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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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STUNNING VIDEO: Kristol claims “Iraq was safe and peaceful when George Bush left.” Seriously.

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

My eyebrows hit the ceiling: “OMG! Did he really just say that???” Resident Right-Wing Chief Revisionist Historian and iconic Chicken-hawk Bill Kristol actually said during yesterday’s episode of ABC’s ThisWeek that “George Bush left Iraq safe & peaceful when he left office in 2008.” You think I’m kidding? Watch:

Kristol: “Bush left Iraq safe & peaceful” (14 seconds)

Are you freakin’ kidding me? Are. You. Freakin’. Kidding. Me??? Bush left Iraq “safe & peaceful”??? Wow. Just wow. There are no words. On what planet does this guy live? That has to be THE most completely disconnected from reality statement I’ve heard in a while from the GOP (and that’s saying something.)
 

“Recording History for those Who Seek to Rewrite it.”  Mugsy’s Rap Sheet exists because of people like this asshat. It’s why we’re here, to spotlight this nonsense and crush it before they can convince millions of their simple-minded followers that their rewrite of history is the truth.
 

“We’ve always been at war with East Asia.”
 

“The high of 1,550 attacks a week fell below 800 — nearly a 50 percent reduction.”Bob Woodward praising the reduction of violence in Iraq to “JUST 800 attacks per week” on September 8, 2008

Now granted, violence dropped significantly after the so-called “SurgeTM” in 2007. Violence in Iraq exploded in 2006 as Bush and DefSec Rumsfeld refused to admit their “small footprint” strategy in Iraq was a failure. Bush repeatedly reassured voters that Rummy’s job was safe prior to the mid-term elections, but when Democrats retook both the House AND Senate greatly out of anger over the Iraq War, Rummy was gone quicker than you can say “nu-cu-lar”. New SecDef Gates sent in 20,000 additional troops (that’s not a “surge” BTW, that’s “reinforcements”) to try and stabilize things. The word “Greenzone” became part of the American lexicon in 2008, referring to the supposed “safe zone” inside Baghdad where American Command was stationed, and the move to “stop calling it a ‘green’ zone arose because it implied ‘safety’ when it was routinely being shelled by insurgents (that’s a January 2009 link BTW). To stem the violence, U.S. forces built a wall around “Sadr City” rather than address WHY it was a source of so much violence, and “ethnic cleansing” of neighborhoods took care of the rest. (Watch/listen to this video from May of 2008 and tell me just how “peaceful” Iraq looks/sounds to you as Bush prepares to leave office):

As NBC reporter Tom Aspell points out in this 2007 video, “violence is down in Iraq” because “much of it has been ethnically cleaned.”

ISIS EXISTS BECAUSE OF THE INVASION OF IRAQ. Many of the ISIS commanders are former Iraqi military. When Bush & Rumsfeld decided to simply disband Saddam’s Sunni army… “go away and take and take your guns with you”… most of them became the “insurgency” that turned Iraq into the mess we see today. When the new Shia Iraqi government decided not to integrate former Sunni’s into the new government and deny them employment, they responded by forming ISIS and proceeded to conquer one Iraqi city after another in an attempt to recapture the entire region into one giant Islamic “caliphate” (I hate that word.) ISIS may not have existed when George Bush left office, but he planted the seed.

Saying “Iraq was peaceful when Bush left” and then blaming President Obama for the violence there today is like blaming the raging fire you set on the firemen, declaring: “It was only a spark when I called you!”

I just have to type it one more time: “Iraq was safe and peaceful when George Bush left.”

Nope. Still the stupidest thing I’ve heard any Republican say in the last… oh… what time is it now?
 



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Filed in Middle East, myth busting, National Security, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, War February 23rd, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | 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.
 



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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

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Cruz & Carson Latest Republicans to Complain About Income Inequality

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

Now don’t get me wrong, while I applaud the GOP’s new found concern over “income inequality” and the stagnation of the middle-class, I’m reminded of the old joke when The Menendez Brothers were on trial for murdering their parents and the possibility of them asking the judge for leniency because they were orphans. Last month, Democrats understandably rolled their eyes in disbelief when Mitt “Not Concerned About the bottom 47%” Romney complained bitterly about the rise in “income inequality since Barack Obama was elected President”… as if the Republican Party hadn’t been praying at the altar of “trickle-down economics” for the last 35 years. Whether “Mitt” (a man who made his millions closing factories & raiding pension funds as a corporate raider) planned on running on a platform of “I (heart) poor people” we’ll never know because the GOP… led by that champion of the Middle Class Donald Trump… quickly nixed the idea of a third Romney run while attending a “Meet-the-Candidates” rally hosted by the Mega-Billionaire Koch brothers. And now during yesterday’s Sunday Poli-talk Shows, two leading GOP candidates tried to claim the mantle of “income inequality”: Ted “List of Communists” Cruz and BenProgressives are Nazi’sCarson. Cue the clown music.
 

Ted Cruz & Ben Carson on “Income Inequality” (3.25)

I don’t know what’s funnier: the idea that these guys think voters will buy them as “champions of the Middle Class” or the fact even Steph-O & Wallace clearly aren’t buying it either?

The two greatest problems facing the World today are religious zealots and unchecked corporate power. And which Political Party just happens to represents both?
 

So why the sudden feigned concern by the GOP over “income inequality”? Because the ONLY person making inroads in the inevitability of a “President Hillary Clinton” is Elizabeth Warren… a woman for whom battling “income inequality” has been her stock & trade for over two decades and has risen to prominence as a champion of the Middle-Class. It was Warren who first proposed the idea of a federal “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” before being elected to public office, and when President Obama announced not only was he going to create The CFPB but put Warren in charge of it, Republicans behaved like they always do… threw a hissy fit, screamed bloody murder and stonewalled creation of the new agency until Warren’s name was withdrawn from contention.

Elizabeth Warren didn’t just suddenly discover the plight of the Poor & Middle Class last month as a convenient political tool, here she was talking to Bill Moyers about the plight of the Middle-Class in September, 2004 (whom I saw a frequently on his PBS program “Now”) Ignore the dopy YouTube title. She’s talking about bankruptcy:
 


 

For a long time, Republicans were proud to describe “The Tea Party” as the Conservative equivalent of “Occupy Wall Street”… an organization that identified more with The Left than The Right, born out of outrage over the Bush Administrations’ bailout of the Big Banks, Wall Street and the Top 1% (not one of whom went to jail BTW), while millions of middle-class Americans went bankrupt, lost their homes, and even threatened with arrest through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, T.E.A.: The “Taxed Enough Already” crowd sprouted wings. But these middle-class teanuts… their taxes weren’t going up. In fact, just the opposite. No, they were protesting increasing taxes on the Mega-Wealthy (the political term for this is “useful idiots”.)

So what are the solutions of these newly converted champions of the Middle Class? Just how do they intend to close that widening gap between the rich & poor (a gap they created with a crowbar in one hand and the tax-code in the other)? Well, they pretty much don’t say. They don’t DARE say… even if they did have a plan (which we know they don’t) because they know it would be ripped to shreds in seconds as the same old “trickle-down” economics that they’ve been selling us for the last 35 years and got us into this mess in the first place. And if it weren’t for my jaded sense of the media, I’d be amazed by how all these miraculous Keynesian-converts (I’m assuming) have gotten away with not being asked EVEN ONCE just how they plan to close that gap.

Seriously now. (Serious? Look who I’m talking about.)

PS: Which Party has fought against revoking tax cuts for corporations that ship jobs overseas? Which Party has made busting Unions a plank in their Party Platform (front-runner WI gov Scott Walker rose to fame by surviving a recall effort as he threatened to push through a law that would have destroyed the labor unions… NOT by changing minds but by convincing protesters to wait until the general election.) Which Party fights to GIVE wealthy corporations all sorts of perks like tax cuts & subsidies, then calls the bottom 47% “Takers” for wanting Healthcare & Food Stamps? Which Party has made vilifying blacks & Hispanics synonymous with the word: Republican? And, most obviously, which Party just flocked to Kansas at the behest of the billionaire Koch Brothers?

And which Party would accuse me of “Class Warfare” for calling them out for their hypocrisy?
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, Greed, Money, myth busting, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Taxes February 9th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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“I’m not a scientist”, #Ballgazi and #ClimateChange

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 26, 2015
 

My reaction to seeing the hashtag “#Ballgazi” regarding the controversy over whether or not the New England Patriots cheated to win the AFC Championship? #Facepalm. “Oh, dear God”, I remember thinking. “Seriously?” But the idea that the same people that see a “conspiracy” by the Patriots to win last week’s game are the same people that see a “conspiracy” regarding Benghazi, wouldn’t surprise me one bit. For the past ten years or so, whenever I heard someone start a sentence with, “I’m not a scientist, but…”, I could be reasonably sure what was to follow was a rant by some Right-Wing Climate Change Denier trying to explain away a pattern of extreme weather events in such a way that doesn’t make them look like a Climate Change denying imbecile to rational thinking people, yet without totally alienating their anti-science low-information base. But this past week, suddenly I could make no such assumption as defenders of the New England Patriots now use that same phrase to explain how their footballs “deflated” during the course of last week’s AFC Championship game against the Colts. Suddenly, “I’m not a scientist” pundits are saying it’s not possible that deflation of the footballs could be a “natural occurrence” and it “MUST be result of human activity.” And suddenly my eyes are buried in my palms again.

Uh, can we get our stories straight, guys?

Last week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen Jim “The Greatest Hoax” Inhofe (yes, THAT Sen. Inhofe) co-sponsored a bill to declare that “Climate change is REAL and NOT a hoax.” You read that right, Inhofe co-sponsored (AND voted FOR) a bill declaring that climate change is NOT a hoax. Inhofe is another of those, “I’m not a scientist” guys.

I’m not entirely sure Inhofe even knew what his own bill was when he tweeted for his fellow senators to “join me in voting YES on Whitehouse’s amdmnt saying climate change IS a hoax, bc it is.” But afterwards, Inhofe snarkily explained that his argument is that climate change “is not man-made“… THAT is the “hoax”. So he’s admitting Climate Change exists but we should do nothing about it? I suppose that’s progress (doesn’t exactly explain his tweet though.) Inhofe went on to explain that something as insignificant as “Man” believing he can transform the climate of an entire planet “created by God” is (quote) “arrogant”. (Should God strike Inhofe’s home with lightning for admitting Climate Change is real, I hope the firemen suggest to him that since the fire was not “man-made”, it would be “arrogant” of them to attempt to put the fire out.)

There is a time when “heavier-than-air” flight was described as “contrary to the will of God” and “arrogant” for man to believe he could duplicate the power of flight that God uniquely bestowed upon birds. Moses was told that men that dared climb Mount Sinai all died for “daring to seek the face of God” when it is more likely they died of exposure to extreme cold and oxygen deprivation. Death by “arrogance”? Maybe. Death by ignorance? Definitely.

Healing through medicine instead of relying on prayer was once considered “arrogant” too. More recently, “cloning” and genetics were also powers limited to the Almighty. Only Zeus could cast lightning bolts (electricity) and dead witches’ bodies floated on water.

Muslims believe it is “arrogant” for any man to presume to know “the face of God” and therefore, drawings & paintings of “The Prophet” are matter-of-factly blasphemous. Nice company you find yourself in, Senator.

Jim, we’re not talking about “one man” all on his own countering God’s work, we’re talking about 7-BILLION PEOPLE, plus corporations & industries building giant factories that belch BILLIONS tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but American power-plants alone emit roughly “2.2 Billion tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere annually, while the typical American family of four emits 85 tons of CO2 every year. It all adds up.

All these Greenhouse gases must go somewhere. They don’t magically disappear. Much of the heat and the carbon floats into the upper atmosphere and literally blankets the Earth, warming it up by trapping in heat. That which doesn’t float into the upper atmosphere is absorbed by our oceans which are quickly reaching their saturation point. Anyone here ever lived next to a pond in which a chemical spill killed all the fish and became so toxic nothing could live in it? Now just image that happening to a planet where 65% of its surface is covered by oceans teaming with life?

If you want to talk “arrogance”, let’s talk about believing YOU’RE right and ten thousand climate scientists are all wrong, risking the future of an entire planet on your personal belief that “man can not change what God created”… a belief than has been disproven again… and again… and again…


Traffic Jam-USA
Traffic jam in the USA
 
Traffic Jam-Sydney, AUS
Traffic Jam-Sydney, Australia
 
112 mile traffic jam-Sao Paolo, BRZ
112 mile traffic jam in Sao Paolo, Brazil
 
Coal plant-USA
Coal fired electric plant-USA
 
Factory in China
Factory in China
 
Streets of China
Streets of China
 
Oil Refinery in the USA
Oil Refinery in the USA


 

But what do I know? I’m not a scientist
(actually, I am. Got a degree and everything.)
 



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Filed in Environment, General, Global Warming, Scandals January 26th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Are Oil Prices Returning To Their Pre-Bush Trajectory?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 19, 2015
 

A number of “concern trolls” on the Right and on Wall Street have been desperate to find ways to paint the recent plunge in oil prices as a BAD thing worthy of “serious concern” (remember when they WANTED to bring down the price of oil with their 2008 “Drill here. Drill now!” campaign rhetoric and Newt’s promise of $2.50/gal gas by approving Keystone?) A lot of amateur-economists talked about the “popping of the tech bubble” in 2000 as some sort of devastating aberration. Something “no one saw coming” and could have been sustained if only it had been handled properly. Poppycock. I was there. What happened to the tech boom of the late ’90’s was not a “popping of the tech bubble” but a CORRECTION (prepping for “Y2K” was the biggest contributor, which we knew would be over by 2000.) The tech bubble didn’t devastate the U.S. economy in 2000 the way it was following the Market Crash of 2008. Likewise, this recent drop in oil prices should not be seen as a “crash” but a “correction”. Before George W. Bush became president in 2001… and on til the invasion of Iraq in 2003… the per-barrel price of oil remained pretty much where it had been for the past two decades… below $30/barrel. It took the invasion of Iraq to drive it into the stratosphere. And now that the economy is finally starting to shake off the last vestiges of the Bush years, oil prices should be seen as simply returning to that slow-rise to $30 trajectory it started in the early 80’s.
 

Oil price per balled, 1981-Present

 

The above graph is a chart of the annual price of oil since 1981. That yellow line shows roughly the trajectory upon which oil prices were rising in that time (going back to 1977 prior to the Iran/Hostage Crisis, see teaser-graph at start of post for more detail), bouncing around the mid-$20’s during most of that time. 1990 & 2000 fall right on that line, and if oil prices had continued on this same trajectory unabated by the Bush-II years, the natural price of oil would be closer to $35/barrel today.

As I pointed out recently (and frequently in the past), the price of gasoline was WELL below $2/gal prior to the invasion of Iraq. In 2000, long-haul truckers threatened to go on strike when the price of diesel hit a crushing $1.89/gal, demanding that the White House do something to stop the sudden rise in gas prices. Candidate George Bush declared that if he were elected president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” [ibid] to get prices down (gas prices were never lower during the entire Bush presidency than they were that day.) Two weeks before the invasion of Iraq, the price oil was $29/barrel and Dick Cheney suggested that one of the consequences of invading Iraq and “removing Saddam Hussein” might be oil “as low as $15/barrel”.
 

Percentage change in oil prices, 1981 to Present
Percentage change in oil prices, 1981 to Present

 

As you can see from the above graph, this recent plunge in the price of oil is certainly not the first nor the largest. That honor goes to the Reagan Administration, whom I believe Republicans give high marks to. The decline in 1998 was also not the forebearer of economic catastrophe. Only the plunge of 2008… which took place AFTER the economic crash that year… was a sign that something was wrong. And NOT ONCE in any of those cases did the steep decline in the price of oil provoke a severe economic downturn. In fact, the opposite is true. Ronald Reagan’s second term saw economic growth. The plunge of 1998 saw the start of explosive growth in the tech sector that fueled the Clinton Jobs Machine. And now in 2015, the economy is on the rebound, creating more than 200,000 jobs a month for the past three months (with 12 of the last 36 months seeing >200K jobs created.)

Oil companies were incredibly successful for decades with oil prices around $30/barrel, and are hardly “struggling” today because oil prices recently (momentarily) fell to $45/barrel last week. Before the Bush presidency, I remember being upset when gas hit $1.49/gal in the Summer of 2000. Today, locally, I can find gasoline for $1.89/gal, getting very close to that $1.50/gal price I fretted over in 2000, and right on par where I’d expect it to be today if prices had continued to rise at the same rate. The idea that sub-$50 oil would be some sort of economic disaster for the oil companies is nonsense. They became addicted to the outrageous profits of the last decade that made companies like Exxon/Mobil “the most profitable corporation on the face of the Earth”, and now they want to convince you that $3/gal gas should be the norm.

It’s nonsense of course. The current decline in gasoline prices is NOT a harbinger of economic devastation to come. Oil companies did just fine with oil close to $25/barrel for decades, and will do so again if necessary.



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Filed in Economy, myth busting, Seems Obvious to Me, War January 19th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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When Your Only Tool for Peace is a Military Hammer…

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 12, 2015
 

This past week saw the bloody attack on French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and a nearby Jewish deli by three Muslim extremists (trained by ISIS… or was it AQAP? No one seems to be sure) out to “avenge The Prophet!” for being depicted in a cartoon (question: If no one if allowed to draw “The Prophet”, how do you know that’s a cartoon of Him? How do you know what He looks like?). First, may I just point out for the record that if your “Prophet’s” ego is so frickin’ fragile that he demands you murder innocents in cold blood that dare insult him, maybe you need a new prophet. How thin-skinned can you get? Whatever. But I also couldn’t help but notice all the Muslim clerics that then came out and publicly denounced these acts of terror. (I found myself wondering when was the last time American Christian leaders came out en masse and publicly denounced the bombing of a Planned Parenthood or threats against immigrant children?) But the REAL question is WHY is the Muslim Community so outraged? Why is the Middle East still in flames after more than a decade of war? And most importantly, what to do about it? American psychologist Abraham Maslow famously wrote, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” When it comes to fighting Terrorism, the only tool in the American arsenal is apparently the Military Hammer (and remember Pentagon Hammers don’t come cheap.) I was never a fan of Dennis Kucinich (mostly b/c when he wasn’t running for president, he was nowhere to be found), but one idea of his stuck with me: creating a Cabinet-Level position of “Secretary of Peace”. Someone whose job it would be to solve crises via non-military means. Not unlike JFK’s “Peace Corp” concept but on a much larger scale (something with a multi-billion dollar budget… magnitudes cheaper than the Pentagon’s budget, yet more effective.) Clearly, “bombing” our enemies isn’t getting the job done. It’s time for a change in strategy.

So what exactly would a “Secretary of Peace” do? Consider this idea: “Infrastructure”. Pay locals to build schools & hospitals in regions threatened by ISIS or Al Qaeda. Trust me, people will like you a lot more when you build a new electric power-plant in their town that doesn’t leave them without electricity 18 hours a day. They’re going to be protective of it, and if ISIS or Al Qaeda tries to destroy it, who do you think they’re going to side with? And if the enemy DOES destroy it, you build it again. Pretty soon, they’re going to get pretty damned tired of building the same school over and over again. When a single Cruise Missile goes for about a million a pop, you can build infrastructure for a faction the cost of destroying it, with a far greater payoff in return… spending less money on guns, bombs, bullets, missiles, armored vehicles, dead & injured soldiers, fighting generations FOR generations… it all adds up. And money saved abroad can be spent on infrastructure here at home.

“War by the rich is called ‘war’. War by the poor is called ‘terrorism.” – unknown

People who live in a constant state of hopelessness and see no future for themselves are more willing to fight because they believe they have nothing to lose. Right now, we are fighting people that see death as their only route to a better “life”. Their real lives are Hell. Tell me, does war make that better or worse? A man that believes he has nothing to lose will die to protect what little he has. Give them something to live for. Give them reason to NOT want to fight.

In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned us of “the Military Industrial Complex”, which is shorthand for corporations that have turned War into big business. They have a strong financial incentive to ensure America stays in a perpetual state of war. So how about we give them a strong financial incentive for peace? Use these same military contractors to build infrastructure… both here & abroad? Definitely no shortage of need after decades of war around the globe.

Ike was right. JFK was right. Everyone to come after was wrong. Thomas Jefferson warned of the danger of “standing armies”… a permanent military whose only function is to fight wars and isn’t going to sit around twiddling its thumbs waiting for the next war to start. We’ve made “war” a business in this country. Maybe it’s time to try the same with “peace”?
 



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Filed in Middle East, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, War January 12th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Republicans Vow First Order of Business Will Be A Pointless Exercise in Showing Who’s Boss by Approving KXL

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 5, 2015
 

As I noted a few weeks ago, I’m still surprised by the number of people that just don’t remember that gas was WELL below $2/gallon before… not just before George W. Bush… but two years into the Bush presidency before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They just couldn’t fathom gas prices ever being as low as we’re seeing it today (close to $2/gallon.) In fact, in 2003, oil hit just $35/barrel the week before the invasion of Iraq after hovering around $29/barrel for years. (I’ve linked to this video of mine numerous times of how one economist predicted what the invasion of Iraq might bring… if not UNDER-ESTIMATING the costs, two weeks before the invasion. In the background you can see gas prices were still around $1.79/gallon in the North-East.) It took a second war and a President/Congress completely unwilling to regulate oil speculators to drive oil prices up to nearly $150/barrel and gas over $4/gallon, laying the groundwork for the ensuing global economic collapse. During the 2012 Presidential race, Newt Gingrich… struggling for a coherent message (“moonbases” just wasn’t packing them in)… settled on promising “$2.50/gallon gasoline by the end of his first term in office” (2016) by “approving the Keystone XL Pipeline” and drilling for oil in every backyard in America (interesting side-note: Mitt Romney vowed to bring Unemployment “below 6.5% by the end of [his] first term”). Yet in two years… not four… the price of gasoline is well below $2.50/gal nationally and can even be found for under $2/gal in many states (one local Exxon station near me here in Houston is selling Regular Unleaded for $1.89/gal.) And it all happened without approving the freaking pipeline. Fantastical promises of “1 million new jobs” were quickly/easily debunked. Most of the construction is already complete. The pipe itself has already been made/purchased. The company benefiting isn’t even American and the vast majority of the “oil” is already earmarked for export overseas, having little to no impact on domestic gas prices. And the process of converting greasy Canadian sludge into “oil” requires a per-barrel price-point nearly $20/barrel higher than it is now, making the entire project a money LOSER. Even if approved, “Trans-Canada” would likely not pursue it for years til the next Republican president drives oil prices back into the stratosphere. But as OPEC has now proven, all they have to do to eliminate the competition is to make the pipeline too costly to operate by simply pumping more oil. One might think that all this might convince even Republicans that completing the Keystone XL pipeline is an exercise in futility, but you’d be wrong. Undeterred, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that “the FIRST vote of the new Congress will be to approve the Keystone XL pipeline” (with WY Senator John Barrasso on “Meet the Press” yesterday citing those “42,000 jobs” as to why it is needed.) Whether either senator knows that that’s “42,000 low paying temp jobs stretched out over two years“, I couldn’t say. Nor do I think it would make a difference. No, Senate Republicans have already admitted that their true reason for making passage of the Keystone XL such a high priority is that it is “a test” [ibid] of political will in Washington. They’ve convinced enough brainless Right-wingers that approving the KXL is “a no-brainer” and that an Obama veto would be nothing more than a challenge to their authority… nay… “the will of the American people” that voted them into office this past year. And THAT is what this vote is all about. It’s not about “creating (imaginary) jobs” or “reducing gas prices”, it’s just more childish gamesmanship by the GOP in a pointless flexing of political muscle.

You might remember that just this past November, just days after the election, in a desperate/futile/pointless/asinine attempt to save DINO Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) Senate seat in a runoff election, Congress voted on whether or not to approve the KXL. The bill failed to reach the 60-vote super-majority threshold necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Landrieu did so poorly in the runoff election that it is doubtful passage of the bill would have affected the outcome of the election anyway. With the added seats in the Senate this year, Republican’s probably have the support of enough brain-dead Democrats to overcome a Democratic filibuster should it come up for a vote again, but NOWHERE NEAR the 67-vote Super-majority they’d need to override a presidential veto, making the entire exercise pointless & futile… IF passing the now irrelevant pipeline were indeed the point (which it isn’t.) It’s all about petty power-starved Republicans trying to show Americans “who’s boss”. They’ve built up this insane reality that exists only in their fevered imaginations where Americans hate President Obama and disagree with him on ever major issue. It’s a world in which Keystone means “jobs, jobs, jobs” and gas under $2.50 a gallon. It’s a world in which Sen. Ted Cruz can declare with a straight face that “Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare” and that “Benghazi” is the greatest political scandal since “Monica Lewinski”.

Republicans see no downside to creating “jobs” regardless of cost… so long as it is a Conservative-friendly industry (be it oil or bombs). They’ll give away Billions in tax incentives to oil companies and spend yet billions more in environmental cleanup in exchange for just 42,000 low-wage jobs (roughly $600K for every $20K/year job.) But tell them how investing in green technology produced a a $5-BILLION ROI, and all you’ll hear is snarky jokes about “Solyndra” (a $300 million loss).

Of course, all this political gamesmanship has nothing to do with “jobs” (last year, unemployment fell at its fastest rate in 30 years) or “bringing down oil prices” (oil now below $54/barrel with gas at $2.20/gallon, a full 1/3rd lower than it was one year ago) and everything to do with Republicans trying to show Obama “who’s boss”.
 



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Filed in Election, Energy Independence, General, Greed, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity January 5th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Mugsy’s Annual Predictions for 2015

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 29, 2014
 

This is arguably my favorite posting duty of the year, where I get to ridicule the so-called “psychics”, blast Conservative prognosticators, a look back at my own routinely successful record of predicting (averaging around 60%), followed by my own predictions for the coming year. Sure, I’ve had my good years (75% in 2008) and my bad (20% for 2007), but even on my worst day, I don’t suck at predicting as much as most (all?) Republicans. They say, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, which explains why Republicans are just so Godawful at predicting. They lack ANY ability to learn from history and can’t see beyond their immediate goals (eg: invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam without an exit strategy, wildly unrealistic expectations of the result, and zero preparation for the aftermath.) I can understand why the predictors keep predicting as long as there’s money to be made and people continue to trust their predictions despite a track-record of failure, but what I can’t understand is why people keep asking these notoriously bad pundits FOR their predictions. I swear I’ve owned hamsters that were better at predicting what happens next than some of the most famous Republican pundits. Case in point:

Bill Kristol (former Chief of Staff to Dan Quayle… which tells you all you need to know) is so routinely horribly bad at predicting, The Rachel Maddow Show actually did an entire segment on it last January (though they omitted his most famous wrong prediction:

“And on this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.” – Bill Kristol defending the decision to invade Iraq to ABC’s Terry Moran, April 1, 2003.

…”almost no evidence of that”… except maybe A THOUSAND YEARS of civil war. Iraq was only “secular” because Saddam knew it was the only way to control religious infighting. What did I say about Republicans and their knowledge of history? (Iraq was currently secular, ergo it has always been secular.)

The so-called “professional psychics” are so routinely bad, it’s almost no fun beating up on them anymore. This list of predictions for 2014 by some of the most famous in their field was so abysmally wrong that it’s easier just to read it than dissect it. Among my favorites: Vladimir Putin wins Nobel prize for his part in Syria and “A tornado destroys most of Kansas City” (KC Kansas or KC Missouri? …like it matters.)

Last year, I made a point of recording “Fox news Sunday’s” Predictions for 2014 on their year-end show. Host Chris Wallace joked that the segment comes under the heading “Often in Error but Never in Doubt”… which sums up Conservatism perfectly. Have you ever seen a group so sure of themselves despite being so consistently wrong about everything? Republicans are SO sure their beliefs are right that their predictions are “predictably” pro Right wing with absolutely no foothold in reality. (I skipped their predictions on “entertainment” and “sports”… which were just as wrong… focusing instead on their political & economic predictions:

Fox’s “Power Panel” makes their predictions for 2014: (4:10)

To summarize:

It’s no surprise Fox chose not to (no do they ever) replay their previous years’ predictions yesterday heading into this years’ segment.

The only one bullish on the economy was DINO Joe Liebermann, correctly predicting a strong economy for 2014, “over 3% GDP growth”, “the DOW will break 18,000″ (it did) “and the S&P will break 2,000″ (it did). But even he predicted “unemployment will [only] go down to 6.5%”. Last month, unemployment fell to just 5.8% following ten consecutive months of 200,000+ job growth… the first time that’s happened since the LAST time a Democrat occupied the White House.

Last week, this was the news on the economy (Dec 23, 2014):
 

ABC News: 2014 Ends With Record Economic Growth (1:56)

 

Remember that date because I promise you Republicans will be taking credit for the improved economy next year despite the fact it was a huge success BEFORE they ever took control of Congress.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Chuck Todd summed up the Obama economic record for 2014 with these figures:
 

2014: Year of the Economic Comeback (1:10)

By contrast, here is a compilation of news reports on the economy after six years of President Bush and Conservative control of Congress (5:54):
 

My first attempt at predicting the coming year was 2006 when I went a paltry 2 for 10 (20%) predicting 2007. Learning from my mistakes, in 2007 I went 9 for 12 (75%). 2008 went 11 for 15 (73%). 2009: just 45%, 2010: 68%, 2011: 66%, 2012: 50%. If you’re doing the math, that’s an average accuracy of just under 57%. So, how did I do in 2013 predicting the coming year? I can’t say if tending to my mother in her final days clouded my judgement, but you be the judge:

  1. Wrong: GOP to agree to a “compromise extension” of Unemployment benefits. – It’s easy to forget that just one year ago, the economy was still soft and unemployment was still nearly 7-percenct (finally falling to 6.7% by years end) Senate Republicans knew they could vote “Yes” on an extension because they knew it would never pass the GOP controlled House. House Leader Boehner hemmed & hawed for five months, finally rejecting an extension in mid-May. But by then, it was moot. Three straight months of job growth well over 100K and then two months of job growth over 200K, by then no one was decrying the need to extend unemployment benefits now that the jobs were coming back.
  2.  

  3. Wrong: expect the DOW to close just over the “19,200” mark come years end. – The market grew like gang-busters once again in 2014, but slightly slower than it did in 2013. Breaking 18,000 last week was still a record.
  4.  

  5. Wrong: Supreme Court to rule that states must recognize marriages performed in another state. – While the Supreme Court did overturn bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma, Utah & Kansas as unconstitutional, they did not go so far as to rule on any “interstate” recognition of marriage. But that’s primarily because no such case was ever brought before the high court. Based on three rulings of declaring state bans “unconstitutional”, there would be no excuse for defending a ban had such a case come before the court. So while I got this one wrong, I still feel vindicated.
  6.  

  7. Wrong: don’t expect control of either House to change hands – Well… half-wrong anyway, but no points for half credit. I never expected Democrats to just roll over and play dead like they did this year, eschewing the president and his robust economy with record job growth like he was an Ebola victim that crossed the border illegally. Never under-estimate a Democrats ability to not take credit for their success as well as Republicans ability to convince you that’s just warm yellow rain they’ve been showering you with.
  8.  

  9. Wrong: Hillary WILL announce her intention to run for President, as will Chris Christie – The years’ not over with yet as I type this, but I really thought the candidates would declare immediately after the mid-terms. But Hillary is waiting before pasting that target on her back, and enthusiasm for Christie just never grew as Democrats followed “Bridge-Gate” and Republicans still never forgave him for embracing President Obama after Hurricane Sandy.
  10.  

  11. Wrong: expect a reasonably smooth, growing economy in 2014. Expect GDP growth in the 4.0+ range next year. – First half right, but second half just missed the mark. I remember as I wrote that, that 4.0+% growth was probably a tad overly optimistic, but growth of over 3.5% wasn’t that far off the mark. Still not good enough for me to grade my prediction as correct.
  12.  

  13. Wrong: Snowden to move to South America. – As far as anyone is aware, he’s still in Russia, even agreeing to an interview with American television while in Moscow.
  14.  

  15. Right: Regarding Congress raising the Minimum Wage, with a number of states deciding no wait for Congress to act and raise it on their own, but nationally, if the economy continues to improve, forget it. – Ah, finally, a win! I was getting worried there. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama asked Congress to raise the Minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour. Republicans in Congress have vowed to block any vote on raising the Minimum Wage, but as predicted, 21 states voted this year to raise their Minimum Wage on January 1st of 2015.
  16.  

  17. Wrong: The Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia is going to be a mess. – While I could make a case that I got this right (#SochiProblems was a trending hashtag on Twitter during the games following reports of “unfinished hotels” and a hiccup during the opening ceremonies as one of the Olympic rings failed to expand), but nothing like my expectation of events either being relocated or canceled, and threats of violence against the games that I expected. I’m no hack, so mark this one wrong as well.
  18.  

  19. Wrong: Janet Napolitano, hand-picked by Obama to lead a delegation of openly gay athletes to Sochi, was specifically chosen because she herself will come out as gay upon her arrival. – No idea if she is or not, but she certainly didn’t make any such announcement while she was there… not even during an interview with “The Advocate” magazine.
  20.  

  21. Right: I don’t think an unemployment rate of 6.1% (give or take 3/10th of a point) is out of the realm of possibility. – Not only was unemployment of just 6.1% obtainable, but the eventual 5.8% is indeed withing 3/10th of that figure as predicted.
  22.  

  23. Wrong, but with some caveats: a nuclear disarmament deal WILL be struck with Iran. – While Iran never did agree to give up its right to pursue nuclear weapons, I also noted an increase in the global supply of oil resulting in a plunge in the per barrel price (but guessing only around $80/$75, never dreaming we’d see sub-$60 numbers again. Iran is indeed trading its oil through OPEC.
  24.  

  25. Wrong: Ted Cruz announces his intention to run for President. – Sometimes reality wins out over ego. With just 2% support for a presidential run among Conservatives (a number that is likely falling following his end-of-year stunt that has the GOP faithful spitting nails in his direction) support for a Cruz candidacy just never materialized.
  26.  

  27. Right: Supreme Court will rule in-favor of Hobby Lobby. – There was no way on God’s Green Earth that this Conservative-leaning Court was going to rule against the Religious Wrong Right in this country. Had the company arguing its religious rights were being violated been Muslims, Hindu’s or Satanists, you can be damned sure the vote would have gone the other way. But the American Taliban wields great power in this country.
  28.  

  29. Right: no “Election Reform” bill will be taken up in an election year. – Admittedly, this one was pretty easy. Lots of talk about the need for “Election Reform” following the 2012 Election, but rampant voter disenfranchisement laws swept the country (in Red states) this past year, sweeping the GOP back to control both houses of Congress due in part to just 39% voter turnout (which is actually just slightly above average for a mid-term.)
  30.  

  31. Right: a really big hurricane will hit someplace somewhere. – I’ll admit I was half-joking on this one, but monster storms are becoming more & more common as Global Warming becomes a growing problem. Typhoon Nuri, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the North Pacific (smashing a 37 year old record), brushed the East coast of Japan before breaking up in the Bering Sea.
  32.  

  33. Right, with caveats: another “Lone-wolf” gun nut will go on a shooting spree. – In the wake of Sandy Hook and the Colorado shooting sprees, it seemed most likely that another mass shooting would take place again. On May 23 in Isla Vista, CA, another disturbed young man went on a shooting spree killing six people and wounding thirteen others (I actually expected more deaths) before killing himself. Notably though, 2014 was more the “year of cops killing unarmed black men” (and one black child) than it was noted as a year of mass murders by a single gunman.
  34.  

  35. Right… though I’m almost tempted to mark this one wrong: the Syrian conflict will still be raging a year from now. After incorrectly predicting military action against Assad/Syria in 2012 AND 2013, I played things a bit closer to the vest for 2014 to predict only that the conflict would still be ongoing in 2014. And indeed it is. But ironically, Assad’s war on his own people has been disrupted by… of all things… the terrorist group ISIS seeking to take control of the entire region. In an odd and totally bizarre way, ISIS has managed to do what America (nor any coalition nation) has dared attempt: disrupt Syria’s war on its own people by drawing its fire against an even greater threat to their monarchy.

Totaling the damage, 7 of 18 for just 39%. Not my worst but pretty far off the mark. Let’s see if I can’t do better this year.
 

My predictions for 2015:

  1. Early in 2015, in a sweeping and feigned show of “bi-partisanship”, Republicans will quickly approve at least two of President Obama’s cabinet appointees (most notably the new Secretary of Defense) in an attempt to show just “how willing” they are “to work with the president”. They will then quickly return to their obstructionist ways though, passing bill after bill they know President Obama would never sign (additional tax cuts for the highest tax brackets, repealing ObamaCare, etc) and point to the president as “the obstructionist” standing in the way of “what the people want.”
    (Update 1/7/15: Republicans Move To Gut Social Security Benefits on Their First Day in Power)
    (Update 1/9/15: House votes to pass Keystone XL pipeline)
  2.  

  3. Tensions between NYC Mayor DiBlasio and the Right-Wing head of the NY “Policemans Benevolent Association” will reach a boiling point with the Mayor finally chastising Pat Lynch by name for breeding discord between him and the NYPD over his own personal political differences. I’m not sure how much longer New Yorkers will tolerate this nonsense. Mayor DiBlasio won with a majority of the vote. Where are they now and why aren’t they rushing to his defense?
    (Update 1/31/15: New York Mayor Bill De Blasio Says Back-Turning By Police Was ‘Really Inappropriate’) but doesn’t cite Lynch by name.)
  4.  

  5. Hillary will remain the Democratic front-runner all year as her few Democratic challengers fail to ever pose a serious threat to her candidacy. Bernie Sanders will get into the race (as a Democrat so he can take part in the debates) but Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will not. She said no; she means no. “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces” is not her style. Expect an endorsement from her late in the year (most likely for Hillary, but Hillary has a nasty habit of throwing her Democratic colleges under the bus, so it is difficult to say for sure.) Support for Bernie may swell after one or two good debate showings and may even help push Hillary to the Left some, but the chances of an admitted “European Socialist”… which translates in the dullard Teabagger ear as “Nazi”… becoming the nominee is about zero.
  6.  

  7. Fans of Ron Paul in 2012 will find Rand Paul a poor substitute and fail to flock to his candidacy as passionately as they did his father.
  8.  

  9. I’m not sure I’m ready to pick the Republican front-runner at this time (my gut says Jeb Bush but I also never expected him to run), but I can tell you that not even Mitt Romney’s ego is big enough to convince him to run again against the likes of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. There isn’t enough oxygen in the rarefied air that is the GOP-nomination for three egos that big. I’m not even confident there will be a clear GOP front-runner by years end. And remember folks: #Jeb4President, because two Iraq Wars and three Recessions just weren’t enough.
    (Update 1/30/15: Romney Announces He Won’t Run for President in 2016.)
  10.  

  11. ISIS will continue to grow, but not at nearly the same rate. Recent barbaric domestic attacks like the massacre of 145 school children in Pakistan by the Pakistani Taliban in response to the rise of ISIS there will anger weary neighbors tired of all the in-fighting. As fewer people flock to join ISIS, their growth will slow and less territory will be taken/held. I don’t expect ISIS to be significantly larger a year from now than it is today (roughly 31,500 members).
  12.  

  13. We haven’t seen the last of Putin’s trouble-making. Global insecurity raises oil prices. The recent plunge in oil prices has thrown the Russian economy into chaos, yet Putin still enjoys an 80% approval rating among Republicans er Russians because they suffer from the same classic inferiority complex as Conservatives (them against the world). So they rally around their dear leader as he makes mischief in the world trying to drive up oil prices by soughing unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East (and my money is on teenage Russian hackers being behind the hack of Sony Pictures that was blamed on North Korea.)
  14.  

  15. Which leads to North Korea. I suspect evidence will grow that North Korea was not directly responsible for the computer hacking of Sony Pictures late this year, but instead were only approached for “backing” or “support” just prior to the attack by third parties. Any early “sympathy” that might grow for North Korea as evidence suggests the hacking did not originate there will quickly dissolve as evidence suggests they had prior knowledge of… and were complicit in… the hacking attack.
    (Update 1/19/15: NSA confirms NK behind hack attack because they hacked NK’s computers back in 2010.)
  16.  

  17. The GOP will NOT attempt to impeach President Obama in 2015 (no bets on 2016 though). They know the voting public just has no appetite for two attempted impeachments of two Democratic presidencies in just the last eight years and would rightly crucify them for such crass political gamesmanship once again if they tried. An attempt to “sue” president Obama over “Executive Action” is still possible, but if they do (likely) it will be incredibly low-key.
  18.  

  19. Gitmo will still be in operation by years end. Republicans will raise a ruckus as more (already cleared) detainees are released, but for the most part, not much will have changed by years end. President Obama has tried to close it for six years, but with a Republican controlled Congress for his last two, forghedaboudit.
  20.  

  21. And that brings us to Cuba (where Gitmo is located.) I never dared predict a thaw in relations with Cuba this past year, but now that it has happened, expect interest in Cuba as a tourist destination to explode, much to the chagrin of Conservatives, torn between their hatred for the Castros/Communism and their love for the economic opportunities including corporations expanding cruise lines, building hotels and reviving the struggling cruiseline industry.
  22.  

  23. With no elections this year, don’t expect any more states to pass marijuana legalization laws. But as the year comes to a close, expect a push to get it on the 2016 ballot in more states start to take shape. No, Democrats will not make it part of their 2016 platform and no, president Obama will not take any Executive Action… neither pro nor con… regarding the issue.
  24.  

  25. As noted above, Republicans will try to take credit for record economy that we’ve already started to see take shape before they’ve even taken control of Congress. When Republicans held control of both houses during President Clinton’s final six years, even they didn’t try to repeal the tax hike that Democrats passed in 1994 that led to a Balanced Budget and unprecedented economic growth. Nor will they try in 2015 because they know what it would do to the economy.
    (Update 1/7/15: Sen. Mitch McConnell says the economy is improving because Republicans are in charge)
     
  26. I’m stunned oil prices have plummeted so precipitously this past year, and while the decline may continue for a few months more, it has a floor. I’d be stunned if oil fell below $40/barrel in 2015 and if it does, it won’t stay down there for long. Even with Putin out there trying to stir up trouble to get oil prices back up to rescue the Russian economy, expect the price of oil to settle in around $58/barrel give or take around $5… roughly just about where it is right now ($55/barrel).
  27.  

  28. The DOW will continue to rise but not at the same rate, as oil prices stagnate and Republican obstructionism leaves Washington in the doldrums. The DOW should flirt with the 20,000 mark by years end, another record but at a slower rate than 2013 or 2014.

And that’s my predictions for 2015. No big moves on the Environment or Renewable Energy. 2015 just won’t be a “shake things up” kind of year. With Hillary’s “inevitability”, even the Presidential Debates won’t draw a lot of interest. Other than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and “Medicare” in 1965, can you name anything of significance happening in a year ending in “5” in the last 50 years? My batting average has fallen every year since 2008, so I’m due for some improvement. We’ll see.
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Money, Predictions December 29th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Christmas Hiatus

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 22, 2014
 

M.R.S. is on Christmas Hiatus, but will return next Monday.
 
Trickle Down Economics explained

 



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Filed in Politics December 22nd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Dear Torture Advocates: Not only does it not work, it makes things worse.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 15, 2014
 

On March 23, 2003… three days into the invasion of Iraq, Private Jessica Lynch was captured by Iraqi forces following an ambush of her convoy. Publicists in the Bush Administration spun an elaborate tail of how “Blood & Guts” Lynch fired her weapon “til she emptied her clip” of ammo (Lynch had actually done no such thing, having been too badly injured to fight back) before she was captured by an enemy the Bush Administration feared was doing “Lord knows what” to her. An elaborate Commando-raid to rescue Lynch was devised, and on April 1st, a nighttime rescue raid on “Saddam (Public) Hospital” was conducted by Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos that probably could have just walked in the front door in broad daylight. No Iraqi troops or weapons were used to “hold Lynch captive” and by ALL accounts… including Lynch herself… her wounds were cared for, and she was treated humanely by the staff, whom, according the Lynch, one nurse “sang her to sleep” so she wouldn’t be scared.

At it’s peak, the infamous “Abu Ghraib” prison in Iraq, where American troops sadistically tortured Iraqi prisoners, held as many as 3,800 detainees.
 

Former President Bush (41) shedding tears over the humane treatment
of Iraqi prisoners by US forces during the ’91 Gulf War
(2007)

 

It was rather disturbing to hear former Vice President Dick Cheney on “Meet the Press” yesterday cite “9/11″ four (possibly five) times in defending the use of torture, arguing in essence that what WE did “was nothing in comparison to what was done to us on 9/11″… the classic, “yeah, but you…” defense. But shame on Chuck Todd for never pointing out that the vast majority of these tortured prisoners were Iraqi… who had NOTHING to do with 9/11. (BTW: when Todd pointed out that bad intelligence also led to “claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn’t exist”, Cheney did NOT attempt to correct him or even challenge him on the claim like he has in the past. To me, that’s evidence that even Dick Cheney now concedes Iraq never had any WMD’s.)

“It wasn’t torture!” Dr. Karl Rove (yes, I’m being facetious) insisted to host Chris Wallace during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday. “In fact, the techniques were designed specifically NOT to be torture!” The example Rove gave… which I’m certain he thought up all on his own without consulting anyone… was the fact waterboarded prisoners legs “were elevated” (presumably, in Rove’s mind, to allow water to drain from their lungs) to keep them from drowning. In Rove’s fevered imagination, this is PROOF that we were behaving “humanely” and taking strides to NOT torture prisoners by showing concern for their lives. Of course, Rove is an idiot. Someone really should explain BREATHING to him and how difficult it is to do with a nose/mouth full of water. “Elevating the legs” of a waterboarding victim is designed to PROLONG the torture so that they don’t die on you before you’ve extracted the information you think they know. To suggest a technique devised to extend a victims suffering is humane because it prevents them from dying too quickly, is like arguing in favor of dying from Ebola vs a gunshot wound because a gunshot kills you too quick.

When the Iraqi’s denied they were hiding any “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, the Bush Administration called them liars and demanded they allow in UN Weapons Inspectors. When the inspectors failed to confirm what they were certain was true, they took the position that the Inspectors were too dumb to know they were being hoodwinked by Saddam, ordering all allied personnel out of Iraq and invaded anyway. Similarly, when detainees didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear… most notably regarding connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, they tortured them till they told them what they wanted to hear.

Cheney repeatedly argued that “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (an aside: if you have to use an euphemism to avoid calling something what it really is, it’s as good as an admission of guilt. – Mugsy) DID “provide good intel that lead to the capture” of a number of terrorists including OBL (which is a lie) and/or foiling plots. Even if true, the amount of time & money WASTED chasing down thousands of bad/false leads for every one “good” lead is incalculable. Some torture-defenders, when you ask them if torture was “the ONLY way” to obtain this information, most will hem & haw before admitting, “There’s no way to know that”. But we DO know that because, according to the CIA report summary (pdf), all of the high-profile intel successes were obtained BEFORE prisoners were tortured, and in many cases, detainees that were “singing like a tweety-birdsuddenly stopped talking after their minds were destroyed by torture (another valuable asset lost.)

Other torture advocates like to cite the “ticking time bomb” scenario, where there’s no time to wait for “traditional” interrogation techniques to work. But in the VAST majority of (arguably ALL) cases, there was no “time is of the essence” situation that was thwarted by way of information gleaned from torture. Of the TWENTY-SIX innocent detainees who were tortured, one was placed in solitary confinement for 19 months before he was asked a single question.

Not only does torture not work, but it is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, producing fewer results in more time at much greater expense. If you truly wished to see America fail, you couldn’t do much worse than to root for the continued use of torture. In 1988/89, the CIA produced two reports on the use of torture on prisoners, stating that “[p]ysical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it was wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.

Downsides of Torture Program:

  1. False leads waste an enormous amount of time & money. How many bad leads did we obtain via torture for every good lead? There’s no way to know if a lead is no good until you investigate it. What better way to harm your captors than to waste their time chasing down false leads that you know they desperately want to believe are true? Very quickly, your enemies will learn the quickest route to ending their suffering is to feed you a really good pile of crap that you’ve been begging for. David Axelrod noted during “Meet the Press” yesterday that, according to the CIA report, “torture produced the intel that Iraq was supposedly connected to 9/11.”
  2.  

  3. Using torture prolongs war as your enemies dig in their heels and refuse to surrender 1) for fear of what might happen to them if they are captured and 2) it gives them the moral high-ground, with physical proof of their enemy’s barbarism. Ask yourself: “Might we still be at war 13+ years later because of those very reasons?” How many American soldiers died needlessly because they kept encountering enemies that would rather “fight to the death” than risk capture & torture?
  4.  

  5. Which naturally, creates more terrorists. No better recruiting poster than to point to the barbarism of your enemy. And to those (like Cheney) who’ll cite “beheadings” by our enemies, THERE WERE NO BEHEADINGS IN IRAQ PRIOR TO THE INVASION. Darth Cheney even had the gall to cite the barbarism of ISIS in defense of torture, but ISIS WOULDN’T EXIST IF HE HADN’T INVADED IRAQ.
  6.  

  7. The more barbaric your tactics, the more barbaric your enemy becomes in response. As noted above, no one was “beheading” Americans before Abu Ghraib.
  8.  

  9. Arguing that your techniques aren’t torture just helps ensure that your own troops are more likely to be tortured should they be captured, only to have your enemies use YOUR OWN DEFINITION of what is or isn’t “torture” against you.
  10.  

  11. As noted above, some prisoners that were cooperative PRIOR to being tortured may suddenly become useless AFTER being tortured… either out of spite or… in some circumstances, due to psychological or physical damage… even death.

 
If torture worked, you wouldn’t have to do it TWICE… let alone 187 times like they did to 9/11 “Mastermind” KSM. Seriously, if the goal of torture is to extract information from your prisoner and they are still able to withhold information from you that requires being tortured AGAIN to extract… and they KNOW they will be tortured again if they don’t reveal everything they know yet don’t reveal it anyway, then it clearly didn’t work.

So, if you’re all in favor of America wasting precious time chasing down false leads, destroying our image as a just & noble society, losing valuable intelligence assets as a direct result of abuse, giving our enemies the moral high-ground, putting our own troops in greater danger should they be captured (and then be left with no leg to stand on when you protest), extending wars so they last for decades fighting an enemy that would rather die than surrender, and aiding the enemy’s ability to recruit additional fighters to their side… then by all means defend the use of torture.

POSTSCRIPT: “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]… I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775



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Filed in Crime, myth busting, National Security, Party of Life, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals, Terrorism, War December 15th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Plunge in Oil Prices Foretells Looming Economic Disaster. Aribrary pricing can go up easier than it came down.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 8, 2014
 

During the 2000 presidential campaign, after oil climbed a whopping 72cents in one day (yes, that’s sarcasm) to $33.05/barrel, causing gasoline prices to hit an “unthinkable” $1.68/gallon nationally, Interstate “long-haul” truckers across the country threatened to go on strike saying that the soaring price of fuel was putting them out of business. Naturally, the leading candidates, Bush & Gore, were both forced to respond. On June 22nd of that year, George W Bush openly criticized the Clinton Administration for rising gas prices, saying (famously) that if HE were president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” to bring down gas [sic] prices. Over the prior two decades, the price of gasoline had not fluctuated by more than a few cents a year until the “dime a gallon” spikes we saw in early 2000. But that stability vanished following G.W.Bush’s ascent to the presidency:

DoE graph of weekly oil prices from 1991 to Present (link)
Weekly gas prices 1991 to present

The range circled in yellow is the relatively flat/stable gasoline prices we had become accustomed to for decades, with a slight dip following 9/11. Gas prices rarely rose more than a couple of pennies per gallon in a month let alone a single day. After becoming president, the price of gasoline under George W Bush remained in the “strike zone”… and by that, I mean quite literally the “over $1.50/gal” price point at which truckers had threatened to strike… for the next three years. The day AFTER 9/11… and for the next two years… oil was still (roughly) only $29/barrel. It took the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and tossing the Middle East into chaos to drive the price of oil into the stratosphere (I’ll let you decide if that was the goal all along.)

The range circled in red is the dramatic plunge in gasoline prices after peaking at just over $4.10/gallon in July of 2008 (reportedly, one journalist asked President Bush at the time what he thought about the price of gas breaking $4/gallon, to which a startled president Bush… who last saw gas prices around $1.68/gal during the 2000 campaign… supposedly said in surprise, “How much???”) Breaking the $4.00 barrier was probably the final straw in the looming collapse of the economy, the bankrupting of the banking industry and the implosion of Wall Street, with the price of gas falling to a national average of just $1.89/per gallon in just seven months. The election of President Obama and the promise of getting out of Iraq was seen as likely to bring some stability to the Middle East (don’t laugh), which in turn would reduce the threat to our oil supply, allowing prices to quickly “rebound” back to the “new normal” of over $2.50/gallon in less than a few months (and over $3.50/gal in the year to follow). Again, as you can see from the graph, gas prices began to flatten out (relatively) until this most recent plunge (circled in green.)

I’ve been writing about the skyrocketing price of oil under Bush for many years now, so one might think I’d be thrilled to death to see the price of oil (and gas) plunge back to Earth… and under a Democratic president no less to really rub it in Republican’s faces. Low gas prices are like a shot of nitrous in the economic gas tank. What Republicans think “tax cuts” do for the economy, falling gas prices actually DO (because the benefits hit the Poor & Middle-Class FAR more directly/substantially.) But sadly, this current plunge has only highlighted a big flashing neon-sign at just how arbitrary oil pricing was to begin with, and how likely this rubberband is poised to snap back in our faces. Not to sound like a “Debbie Downer”, but there is a reason oil prices have been falling so precipitously in recent months and the chance they could shoot back up at almost any time is very real (if not likely)… the consequences of which could get very ugly.

The reason oil prices are falling are manifold. First, the United States, under President Obama, has dramatically increased oil production to a 38 year high. The “Drill here! Drill now!” crowd that vilified Obama during the 2008 & 2012 presidential races has an unexpected ally in President Obama. While touting the need to cut our dependence on fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy, President Obama has disappointingly been very supportive of increased drilling across the country (mercifully, he stood up against the “Keystone XL pipeline”, but have you noticed since the vote failed in the Senate, Republicans aren’t exactly banging the drum on how they’ll hold another vote after they take control of Congress?)

Increased U.S. production has triggered a price-war with OPEC… which represents about 1/3 of all the oil produced in the world… increasing their own production to compete with America. So right now, it’s a fight to see “who blinks first”. Two weeks ago, OPEC voted on whether they should CUT production in an attempt to drive prices back up. In the end, they voted “No” because they knew they would lose Billions in sales as more people purchased American oil. OPEC’s response was that they could withstand the price of oil falling to as low as $50/barrel again… a price not seen since right after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But American oil companies are likely to blink first before allowing oil prices to fall that low again, and would cut their own production to drive prices back up. OPEC would happily cut their own production in turn, the price of oil would skyrocket overnight and the U.S. economy could crash.

And American oil companies have ample incentive to drive prices up. First, when you sell a product billions of people literally can’t do without, you can almost charge whatever you want. And if they want $75 oil again, they wouldn’t break a sweat getting it back up there. And if you’re “TransCanada” and have millions of acres of oily sludge just begging to be turned into a pile of cash if only it were cost-effective to do so (presently, oil needs to be over $75/barrel to make converting tarsands sludge into oil profitable), nothing would make them (or their investors) happier than to see the price of oil shoot back up.

Of course, U.S. oil production can’t remain at this pace forever. Eventually (very soon I believe), production is going to start falling off (either from actual shortages or artificial ones), thus prices will start inching back up and the U.S. economy will falter. Desperate to eschew blame, Republicans… having missed the lesson entirely… will cry, “If only Democrats hadn’t blocked the Keystone pipeline in 2014, it would be built by now (actually, most of it is already built) and the price of oil wouldn’t be so high!”

No, the lesson to be learned here is that now more than ever, while oil prices are low and the economy is growing, we need to be investing in Green Energy now more than ever. Think of it as a “rainy day fund”. You don’t put money in the fund when you’re struggling and need it most, you fill it when times are good and need it least. We shouldn’t allow our… nay The World’s economy to be subject to the whims of the Oil Cartels. They’ve already subjected us to ONE global economic disaster. Do we REALLY wanna try for TWO… especially with so much warning?

POSTSCRIPT: I decided not to report on the recent protests regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and whomever is next because the subject is already being covered thoroughly by others. Rush Limbaugh went on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday to blame “high taxes on cigarettes” for the death of Eric Garner (the “logic” being that the only reason there was a market for him to sell lose cigarettes was because of the high taxes on them, and the city’s dependence on that tax revenue is why “so many” cops descended upon him to the point of taking his life.) Yes Rush, blame the government; blame the victim; just don’t blame the guy with his arm around Garner’s neck… which “wasn’t a choke hold” because the cops told him so.

Limbaugh… the man who sang “Barack the Magic Negro” on his radio show to the same Teanut listeners who carried signs of Obama dressed like a witch doctor while protesting “ObamaCare”… complained bitterly that “people thought electing a black president would move the country past racism” (an irony lost on Limbaugh), but instead President Obama is to blame for an even greater racial divide in this country. He went on to lament that “you can’t criticize Obama without being accused of being a racist.” No Rush, before Obama, closet racists like yourself kept their racism in check. Once they were able to openly use racial code to criticize a black politician under the protective guise of simply “criticizing the president”, that’s when you and your ilk were exposed as the racists asshats we always knew you to be.

 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Greed, Money, Predictions, Seems Obvious to Me December 8th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View