Thursday, November 29, 2012

On The Beating Of Dead Horses


Obsession: 1) The compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea. 2) a persistent fixation that continually forces its way into consciousness, an irrational motive for performing trivial of repetitive actions, often associated with anxiety and mental illness. 3) the act of obsessing or the state of being obsessed. 4) an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.


That’s what they call it when people just won’t let go.

We’ve all seen it.

Some people can’t help it. Their obsession is driven by a mental coding error, an endless loop caused by genes or disease or trauma that forces their wetware into a snarl of obsessive compulsive behavior. That kind of obsession is an unfortunate illness and the afflicted often spend much of their lives trying to overcome it.

That’s not what I’m talking about here.

No, I’m talking about the other kind of obsession.

The deliberate kind.

The voluntary kind.

You all know what I mean.

That guy.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been trapped in a meeting with that guy. The one who just can’t move on, the one who just keeps circling back to the same subject over and over, who keeps asking the same damned question no matter how many times it’s been addressed, over and over and over, because he just doesn’t like the answer. It’s the same hobbyhorse in every conversation with that guy. He’s the one who thinks he’s playing the Devil’s Advocate, but in reality, he’s just an irritating asshole and everybody at the table wishes he’d shut up so they can get on with the business at hand.

You know him, he’s a legend in his own mind.

Now look, a certain amount of obsession isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself. Obsession can make people excel, to strive for top grades in school or become an Olympian caliber athlete, or lead to world changing discoveries by fixated scientists who spend long nights in a lab consumed with a desire to find answers to questions only they know enough to ask.

A small amount of obsession can lead to the love of your life.

But obsession carried too far becomes a sickness, a fixation that drives people to irrational and even dangerous behavior.  Cultural obsession with grades and ranking can lead to a culture of depression and suicide as it has among some of Japan’s youth. Obsession with winning at all costs often leads to cheating, just ask Lance Armstrong or Tonya Harding. Obsession can lead otherwise rational scientists down blind alleys from which they never return.

Obsession of another kind can become stalking, or worse.

Runaway obsession is what makes conspiracy theorists.

There is no answer that you can give a Birther that will convince her the president was born a citizen of the United States. None. There is no evidence that you can present to a Truther that will change their mind about the events of September 11th, 2001. There is no effective treatment for Moon Landing Hoaxers or Holocaust Deniers or Young Earth Creationists or those people who are absolutely convinced beyond all reason that the world will indeed end this time for certain – and when the world doesn’t end, they’ll still believe because they want to believe.

These people choose their obsession. Deliberately.

These people choose their obsession because the real answers just aren’t dramatic enough for them, because reality just doesn’t conform to their political, philosophical, or religious beliefs no matter how much they want it to. No matter how many times they ask the same question.

These people choose their obsession because it makes them important, at least in some regard, it makes them the star of their own show and forces others to pay attention to them even when they turn out to be spectacularly wrong – say like Karl Rove on election night.

For these people, everything has meaning – because everything must.


Because that’s the nature of obsession.

And sometimes events do mean something, but more often they don’t.

Because, see, that’s the thing, sometimes, it doesn’t mean anything.

Sometimes, in reality, well, shit just happens.


Which brings us to Benghazi.


Benghazi has become an obsession for a certain portion of the population.

You all know what I mean.

That guy.

That guy and his friends.

For them, Benghazi has to mean something. It just has to. It has to mean something, because they want it to mean something.

If it wasn’t an election year, if it wasn’t for their insane obsessive hatred for Barack Obama, if their guy hadn’t lost the election, well then the entire affair would have been forgotten in a week.

No, really. How many Americans died in Afghanistan that same week as the attack on the Benghazi consulate? How many? Hell, how many died this week? Don’t know? Can’t remember?


If it wasn’t an election year, four more dead in Libya – including a liberal ambassador appointed by a liberal president in a country that most Americans don’t give a shit about and couldn’t find on a map – wouldn’t mean a goddamned thing to Republicans.

Instead, well, obsession.

The conspiracy theory goes like this: There was an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, the attack killed Ambassador Stevens and three State Department personnel.  The Obama Administration initially said the attack was a result of a spontaneous riot, a riot supposedly inspired by an anti-Muslim video on YouTube. In the days immediately after the attack, the White House repeated this theory multiple times. Of course, the official story was wrong. Turns out the attack was an act of terrorism. Conservatives, of course, knew this for certain immediately – apparently via some magical means that the rest of us aren’t privy to.  And why would President Obama attempt to cover up terrorist involvement in the Benghazi attack? Well, the conspiracy theory reasons that President Obama couldn’t look weak on terrorism at such a critical point in the election cycle and therefore the administration concocted the riot whitewash and sent UN Ambassador Susan Rice in to sell the idea to Americans. 

Obama got reelected, so obviously the scheme must have worked. Right?

Now before we go any further, let’s be clear here: Americans have every right to know what happened in Benghazi. They have a right and an obligation to know how and why Ambassador Chris Stevens died. And they have every right to expect the Administration, any administration, to tell them the truth. And, just to be completely honest here, they have every right to expect cover-ups and lies from the White House, any White House, because they’ve been lied to far, far too often – from Watergate to Yellowcake, from the Bay of Pigs to the Gulf of Tonkin, and a thousand other lies big and small in between.

But there’s a difference between deliberate lies and honest confusion.

Sometimes shit just happens.

And there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

And nobody likes that answer, but sometimes that’s just how it is.

And you should be smart enough to know that and move the hell on.

Benghazi as a conspiracy theory makes no sense whatsoever.

First, you’d have to believe that anybody in the administration thought that lying about Benghazi was a winning strategy. Especially a month before the election. Obama’s campaign team was filled with some very, very smart people, and frankly I just don’t buy it. I don’t think they considered lying about Benghazi in any fashion for even a single second. 

It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous politically.

Here’s why: If Obama knew, for sure, that the attack was indeed terrorism, he would be far better served to call it that right up front, then pledge to bring the attackers to justice, and then pull out his record of hunting down and terminating terrorists (of all origins) to back his promise (of course, then conservatives would have attacked him for exploiting his record on killing terrorists, sometimes you just can’t win).

But, saying the Ambassador was killed by a riot? A riot? Well, shit, that’s just bad planning, bad security, bad leadership. Why the hell would the Obama campaign adopt that as a strategy if they didn’t think that’s what actually happened? Seriously.  That’s idiotic.

But terrorism?

Well, hell, they’re terrorists. They plan this stuff, they’re trying to kill us, they’re armed and equipped and full of murderous intent. Even the best security can’t stop them all. Americans understand that, after Beirut and USS Cole and the Berlin Disco Bombing and the Shoe Bomber and Timothy McVeigh and  a hundred other acts of terrorism or attempted terrorism, Americans damned well understand that. Enough of them do anyway. 

Hell, the country suffered the worst terrorist attack in our history during George W. Bush’s watch, three thousand Americans died and we got to watch the towers fall over and over again on national TV, then Bush took us into two ill conceived wars, and what happened? He got reelected

If Obama knew it was terrorism from the first, why bother to lie about it? Politically it makes zero sense whatsoever. None. Nada. Zippo.

The whole conspiracy theory is idiotic.

It doesn’t make sense for the president to lie about it. However, it does make sense, good sense, for somebody else to lie about it. Not for politics, but for a very good and valid reason. One that Captain John Fucking McCain USN(ret) knows very, very well indeed. Better than anybody else in Congress.

We’ll come back to that.

Second, a whole bunch of people, from the President to the Secretary of State to the UN to the media to the generals in the field would all have had to take orders from President Obama’s reelection campaign. And you’d have to believe that the folks running the president’s reelection were so powerful in fact, that they could give those orders – to generals, to the media, to professional bureaucrats  - and have them obeyed.

You may, if you like, color me a nice shade of skeptical at this point.

Next, you have to believe that all of the hundreds of people involved thought they could get away with it for long enough to win an election. Which, obviously, they couldn’t. Even if they thought it was a valid strategy. Which, obviously, they didn’t.

The terrorist link was out of the bag within a couple of days, well before the election.

And Obama still won handily – Benghazi had little impact, if any, either way.

And you know why? Because sometimes shit just happens.

And a recent CNN poll backs that up, most Americans don’t hold President Obama responsible for Benghazi – then again, you know how Republicans feel about polls by CNN. But I digress.

Benghazi was, and is, a dangerous place. Ambassador Stevens knew that, so did the State Department and the Department of Defense, so did the CIA, so did the President.

Libya had just gone through a revolution, the government is provisional, there are armed gangs roving the street and a dozen different militias. And –  and – this is Libya, the country that has specialized in training and exporting terror since the 1970’s. Ambassador Stevens knew what he was getting into, probably far better than anybody else in America. So did those ex-Navy SEALs, trust me, they knew, oh yes they did – and not because they had been SEALs. And they went anyway.

They knew it was a risk, going to Benghazi, that’s why it’s called a risk.

Sometimes things go pear shaped, sometimes shit happens.

After the attack, it took three weeks for the FBI and US investigators to get into the city in order to figure out what had really happened – because it was so damned dangerous.

It is also worth noting that the US Consulate in Benghazi wasn’t really a consulate, but more like an intelligence post and that those former US navy SEALs weren’t, in fact, State Department employees after all but rather CIA contractors – again, believe me, those guys knew exactly what they were getting into. Exactly. That’s why they, of all people, were there.

It is also noteworthy that there were actual angry mobs incensed over the US made anti-Muslim video. People seem to forget that at the same time as the Benghazi attack, anti-American protesters were rallying in the streets of Egypt.  Should the two events have been connected?  In hindsight, no. But that’s how intelligence work is, everything is clear as a bell in hindsight. Obvious to everybody. Of course.

And finally it is also worth noting that when former CIA director David Petraeus spoke behind closed doors to the congressional intelligence committee last week, he testified that the intelligence community had specifically removed all references to terrorists from the press briefings given to Susan Rice – so that the terrorists wouldn’t know what we knew about them.

Remember what I said about lying on purpose and for good reason?

When police are trying to catch a serial killer, they deliberately don’t tell the public everything until the killer is caught. It’s called operational security and sometimes there is a very, very good reason for not telling the public everything. Especially when you’re dealing with sensitive intelligence. And most especially when you’re dealing with Congress, who tend to put matters of politics and political agendas above national security and their oath of office. 

I used to do this for a living, I’m a retired intelligence officer, I know more than a little about congress and those people who aren’t authorized to talk to the press, but do anyway.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but sometimes – especially in a warzone – that kind of shit happens. This wasn’t the first time and it surely won’t be the last. The only surprising part about Benghazi is that only four Americans died.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but it wasn’t nearly as terrible as some people would like it to be.

Benghazi was a terrible thing, but it isn’t any kind of cover up.

What it is, is an obsession.

That’s exactly what the current congressional circus led by Senator John McCain is, an obsession.

The conservative senators grilling Susan Rice are obsessed with their conspiracy theory. They’re not interested in what really happened, they know what really happened. But reality just doesn’t suit their agenda, their obsessive compulsive hatred of all things Obama. 

John McCain lost in 2008, and his party lost again this year, and he just can’t get past it.

Because he doesn’t want to.

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte went on CNN’s Anderson Cooper immediately following an interview with Susan Rice and said that while she was positive Rice “certainly” misled the country on Benghazi, she was unsure of Rice’s motive for doing so.


Ayotte isn’t unsure of anything, she just doesn’t like the actual answer because it doesn’t support her obsessive conviction that the president must be involved in some nefarious plot to secretly kill off our ambassadors in order to get reelected so that he can turn white babies into Muslim trail mix and further his plan to neutralize Earth’s defenses prior to the arrival of the reptile armada from Zeta Reticuli (Wait, I might be mixing things up, was it Obama or the other guy who believed they were destined to become king of an alien planet? Er, you know, never mind).

And while we’re at it, ask yourself this – Obama sent in Rice to bullshit America (kind of like Bush sent Colin Powell to lie to the UN), then he threw her to the wolves, but then he wants her to be Secretary of State because why again?

I’ll be interested in John McCain’s theory behind that. No really, I need a laugh.  I hope it involves alien reptiles from outer space.

Supposedly the purpose of this congressional dog and pony show is to determine what happened in Benghazi so that we can be better prepared for future attacks.  There’s a column on CNN today written by Florida Republican, Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio says:

Because the uppermost purpose of any inquiry is to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, we need to know what measures Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken to ensure that decisions about security and requirements of U.S. diplomatic missions are given the highest priority.


Then why aren’t McCain and Ayotte asking those questions? Instead of trying to determine Susan Rice’s motivations?

Why? Well because, of course, that’s not what this is really about at all.

If this was about preventing future acts of terrorism then you would see a bipartisan focus on what measures were in place, what went wrong, and what we might do about it in the future (if anything).  What Susan Rice said, or didn’t say, what she knew or didn’t know, has no bearing on the stated goals of the commission as defined by Rubio. None.  They might as well be interviewing Obama’s dog Bo.

What you have is a Republican witch hunt led by the likes of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Kelly Ayotte, among others.  They’re obsessed with finding a smoking gun, and by God they’re going to do it even if they eventually have to hire Kenneth Starr.

Preemptively vetoing Susan Rice’s nomination for Secretary of State will in no way whatsoever prevent or even better prepare us for future acts of terrorism, nor will John McCain’s sour remarks and press conferences. And the Republican led inquiry isn’t even bothering to pretend otherwise.

The real purpose of the inquiry is to get even with Barack Obama for being reelected.

The real purpose is to send a message, a two word message that begins with an “F” and ends with a “You” – maybe they should have had Clint Eastwood deliver it.

This isn’t about Susan Rice, but if they do manage to force the President to nominate John Kerry instead of Rice, so that republicans can then grab for Kerry’s Senate seat, so much the better (no, I don’t have any proof that’s what the silly obsessed bastards are up to, but then again, to use their own reasoning, I don’t have any proof that they’re not either).

You know, it’s ironic.  John McCain and his band of pitchfork wielding conspiracy nuts are accusing the President of playing Benghazi for political purposes – while they themselves play Benghazi for political purposes.

Ironic and disgusting.

More than anything, what these people are pissed about isn’t the death of an American ambassador, they’re mad that they can’t turn the death of an American ambassador into Obama’s Waterloo.

It’s also ironic that the folks most upset about the deaths of four Americans in Libya, the kind of deaths they (or anybody) are unlikely to prevent in the future, are the very same folks who adamantly refuse to do anything in any way whatsoever about the myriad deaths of Americans gunned down in movie theaters and in front of shopping malls and in their schools right here at home.

As I said, ironic … and disgusting.

John McCain should be ashamed of himself, but he lost that capability a long, long time ago, right around the same time he forgot the meaning of the word honor. 

In the final measure, we don’t honestly know if Susan Rice is the best choice for Secretary of State or not.  We don’t really know if there are better candidates. We haven’t had a full accounting of her experience and qualifications – only her actions during this one very limited event. 

Hell, we don’t even know if President Obama actually intends to nominate Rice for the position.

Should Susan Rice be Secretary of State?

I don’t know.

But I do know this, it’s not up to three obsessed Senators to decide alone.

It’s not even just up to Republicans.

That’s what Congressional confirmation hearings are for.


This isn’t about Susan Rice.

This isn’t even about Benghazi.

It’s about an obsession.


  1. There seem to be some formatting problems...looks like some stuff got inserted towards the end and some of what was at the end got moved above the insert.

    1. I enjoyed the "bonus material" as I had brought the page up last night and just finished it this morning. It was nice to be privy to some rough draft ruminations and I especially miss that you took out the "sawed off twerps" reference in the last sentence. Even without the "bonus material" that has now gone to the great electronic graveyard, you've hit another one out of the ballpark. Thanks again!

    2. Dang, sug, I am sitting here in the Rio Grande Valley listening to the military helicopters fly over the border again (alway this time-ish) and just finished reading this to my hubby. He kept interupting me, telling me, "That's what you said, honey, did you help him write this??" I wish I could write as well as you do. But I had the same thoughts about the safety of other Americans in Libya and made the same analogy of witholding intelligence because it was probably necessary. WE don't know all the stuff going on, we shouldn't know everything. And shit does happen, especially in dangerous places. Every day here we hear about how many are being killed in Mexico. Well, how many were killed in Houston today by gangs and murderers? But anyway, I sure do wish you could set people straight on Wyman's wall. But if you were Jesus or Reagan, they'd still call you a liar if you told them Obama wasn't a Kenyan Muslim extremist. Because they're that guy. You and I would get along like peas and carrots.... a Texas democrat, Claire

  2. Yeah. Noted. I'm having some electrical problems here due to weather. The computers and connections are wonky. I'm working on it.

  3. Typo alert!
    Way up near the top, in the graf that starts: "I can’t count the number of times I’ve been trapped..."
    Penultimate sentence reads: " It’s the same hobbyhorse in every conservation with that guy." I assume it should read "every conversation" sted "conservation".
    You're welcome.

  4. A couple more (god, I hate it when you make me go all schoolmarm on you).
    Down near the bottom, the graf following "Hmmmm" opens with: "Then why isn’t McCain and Ayotte asking those questions?" Should, of course, be "why AREN'T".

    And, a bit further down, the graf beginning: "You know, it’s ironic" contains: "John McCain and his band of pitchforks wielding..." Strike the "s" in "pitchforks".

    Feel free to delete these posts after resolving my edits.

    1. Among the many things I appreciate about you, Jim, is your willingness to accept typo corrections from your readers in the helpful manner intended, which is to simply tighten up your commentary and make it easier to read and digest. Any number of other writers might get testy about such things.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us as you do. I always come away with plenty to think about.

      And, yes, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition. Whatever...

    2. cuppajava,

      Ending a sentence with a preposition is now a non-issue among grammarians. Have another cup of joe and enjoy the day!

    3. Maybe I should start using the phrase "Also, Grammer Nazis!"

    4. So, ending a sentence with a preposition is now a non-issue, well, I just CAN'T accept the phrase "where are you at?"

    5. You could start using that phrase but you'd have to change it to "Also, Grammar Nazis!" :-)

    6. Um - that should be grammar!

    7. Pretzelogic in Philly, PANovember 30, 2012 at 9:01 PM

      >>> I just CAN'T accept the phrase "where are you at?"

      What about the phrase "Where the white women at?" Blazing Saddles just wouldn't be the same without it...


    8. Well, then, while we're on the subject of reader editorial input, I must tell you, Jim, that I am gratified to see how determinedly you are now paragraphing your most excellent posts.

      Not they aren't always magnificent to read, but now they're also easier on the eyes -- and there's much to be said for anything that's easy on the eyes, eh?

  5. Best statement - especially the second part:

    "John McCain should be ashamed of himself, but he lost that capability a long, long time ago, right around the same time he forgot the meaning of the word honor."

    1. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 30, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      I'm partial to the irony statement, myself. ;o)

    2. Jim, I would like to know the time frame of "long, long ago".
      Was it in the Hanoi Hilton that he forgot the meaning of honor, after his return when he dishonored himself in the personal sphere, during the Keating Five, or... continue on...
      My thought is that it goes back to the time of Name, Rank and Serial Number and continued from there to feed the huge ego of a small man.

    3. I cants stand to hear his voice, let alone see him any more.

    4. Happy to accept your validation,Anon, especially as I screwed up on my name and could not get back to correct it.

    5. On the other side of that, I will always hold a bit of respect for McCain in how he came to Obama's defense against one of his own supporters.

  6. looks great. Reads even better. Thanks Mr. Jim for putting into words exactly how I have been feeling about this.

  7. I recall reading that some of the ThugLieCons refused to increase the budget for those places.

    1. They probably refused to increase the security budget because everyone knows Obama is taking away everyone's guns so we should buy an arsenal for each and every one of us because "FREEDOM"!!

      Also, Nazis.


    2. As a knitter, I absolutely love your screen name and only wish I thought of it first.

    3. Valerie,

      My husband gave that name to me. I love it. So I made him a sweater.


  8. The first time I became aware of this "Rice" thing was when I looked up and saw the news ticker going across the bottom of the Sky News screen. This confused me somewhat as my immediate thought was of Condi...

  9. Yeah. I said from the beginning it was silly for the media (particularly POX News) to expect specific information about an on-going investigation. For much the same reason as you outline. Operational intelligence. I don't have your background, but I've read a LOT of books and I have a brain that actually works the way it's supposed to. Just as a murder cop doesn't tell the media everything about the case s/he's investigating, the intelligence community doesn't tell the media everything about what they're investigating. It's just common sense. Which leaves most Republicans out, apparently.

  10. Obsession is also, of course, a well known symptom of onset of senile dementia.

  11. I saw video of that senile old hypocrite defending Condi for all the criticism she was receiving regarding the "smoking gun turning into a mushroom cloud" comment following the re-election of "W" and he called the criticism something along the lines of "sour grapes" because Kerry had just lost. As you say, he has no shame and appears to have no honor, integrity or character.

    It's amazing what politics and money do to people, but as a retired military man, I can't help but feel a little embarrassed for him. And he has to know of all the negative comments he's generated. So he just doubles down. Graham and Ayotte are there just to pat him on the back and be cheer leaders in hopes of giving him credibility.

    What a small and petty man he is shown to be.


    1. And the sad truth is: character doesn't change. So he must have always been without honor and integrity, he just was good a pretending otherwise.

    2. @Anonymous: ask his first wife.

  12. Thanks, Jim. I have been looking forward to your take on this given your background.
    I am also fascinated by the " the White House watched a drone feed in real time and DID NOTHING" furor that I hear. I have no experience in watching drone feeds, but I can imagine they are at least as hard to interpret as most music videos! Do you have any comment on that, based on your experience? ( Do the bad guys really wear " I'm a terrorist" T-shirts for easy ID?)


    1. Well if we extrapolate from the documentary Blazing Saddles, where the Governor wears a coat that says GOV, yes terrorists wear T-shirts that say 'I'm a terrorist' and in English

      After all my ex regularly wore a T that said BITCH on the front.

    2. Personally I like Castle where Nathan Fillion's character wears a shirt that says"Writer."

  13. I lost all respect for John McCain when he was one of five legislators who backed up the S&L thievery.

    Someone ought to suggest he take some downtime and R&R at one of his several houses.

    Then let Obama nominate Colin Powell.

    SW WA

  14. in a situation with as many chaos vectors as benghazi, a charlie foxtrot is at least extremely probable. mccain was in the navy, he has to know charlie well. proof? one word: forrestal. even if he does have dementia, given that he can still find a microphone, he can surely remember that. on the other hand, to question the qualifications of someone who is at least a legitimate potential nominee after he nominated sarah fucking palin for vice president, he has to be less self aware than the average boulder.

    1. Clem, you, too, have a way with words.

    2. According to his record, McCain IS a walking Charlie Foxtrot.

    3. Explain to a poor ignorant Ex-British Squaddie, what the hell is Charlie Foxtrot? The best we can come up with is Cucking Funt!

    4. Don't bother, got it! Rhymes with Bluster!

    5. Charlie Foxtrot is the basic term.

      You can add pre- and post fixes. For example Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot, where the Whiskey stands for "Walking." Usually used to describe Academy Officers. But I digress.

    6. Well said, Clem.

  15. Jim, I am reading again Michael Shermer's "The Believing Brain" and your piece here resonated with a lot of what Shermer says... the point is to put together what it is the reward that these obsessions offer to the individuals affected by them. There is something in the brain mechanisms, which stimulates the obsessions. Believing has its rewards, and when you seek to understand how it works, the picture we get is that it isn't different from the arousal that a hillbilly gets facing the prospect of banging his pretty cousin. Or jacking off. That unfortunately tells us that we are going to have little success in making them stop their obsessions, and would explain why those poor individuals explode in rage at your attempt. What do you mean, that I cannot bang my cousin? The right wing agenda is the pornography of the rich. Or of those who fancy themselves in route to those riches the propaganda tells them they are entitled.

    1. Or those who simply get off on siding with rank authoritarianism. And I do mean get off in the most basic sense.

    2. I too have noticed the rage conspiracy mongers exhibit when the facts get in the way of their story. I just passed it off as a personality disorder. Did the book have any suggestions as how to avoid the revenge they inevitably begin planning against fact checkers?

  16. Jim,

    You have again said it all and said it so well. Are you reading my mind? I have been explaining to folks for what seems like decades since this contretemps all started that smart people interested in protecting national security do NOT always tell the the world, including its citizens, everything they know about situations like Benghazi. Operational security requirements have to come first. Most people I speak with understand this basic concept, although some of my retired shipmates who subscribe to Mr. Murdoch's media stream at Fox (and who, like CAPT John McCain, should know better from their 20 or 30 year military careers) are among the people you refer to ... There is just no talking with them and I am sorry because they used to be reasonable human beings.

    Anyway, my compliments again on a great piece of writing. For that matter, on your last several. I have just caught up after a couple of weeks' hiatus and just wanted to tell you THANK YOU for all you do here at Stonekettle. It is always good to be able to see your latest and the comments from my fellow denizens and to be able to rejoice (in the now ancient words of Leonard Nimoy) that we "are not alone".

    Bravo Zulu!

    Old Navy Comm O

  17. I lost all respect for McCain and Republicans when they decided that a Silver Star and three purple hearts was just, "posing". They disrespected every veteran ever and have no shame.

    Scott C.

    1. Ain't that the damned truth. More recently, despite the fact that they always say they want to honor our military, a Marine who posed a question during the almost continuous Republican candidate debates got booed because he said he was gay.

  18. Greg - ETC(SW) USN RetiredNovember 30, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    Another great post, Jim. And a great followup to your original observations here (http://www.stonekettle.com/2012/09/war-by-other-means.html?m=0). This has been played for political means from the beginning. The most disgusting thing, at least to me, was the Reince Priebus tweet accusing the President of actually sympathizing with the terrorists.

    Also, good observation about the obsession, as well. Nailed it!!

    As always, thanks for all you do.

  19. Thanks you, Jim. A nicely distilled explanation of the idiocy surrounding this incident. McCain has received a pass for decades, even as his actions continuously erode his credibility. Maybe it says something about our own obsession with "heroes"--that despite countless examples of flawed thinking, he is still defined by his experience long ago and far away, while most politicians are forced to exist, act, and define themselves in the here and now.

  20. Thank you, Jim, for your well-thought out, well-written observations on this Benghazi obsession of the Republicans. I wonder what McCain and pals have on, or offered to, Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins to join in their little hissy fit. I guess the boys decided that they needed some female cover in their campaign.

    I'm a new reader, but Stonekettle Station is now a regular part of my daily reading. Keep up the great work.

    1. I think Susan Collins told us why she is on board: she is for John Kerry for SOS. That MA Senate seat is too good to not go for.

      Elizabeth 44

    2. Here in Mass we are concerned about this as well. Senator "saved by the staple" Brown would be favored in an election to fill Kerry's seat. Our only potentially viable Democratic candidates are currently in the House.

  21. And another one hit out of the park at Stonekettle Station.

    What gets me is that everyone keeps referring to what was barely a consulate as an 'embassy.' It was not an embassy, which would have had U.S. Marines guarding it. And as Jim points out here, it was barely a consulate.

    I'm waiting for someone to start impeachment proceedings over this. If they can't do it on this, they will just keep digging at everything or keep hoping some other piece of straw can be spun into brass that they can then pass off as gold.

  22. Damn, you're good.

  23. Awesome, as always. No one in their right mind releases intel while the investigation is going on. No one with any sense releases all intel to the masses, because the masses can't handle it. And regardless of what intel was released when, the spin would have played out to make the current administration wrong. Thanks for being here, and being way more articulate than I could ever be.

    1. I agree. I feel that there are plenty of people that get paid plenty of money to understand these issues and to have all of the facts and to communicate what is necessary, but only when it is necessary. Also, I read that Hilary Clinton has made it clear she will not leave office until her investigation is complete and the report is delivered to Congress. There seems to be an adult in the room.

      And yes, thank, Jim, for another great read.

  24. Jim, there are some sour grapes here. There are some gonna be obsessive about this no matter what you say - but there is something else going on here. It's all smoke and mirrors. Check out Rachel Maddow's piece on Wed about this. It's all about getting another Senate Seat.

    Why else would Iyote, McCain and Rubio all of a sudden be so concerned about this issue? Why are they all of a sudden so happy with Kerry and wouldn't have any problem with him being nominated SOS? They want that senate seat and they want it badly!

  25. Obama's dog is named "Bo"? Should I be offended?

    1. Keep your gun in your holster Tim!

    2. You liberals and your gun control.

    3. It's Bo? And here I thought it was Beau. No, wait. That would be too French.

    4. If you and a dog share a name, feel fortunate. Bringing dogs into our lives eons ago was one of the better things we humans have done.

    5. Yeah, but it may have been one of the dumber things dogs did to associate with us.

  26. On day two after the attack, Rachel Maddow laid out the facts of the entire event, and there has been nothing discovered to change those facts to this day....and there was never any effort by the administration to cover up any thing about them!
    The Benghazi consulate attack, was a planned revenge hit for the drone strike in June that took out Al Qaeda's number two man, bu Yahya al-Libi. (of Libya)
    That same day, there were 26? different protests at American embassies or consulates throughout the middle east over the stupid anti Islamic video.
    The most likely scenario, is that Al Qaeda, already planning the Benghazi attack, saw the protest taking place, and decided to use it as an opportunity to make their move. The Ambassador being there was just a horrible bit of scheduling.
    The peaceful protesters lent an unknowing cover to the rocket propelled grenade armed Al Qaeda squad.
    ....but if it didn't happen exactly that way...so what?
    Which part of any of this does John McCain think is being covered up by the administration and what possible motivation would they have!!??
    God it is infuriating....

    1. I would also like to know, why nobody in the media, has bothered to ask John McCain where he left his fervent curiosity, during the 11 embassy and consulate attacks this country endured during the 8 years of the Bush administration?
      With this witch hunt, McCain crosses the line from a beaten and disgraced public official, to being maybe the most craven opportunistic hack since McCarthy polluted the Senate.

  27. Thanks for peeling back the truth about these idiots. It's time for term limits! John McCain, Linda Graham and Kelly Coyotte are perfect examples of why it is needed. Keep up the good work informing us about the insanity. The Republican Party IS a clown car! Money sure can't buy smarts, can it? Mit Romney proved that!

  28. Jim - as always your blog is thoughtful and insightful. I also enjoy the posted comments which (except for the typo hunters) add to the topic.
    As a civilian, I have never expected any administration or the military to have immediate answers to explain such an attack. How much time was the Bush administration given to gather, review and interpret the intelligence gathered following 9/11. It was certainly more than 2 -3 hours. When the government agencies gave Sec. Rice her talking points, they were very aware that hostile forces were listening as well as knowing congressional members have very loose lips and will spill any and everything to the media.

    Even the President when he spoke after the attack, mentioned terrorism. He just didn't jump up and down screaming "terrorist, terrorist." I hope there is more publicity on the impact of the GOP cuts on the Dept.of State's security budget.

  29. Yeah, I agree with one of the Anonymi above who raised the question about "the White House watched and did nothing." There's also the occasional assertion that some African Command general wanted to send a rescue mission and got relieved or arrested, or something like that.

    I'm assuming that sending military forces into a nation with whom we aren't at war isn't just that simple, but I am concerned that the Pubs seem to continue to want to bash the President for "not caring" or "cowardice" or something like that. I'd be interested to hear your take on that, Jim.

    1. "Anonymi" - love it. Makes it sound like I have been beatified!
      Cherubim - seraphim - anonymi.
      The sound you hear is the beating of my wings, or maybe it is many of us clamoring for Jim's perpective on the above questions.
      You may now kiss my harp.


  30. What if we changed jockeys and got a new whip? Will that pony race then?

  31. The only question I have ever had about Benghazi is this: Why did Ambassador Stevens go to an unsecure consulate in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, rather than stay in the more secure confines of the embassy in Tripoly? In the endless on-line articles about the incident that I've read, I've never seen an answer to that question. I have thus assumed that it is because (a) his reasons for being there are not known, or (b) his reasons are known and are a matter of national security.

    1. Indeed. Though the most likely explanation is probably that it was simple bad luck. That he thought the shit wouldn't kick off until later, or that it would kick off in Tripoli and not Benghazi.

      The obsession of the wingnuts that when bad things happen to America it must be because of a conspiracy is nothing more or less than the flip side of their fantasy of American omnipotence.

      Which is in turn the flip side of their own, personal powerlessness. People who actually understand how power works never in a million years fall for conspiracy theories. They know how ridiculous they are. Sometimes they pretend to believe in them, or even propagate them, but only to manipulate the clueless, powerless ignorant (and so easily manipulated) people who don't understand how power works.

      Ignorant & powerless people find it very hard to accept that shit happens. Because if shit can happen to America, then God is not in thrones and we are just like everyone else: vulnerable, prey to happenstance! And that is some scary.

      Children have fantasies about their parents' omnipotence. Coming to accept that your parents are frail and weak (and human) is all part of growing up.

      Obsession with conspiracy theories is for children. And for evil bastards like McCain who prey upon the childish.

    2. As a very old friend of mine says "Shit happens, the depth varies!"

    3. Actually the word put out on the day after the attack was that he went there to ensure that all the personnel got out of the consulate safely during the attack. IF that was what he was doing I can laud him for his leadership and responsibility while at the same time fault him for his tactical sense. If that was what happened his security team should have knocked him down and sat on him in a secure area until that attack was over.

  32. Being forced to serve a period of perdition in the Washington DC area, I have come to understand that Congress Critters lack humility, self awareness, common sense....heck, most barely have brains left. There is a "Dead Horse" policy checklist that correlates well with how Senate and other elected idiots incessantly drive our country into the ditches. Tommy D

    “When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, best strategy is to dismount.”

    In government, and other equally dysfunctional organizations, more advanced strategies are usually taken, such as;

    1. Buying a stronger whip.
    2. Changing riders.
    3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
    4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
    5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
    6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
    7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
    8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
    9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
    10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse’s performance.
    11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than do some other horses.
    12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

    1. This is a work of fine art. Thank you. Now I'll ride my horse on outta here and into the sunset...

    2. I've another theory why our Elected Masters, both sides of The Atlantic,behave like unmitigated shits. that is that they have all had bodyguards for far too long! We never get unmoderated access to them, or they to us.
      You let them loose in any pub or bar, I'm sure that they would shortly have very expensive dental bills!

  33. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I spot a spammer!!!! Do I win a prize?

    2. I get hundreds of those from the same Ukrainian asshole every single day. Usually the spam catcher takes care of it, I'm not sure why that one got through. Thanks, Ben.

      And no, you don't get a prize, but when you die, you'll have eternal happiness. So you've got that going for you (props if you get the ref).

    3. Bill Murray as Carl Spackler in 'Caddy Shack'. - I WIN! I WIN! I want my Pony NOW!! (Jesus, get a grip Marine.)

      However, the actual quote was "but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." You are forgiven Jim, and deserve a lifetime supply of Black Sheep Riggwelter ale for your blogging service to humanity. Or at least the cool end of the bell curve. Tommy D

  34. What if the Ambassador's escort got lost and missed the turn to the safe house? Perhaps there are security ramifications for exposing the presence of X number of CIA operatives in country. But, yeah, the R's mostly want a fishing expedition like Whitewater, hoping a few million $in investigations will reveal something anything remotely illegal in the administration. Got to give them credit for tenacity though. If roles were reversed and Dick Cheney and Rumsfield had been D's, you can rest asuured a R admin would have indicted them for war crimes...or whatever else they could have mustered up. D's are way too nice when it comes to the full contact sport of politics.

    Ken Starr is here in Waco now, btw. Seems to be doing a good job as President of Baylor, getting alumni to turn loose millions on a football stadium and all those other important learning stuffs.

  35. So, what does the 'Preview' button do again? I just lost three paragraphs. Let me sum up. It can be frustrating to engage with these obsessive people, but to me it's mostly sad. Many of these otherwise smart people are friends and loved ones. Or people I've looked up to over the years like Captain John Fucking McCain, USN, Ret. The Laws of Thermodynamics were paraphrased in the book, "Murphy's Law and other reasons why things go wrong!", (ASIN B001P0CURK. ISBN 0-8431-0428-7), as:
    "1. You can't win.
    2. You can't break even.
    3. You can't quit the game."
    I choose to ignore the third law to maintain my sanity.

    1. (A hint from one who has lost paragraphs on more than one occasion: Before pressing any preview or publish buttons, Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C, then if you're stuff disappears, you just Ctrl-V it back.)

    2. The fatal flaw in your cunning logic, Lee: Humans are silly and prone to forget foresight. ;P

    3. Ah, but you see, Lee... Humans are silly, fickle creatures who often forget to have important things like foresight.

      (Why yes, this is the second time I've tried to post this... why do you ask?)

  36. So of course it is sad when most anyone dies and all, but really I can't believe that more people didn't call bullshit on this story from the get go. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in that region of the world for like decades now. Perspective people, really! But I really just wanted to comment on "wetware," some of the ways that you put words together and use the language to create your "voice" is just amazing. It is always a good day when I see that there's something new from Stonekettle Station.

  37. Jim, sadly I have known too many people who buy into the exact kind of obsessions you referred to at the very start of this post. I had to cut one such friend out of the picture when his views became too toxic for me to handle. I cannot stand by and hear someone attack me for being a "traitor" and an "uneducated idiot" for simply not choosing to believe in the myth that President Obama was born in Kenya and has something to hide because he chooses not to make most of his private information public. I cannot stand by and hear someone who really thinks that the United Nations intends to somehow take our guns away or any nameless batshit crazy conspiracy theories are somehow true. This person just so happens to live in Wasilla, no less. With Benghazi, I find I have little to say. You've said exactly what I'm thinking yet again.

  38. 51 years of wandering this world, all I can add to your painfully astute observations is ... Yup.

    Nine years of college, down the drain ...

  39. Remember that the thumbs down on Susan Rice is really about control of the Senate. The Republican Senators are all suddenly big fans of John Kerry for Secretary of State. He is clearly qualified, but why have they suddenly stopped hating him? Because if he leaves for State they think that Scott Brown could win a special election for his seat. This would not give them control now, but could be the difference in 2014.

    Remember, moralizing is usually just an excuse for what you already want to do for some more cynical reason.

    MidLevel Bureaucat

    1. Yep, and then there's that whole vendetta thing McCain has going for him. http://washingtonexaminer.com/susan-rice-repeatedly-criticized-mccain-as-dangerous-and-reckless-during-2008-campaign/article/2513552

  40. Greg - ETC(SW) USN - RetiredDecember 3, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Speaking of obsession and dead horses (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/02/orly-taitz-obama-college-records_n_2229370.html?utm_hp_ref=politics). This woman (Orly Taitz) might as well be named Ahab.

    1. Orly just finished a run at CA Secretary of State. (Need I tell you the outcome?) I wanted to steal one of her campaign signs, but by the time I could grab one they had already been snatched.

      As a practicing attorney(and dentist!) and litigator, she's a disaster. As an unintentional comedienne, she's the gift that keeps on giving.

      I hope she never stops.


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