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Iraq 1 year later (2004 cartoon)In 2006, three years after “Mission Accomplished”, the GOP controlled Congress set aside $20 million dollars in the 2007 Defense Budget for “a victory party” to celebrate the end of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars. (note: the linked story is dated “2009” because it was updated, but I’ve had it bookmarked since October 2006, as the date in the URL confirms.) It seems that the only people that didn’t know that Iraq had turned into the very “quagmire” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed as even a possibility before the war began, were the people that cheerleaded us into that war. The invasion of Iraq was a horrendous mistake, and the voters let them know it in a big way in the mid-term election that year, switching control of BOTH houses of Congress over to the Democrats. Rumsfeld was fired and a Republican critic of possibly invading Iraq in 1991 (Robert Gates) was nominated to take his place. That anger over being mislead into a costly and totally unnecessary war of choice with no exit-strategy after 5-1/2 years played a significant part in Barack Obama’s decisive victory over John McCain in 2008. In December 2011, President Obama successfully pulled the last American combat troop out of Iraq, a move supported by 75 percent of all Americans. And now, almost ten years to the day (May 1st) of President Bush’s “Top Gun” moment off the coast of San Diego to announce the end of a war that would continue for NINE more years, with recent news that traces of “Sarin nerve gas” have been found in tissue samples of victims in Syria’s civil war, the same chicken-hawks that couldn’t wait for us to invade Iraq are now suggesting this phantom “red line” that President Obama understandably drew in the sand on Syria, has been crossed and demands military intervention.

Except that that was NOT the “red line” President Obama drew in the sand:
 

President Obama (8/21/2012): “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around and being utilized.”

 
Clearly the red line has been crossed” announced both Fox’s Chris Wallace and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during yesterday’s Sunday Talk Shows. John McCain was out there as well last week, once again eager to embroil the U.S. military against yet another Middle-Eastern nation, declaring that it was “clear” that “a red line has been crossed.”

NO! It is NOT “clear” AT ALL! What was reported last week was NOT “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons, as NBC’s roving warzone reporter Richard Engel pointed out on The Rachel Maddow Show Friday night:

Engel: “There are some holes [in the case against Syria having used Sarin].”

Engel: “What doesn’t make sense however is: Why? and How?, you don’t use Weapons of Mass Destruction to do minimal killing [less than two dozen people].”

“Imagine: A nuclear weapon… we’re gonna make just an acorn-sized one and see what the world does. That seems strange.”

 
While there is little reason to doubt that Syria does indeed have “stockpiles” of chemical weapons, it has never been confirmed. Syria began pursuing chemical weapons in the 80’s to counter Israel’s development of nuclear weapons, but has never actually used them in combat [ibid]. No inspectors have been allowed in to document Syria’s stockpile of WMD’s. It all sounds a tad too familiar:
 

Saddam: “I lied about Weapons to scare off Iran.”

 
So a brutal dictator with a “stockpile” of chemical weapons used just enough of his Weapon of MASS Destruction to murder only a handful of people that were nowhere near the capitol? Why? Was it just a test? Could someone… a member of the resistance or maybe even a rival nation… have been trying to draw the U.S. into a war with Syria? Might a member of the opposition have been trying to develop their own homemade Sarin gas in an experiment gone horribly awry? We just don’t know. These scenarios might be unlikely, but we DID just arrest a man Saturday that sent homemade Ricin nerve toxin through the mail, so the possibility that the Syrian government didn’t in fact actually “cross that red line” must be considered before using military force against yet another Middle-Eastern nation. But as Bill Kristol said on yesterday’s Fox “news” Sunday: “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do” (invade Syria for “crossing the red line”.)

There are a LOT of unanswered questions before we do something like use military force against another country. It’s heartening to see that the lessons of Iraq were not lost on our current Commander-in-Chief even if his opposition has the memory of a goldfish.
 

Editors’ aside: My departure from “Crooks & Liars”:

First some background…

If you are a regular visitor to Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, you probably know that last year I was asked if I’d like to be a volunteer contributing editor to the popular video blog “Crooks & Liars”. The offer was made out of appreciation for my weekly contribution to their “Sunday Morning Bobbleheads” thread for the last six-and-a-half years, live-blogging highlights from the major network Sunday talkshows for 3-4 hours nearly every Sunday morning since 2006. However, that wasn’t the first time I was asked if I’d like to be an Administrator. Back in 2008, I turned down the same offer because I wanted to focus on getting my own blog better established first… a move I later regretted because M.R.S. was not achieving the numbers I had hoped. So when the offer was made again during the 2012 Election Season, I said yes. I was given low-level Admin access, shown how to create posts of my own, and added to the “Team” mailing list. This is useful for people seeking “help” researching a particular topic or needing help finding a photo/video (of which I was able to provide several times). I was pleased to help in any way I could.

I continued to live-blog the Sunday Morning thread each week, and during the busy election season, I even found time to write several posts. When the Sandy Hook massacre occurred last December, I volunteered to live-blog a one hour “discussion” on “gun control”, citing my unique position of living in Texas, having been raised around guns and gun-owners that are extremely protective of their “Right to Bear Arms”.

But as an unpaid volunteer, I was not a frequent contributor to the site. Who exactly can afford to spend hours upon hours during the work week monitoring the Conservative News Outlets and scrounging the web for choice comments from random insane Right-Wingers when they’re not being paid to do so? Hell, I only update THIS site once a week, and I do that on Sunday evening (which it now is as I write this). C&L has a lot of “editors”, but most of them do not post every day (I dare say I’d be surprised if some contributors post even once a month.) One of the reasons I finally agreed to join the team was that I often heard my favorite Liberal talk-radio hosts quote stories they had read on “Crooks & Liars” on their radio shows, reaching tens of thousands. My hope then was to have something I wrote quoted on the radio and perhaps translate into traffic to my own site. But unfortunately, I quickly discovered that if your story isn’t Breaking News, the chances something I wrote would appear on C&L during the daytime hours was close to nil. Timing the appearance of ones post was a lesson in futility. Even posting the night before provided no increased likelihood that my posts would appear early the next day. Being a bit of an historian, I sometimes wrote on a subject a day in advance of the anniversary of such & such, then having to carefully monitor the site to make sure my post did not go up too soon. A posts that announces: “Today is the anniversary of…” looks kind of stupid if it appears a day too early or around 7pm when the day is nearly through and the fact “Today is the anniversary of…” is already old news. The long delay between submitting a story and it actually appearing on the site long after the height of the talk radio day was over negated any benefit I had hoped to gain from my writings, providing me with less & less incentive to contribute.

Anyway, two weeks ago following the Boston Bombings, I did not post anything or provide any research on any of the stories being covered that week. The bombing took place on a Monday and an arrest was made by Friday. It was, as you know, a frenetic news week, and while I wasn’t able to provide any “scoops” from my home in Texas, I was still the recipient of a growing flood of “Team” email every day… something I can understand and fully appreciate… when it is people seeking legitimate help.

I was already directing my “Team” mail to a separate Inbox, but that didn’t alleve me of the burden of going through every message looking for ones of people seeking help. At first the amount of mail was manageable, but despite checking my mail just before bedtime (10pm), I awoke last Wednesday morning to find an astounding TWO-HUNDRED & TWENTY-SIX messages waiting for me. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but after reading my 12th “Thankyou” and “Your Welcome”, I sent a brief note to the Team asking them: “if a message does not need to go out to everyone, to please take a moment to change the “Reply-To” address to the person you are responding to, and don’t just click ‘Reply’. There is no reason to send a ‘Thankyou’ intended for ONE person to everybody on the Team mailing list.”

Am I wrong?

I quickly received a terse response from “Nicole Belle”, one of the higher-ups at C&L (and incidentally the Moderator of the Sunday Bobbleheads thread) telling me that I “had not contributed enough during last weeks’ Boston Bombing” to start telling “us” how to run “our” business. The response seemed a might over-the-top for such a mild (and polite I might add) request. And the “us” really irked me since the clear implication was that I was still considered an “outsider”.

Not being a hypocrite, I sent Nicole a polite reply to her personal address rather than the Team Account explaining that I was only requesting that team members show a little consideration before replying, and I didn’t feel that was deserving of such a hostile response. I also noted that her “you” vs “us” characterization of me in response was disturbing, and that if she felt the amount of time I was “volunteering” was “inadequate”, to please let me know and I’d “do what I could to rectify the situation” (meaning, relieve her of the burden of having me as an unpaid contributor.) Telling a volunteer that they didn’t “volunteer enough” was particularly galling. For all she knew, that was the week I started driving my mother to Chemo each morning and was stuck at the hospital waiting for hours. (It’s not my job to provide you with content each day, Ms. Belle.) She responded with a nasty reply, telling me she was “done with me” and would be removing my name from the group email account. Oh, and did I mention that she changed the Reply-To address of her response back to the “Team” mailing list just so she could have an audience while she told me how difficult and time-consuming it is to change the Reply-To address?

Again, I replied privately to Nicole and again she changed the Reply-To address so she could attack me publicly, saying I had been removed from the Team mailing list. She told me of how she herself regularly receives “something like 400 emails every day and [C&L founder] John Amato regularly receives over 5,000 [ListServe messages a day].” Well, that’s not MY problem. I didn’t make Nicole sign up for all those mailing lists, and if she has a problem with them, then she can always unsubscribe. I was only trying to control my tiny corner of the world. (I found it curious though that she would complain to me about the amount of mail she receives each day after attacking me for doing the same thing.) I mentioned to her that it seemed my suggestion would not only benefit me, but apparently her as well.

Fortunately, there were other members of the team that showed deference towards me, and The Big Cheese himself, John Amato, asked if I wanted to be removed from the Mailing List. I told him, “No,” only that it would be nice if people didn’t address messages to Everyone that were intended for just one person, to help cut down on the amount of unnecessary mail we all receive each day. Again, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel I was asking too much of anyone. I assume John had my email added back to the mailing list because I continued to receive “Team” email.

Last Thursday, one of the messages I received mentioned something I felt I could help with, so I replied and my Server quickly responded that I “didn’t have the right to send messages to this account.” I was still receiving “Team” email, but couldn’t respond to them. So what was the point? I quickly concluded that the sole purpose of sending me messages I could not respond to could be for no other purpose than to “annoy me”. Unable to send a “Team” email, I sent an email to the personal address of all the primary members of C&L telling them to “discontinue my relationship with them” if the sole purpose of sending me email I could not respond to was “simply to annoy me”. A short while later, I received a friendly reply from a supporter telling me an “error” had been made by adding the wrong one of my email addresses to the mailing list (which confirmed to me that Nicole had indeed deleted me from the mailing list and was ordered to add me back), which is why my replies were being rejected, but, I was told, “the problem was now fixed and I should be able to contribute again.” I tried again about an hour later but my message was still being rejected. I visited the C&L website to find all my Administrator privileges had been revoked.

A few weeks before being asked aboard last year, I noticed one Sunday that I seemed to be the only one posting to the “BobbleHeads” thread for several weeks in a row. So I wrote John to express my concern that I seemed to be “monopolizing” the Sunday Thread and would be willing to back off for awhile until traffic resumed if they’d like. I quickly received a reply telling me that it was perfectly fine to keep live-blogging my weekly highlights. It wasn’t until I was asked to join the Team a few weeks later that I discovered that the Sunday Show highlights I had been reporting each week were being sent to everyone on the Team mailing list that same morning to provide others with post-ideas throughout the week… as I had hoped. I was told around that same time how everybody there “freaked out” when I had offered to take a sabbatical weeks before because they had all come to depend upon my weekly contributions.

“If C&L does not want my input, they certainly don’t need my continued contributions to the Sunday Morning Bobblehead thread”, I decided Friday. (A simple demonstration of Nicole’s pettiness can be seen in the fact that… I was later told… she had deleted my post to the Sunday Morning thread yesterday where I let everyone know I would not be doing my weekly highlights anymore. I used no profanity and even noted that it would be inappropriate for me go into detail of my dispute with her on their site. And despite receiving a number of replies from friends telling me I would be missed, I was told she posted yet another nasty and dismissive response before deleting my post.)

So following my “excommunication” by Nicole, I knew that there was absolutely no reason for me to continue providing assistance to someone that didn’t appreciate my contributions to the team. Crooks & Liars financially profited from my assistance each week, for which I received nothing in return other than hostility and called an outsider that wasn’t volunteering enough to be considered part of the team.

And that is why I am no longer contributing to their site. – Mugsy


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