Why the number 7? Because that’s the number of times U.S. embassies/consulates were attacked during the presidency of George W. Bush.

See, every time conservatives trot out this line of attack against President Barack Obama, they’re conveniently ignoring the national security failings of the last Republican president.

  • 2002: U.S. Consulate In Karachi, Pakistan, Attacked; 10 Killed, 51 Injured
  • 2004: U.S. Embassy Bombed In Uzbekistan
  • 2004: Gunmen Stormed U.S. Consulate In Saudi Arabia
  • 2006: Armed Men Attacked U.S. Embassy In Syria
  • 2007: Grenade Launched Into U.S. Embassy In Athens
  • 2008: Rioters Set Fire To U.S. Embassy In Serbia
  • 2008: Ten People Killed In Bombings At U.S. Embassy In Yemen

There’s absolutely no denying that the terrorist attack on our embassy in Benghazi is a tragedy, and it’s imperative that those responsible for the attack are held accountable, it’s also important to have a little historical perspective and context.

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28 Responses to Just keep the number 7 in mind the next time a conservative brings up the Benghazi embassy attack

  1. Adam Schabow says:

    It’s also pretty bad when Fox News hardly covers Hurricane Sandy and instead focuses on Benghazi. Again, not that Benghazi was not a tragedy, but they were covering it over Hurricane Sandy clearly due to the channel’s political leanings. That’s sad to me. During a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, people look to the news for help.

  2. PJ says:

    Benghazi and Cairo are the only two attacks against U.S. embassies during Obama’s presidency. Quite a difference. Let’s not forget that both attacks were caused by offensive Right Wing Extremism – namely the inciting video released by an intolerant religious radical.

    “7” is another excellent reminder. The raw numbers disprove the Conservative ploy of “perceived weakness.” The “perceived weakness” canard insisted by Neoconservatism has never proven its worth diplomatically or through sheer empiricism. It is a parasitic appendage of Cold War foreign policy, vestigial and inapplicable to a 21st century configuration of global dynamics. Worse yet, It is another patently inaccurate belief Conservatives cling to for the purposes of promoting an alternative agenda. Pretty sick and twisted altogether given the hazard level involved when holding this false assumption.

    A good reminder, too, is George Bush was regarded (to put it kindly) as despotic and injudiciously coercive by much of the world, but also as an insensible jester and an utter rube – a figure to ridicule as much as to fear. The American political system was still considered a reliable check on American affairs. I shouldn’t think this is the case any longer.

    The radicalization of the GOP and its subsequent grapple hold on the American political system has scared the daylights out of the world community, fearful of the GOP’s unpredictable irresponsibility. I should think with Romney at the helm that fear would be exacerbated and I shouldn’t think we’d find a world community cooperating with the U.S. as readily as we do now. I would think the exact opposite would occur. Anyone who buys into “perceived weakness” hasn’t any clue about what is happening outside of America or with American diplomacy. I doubt American radicalism will be uncritically received, let alone wholly embraced if Neoconservative foreign policy is revived in full. Inspiring fear is not appropriate diplomatic policy and will only weaken our position in the world as a sovereign nation. Business interests, well that’s another matter altogether. A weak America with weakened international alliances makes for a stronger supranational business climate.

  3. Peter Bishop says:

    What we have here is a major difference. Obama knew there was a high risk for a terrorist attack but yet ignored it. It is sad to see the Obama media working so hard to protect Obama, ABC , CBS, NBC should be ashamed of themselves allowing a president to lie and cover up the death of 4 Americans.

    • PJ says:

      Peter,

      What is shameful is your propaganda narrative derived from the Right Wing Big Lie Machine. What we have here is a difference alright. You are not operating with facts. You are perpetuating a manufactured fiction. ABC, CBS, and NBC are not covering up lies because President Obama isn’t lying. About time to get over it and let it go: there’s no conspiracy, there’s no cover up, no matter how many wild insinuations Fox and the Conservative blogosphere attempt to inject into the public discourse. The media outside of the Conservative skewer is operating from fact. That’s the difference here. Fact and manufactured fiction. I realize it’s difficult for Conservatives to distinguish between fact and fantasy being inundated with distortions and falsehoods, but really, it’s time to start using rational thought.

      Here’s something to think about: the propaganda narrative you are pushing serves three diversionary purposes. One is to deflect from the inciting video released by Right Wing Radicals, another is to further the brainwashing by adding to the Obama Hate Campaign, and third it serves as a fine diversion from Romney’s foreign policy blunder with Cairo and Benghazi – Romney’s grotesque missteps that made world leaders across the globe cringe at how loathsome and contemptible he truly is.

      The epic fail that occurred during the Benghazi tragedy was on Romney’s part. He exploited the deaths of Americans to score political points. That Conservatives continue to give him cover by distracting with a myriad of false narratives like the one you’re peddling is truly the shameful situation. What Conservatives should be talking about regarding Benghazi is not Obama, but the utter fool Romney made of himself in front of the world community and how heinous he revealed himself to be. Conservatives should come to grips with the fact that Romney is a foreign policy disaster waiting to happen. He embarrassed himself, he embarrassed this nation, he exploited an international crisis for political gain, and he’s still doing it.

  4. Cat Kin says:

    With the SCOTUS Citizen’s United decision making the U.S. subject to foreign corporation investment via political donations, Republican leaders no longer care about Democracy in the U.S.A. They consider themselves part of a world government of the wealthy and despotic. Countries who don’t play along are “sanctioned” and so are State and Local Republicans who don’t play the No-New-Taxes/Deficit-Reduction game. Don’t look for logic or real patriotism from these GOPs.

  5. Just Andy says:

    Holy Cow!!! There sure is a lot of anger going on here. Raise your hand if you have fought in any armed military conflict….. No one? Well I have, and I still have contacts. Regardless of where you get your news, there are issues here that didn’t help the situation that developed.
    1. Drones, airborne, live feed.
    2. Cables to State Dept. on sitrep
    3. Lasers painting targets
    4. CIA operatives ordered stand down.
    5. Navy Seal refused order, died trying to save Americans.

    I could go on, but my question is; why wasn’t SOMETHING done? Commanders on the ground make these calls every day, where did the order come from that halted any support ops.
    This isn’t rocket science, we reacted accordingly every day, whenever, wherever needed, it NEVER had to go any higher then the Company Commander. So does ANYONE see an inconsistency here?

  6. Peter Bishop says:

    PJ I want to just comment on one of your points, the video. Don’t you find it simply amazing that no one in this country knew anything about that video until after the attack when the president blamed it as the reason. Yet countries that have limited internet, censored internet and selective internet thousands of people knew about it? You guys really believe that?

    • PJ says:

      Peter,

      I find it simply amazing that Conservatives will reach to any extraordinary length and any fabulous depth in order to distort and obfuscate as you are doing now. Your question is empty insinuation laden with inaccuracies which hasn’t any bearing on the matter in the least. The line you are threading leads farther from reality and farther from the point where you might ask meaningful questions. While you are orbiting nonsense you are winding a labyrinthine and diversionary path that is fundamentally poisonous to our political culture and our public discourse.

      I find it amazing, Peter, that Conservatives are so gullible and so completely incapable of critical thought that ridiculous and insidiously propagandistic suggestions like yours actually seem reasonable. I find it simply amazing that Conservatives will reinvent history hoping no one will notice – as you are doing now, to suit a narrative that relieves Christian radicals from any blame in the events that occurred in response to the video. I find Conservative denial and abject refusal to accept any culpability for the events that erupted all across the region absolutely astounding. For ultimately, to do so would mean that Conservatives would have to recognize how irresponsible and dangerous their ideas and their actions really are.

      • Luisa says:

        PJ,

        Please tell me how Conservatives are culpable for the events which erupted all across the region.

      • Luisa says:

        PJ,

        Your assumption that all Conservatives are “Christian radicals” is as ridiculous and laughable as assuming that all Muslims are terrorists. I have Conservative friends who are atheists, so to paint all Conservatives with the “Christian radical” brush is an error in judgment on your part. You cannot blame Conservatives for the actions of religious and political radical terrorists in Libya. Ambassador Stevens, Ty Woods, Glen Doherty, and Sean Smith did not die because of the ideas and actions of Conservatives. They died because of the actions of terrorists, and the violence in that region preceded the release of the anti-Muslim movie in LA in late June. (This anti-Muslim movie was not made by an American Conservative. It was made by an Egyptian living in America.) Regardless of the terrorists’ reason(s) for attacking the Consulate, it was well known that the area was becoming increasingly dangerous, and additional security had been requested. Why was it denied? This IS a meaningful question, although you spin and spin and spin and spout nonsense about movie makers and Christians being to blame for the actions of terrorists. All anyone wants to know is why those requests for security were denied when it had been documented how dangerous the region was becoming.

  7. Mike says:

    Did any Americans, especially an ambassador, die in any of those attacks?

  8. Luisa says:

    To PJ and others,

    There had been an IED attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in June 2012, and this major breach in security, along with several other attacks against Western interests and humanitarian groups in the area from March-September 2012, certainly was cause for the establishment of a heightened threat level at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Security should have been increased, as should have intelligence gathering. (If a similar attack had occurred at the White House, there would have been an immediate increase in security and intelligence gathering.) Requests for additional security should not have been denied in light of the escalating violence and the frequency of attacks in and around Benghazi. You may read about an attack which occurred at International Committee of the Red Cross buildings in the cities of Benghazi and Misrati here:
    http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/news-release/2012/libya-news-2012-08-05.htm

    There had also been an attack on the U.K. Embassy in June, as well as an attack on a convoy carrying the U.K. ambassador. In addition to these and other attacks, there had been an attack on a convoy of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. Read about some of these attacks on the international community here:
    http://unsmil.unmissions.org/Portals/unsmil/Documents/SGReport30August2012.pdf

    On page 12 of the above UNSMIL report, in section V (Safety and security), you will read that “Measures have been strengthened to protect United Nations personnel, in particular in the east.” Why did our government not strengthen measures to protect Ambassador Stevens? If this attack had been a singular event, I could understand, but it was one of a series of attacks on consulates, single vehicles, and convoys which began back in March. We had warning that something like this could occur, and additional security was requested. There was no excuse to not be prepared.

    It is perfectly understandable and acceptable that many Americans now question the motivation behind denying the requests for additional security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. It is perfectly acceptable for Americans to question why there was not an immediate push to gather intelligence after the IED attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi in June. This attack could have been prevented, as there were many warning signs that Ambassador Stevens’s life was in danger.

    These are not talking points I learned from Fox News. I rarely watch TV, but I read many online newspapers, including the NY Times, the LA Times, and the Washington Post. I feel I am completely capable of critical thought. To accuse others of being incapable of critical thought because they disagree with your position demonstrates vast hubris on your part. Perhaps you are the one going to extraordinary lengths and fabulous depths in order to distort and obfuscate. Perhaps you are the one who should be evaluating how irresponsible and dangerous your ideas and actions are.

  9. PJ says:

    Luisa,

    Gee, were there tensions in Libya prior to September 11th of this year? Thanks for pointing that out and congratulations for providing “context and background” to a situation that was a powder keg ready to explode when the inflammatory video sparked the violence.

    You link to the UNSMIL report for the preceding year. So, are you condemning the United Nations for security “failures” in Benghazi? Or just the Obama administration? And was that the International Red Cross or the American Red Cross that was under attack? Maybe Geneva should have stepped up security at Benghazi? Or just the Obama administration?

    You seem to forget that the reinforcements that were requested were for primarily for Tripoli and the reinforcements that were requested couldn’t have prevented the tragedy in Benghazi. You also seem to forget that security measures mean money and the money for the the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security was cut off by small government Conservatives. You seem to forget that what happened at Benghazi wasn’t paralleled in any previous action; its level of violence was unprecedented in “ferocity and intensity” to use the words used by the chief security officer at the Tripoli Embassy, Eric Nordstram. You may see a connection in hindsight between Benghazi and other attacks, but security experts on the ground do not. Dividing FACT from speculation, Benghazi was unprecedented and signaled a new level of assault as yet unseen in the area.

    As to your question: “All anyone wants to know is why those requests for security were denied when it had been documented how dangerous the region was becoming…. “ The question was asked, the question was answered. Why are you still asking? Or did you just not find the answer yet? Or maybe you didn’t like the answer? Look at the public record. Look at the congressional transcript. It’s there. I could just give you the answer, but you might get more out of it by finding it yourself. If you really weren’t spinning talking points I’d imagine you’d know the answer.

    I wasn’t painting all Conservatives as Christian radicals. I was referring to the producers of the inciting video – who did produce a radically extreme video which did incite an international crisis – or perhaps you’ve forgotten that. Benghazi was just one incident of many spanning the entire globe. Whether you choose to recognize it or not, Conservative extremists in this country do deny – as you do – that their beliefs and their actions have consequences. Christopher Stevens and three more Americans did die as a result of Right Wing Extremists instigating violence. The video was inflammatory, incendiary, and intentionally offensive. Perhaps if the region wasn’t as volatile as it is the video wouldn’t have set off an unprecedented international incident. But, the region is that volatile. That’s the point.

    As to the identity of the filmmakers – to my knowledge “Sam Bacile” is a U.S. Citizen and an Arab Christian who worked with three Conservative Christian groups in the U.S. on production and distribution of the video. One of those involved was Pastor Terry Jones well known for his incendiary antics. At least for those who choose to remember. For instance when he burned the Koran which set off riots in Afghanistan – that incident was only two years ago.

    The spin, spin, spin is dismissing this video when it sparked an international incident never before seen.

    Perhaps you are oblivious to the fact that Benghazi wasn’t the only place that erupted in violence, protest and unrest in response to the video.

    Maybe your Benghazi report can glean some insight into how the U.S. could have prevented the riots in Egypt when Anti-American protestors assaulted the U.S. embassy there. Over 50 security personnel injured and over 300 altogether injured in those events. In Northern Sinai, in response to the video, security at the international mission compound was breached by armed protestors. Should those international peacekeeping troops there – should they have relied on the U.S. to anticipate the violence there? Should the U.S. have protected them?

    The U.S. Embassy at Tunis: violent demonstrations in the streets, burning cars, storming the embassy, setting it on fire, and burning down an American school. Twenty people wounded and two killed in that event. Where’s your condemnation? Or do your “talking points” just happen to coincide with those of Right Wing Extremists who are attempting to divert attention from the big picture? The Tunisian government is suing the producers of the inciting video by the way.

    Maybe the U.S. should have unilaterally stepped up its security in Khartoum where, in response to the video, protestors stormed the German and British embassies?

    What does your Red Cross Report tell you about Sanaa? Where, in response to the video, Anti-American protestors were repelled from the U.S. Embassy compound by Yemeni security? Maybe your report could have given some clues as to how the U.S. could have predicted what happened there.

    Hmm. Any cause for concern in Syria? Any tensions in Syria lately? I suppose since there are, it would be a “no-brainer” huh to beef up security in Damascus where Anti-American protestors blamed the U.S. government for the film. Well, protests didn’t get too out of hand there. But you’d have been able to predict exactly how those protests played out wouldn’t you?

    Effigies of Obama were burned in Gaza, did Obama produce the video that enraged them? Surely, the USA should have sent security reinforcements to Gaza months prior to the release of the video. Surely U.S. officials would have anticipated thousands of protestors in the streets denouncing the U.S. government for an irresponsible atrocity released by radical extremists whose intent it was to offend. Protestors there extended their outrage to Israel as well. So, the U.S. should have been better prepared in Gaza, too, I suppose?

    Over 10,000 Anti-American protestors in Nigeria blamed the U.S. government for the video. Nigeria has a long history of violent clashes between Christians and Muslims, but that wouldn’t be enough of a warning to enhance security at our diplomatic missions there would it? After all, nobody was killed in Nigeria during the protests that erupted all over the country. Hundreds of people were killed in the previous year, though, slews of extremist violence – commercial endeavors attacked – markets, malls hotels; churches attacked; schools attacked and burned to the ground; Westerners abducted… but in Benghazi, well… that’s somehow different, eh?

    Anti-American, Anti-Israel protests occurred at the French embassy in Tehran in response to the video. Was the U.S. supposed to send reinforcements to Iran to protect the French? Protests at the Swiss Embassy that represents American interests also occurred. Was the U.S. supposed to send reinforcements to Iran to protect the Swiss? After all tensions with Iran have been running high in recent days. That’s a warning – the U.S. just should have known….

    Protests in Pakistan got pretty out of hand, a number of people killed, a $100,000 bounty was put on the filmmaker’s head. Have any idea where to start in preventing the violence that may ensue from that? Maybe stepping up security in Benghazi.

    Turkey’s protests were somewhat less severe – burning of flags mostly…

    Likewise in Greece, a few protestors in the streets, but mostly prison inmates lighting mattresses on fire.

    Even our consulate in Casablanca was subject to spontaneous protests, thankfully peaceful. Morocco is our oldest ally in the region.

    Anti-American demonstrations protesting the video were not restricted to the middle East – U.S. embassies/consulates in Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan, and Dhaka were all subject to demonstrations against the inciting video. Violent demonstrations erupted in Kashmir and at the U.S. embassy in Bangkok. Anything happen there that should have alerted the U.S. for beefing up security?

    Then there’s Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, and England….

    Al Qaida vowed further violence against American diplomats in retaliation for the video, specifically in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. Perhaps with your magic foresight you can advise the state department on where to put their resources, exactly what kind and precisely when to prevent avowed violence against American diplomats.

    To your mind Benghazi, I suppose, was the ONLY spontaneous protest that wasn’t a spontaneous protest in response to the video. And it was the ONLY place that had experienced escalating violence in the previous year. That’s pretty… brilliant. And I suppose that the articulated reason for the international incidents of violence by hundreds of thousands of people in 2 dozen countries just doesn’t matter? That stated reason was the offensive video… but I suppose to your mind instigation is immaterial. That’s just spin. Yeah, I’d say inability to think critically is pretty spot on. I’d say hubris back at you, Luisa, and I’d throw in a little droll as well.

  10. Luisa says:

    The link to the UNSMIL report is from August of 2012.

  11. Luisa says:

    Terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, almost two decades before the making of the “inciting” anti-Muslim movie. Terrorists again attacked our country on September 11, 2001, eleven years before the making of the “inciting” anti-Muslim movie. The International Red Cross is a non-political, non-religious organization which provides humanitarian aid, and although it had nothing to do with the making of the “inciting” anti-Muslim video, it was attacked by terrorists. Former Consulate guards threw IEDs over the fence into the U.S. Consulate compound on April 6, 2012 — a couple of months before the extremely limited release of the “inciting” anti-Muslim movie. The terrorists who attacked the Consulate on June 7th left leaflets saying there would be more attacks. This attack had nothing to do with the not-yet-released “inciting” anti-Muslim movie. The movie opened in one theater in LA at the end of June, and the movie excerpt was not posted to YouTube until July. Most of the attacks in the area occurred before the movie was released, before the terrorists knew about it. The British ambassador left Benghazi after an RPG attack on his motorcade on June 10th, and again, this was before the release of the “inciting” anti-Muslim video.

  12. Luisa says:

    The 9/11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was the third attack the Consulate had sustained in 6 months. I would be curious to know if any of the U.S. embassies/consulates attacked between 2002 and 2008 had already been attacked twice before. I would also be curious to know if the ambassadors at those embassies/consulates had cabled messages to the State Department describing the imminent danger they faced and their inability to defend themselves from a coordinated attack.

  13. Luisa says:

    The Red Cross packed up and left Benghazi. The British ambassador packed up and left Benghazi. The UNSMIL beefed up security in Benghazi to protect its personnel. Ambassador Stevens, Ty Woods, Sean Smith, and Glen Doherty perhaps should have been sent home. At the very least, additional security should have been provided. Doing nothing was unacceptable, especially after attacks #1 and #2. Please tell me if any of the other embassies/consulates attacked between 2002 and 2008 were attacked more than once, and if they were given additional security after the first attack.

  14. Luisa says:

    I brought up the attacks on the Red Cross and the UNSMIL to underscore the fact that “Conservative Christian Radical Right Wing Americans” were not singled out for the terrorist attacks in that region, so I question whether the attacks were related to an obscure anti-Muslim movie made in the U.S. which was released after the majority of the attacks in that area had already occurred. The Internation Red Cross and UNSMIL are not Christian or American organizations, yet they were attacked. I don’t see how the video was related to those attacks. The protests over the movie on 9/11 probably made it easier for the terrorists to hide what they were doing, but they had promised more terrorist attacks back in June. They always intended to attack again.

    Your post is incredibly long, and I am incredibly tired, so I will not be able to address all of your comments. It is 1:39 am here in CA, and I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I am sorry that I was unable to articulate the concerns that I have had about the attack on our Consulate in Benghazi, and the reasons for my disappointment in how things were handled, in a way that you could understand. It probably doesn’t matter, because I don’t believe you really have any desire to understand a point of view that is different from your own. I see this blog as a microcosm of what is happening in the U.S. No one really tries to understand where anyone else is coming from. It’s depresseing, really.

  15. Luisa says:

    *International*

  16. Luisa says:

    *depressing*

    I should never post on hostile blogs when I am this tired.

  17. PJ says:

    Luisa,

    Continually asking a question without acknowledging the answer indicates what exactly? That you don’t know the answer? That you deny there was an answer? That you don’t like the answer? Does it indicate critical thought? No, it does not. It indicates diversionary spin. Now, I don’t particularly care for the answer that came from the State Department, though I do understand it. If you took the time to find the answer to your question you might find that I might be in partial agreement with you. I happen to think that the U.S. does need greater security detail at our diplomatic missions across the board, not just in sensitive areas and conflict zones. But in all your ‘questions’ I don’t see one relating to any other hotbeds or any comprehensive ‘questions’ relating to diplomatic security at all. Whether you choose to recognize it or not you are reiterating the Conservative narrative. And that narrative is decisively narrow and not very inclusive of the broader concerns impacting the situation.

    Since you can’t seem to find it here’s the answer to your question: After the attacks you reference, security at the Benghazi compound and its attached annex WAS revamped AND U.S. trained Libyan security replaced American troops. The latter as part of the broader strategy to transition from U.S. military to local security – as was done in other diplomatic missions in sensitive zones. Now that you have the answer that has so eluded you, perhaps you might think on it, and maybe not in isolation. Now that you have that answer you can debate – was it wise? Was Libyan security adequate for the level of violence perpetrated against the Benghazi compound? You might find that we agree more than not on that particular issue. Where we might disagree is politicizing the issue prior to the completion of a proper investigation. Chomping at the bit to score political points at the expense of an international tragedy isn’t what I would deem a responsibly critical approach. Chomping at the bit led directly to an irresponsible conspiracy theory.

    You suggest that the U.S. could have abandoned the Benghazi consulate altogether. I might be persuaded to that opinion, but did you have the same suggestion for Nigeria or Tunisia six months ago? In hindsight diplomatic security looks pretty darn important doesn’t it? Maybe something we might want to prioritize…. if increasing the size of government were palatable… because that’s what protecting our diplomatic missions means. It’s not a small government initiative.

    Meanwhile you are doubling down on denial and conveniently choosing how you regard “preventable” and “cause” and “effect.” Your selective outrage just happens to be politically convenient for ignoring cause and effect altogether. Your selective outrage just happens to be politically convenient for ignoring the inconsistencies inherent within expecting more security in hindsight while foresight might have entailed not cutting off funding for diplomatic security in the first place. In all your ‘questions’ I don’t see any questioning of small government Conservatism that advocates for decentralization and the dismantling of our security apparatus from TSA to FEMA and beyond. You mention other terrorist attacks but you conveniently neglect to express outrage or criticism for September, 11, 2001 – a tragedy for which George W. Bush had been apprised of well in advance, months in advance, but chose to ignore. Your ‘questions’ appear to me to be politicizations intended to put the Obama Administration’s feet to the fire by according more fault than might be due, all things considered.

    In all your ‘questions’ I don’t see any acknowledgement that a volatile situation was needlessly exacerbated to tragedy. Spin is insisting upon “obscurity” of the inciting video that went viral all over the world, an obscurity which was censored by a number of countries to curb violence and unrest. Perhaps you missed out on the Arab Spring – how obscure that was. Spin is denying that radical hate impacts our diplomatic efforts and our diplomatic security abroad, and it jeopardizes our safety at home for that matter. Spin is denying that extremism doesn’t have long term consequences; spin is denying that extremism is proliferating on the right side of the aisle in this country, and spin is denying that extremism is becoming mainstreamed into Conservative politics and ideology.

    You err in assuming that by denouncing Conservative Extremism I’ve made a blanket condemnation of Responsible Conservatism. I have not done nothing of the sort. On the contrary, I long to see a rational, level-headed approach from Conservatives. But that’s not what I see. I don’t see respect, tolerance, or any semblance of rational governance emanating from Conservative leadership nor do I see any ability for Conservative rank and file to thoughtfully criticize their leadership or the radicalized elements within the Right Wing. The new normal appears to be that Conservatives (Mitt Romney a notable example) are somehow exempt from legitimate criticism while the “Left” (Obama a notable example, though I’d hardly describe him as “Left”) are subject to irrationalism and obstructionism.

    Curiously you deny that I haven’t acknowledged your concern for the violence leading up to the September attack at Benghazi. I was sarcastic in acknowledging it, but I did acknowledge it. I have continued to acknowledge it in my comments but I also recognize that an already volatile situation didn’t have to escalate to where it did. You don’t need to convince me that the situation in Libya was precarious. But somehow you have the need to convince yourself that there was no connection between the escalation in Benghazi and the escalation of violence and unrest in the region. It isn’t pleasant to recognize provocative radicalism, but it is the responsible thing to do. Turning a blind eye to it simply denies that radicalism breeds radicalism.

    I appreciate your apology; I commend the gesture; and I thank you for it. In kind, I will say I’m sorry likewise. But I won’t apologize for expressing disdain toward Conservative Extremism nor expressing contempt for politicizing this tragedy for political gain.

    • Luisa says:

      Were you equally incensed about “provocative radicalism” when the “inflammatory, incendiary, and intentionally offensive” episode of South Park aired which depicted the Prophet Muhammad? Did you rant and rave about the potential for riots and/or terrorist attacks on innocent Americans around the world due to that episode? Oh, wait — Matt Stone and Trey Parker are not radical Christians. I’m guessing you only rant and rave and express outrage on political blogs when the radical group is one you hold in contempt. When it’s two cool Liberal atheist dudes who are being radical, I’m guessing you “turn a blind eye” to their radicalism. Perhaps you might be guilty of a little selective outrage. If I am mistaken, please point me in the direction of a blog post or comment written by you where you raged against Stone and Parker’s inflammatory South Park episode.

      Terrorists attack us because they hate us. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not an American drone attack that killed one of their leaders, it’s some other “reason” they’ve found to attack us, or some reason they’ve manufactured. But the terrorists already hate us, and they’ve hated us since long before that movie was released at the end of June 2012. Yes, it was extremely stupid of that man to post that movie online, and it sparked protests, but what do you think we should have done? Should we have made him take the movie off of YouTube? Do we really want to start down that road? Admitting that the “cause” was the video does nothing to change the “effect.”

      In your previous comments, you never made a distinction between “Conservative Extremism” and “Responsible Conservatism.” You lumped all Conservatives together and said things such as, and I quote, “I realize it’s difficult for Conservatives to distinguish between fact and fantasy being inundated with distortions and falsehoods, but really, it’s time to start using rational thought.” You didn’t even just imply it — you said outright that Conservatives are not using rational thought. I won’t bother quoting your other posts about Conservatives, because I know you know what you wrote. You say now that there is a distinction, but these distinctions were never mentioned in your earlier expressions of disdain for Conservatives. And while you now speak about “Responsible Conservatism,” you speak of it as if it is about as likely to exist as unicorns.

      Continually asking a question and not acknowledging the answer that is given means that the answer seems incomplete, incorrect, unrelated, or untrue.

      I guess you feel this Administration handled the Benghazi situation to the best of its ability. I respectfully disagree. Doing something — anything — would have been better than what they did, which was nothing. My apology for not being able to articulate my concerns about what happened still stands (I was so tired last night that I couldn’t see straight, and I’m even more tired tonight), but don’t mistake it for an apology for the conclusions I have reached after a great deal of study. I read, and critically think about what I read, more than you will ever know. I don’t read looking to prove any political ideology’s superiority — I read looking to gather information so that I can make informed, unbiased decisions. I read everything, from liberal newspapers and blogs, government documents and reports, military reports, conservative websites, independent websites, etc. I am not ignorant about world events as you assume, but it doesn’t hurt me if you have to tell yourself that I must not know as much as you do or I would obviously have reached the same conclusions that you have about every issue under the sun. You go ahead and believe whatever you need to believe about me in order to sleep at night. To me, you seem just as guilty of extremism as those at whom you point fingers, you just have different talking points. You are so sure that you are NOT being inundated with distortions and falsehoods, as if everything coming from your “side” is undoubtedly the pure and unadulterated truth, that I wonder if you ever question your sources and the things you are reading.

      The truth is out there, and I am one who likes to find it, whether you believe this or not. I don’t have an agenda and I don’t have anything to prove. I just want what is best for this country. I thought Bush’s spending was out of control, and your “blue” side was outraged about it, with good reason. Then Obama took the spending to a level that is truly mind-boggling, and all I hear from those in your camp are excuses for why it isn’t his fault. This is another example of selective outrage, perhaps? I can’t even wrap my brain around the size of our national debt, and I wonder if we will ever recover in our lifetime. But it looks like President Obama will have four more years to try to get it right. For the sake of our country, I hope he does.

      I do owe you another apology for being sarcastic right out of the gate in my comments to you. I enjoy reading about politics, but I rarely comment on blogs like this. I only commented on this blog because as I was reading through the comments, the sarcastic tone of your comments turned me off. It seemed like you assumed others knew nothing about anything. Maybe this is not the case, but that is how it seemed. I guess when I saw how you spoke (wrote) to others, I assumed you would speak to me in the same manner, so I just dove right in with the sarcasm. I usually enjoy sparring with people who disagree with me, and I usually come away with good feelings. I also usually come away from civil political discussions feeling like I learned something. This discussion has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I do want to apologize for my part in the negativity. In fact, I would rewrite this whole comment and remove all traces of sarcasm if it weren’t so late and I weren’t so tired. In the future, I will remember that kindness goes a long way, and if I decide to visit this blog again, maybe our next discussion could be more friendly and less sarcastic. (I’m just going to apologize ahead of time for any typos. I’m sure there are many. I am tired and my vision is literally starting to blur…)

  18. PJ says:

    Luisa,

    Yes, I denounce South Park’s Prophet Mohammad episode and, yes, I’m equally incensed by them, and yes, I find South Park loathsome. South Park isn’t expressive of Liberal, by the way, but rather Libertarianism – in my opinion. Admittedly, I’m not too too familiar with it, I don’t watch it, but what little I have seen seemed to me to strongly convey Libertarian rather than Liberal. I find Stone and Parker neither cool nor talented. So I’ll point you to this post here – there you have it. I will defend their right to free speech just as I do the creators of the offensive video. Free doesn’t mean free of criticism.

    Ironically, you appear to make the same assumption as many Libertarians do about rights (in this case free speech) being without limit or responsibility when you indicate that cause doesn’t mitigate effect. South Park is entertainment, I wouldn’t go as far as to say artistic expression, but a broad case can be made for that. In that regard it differs from the video. It also differs from the video in its source if your claim of atheism is true. The offensive video was not created as entertainment or artistic expression it was created solely to antagonize and to degrade by espousing and affirming a singularly religious perspective. As such it has the potential for seeming a work of Christian Jihad representative of holy war.

    Causation and intent matter. Yes, admitting the “cause” was the video does change the “effect” and it does so on several levels. One is in how it is received by the audience it was intended to offend, another is in how it is perceived by the society which produced it.

    I stand by my statement: “I realize it’s difficult for Conservatives to distinguish between fact and fantasy being inundated with falsehoods and distortions, but really, it’s time to start using rational thought.” It IS time for Conservatives to come to grips with basic empiricism – economics is one area, historical revisionism is another, and certainly foreign policy/diplomacy is a third; oh and accepting science would be useful. The latter from both a practical and ideological standpoint. Science is, after all, the basis of governance espoused by the designers of our republic. These are but a few examples. You are correct – I said that Conservatives are not engaging in rational or critical thought. I will say it again and again and again because Conservative ideology today is not grounded in rationalism or empiricism, and it is not guided by serving the public good.

    “Terrorists attack us because they hate us.” With all due respect, Luisa, how more evidentiary of uncritical thought can one get? That’s a nice simple, unidirectional, little uncritical box. Terrorism occurs for complex reasons. Hate occurs for complex reasons. How could one ever hope to adequately respond to any form of terrorism when one approaches it out of ignorance?

    As to distinguishing between “Responsible Conservatives” and Conservative Extremism” – is it really necessary for me to make that distinction for you? Are you so incapable of apprehending the historical shift? Are you entirely blind to the mainstreaming of Extremism on the Right Wing side of the aisle? Since you cannot on your own glean any difference between Conservatives today and those from the not too distant past, maybe start with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Were you so familiar with my previous comments, you’d be aware of the distinctions I have made between Responsible and Extremist Conservatism. I won’t pretend that I hold to all the ideals of even responsible Conservatives, but I will accord them a respect undeserving of the radicalized Conservatism of today whose methods, tactics, and ideas conserve very little. It is a movement ideologically inconsistent with republican democracy, equal rights, respect for diversity, individualism, egalitarianism, and liberty. Modern Conservatism serves narrowed, regressive, authoritarian interests. And I might even throw in theocratic to some degree. The gap between what Conservatism claims to cherish and the impact of the policies it adopts in the name of those supposed ideals is an unfathomable chasm. And for the record, in my usage, while I refer often to Conservatism as it applies to the Right Wing side of the aisle I don’t reserve “Conservatism” for the Right Wing alone. You are correct in your assessment: I do believe Responsible Conservatism is as likely to exist as unicorns at this period in our history. I think Responsible Conservatism is desperately struggling for survival. Make no mistake, I am rooting for it.

    To your statement: “Continually asking a question and not acknowledging the answer that is given means the answer seems incomplete, incorrect, unrelated, or untrue.” Agreed. That might be a good description of “loyal opposition” but what you continue to articulate doesn’t follow that principle. You don’t address the answers given, you do not challenge them nor offer critical analysis of them. You simply frame the matter as “doing nothing.” You simply deny.

    Fear not, I didn’t assume you were apologizing for your conclusions when you apologized for not articulating your concerns. And for the record, I think you articulated your conclusions well. As I indicated earlier, I’m not altogether in disagreement with your conclusions, but we do differ on assumptions and reasoning.

    You err in assuming that mine is the “blue side.” If you’ve read so very many of my comments you’d realize that is not at all the case. I will defend the “blue side” against Conservative propagandism because the latter is rampant and, in my opinion, among the greatest threats to our republican democracy, but you won’t find me advocating a great many positions on the “blue side.” You err in making false equivalencies as well – as if some equal weight should be accorded between political speech, hyperbole, distortion, and lying. Again, I’m not on the “blue side” and I am well aware of “blue side” slant and “blue side” hypocrisy; I wouldn’t describe it as unadulterated truth by any means, yet it isn’t comparable to the “red side” by any stretch of the imagination. Do I ever question my sources and the things I am reading? Luisa, that is precisely how I approach everything that I read.

    How ironic that you begin a paragraph with “The truth is out there, and I am the one who likes to find it, whether you believe this or not,” and then you fill that paragraph with untruths and… uncritical analyses. So, I don’t believe it. I believe that you believe it and I respect your right to your hold your beliefs whatever they may be. I don’t respect the content of your beliefs as you’ve expressed them. In this instance you’ve made an egregiously false claim about government spending during Obama’s first term. It is lower than when he took office and so is the deficit to spending ratio. Figuring in the too small stimulus – spending is lower than Reagan’s two terms, Bush Sr.’s single term, both of Clinton’s terms and substantially lower than George W. Bush’s two terms. Government spending is at its slowest pace since Eisenhower. Federal spending under Obama has been too slow and too small. Not the other way around. It has in, effect, mirrored conditions of austerity. You may be aware that austerity has all but wiped out Europe’s ability to recover economically. Our weak economy hasn’t anything to do with the trumped up debt “crisis” as you seem to suggest. Debt reduction is a long term concern, true, but it isn’t a crisis or an unmanageable situation if approached rationally.

    Thank you for the apology, though you don’t owe me one. I can distinguish tone from content. So any “negativity” you may have expressed intentionally or otherwise had no bearing on how I regarded the content of your comments. You are quite right in describing my tone as sarcastic because it is. You can regard that as a weakness or a flaw or whatever you choose. Perhaps you feel I owe you an apology for making you feel badly with my “tone.” Perhaps you think sarcasm isn’t civil. If so, you might be right. Perhaps sarcasm doesn’t serve the purpose or have the same sort of impact it did in the distant past, which was critical commentary on the issues of the day. So, I won’t apologize for my tone because the intent of my tone would be that of Nashe or Swift, admittedly theirs was a much harsher polemic than ours. In that regard, I often err and will err in future no doubt. With that said I will offer you sincere apologies for any bad feelings my tone evoked. I’m not being sarcastic there – I do sincerely apologize for hurting your feelings.

  19. Luisa says:

    No, my feelings weren’t hurt, and I didn’t think yours were, either. I just didn’t like the tone of our conversation. I would not speak to someone in real life as sarcastically as I did to you here. I guess I view it as disrespectful and unkind. I know you write using a sarcastic tone, but I don’t think you actually speak sarcastically to people in your life, either. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have many friends if you did, unless you only surround yourself with people who think and believe the same way you do so that you never have to have disagreements with anyone. I guess I do have a difficult time getting past the sarcasm to the content — it detracts from the message for me and makes the conversation much less productive. I just don’t like the thought of speaking sarcastically to someone, even an anonymous stranger online whom I will never meet.

    I am actually very relieved to hear that you were as disgusted about the South Park Muhammad episode as I was. I can’t stand more than a few seconds of that show, so I have never seen an entire episode. Apparently there are several episodes which make fun of different religions, and I have no interest at all in shows like that. I have better things to do with my time. I’ve looked through what I wrote in previous posts, and I’m trying to figure out what I said that gave the impression that I was okay with the anti-Muslim video — I wasn’t. I don’t like anything that pokes fun of others’ religious beliefs. Sure, we have the right to do it, but I don’t think that we should just because we can, especially when it is going to enrage a large number of Muslims around the world. And I agree that the anti-Muslim video was the cause of the protests, I just don’t agree that it was the cause of the terrorist attack in Benghazi.

    Another thing I wanted to clarify is that when I said that the anti-Muslim movie was obscure, I was speaking of the actual movie which opened in one theater at the end of June which was only seen by a handful of people, not the video of the movie which was later posted on YouTube. I was just trying to establish a timeline between the release of the movie in the theater and the dates of the attacks that had been going on in Benghazi for months prior to its release. The video on YouTube was a different story.

    With regards to my simplistic statement that the terrorists attack us because they hate us, I was trying to not insult your intelligence by listing all of the reasons that they hate us. I know you know the reasons, and you don’t need a treatise from me on those reasons. The fact is, they do hate us, and the reasons that they hate us probably won’t be changing anytime soon, so these attacks could continue. Attacking us is how they send us the message that they hate us, our foreign policy, our past military actions, etc. I don’t think that stating a fact simply rather than writing an in-depth discourse in the little “Leave a Reply” box about the complex reasons that terrorists hate us is evidence that I haven’t thought critically about terrorists and the reasons that they hate us and attack us. I don’t have time to spend writing things that I know you already know, so it was a form of shorthand.

    The same goes for my feelings on government spending. I have seen all the same numbers that you recite regarding government spending — it isn’t that I’m not familiar with which Administration spent how much, when, and why. I just happen to agree with economists who have a different take on how to decrease government spending than you do. If I started spouting statistics and studies which show that government interventions actually prolong recessions and depressions, I’m guessing you would disagree with them anyway, so I won’t bother. I don’t have the time to explain my feelings on recessions, unemployment, government interventions, government spending — it would take more time than I have tonight. I do think it is a little sad that you assume that anyone who disagrees with you is incapable of critical thought. Just because I don’t have 6 hours to type all of the reasons I disagree with you on economic issues doesn’t mean I haven’t “done my homework.” Entire books are written on some of these subjects that we are discussing, so I know that explaining anything in-depth in a comment on a political blog is just not in the cards for me because I don’t have the time.

    Anyway, it was very nice “meeting” you, PJ. All the best to you.

  20. Luisa says:

    As I was doing dishes, it dawned on me why you probably think I believe the anti-Muslim video was not responsible for the unrest in many parts of the world: I put the word “inciting” in quotes when referring to the video in one of my posts. I only did that because I was trying to make the point that the video couldn’t have incited the violent attacks which occurred in Benghazi before it was put on YouTube. I was not, however, trying to say that it was not something which would have angered Muslims, and I was not implying that it was no big deal or that it wasn’t behind all the protests. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

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