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GOP Desperately Needs You to Forget How the Iraq War Started. Woodward: I found no lies.
May 25th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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First it was “Benghazi!”, and the unmitigated OUTRAGE on the Right over the deaths of four Americans on 9/11/12 on the watch of a Democratic president (9/11/01? Four THOUSAND dead under a Republican President and Republican Congress? That’s not an “outrage”, that’s something to campaign on!) Next was Jeb Bush last week desperately hoping to convince everyone that “everybody” thought Saddam had WMD’s and war was unavoidable (this lie is still being pandered but mercifully, appears to be dying on the vine.) And now, the History-Revisionists are at it again, out to convince you “Iraq was… if not peaceful… on the road to recovery when George Bush left and President Obama screwed it up.” I’ve already compared this to an arsonist blaming the firemen for not doing a better job of putting out the fire he started.) And, naturally, Republican history-revisionists have a very good reason for this sudden spate of attempts to rewrite the history of Iraq: the coming elections and the Right-Wing’s desperate hope that enough time has passed that voters have either forgotten, or were too young to remember, how they got us into this mess.

Fox “news” Sunday invited on The Mustache of Fear, former “Ambassador” John Bolton (the very idea anyone picked this paranoid delusional war-monger, openly hostile to the U.N., to be our Ambassador to the U.N., is still beyond belief.) Astoundingly devoid of self-awareness (check out that link BTW), Bolton declared his belief that “ISIS is winning” and “President Obama is losing the war in Iraq”… a statement echoed by GOP candidate Mike Huckabee later in the show. Fox host Chris Wallace helpfully provided the following graphic to help “support” the Huckster’s point:
 

Territory now under ISIS control:
ISIS mostly in Syria not Iraq

 

But look closely at that map. More than half of the territory controlled by ISIS (which I’ve circled in green) is in SYRIA, not Iraq. And that’s significant for two reasons: 1) We have the support of the Iraqi government to fight ISIS in Iraq and provide Iraqi soldiers with arms & training, and 2) We don’t have that authority (nor do we want it) in Syria. Worse, by fighting ISIS in Syria, we’re actually HELPING Assad, the brutal dictator in charge of Syria. In fact, it was Assad’s attacks on the Syrian rebels in the East that gave rise to ISIS in the first place (drawing disenfranchised former Iraqi solders across the border to fight on their behalf.) I have yet to hear a Conservative pundit explain how to defeat ISIS in Syria without helping Assad. They’re REAL GOOD at pointing out problems they created (once they’ve been handed off to Democrats), but never very forthcoming with solutions (as a general rule, that goes far beyond Iraq, applying equally well to economic issues, usually beginning & ending with “tax cuts”.)

So let’s recap how we got here:

Yes, Saddam was a bad guy. But the world is FULL of bad guys (this one just had the misfortune of sitting atop a lot of oil.) Not only is it clear now his Strong-Man tactics probably kept a Civil War at bay for decades, but the very arguments at the time for why he was a global threat were being knocked down one-by-one. Bob Woodward, a frequent guest of Fox “news” Sunday declared yesterday that in all his investigations of how the Iraq War was started, “while you can make a strong case that mistakes were made that shouldn’t have been”, he “never found any evidence that anyone [knowingly] lied us into war. Seriously. Either Bob doesn’t know how to use The Google Machine, or he’s being deliberately obtuse. Let’s see if we can’t help Bob out, shall we? (This is an extremely annotated list):
 

Seven big lies used to sell the Iraq War:

First, President Bush KNEW the famed “sixteen words” claiming Iraq sought to purchase “uranium from Africa” (presumably to build a nuclear bomb) were not true when he said them during his 2003 State of the Union address. He was told the claim wasn’t true, yet he made the claim anyway during a national address carried by all three networks where it was sure to have maximum impact, to help stoke the public fears into supporting his war.

Second, those “mobile labs” Saddam was supposedly using to produce chemical & biological weapons? Those too had already been found to be nothing of the sort when President Bush told the world that we had found those same mobile WMD labs (though to be fair to Woodward, their discovery and subsequent lie took place AFTER the invasion.)

Third, remember those “aluminum tubes” with “anodized coating” found by U.N. inspectors that the Bush Administration claimed were intended for use in a “nuclear centrifuge” to breed Plutonium? Well, not only were the tubes totally inappropriate for use in a nuclear centrifuge (poor quality, cracks, etc) but that damning “anodized coating” they made sure to cite, would actually have to be milled off before anyone could even think of using them for such a purpose. Despite that, they knowingly pandered that lie frequently & easily (the small tubes were actually for building conventional short-range rockets).

Which brings us to #4, VP Cheney’s “leak” to “reporter” Judith Miller about those tubes. While technically not a “lie”, it was unquestionably evidence of willful deception when VP Cheney cited the NYT investigative journalist’s reporting that Saddam had acquired the aluminum tubes for use in a nuclear centrifuge. What Cheney did not reveal was that HE was Miller’s source for the claim. Despite unquestionably knowing the VP was disingenuously quoting her quoting him, Miller continued to defend her reporting and chose to go to jail rather than reveal that Cheney was her source once the excrement impacted the rotary ventilator.

Fifth, how about Dick Cheney’s “Pretty well confirmed” lie about 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta “meeting with Iraqi Intelligence in Prague”? While Cheney now hedges on the assertion, it’s a claim he refuses to admit was total BS even to this day (saying now that the once “pretty well confirmed” claim, though never proven, has never been “disproven” either.) That’s the level of intellectual dishonesty we’re dealing with here. My finger one inch from your nose technically isn’t “touching you.” Mom!

Sixth, the Bush Administration’s key source for intel on Iraq’s WMD program was a man they dubbed “Curveball“… a mid-level Iraqi intelligence advisor with an ax to grind, who German Intelligence had already labeled “highly unreliable”. But they chose… not only to heavily rely on his unsubstantiated claims of WMD production… but publicly cite those unreliable & unsubstantiated claims whenever making their case for war.

Seventh, if accurate, investigative journalist Ron Suskind revealed that the Bush Administration knowingly & purposefully directed the CIA to fake a link between Iraq and 9/11 in order to drum up support for an invasion:
 


 

The GOP needs you to forget all of this. “War with Iraq? President Bush is the REAL victim here! Blame all the bad intel the CIA was feeding him!” (Google the phrases “stove-piping” & “cherry-picking” for a refresher. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Seriously Mr. Woodward? You couldn’t find ANY evidence that the Bush Administration knowingly lied us into war? Here are seven (six?) good leads for your next book. I’m seriously beginning to doubt you ever broke Watergate.
 

ADDENDUM from Mother Jones: “George W. Bush’s CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public“.May 19, 2015
 


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GOP Candidates All Adopting Language of Democrats to Remain Relevant
May 18th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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Last week, Jeb Bush found himself in Damage Control mode after telling a Fox “news” anchor that he’d still have gone into Iraq in 2003 despite “knowing what we know now”. His GOP opponents pounced, denouncing the very idea that anything good came out of the invasion of Iraq that mitigated the mind-numbing disaster to follow. In another Through-the-looking glass moment, Mike Huckabee again tweeted that, as president, he would stand for “all of us, not Wall Street”, two weeks after Jeb denounced the rise in “income inequality”. On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Marco Rubio defended supporting President Obama negotiating with Iran (“I don’t know WHO wouldn’t be in favor of a deal” he tells Chris Wallace (he should have asked Netanyahu when his Party invited him to DC). This came minutes after he blamed “the last election” (the GOP’s big 2014 victory) for why Congress “can’t muster the votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform”. Huckabee is also running ads that use the words “Maximum Wage” in big letters… echoing a Progressive idea to cap the wealth of the absurdly rich (but look closely, he’s not calling to cap “extreme wealth”, he’s suggesting there’s a “Maximum wage” for ALL of us, in ads intended to APPEAR deceptively Progressive.) ThinkProgress also noticed the sudden rise in the number of Republican candidates adopting Progressive positions on the issues. Even Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail sounding a lot like Warren on the subject of “income inequality”. It is clear, if you want the voters to take you seriously, you’d better adopt adopt the language of Democrats on the big issues… and not just ANY Democrat, but Elizabeth Warren (and Bernie Sanders too BTW).

The Republican candidates are disavowing the policies of the last Republican candidate (though Jeb insists he isn’t), and while they love to invoke St. Reagan, there really isn’t a single specific policy of his they can cite that they’d like to revive should they win the nomination. No, the only policies that resonate with voters in this election are those of our side: the Democratic Left.

Watching the Republican candidates tie themselves up in knots trying to avoid denouncing their own Party’s failures while still trying to take credit for not supporting them, has been a wonder to behold. Fox “news” Sunday’s host Chris Wallace asked Marco Rubio the exact same question Jeb was asked: “Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?” Hilarity ensues:
 

Rubio refuses to admit invading Iraq was a colossal mistake (1:54)

 

You “don’t understand the question”, Marco? Puhleez. The invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam has left the Middle East in chaos. Iran is FAR more powerful as a result; ISIS (the remnants of Saddam’s Mahdi Army) only exist today because of it; we took our eye off the ball in Iraq rather than focus on wiping out alQaeda; and we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of helping Syria fight ISIS. Rubio tells one interviewer that “the world is a safer place without Saddam in it” (clearly it isn’t), while telling Charlie Rose that… “knowing what we know now”… invading Iraq was “a mistake” (how can it be a mistake if we’re “better off”?)

When Jeb suggested he’d still have invaded Iraq despite “knowing what we know now”, the GOP cringed. Even a majority of Republicans now admit invading Iraq was a mistake. Jeb tried to suggest he “misunderstood the question”. Five days later, he was in full take-back mode, telling reporters that “mistakes were made”. Now Rubio is too-cute-by-half pretending he “doesn’t understand the question” when asked if invading Iraq has made the world less safe (Funny, because many of these SAME people question the wisdom of Obama “taking out” Gaddafi and destabilizing Libya, with no sense of irony.)

So we have Huckabee, Bush-3, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Chris Christie (ad infinitum) all talking about “income inequality” (let’s not forget Mitt Romney too), all adopting the language of Warren & Sanders, and trying to pass themselves off as the Champion of the Little Guy.

Rubio says negotiating with Iran is a good thing. All the GOP candidates are suddenly against the Iraq war too.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader (cough) Mitch McConnell praised President Obama for bucking his own Party as Republicans joined with him in supporting the disastrous “Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty” (TPP). (As an aside, there’s a part of me that wonders if President Obama didn’t actually pull a fast-one, outsmarting the GOP, noting last year that the moment he agrees with Republicans on something, suddenly they oppose it. So he publicly announces his support for the TPP, even calling Warren “wrong” on the issue, and watches the bill tank while earning some good will among Republicans in his final two years. If he really supported the idea, he’d be telling Congress to renegotiate to find something both sides can support. He isn’t because he’s glad it failed. But is he really that damned smart? We may never know.)

The GOP isn’t adopting the rhetoric of the Tea Party cranks as the path to victory in 2016. No, they’re all adopting the populist language of Democrats, and THAT, dear reader, more than anything else, should tell you where this election is going.
 


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Fox Tries to Pin Baltimore Poverty On Electing Democratic Mayors
May 4th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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As Bill Maher explained it last July, a “Zombie Lie” is a lie told by Republicans that is proven false & widely discredited, yet they keep telling them“, telling their idiot followers that the lie is in fact true. “Zombie Lies” include “ObamaCare will/has cost jobs” (ditto for “raising the minimum wage”), “no consensus on Climate Change” (a claim two Right-wingers advanced in the WSJ last year but couldn’t do more than claim the number wasn’t as high as 97%, and whose OWN conclusions were challenged by Scientific American), Keystone XL will create “a million jobs” and make us “energy independent”, “we need Voter ID laws to protect us from Voter Fraud“, ad infinitum. A year and a half ago, I wrote about Newt Gingrich informing former Labor Secretary Robert Reich that “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats.” A majority perhaps, but the people in these cities aren’t poor because they vote Democrat, they vote Democrats because they are poor… typically minorities unwelcome by the GOP. But, as I pointed out, it’s a BS statistic because nearly every single desperately chronically poor STATE in the country is a Red State. So it should come as no surprise to anyone when 18 months later, Chris Wallace, host of Fox “news” Sunday, tried to suggest to Congresswoman Donna Edwards that Baltimore electing only Democratic mayors for the past 50 years might be proof Democratic polices don’t work:
 

Fox Tries to Blame Democratic Mayors for Black Poverty (2:08)

 

Since I already debunked this nonsense 18 months ago, there’s no need for me to kill the zombie again. But when Wallace asks if “Democratic” policies have failed because the lives of the people voting for them have not substantially improved, he’s suggesting that if they had just tried voting Republican, maybe they wouldn’t be so poor. Conversely, poor cities run by Republican mayors should show more signs of improvement than those run by Democrats. Let’s challenge this theory, shall we?

Earlier this year, CBS News listed The 11 Poorest Cities in America (slightly changed from 18 months ago):

1. Detroit, Michigan – Percentage of incomes under $25,000: 48%
2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. Tucson, Arizona – New
6. Baltimore, Maryland
7. Fresno, California
8. El Paso, Texas
9. Indianapolis, Indiana
10. Boston, Massachusetts – While #6 in wealthy residents, also has 29% of its population with incomes below $25,000.
11. Louisville, Kentucky – Percentage of incomes under $25,000: 29%

And as I pointed out 18 months ago, yes, most do indeed have Democratic mayors. Not all, but most. Not surprising when the poorest cities are also majority minority. Though Detroit’s entire city government was stripped of all power by its Far-Right Republican governor Rick Snyder. But what about those towns that elected Republican mayors, did it make a difference? Did their lives improve? And did stripping Detroit’s local government of all power turn the city around? Detroit is still #1 on that list two years running, so clearly the answer to the latter is No.

Tucson, Arizona… a purple city in a red state… is new to the list, electing a Democratic Mayor in December 2011 to replace a Republican one. Ouch, that looks bad, and if I were a Republican, I might stop there to suggest that is proof of something. But in fact, unemployment there has FALLEN from 7.9% to 4.9% (lower than the national average) since their Democratic mayor was elected. But wages aren’t rising to keep up with inflation, so poverty grows. And local mayors don’t control the Federal Minimum Wage (raising the Minimum Wage doesn’t just help the poor, IT RAISES THE FLOOR, raising wages across the board. Republicans don’t get this and continue to fight raising it.)

Miami fell off the list. A Republican mayor in a state with Republican governor. Like Tuscon, Miami’s unemployment rate has fallen 3 percentage points from 8.5 to 5.5. Another ouch for Democrats. Or is it? Miami made the list last September when, under its current Republican mayor, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the median income for a household in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area was just $46,946 in 2013… the second lowest level in the nation’s top 25 metro areas. That’s “median”, not “average”. Because between Bill Gates and I, we have a combined average net worth of $30 Billion dollars. Trust me, I don’t have $30 Billion dollars. I’m as broke as a $2 watch. In 2013, the percentage of Miami residents living in poverty was 31.7%. Last March, the Dade County government reported that that percentage hasn’t changed (roughly 30% earning below $24,250.) So why was Miami removed from the list seeing as how the poverty rate has not changed? The explanation is that it didn’t. It’s a different list. The 2013 list from Wikipedia counted all cities with a population of “over 200,000”. The CBS report cites a study of “the 33 Poorest US cities with a population over 500,000“. The population of Miami: 417,000. Miami isn’t off the list because life substantially improved under a Republican mayor. It didn’t make the list because it was too small.

Indianapolis is new to the list. Their Republican mayor has been serving since January of 2008. Unemployment there did skyrocket following The Great Recession of 2008, piquing at 10.6% in March of 2010 (more than a year after piquing at 10.0% nationally), briefly came down as low as 7.4% in Sept. 2012 before rapidly climbing back up to 9.0% just four months later, but has slowly climbed back down as the U.S. economy improved as a whole, to 5.5%. The graph of Indianapolis’ unemployment rate (you’ll have to build it yourself) follows the same trajectory as the U.S. Unemployment Rate as a whole… though with a much “bouncier” ride… but indicates no benefit to electing a Republican mayor vs a Democrat.

What all these numbers demonstrate is that mayors of small poor, mostly minority cities have very little political power to affect the economic fortunes of their city. THAT power comes from the economic power of the citizens within these cities themselves. “Money” = “Power”. And poor people, whether they elect a Republican or a Democrat, don’t have a lot of political power to improve their lives. When your citizenry is mostly minority, you’re poor to begin with. And in a country where Republicans have decided that the wealthy can spend as much as they want influencing politicians, the only politicians with any REAL power to change the lives of the poor at the ones with at the higher levels of government. That’s not your local mayor.
 

Bill Maher: Zombie Lies (2014)

 


Writers Wanted Got something to say? Mugsy’s Rap Sheet is always looking for article submissions to focus on the stories we may miss each week. To volunteer your own Op/Ed for inclusion here, send us an email with an example of your writing skills & choice of topic, and maybe we’ll put you online!

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