Let me start with some good news for a change. Rob Ford has filed for reelection. Mr. Ford, for all the world, looks and sounds like a scary reincarnation of a character that Chris Farley used to play on "Saturday Night Live." ("My name is Matt Foley. I am a motivational speaker. I'm 35 years old, I am divorced, and I live in a van down by the river.")

He has had a rough year in 2013. After a prolonged period of outright lying about the issue, Ford finally admitted to having smoked crack cocaine because someone had a video of the incident. Sometimes, truth is the only recourse, even in politics.

Mr. Ford claimed that he had smoked the crack while he was in the thralls of a drunken stupor. I'm not sure that the excuse should really be a comfort to the residents of the city where he presides as mayor. He enjoys a lot of support from conservative neighborhoods that evidently are willing to put up with any amount of embarrassingly offensive behavior as long as Ford keeps reiterating his determination to save them a couple of bucks.

The good news is that Rob Ford hasn't turned his gaze to the United States yet as a land of endless opportunity for a politician of his ilk.

Now, to a more troubling issue, brought to the forefront once again by the New York Times, that perennial thorn of facts in the side of people who have made lucrative careers of bending them to fit political expediencies.


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Republicans have held onto the Benghazi attack the way a starving pit bull might latch on to a dinosaur bone. Everyone else can easily see that there isn't any meat on it, but it still looks like a bone to them.

If anything, the deaths in Libya only illustrated the depths of Republican hypocrisy. It was GOP lawmakers who decided that one of the many ways they could pay homage to the Koch brothers was to cut funding for security at American embassies and consulates around the world.

There were no fewer than 13 similar attacks during George W. Bush's administration with hardly a peep of outrage over any of them from the right. I suppose, in fairness, that the country was so attuned to mindless carnage during W.'s tenure that we had built up a mental immunity to it.

The aforementioned thorn in the side of the GOP's carefully molded explanation of the Benghazi attack has to do with the Times' conclusion that there is no credible evidence that al-Qaeda had anything to do with it. That is problematic for people who want their villains serving a grander purpose than merely being blamed for what they actually guilty of instigating.

Al-Qaeda has assumed the place that was vacated by the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, when we were left, for a brief and terrible time, with absolutely no one to focus our collective hatred upon. It was like an episode of "Murder, She Wrote" in which no one got murdered. Completely untenable and very bad for ratings.

We shouldn't have worried with the prospect of The Decider and his band of merry neocons on the immediate horizon. You don't make John Bolton the United States Ambassador to the United Nations without reaping a cornucopia of countries to lavish hate upon as a direct result.

The Bush administration, however, wasn't so quick to identify al-Qaeda after the September 2001 attacks that left over 3,000 Americans dead.

Republicans are bolstering their version of the Benghazi attack using the same sort of self-serving intelligence data that the Bush administration used to launch a preemptive attack on another country that they didn't particularly like. Billions of dollars and thousands of American lives later, we are still mired in Bush's war in the Middle East.

For all of the blood, sweat and tears suffered by its populace, Iraq has experienced the worst violence in its long history since the United States decided to instill our peculiar notion of democracy within its borders.

The Times' conclusion was backed by carefully documented research. Despite Fox News' predictable claim that the paper is only promoting a political agenda (after all, it's what they do), the best that anyone can come up with to refute the paper's conclusion that there was no al-Qaeda link is "We know there was." No facts, just "We know." Like they knew Iraq was behind 9/11 and they knew there were weapons of mass destruction there.

All the sound and fury over this particular incident is merely a tired and painfully obvious gambit to tarnish Hillary Clinton, a name that strikes a chill into what passes for a soul amidst all the debris of a once great American political party.

Alden Graves is a Banner columnist.