Anniversaries and a Local Connection to Libya

Hi All,

I’m really sorry I missed the Anniversary.  I wanted to bring balloons and a banner and have a real party but thankfully Scott wrote a nice post and the rest of you joined in with congratulations to ATiM and each other.  Next year we’ll have a big bash with music, speeches and lots of toasts.   I should be able to drink something stronger than apple juice by then.  I’ll just reiterate everyone’s appreciation of Brent and his morning reports and a heartfelt thanks to the rest of you who have taken the time to publish posts and participate in the comments and have also helped with the technical end of things.

Like many of you I’ve learned considerably more about subjects I wasn’t previously that familiar with, discovered interesting tidbits of information about each of you (an unfolding mystery), and personally confronted a few more short-comings in myself than I originally bargained for.  It’s been an interesting endeavor, so thanks everyone.  It’s true; I did tell Scott I hated him once (thanks for telling everyone….lol), about three years ago.  What he forgot to mention, or may have simply forgotten, is that I also apologized right away.  I realized even then, that although we were strangers (much more so then than now) and I didn’t appreciate or like what he was saying, he certainly didn’t deserve my hate.  I was embarrassed I’d even said it as I had gotten caught up in the moment of a heated exchange on health care reform, something I am very passionate about.  No excuses though, even as a few come to mind…………………….hahahahaha.

It’s been a rough year for me health wise, and I’ve been away from ATiM almost as much as I’ve been around.  I’m hopeful all that’s behind me now once I get caught up on my sleep and finish this last round of antibiotics, which I’m having a little trouble keeping down………yuck.   What I learned in the past six or seven months is that my efforts at being healthy my entire adult life didn’t protect me from a health threat I hadn’t anticipated or an unexpected depletion of our funds set aside for emergencies.  What I thought was, and probably should have been, a fairly routine bout of food poisoning in March got very complicated and damn near killed me.   It should be a lesson to all of us that we shouldn’t take our good fortune or good health for granted.   I do feel grateful though that I had some excellent doctors and nurses treating me, even though there were times they seemed more than a little stymied (slightly terrifying), and that I will recover and be as good as new again.  Well, as new as any 62 year old can be, that is.  I’m very cognizant of the fact there are a lot of people who can’t say that with certainty so I feel particularly blessed and more than a little bit lucky right now.

I was in the hospital last week with no access to the internet but I did follow the news a little and read the local newspaper.  I became fascinated with the story behind the so-called film that started, or was blamed for starting, all the trouble in the Middle East.  I’m a big proponent of free speech, as we all are, but it’s a shame so much of this tragedy swirls around what was essentially an alleged con-artist’s effort to stir up trouble and probably rip a few investors off.  I’m speculating here a little but I did have time yesterday to do some research, in between naps……lol.  I don’t know if anyone here has already covered this ground or not, as I haven’t had the chance to read through all the comments yet, but here are a few stories that I found particularly compelling.

Some of you may remember I commented here a couple of times that I quit participating in our local city council meetings and citizen commissions a couple of years ago when our conservative city aligned itself with Arizona’s volatile immigration bill.  One of the reasons I became so disillusioned was because there were outsiders (out of state even) around town agitating community members and our council members were swayed by their arguments.  One day last week I saw this guy’s photo in the paper and recognized him as one of those outsiders.  At the same time all of this was going on in 2010 some anti-Obama/anti-Muslim protesters set up a table just outside of the Post Office handing out fliers and propaganda and generally trying to stir up trouble.  Here’s the local story on this Klein character with the photo I saw.  And apparently the film maker is a CA man as well.

Steven Klein, owner of Wise Home Insurance Services, said he believes Muslim extremists control most of the mosques across the United States and that his intention is only to tell the truth.

A Cal State San Bernardino center that monitors extremist groups describes Klein as part of a national anti-Muslim hate movement.

Klein said he founded a group called Courageous Christians United after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks spurred him to get involved in what he called educating people about Islam. He said he later handed the group over to another person.

He then founded Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which also educates people about Islam, he said.

Although he has distributed literature about Islam, Klein said he did not attend protests against the building of a new mosque in Temecula in 2010.

But he said he and other members of Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment distributed leaflets on Islam in high schools across Southern California, including in Temecula, Corona, Murrieta, Norco and Menifee.

Klein said he has written on issues other than Islam, targeting illegal immigration, gays and lesbians serving in the military and Mormonism. But he said he has not attended or organized demonstrations on those issues.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate activity, on Wednesday put out a dossier on Klein. The center quotes him from his Facebook page in 2011 as saying Muslims “are a cancer that WILL attack us and KILL as many as they can to further the Islamic doctrine of Sharia law … Beware, there IS a holy war coming.”

I’m tempted to email all of these stories to the council members and my friend who is the Mayor Pro Tem right now, but I promised my husband I would stay out of it.  Small town politics can get pretty ugly as I’ve discovered anew in the last four years.

Here’s another piece I read that details more on the film-maker and highlights rather obviously that the initial media reports weren’t exactly accurate.  Apparently he’s a convicted meth cooker and scam artist still on probation and not of Israeli origin.  No wonder he went into hiding.

As an example of the early reporting, here is the opening of a top story in the Los Angeles Times, based on AP reporting: “An Israeli filmmaker based in California who made a movie belittling Islam’s prophet Muhammad that has ignited Middle East riots and led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya says he is in hiding. Sam Bacile, 56, who described himself as an ‘Israeli Jew’ who develops real estate in California, told the Associated Press by phone that he went into hiding Tuesday after assaults by conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya.”

The AP, in an early report, flatly called Bacile “an Israeli fillmmaker.” Even Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, published this under the headline, “Israeli Filmmaker in Hiding.”

The media accounts on “Bacile” slowly fell apart as the day wore on yesterday, as I documented here in update, thanks mainly to reporting by blog sites, including Gawker, Buzzfeed and Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic’s site. Then last night, the AP weighed in with an excellent report that seemed to track down the real Bacile, using some fine investigative techniques, and outed him as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Basseley=Bacile, for one thing) in Cerritos, California.

And lastly, the LA Times with a little more background on the film’s producers.  A convict and an agitator deny their culpability now that the shit has hit the fan.

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.”

Both men appeared to have gone into hiding Thursday. As the furor over the film grew, they and their associates have distanced themselves from the production. Nakoula told the Associated Press he was a logistics manager on the movie, not the director. He told a Coptic bishop Thursday that he had no role in it, the clergyman told The Times.

“He denied completely any involvement,” said Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles.

He [Nakoula] 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.

Somewhere in the links above is mentioned the lack of public interest in the film itself.  Apparently, there was a viewing of the entire film in a theater recently and no one showed up, literally, not a single person.  This kind of story is right up my alley but the really sad aspect to all of it is, of course, the loss of life.  The thing with free speech is that there are consequences and they generally rest on those who abuse the privilege.  Even if it is ultimately discovered, as the speculation now suggests, that the assault on the consulate was planned and carried out separately from the protests surrounding the youtube trailer of the film, the so-called film will always be associated with the deaths of at least four Americans.

Update 1……….I got a kick out of reading the diet and exercise talk among the guys yesterday but serious congrats to Kevin, McWing and FB’s wife for losing the weight.  Yellow won with the best comment though………OMG.  I’ve always been thin and not a big eater but I’ve gotten too thin this year and am trying to gain back some of the weight I lost.  I was doing pretty well and heading back up to 125 until a little over a week ago, now I get to start all over again as I weighed in at 115 this morning.  I’m still just under 5’9” and big boned so need to get back to about 135 if possible as that’s my healthy weight.  My husband got up to about 235 at 6’2” about 5 or 6 years ago but when he was diagnosed with gout he went on a really strict diet I designed for him and he really lost the extra pounds fast and eliminated the gout as well.  He’s around 200 now which seems to be maintainable and no complaints from the doctors, he’s a swimmer like me and we both ride the stationary bike and I walk our dog most days.  He missed a lot of his workouts earlier this year because of a broken leg but just cut his calories down to make up for it and it seemed to work.  I do most of the cooking and I can tell when he’s gaining a little weight so I just cook a bit differently and he doesn’t even seem to notice……….hahahaha.  I also know when he sneaks out to get a hamburger on the way to the bank or post office and cut back accordingly.

Update 2………….Just read this interview.  I think maybe someone should just wire Romney’s jaw shut at this point.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the film that seems to have sparked all this, the Innocence of Muslims film? Secretary Clinton today said she thought it was disgusting. How would you describe it?

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 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?

MITT 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.

Happy Saturday everyone!!!!!!!!!

86 Responses

  1. Kathleen Parker has a lot to say.

    “This time, the imbeciles have won.”

    That was the assessment of French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy in his remembrance of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

    And he wasn’t just whistling “Freres Jacques.”

    BHL was referring to the fact that Stevens was a great friend of Libya and of the Muslim/Arab world generally. The imbeciles killed perhaps their bravest advocate in the Western world.

    And they killed him (perhaps in part) because of the actions of another imbecile in the United States. One lowlife creates an anti-Islam film that looks like a blend of “The Blair Witch Project” and “Keystone Terrorists,” and the unhappy Muslim world goes ballistic.

    I emphasize the word “unhappy” because it is no more accurate to condemn the Muslim world for the atrocities of a relative few than it is to indict America because one lowbrow decides to upload a lousy flick that nobody otherwise would watch or even know about.

    Hey, demonstrators: Anybody can make a movie. It doesn’t mean anything.

    And by the way, anybody can burn a Koran. Or a Bible. Or smear feces on a crucifix. Or . . . ad infinitum. We tolerate rudeness because the alternative — state-enforced politeness — leads to the guillotine.

    Unfortunately, even we seem to have lost sight of the nature and causes of these incidents, which have less to do with reasons than with excuses. The demonstrations and attacks more likely are a function of post-revolutionary jockeying among the groups competing for power than they are about American anything. The storming of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11 may have been a planned attack, possibly orchestrated by al-Qaeda and possibly having nothing to do with the movie.

    The extent of our role, alas, has been exaggerated by our own actions. At least two notable missteps should be reminders about the importance of getting it right. For handy reference, check the parenting manual: Do not indulge tantrums.

    First, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued what amounted to an apology to the mobs for any hurt feelings they may have suffered because of the film in question. If you intend to watch it, be sure to take necessary IQ-lowering measures. It is so ridiculous and poorly made, no movie-going American could watch long without succumbing to laughter or . . . coma.

    Here on Planet Earth, where being goofy isn’t a head-severing offense, one reaches without strain the following observation: The film was idiotic and not worth the attention of our president or secretary of state. The response has made clear that an apology doesn’t work, which is why both the White House and the State Department initially distanced themselves from the embassy’s statement.

    This is most certainly why Mitt Romney decided to enter the fray, for which he has been variously pilloried and heralded. Put me in the pillory column. His comments condemning President Obama’s “apologist” foreign policy were premature, inappropriate and too politically motivated to be effective either as proper criticism or as a campaign maneuver.


  2. “This is most certainly why Mitt Romney decided to enter the fray, for which he has been variously pilloried and heralded. Put me in the pillory column. His comments condemning President Obama’s “apologist” foreign policy were premature, inappropriate and too politically motivated to be effective either as proper criticism or as a campaign maneuver.”

    Meh, spare me the butthurt Levy. What does Obama’s foreign policy have to show for his efforts? That is a legitimate area of criticism, as Bush’s FP critics, and Clinton’s have amply shown.


  3. Nakoula was taken in for questioning this morning in Cerritos, CA. Obviously it’s in relation to possible probation violations. He doesn’t appear to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

    McWing, I have no problem with anyone questioning a president’s FP and I doubt Parker does either. I do think Romney continues to make himself look foolish however. In the interview I quoted above he’s fundamentally agreeing with the consulate statement. After criticizing a President for saying something he didn’t, he then turns around and says virtually the same thing. I think Parker’s point is all of this is over some “imbecile’s” lame effort to insult Muslims which was sort of the point I was making above.


  4. Lms, I wrote in yesterday’s morning thread that a Romney admin would probably have reacted in the same way.


  5. Okay McWing, I haven’t had the chance to go back and read all the threads I’ve missed. I only read the Anniversary and the Diet and Exercise thread. I’ll get to the rest sometime this weekend I hope. I think this entire story is fascinating though. It would be more entertaining if people’s lives hadn’t been lost, but judging by reactions it’s almost as volatile here as there.


  6. Over on yesterday’s AM thread, towards the afternoon, is an interesting discussion about this. To me, this is interesting. In fact Mark and I have swapped comments this morning about it.

    Feel better!


  7. Thanks McWing

    I’ll try to catch up with you guys over there later


  8. Our problems with Muslims world wide is that we can’t decide who to be. We either have to stop invading their countries and leave them in their own third world backwater cesspool, or we have to start killing many, many more of them.

    I vote for the former. They’re not ready for the 21st century. Hell they’re not even ready for the 20th.


  9. If only we had our own natural resources to exploit for energy.


  10. We get comparatively little from the Middle East, about 23% of our total imports Most of their oil goes to Europe and China.


  11. Apropos of Don Juan’s comment at 10:11 MDT, I thought that this article in the WaPo had some interesting insight:

    In the narrative of history transmitted to schoolchildren throughout the Arab world and reinforced by the media, religious scholars and laymen alike, Arabs were favored by divine providence. They had come out of the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century, carrying Islam from Morocco to faraway Indonesia. In the process, they overran the Byzantine and Persian empires, then crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Iberia, and there they fashioned a brilliant civilization that stood as a rebuke to the intolerance of the European states to the north. Cordoba and Granada were adorned and exalted in the Arab imagination. Andalusia brought together all that the Arabs favored — poetry, glamorous courts, philosophers who debated the great issues of the day.

    If Islam’s rise was spectacular, its fall was swift and unsparing. This is the world that the great historian Bernard Lewis explored in his 2002 book “What Went Wrong?” The blessing of God, seen at work in the ascent of the Muslims, now appeared to desert them. The ruling caliphate, with its base in Baghdad, was torn asunder by a Mongol invasion in the 13th century. Soldiers of fortune from the Turkic Steppes sacked cities and left a legacy of military seizures of power that is still the bane of the Arabs. Little remained of their philosophy and literature, and after the Ottoman Turks overran Arab countries to their south in the 16th century, the Arabs seemed to exit history; they were now subjects of others.

    The coming of the West to their world brought superior military, administrative and intellectual achievement into their midst — and the outsiders were unsparing in their judgments. They belittled the military prowess of the Arabs, and they were scandalized by the traditional treatment of women and the separation of the sexes that crippled Arab society.

    Even as Arabs insist that their defects were inflicted on them by outsiders, they know their weaknesses. Younger Arabs today can be brittle and proud about their culture, yet deeply ashamed of what they see around them. They know that more than 300 million Arabs have fallen to economic stagnation and cultural decline. They know that the standing of Arab states along the measures that matter — political freedom, status of women, economic growth — is low. In the privacy of their own language, in daily chatter on the street, on blogs and in the media, and in works of art and fiction, they probe endlessly what befell them.

    And why the embassies get thrown into the mix:

    It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled. It is inside those fortresses, the gullible believe, that rulers are made and unmade. Yet these same diplomatic outposts dispense coveted visas and a way out to the possibilities of the Western world. The young men who turned up at the U.S. Embassies this week came out of this deadly mix of attraction to American power and resentment of it. The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that took the lives of four American diplomats, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, appeared to be premeditated and unconnected to the film protests.

    Well worth the read.


  12. I’d rather it be the US Navy that holds the shipping lanes hostage.


    • I’d rather it be the USN that keeps the lanes open. That we can do. That we should do.

      Who are you thinking will compete with us on the sea? China?


  13. I worry more about countries and choke points. Singapore, Hormuz, Panama Canal, suez, Gibralter, etc.


  14. lms:

    What he forgot to mention, or may have simply forgotten, is that I also apologized right away. 

    Yes, you did, and I should have mentioned that. BTW, I didn’t bring it up to embarrass you, and I’m sorry if it did. I just wanted to point out how far we’ve come together, you and I.

    I think maybe someone should just wire Romney’s jaw shut at this point.

    What is so bad about what he said?


  15. Scott

    I wasn’t embarrassed you mentioned it, I was embarrassed at the time I said it and just wanted to clarify that I did apologize. I thought your Anniversary post was very nice and I was thrilled you mentioned Brent’s contributions on a daily basis. None of the rest of us are as consistent as he is.

    It’s not that Romney said anything wrong in the interview it’s that after condemning the statement from the Cairo embassy he essentially said the same thing in different words……………………I thought it was “confused”.

    Did anyone pick up on the fact that the Steven Klein character I mentioned above, who agitated here in my community, is also outspoken against Mormons?


    • I have some interest in these 15 minutes of fame filmmakers, Lulu.

      Thanks for the links.

      I have to admit that in 2002 I wanted to hire an OBL double and CGI him into a movie screwing a camel, dubbing OBL’s voice ecstatically yelling Allah Akbar at climax so we could dump videos all over the ME and make them all nuts.

      It would have been a lapse of judgment…


  16. Hi Mark

    I can’t help but be fascinated by the psychology.


  17. Why does the aministration keep insisting the ME violence is a result of the movie? What does it gain by doing so?


  18. george

    Why do conservatives keep insisting that obama wants to take away their guns?


  19. What conservatives are insisting that?


  20. My pool guy, as recently as last week. Not a nut case in any way. Go read some conservative forums.


  21. Even if Americans are unhappy with the current foreign policy, they aren’t stupid enough to turn to the same group of foreign policy bunglers, now recycled under Romney, who got us into this mess in the first place.

    When Matt Millen becomes an NFL GM again, only then will you ever see John Bolton hold another position in national security.


  22. I keep leaning more and more away from involving ourselves in the Middle East but I just don’t see how we can in reality. This piece may have it right, but I honestly don’t know. I think saying the administration is blaming the ME violence on a poorly made movie by a bunch of malcontents is much too simplistic of an interpretation of what’s going on.

    Misunderstanding of the anti-American demonstrations, which have continued to spread in the Arab world, could easily lead to poor decisions in Washington. The protests should be seen not as a popular uprising against an obscene but obscure film, or as a rejection of the United States, but as part of a struggle for power in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other countries where the old autocratic political order has been demolished.

    Militant Islamic movements, which in several of those countries have been losing ground to more moderate Muslim and liberal forces, seize on pretexts such as the anti-Muslim film to mobilize against their political enemies, exploiting widespread misconceptions among Arabs about the United States and its policy toward the Islamic world. By design, they force more moderate Islamists, such as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, to balance their desire for constructive relations with Washington against the competition with militants for popular support. That squeeze helps to explain, if not to excuse, Mr. Morsi’s slow and ambiguous response to the initial protests in Cairo.

    The intelligent U.S. response to these circumstances is not to cut off aid to Egypt — as some in Congress demand — or to pressure Mr. Morsi for difficult but largely symbolic statements or acts. It is to undermine the extremists’ strategy by refuting the attempts to portray U.S. society and government as anti-Muslim; by pragmatically working with governments to renew economic growth and combat violent jihadists; and by continuing to support the liberal political movements that, as much as the Islamists, are fighting to win broad public support.

    President Obama’s response to last week’s crisis largely followed that path. The administration repeatedly denounced the offending film while defending freedom of speech. Mr. Obama dispatched Marines to the region to protect embassies and quietly pushed Mr. Morsi to adopt appropriate security measures while making it clear that the United States will continue to support economic development in Egypt.


  23. As Bill Clinton is suddenly everywhere trying his damndest to get Obama re-elected, you have to wonder what ever happened to the Republican strategist who said something like:

    “I know! We’ll praise Bill Clinton and contrast him with Obama!” sometime in the early spring.


  24. Somewhere, Rick Santorum is telling friends:

    “See, I told you what Americans REALLY want is to ban contraception, not all this economic talk. Wait until 2016!”


  25. If you think the guns theory is off the wall, try this one:

    “Rush Limbaugh: Al-Qaeda ‘Gave Up Osama Bin Laden’ To Make ‘Obama Look Good’”


  26. George:

    What conservatives are insisting that?

    One of my neighbors, a custodian at work, and numerous letter writers to the editor. Has been a common meme in SLC since at least 2007.


  27. Thanks banned, I’m now convinced that all conservatives are insisting that Obama is going to take out guns away.


  28. george:

    You’re problem is that you are a rational man, who struggles with the belief that the people on your side have a lot of irrational positions.

    I get it.

    On my side, I find it hard to believe that politicians in Chicago would agree to a 7% pay raise over 3 years when they are a projected 3 billion iin the hole over that time frame.


  29. george:

    You’re right, it’s a fringe position:

    “Mitt Romney told the nation’s major gun-rights group Friday that President Barack Obama would diminish a range of freedoms if given a second term, including those of gun owners, and would remake the Supreme Court in an effort to reinterpret constitutional rights.”


  30. Wayner La Pierre, head of the NRA:

    “They’ll say gun owners — they’ll say they left them alone…In public, the president will remind us that he’s put off calls from his party to renew the old Clinton ban, that he hasn’t pushed for new gun control laws…The president will offer the Second Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the Second Amendment. But it’s a big fat stinking lie!…It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and hide his true intentions to destroy the Second Amendment in our country…Before the president was even sworn into office, they met and they hatched a conspiracy of public deception to try to guarantee his re-election in 2012.”


  31. This is my personal favorite though, an endorsement of Rick Santorum by a very right leaing gun group which reads in part:

    “Senator Rick Santorum has often supported gun rights, as indicated by his 2012 GOA Survey. In it, Santorum pledges to:

    * Veto legislation banning semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines;

    * Repeal the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1996, which has only managed to discourage teachers and principals from protecting students against crazed killers who ignore gun bans;

    * Repeal the Lautenberg gun ban of 1996, which places a lifetime gun ban on people for offenses as slight as shouting matches in the home;”



  32. Banned, lots of people have irrational opinions, hell, I do as well. For example I believe that life begins at conception but am still more or less for legal abortion up till, say, the third trimester. Im fascinated you thought i wasnt aware that my party, all parties really, are rife with illogic What I wanted to get from you, and you still have not answered is why the current administration is insisting that the movie is the sole cause of the current round of ME violence. What benefit do they get from it? ( Also, do they actually beleive it? Do others here believe it?)

    Instead, for reasons known only to you, you chose to ask why Conservatives insist that Obama wants to take our guns away. When I asked what conservatives you responded with an anecdote. A quick google would have turned up Wayne LaPierre and Glen Beck but I guess that would have been too much work. Oh well.


  33. Corked me. Still, why did you introduce that topic (Obama/guns) as an answer. That seems, er, irrational. Almost patisan?


  34. Troll – Why do you state that the current administration insists that the movie is the *sole cause* of the current round of violence? Reaction to the trailer, whipped up by radical elements for their own purposes, sparked the current round.

    I wouldn’t say insulting other religions is a core American value, though it has a rich history. Just ask Trey Parker and Matt Stone.



  35. Susan Rice said this morning on FNS. She also said that there was no evidence that Bengazi assault was pre-meditated.


  36. george

    I was using it as an ilustration that both sides say things that defy common sense for political gain. It’s in Obama’s political interest to downplay the ME problem at election time as movie issue, as it is in Romney’s interest, among others, to pretend that Obama will take away your guns

    If you find it a poor or too attenuated analogy, I accept the criticsm as valid.


  37. So, it’s like the (snicker) “war on women”?


  38. george

    I will step aside and let the stong women here express their opinions on that topic.


  39. I don’t understand why, don’t you have an opinion? There’s no Fleischer like “chill wind” here.


  40. I will step aside and let the stong women here express their opinions on that topic.

    Me too.


  41. george

    I have a million opinions, and on some I evern know I’m talking about.

    I think by defintion though, in the “war on women” I’m like a priest talking about birth control.


  42. Are you afraid to share your opinion? I truly don’t understand. I thought this was a place we could share an opinion things, even if we’re not experts. I’m no cosmologist for example, but I’m convinced that that the idea of “multiverses” is wrong.


  43. McWing:

    I apologize; I missed your original question. My personal speculation for why the Administration is using the movie trailer as the reason for the uprising is to give the host country’s governments political cover publicly while they read them the riot act privately. And I don’t believe for one second that Susan Rice really believes that Benghazi wasn’t pre-meditated, but we don’t know what they’re working on behind the scenes.

    As for the “snicker” war on women, not going to get into it on a weekend.


  44. Despit numerical output to the contrary, I really think there are subjects on which I would rather read the opinions of others rather than my own.


  45. I’ll be listening to the re-air in the next hour (Meet the Press is on right now). Is this the relevant quote?

    “We had the evolution of the Arab Spring over the last many months but what sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world”

    If so, your use of the term *sole cause* is feeding your own slant into someone else’s words. I used the exact same words and it is not my opinion that the sole cause of the violence was the video. It was picked up on by radicals who used it to build a mob reaction. It found a ready audience of muslims in Egypt and abroad that are angry with the US. As she used the word spark, the metaphor is clear. A small thing followed by an enormous reaction. A spark in a rain forest doesn’t do much; one in an area being hit by a drought is another thing altogether.

    I would agree that her words regarding the Bengazi attack are premature. There are different aspects to this, including some that may have been planned and others that weren’t. I’m inclined to believe that the mob attack was not preplanned, but the RPG attack was and they took advantage of the violence. Much is still to be determined, so she should have been less certain. I’ll know more in an hour, though.



  46. Incidentally, I just heard a similar exchange on the tape delayed Meet the Press.

    Peter King claimed that the administration stated the violence was caused by the video. His Democratic counterpart, Keith Ellison, stated “It’s a spark, not a cause.” They’re doing a pretty poor job of insisting if they specifically state it wasn’t a cause.



  47. I’m shocked that providers would game the Medicare billing system.

    “Doctors, others billing Medicare at higher rates
    By Fred Schulte, Joe Eaton and David Donald | Center for Public Integrity, Published: September 15

    Thousands of doctors and other medical professionals have billed Medicare for increasingly complicated and costly treatments over the past decade, adding $11 billion or more to their fees — and signaling a possible rise in medical billing abuse, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.

    Between 2001 and 2010, doctors increasingly moved to higher-paying codes for billing Medicare for office visits while cutting back on lower-paying ones, according to a year-long examination of about 362 million claims. In 2001, the two highest codes were listed on about 25 percent of the doctor-visit claims; in 2010, they were on 40 percent.

    Similarly, hospitals sharply stepped up the use of the highest codes for emergency room visits while cutting back on the lowest codes.”


    • I’m shocked that providers would game the Medicare billing system.

      This may sound a bit odd, but health care activities like this make me think a flat tax may be the answer (not to health care, but tax issues). The more complex health care has become, the more money people like me and NoVa make and the more health care costs. Limit physician ownership (Stark) or prevent reimbursement based on referrals (anti-kickback) and lawyers and lobbyists just find new entities through which to run costs, expenses and billing. Eventually the government figures it out and then they try and regulate them or make them illegal. A good example is physician owned distributors. Maybe they are a scam and maybe they should be shut down. But millions have already been made (or stolen ) through them and if they get shut down, physicians and other providers will just move on to the next way to make money and the whole cycle will begin again. The same seems to be true of our current tax system.


  48. Worth a read:

    “Aging U.S. nuclear arsenal slated for costly and long-delayed modernization

    By Dana Priest, Published: September 15

    The U.S. nuclear arsenal, the most powerful but indiscriminate class of weapons ever created, is set to undergo the costliest overhaul in its history, even as the military faces spending cuts to its conventional arms programs at a time of fiscal crisis.

    For two decades, U.S. administrations have confronted the decrepit, neglected state of the aging nuclear weapons complex. Yet officials have repeatedly put off sinking huge sums into projects that receive little public recognition, driving up the costs even further.


  49. Re: Medicare upcoding, ash is right. It’s like whack-a-mole. Build a fence, I’ll dig a tunnel. But one of the issues is that Medicare underpays. What the price is for any given code as little to nothing to do with what actual costs are. and providers have responded accordingly.

    Regarding the riots/protests. I think the administration made a mistake in even acknowledging the video. Because now the precedent is that the government will comment on anything that happens to be used as a pretext for whatever the rioters already had planned.

    And the optics of the filmmakers “questioning” are just bad. “we demand that he be imprisoned” and now there’s a photo of him being led away in the middle of the night b/c of probation violation concerns. You don’t have to censor speech to have a chilling effect. Disgraceful. We get it. Muslims are off limit.

    And this: “Martin Dempsey, the chairman of President Obama’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke Wednesday morning by phone with Terry Jones, pleading with the Florida-based anti-Islamic pastor to stop promoting a film that protesters have cited in the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed at least four American diplomats.

    “This was a brief call,” an Obama administration official told reporters Wednesday, adding that Dempsey discussed the “tensions it could inflame and the violence it could cause.”

    Turn in your letter of resignation, General. Thank for your service, but don’t let the door hit on the way out. You’ve clearly forgotten that free speech, even in its most vile form, isn’t there to make your job easy.



    Also this — every time the administration says that the video is offensive, it’s responding on the rioters/extremists terms.


  51. nova:

    Agreed. It’s time to shut up about that video.

    Ilya Somin’s follow-up post to Volokh’s is worth reading too.


  52. Nova and Mike

    Is that called bury your head in the sand diplomacy?


  53. How do you mean? I don’t think it’s ignoring the problem if that’s what you mean. But I don’t consider the video to be a problem, just an excuse. and a pathetic one at that.

    This administration, rather than defending freedom of speech, even to those who reject it, is instead attempting to placate third-world mobs that will only be embolden. I can’t think of a bigger propaganda victory for them then having the filmmaker brought in for questioning.

    They killed people, and “blamed” a video,
    we said “yes, it is offensive, isn’t it. but we didn’t do it.”
    they said “arrest that man”
    and we kind of did — or it least it looks like we did.


  54. But I don’t consider the video to be a problem, just an excuse. and a pathetic one at that.

    Of course it’s an excuse, but it’s the one the radicals are using. I don’t think we’re speaking to them, I think we’re speaking to the rest of the ME. I certainly disavow the video, btw a right wing group in Germany wants it shown in theaters in Berlin, and also support freedom of speech. And the Nakoulah guy was taken to an undisclosed location of his choosing after being questioned.

    We can’t pretend it was never created and hasn’t caused protests. I seem to remember “The Temptation of Christ” causing a lot of violent protests also. That’s what happens when a religious faith is belittled. The reactions came after the protests not before.


  55. ” I don’t think we’re speaking to them, I think we’re speaking to the rest of the ME”

    I think the message received is, when the chips are down, we don’t value one of our our most cherished freedoms. We shouldn’t be in the business of disavowing whatever gets posted online or printed, etc.

    The message that I’m receiving is “Mercy. we’ll do our best to shame people into being quiet.” And that such pleas will not even be considered by those responsible for the violence

    I think ignoring the video is better than criticizing it. We’re responding on the terms of the radicals, rather than our own. Which should be “a modern and enlightened people do not riot and murder over a crappy you-tube that has no bearing on how you practice your faith. so what is going to be ME non-radicals?”

    Instead, Obama’s team (and this is not unique to him BTW), is trying to placate those who will never accept us.


  56. meant to post a response to the embassy from :, who wrote: @HRAsif as an American Muslim I humbly reply: no. Instead, understand that offense happens. Deal. @alimhaider @usembislamabad @SaimaMohsin


  57. lms:

    I think that the Administration has said its piece about the video and now it is time to stop reminding people about it. The video is some crap put on the web by a crackpot. Continuing to talk about it just keeps the crackpot and the video in the news.

    The more important issues are the underlying causes of the riots/attacks. Addressing those should be a higher priority.


  58. By having the government adamantly disavow a YouTube video and round up it’s creator a midnight (think about that for a minute, midnight?) we end up getting more and escalating violence in reaction to the expression of free speach as well as more of these types of videos. Fred Phelps has now realized a new way to get attention for the Westboro Baptist church. And Terry Jones absolutely loves the attention he’s getting and will want more. What we have done is give the rioters (and those using the rioter’s) a heckler’s veto over US foreign policy. What kind of video do I have to make to have the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs (!) call me.

    To call the Administrations response “knee Jerk” is to understate it.


  59. I think the message received is, when the chips are down, we don’t value one of our our most cherished freedoms

    I think the problem is that religious freedom is also one of our most cherished values. You might be right, I just don’t think it’s reasonable to expect our diplomats over there on the ground to just sit tight and hope it dies down while extolling the virtues of freedom of speech. They’re the ones being threatened. I try to put myself in their shoes and I’d be disavowing the film also, as it doesn’t represent my views or my governments views on Islam. And I think our government ought to support our diplomats over the filmmakers who initiated the protests by handing the radicals a weapon.


    • lms:

      I think the problem is that religious freedom is also one of our most cherished values.

      I don’t think the notion of religious freedom is relevant to this situation. Nobody is threatening anyone’s religious freedom as far as I can tell.


  60. think about that for a minute, midnight?

    Is 9 am better? They questioned him and then drove him where he wanted to go. Big deal, he probably broke his parole and so he took his chances and lost. I can’t seem to scrounge up any sympathy for him or his cohorts.


  61. Mike

    The more important issues are the underlying causes of the riots/attacks. Addressing those should be a higher priority.

    I’m pretty confident the Administration is addressing those causes as we speak and it’s more likely the media/pundits and off the record comments are driving the narrative you guys find so objectionable and are blowing it out of all proportion.

    I’ll talk to you guys later…………….I need to get caught up around here.


  62. Why were the feds involved at all? We’re not supposed to turn you-tube videos that are mean or problematic into to federal investigations. They picked up the phone and said to the locals “deal with this asshole.” That’s frightening to me.


  63. See you lms!

    on more, iowahawk has been on fire.


  64. I wonder if the Fed’s first words to this guy were “Ve vant to see your papers.”


  65. Scott

    Call it religious tolerance then.


    • lms:

      Call it religious tolerance then.

      OK, but I still don’t think that the notion of religious tolerance is relevant to the situation at hand. A movie that criticizes, mocks, or even deliberately offends the sensibilities of a particular religion does not make it or us religiously “intolerant”. It happens all the time in the US, from (as even you pointed out) The Last Temptation of Christ, to The Life of Brian, to The Book of Mormon (a play).


  66. lms:

    it’s more likely the media/pundits and off the record comments are driving the narrative

    Sure, the media are certainly continuing the narrative. But I don’t think it is helpful for the Administration to play into it. The sooner we stop talking about the Fred Phelps’, Terry Jones’, and whatever this guy’s name is, the better.


  67. This is pretty good. I think it point 5 touches on what LMS is saying.


  68. Life of Brian taglines:

    A motion picture destined to offend nearly two thirds of the civilized world. And severely annoy the other third.

    See the movie that’s controversial, sacrilegious, and blasphemous. But if that’s not playing, see The Life of Brian.


  69. Scott

    My point is simply that I don’t see why Americans can’t stand up for both freedom of speech and distancing ourselves from the film, especially if it’s important to our embassies in the ME and their safety. It may not make much difference to the radicals but maybe the distinction between the beliefs of the film makers and the rest of us is important to others over there, perhaps even their leaders who are hopefully trying to contain this thing.

    Update: I’m sure you’re all probably right though so I give up.


    • lms:

      My point is simply that I don’t see why Americans can’t stand up for both freedom of speech and distancing ourselves from the film

      Of course individual Americans can. no problem. But I don’t think it is the place of the US government to be issuing public and official editorial reviews of things posted on YouTube. And if protecting American diplomats overseas requires such reviews, then I say bring the diplomats back home.


      • It is right, and to be expected, that an Administration would publicly disagree with anyone it disagreed with who was causing it difficulty spreading its own message. This is patently obvious. With regard to FP, it can say that the movie maker does not represent the government or the will of the American people.

        The line between the Admin disagreeing with the message of a movie and suppression of the First Amendment right of the movie maker is clear. Some of the stuff that has occurred here [e.g., if federal authorities initiated the call to the parole officer, and pressure on YouTube] are over that line.

        No Admin is subject to a gag order about what is its own policy.

        Like Mike, I think the Admin should have dropped this a long time ago and like someone else here wrote, it should have been made clear that the movie maker would not be punished for saying what the Admin disagreed with, because we don’t punish speech the government disagrees with in America.

        I am of two minds about the General, but I lean his way. His duty to his troops demands that he express his views to the crazy pastor, I think.


        • mark:

          It is right, and to be expected, that an Administration would publicly disagree with anyone it disagreed with who was causing it difficulty spreading its own message. This is patently obvious.

          What seems patently obvious to me is that the people causing the admin difficulty spreading their message are the protesting Muslims, not the movie maker.

          With regard to FP, it can say that the movie maker does not represent the government or the will of the American people.



        • Brett Stephens today in the WSJ:

          The “Book of Mormon”—a performance of which Hillary Clinton attended last year, without registering a complaint—comes to mind as the administration falls over itself denouncing “Innocence of Muslims.” This is a film that may or may not exist; whose makers are likely not who they say they are; whose actors claim to have known neither the plot nor purpose of the film; and which has never been seen by any member of the public except as a video clip on the Internet.

          No matter. The film, the administration says, is “hateful and offensive” (Susan Rice), “reprehensible and disgusting” (Jay Carney) and, in a twist, “disgusting and reprehensible” (Hillary Clinton). Mr. Carney, the White House spokesman, also lays sole blame on the film for inciting the riots that have swept the Muslim world and claimed the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three of his staff in Libya.

          So let’s get this straight: In the consensus view of modern American liberalism, it is hilarious to mock Mormons and Mormonism but outrageous to mock Muslims and Islam. Why? Maybe it’s because nobody has ever been harmed, much less killed, making fun of Mormons.

          This is the elephant in the room.  The real problem, which the left seems at pains to avoid, is not religious intolerance in the form of some “reprehensible” movie.  It is the tendency towards violence in large swaths of the Islamic world in the name of Islam.


  70. Here’s more on the “characters” behind the film. I can’t explain why this is so fascinating to me other than I’m bored. I’ve given up on “the argument”, I think Mark has it mostly right anyway. I would just like to remind everyone that no one commented on the darn thing until after the protests began and do we know that Obama is actually still focused on it the way you guys seem to think? I went to look at the WH website and couldn’t find much since last week.

    Anna Gurji is one of the actresses who starred in “Desert Warrior,” a movie that was supposed to be about tribal battles prompted by the arrival of a comet on Earth. Unfortunately, “Desert Warrior” was given a heavy dose of dubbing and post-production editing. The film is now known by a new, infamous name: “Innocence of Muslims.”

    The anti-Islam movie, which now centers on a negative portrayal of Muhammad, has led to riots around much of the Arab world. After a series of bizarre twists involving false identities, the man behind the project has been identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a man with a criminal past that includes convictions on federal fraud and methamphetamine charges. Nakoula was taken in for questioning early Saturday morning, but was not under arrest.

    In a letter posted on author Neil Gaiman’s website, Gurji makes explicit that she was not privy to Nakoula’s plans.

    “There was no mention EVER by anyone of MUHAMMAD and no mention of religion during the entire time I was on the set,” she writes. “I am hundred percent certain nobody in the cast and nobody in the U.S. artistic side of the crew knew what was really planned for this ‘Desert Warrior.'”

    The actress said that when “people [ask me what my reaction is] after seeing that,” she only has one word to offer: “shock.”

    “Two hours after I found out everything that had happened I gave ‘Inside Edition’ an interview, the duration of which I could not stop crying,” she continues. “I feel shattered … It’s painful to see how our faces were used to create something so atrocious without us knowing anything about it at all.”

    While Gurji fears for her safety, she has not gone into hiding. “I don’t know what else to do but speak the truth,” she said. “I will not go into hiding (since I have nothing to hide), because if we don’t speak the truth, there is no world worth living for.”

    Alan Roberts, a softcore porn director, has been identified as the project’s director. It appears as though he was also duped into thinking he was working on “Desert Warrior.”


  71. Scott

    It is the tendency towards violence in large swaths of the Islamic world in the name of Islam.

    I know……………………I can’t figure out how two beliefs can be true at the same time. If I believe in religious tolerance then I can’t also believe in non-violence, so I must support the violence. Right?


  72. Having just tempted fate and watched the preview of the, um, “movie”…a few things concern me. First is that this preview would be taken seriously by anyone. Literally, I could do better. It is not comparable to Life of Brian, The Last Temptation, etc. But I get that it is a depiction of Muhammed. In theory, if this was a ‘pro-Islam’ clip, it should have received the same reaction since the prophet cannot be represented in film, art, drawing, etc. But I doubt it would have.

    In any case, the major things that concern me are the admin rounding up the “film makers” and the admin pressing YouTube to remove it. These actions, along with the words the admin and others representing the Admin have been using, are not the endorsement of the first amendment that I would have hoped to have seen out of any admin, especially a Democratic one. Why would this not be a “teaching moment”? If the “movie” was not the cause, then denouncing it time and again is not going to really do much is it.


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