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A burnt out vehicle sits smoldering in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012.

House Intel panel demolishes Benghazi conspiracies

11/24/14 08:00AM

The substance of a story is what matters, but sometimes, when a story breaks is nearly as important. The Republican-run House Intelligence Committee, for example, waited until late on a Friday afternoon, the week before Thanksgiving, to announce the results of a two-year investigation into the deadly attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.
 
For the right, the findings were simply devastating: all of the Benghazi conspiracy theories, the GOP-led committee found, are completely, demonstrably, and unambiguously wrong. From the Associated Press account:
A two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.
 
Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.
The report, which is available in its entirety here, is an unflinching summary of the available evidence, which utterly destroys everything right-wing conspiracy theorists have been pushing for more than two years about the deadly attack. For conservatives, there's no sugarcoating any of this -- literally every accusation has been debunked. No exceptions.
 
And for Republicans, who've invested so much in the ugly exploitation of the terrorism for partisan gain, that obviously posed a problem. For House GOP lawmakers, the solution was to release the findings late on a Friday, shortly before a major national holiday, in the hopes the American public wouldn't hear the facts. For the most part, the tactic worked exactly as intended: much of the national media overlooked the findings, which were also largely forgotten on the Sunday shows.
 
Which is a shame, because this seems like an important accountability moment.

Declaration of War and other headlines

11/24/14 07:59AM

Pres. Obama defends his executive actions on immigration. (ABC News)

Kris Kobach to pursue lawsuit against Pres. Obama's immigration action. (Washington Post)

Sen. Rand Paul declares war on ISIS--and allows boots on the ground. (Daily Beast)

Sen. Lindsey Graham thinks the Benghazi report is 'full of crap.' (TPM)

Thousand of lost Lois Lerner IRS emails found. (Politico)

Pres. Obama awards Presidential Medal of Freedom today. (AP)

Letter that inspired Kerouac's 'On the Road' is found. (AP)

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Week in Geek: Bowling ball vs. feather, falling

11/23/14 09:36AM

Have you ever wondered about all those famous thought experiments famous scientists come up with? Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Einstein and his trains, Schrodinger and his cats. While we can't yet reenact what Einstein and Schrodinger had in mind, we can test Galileo's idea.

Galileo theorized that objects fall at the same rate (regardless of their mass, size, shape) when they are subject to the same gravitational acceleration (on the Earth, Moon, etc.) and air resistance is negligible (i.e., in a vacuum). Essentially, this means that in these conditions, any two objects will fall at the same velocity and land at the same time. Building an experiment to drop pairs of objects is no big deal, but building one to drop them in a vacuum is.

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U.S. President Barack Obama announces executive actions on U.S. immigration policy during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, November 20, 2014. (Photo by Jim Bourg/Pool/Reuters)

This Week in God, 11.22.14

11/22/14 08:49AM

First up from the God Machine this week is a curious reaction from the right to President Obama quoting Christian scripture in his national address on immigration policy this week.
 
If you missed it, referencing Exodus 23:9, told Americans, "Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too."
 
In an interesting twist, conservatives who generally push for more mixing of religion and politics, and who complain that the president isn't more overtly religious all the time, began complaining after Obama's speech about the Biblical reference. Emily Arrowood noted yesterday:
The hosts of Fox & Friends were incensed that President Obama quoted scripture in a primetime address detailing his upcoming executive action on immigration, challenging him to a "scripture-showdown" and claiming it's "repugnant" for Obama to "lecture us on Christian faith." [...]
 
According to [co-host Elisabeth] Hasselbeck, Obama used the Bible to guilt people into supporting his executive action, and that's "not what the scholars behind the Bible would interpret as proper use, perhaps."
Because no one's ever used Scripture to guilt someone into supporting a position, right?
 
It was, incidentally, the co-hosts of "Fox & Friends" who also complained just 48 hours earlier that the president doesn't espouse Christian values often enough.
 
But they weren't the only ones complaining. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) also wasn't happy. "I always thought that Scripture was eternal and unchanging, but apparently, now that Obama is President, Scripture gets rewritten more often than Bill Cosby's Wikipedia entry," Huckabee wrote on his Facebook page.
 
Fox's Bill O'Reilly also said of Obama, "He is one of the most secular presidents, perhaps the most secular president we have ever had, yet, he invokes scripture in the speech."
 
For what it's worth, Thomas Jefferson edited his Bible to remove references to Jesus' divinity, so I don't think Obama, who's made countless public references to his Christian faith, is in the running for any Most Secular Presidents awards.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
Important veteran suicide bill poised to pass

Important veteran suicide bill poised to pass

11/21/14 10:51PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, a little noticed, genuinely bipartisan bill named for a heroic veteran who took his own life, and designed to address the challenges of treating returning war veterans. watch

Friday Night News Dump: What finals? edition

Friday Night News Dump: What finals? edition

11/21/14 09:54PM

Samir Lakhani joins Rachel Maddow for another round of The Friday Night News Dump, pitting his memory of the past week's shows against a series of question for the ultimate goal of a moderately exclusive piece of branded clutter. watch

Tensions high as Ferguson ruling expected

Tensions high as Ferguson ruling expected

11/21/14 09:36PM

Rachel Maddow reports on early notice that an announcement from the grand jury hearing the Michael Brown shooting case in Ferguson may come in the next few days, and the calls for calm and caution in anticipation of renewed protests. watch

Benghazi not a scandal. Shhhhhhhh!

Benghazi not a scandal. Shhhhhhhh!

11/21/14 09:21PM

Rachel Maddow reports on the quietly released news from a Republican-led House committee that after years of investigations and right-wing accusations of conspiracy and worse, no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees was found. watch

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