiracy theories, e.g. “Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time”. If you can point to a media outlet with the same audience size as Fox or Limbaugh espousing that one (or anything similar), please do.

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                    • The point is that there’s a massive difference between things I think are terrible ideas or that are emblematic of a set of values that I find completely foreign and insisting on making demonstrably false or baseless factual claims while disregarding contradictory evidence. The former is simply a difference of normative beliefs, the latter means the speaker is either a liar or has constructed an alternative reality (ie, is batshit crazy).

                      Being a communist is not batshit crazy; being a communist who insists Communist regimes don’t have a record of killing and imprisoning countless millions of people is batshit crazy.

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                    • I starting to wonder if maybe you know what bat s**t crazy means.

                      For example, eliminating the Bush tax cuts may or may not be a good policy decision; it may or may not achieve the desired result. The same can be said for sanctions on Iraq, or caps on carbon emissions, or banning assault weapons, or tax cuts for one particular segment of income earners. Any of these may or may not be good ideas; any of them may or may not work as intended. However, that does not make them “bat s**t crazy.”

                      Believing that you need to buy gold and “food insurance” because Obama is going to make this country into an apocalyptic wasteland so that Muslims can take over and implement sharia law *is* bat s**t crazy. So is believing that George W. Bush payed actors to dress up as Muslims and fly planes into the WTC so that he could take over middle eastern oil fields and enslave the lower classes. Both of those examples are really, really bat sh**t crazy.

                      I assume that even though you feel the need to stick to your narrative (and that it’s obvious that you don’t actually read any of the OPs before commenting) , you can actually understand the difference.

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                    • Mike

                      When did the size of the media outlet become an issue here? If you want to try and change the argument to make one side look better or worse nice try but I won’t bite.

                      Besides what does the size of the news outlet have to do with the quality of the information?

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                    • Scott: “When did the size of the media outlet become an issue here?”

                      It depends entirely on exactly what you are trying to measure.

                      For example, if you’re measuring the inherent worth of two individual theories at any given time it really doesn’t matter at all.

                      On the other hand, if you’re measuring the inherent worth of two individual political parties it actually matters a lot.

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                    • I should think it’s pretty obvious why the size of an outlet makes a big difference – any large enough group is going to have its share of crazies. The question is whether the crazies have any meaningful influence. Almost no one on the Left pays attention to the Code Pink crazies; by contrast, at least a sizable and influential minority, if not an outright majority, of those on the Right rely heavily on Fox News and Limbaugh.

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                    • When did the size of the media outlet become an issue here?

                      Did you read Tod’s post? His point is that the level of batshit which pervades conservative media is doing them a disservice. Since the issue is “pervades”, size matters.

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                    • Tod:

                      So does that mean that you don’t think that there are any policy positions that are batshit crazy?

                      Say for instance thinking that you can pay the North Koreans with food and fuel to give up their nuclear capacity or thinking you can have an honest discussion with the Iranians about their nuclear program? Or thinking that communism is still a great idea? They are all batshit crazy positions to me.

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                    • Yes, Scott, thinking foreigners you dislike act out of self-interest rather than fanatical hatred of the United States, or that the best way to deal with them isn’t chest-thumping and idle threats is batshit.

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                    • Mike:

                      Assuming that others will only act out of self interest is logical. Some liberal thinking we can convince the NK’s to give up the nukes for food and fuel or that we can trust the Iranians is batshit but Barry goes ahead anyway.

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        • Scott,
          My favorite poster on Daily Kos is a republican, for goodness sakes (Dr. David Brin).
          Is DailyKos, who helped elect libertarian democrats (Udalls and Tester), now suddenly crazy?
          Do you have two posts, from the main authors, that show crazy?

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        • None of those are crazy.

          Look at the things that have been said on Fox which are described in the post. Not conservative ideas: black-helicopter conspiracy theories, birtherism, claims that Obama is actively out to destroy the country or turn it over to the UN or what have you. Add in pretty much anything Beck’s said since 2008. That’s the right-wing crazy we’re talking about.

          The equivalents on the left are, for example, the 9/11 truthers, or the people who claim a conspiracy to create the Amero, or people who think the government created AIDS to kill gay people. That kind of thing certainly gets no play on any TV network, nor on the major liberal blogs.

          Ideas like single-payer or negotiating with countries on the presumption that they act on the basis of rational self-interest ideas are things accepted in most of the world outside the US a basic common sense. Michelle’s made the right call. You’ve passed the event horizon of unreality.

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  16. Last I checked, nearly three thousand Americans were slaughtered here in the US of A after clear warnings of such attacks by known terrorists were given to president cheney … I mean bush and were ignored.

    Also, the State department’s budget for security was cut earlier to save money by congress. Finally, exposed positions often lead to death … no; not in Libya but in Iraq and Afghanistan by soldiers who needed better armor and shielded vehicles but I recall we were told that one fights the war with the army and equipment you have not that you want … .

    Where are all the nutcases … I mean right wingers screaming for investigations for the many thousands of American civilian and military deaths that were all preventable by the republican admins?

    Does this excuse the Obama admin? NO and if they are guilty of something then lets find out but so far, not one thing points to them as being at fault … as far as I know every consulate office can not be a green zone unless we have a spare trillion dollars or so to spend …
    \
    By the way … were is tVD? This should have drawn him out, no?
    Were are all the nutcases … I mean right wingers screaming for invesitgations for many thousands of both american civilian and muilitary deaths that were all preventable by the republican admins?

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    • Allow me to comment. Since I wasn’t active on this site back then…

      Yes there should have been investigations about this stuff. Frankly, I’m not real happy about the whole 9/11 Twin Towers investigation. I’m not some lunatic fringe guy thinking that it was a false flag thing, but I still don’t think all the questions have been answered there.

      Please don’t associate me with the right wing batshit crazys, (not necessarily that you were).

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        • Really?

          http://www.snopes.com/rumors/flights.asp

          Granted Snopes could just be wrong, or the report they quote could be a cover up but on the face of it.

          -The Saudi charter flights did not take off until airspace was reopened on September 13th
          – There was no evidence Bush or Cheney organised those flights

          One possibility that isn’t mentioned but could explain the origin of this meme is that some of the charter flights were in a gap between the re-opening of airspace and the resumption of scheduled service. This would look like ‘they can fly and we can’t’ to an observer but be more to do with the logistics of getting a commercial airline going again that any conspiracy.

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  17. Also, I think this whole Benghazi affairs proves that if Gore had been POTUS on 9/11, The Truther movement would’ve started on 9/12, would’ve been made up of congressional Republicans, and wouldn’t have shut up until impeachment or assassination.

    After all, a lot of Republicans believe both that it is close to treason to criticize a Republican President during a time of war, and also that it is even closer to treason to fail to criticize a Democratic President.

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    • It’s a good point.

      Although I’m on the side of believing that it would have been a very good thing for the country if people of both parties had been more willing to criticize and question Bush – in a non-crazy way – after 9/11 rather than going along with everything he did.

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        • I haven’t read the entire thread. I did read the piece and thought it was very well written, though didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t really think or know. Which isn’t meant to take away from it; I’m just not sure I was its target audience.

          Anyway, in responding to Tom’s specific comment here and in the broader context of Tod’s piece, I’ll say this:

          There was and is room to criticize and question Benghazi. The problem is, the “conservative media machine” has done a piss poor job of it, ultimately undermining legitimate attempts to do so.

          Back when GWB was in office, I used to bristle when libs would rail on Bush’s accent or ears or whathaveyou. Not only was that meaningless, but the emptiness of those criticisms detracted from the real criticisms. It was easier to dismiss his critics on the left as loons when they talked about ears and accents. Likewise the “conservative media machine” now. At times (not all the time, but some of the time), they actually take up a worthwhile cause, but do such a shitty job of it that they ultimately devalue the legitimate criticism.

          There is room to talk about what happened in Benghazi and how the administration responded. That room does not include space devoted to Obama celebrating terrorists.

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          • Kazzy, I think you’re somehow missing the meat of Tod’s point. Strictly speaking, this is not a post about the Benghazi attack itself. It’s a post on our media’s handling of the Benghazi attack.

            So yeah. Libs used to snap on Bush. I don’t remember hearing all that much about his accent or his ears (?), but there was indeed plenty about GWB’s collegiate grades, his drug/alcohol abuse in his younger years, and especially his bizarre propensity to make up words and say really stupid things around which an entire comedic industry arose.

            None of that is even the teeny tiniest bit equivalent to the bombs of Otherness and CT that the rightwing has now long lobbed at Obama.

            In a nutshell, Tod is asserting (and he’ll correct me if I’m wrong) that rightwing media (Fox News being the torchbearer and most prominent member) has done such a bang-up job of floating anti-Obama nonsense for so long that virtually no one else within the mainstream news media pays much attention to them anymore. Not even when, much like the cold reader in Burt’s take, there is actually an element of fact that righfully demands our attention.

            Too much crying wolf. Credibility disappears. Once a major news outlet loses its credibility … what’s next?

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            • The “major” media ignored Benghazi, irrespective of Fox. If Fox didn’t exist, they’d still have ignored it in the run-up to the election.

              And if they ignored it just because Fox put 2 reporters on it [Catherine Herridge and Jennifer Griffin, neither of whom are associated with the political beat/bleat ala Hannity], then they fell down on the job.

              No, I’m afraid the thesis here doesn’t hold up logically. The Obama admin’s screwup in Libya and the major media’s indifference to it before the election has nothing to do with Fox or Limbaugh or Alan Keyes or birtherism or any of that.

              Now the spit is hitting the fan. Whatever. We’ll wait ’til Rachel Maddow says something and maybe people will believe it. Otherwise, it’s not worth litigating at this point.

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                • Is this not the thesis?

                  “What if the need to frame actual condemnable miscues by the Obama administration around a preposterous, sensational narrative designed to boost ratings was what ultimately gave the White House a pass?”

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                  • TVD

                    No tod is blaming the people’s/mainstream media’s ignoring the scandal on the right wing media. I think the argument is that all the right’s bluster caused folks not to listen but that doesn’t explain why the liberal media ignored it.

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                    • No, this is not what Tod is arguing at all – which is why it’s always good to actually read the posts before commenting on them.

                      As I pointed out in the OP, the mainstream media did cover the story – extensively. In fact, the Big Scandal That Actually Happened – the cables from Stevens asking for an extension of security forces which were subsequently denied – was based on documentation that was obtained by ABC news, which (like CNN, NBC and CBS) was reporting on Benghazi nightly.

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            • KT,

              I understood Tod’s thesis and agree with it. For my money, it wasn’t something particularly revolutionary, just a really well-framed presentation of it. This isn’t meant as a criticism, as I think one of Tod’s greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to clearly and succinctly present things in a relevant and meaningful way (I’m tempted to try to lure him into the world of early childhood education upon his retirement, where such a skill set is gold).

              I don’t mean to draw a false equivalency between lame criticisms of Bush and the “conservative media machine” (CMM) because you are indeed right that they are not equivalent. I was simply seeking to make an analogy about how the opportunity for legitimate criticism can dry up when so much of the time and space is filled with illegitimate criticism. As I understand Tod’s point, the CMM appears to have reached a tipping point in this regard where they seriously undermine “conservativism” in favor of being a “media machine”.

              My point to Tom was that there is indeed room and space for questioning and criticizing Benghazi and that any elimination of this was done more by Fox than any other media outlet.

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              • Where was Dana Milbank’s takedown of Susan Rice before the election? Hillary hates her, McCain hates her. The Russians hate her.

                http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-susan-rices-tarnished-resume/2012/11/16/55ec3382-3012-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html

                Blockquote>Compared with this, the flap over Libya is relatively minor — but revealing. It’s true that, in her much-criticized TV performance, she was reciting talking points given to her by the intelligence agencies. But that’s the trouble. Rice stuck with her points even though they had been contradicted by the president of the Libyan National Assembly, who, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” just before Rice, said there was “no doubt” that the attack on Americans in Benghazi “was preplanned.” Rice rebutted the Libyan official, arguing — falsely, it turned out — that there was no evidence of such planning.

                True, Rice was following orders from the White House, which she does well. But the nation’s top diplomat needs to show more sensitivity and independence — traits Clinton has demonstrated in abundance. Obama can do better at State than Susan Rice.

                Dana Milbank, Washington Post. “Acceptable” media, yes?

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  18. I’m juggling more than a few balls at present, and one of them is this very comment thread. Which I will absolutely read in its entirety even though I’m late to the party.

    But meantime, I really must say that even within the rich history of awesome League posts, this one rates toward the top. Well fishing done, Mr. Kelly.

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  19. Vaguely related and too fun not to share. Go to Hugh Hewitt’s web site. (OK, you don’t have to, because I did it for you.)

    First, columns:

    Oct 27: Glass Jaw Obama
    Nov 1: The Stretch Run
    Nov 3: Mittmentum Builds
    (crickets…)
    Nov 14: Memo to the States’ Governors and AGs on The Decision On Obamacare’s Exchanges: Go Churchill Or Go Home

    Next, blog:

    Nov 6: 1980 2.0
    Nov 6: What We Need Wednesday Morning
    Nov 6: Live Election Coverage. Going as late into the night as is necessary.
    We’re sorry, that page was not found – Error 404

    Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind. Cannot bear very much reality.

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