Shorter Question Everything
This is why waiting until the facts come out makes sense, aside from that whole human decency thing. The Benghazi attack is looking more and more like a terrorist attack by Al Qaeda or some other organized group. There are a few points to take away here.
One, from where, or more importantly, from whom, did they get their weapons? There are weapons all over the place there of course but what I’m getting at is that Romney and his lot believed that the Obama administration didn’t do enough to arm Libya fast enough, and continue that criticism on to Syria. The fallout for this sort of thinking is that the rightwingers haven’t put much thought into who they are arming in the first place. The Obama administration is right to be wary about exactly who they are arming when they send in weapons. This is part of that reason. What if, somewhere down the line, it’s proved that some of that weaponry used in the attack has an American provenance? Not saying it does, but I am saying it’s possible, especially when the right is so eager to throw weapons around, as if that’s the answer.
Two, while Romney believed that he was throwing a punch at Obama, what he really did was throw a punch at those in the path of what is turning out to be a terrorist attack. It blamed them for the attack that befell them, and further slapped at them for not condemning the very attack they were facing. All of this whil it cost the lives of American personnel. Romney didn’t punch Obama, he punched the victims. Remember that story about Romney chasing down a kid in school and cutting his hair off? Yeah, like that.
Three, as the facts change, it only makes Romney look worse, look more petty, look more desperate, and this is being called out by every side. Most notably by Romney’s own.
As a fourth point, I’m going to switch to the Russian issue, to discuss the fallout. It was some time back when Romney said that Russia was the number one geopolitical foe of the US. Time passes. And now we have a hardened situation, politically. I believe that Obama has the finesse to take the US through this but it does complicate things, things that are too dangerous to mess with. Romney has shown that he clearly lacks this finesse, and a world with Romney in it, with Romney in a position of power, is a far more dangerous one that what we have now.
As facts continue to change on the ground, what will be the fallout for Romney’s action on the Benghazi attack? There will be one, just as there was with his silly statement on Russia. Can we all live with that? I fear the answer is no. Romney is not fit to hold that office, not for the American people, and not for the rest of us.
…[S]enior U.S. officials and Middle East analysts raised questions Wednesday about the motivation for the Benghazi attack, noting that it involved the use of a rocket-propelled grenade and followed an al-Qaeda call to avenge the death of a senior Libyan member of the terrorist network.
…Libyan officials and a witness said the attackers took advantage of a protest over the film to launch their assault. Libyan security forces helped drive away the attackers.
…Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there is strong evidence that the attack was planned. “This was a well-armed, well-coordinated event,” Rogers said in an interview on MSNBC. “It had both indirect and direct fire, and it had military maneuvers that were all part of this very organized attack.” Rogers referred to weapons that aimed directly at a target and those, such as rockets and mortars, that are fired without a direct line of sight. According to Firas Abdelhakim, a Libyan television journalist who said he witnessed part of the attack, a group of several dozen armed men mounted the assault. Abdelhakim said he was about three miles from consulate when he saw 20 to 30 cars driving toward the consulate shortly before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.
…The Defense Department has dispatched two Marine antiterrorism security teams to Libya to reinforce security there, a senior Marine official said. In a statement issued by the White House early Wednesday, Obama said he had directed an increase in security at U.S. diplomatic posts around the world.
…The attack was the latest in a series of violent assaults in Benghazi over the last several months — many, but not all, directed against U.S. interests there. Tuesday’s assault was the second on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. On June 5, a bomb exploded outside the gates of the compound in the first targeting of an American facility since the fall of Gaddafi last year. The following day in Benghazi, two British bodyguards were injured in an attack on a convoy carrying the British ambassador to Libya. Last month, unknown assailants attacked a compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Libyan port city of Misurata. No one was injured in that attack. A group allied with al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for several recent assaults in Benghazi. But there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday’s attack.
…[Obama]said many Libyans have already joined that stand, and he vowed, “This attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.” He stressed that Libyan security personnel had “fought back against the attackers alongside Americans” and that other Libyans carried Stevens’s body to the hospital and helped U.S. diplomats find safety. Obama added: “We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
…the attack appeared to be motivated by a recent call by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader, to avenge the killing of Hassan Mohammed Qaed, better known as Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan-born cleric who was a key aide to Osama bin Laden.
• Smiling while discussing the tragedy. Smirking while lying about Obama’s response to the tragedy. Lip smacking after declaring emotions. Curled lip of contempt when blaming Obama for the embassy’s statement. Smiling gleefully while answering questions. To which we can now add: Smiling while leaving the podium. Mitt Romney couldn’t keep the glee off of his face this morning. It wasn’t a Bushian smirk or a Cheney smirk or even a Palin smirk. It was devoid of the inner rage of the last two, and the light ignorance of the first. Mitt Romney’s smirk is empty, cold and bottomless; it’s self-satisfied in the way of a serial smirker, but cold. So cold. It appears as if Romney is happy about today’s events and yet I don’t want to believe this. People died, yet he’s smiling. The prevailing emotion Mitt Romney is feeling is happiness. We can only surmise that he is feeling this because he believes that he’s finally found a way to the crown of President to which he feels entitled, not realizing that he’s in fact made a right fool of himself. Watch here, starting around 4:00 he begins to loosen up and the smiles start breaking through the veneer (you have to see this to really appreciate just how creepy it is):
• Did Romney torpedo his campaign by politicizing embassy attacks? In 2008, John McCain’s suspension of his campaign for the financial crisis was seen as a political ploy. Romney may suffer the same fate for trying to score political points in the wake of tragedy. Being seen to undermine foreign policy at a time of volatility can make a candidate appear to be more interested in winning an election than in the security of his country. Sarah Palin, for her part, seemed to strike at the President’s masculinity, suggesting that Obama lacked a “big stick” on foreign policy and needs to “grow one.” So far the President has declined to enter a political back-and-forth, vowing at the Rose Garden Wednesday morning that “justice will be done” in response to the deaths of four Americans in Libya.
[I]f you watched Romney’s press conference Wednesday in which he doubled down on his statement, the candidate seemed to think he was nailing it. After he finished responding to each question, he smiled, looking very satisfied. (“The statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and i think was a severe miscalculation.” Smile. “It’s also important for me just as it was for the white house last night by the way to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my view a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for american values.” Smile.) Maybe that’s because he knew the kids would love it. The kids being the base, as reflected by conservative bloggers loving Romney’s response and calling the murder an act of war by the Libyan government. As he has through out much of his campaign, Romney is defying expectations that he would “tack to the center” after winning the GOP primary. On Wednesday, he played to the same crowd that was so outraged over the “Ground Zero mosque.”
• “I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does.” — Former Bush administration DHS Secretary Tom Ridge
• “In the wake of this violence, the rush by Republicans — including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and scores of other conservative critics — to condemn him for policies they claim helped precipitate the attacks is as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing.” — Mark Salter, former chief of staff and top campaign aide to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
• “They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader. … “This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it.”
• But [a former Romney adviser] does have a good read on Romney–a man with a healthy sense of pride, and who’s already invested in the idea of Obama as an appeaser. It was the only plausible explanation the adviser could think of for how “they stepped in it,” in his words.
• “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors, say in the past few hours, perhaps since last night. Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go.” — Conservative commentator Peggy Noonan
• “This is a time when we all should reflect on those who continue to give, even the last measure, of service and sacrifice, to promoting and defending America’s interests abroad. This is above all a reminder that politics should end at the waters edge.” — Jon Huntsman, former Republican governor of Utan and 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
• extraordinary lack of presidential character
• It’s an outrageous exercise in opportunism.
• Mitt Romney didn’t wait for expert assessments to use the four diplomats’ deaths to launch his own verbal assault.
• profoundly inappropriate
• exploitation of an evolving situation
• Irresponsible. And totally unwarranted.
• For someone whose campaign has been studded with tone-deafness abroad, this was stunning, undiplomatic and undemocratic rhetoric.
• In his desperation to defend Mitt Romney’s botched Libya comments, Rush Limbaugh has devised a wild conspiracy theory that claims the media is trying to protect Obama by blaming Romney.
Mitt Romney’s investments have already proven to be obstacles for him on the campaign trail with a slew of attacks on the company he co-founded, Bain Capital, and his vast network of offshore assets. However, this latest bit of information about Mr. Romney’s business dealings may be the most politically problematic yet: almost immediately after the September 11th, Mr. Romney profited from a company designed to make money from the chaos that followed the attacks.
Endurance Specialty Holdings was one of many insurance and reinsurance startups that cropped up in the wake of 9/11. These companies were designed to purchase debt from insurance companies who faced billions of dollars in claims after the attacks and sold insurance at high prices generated by the soaring rates that resulted from the cash crunch on traditional insurance companies. Mr. Romney was invested in Endurance Specialty Holdings both through Golden Gate Capital, a private equity firm founded by a former Bain Capital executive in 2000 and through his direct interest in another investment firm, CCG Investment Fund, LP.
In documents filed with the SEC ahead of a proposed IPO in late 2002, Endurance Specialty Holdings, which began operations in December 2001, a little over three months after the World Trade Center attacks, boasted about how they were taking advantage of economic opportunities created in the wake of September 11th.
In addition to Endurance’s history of profiting from the September 11th attacks, Mr. Romney’s investment in the company is also interesting because the company was domiciled in Bermuda, though none of its initial investors hailed from the island nation and ten of them came from the United States. In SEC filings, Endurance noted this arrangement ensured it was not “subject to taxes computed on profits or income or computed on any capital asset, gain or appreciation, or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax or to any foreign exchange controls.” Throughout this election, the Obama campaign has accused Mr. Romney of using similar offshore investment schemes to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
[Update - the Romney's are falling back on the "blind trust" thing, something Romney himself has claimed is a ruse - when used by others.]
Where would we be without a rape analogy?
• Sen. Jon Kyl (AZ), the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, told reporters Wednesday that a U.S. Embassy statement condemning an anti-Muslim movie — which was reportedly issued before the attack in Libya that killed four American diplomats — was akin to blaming a victim for rape. Here’s what Kyl said, as quoted by Roll Call reporter Meredith Shiner: “It’s like the judge telling the woman who got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ OK? That’s the same thing. ‘Well America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done — what I don’t know — but it’s your fault that it happened.’ You know, for a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don’t just do that in the spur of the moment.” [In fact, they do; it happens all the time]
• Dumb, Dumber and John Freaking Kyl – That’s a pretty impressive statement, taken all in all. Economical. In just two sentences it manages to sideswipe rape victims* while asserting that US personnel in the midst of a street riot were actually complicit in their own vulnerability—all from the enviable safety of a seat in the Senate.
About that video
• Origins of Provocative Video Are Shrouded – Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in a telephoned statement: “Nobody knows who he is. He is totally unknown in filmmaking circles in Israel. And anything he did — he is not doing it for Israel, or with Israel, or through Israel in any way.” Mr. Palmor also called the filmmaker “a complete loose cannon and an unspeakable idiot.”
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Mitt Romney’s characterization of Moscow as the United States’ “number one geopolitical foe” has actually helped Russia.
The Russian leader said Romney’s comments strengthened his resolve to oppose NATO’s plan for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, a system Russia believes will degrade its nuclear deterrent. The U.S. insists the system is aimed at Iran, not Russia.
“I’m grateful to him (Romney) for formulating his stance so clearly because he has once again proven the correctness of our approach to missile defense problems,” Putin told reporters, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“The most important thing for us is that even if he doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” he said, speaking after a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, according to Interfax news agency.
• President Obama said today that criticism of his handling of the assaults on American embassies in Libya and Egypt was off the mark, suggesting that Mitt Romney has “a tendency to shoot first and aim later” with his political attacks. “It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts,” the president told 60 Minutes. “And that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.” Obama defended the messages sent out by U.S. diplomats in Cairo, “It came from people on the ground, who are potentially in danger,” Obama said. “You know, my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance, rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”
• THE PRESIDENT: And this is their prescription for everything — tax cuts in good times, tax cuts in bad times; tax cuts when we’re at peace, tax cuts when we’re at war; tax cuts to help you lose those few extra pounds — (laughter) — tax cuts to give your love life that extra kick. (Laughter.) Now, listen, I’ve cut taxes — but I cut them for folks who needed them. (Applause.) We cut taxes for middle-class families. We cut taxes for small business owners. (Applause.) But I sure do not believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs back to our shores. I don’t believe that it will bring down our deficit. I don’t think that firing teachers or kicking students off of financial aid will grow our economy. (Applause.) I don’t think that will help us compete when China is churning out more engineers and scientists.
In other news
• President Obama will not meet with Benjamin Netanyahu when the Israeli prime minister is in the United States later this month for the U.N. General Assembly, because the two leaders’ schedules make a meeting impossible, the White House said today.
• In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) compared the federal government’s decision to reclaim some of its own property to Nazi Germany’s confiscations of Jewish-owned art. Paul’s comments concerned a recent court decision holding that the United States is permitted to repossess ten rare coins that were illegally taken from the U.S. Mint decades ago. Last month, a federal judge agreed that the government acted properly, writing “[t]he disputed double eagles were not lawfully removed from the United States Mint and … remain the property of the United States.” For reasons that should be obvious, the federal government actions here are nothing like Nazi Germany. Nazis stole artwork that did not belong to them from Jewish families. The U.S. government, by contrast, reclaimed property that always belonged to it.
PAUL: It’s sort of like the Nazis taking paintings from Jewish families during the war and saying you don’t get them back. Well they’re yours, they’re still yours even if you find it 60 years later.
• Four former Army soldiers and a civilian have been charged in new indictments for connections to an anti-government militia that authorities say was led by Fort Stewart troops who stockpiled weapons and talked of ultimately overthrowing the U.S. government. The new indictments Monday bring to 10 the total number of people charged in connection with the militia group.
• Romney asked at least some on his short list to submit 10 years worth of tax returns, a source says. “Mitt Romney needs to answer one question: if he needed ten years of returns to decide on a vice presidential candidate, don’t the American people need the same to make their choice for president?” asked Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign.
• John Kasich, Ohio governor, served up this gem at a Romney rally: “You know, Jane Portman, Karen Kasich, and Janna Ryan, they operate an awful lot of the time in the shadows,” he said in Owensville, referring to the wife of Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, his own wife, and the wife of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, respectively. “It’s not easy to be a spouse of an elected official,” Kasich continued. “You know, they’re at home, doing the laundry and doing so many things while we’re up here on the stage getting applause, right? They don’t often share in it. And it is hard for the spouse to hear the criticism and to put up with the travel schedule and to have to be at home taking care of the kids. And where is the politician? Out on the road.”
• The “No More Solyndras Act,” H.R. 6213, is just weird. It reads like something you’d get if oil company lobbyists, Chinese energy officials and World Net Daily editors pulled an all-nighter on methamphetamine to come up with a bill that would push their interests.
• The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could soon spread to major towns and cities in the region. According to Reuters, the death toll in the current outbreak of the lethal hemorrhagic fever has doubled in the last week, rising to 31, including five health care workers.
• Zachary Quinto: It boggles my mind that there are so many extreme, Christian organizations that are adopting a stance against homosexuality with such vitriol and hatred and targeted aggression that goes against the tenets of the Christian faith. The hatred that people are leading with in this discussion is really, for me, the biggest symptom of how sick we are. It’s the thing that makes me look at our culture and think, We are so far afield of any sort of connectivity or truth in relationship to one another.
• Vancouver city council to debate ban on shark fins. Motion calls for council to work with Burnaby, Richmond to address ‘inhumane practice’. The tide of shark conservation is continuing to wash over Metro Vancouver — one municipality at a time. The City of Vancouver will become the latest jurisdiction to weigh in on the growing international issue when it debates a motion Tuesday related to a ban on the sale of shark fins.
• Spain: Huge turnout for Catalan independence rally. Some 1.5 million people have been taking part in Catalonia’s annual independence rally in Barcelona, according to police. This year’s march aimed to be the biggest ever – and a protest against the Spanish government’s tax laws. Catalonia wants Madrid to review its tax agreement and provide a bailout.
• Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, is rejecting “a Greek-style bailout that would force Madrid to make specific budget cuts.” While the European Central Bank has a “new bond-buying scheme,” there are economic and social costs of participation (further austerity). Some are predicting Rajoy “will seek help”, though.