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GOP Desperately Needs You to Forget How the Iraq War Started. Woodward: I found no lies.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 25, 2015

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 is in SYRIA, not Iraq. And that’s significant for two reasons: 1) One, 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):
 

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. 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 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.
 



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Filed in Election, Middle East, myth busting, National Security, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, War May 25th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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GOP Candidates All Adopting Language of Democrats to Remain Relevant

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 18, 2015

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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Filed in Election, General, Middle East, myth busting, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Seems Obvious to Me May 18th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Fox Tries to Pin Baltimore Poverty On Electing Democratic Mayors

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 4, 2015

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)

 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, myth busting, Politics, Racism, rewriting history May 4th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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What If… Hillary’s Campaign Imploded? Who fills the void?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 27, 2015

Most people believe that the Bush Administration invaded Iraq in 2003 without a plan for what to do once they had overthrown Saddam. But they DID have a plan. ONE plan. To replace him with a man named Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile that tried & failed for nearly a decade to convince the Clinton White House that Saddam possessed “stockpiles” of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and that he needed to be overthrown to avoid an inevitable attack upon the United States. He failed to convince the Clinton White House, but found a far more receptive audience once the Bush neocons took over. Suddenly a plan was set in motion (“from day one”) to overthrow Saddam and replace him with Chalibi. But when we invaded and those “stockpiles” were nowhere to be found, the Bush Administration wasn’t about to “reward” the man that duped them into launching America’s very first preemptive war, so they suddenly found themselves without a “Plan B”. Chaos broke out and Iraq has yet to recover from that lack of planning. Might Democrats be making the same mistake by not seriously considering another candidate should Hillary falter? Who steps up to fill the void? What’s our “Plan B”?

The GOP scandal machine was switched on the day after President Obama was re-elected to a second term and a Hillary candidacy seemed inevitable. There was “Benghazi!TM” on September 11th of 2012, followed by demands for an investigation into Clinton’s handling of the incident (just imagine how they might of reacted if four THOUSAND people had died that 9/11 instead of just four?) Republican tears over Romney’s loss weren’t even dry before Karl Rove suggested Hillary might have suffered “brain damage” as a result of a head injury that left her hospitalized that December, with some Republicans even questioning the “timing” of her injury as happening “conveniently” just before yet another hearing on “Benghazi!TM. They ridiculed her attempt to “hit the reset button with Russia” while not seeing the Ukrainian crisis coming (this is the Party whose own leader less than a decade before claimed to able to “see into Putin’s soul” and praise him as “a reformer”), and the latest scandals-du-jour are “email-gate” and (an old chestnut) the Clinton’s fund-raising from “foreign” donors (Republicans are proud to be bought & paid for by a handful of AMERICAN Billionaires. “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”)

With no other “serious” opponents on the Left to focus on, all 37 Republican contenders can focus nearly every dime of their ad buys against a single candidate. The GOP can use its control of Congress to host countless partisan investigations (all funded by the taxpayer) to try and accuse Clinton of everything from being “incompetent” to an outright “criminal”. That’s a lot of negative attention & scrutiny focused on just one person.
 

What if something sticks? Then what?
 

The GOP knows that… with no other Democratic contender with a serious shot at winning the presidency… all they have to do is take out Hillary and a GOP victory in 2016 will be so easy they may not even worry about enforcing strict “Voter ID” laws (aw, who am I kidding? An election is no fun if they can’t screw over enough Democrats so that the margin of victory is wide enough to claim an imagined “mandate”.) That’s a lot of targets on Hillary’s back. If a dog keeps digging long enough, he’s bound to find a bone. What then?

For many, the obvious answer is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, no matter how many times she insists she is not running. And as much as I adore Warren (having watched her as a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ NOW long before she ran for the Senate), I just don’t see her as “Commander-in-Chief” of the United States military. And besides, we REALLY need her in the Senate.

I have a personal preference for Bernie Sanders. I was stunned to see him give an interview to Fox “news” Sunday last week, and host Chris Wallace brought up the fact Sanders is “a self-described Democratic-Socialist.” I could hear the sound of every #FnS viewer across the nation (all 17 of them) audibly gasp at the revelation that “a NAZI” and/or “admitted COMMUNIST” is a serving United States senator thinking about running for president! While I personally WANT Bernie to run… and run as a Democrat in order to share the stage with Hillary in a debate that pushes her to the Left… if HE were the nominee, he’d be spending 90% of his time explaining to the Trailer Park Crowd that a “Socialist” is not a “Communist” or a “Nazi”. It’s the third largest political Party in the UK (after the Conservative & Labor Parties) and is currently the ruling Party in France. But to Bubba on his Bass boat or the Sarah Palin’s of the world chewing on Moose Jerky (and even a few reliably Liberal voters that just don’t know better), “Socialism” is either “watered-down Communism” or the foundation for the “National Socialist (aka Nazi) Party” (actually, Hitler’s Fascists took-over Germany’s Socialist Party to give themselves credibility, but were in fact Corporate neocons.) I’d say a Bernie victory is less likely than the election of the first black president that just happened to share a (middle) name with one of America’s greatest enemies (“Hussein”). Not impossible, but very very unlikely. It took a catastrophic economic disaster at the hands of the GOP to do it. Bernie will have no such advantage unless the GOP Senate goes completely off the rails between now and Election Day.

Then there is the former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley who is known for… uh… ummm… hmmm. I don’t think the former governor of Maryland is even known for being former governor of Maryland. If Hillary were to falter, does anyone see the nation rallying around Martin O’Malley?

That leaves Joe Biden. With the continued success of the economy, a stunning military victory in the Middle East could suddenly make a desire to “extend the Obama presidency to a (metaphorical) third term” very attractive. One big downside is Biden’s age, who… should he win… would be the oldest person ever elected president. It was Joe Biden who got the ball rolling on the sudden stunning wave of approval towards equal rights for gays, declaring his support for same-sex marriage on “Meet the Press” in the middle of the 2012 campaign when President Obama himself was reluctant to openly support gay marriage for fear of how it might play out in an election year.

It was Biden who first advocated for a “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, once again forcing the White House to take a principled stand on an issue before they were ready.

While I’m not sure Biden should be actively challenging Hillary for the nomination, should there be a need for another candidate to step up, Vice President Biden is the obvious next best choice.

PS: And for your listening pleasure…

“You’re kicking the tires. Looking under the trunk.” (???) Hillary during a 2008 campaign appearance

 



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Filed in Election, General, Politics, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me April 27th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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OKC Bombing 20 years later. Remembering Right Wing Inspired Domestic Terrorism

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 20, 2015

Remember when terrorists were lily-white Conservative Americans? Religious fanatics and neo-Nazi’s alike, the people we had to fear most in this world weren’t the ones in the Middle East providing us with all that lovely oil, it was anti-government militia groups, bombing abortion clinics, the Olympic Park in Atlanta and a federal building in Oklahoma City. Those same gun-toting “anti-government” zealots are called “Patriotic Americans” today, and by no coincidence they gravitate towards the GOP and “The Tea Party”.

If, like me, you were in at least your 20’s during the late 1990’s and the Bill Clinton administration, you probably remember the visceral hatred the Far-Right had for the man. They hate President Obama too to be sure, but it’s nothing compared to the absolute loathing they had/have for Bill. It was the first time in my life that I can remember either Party actively stoking the flames of hatred for a president and his Administration. Even Jimmy Carter at the height of the Iranian hostage crisis didn’t have people frothing at the mouth they way they started to in the late 1990’s. I blame nothing short of the active, incessant, 24/7 non-stop Clinton-hatred-as-bloodsport atmosphere nurtured on the right for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 20 years ago yesterday. You keep turning up the heat on a Pressure Cooker and eventually it’s going to explode (and when was the last time anyone accused the GOP of over-analyzing the consequences of their actions?) With the election of Barack Obama, I’ve often wondered if they learned their lesson not to provoke anyone into doing something rash. Reel it in just a smidge? And I worry should Hillary win the presidency in a close race, will we see that seething hatred of all-things-Clinton return for another 4-to-8 years? (at the very start of the 2008 presidential race in late 2007, I wrote of my concern that we might be seeing a return to that extremism when a mentally disturbed New Hampshire man held a group of “Hillary For President” campaign workers hostage at gunpoint (as it turns out, the admittedly mentally disturbed man was making a point about his desire to see “mental health” coverage included in Clinton’s signature issue: health care reform.)

In a way, I see the “Tea Party” as the (believe it or not) more subdued step-child of the Republican rage of the 1990’s. Five years ago, I wrote about Republicans egging on Teabaggers from the Capitol balcony, concerned how they once again appeared to be cluelessly inciting hatred… much of it racial… for political gain, without concern for the consequences. And I thank my lucky stars every day that President Obama never did anything foolish like have an extra-martial affair for Republicans to use as an excuse to “crush” the man (because we all know just how much Republicans abhor adultery.)

During President George HW Bush’s final year in office (1992), the BATF attempted to arrest a white separatist by the name of “Randy Weaver” (why exactly isn’t all that clear even after reading the Wikipedia entry on the subject.) Weaver was already a “fear the government” zealot who moved his entire family to a cabin in the deep woods of Ruby Ridge, ID to live in isolation. When BATF officers stormed Weaver’s cabin, it was their worst fears come true… not just Weaver’s, but that of every anti-government separatist group in the country. “The government is coming to take your guns!” Weaver’s wife & young son were inadvertently killed by BATF officers during the siege, and in the end (IIRC) Weaver was acquitted of all charges. Fledgling militia groups across the country were outraged and the anti-government movement was born.

And this was during a Republican Administration mind you.

Republicans already hated Bill Clinton with a passion back when he was still just a candidate for president that same year. And they deemed him “illegitimate” for winning the presidency with less than 50% of the vote thanks to Ross Perot. (When George W. Bush was “awarded” the presidency by the US Supreme Court in 2000, did Democrats go on an 8 year manhunt of the man’s legacy because he was deemed “illegitimate”? No, they followed him into Iraq. But I digress.) So barely a month into the Clinton presidency when BATF agents once again attempted to carry out a search warrant of a Right-Wing cult known as the “Branch Davidian’s” in Waco, TX, it was their worst fears come true once again: “An out-of-control government coming to take your guns away so they can oppress you. And despite the fact the first such siege was ordered by a Republican president less than a year earlier, Republicans found a way to turn that mistrust of government… held not-coincidentally by mostly Evangelical, mostly white, mostly red-state, gun-loving sub-sub-suburbanites, into a “hate-the-Democrats” anti-government “they’re-coming-to-take-your-guns-away and lock-you-up-in-FEMA-Camps” movement that still exists to this day… broadened and made more palatable for public consumption by calling themselves the “Tea Party” (heavily financed by Billionaires who benefit by enraging the simple-minded over anything that might hurt Billionaires. But it’s still the same Right-Wing anti-government even-my-dog-has-a-gun-rack crowd we first laid eyes on in the 1990’s.

We very well COULD have seen a repeat of history had President Obama of taken the bait and sent an army of Federal officers in after that “Cliven Bundy” idiot when all those gun-toting anti-government right-wing “patriots” rushed to his defense in Nevada and pointed their guns at the local police & few Federal officers that were already there. Sometimes you just have to look these idiots in the eye and say, “You’re just not worth the trouble.”

The OKC bomber (whose well-known name I won’t repeat here) was one such person. Outraged by the events of Ruby Ridge, he was there in Waco to witness the siege for himself. There is no question the OKC Bomber was aghast by what he saw in Waco, but he didn’t carry out his attack against a government building the very next day, or even on the ONE year anniversary of the Waco siege. No, it was only after TWO long years of stoking his hatred against the federal government by Right-Wing talk radio and Republicans in Congress on the warpath against President Clinton, that his rage quite literally exploded into an act of terrorism that… before 9/11… was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history.

And we still see it whenever some nut armed with a knife & gun jumps the White House fence in hopes of attacking the First Family. We see it when Tea Partiers strap assault rifles to their backs, daring the cops to try and take it away from them. It’s “artificial rage”, manufactured by people who have something to gain by whipping the stupid up into a frenzy. Be it Billionaires that don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes, health insurance companies that might see their profits decrease if they have to start paying out more claims and can’t indiscriminately raise premiums or cut people off when they get too sick, gun manufactures that stand to make billions if they can convince you the government is going to knock on your door and try to take your guns away, ad infinitum.

Anyways, the point is that Republican childishness stoked the fire that erupted into the OKC bombing 20 years ago yesterday. And no, I won’t take that back. I mean every word of it. They are as much to blame for those deaths as the man who built the bomb. And the Middle-East now awash in terrorism? You can thank the GOP for that too.
 



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Filed in Crime, Guns & Violence, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Terrorism, War April 20th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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If Hillary is nominee in 2016, she has my vote. Here is how to win my SUPPORT.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 13, 2015

At the start of the 2008 presidential race, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I was a “Health care Reform” voter and she had made reform a key plank in her campaign. But as the race dragged on (with the help of Republican’s engaging in what Rush Limbaugh coined “Operation Chaos”), the debate turned nasty between her and Obama, at which point she lost me. I didn’t become an Obama supporter right away though until Hillary told some reporters during a campaign stop in Fort Worth that “McCain would be better than Obama.” Bye-bye, Hillary. Hello, Barack. Since then, I’ve repeatedly watched her reflexively toss fellow Democrats… President Obama chief among them… under the bus for the sake of her own political advancement. Needless to say, I’m not a fan. However, outside of “National Defense” issues, she has a good Progressive record, and I’d much rather have her possibly picking the next four members of the Supreme Court than ANY Republican. But she STILL hasn’t taken a position on the potentially disastrous Keystone XL pipeline… which to me is a bit like not taking a position on whether or not water is wet. If she’s the nominee, she’ll have my vote. But if she wants my “support” (ie: “money” & “activism”), I need to see a few things first:

1) Peace. Hillary was a hawk during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, clearly trying to avoid looking like “another weak on National Defense” Democrat (an absurd rewrite of history successfully spun by Republicans), when she should have been asking the kind of serious questions that needed to be asked prior to committing the nation to its very first preemptive war. As noted above, she expressed a position similar to that of John McCain that perhaps “if only” we had armed the Syrian Rebels, there might be no ISIS today. No Hillary, many of the Syrian Rebels WERE ISIS and had we of armed them, just imagine how much worse that region might be than it already is today. “If only” we had NEVER INVADED IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE, there would be no ISIS today (remnants of Saddam’s Mahdi Army.) I need to know if she has learned her lesson. Where does she stand on the peace talks with Iran and Cuba? Good thing or bad?

2) The Keystone XL pipeline. There’s no wiggle-room on this one. President Obama has already conceded too much ground to Republicans. So much so that should disaster strike and a member of the current GOP Clown Car were to win the presidency, they’re just one presidential signature away from lighting the fuse on the most devastating ecological bomb in the history of mankind. It’s not enough to “just say No” however. The next President needs to SELL the idea of a “Green Jobs Economy” being a bridge to the future, not a slide backwards into the past. Will she ensure the KXL is never built? Will she be smart enough to point out the greater opportunities by investing in Green Energy jobs instead of one leaky pipeline?

3) No equivocation on Climate Change. The time for debate is over on this one. The house is on fire and some Republicans are still debating whether the fire started “naturally” or was “man made”, while others pick up a bucket of water in DC and joke how its existence proves there’s no drought in California. Not only is Global Warming real, but it’s an incredible business opportunity and should be talked about in that context. Not only am I looking for someone to take a stand on Climate Change, but being clever enough to know how to SELL IT to Republicans so that everyone is on-board.

4) The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). If there is one issue President Obama and I deeply disagree on, it’s the potentially disastrous 12 nation “Trans-Pacific Partnership” free-trade agreement he hopes to pass before the end of the year. Hillary’s presidential announcement yesterday sounded very much like she’s decided to adopt the Elisabeth Warren narrative of being “a champion of the Middle Class”. Warren is (rightly) fiercely opposed to the TPP… NAFTA on steroids. In 2007, Hillary called NAFTA… signed into law by her husband to appease the unappeasable GOP… “a mistake”. If she wants to distance herself from Obama to appeal to both middle-class Republicans and Democrats alike, this would be an excellent place to take her stand, as most Republicans hate NAFTA as well, and couching the TPP in those terms would win support from both sides. But the corporate money is on the side of the TPP. Will her desire to be president and raise enough money to defeat the eventual GOP nominee win out over choosing what’s right? Will she take a brave stand early or drag out taking a position on the issue for as long as the money rolls in?

5) Defend the Obama economic record. Democrats allowed the GOP to spin the fantasy that President Obama is “unpopular” and siding with him during the 2014 mid-terms would lead to their defeat. So they ran away from the amazing Obama economic record (tripling the stock market since it bottomed out two-months after Bush left office, record job growth, America the world’s #1 Auto Maker again after being on the brink of bankruptcy under Bush, etc) and ended up losing anyway. Of course, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, the “low Obama poll numbers” are a myth, dragged down by insanely irrational Republicans that still think he’s “a Kenyan Socialist Muslim” on the Tea Party side, and those who believe he’s “The Anti-Christ” on the Religious Right. Take those irrational people out of the mix and President Obama’s approval ratings would likely shoot into the mid-60’s. Eschewing President Obama’s economic record and buying the GOP narrative that he’s a failure (“Bush? Bush, who?”) could do for her campaign exactly what it did for spineless Democrats in 2014. Will she defend President Obama’s economic record or downplay it?

6) Stop throwing Democrats under the bus. Ronald Reagan got one thing (and only one thing) right: “Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”. With the huge lead in the polls Hillary has over any potential Democratic challenger, she should feel safe enough to say, “My Democratic challenger would make a great president. We simply disagree on policy”, and be prepared to answer when inevitably asked for examples. Because you can disagree with Democrats on “policy”, but there should be no question which Party’s agenda is better for the nation. This will be a “yellow flag” indicator whether it’s all about “winning” or about Democratic ideals. Will she turn on her fellow Democrats in pursuit of the White House?

7) Learn to play chess. Maybe not literally, but there is one core principle of the game: every move can’t just be a defensive one, it must also be an offensive move that distracts your opponent from relentlessly attacking you. Once all you’re doing is playing defense, the game is over. If they try to go after her on Benghazi, not only should she point out the NINE Republican witch hunts that turned up absolutely nothing, but don’t be afraid to bring up all the Embassy attacks under President Bush that went uninvestigated by these hypocrites. Those emails? Romney destroyed hard drives and Karl Rove “misplaced” 2 million emails of his own. Turn it back on them. Get the Press asking THEM, “yeah, what about that, Senator Schmuck?” or “What would you have done differently, Governor Gasbag?” Show me you know how to go on the offensive (and not just against Democrats.)

8) A new strategy for the Middle East. If 15 years of war (by the end of 2016) isn’t enough to convince you that maybe it’s time to try something new, nothing will. Hillary’s inclination to be a hawk is the most disturbing thing about her, and I fear that she believes being seen as willing to use military force makes her look “tough”. That’s how we ended up with 50 years of sanctions against Cuba that went absolutely nowhere, and a “drug war” that has done little-to-nothing to stem drug use in this country. Will Hillary be a hawk or will she be open to new ideas?

Winning over ambivalent Democrats like myself is going to be Hillary’s greatest challenge this election season. She may have my vote as a Democrat, but if she wants to win in the General, she’s going to need my enthusiastic support as well. Winning over a few Moderate Republican voters will be no easy feat either, yet Hillary’s reputation as a “hawk” that is quick to throw her fellow Democrats overboard does win her some approval on the Right. Meanwhile, I recommend you check out some of the Youtube comments in response to Hillary’s announcement video yesterday. Within minutes, frothing mad Conservatives… sounding very much like irrational pre-teens that didn’t start paying attention to politics until “the black guy” got elected… were already posting vicious personal attacks against her. But what you’ll also notice is a near total absence of anything of substance in their criticisms. Oh sure, a few still cite “Benghazi”, blaming her for the deaths of four people on 9/11… 2012, and maybe some old-timers accusing her of murdering Vince Foster in the 90’s, but almost nothing of substance. “Harpy” will be the new socially-acceptable “N-word” of the 2016 campaign. Speaking as one who dreads the thought of The GOP firing up the old “Destroy the Clinton’s at all costs” machine once again, and what another four-to-eight years of wildly partisan obstructionism might mean for our country, I’m really hoping Hillary gives me something to be enthusiastic about this time around.
 



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Filed in Election, Politics, Rants, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me, War April 13th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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These “Religious Freedom” laws were the same counter argument to the 1965 Civil Rights Act

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When the Johnson Administration pushed for equal rights for blacks in 1964, the Religious Right opposed the bill on the grounds that it was impinging on their rights. Their “religious” right to be a bigot. They claimed that The Almighty himself segregated the world by putting people of different races on different continents, and that forcing people of faith to mingle with “Negroes” was against “God’s Will”. There was “No need” for “integrated lunch counters” because if “they” didn’t like it, they could just eat someplace else. And if the public didn’t agree, they too could just patronize another shop. If enough people didn’t like it, “The Free Market” would either force that business to conform or go bankrupt. Problem was, in 350 years, NOT ONCE did public sentiment close a business over their treatment of minorities. Private businesses resented being forced to seat blacks at the lunch counter. “If you don’t like it, eat someplace else”, they were told. “There are plenty of other restaurants that are Separate But Equal to ours. Go there!” Does any of this sound familiar? The exact same “Religious rights” arguments made against the 1964 Civil Rights Act are being used again TODAY by the same people to defend pro-discrimination laws in Indiana and Arkansas 51 years later citing “Religious Freedom” as their defense. Only THIS time around, it’s the bigots that are in charge.

When people never spend any time around the “others” they look down upon, they remain alien to them, making it easy for them to discriminate. “Those disease-ridden, sinful, morally ambiguous degenerates!” They didn’t want to be around them or have anything to do with them. “Stay away and don’t corrupt my children!” They were an “offense to God” and treating them badly was “justified in the name of God.”

The genius of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to spare NO ONE. No individual, no business, public nor private, was exempt. And once people got used to being around those “others”, they discovered that they were not in fact different from themselves. Open bigotry is actually publicly shamed by a majority of Americans today as more than half of America’s population has no memory of growing up in a time when the races were not regarded as equals.

When Indiana governor Mike “Shut it down” Pense trumpeted their new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”… a Conservative law designed to protect the right of bigots to be bigots… he rightly immediately caught flack for it. He tried to argue this was a law designed to “protect” the rights of people claiming their religious freedom was being violated by being forced to serve people they disapproved of, contrary to their faith; not discrimination. The arguments made to defend the right of certain individuals to discriminate against “others” on “religious” grounds are the EXACT SAME arguments made 51 years before. And the “alternative remedies” being proposed are the same as well. “Let the Free Market decide!” They argue the REAL victims of discrimination here are the bigots… er “people of faith“. Victims of “reverse discrimination” (cue Jessie Helms’ “hands” ad here) by people intolerant of their intolerance. It’s the same argument the KKK uses to protest “Affirmative Action” and “Racial quotas”. “THEY are the bullies, not ME! THEY are violating MY right to practice my faith!”

Meanwhile, the scenario The Media has latched onto is the baker that was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. “Could they now legally refuse to serve a gay couple without the fear of being sued?”, repeatedly asks George Stephanopoulos of Pense, who repeatedly dodges the question like a weasel in a minefield.

This drastic over-simplification of the problem with the #RFRA may be doing more harm than good, possibly leading to a “fix” that barely scratches the surface of the harm this law can do.

While not providing a gay couple with Marie Antoinette’s favorite dish might be a travesty, and a pizzeria refusing to cater a gay wedding might go down in history as worse than Watergate, what about the pharmacist that refuses to provide your 16 year old daughter with birth control pills to treat her debilitatingly painful endometriosis… because he thinks she’s using it to have sex, which offends his fragile sensibilities?

What about the private (not public) school teacher that openly “shames” little Bobby, making him a target for bullies, because he has two dads?

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, but you get the picture. Anyone can now claim “religious freedom” as a defense for things that could cause far more harm to a person than simply denying them baked goods.

BTW: What does a “gay” cake look like anyway? How does a baker know the wedding cake they are making is for a “gay” couple? The rainbow icing?
 



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Filed in Civil Rights, Crime, Politics, Racism, Religion April 7th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Birthers Rejoice On News Canadian-born Rafael “Ted” Cruz will Run for President

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 23, 2015

Ted Cruz's birth certificate  (real)
Ted Cruz’s official, Canadian birth certificate.

Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution states:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Personally, I don’t really care if someone running for president was actually born a citizen or became one later in life, but then, I never made the citizenship of a presidential candidate an issue. Not even when the candidate was John McCain, who had an eligibility question of his own back in 2008 having been born in “the Panama Canal Zone” to a father serving in the U.S. military (a law was passed giving such children U.S. citizenship, but it didn’t go into effect until McCain was already a year old.) Meanwhile, the darling of the “Tea Party” (“Birther HQ”) is ready to rally in support of “Ted Cruz for President”. Show me someone that is surprised by the Far-Right’s hypocrisy/duplicity and I’ll show you someone that hasn’t been paying attention for the last two decades.

Ted Cruz is a case study in Conservative “cognitive dissonance”. How is it that a man born in Alberta, Canada to a Cuban-National father (mother’s U.S. citizenship ruled irrelevant), having served less than one full term as Senator, be regarded as eligible/worthy of running for President of the United States by the same people who pronounced that “the black guy” was not? (I think I just answered my own question.) And if he were the nominee and the Supreme Court were forced to step in, then what?

Personally, I don’t think the US Supreme Court has to worry about deciding Cruz’s eligibility anytime soon.
 

Birthers for Cruz 2016

 

My own local Houston Chronicle broke the news yesterday of Cruz’s intention to run, and I’m not quite sure who’s happier, The Extreme Far-Right or Democrats? NBC Nightly News reported yesterday on a Wall Street Journal poll that damned Cruz with faint praise over this sufficiently vague poll question: If Ted Cruz were to run for president, could you see yourself supporting him?”
 

Cruz unlikely to win even majority of the Republican vote.
Left with no other choice, 40 of Republicans could support Cruz

 

Before they really get to know him, already 60% of Republicans look at Cruz and say “Hmm, who else you got?” Is it any wonder Joe McCarthy’s doppelganger didn’t bother with an “exploratory committee” to evaluate if he could even win? But hey, Bush invaded Iraq with the same amount of planning and that didn’t turn out so bad, did it? One of these days, a Republican will stop & think before doing something stupid, and the world will pause in stunned silence. Whether that occurs in your or my lifetime is anybody’s guess.

Most of the “old guard” GOP was fuming at the freshman senator, less than a year in office, for his stunt that led down to another government shutdown the first two weeks of October 2013, something Republicans were rightly lambasted for during the Clinton Administration and tried desperately to avoid this time around, fearing public backlash over yet another example of Republicans, again in total disarray, unable to govern, a year before the mid-term election. But fortunately for them (and Cruz), voters have very short memories.

Last December, just before the Christmas Recess, Cruz once again earned the GOP’s ire with another stunt, delaying the immigration vote that forced Congress to stay in session over the weekend and allow the (long delayed) confirmation of twenty-four presidential appointments.

“Ted” Cruz lives in a fascinating universe: one where the majority of Americans are “Tea Party Republicans” that despise President Obama, think “ObamaCare” is a government insurance program “worse than any war” that you are being forced to buy under threat of imprisonment by the IRS (accountants who could be put to better use securing our Southern border), where you can round-up & deport 12 million undocumented immigrants, colleges are full of Communists, and he… the Canadian born son of a Cuban dissident… can legally run for president of the United States.

Run Ted, run! And I say that as a proud Liberal Democrat.
 



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Filed in Election, Partisanship, Politics, Racism, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity March 23rd, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Where Is the Accusation of a CRIME to justify a Tax-Payer Funded Investigation into Hillary’s Emails?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 16, 2015

Once again I find myself in the uncomfortable position of defending Hillary Clinton. Yesterday’s poli-talk shows all covered “Hillary Clinton’s emails” and the fact she didn’t turn over her personal private emails to the GOP controlled Congress for scrutiny. In fact Clinton freely admits that it was “probably a mistake to use just one email account” while Secretary of State for both her personal private email as well as for work, but I disagree. As Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) pointed out during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, if Clinton “had used two separate email accounts, Republicans would just be demanding she turn over her private emails as well”, accusing her of “hiding” things she didn’t want recorded on government servers by using her private email address… you know, the way EIGHTY  Republican officials did during the Bush Administration (Karl Rove freely admitted on FnS yesterday that he and other Republicans did this while working in the Bush White House, but claimed the “22 million missing emails were found by (note: NOT “turned over to”) investigators in the Obama Administration” (nearly two years later, and only after Bush left office) making what they are accusing Hillary of “completely different”.

But just WHAT are Republicans accusing Hillary Clinton OF?

The United States Congress… once again… is using taxpayer dollars to fund an investigation into the Clinton’s. In 1992 when Bill Clinton was still running for president, Republicans openly accused the Clinton’s of receiving preferential treatment when investing in a land deal known as “White Water”. The fact the Clinton’s LOST money on the deal didn’t matter (though one wonders how much “favorable” treatment the Clinton’s might have shown someone that lost them roughly $52,000… give-or-take $15 Grand), only the fact that the Clinton’s invested was at issue (I’ll save their Bob McDonnell hypocrisy for another column.) When the GOP retook control of Congress in the 1994 mid-terms, they immediately opened a taxpayer funded investigation into the Clinton’s involvement in “White Water” that quickly went nowhere.

But the SAME Special Prosecutor hired to investigate the Clinton’s over “White Water” (remember Ken Starr?) then shifted his investigation to “Trooper-gate”, and the claim that Governor Clinton misused tax-payer paid state employees (cops) to shuttle one of his mistresses in/out of the governor’s mansion (oh, the irony. A tax-payer funded partisan political investigation into whether Clinton misused tax-payer paid employees.)

After that, the investigations devolved into investigating Bill Clinton’s personal life… while sleazy, NOT A CRIME. President Clinton should have demanded the GOP present evidence that a CRIME had been committed before agreeing to allow tax-payer funds be used to pay for what was clearly partisan political dumpster-diving in hopes of derailing his 1996 re-election. But he didn’t for fear of appearing like he had “something to hide” in an election year.

And once again, as soon as the GOP re-seized control of both house of Congress last year, what’s the first thing they do? They launch a tax-payer funded investigation into the Clintons, with NO declaration of a crime to justify the investigation, in hopes of derailing a Clinton’s presidential aspirations.

They can’t help themselves. Like moths to a flame, Republicans with subpoena power will use tax-payer funds to pay for a political witch hunt into a Clinton seeking the presidency.

So I ask, WHAT IS THE CRIME THEY ARE SUPPOSEDLY INVESTIGATING to justify spending MY tax dollars demanding to see Hillary Clinton’s private emails? To date, I’m not aware of a single repeated declaration as to just WHY they need those emails so badly. Colin Powell admitted that HE used a private email account while Secretary of State even as the Bush White House was cooking up a case to justify the invasion of Iraq. This week he even admitted that he “didn’t keep” his emails while serving as SoS. One might think that such emails could have been very important had Democrats investigated the Bush Administration’s claims of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”… the core justification for the preemptive invasion of Iraq… the way Republican’s investigate the Clinton’s every February 2nd (“Groundhog’s Day” reference.)

Now, some Republicans have suggested that this TENTH investigation into Benghazi is necessary because the nine prior investigations that turned up no evidence of wrongdoing failed only because of a lack of evidence that might have been hidden somewhere in Clinton’s private emails. To date, that has been the ONLY suggestion as to why a TAXPAYER-FUNDED investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails could be justified. Beyond that, it’s a political smear campaign at the public expense.

If “Benghazi” is indeed the justification for demanding the release of Clinton’s emails, then someone needs to explain to the public EXACTLY what they are looking for. What information do they not have? What “lingering questions” remain unanswered? And I don’t mean Speaker Boehner claiming there are “a lot of unanswered questions” that have been repeatedly asked & answered, I mean a public declaration in writing listing precisely what justifies spending yet more tax-dollars investigating a political opponent.

Think about it. Just what “unanswered question” do they believe would be revealed by Clinton’s emails? Questions like, “Was there a ‘stand-down order’ by President Obama” or “Could U.S. fighter jets have arrived in time to save the people in the consulate” wouldn’t change based upon anything they might find in an email. Do they really believe they’re going to find an email between her and some NGO (non-governmental official… because .gov recipients emails are already archived) telling them NOT to save the people in that consulate? Do they think Hillary texted the pilots and secretly ordered them to “return to base” in mid-flight? Hmmm? Because I don’t know of another “crime” relating to “Benghazi” they could possibly still be investigating.

And think about this: Would YOU agree to hand over your private emails to police without a warrant? Because that is EXACTLY what Republicans are doing. With NO declaration of criminal wrong-doing, Republicans are ABUSING THEIR POWER to investigate a political opponent, simply insinuating that Ms. Clinton’s use of a private email was intended to hide evidence of a crime… a crime that NO ONE has publicly explained even took place. If police asked a judge for a search warrant to confiscate your private emails, the judge would demand they provide him with “just cause” for why he should issue them one. We don’t even have THAT.

The rule that all government email activity must take place on a governmental account wasn’t even a law until NEARLY TWO YEARS after she left the State Department (Clinton resigned in February 2013. President Obama signed “The Federal Records Act” December 1st of last year.) So she may have failed to comply with a rule or guideline, but not even Republicans can claim her doing so “broke the law”, so they don’t have that.

So, no claim of criminal wrong-doing regarding Benghazi, she broke no law regarding the preservation of Federal Records because there was no such law at the time.

It’s a really simple question: Just what crime are Republicans accusing the former Secretary of State of Committing that justifies a tax-payer funded investigation into her private emails?
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, fake scandals, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Scandals, Taxes March 16th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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GOP Should Be Last Ones to Accuse Hillary of Secrecy

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 9, 2015

The GOP thinks it has finally found the chink in Hillary’s armor. The one thing that could derail her presidential prospects… the fact she used her private email account for public business while working at the State Department. But when it comes to secrecy & email, Republicans are the LAST people on Earth who should be allowed to claim the moral high-ground regarding openness and transparency in government. One needn’t go all all the way back to Nixon, the most secretive White House in history, for an example. Nor even to the Reagan Administration (whom still holds the record as the most indicted Administration in history). No, as recently as the last Republican-controlled White House puts them all to shame when it comes to secrecy & obstruction of justice. WHEN the Bush White House agreed to turn over a document/email, there was a better than average chance it would look like the one above, highly redacted with almost no useful information exposed. Subpoena them to testify before an investigation and they simply refused to show up (or demand they not be put under oath.) From cover-ups regarding the failure to find weapons of mass destruction, wiretapping, or the abuses at Abu Ghraib, to President Bush’s chief of staff Karl Rove and at least SEVEN other high-ranking WH officials using a private email system run by the RNC for nearly all of their correspondence. “Pot, meet Kettle.”

Now I’m hardly the one to defend Hillary Clinton. I’ve made known in these pages my unhappiness with the way she conducts business (mostly, how quick she seems to be to throw her fellow Democrats under the bus for the sake of her own personal political advantage, not to mention how hawkish she has always been on National Defense), but this isn’t about Hillary. This is about GOP hypocrisy… my favorite topic.

Eleven years ago tomorrow, March 10, 2004, then Attorney General John Ashcroft was near death lying in a hospital bed when his temporary replacement, acting director James Comey received an urgent late-night phone call that White House Council Alberto Gonzales and Bush’s own Chief-of-Staff Andrew Card were racing to the hospital to try and get Ashcroft to reauthorize President Bush’s illegal NSA wiretap program because they knew Comey would not. Comey later testified that he alerted FBI Director Robert Mueller before racing off to the hospital to stop them. Fortunately, after he arrived, Ashcroft pointed to Comey as the only person having the authority to authorize anything as acting AG.

When the new Democratic majority investigated the incident in 2007, most of Muller’s emails looked like the one above, highly redacted with all pertinent information blacked out in the name of “national security”.

In 2006, following the reelection of President Bush in 2004, eight U.S. Attorneys… Republicans all… were fired by the Justice Department without explanation. The “official” reason later given was that it was part of the normal turnover of any new administration to appoint new judges, but this was two years into Bush’s second term, so that excuse raised more than a few eyebrows. Soon it was discovered that all eight of these attorneys had been ordered… and refused… to investigate Democrats for Election fraud prior to the  2004 election with absolutely no basis. When Democrats demanded Bush’s Senior Advisor Karl Rove turn over his private emails regarding the matter, that is when it was discovered Rove and seven other high-ranking WH officials had been using a private email server… set up by the RNC… to eschew the rules regulating to public availability of all government communications. Rove & company never did turn over those emails.

When Republicans took over the White House in 2001, the RNC gave all of their members free laptops with access to a private email server set up by them. The claim at the time was so that they were provided so they could conduct “fundraising” without using government property to do it (prohibited). But Rove & Company didn’t just use those private accounts for “fundraising”; they used them to conduct any business they wanted to keep secret… which in the Bush Administration was anything you did between breaths.

And just WHO gave Rove and “Scooter” Libby the green light to publicly expose the identity of CIA agent Valery Plame Wilson? That information was never revealed either. Libby was indicted for “obstruction of justice” by providing false information to the grand jury to prevent them from finding out the truth. When it comes to secrecy and hiding governmental information regarding likely criminal wrong-doing, no one can hold a candle to the GOP. So to hear them now feign OUTRAGE over the fact Hillary Clinton used her “private” email for all correspondence while she worked at the White House… couched in the accusation that she did so in order to “hide” information from investigators… just as Karl Rove did, and just as her predecessor Colin Powell did (Condi apparently used an “official” email account)… two years before new rules were written prohibiting this… is just the latest example of Republicans trying to turn smoke into fire in hopes of derailing her inevitable presidential bid.

And thanks to this nonsense with Hillary’s use of a private email account while conducting official business, every ginned up Obama White House “scandal” has been given new life. Why? There’s now TENTH investigation into Benghazi thanks to a baseless belief that the only reason NINE previous investigations turned up nothing is because the truth must have been in an email Clinton didn’t turn over… assuming there are any. I’ve often said that if a Republican accuses you of doing something wrong, it’s only because they either already did it themselves or considered doing it but never got around to it (see: “Acorn and voter fraud”), and naturally assume you’re as dishonorable as they are. “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Where there is no smoke, build a fire and accuse your opponent of setting it.”

(Postscript: Former SoS Colin Powell on “Meet the Press” yesterday pointed out that any email sent BY Clinton TO a “.gov” address “would be recorded/retained by the governmental servers.”)
 



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Filed in Election, fake scandals, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Scandals March 9th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Just IMAGINE the Howls of OUTRAGE by GOP had Dems Invited Jacques Chirac to Lobby Congress Under Bush

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 2, 2015

Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress regarding our Iran policy, invited by the GOP without informing the President of the United States first. Likewise, Netanyahu himself did not bother to tell the President he was coming, learning of the visit only after he was told by staffers and Democratic members of Congress. The level of disrespect for this president in both stunning & unparallelled. From the time of being called a “liar” during his first speech before Congress in 2009, to this unannounced visit by a foreign leader to lobby Congress on behalf of the interests of a foreign nation. In 2002/2003, both Germany & France (but for some reason, people only seem to remember “France”) opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, asking President Bush to give UN Inspectors “more time” to verify whether or not Saddam Hussein did indeed posses “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Just TRY to imagine the HOWLS of outrage one would have heard from the Right if Democrats had invited French President Jacques Chirac to lobby Congress against undermining France’s interest’s in Iraq, requesting that they undermine President Bush’s authority as Commander-in-Chief to protect those interests?

Republicans would have accused Democrats of “TREASON!” and Fox “News” would have started every “newscast” with a countdown clock marking the hours left till “the end of Democracy!”

The fact I’ve always put “news” in quotes when citing Fox is not just a slam or poking-the-bear, it is a hard & true fact. What legitimate news organization would post a story like this on their website (emphasis my own):

Fox News Report: Obama Threatened To Shoot Down Israeli Planes

A Kuwaiti newspaper is reporting that President Obama, angered at Israeli plans to strike Iran nuclear facilities in 2014, threatened to shoot down Israeli planes before they could reach their targets.

The paper, Al Jarida, cites only anonymous sources and just a handful of other publications have followed the story. But according to israelnationalnews.com [the “Fox News” of Israel -Mugsy], the Arabic newspaper quoted “well-placed” sources as saying Benjamin Netanyahu and two top aides “had decided to carry out air strikes against Iran’s nuclear program after consultations with top security commanders.”

To call this the height of irresponsible journalism would be kind. They openly admit in the article they have NO evidence the president “threatened” to shoot down anything. Citing anonymous sources to accuse the president of something someone believes he might have done IF a particular event had taken place, is not “news”, it’s gossip. But the only important thing to them is the headline, because that’s all most Fox viewers ever read. They don’t bother to click on the story to find it nothing but rumor & innuendo based on mere speculation by unidentified sources before they are already posting on blogs and Tweeting their friend how “the Mus’lim in the White House threatened to attack Israel if they tried to bomb his ‘good buddy’ Iran.” If these people based their political views on facts & evidence, they wouldn’t be Republicans (and by no coincidence, neo-Christians.)

But back to the topic at hand: It would be one thing if the Israeli Prime Minster were here to impart wisdom to warn Congress not to make the same mistake they made, regarding something that might hurt America. But Netanyahu is here to influence American policy towards a third country with regard only for how it benefits Israel first & foremost. President Obama is attempting to use diplomacy with Iran, because while we don’t want them pursuing nuclear weapons, we ALSO could use their help in defeating our mutual enemy: ISIS, and provoking Iran with threats of military force is (at best) counter-productive. The President of the United States has a LOT more to consider when forming U.S. Foreign Policy than just “what’s in the best interest of Israel.” And regardless of what a neo-Conservative like Netanyahu thinks, promoting a positive relationship with Iran is ALSO in Israel’s best interests. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress showing extreme favoritism towards Israel while we are in the middle of delicate negotiations with Iran certainly doesn’t help matters any.

Netanyahu’s snub of President Obama isn’t playing well in Israel either as they gear up for their own elections less than two weeks from now. Endangering Israel’s relationship with America’s Commander-in-Chief at a time when the Middle East has never been more volatile with ISIS making alQaeda look almost demure with each passing day as new outrageous acts make the headlines almost daily. One would be forgiven to think Bibi’s speech were just a crass political ploy ahead of the election. And American Republicans seem more than happy to be used in this way if it means they get to disrespect our president, to the delight of their base, one more time.

I know there is a fine line between criticizing American policy that affects Israel vs criticizing Israel itself. But before I’m accused of being “anti-Semitic”, notice that my criticism above would apply equally to the leader of ANY foreign nation coming to America to lobby on behalf of that country’s interest. Republicans love to accuse President Obama of “criticizing America” (see Rudy and Huckabee) because they conflate “criticizing Republicans” with “criticizing America“. Likewise, not agreeing with how THEY think President Obama should handle Iran does not make him an “anti-Semitic Mus’lim terr’ist“.

If the GOP seeks to derail our negotiations with Iran purely for political advantage, in hopes of “embarrassing” President Obama or derailing Hillary Clinton’s campaign before it has even begun, then one can & should call THAT “treason.”

UPDATE: The Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday night noted just how wrong Netanyahu was in 2002 when he hyped the EXACT SAME fear mongering over Iraq in a Congressional hearing. Not only was he dead wrong thirteen years ago, but the “preemptive war” he prescribed is responsible for the absolute chaos the Middle East finds itself in today… and perhaps an even GREATER threat to Israel than what the noted neoconservative Prime Minister fear-mongered at the time. How much worse off is Israel today because of his Right-Wing hysteria?



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Filed in National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Terrorism, War March 2nd, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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GOP Responds to Complaints of Obama Acting Unilaterally By Demanding He Have Unilateral Power to Declare War

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 16, 2015

Oh Republicans, you poor inconsistent clueless gnats. Yesterday, on no less than three network poli-talk shows (and probably more but I only watch three), Republicans… in the SAME rants mind you… defended refusing to budge on tying the “Homeland Security” budget to rescinding President Obama’s “illegal and unconstitutional” Executive Order not to prosecute the “Dreamers” (which IS Constitutional and completely within his powers)… only seconds later to decry President Obama asking that the power of the president to unilaterally declare war be stripped from him and returned to Congress like the Constitution requires. People (and I use that term lightly), either you want the president to adhere to the Constitution or you don’t. Make up your minds.

The “War Powers” Clause, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution reads:

The Congress shall have the power…

(11) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.

Only Congress has the power to Declare War and arm fighters (I’d love to go off on a tangent here on how this might relate to the Second Amendment, but some other day). The Constitution gives the president the power to “enact” (ie: administer or carry out) that war once it has been declared, but it’s pretty clear the power to commit the nation to war was never supposed to reside in the hands of one person.

One week after 9/11, Congress passed the AUMF, Authorization to Use Military Force, giving President Bush the “[authority to] use [the] United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States. (emphasis mine). It was strictly concerning 9/11, that’s it.

In 2002, President Bush could not cite the 2001 AUMF against “those who attacked us on 9/11″ as giving him power to threaten Saddam Hussein into giving up weapons he didn’t have, so Congress instead passed a separate AUMF:Iraq, specifically citing the actions of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, arguing that it would give President Bush the leverage he needed to avoid war with Iraq. Democrats foolishly voted with Republicans to give him that power, which he quickly used to Declare War against Iraq even after Iraq started to comply with his demands.

13+ years later, President Obama continues to exercise the military authority granted to him by the 2001 & 2002 AUMF’s… not exactly willingly BTW, but the result of Congress refusing to reclaim the authority granted only to them by the Constitution, leaving the president with no choice but to rely on the AUMF’s in order to go after new threats like ISIS (which didn’t exist in 2001/2002). ISIS didn’t “attack us on 9/11″ as per AUMF2001, and didn’t even exist to be in “non-compliance” with us as per AUMF2003. President Obama believes it’s time for Congress to take responsibility and stop dumping the choice off on him.

Republican after Republican (Chris Wallace & The Power Panel on Fox “news” Sunday and John McCain on “Meet the Press”) were aghast that President Obama would dare “strip the power” of the president to use military force on his/her say so alone (a power the president is not supposed to have in the first place) and dump it back in Congress’ lap (I remember telling Republicans in 2007/2008 not to “give Bush any power they didn’t want a President Hillary Clinton to have.”)

Meanwhile, in the SAME breath, they also defended possibly refusing to renew funding for the Department of Homeland Security until Democrats caved on “President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional Executive Order” placing a moratorium on the prosecution of “Dreamers” (undocumented immigrant children that have lived in the U.S. for at least five years.)

That’s right. Without a hint of irony, Republicans are demanding President Obama retain the unconstitutional powers they abdicated to the Presidency while simultaneously blasting him for exercising his Constitutional power as the Chief Executive on the grounds that such power is “unconstitutional”.

Can you hear me now, Mr. Speaker?

BTW: the second half of Clause 11… “make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”… if Congressional Republicans are so eager to bestow A1S8C11 powers upon the president, I’d demand they transfer ALL the powers stated in that clause over to him and then promptly shutdown Gitmo. Then just watch how quickly they take that power back.
 



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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Filed in fake scandals, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Unconstitutional February 16th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View