The evil of religious fanatics

GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney attacked President Obama for sympathizing with Islamic extremists after a mob in Libya killed the U.S. ambassador over a movie trailer that was deemed offensive to Muslims.

There are so many things wrong with the preceding paragraph.

1) The movie was some amateur job done by a scumbag in California who turns out to not be who he says he is. In fact, the full movie may not even exist.

In a telephone interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, a man identifying himself as a 52-year-old real-estate developer in California, Sam Bacile, said he had made the film. Saying he was an Israeli-American who had created the film with the backing of Jewish donors, he described Islam as a “cancer.” One of the video clip’s promoters provided the name and contact details for a Sam Bacile, a name that matched the one on the account used to post the clip in July to Google Inc.’s YouTube.

Since that article was published, questions have emerged about the identity of the purported filmmaker. The Journal was unable to reach the man calling himself Mr. Bacile for further comment and as of Wednesday, the telephone number had been disconnected.

A records search turned up no references to any men in the U.S. by the name Sam Bacile. Israeli officials in the U.S. and Israel said they haven’t found any records of an Israeli by the name of Bacile.

2) Islamic extremists are crazy enough to kill people over a movie trailer. There is an ugliness to the core of religious fanatics that is a threat to every living person on the planet. (From John Cole):

The victory in the Libyan elections of nationalist rather than fundamentalist forces, and the rise to power in Egypt of the relatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood has marginalized the militant strain of Muslim activism, known coloquially as ‘jihadis’ because of their emphasis on vigilante violence. The vigilante fundamentalists were small but dangerous groups in Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya and in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, and both governments reacted by attacking them and arbitrarily imprisoning them.

The vigilante fundamentalists typically reject elections and democracy, as inauthentic Western imports, and they are headline whores, plotting out attention-grabbing mob actions. These jihadis are tiny groups in Egypt and Libya, though sometimes well-armed and well-trained.

You could make an analogy to the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, which just has perhaps 5,000 active members. But people like Wade Michael Page, who had applied for Klan membership, can make a media splash by simply shooting down people at e.g. a Sikh Temple.

3) President Obama never sympathized with the mob. That was a Romney lie. Mitt Romney made the statement after the murders occurred, though the statement he referred to came from one of the two U.S. embassies under siege before the mob attacked. The Embassy was trying to calm the crowd before it turned ugly, and Romney used that defensive move to score political points.

The reaction against Romney has been scathing (From Buzz Feed):

“They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.

He and other members of both parties cited the Romney campaign‘s recent dismissals of foreign policy’s relevance. One adviser dismissed the subject to BuzzFeed as a “shiny object,” while another told Politico that the subject was the “president’s turf,” drawing a rebuke from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

“I guess we see now that it is because they’re incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy,” said the Republican. “This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it.”

Romney has not backed off the response — “It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values,” he said Wednesday — but his campaign faces a near consensus in Republican foreign policy circles that, whatever the sentiment, Romney faltered badly.

Yes, you read that right. The criticisms are coming from Republicans. This was a massive screw up by Romney. He really doesn’t want to win this race.

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Scumbag dies in Libya

Moammar Gaddafi is dead. The ousted Libyan dictator was 69.

The images of his final moments are horrific. His enemies found him crawling through a sewer in his hometown of Sirte, pulled him out, bloodied him, drove him off on a flatbed truck, paraded him (still alive) among the joyous victors, then put a couple of bullets in his chest and a bullet in his head. Here’s a description from the New York Times:

In a cellphone video that went viral on the Internet, the deposed Libyan leader is seen splayed on the hood of a truck and then stumbling amid a frenzied crowd, seemingly begging for mercy. He is next seen on the ground, with fighters grabbing his hair. Blood pours down his head, drenching his golden brown khakis, as the crowd shouts, “God is great!”

Colonel Qaddafi’s body was shown in later photographs, with bullet holes apparently fired into his head at what forensic experts said was close range, raising the possibility that he was executed at the hands of anti-Qaddafi fighters.

I watched the video. I’m not going to link to it, but it’s easy enough to find. Though his end was repulsive and terrifying, it was what he deserved.

Because:

He sponsored terrorist attacks that killed hundreds. He turned weapons on his own people and killed thousands. He committed crimes against humanity. He was insane. He created immeasurable pain and made the world a more dangerous place.

There’s no sympathy for his end. Decent people throughout the world are celebrating his execution. This from the Washington Post:

Gaddafi was the first leader to be killed in the Arab Spring uprisings, and photos of his blood-smeared face quickly spread across the region, sending a powerful message to both dictators and demonstrators elsewhere, much like photos of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak being hauled before a court.

Libya erupted in joy as word of his capture and death flashed across Arab-language channels. In Tripoli, celebratory gunfire was so heavy that airspace over the city was closed to traffic.

A couple of days ago, I wrote about lynch mobs and how evil they were. And today, I celebrate the actions of a lynch mob. This is a conflict that bothers me, and I can’t resolve it. But just as I feel nobody deserves to die, I realize some people don’t deserve to live.

Moammar Gaddafi has been on trial for decades. His crimes were proved. The verdict was obvious. Today, the inevitable sentence was carried out.

Creeps and stalkers

A couple of bizarre stories last week involving famous men and the women they were stalking.

In the entertainment world, Jim Carrey did this:

Now, Emma Stone is probably weirded out by this, but imagine what Condoleeza Rice must feel after reading this:

“Deeply bizarre and deeply creepy.”

That’s how the State Department is describing a surprising find inside the compound of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi: a photo album filled with page after page of pictures of Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state who visited Tripoli in 2008. The pictures were first highlighted here on PhotoBlog and went on to be published around the world.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television in 2007, he said this:

“I support my darling black African woman,” he said. “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin.”

Simple answers to unnecessary brain teasers (part 2)

This is great.

From Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tom Marino, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

“The bottom line is I wish the president would have told us, talked to Congress about what is the plan. Is there a plan? Is the mission to take Gadhafi out?” Mr. Marino asked…. “Where does it stop?” he said. “Do we go into Africa next? I don’t want to sound callous or cold, but this could go on indefinitely around the world.”

A map is in order here:

See that blue blob? That’s Libya.

See that gray mass the blue blob is sitting on? That’s Africa.

I don’t want to sound callous or cold, congressman, but if “next” means “now,” the answer is yes.

That’s today’s simple answer to an unnecessary brain teaser.

Simple answers to unnecessary brain teasers

Ted Koppel asked this unnecessary brain teaser on “Meet the Press” this past weekend:

MR. TED KOPPEL: I don’t think he’s going to be able to answer the central question. You asked the right question in talking about the, the national interest. The question hasn’t yet been answered as to why it is that Libya, of all countries in that region, has won the humanitarian defense sweepstakes of 2011. We have seen many countries, both in that region and throughout the world, where civilian loss and civilian suffering has been much, much greater. Congo for the past 12 years, we’ve lost about five million people. Sudan, three million people, never any talk of military intervention. Take a look at what’s going on in the Ivory Coast today. Secretary Clinton was talking about the number of refugees that might have come out of a Gadhafi attack on Benghazi. You’ve got 700,000 refugees in the Ivory Coast right now–close to a million, in fact. Why, why Libya? Hasn’t been answered.

Simple answer: Oil.

Glad I could clear that up.

Because he thinks we’re incapable of doing a Google search

John McCain, former presidential candidate and perpetual Fox News guest, was on his favorite network the other day comparing Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to Hitler.

One year ago (from Politics Daily via Washington Monthly) here’s what he said about Libya’s Hitler:

Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency.

McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:
Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya — interesting meeting with an interesting man.

CNN vs. Fox (in Libya): the counterattack

Nic Robertson at CNN slapped around Fox News recently for its human shield in Libya report, essentially saying the report was a lie and that the Fox correspondent in Libya was too busy hiding in his hotel room to do any real reporting.

So, of course, the Fox correspondent, Steve Harrigan is going to fire back (from the Huffington Post via TPM):

The hostilities between the Libya correspondents for Fox News and CNN continue to play out in the media. Responding to Monday’s fusillade by CNN’s foreign correspondent Nic Robertson, Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan questioned his rival’s manhood in an interview with Huffington Post.

“He puts on his blue blazer and gets on the government bus, and then pats himself on the back and calls that news?” Harrigan says. “Bullshit.” …

“This is the first time I’ve been attacked,” Harrigan said. “[Robertson is] in the same hotel as me. A man could come down and say, ‘What’s up?’ But instead he’s saying I’m lazy, that I’m a liar and that I’m as bad as Gaddafi.”

In fairness, Robertson didn’t say Harrigan was a liar and as bad as Gaddafi. He said Fox News was a liar and was as bad as Gaddafi. Robertson was attacking the Fox News report that said that CNN (meaning Roberton), Reuters and other correspondents were being used as human shields to stop allied bombing. That report was by another Fox News reporter, who continues to stand by her story (except for the part where she said Fox wasn’t part of the “human shield” contingent. It was).

It’s all semantics, but here something to consider.

Perhaps the allies (in this case the Brits) did delay a bombing run because it found out Western correspondents were at the Gaddafi compound. Here’s the likely scenario:

Allies bomb Gaddafi’s compound. The Libyans want to get western correspondents (CNN, Reuters, Fox) to come over to film the wreckage so they can get a “collateral damage, innocent victims” story out in the western and Arab media, creating public outrage. So they say “Hey, guys! Come and see what your bombs are doing.” Everybody gets a quick field trip (the CNN reporter says they were in and out in under an hour). Meanwhile, the Brits, ready to bomb the crap out of the compound again, find out about the field trip and don’t want to end up with a bunch of stories saying they struck while major western media were there (or even worse, killed the reporters). Bad public relations. So the bombing run is delayed until after the reporters leave. A Fox correspondent with the Pentagon contacts back in America hears that a bombing run was scrapped because reporters were in Gaddafi’s compound. Since that’s not sexy, Fox juices it up with the “human shields” description.

Hilarity ensues.