05/15/2015 archive

Can YOU find the WMDs Barney?

Are they under here?  No.  Are they over there?  No.

Hah!  I was hiding them behind my back all along.  Heh.  Never get tired of that one.

GOP’s alarming Iraq amnesia: Jeb Bush, WMDs & the lies neocons want us to forget

by Joan Walsh, Salon

Friday, May 15, 2015 10:46 AM EST

(Jeb) Bush had a hard time saying that the invasion was a mistake, even with what we know now – Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11, and toppling the dictator would smash the country into warring pieces – because he, and his core national security advisors, may well not think it was.

We seem to be suffering from collective amnesia when we act like the lack of WMD was a big “surprise” that Bush and the 2016 field must now reckon with, one that means the invasion was a tragic mistake. In fact, the Bush intelligence team cooked the books to either create or exaggerate the evidence at the time, to sell us a cruel war of choice.

The former president has admitted to mistakes in the war’s execution, the occupation and its aftermath. He has lamented the terrible intelligence his administration shared in the lead up to the invasion. But he himself has never said: If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.

Quite the opposite. In his memoir, he admitted to tactical mistakes, but stated forthrightly: “The region is more hopeful with a young democracy setting an example for others to follow. And the Iraqi people are better off with a government that answers to them instead of torturing and murdering them.”

He added: “There are things we got wrong in Iraq, but the cause is eternally right.”

Dick Cheney certainly agrees. Paul Wolfowitz, one of Jeb’s advisors, blasts the aftermath of Saddam’s fall, and the wholly incompetent occupation – the reign of Paul Bremer and Dan Senor and fresh-faced 20-something ideologues from the Lincoln Group trying to govern Iraq – but not the decision to wage war itself. There were lots of things the Bush team might like to do over, but the invasion isn’t one of them.

The Cheney-Wolfowitz-Rumsfeld faction saw an Iraq invasion as a brilliant stage on which to enact all of their geopolitical goals: It was a chance to replace a Middle East adversary with an ally; to ease our reliance on Saudi Arabia for defense and for oil, and to develop a strategic counterweight to Iran. It was also an opportunity to declare the U.S. would wage pre-emptive war, to showcase our military might in the aftermath of 9/11, and to shore up Cheney’s doctrine of vast, presidential power. The WMD argument was either just one of many concerns, or an outright fabrication.

So let’s be fair to Jeb Bush for a moment: he can’t get this answer “right” politically – as in, now that we know there weren’t WMDs, and the aftermath was a shit-show, the Iraq invasion was a “mistake” – because it probably isn’t what he believes. Let’s remember, he was one of 25 signatories to the founding document of the pro-invasion Project for a New American Century in 1998 – alongside Cheney, Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, Elliott Abrams, Norman Podhoretz, Frank Gaffney and other neocons. Wolfowitz is one of his foreign policy advisors. He has told us that when it comes to Israel, his brother is his top advisor.

The truth is, Bush didn’t exactly flub his first answer to Megyn Kelly; in saying he’d do it all over again, he told us some of what he really thought. Ironically, if he knew then what he knows now – that his answer was hugely unpopular – he wouldn’t have given that answer. So he said it was a mistake. Then he said it wasn’t. Then he said it was. He’s going to be writhing like this for a long time, because he can’t satisfy all the factions that are trying to unite behind him by telling the truth. Whatever it is.

The GOP’s Continued Assault on Women’s Reproductive Rights

If by further restricting access to abortion and birth control, the Republican Party thinks that they will win over women, they need to think again.

House Approves Revised Measure Banning Most Abortions After 20 Weeks

The House on Wednesday voted to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, approving a revised version of a bill that Republican leaders had abruptly pulled in January amid objections from some of their own members.

The measure passed in a 242-to-184 vote, with one member voting present. The bill dropped a provision in the original version that would have required women who became pregnant through rape to report their assault to law enforcement authorities to be eligible for an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Under the new bill, such women would have to receive counseling or medical treatment at least 48 hours before having an abortion. In cases involving minors, abortion providers would have to alert the authorities for the girls’ protection, it says. The bill, known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would also make it easier to sue a noncompliant abortion provider. [..]

Representatives Diana DeGette of Colorado and Louise M. Slaughter of New York, Democrats who are the chairwomen of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, said the bill was another attempt by Republicans to erect barriers to medical care for women.

Prohibiting most abortions 20 weeks after fertilization would run counter to the Supreme Court’s standard of fetal viability, which is generally put at 22 to 24 weeks after fertilization.

House votes to strike down D.C. law banning reproductive discrimination

divided House of Representatives voted along party lines late Thursday to strike down a D.C. law on ideological grounds for the first time in almost 35 years.

Republican opponents of the measure, which bans discrimination over employees’ reproductive decisions, said it constituted a liberal attack on antiabortion groups in the nation’s capital.

The effort, begun by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in the days before he launched his presidential campaign, sparked a fierce debate on the floor of the House late Thursday, with Democrats blasting the Republican move as an outrageous infringement on women’s reproductive rights and privacy. [..]

Citing the strong convictions of many House Republicans about the D.C. measure, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) brought the issue to a vote on the floor even though Senate action on a companion measure would not come in time to stop the D.C. bill from becoming law next week.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow discussed with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) the recent chair of the Pro-choice Caucus in the House, talks with Rachel Maddow about the recent spate of anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation from both state and national Republicans, including in cases of rape and incest.

Fortunately, most of these bills coming from the House will go no where but many of the ones being passes in states whose legislatures are controlled by Republicans will.

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Fraternity of Failure

Jeb Bush wants to stop talking about past controversies. And you can see why. He has a lot to stop talking about. But let’s not honor his wish. You can learn a lot by studying recent history, and you can learn even more by watching how politicians respond to that history.

The big “Let’s move on” story of the past few days involved Mr. Bush’s response when asked in an interview whether, knowing what he knows now, he would have supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He answered that yes, he would. No W.M.D.? No stability after all the lives and money expended? No problem.

Then he tried to walk it back. He “interpreted the question wrong,” and isn’t interested in engaging “hypotheticals.” Anyway, “going back in time” is a “disservice” to those who served in the war.

Take a moment to savor the cowardice and vileness of that last remark. And, no, that’s not hyperbole. Mr. Bush is trying to hide behind the troops, pretending that any criticism of political leaders – especially, of course, his brother, the commander in chief – is an attack on the courage and patriotism of those who paid the price for their superiors’ mistakes. That’s sinking very low, and it tells us a lot more about the candidate’s character than any number of up-close-and-personal interviews.

The New York Times Editorial Board: An Abortion Ban’s Bogus Arguments

For the second time in two years, the House voted Wednesday to pass legislation that would ban almost all abortions 20 weeks or more after fertilization. The bill, called the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, claims that “an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization,” though medical evidence does not support this.

Of course, the bill is not really about scientific findings of any sort. It is simply another attempt by conservative Republicans to undercut women’s constitutionally protected reproductive rights. A 20-week abortion ban would be a restriction before fetal viability that violates the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade. [..]

Making it hard to get an abortion early in a pregnancy – by restricting the use of health insurance for abortion, closing clinics and mandating waiting periods – and then banning the procedure after 20 weeks would essentially prohibit abortion for those with limited resources. This, of course, is what many Republicans in Congress want, but it would be disastrous for American women and families, especially those who cannot afford to travel long distances or pay for medical procedures out-of-pocket.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Opportunity or Inequality? That’s No Choice at All

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll (pdf) recently asked, “Which concerns you more: the income gap between the wealthiest Americans and the rest of the country, or middle and working class Americans not being able to get ahead financially?”

If you understand how the economy works, that isn’t just the wrong question. It’s probably a meaningless one.

When asked this question, 68 percent of those surveyed said they were most concerned about the middle and working class not being able to get ahead financially. Only 28 percent were more concerned about the income gap — a major feature of what has come to be known as “wealth inequality.” [..]

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll’s question was asking whether people are more concerned with the income gap — a relatively abstract concept — or their current circumstances, which they themselves find frightening. When someone is living in fear, their own survival will always be their first priority.

Robert Reich: Making the Economy Work for the Many, Not the Few — Step 3: Expand Social Security

America is on the cusp of a retirement crisis. Millions of Americans are already in danger of not being able to maintain their standard of living in retirement, and the problem is getting worse.

You hear a lot about how corporations are struggling to make good on their pension promises, and how Social Security won’t be there for you in retirement.

Baloney on both counts.

Corporations are awash in money, and they could afford to provide their hourly workers with pensions when they retire. Years ago, they routinely provided “defined benefit” pensions – a fixed amount every month after retirement.

Nowadays most workers are lucky if their company matches what they’re able to put away. The typical firm does no more than offer a 401-K plan that depends entirely on worker savings.

But many workers get such low pay during their working lives that they haven’t been able to save for retirement.

Rebecca Solnit: One magical politician won’t stop climate change. It’s up to all of us

Lots of people eagerly study all the polls and reports on how many people believe that climate change is real and urgent. They seem to think there is some critical mass that, through the weight of belief alone, will get us where we want to go. As if when the numbers aren’t high enough, we can’t achieve anything. As if when the numbers are high enough, beautiful transformation will magically happen all by itself or people will vote for wonderful politicians who do the right thing.

But it’s not the belief of the majority or the work of elected officials that will change the world. It will be action, most likely the actions of a minority, as it usually has been. This week’s appalling Obama administration decision to let Shell commence drilling in the Arctic sea says less about that administration, which swings whichever way it’s pushed, than that we didn’t push harder than the oil industry. Which is hard work, but sometimes even a tiny group can do it.

Norman Solomon: No, CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Didn’t Get a Light Sentence

Yes, I saw the glum faces of prosecutors in the courtroom a few days ago, when the judge sentenced CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling to three and a half years in prison — far from the 19 to 24 years they’d suggested would be appropriate.

Yes, I get that there was a huge gap between the punishment the government sought and what it got — a gap that can be understood as a rebuke to the dominant hard-line elements at the Justice Department.

And yes, it was a positive step when a May 13 editorial by the New York Times finally criticized the extreme prosecution of Jeffrey Sterling.

But let’s be clear: The only fair sentence for Sterling would have been no sentence at all. Or, at most, something like the recent gentle wrist-slap, with no time behind bars, for former CIA director David Petraeus, who was sentenced for providing highly classified information to his journalist lover.

The Breakfast Club (TGIF)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

labama Gov. George Wallace shot on presidential campaign trail; Newly-founded Israel attacked by Arab neighbors; The U.S. Supreme Court breaks up Standard Oil.; Country singer June Carter Cash dies.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Contrary to what people say, there’s no upper limit to stupidity.

Stephen Colbert

On This Day In History May 15

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 15 is the 135th day of the year (136th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 230 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1776, the Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.

The Virginia Conventions were a series of five political meetings in the Colony of Virginiaduring the American Revolution. Because the House of Burgesses had been dissolved in 1774 by Royal Governor Lord Dunmore, the conventions served as a revolutionary provisional government until the establishment of the independent Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776.

The fifth convention began May 6, 1776 and met in Williamsburg. On May 15, the convention declared independence from Britain and adopted a set of three momentous resolutions: one calling for a declaration of rights for Virginia, one calling for establishment of a republican constitution, and a third calling for federal relations with whichever other colonies would have them and alliance with whichever foreign countries would have them. It also instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to declare independence. Virginia’s congressional delegation was thus the only one under unconditional positive instructions to declare independence; Virginia was already independent, and so its convention did not want their state, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, to “hang separately.” According to James Madison’s correspondence for that day, Williamsburg residents marked the occasion by taking down the Union Jack from over the colonial capitol and running up a continental union flag.

On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, one of Virginia’s delegates to Congress, carried out these instructions and proposed independence in the language the convention had commanded him to use: that “these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” This paved the way for the American Declaration of Independence, which also reflected the idea that not one nation, but thirteen free and independent states were aborning on the east coast of North America.

The convention amended, and on June 12 adopted, George Mason‘s Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. On June 29, the convention approved the first Constitution of Virginia, which was also the first written constitution adopted by the people’s representatives in the history of the world. The convention chose Patrick Henry as the first governor of the new Commonwealth of Virginia, and he was inaugurated on June 29, 1776. Thus, Virginia had a functioning, permanent, republican constitution before July 4, 1776 — uniquely among the thirteen American colonies.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Fever Dreams)

You stop being racist and I’ll stop talking about it.

More Knowledge College


Film Making

Tonightly it’s ‘Getaway Thursday’, but our panelists are Vincent Kartheiser, Robin Thede, and Rory Albanese.


Jordan Klepper Part Deux (Uncensored)

Next week I’m afraid we’re on vacation.  Oh well, more time for a teary David Letterman goodbye.

Rebel Wilson decided to become an actress after a bout of malaria in South Africa while she was a Rotary Youth Ambassador.  She’s Australian and has extensive list of credits on Australian TV as well as U.S. television and films.  She’ll be on to talk about reprising her role as Fat Amy in 2012’s Pitch Perfect in this year’s Pitch Perfect 2.  She’s no longer fits the name very well since she dropped 22 pounds during the filming of Pitch Perfect before being forbidden by the producers to lose any more (continuity, you know) and is now close to her target weight.  She attributes her success to Jenny Craig for which she filmed several commercials before ending her agreement with them.

Maybe that’s where they get the ‘entrepreneur’ from, otherwise there’s not a hint of it in her Wikipedia write up (she’s written, produced, and directed several shows, but that’s not usually called entrepreneurship in the biz they call show).

Reza Aslan’s 2 part web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.