This is a frustrating post from Robert Wright at The Atlantic, The Muslim Protests: Two Myths Down, Three to Go
Here is the narrative that pretty much everyone was buying into 36 hours ago: Crude anti-Islam film made by Israeli-American and funded by Jews leads to Muslim protests that boil over, causing four American deaths in Libya.
Here is what now seems to be the case: the anti-Islam film wasn’t made by an Israeli-American, wasn’t funded by Jews, and probably had nothing to do with the American deaths, which seem to have resulted from a long-planned attack by a specific terrorist group, not spontaneous mob violence.
The bold part does seem to be the case. Film or not the attack that killed Ambassador Stevens and three others likely would have happened whether there was a film or rumor about a film or not. On the other hand the rest of what were then simple protests, that have now turned into widespread rioting, that is mostly about the film. That part of it, from the perspective of someone who gave their first political donation when i was sixteen to the American Civil Liberties Union, seems totally out of proportion to any harm done. This is what some – though not all of the rioters are saying they stand for – violence, arson and murder are to be tolerated, directing insults at their religion, totally intolerable. I got the picture below from here, Muslim Protests Spread Around the Globe. In one picture a man is holding a sign that says yes to freedom of speech, but no to insulting their prophet.
Outrage in the Muslim community, stoked by a crude anti-Islam video mocking the prophet Muhammad, has spread across much of the globe today. Starting earlier this week in Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt, protesters stormed embassies, resulting in multiple deaths, four of them American. Since then, demonstrations have erupted in more than two dozen countries — ranging from small peaceful gatherings to violent attacks on western targets. Host nations have been struggling to defend western consulates after thousands took to the streets following Friday prayers. Gathered here are scenes of this growing unrest over the past few days. [36 photos]
From the perspective of the protesters – who are not in the USA and do not have a 1st Amendment that guarantees freedom of speech, the press and freedom of expression – they feel they’re right. Respect for their beliefs comes before freedoms that most Americans take as their birthright. Some of the rioters are in countries such as Libya and Egypt that are nascent democracies, they are going to have growing pains in regards criticism or irreverent jokes about religion. One lesson here, completely lost on conservative bloggers and pundits, is that church and state never mix to the benefit of a stable democratic republic. Professional Islamiphobe Pam Gellar ( at Atlas Shrugged) has almost all the Atlantic pictures up, except the one that shows Muslims hating on President Obama. Gellar is also on the front of the bandwagon of pitchfork carrying conservatives trying to blame the United States for the film riots and the embassy deaths. having no real conscience or sense of shame that comes with said conscience this is no surprise, Republican Media Dubiously Accuse Hillary Clinton Of Ignoring Warnings Of Embassy Violence
Right-wing media outlets are pushing dubious allegations to attack Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over the violence that claimed the life of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. But the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has poured cold water on the attack.
Breitbart.com attacked Clinton by citing a report from the U.K. Independent that cites anonymous “senior diplomatic sources” saying:
[T]he US State Department had credible information 48 hours before mobs charged the consulate in Benghazi, and the embassy in Cairo, that American missions may be targeted, but no warnings were given for diplomats to go on high alert and “lockdown”, under which movement is severely restricted.”
[ ]….But later on Fox, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) showed why right-wing media should not have jumped on this one thinly-sourced report so quickly. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Rogers about the Independent report. Rogers responded: “As chairman of the Intelligence Committee, I have seen nothing yet that indicates that they had information that could have prevented the event.”
Taking anything from Breitbart or Matt Drudge as reality based is like saying fetid water makes good coffee. While the overreaction is uncalled for so it the maliciously incendiary film by this creep, Christian charity, ex-con linked to film on Islam
One ran a low-profile Christian charity from a sleepy suburb east of Los Angeles. The other was a financially strapped gas station operator just out of federal prison.
In the last year, these men, both Egyptian immigrants, became unlikely collaborators in an endeavor that has shaken the stability of the Middle East.
Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon from Cerritos, emerged Thursday as forces behind “Innocence of Muslims.” An online trailer for the low-budget film incited violence in recent days across the Arab world.
Media for Christ, whose stated mission is to “glow Jesus’ light” to the world, obtained permits to shoot the movie in August 2011, and Nakoula provided his home as a set and paid the actors, according to government officials and those involved in the production.
[ ]…Some of those activities were criminal. He was convicted on state drug charges in 1997. In 2010, he was convicted in an identity theft scheme. According to the court file, Nakoula, who ran gas stations in Hawaiian Gardens, operated under a dizzying array of aliases, including Kritbag Difrat. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was released last summer.
The Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement this week condemning the funding and production of the film.
Coptic Christianity traces its roots to Egypt, where it was said to have been founded by one of Christ’s apostles. Its followers constitute the largest religious minority in Egypt.
If nothing else they knew this film was going to have consequences. One cannot even defend it as a serious look at Islam, with serious criticism or some fair rebuttal. It was intended as pure propaganda. Again, a lesson lost on Breibart.com, James O’Keefe and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads (Karl Rove Brings Ad Based On Fox’s Deceptive Editing Of Obama’s Remarks To Fox News). Radical extremists tend to think alike.
This has been a strange election cycle in several ways. One is that Romney-Ryan and the conservative movement have pretty much dropped all pretense as to have much in the way of integrity or honor. Conservatives values have always been part of a twisted morass of hypocrisy, have been tossed in the ditch, Romney’s Jaw-Dropping Lack of Morality
Other commentators have made the same point about Romney and his readiness to seize on any distortion relating to President Obama if it helps reinforce one of Romney’s campaign themes.
As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman noted earlier this year, Romney’s whole campaign is based on a cynical belief that Americans suffer from “amnesia” about what caused the nation’s economic mess and that they will simply blame President Obama for not quickly fixing it.
To illustrate the point last April, Romney staged a campaign event in Ohio at a shuttered drywall factory that closed in 2008, when Bush was still president and when the housing market, which had grown into a bubble under Bush’s deregulatory policies, was collapsing.
Krugman wrote: “Mr. Romney constantly talks about job losses under Mr. Obama. Yet all of the net job loss took place in the first few months of 2009, that is, before any of the new administration’s policies had time to take effect. So the Ohio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don’t remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall.”
Krugman added that the amnesia factor was relevant, too, because Romney is proposing more tax cuts and more banking deregulation, Bush’s disastrous recipe. In other words, Romney’s campaign is based on the fundamental lie that the cure for Bush’s economic collapse is a larger dose of Bush’s economic policies.
Romney’s speech at the shuttered drywall factory in Ohio was a precursor to a similar misrepresentation at the Republican convention when Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney’s vice presidential running mate, blasted Obama over the fact that a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, which stopped production under President Bush, had not been reopened – as if it were suddenly the role of the federal government to make such detailed decisions for corporations.
Unfortunately the Republican reliance on the gullibility of just enough of the American public to squeeze out razor thin victories has paid off in the past and regardless of polls showing President Obama with a national lead, do not underestimate the power of the negative ad storm to come. Conservative sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson alone can buy a million dollars with of attack ads every day until election day with just the money he keeps in his sock drawer. But no, issues matter. Maybe to the people who read political blogs and research articles, but not to a lot of voters – Romney’s magical thinking about the deficit
Mitt Romney made it pretty clear today on Good Morning America: his tax plan (and his overall budget plan) will rely on two parts pixie dust, three of Jeannie’s blinks, a pinch of technobabble from Geordi La Forge, and something about the Elder Wand (which, I have to confess, I’ve never quite understood). That is, it’s all magic and fiction.
Specifically, Romney confirmed that he will balance the barget largely through economic growth:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You cite your own studies. But one of the studies you cite by Martin Feldstein at Harvard shows that to make your math work, it could work, if you eliminate the home mortgage, charity, and state and local tax deductions for everyone earning over $100,000. Is that what you propose?
MITT ROMNEY: No, that’s not what I propose. And, of course, part of my plan is to stimulate economic growth. The biggest source of getting the country to a balanced budget is not by raising taxes or by cutting spending. It’s by encouraging the growth of the economy. So my tax plan is to encourage investment in growth in America, more jobs, that means more people paying taxes. So that’s a big component of what allows us to get to a balanced budget.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But his study, which you’ve cited, says it can only work if you take away those deductions for everyone earning more than $100,000.
MITT ROMNEY: Well, it doesn’t necessarily show the same growth that we’re anticipating.
Well, there you have it. Mitt Romney’s not going to balance the budget by raising taxes or by cutting spending; we’re going to have presto-chango-magico growth. Exactly the way that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush “balanced” the budget by projecting magical growth rates.
Its voodoo now, voodoo back under Saint Ronnie and it was supply-side voodoo under George W. Bush. This is something for the physiologists to explain. The average American would never think of running their household budget based on spending they have no reasonable reason to think they can pay for. Nor would they project totally unrealistic increases in revenue based on the proportion of pixie duct to unicorns, yet many of them will go into the voting booth and do just that.
Have to include this last bit from Ezra Klein, So Romney agrees with the U.S Embassy in Egypt?
This is a bit off Wonkblog’s typical beat, but I’m honestly baffled by Mitt Romney these days. Here he is talking to George Stephanopoulos about the anti-Muslim video that’s sparked mob anger (or has at least been the stated excuse for mob anger) in the Arab world:
Mitt Romney: Well, I haven’t seen the film. I don’t intend to see it. I, you know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out in a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.
George Stephanopoulos: We’ve seen General Martin Dempsey call Pastor Jones to say, “Please don’t promote this film.” You think that’s a good idea?
Romney: I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it, showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment – the good judgment – not to be, not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.
Which as Ezra and others have noted is the same thing that original unauthorized statement from the American embassy said. The statement that Romney used as an indictment of the White House. Romney is either an air-head whose entire skill set extends to reading a spread sheet or he thinks venal and values mean the same thing.