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Reconciling Trump’s Incompetency With Economic Success
May 7th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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During the 1980 presidential race, GOP candidate Ronald Reagan attacked President Carter for allowing the National Debt to “skyrocket” from just $700 Billion to $900 Billion, a nearly 25% increase in the National Debt in just four years, implying “stunning fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. of course, what Reagan innocently forgot to mention was that all those loans to pay for the Vietnam War started to come due in 1976 (the year before Carter took office) and drove up the Debt, not because of any “fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. Then Reagan went on to become president, slashed taxes on the wealthy, and TRIPLED the National Debt in just eight years. But Republicans adored Reagan… and still do to this day… for producing a “fantastic” economy (actually, the Reagan economy was less successful Bill Clinton’s. And Carter did FAR better in his four years than Reagan did in his first four.) Reagan traded the short-term gain of tax cuts to rescue a struggling economy in the 80’s for a 300% increase in the National Debt that we’ll be paying off for generations. Short-term gain in exchange for delayed long-term pain. Republicans have a well-documented history (something I document here weekly) of ignoring the future consequences of decisions they make today in exchange for short-term gain.

I remember a few years back listening to a debate over whether or not “nuclear energy” should be included in any discussion of “Green Energy”. The short-term gainers argued that “anything that helps us get off fossil fuels that doesn’t produce CO2” should be considered “Green Energy”. One man pointed out that “If the ancient Egyptians had nuclear reactors and used them to power their cities 5-10 thousand years ago, we would STILL be stuck having to store their nuclear waste today.” That’s an amazing thought. Short-term gain in exchange for long-term pain.

We see this repeatedly among Republicans. “Damn the consequences! Full speed ahead… into Iraq… or exploding the Deficit with tax cuts that aren’t paid for… or rolling back regulations of coal mining (and not just “pollution” regulations either. West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary is being led by none other than Bill Blankenship, owner of the “Massey Energy Coal Mine” who went to prison after ordering supervisors to ignore coal mine safety regulations, resulting in the deaths of 29 coal miners in 2010. (But hey, they all had jobs!). Cutting taxes without regard for the Debt (until a Democrat becomes president)? That’s GOP-101.

Republicans hate “government regulations” the way children hate being told to eat their peas. Those “regulations”… like those mine safety regulations Blankenship ignored… were put in place for a reason. Rolling back regulations might help a few companies save a few bucks today and perhaps create a few more jobs… until one of the reasons those regulations were enacted in the first place comes back to bite them in the ass and ends up costing people a lot of money (or worse.) The consequences of many decisions might not be felt for years, but they always come. How many people predicted we’d still be at war in the Middle-East FIFTEEN YEARS after the invasion of Iraq (which was sold on the promise of an “Arab Spring” where the successful Democratization of Iraq would spread throughout the Middle-East as “dictatorships fall like dominoes?”)

So last week, unemployment fell to an amazing 3.9%… technically “full employment” (ie: if you don’t have a job, you probably don’t need one)… a low not seen since Bill Clinton’s second term. Add to that, the “meteoric” rise in the Stock Market after Trump was elected (the DOW closed at a record high of 26,616.71 on January 26th of this year… an increase of 25.5% since Obama left office. All very good news for the economy, and both are indexes I used to judge the strength/weakness of the economy under both Obama & Bush. And this far into Trump’s second year, he does deserve the majority of the credit for these good numbers (as much as it pains me to say it) because a year of unpopular economic decisions would just as easily have driven those numbers back up.
 

Unemployment rate since Bush's final year

 

Trump nearly derailed his own economy when he threatened to impose blanket indiscriminate tariffs on imported steel & aluminum without regard for country of origin, which threatened to spark a global trade war, first resulting in the DOW losing over a thousand points in one week, then losing a thousand points in one day the following Monday. So current numbers ARE a reflection of current policies.

Under Obama during the 2016 campaign, when unemployment fell from 4.9% to 4.6% on November 1st… three points in just one month… Trump called the numbers “fake” and an attempt by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to help Hillary Clinton. Now the numbers are totally accurate and proof his economic policies are working.

At the risk of sounding like a partisan pessimist unwilling to admit “success” under a Republican president, I’m seeing the same trends we saw under George W. Bush when he slashed interest rates NINE TIMES in 2001 (and don’t blame 9/11. Only TWO of those cuts came after 9/11) to get the economy moving again in his first term (if you have been paying attention this week, the last time unemployment fell to 3.9% was December of 2000JUST as the Republican candidates started talking down the economy as they started their run for president (again, trading short-term gain without regard for the consequences.) Interest rates near zero have left the Federal Reserve with no place to go but up… which we have been putting off ever since. When exploding gasoline prices (thanks to deregulated Commodity Traders) sucked TRILLIONS out of the economy by 2008, “cutting interest rates to kickstart the economy” was no longer an option. Global economic disaster ensued, forcing newly elected President Obama to borrow hundreds of Billions for his “Stimulus”.

Trump’s MASSIVE corporate tax cuts… permanent for the rich but temporary for everyone else… spurred enormous investment in the stock market (almost without regard for profits) because it meant corporations were going to be able to keep more of their profits. Many stocks are likely over-inflated, not justified by their sales figures, which makes them ripe for a crash. Trump is creating a bubble that will make The Crash of 2008 look like “The Good Old Days”. We can’t cut taxes to zero and still fund the government, so the days of goosing investment in the Stock Market with the promise of additional tax cuts are over. Once again, there’s no place for them to go but up. The flood of investors pouring money into stocks to take advantage of larger profit margins seemed to push the DOW to new record highs week-after-week for months. Those record highs stopped with that January 26th record close mentioned above. The DOW has not hit another record high since. By last Wednesday, the DOW was down more than 10% off that record high just three months earlier (though gaining a nice 300+ point bounce Friday thanks to the good jobs numbers for April.) And much of this has to do with an increase in Consumer spending thanks to those (temporary) tax cuts (that will blow a hole in the Deficit for the next guy to worry about.) Yes, those tax cuts for the Poor & Middle Class will come to an end over the next few years, but the Republican philosophy is that in a few years, with the economy growing, consumers won’t need those tax cuts anymore (but then watch how hard Republicans fight a few years from now to keep those tax cuts on the grounds ending them will hurt the economy. This is EXACTLY what Republicans did regarding “The Bush Tax Cuts” that were set to end under Obama.)

Okay, we’ve spurred the economy with tax cuts and deregulation. Now what? How do we keep the momentum going? Trust me. They got nothin’.

Tax cuts alone don’t drive economic growth. And thanks to Trump’s massive tax cut blowing a hole in the Deficit, they are going to HAVE TO raise interest rates (already a growing concern) to fund the government. That will suck Billions out of the economy, slow growth, and cause another Recession. Then Trump’s low-end tax cuts will expire, making the problem even worse (which as I note above, will be the excuse for extending those tax cuts even longer) and make an already bad problem even worse.

Gas prices are also on the rise. Republicans LOVE “Big Oil” and want unrestricted drilling EVERYWHERE. “Wanna drill for oil in the middle of a National Park? Go for it! So with all this additional drilling, why are oil/gas prices going up? The national average price of gasoline is now $0.55/gal higher today than when Obama left office. Oil… $52.42/barrel when Obama left office… is racing towards $70/barrel today. Why? Because the GOP’s love of “Big Oil” isn’t out of a desire to see cheap gas, it’s out of a desire to make oil company executives rich. Enjoy the “good times” while you can, folks!

There are plenty of movie & TV examples of “good intentions gone wrong”. But one of my favorites was a 2002 episode of “The Outer Limits” called “The New Breed” (44 minutes) about a brilliant scientist with a massive ego who invented microscopic “nanobots” that could repair damaged cells on a molecular level to cure everything. At first, the nanobots are a huge success. But then they start misinterpreting normal flaws as “mistakes” that need to be “fixed” (one example: giving the doctor “gills” because he kept testing to see how long he could hold his breath under water.) By the end, the brilliant scientist was begging for death.

And that’s how I feel every time I hear Republicans promising the moon today if we just jeopardize our future. “Too many regulations!” “Fighting Climate Change is costing us jobs!” “Corporations will regulate themselves if they wish to stay in business!” “Ice Cream & candy for dinner! We’ll worry about the tummy ache and cavities tomorrow!” They’ve done it time & time again.

A month ago, I wrote about my concern regarding a possible increasing willingness to overlook Trump’s crimes & disastrous policies should his economic policies turn out to be successful. How much is your soul worth? In exchange for short term economic growth, Reagan’s policies exploded the Debt, made “deregulation” a GOP mantra, and unleashed the Military Industrial Complex. Trump whined bitterly of the Mueller/Russia investigation last week, saying, “The country is running so smoothly”, suggesting the investigation into his campaign’s frequent and unresolved contacts with a hostile foreign power… (“meddling” that even Trump himself now concedes happened)… is just sour grapes by “losers” trying to derail his presidency before his “success” costs them the next election.

The cause for alarm here is that Trump is implementing every economic “trick” in the book… (tax cuts, “deregulation”, low interest rates) usually reserved for emergencies… all at once to goose the economy. The danger is that if things go bad, you’re left with no way to counter the damage and rescue the economy.

It drives me crazy that people can’t see that he’s a conman. PT Barnum in a cheap suit. Trump is (or was before the election) broke, pretending to be a billionaire. His entire shtick has been coning people into believing he must know what he’s talking about because he’s a billionaire. “Trump University”, “Trump Airways”, “Trump Vodka” (not wine but Russian vodka), “Trump Mail-Order Steaks” (I always wondered just how much money someone who made million dollar real estate deals thought he’d make selling steaks by mail?), presidential candidate, and now he’s selling the snake oil of “Trickle-Down” voodoo economics all over again.

And (for now), people are buying it. Lord help us all.
 


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Peace At the Barrel of a Gun. Is Threatening to Nuke Our Enemies the Way to Encourage Peace Talks?
Apr 30th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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In the movie “All the Presidents Men”, WaPo Editor Ben Bradley tells Woodward & Bernstein about Chuck Colson (special counsel to President Nixon): “There’s a cartoon on his wall. The caption reads, ‘When you’ve got ’em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.'” That scene has always stuck in my mind as perfectly describing to me the Republican philosophy towards working with others. “I don’t care if you like me just so long as you bend to my will.” The complete lack of respect for anyone who doesn’t think like they think; want what they want. And they will achieve those ends by any means possible. Damn the consequences (see: “deposing Saddam.”) Bully your opponents until they bend to your will. It’s the story of the fastest gun in the West who must live with his back against the wall in constant fear that one day, someone is going to test just how good a shot they really are. It’s the proverbial “gilded cage”… which is just fine I suppose if you’re a xenoaphobic isolationist like most Republicans who live in constant terror of the outside world “invading” theirs.

This philosophy suits Trump to a T. Like any Toddler, Trump doesn’t behave like a rational adult. He throws a tantrum until he gets what he wants. And in the case of North Korea, he threatened “fire & fury, the likes of which have never been seen”… should they threaten the United States with a missile test. And “suddenly”, Kim Jong Un is talking to South Korea about “denuclearization”… even signing a “pledge” to do it… someday (details yet to be hammered out following the Summit with Trump.) Trump bragged in Michigan, “They [the Media] are asking ‘What… if anything… did Trump have to do with it? Uh… EVERYTHING! (insert obnoxious bouncing smirk here.)” And for this, some Republicans are already talking about “a Nobel Peace Prize for Trump” if he successfully denuclearizes North Korea. Shortly after Bush-43 took office, Dubya’s inclusion of NK in his “Axis of Evil” speech (before invading Iraq) pushed them into starting a nuclear weapons program, even testing their first ever nuclear weapon in 2006 (during the Bush Administration.) The result was to bring BUSH to the negotiating table (though to Bush’s credit, they DID convince NK to dismantle their lone nuclear facility. And they didn’t have to resort to threatening a nuclear strike.) NK’s missile testing slowed (but never stopped) during Obama’s eight years, and when Trump started saber-rattling his first months in office, NK’s nuclear weapons development switched into hyperdrive, producing an ICBM in record time capable of reaching the U.S.… all thanks to Trump ramping up the rhetoric against North Korea. And now, suddenly, North Korea is meeting with South Korea, “pledging” denuclearization, and agreeing to face-to-face talks with Trump. Why? Trump’s threats? No.

Do we REALLY want to normalize presidents threatening the Nuclear Annihilation of our enemies as an effective means of inducing negotiations? And is someone who threatens nations with Nuclear Annihilation deserving of a “Nobel Peace Prize”? Trump’s governing style always reminds me of this old “MadTV” sketch: “Drunk President“, where a drunk guy wakes up to discover he was just re-elected president after getting things done by being a reckless drunk no one dare offend:
 


“Cuba’s now part of the U.S.. Anyone got a problem with that???”

 

You think North Korea & Iran don’t remember Bush invading Iraq AFTER they agreed to dismantle their al Samoud missiles and allow in inspectors to confirm they’ve been disarmed? Belligerence may get you what you want… THIS time. But eventually, the empty threats will get old. The neighborhood kids will stop playing with you, and one day, some kid who is tired of being bullied is going to call your bluff and/or shoot you dead on the playground with a homemade weapon he’s been constructing in Daddy’s basement for the past 18 months plotting revenge.

Trump is also threatening to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. As much as Trump man-crushed on French President Macron during his visit here, Macron (along with every other European leader) is begging Trump NOT to blow up the Iran deal (pardon the metaphor.) If Trump reneges on the Iran Nuclear Deal brokered by Obama (another “If the black guy did it, it must be bad” spurious reversal), what nation would EVER agree to ANY deal with the United States ever again if there was a possibility that in 4-to-8 years, the next president will simply rip it up, declare it “null & void”, and demand more from them? That makes us LESS safe, not more.

And Republicans want Trump to win the Nobel Peace Prize… WHILE he’s threatening to further destabilize the entire Middle-East.

I believe I mentioned previously, it wasn’t Trump’s belligerence (in his August 2017 “Fire & Fury” speech) that suddenly finally brought North Korea to the bargaining table in 2018. It was the Summer Olympics in South Korea. Kim Jong Un had never set foot in South Korea before last week. When the Olympics came to Seoul, South Korea called the North and proposed their athletes compete as one team. Kim sent his sister to the Olympics instead of going himself, then watched the ceremonies on TV. The technical glitz & glamour, and the comfortable modern lives of those living in South Korea in stark contrast to the impoverished, near Dark Ages lives of people starving in North Korea. And suddenly discovering the rest of the world he has refused to visit doesn’t all live in the same daily misery North Korea does. Kim’s sister returned home, likely regaling her brother with stories of brightly lit neon skyscrapers, restaurants serving every kind of cuisine you could imagine, and shopping to her hearts content bringing home modern conveniences one could only dream of in the North.

And THAT dear reader is what got North & South Korea talking. NOT Trump’s saber-rattling. That is quite literally the Mission of the Olympics… to bring enemies together, to share cultures and make friends. And it worked.

Meanwhile, Trump is already prepping us for failure. AFTER he announced his desire to sit down and talk to North Korea about denuclearization (after HE himself instigated a rocket-propelled arms race), Trump fired his chief ambassador… Secretary of State Tillerson… and replaced him with the head of the freaking CIA… and not just ANY CIA chief, but a hard right Conservative like Pompeo who is CURRENTLY advocating we tear up the Iran deal (you think our agreement with Iran doesn’t loom large in Kim’s mind as he plans to negotiate with Trump?) THEN, to make matters worse, Trump appoints one of the most dangerous men on the planet, insane “mustache of truth” John Bolton, to be his “National Security Advisor”… an Iraq War hawk who once joked on Fox that the way you can tell a North Korean official is lying is “their lips are moving”, has nothing but contempt for diplomacy and famously said the ONLY thing that should matter to the UN was what is in America’s best interest.

So Trump appoints Pompeo & Bolton to his staff in key roles that will influence negotiations, announces his list of demands of North Korea before negotiations even begin (including NK agreeing to “complete & total denuclearization”), and then start preparing the public for his possible (read: inevitable) walk-out on negotiations should he decide they aren’t proceeding as he likes.

And then what? Threaten to bomb them again? Peace at the point of a gun. Would that be before or after they award Trump his Nobel Peace Prize?
 

Iran Deal vs NK Deal

 


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FAKE NEWS. Republicans mastered it ages ago
Apr 23rd, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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The earliest example of genuine “Fake News” I can recall is (of course) the invasion of Iraq… which of course was predicated on lies about Saddam Hussein’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Lies spread with the assistance of willing Right-Wing news outlets (*cough*Fox*cough*) who abdicated their journalistic duty to only report claims they could verify, and instead choosing to advance the agenda of a Republican controlled White House and Congress. Worse: If you dared question the official line from the White House the way Ambassador Joe Wilson did in the New York Times, the White House made it their mission to destroy you (see Dick Cheney’s personal notes in the margins (ibid). It angers me today when people try to use claims of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” by the Media in 2002 as an excuse to mistrust News organizations today and trust the totally untrustworthy Trump White House. If anything, those claims of “WMD’s” proves the LEAST trustworthy creature on the planet is a Republican White House with a disturbingly close relationship with Fox “news” (*cough*Hannity*cough*.) But it’s one thing when the Media stops asking questions. It’s quite another when they are USED to disseminate propaganda completely written, packaged and distributed by Conservatives, and Republicans are old hands at that.

Five months after Bush gave his famous “We have prevailed [in Iraq]” speech before a giant banner reading “Mission Accomplished” WHILE we still had soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq, people started souring on the war. Those who didn’t ask questions going in were starting to ask after the fact: “Where are those Weapons of Mass Destruction they assured us were there in huge quantities?” “Where’s Saddam?” (If you recall, he had escaped and was not found until December.) “Mission Accomplished? Then why are we still there five months later?” Christmas was nearing and our troops were still dying at a rate of more than 100/week. “For what?” The presidential pre-election race was already in full swing and the 2004 Primaries were about to begin. The Bush White House was desperate for some good news… emphasis on the word “desperate”.

Suddenly, letters from soldiers serving in Iraq started showing up in local papers across the country. Positive upbeat letters from Home Town Heroes talking about the rewards they were seeing on a daily basis of Iraqis thanking them for “liberating” them from the oppressive Saddam regime. Those “flowers & chocolates” Cheney once quipped the Iraqis would shower our troops with seemed to be coming true. We may not have found those WMD’s, but we rescued an entire nation from a tyrant. “Relax! The invasion of Iraq was not all for naught.” America loves its heroes and cash-strapped small-town local papers were more than happy to reprint these “good news” stories that people loved reading at a time when Bush supporters were desperate for an excuse to continue supporting their president.

But even though “The Internet” wasn’t even a decade old yet at the time, it wasn’t long before tens of thousands of people sharing “local soldier’s letters home” printed in their hometown paper with their family & friends that people started to notice: “Huh. All these letters sound exactly the same except for a few minor details and the signature at the bottom.” News organizations picked up on the story only to discover the letters were being written by the White Housea form letter they were distributing to troops in combat for them to rewrite in their own hand, sign, and send home to give “their mission” (ie: the White House) some badly needed PR. Most troops were sour on the war too, yet there were always a few who found their own reasons to send their form letter home without revealing whose idea it was they write or why.

That was the first example I can recall of a White House actively manufacturing “fake news”… but it wasn’t the last.

During the election of 2004, with so many people down on the Iraq War and the nightly news reporting the death of dozens of troops each & every day in a war it was now clear we shouldn’t be fighting, the White House was desperate for TV stations across the country to report on something other than the continuing Iraq war. “Why aren’t they reporting all the GOOD news? Unemployment is still low (around 5.4%… up about a point & a half from the Clinton low of 3.9%.) Saddam has been captured and the Iraqi people are free!” The list of “positive Bush accomplishments” was short (and weak), but they were desperate,

So they started filming their own news reports using actors pretending to be reporters, reading scripted “good news’ reports, and distributing them to “small market” TV stations across the country who were thrilled to receive free content to pad their newscasts each night. They were caught here too… just not until after Bush’s reelection.

I was reminded of all this two weeks ago when “Sinclair Broadcasting”… another extremely conservative Media conglomerate more insidious than Fox (because at least Fox viewers KNOW they are listening to a Conservative media outlet) were caught asking anchors of dozens of stations across the country to “criticize fake news”, promising that THEY will NEVER report something they themselves haven’t thoroughly checked out first. Unfortunately for them, none of them bothered to question the efficacy of reading a scripted message on the news promising to never simply repeat scripted “fake news”. Oopsie!

The chairman of one of the largest media conglomerates in the country… “American Media Industries” (AMI) is a man named David Pecker… a close personal friend of Donald Trump. AMI owns “The National Enquirer”… the granddaddy of the tabloid industry. People once made fun of anyone who believed anything they read in it. But no more. Not in an age where real news is “fake news” and “fake news” is “real news”. Pecker’s Enquirer now runs headlines every week defending Donald Trump by attacking his accusers. Accusing Hillary, Mueller… anyone Trump supporters hate… of being guilty of crimes themselves. You’ll note they never challenge legitimate news stories of the latest criminal investigation or scandal to befall Trump. Instead, they employ the ever effective “Squirrel!” method of “Look over there!” distraction techniques.

Fortunately for them, the Trump Voter Demographic is precisely the same people who think “The National Enquirer” is legitimate news and “pro-wrestling” is real.

The lone example Conservatives have of genuine “fake news” (and possible bias) that they hold up as an example of why “The Media can’t be trusted”, was a quickly redacted mistaken claim on CNN right after Trump took office that he had removed the bust of “Martin Luther King Jr.” from the Oval Office (at the same time Trump was falsely accusing Obama of having a bust of Winston Churchill removed.) A clear case of hypocrisy, right? Unfortunately for this reporter, the bust of King was simply briefly obstructed by some curtains. The bust had not been removed, and the CNN story was quickly retracted.

But that’s all it took for Trump supporters to start dismissing EVERY damaging news report about the Trump Administration as “Fake News” by a “Liberal Media” that’s out to get him. They reported for over a year that Hillary had a huge lead in the polls and Trump had no chance of winning. Yet… “Trump won.” And it couldn’t possibly be because of election interference by a hostile foreign nation. That’s “fake news” too! The American people actually LOVE Donald Trump. Just look at the size of his inauguration crowd! What? Photos show a dismal turnout for Trump’s inauguration? That must be “fake news” too!

And now, EVERYTHING “the Media” reports that is critical of Trump is “a lie” too. “Just look at what they said about WMD’s!”
 


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Trump Bombs Syria. Now what?
Apr 16th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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(Okay, we’re back. We were offline last week, and on Easter Break the week before that, so this is our first Op/Ed in two weeks. – Mugsy)
 

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley appeared on Fox news Sunday to comment on the U.S. strike on Syria Friday, and I was quite surprised by the way host Chris Wallace challenged her on some of her assertions. Halley revealed that Assad has used chemical weapons fifty times” since the rebellion began in 2011. So why was this attack so special? “Was it because it was caught on video?” asked Wallace. He also asked her if the message we were sending Assad was, “You can attack your own people using conventional weapons, just not chemical weapons?” Both excellent points. While I agree that a response was necessary and bombing Assad’s chemical weapons facilities was proper, I don’t feel like the Trump Administration has a strategy for what comes next. Do we just “hope” he doesn’t do it again? How will Russia react to further sanctions (after Trump spent the last year undermining them?) No answer to the question: “Okay, now what?” We hindered Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels, but we don’t appear to be doing anything to resolve the conflict there or defend the lives of the Syrian rebels. What now?

Trump is suddenly criticizing Russia as it starts to dawn on him that Putin isn’t one of the good guys. Shocker, I know. The whole time Trump was talking nice about Russia and praising Putin during the campaign, Putin was ordering hackers to meddle in our election, breaking into DNC (and attempting to hack RNC) computers, was constructing a “super cruise missile” unveiled a few weeks ago, was behind the attempted poisoning of a former Russian double-agent now living in the UK, has been defending Assad… someone Trump now concedes is “a monster”, and now Trump is obsessed with rumors of a “blackmail tape” (to put it politely) supposedly filmed when he was in Russia for his 2013 Miss Universe pageant (I don’t know about you, but I’d be worried too if the story were true, and not the least bit concerned if I knew it weren’t.) And just like that, Trump appears to be realizing that maybe… just maybe… Putin isn’t the noble leader he though him to be.

Now, there seems to be a plethora of Nervous Nellie’s whom think the ultimate end result of ANY conflict… verbal, trade, whatever… will ultimately/inevitably lead to Global Thermonuclear War with Russia. No. Chill folks. Not every International disagreement leads to World War III. Dr. Strangelove isn’t in charge of the Pentagon (even with mustachioed lunatic National Security Advisor John Bolton advising Trump.) Hmmm. I don’t feel I made a very convincing argument there. Just trust me. Relax. Even Bush didn’t bungle his way into WWIII.

Okay, so we’ve sent a message to Assad… loud & clear… that we draw the line at “chemical weapons” but when it comes to ending the seven year long civil war in Syria, we have no intention of interfering (even if Russia is.) And under Trump, even awarding asylum to the victims of “monster” Assad is not being discussed. Again, I was struck by the fact Fox News Sunday (yes, I conferred upon them a well-deserved Capital-N) pointed out the seeming heartlessness of the Trump Administration’s parsimonious “no Middle-Eastern Refugees” policy:
 

Dwindelling admitted Syrian refugees

 
As you will note from the above graphic, while the GOP controlled Congress worked overtime to tie Obama’s hands, we WERE still able to allow in over 15,000 refugees in 2016. So far, we have allowed all of 11 refugees into the U.S. in the first 3-1/2 months of the year. At that rate, the U.S. will have allowed all of 35 or 36 Syrian Refugees into our country by years end. That’s unforgivable. To call Assad “a monster”, but to then tell those same victims, “Stay away! We don’t want you here! You must remain in that place where a ‘monster’ is committing war crimes against you” is profane.

But also consider, the GOP’s (claimed) justification for not allowing in refugees is that “terrorists might sneak in among them.” If “terrorists” had snuck into the U.S. among those 15,000 refugees admitted in 2016, we would know it by now. The (made-up) justification Republicans are giving for not admitting refugees just isn’t born out by the facts.

As for: “Where do we go from here”, I’ve already previously presented my own plan on how to resolve the current crisis in the Middle-East non-militarily for FAR less money than we are spending now, and finally bring the war(s) in the region to a close. We can still do it. The White House may not have a plan, but I do.
 


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From Bush to Trump, Republicans don’t think about consequences
Mar 26th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Way back in June of 2015, right after Trump declared his candidacy, I created the following graphic:
 

Trump's car chase

 

Even back then, it was already clear to me that Donald Trump was making a game out of running for president. He doesn’t really WANT to do the job… the tedious planning, making calls and hammering out “details”. He just wanted to prove he could win… if not the presidency, at least the GOP nomination. Some might point to the grueling campaigning and exhausting schedule as evidence he doesn’t mind hard work, but that’s all part of being a celebrity. You go on tour, cheering adoring fans flock to see you, they know your songs word-for-word, and lavish you with praise. Trump LOVES that part. It’s why within weeks of taking office, he was already back on the “campaign trail”. But like all Republicans, sitting behind a desk working out the details away from the cameras, exploring options and questioning the consequences of their actions is just too much work. I believe Trump once described himself as “a big picture guy“. During the campaign, Don Jr was asked… after describing all the jobs his father was delegating to others (particularly Kushner)… what would his father’s job be (with nothing else left?). Junior’s response? “[Dad will be] in charge of Making America Great again” (that sound you just heard were my eyes rolling out of my head.)

When Bush & Cheney made the decision to invade Iraq, they had NO plan for what to do next once Saddam was out of power. Fourteen years later, I still remember this 2004 interview with Lt. Paul Reikhoff on The Randi Rhodes Show, founder of IAVAW (“Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Against the War”) describing the day they rolled into Baghdad after Saddam fled for his life:
 

We arrived in Baghdad and asked, “Okay, now what?”
and were told, “We’ll get back to you.”
(2:56)

 

Their one & only plan was to replace Saddam with Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalibi whom convinced a willing Bush & Cheney that Iraq had massive stockpiles of WMD’s. But when those stockpiles weren’t turning up, THEN they started asking questions. Realizing they had been duped, suddenly their one & only plan had fallen through. The mad scramble to come up with a “Plan B” is what turned the Middle East into the chaotic mess it is today.

Republicans just don’t like worrying about the details. Act first, “manage” the fallout later. When the Clinton Tax Rate resulted in a booming economy and a Surplus that was actually paying off the National Debt, George W Bush campaigned on cutting taxes on the rich on the grounds “a Surplus proves you’re paying too much!” (and THAT, dear reader, is why NO Republican president will EVER balance the budget.) The result? The Deficit exploded, from negative $200Billion/year to $1.2TRILLION/year. He couldn’t beat Clinton/Gore on the economy, so Bush & Cheney talked the economy into a Recession (confirming links have expired after 17 years) at every campaign stop claiming “the economy isn’t really as good as they say it is!” It became a self-fulfilling prophecy, the economy tanked (BEFORE 9/11), and once Bush was in the Oval Office, he was strapped with a sinking economy and exploding deficit.

They just didn’t think things through.

And now it is Trump’s turn.

Reports are Trump was as stunned as anyone when he won on Election night (“Fire & Fury” pg.24), making no plans for his transition and even promising Melania (whom told him she didn’t want to move to DC or live in the White House) “not to worry” because “he wasn’t going to win”, leading to “tears… and not of joy” from the new First Lady that “historic” night.

Trump’s White House is being fitted with a revolving door following all the departures. Trump promised to “Drain the swamp” in Washington if elected, and a reason to vote for him was that (as a CEO), he would “hire the best people”, then proceeded to staff his cabinet with incompetent sycophants. The only people being “drained” from Washington are people HE appointed. Interviewing qualified candidates to fill every position was just too much work (especially when after weeks of interviewing Secretary of State candidates, The Kremlin is simply going to put the kibosh on your decision. They hated Romney ever since that “Russia is the greatest threat” comment in 2012.)

And the latest rumor is that now Trump may fire his second Chief of Staff (Gen. John Kelly) and replace him with… nobody! Lord only knows who put that idea into his head (*cough*Fox news*cough*), but I have NO doubt with Trump’s massive ego, he thinks he doesn’t need one. Someone obviously told him, “JFK didn’t have a Chief of Staff! You don’t need one either!” Trump (of course) hasn’t thought this through. He doesn’t want to do his OWN job. Now he’s going to do his CoS’s job too?

Clearly, Fox “news” does all of Trump’s thinking for him. We have concrete proof Trump has changed his position on issues after watching “Fox & Friends” each morning. And he did so again last week after the Republican congress passed their massive $1.3-TRILLION omnibus spending bill (without reading it), “F&F” panned it, complaining that (among other things) the budget did not include any money for Trump’s ridiculous border wall (that Mexico was supposed to pay for.) Trump immediately then criticized the bill too and threatened to veto it. But w/o a budget by last Friday, we would of had a government shutdown, and there’d be no one to blame but Trump. He (obviously) didn’t think through his threat to veto (natch) and ended up having to eat his words. Bill Maher summed things up perfectly last Friday night: “In Russia, Putin controls the media and tells them what to say. Here it’s The Media that controls Trump and tells him what to say & do.

I find it interesting the GOP passed a 2,200 page deficit-exploding budget (Trump’s first, and three months late) without reading it first considering their chief complaints about the vote for The Affordable Care Act were it’s massive size (“Over 2,100 pages!”) and having “No time to read it before voting on it!” But the last thing they wanted was to be working the week of Easter Vacation to scrutinize and pass a budget before the March 23rd deadline, so suddenly, reading & voting on a massive spending bill… the budget for the entire United States… before leaving for vacation, just wasn’t that important. Consequences/Schmonsequences.

When Trump blurted out his idea for a blanket across-the-board tariff on ALL steel & aluminum coming into the U.S. without regard for country of origin, he clearly had not thought it through and was quickly forced to walk it back. Imposing tariff’s on countries with whom we have a Trade Surplus risked starting a Trade War. What he SHOULD have done was take the time to devise “targeted” tariffs against nations engaging in unfair trade practices against us. But actually taking the time to analyze the consequences of your actions before blurting out your plan without a moment’s consideration is simply lazy. And “lazy” is what Republicans do best.

One of the great fears of Trump appointing (yet another Fox news pundit, insane “mustache of Truth”) John Bolton to be his new National Security Advisor (Lord help us) just days after Bolton wrote an Op/Ed making the “legal” case for a “First Strike” against North Korea (and possibly Iran), is that Bolton has a history of preferring the use of force over diplomacy… which also takes work. Bolton believes… to this day… that invading Iraq was the right thing to do (something candidate Trump called “a tremendous disservice.”) “Bombing everyone” is simply… lazy… a means of solving every problem without the hard work of diplomacy… which is right up Trump’s alley. President Bush recess-appointed John Bolton… a man openly hostile to the United Nations… to be his Ambassador to the UN (which Congress promptly undid upon their return.) Tell me Bush thought that one thru. And now Trump has picked him to be his chief advisor on the use of military force with just as little forethought. If Trump believes Bolton knows more about North Korea (or Iran) than he does, he’s going to be loath to contradict him.

And it’s not just that Bolton is an insane warhawk with nothing but open contempt for the rest of the world, but the fact Lazy Trump (desperate to be liked) tends to always agree with the last person he talks to, afraid of offending them. So when Bolton starts telling Trump, “You’re wasting your time trying to talk to North Korea (something Trump said about Tillerson before firing him, then deciding to talk to them himself) and should instead simply “bomb them”, Trump might very well do it.

Consequences/Schmonsequences.
 


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March Madness: CONSERVATIVE Media lied to you about Iraq (and now Trump)
Mar 19th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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The term “Mad as a March Hare” goes back nearly 500 years. It of course refers to the breeding frenzy rabbits go into in the Spring, where they behave so mindlessly as to be described as “harebrained” (not “hairbrained”.) And indeed, March seems to be the month of “harebrained” schemes.

It was 15 years ago today that George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses. And it bugs the hell out of me when Trump supporters (or anti-“everything government” children… many of whom are old enough to know better but only started paying attention to politics in 2016) use the excuse “the ‘Media’ [that is accusing Trump of collusion] is the SAME ‘Media’ that claimed there were ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’,” as an excuse to justify their own refusal to believe the legitimacy of the Mueller Investigation.

Sorry folks, that crap won’t fly here. “Recording History for those Who Seek to rewrite it”, remember?

“The Media” as a whole did NOT insist Iraq had WMD’s and push us into war. Oh sure, FOX believed it and pushed the narrative, but that’s Fox. They’ve always sided with Conservatives on every issue. But they did NOT represent the vast majority of the ‘Media’. Most of the media was HIGHLY skeptical of the White House’s claims of “stockpiles of chemical weapons”, “mobile weapons labs” and “an active nuclear weapons program.” Millions marched in the streets the world over unconvinced of the “imminent threat of Iraq”. The Bush Administration started making its claims about Iraq in mid-2002 (just months after 9/11), but public skepticism (both here & abroad) was SO high that Secretary of State Colin Powell had to be dispatched to the UN to deliver his infamous Iraq Slideshow (ibid next link). It wasn’t until that point that the media/public finally began to believe they had been shown what appeared to be the “incontrovertible evidence” Saddam Hussein really was doing everything Bush/Cheney had been claiming all along. But it took a LOT of convincing to get them to that point.

Of course, we now know the entire slideshow was total bullpucky (which I detailed here on the 10th Anniversary), using old pre-1991 Gulf War footage, “drawings” when they had no actual evidence, an intercepted audio conversation between two supposed Iraqi generals that Arabic speakers at the UN openly laughed at because the two men on the tape didn’t even have Iraqi accents, and Powell waving around a vile of Baby Powder as a prop to represent the amount of Sarin it would take to kill 10,000 people using highly modified (2001-era) drones with ridiculously long range.

Before that presentation, not a lot of people were buying it… myself among them. “The Media”… which had been asking for “proof” for nearly a year… were suddenly less sure about their position. But even then, FEW (outside the Conservative media) actually encouraged the invasion of Iraq. Many argued “we need to finish the war in Afghanistan and get Osama bin Laden before expanding the (Afghanistan) war into Iraq” to prevent something that seemed avoidable by peaceful means (UN weapons inspectors were IN Iraq, dismantling missiles, performing inspections, and finding NO evidence of WMD’s.)

After the invasion, with everyone now asking, “Where are the WMD’s? You said ‘stockpiles’. ‘20,000 tons of yellowcake’. Where is it?”, I started hearing from people who HADN’T been paying attention, thinking we DID find the WMD’s as well as proof “Saddam was involved in 9/11”, and I found myself spending an awful lot of time “setting the record straight” among friends & family about what was said before the invasion of Iraq (even LONG before 9/11) and what was (or wasn’t) found after the invasion. And so began this blog on the Fourth of July, 2004. (In 2007, during the 2008 Republican Presidential debates, SO many Republican candidates were rewriting the story of how we ended up in Iraq that I felt it necessary to produce the following video of news clips documenting what we knew in the lead-up to war, and how the Bush Administration already had their mind made up to invade:
 


 
Don’t blame “the Media” for pushing to invade Iraq, just to justify your own unwillingness to trust them now regarding Trump/Russia (one of Trump’s own talking points.) The irony is that the only “Media” that actively supported the invasion of Iraq is the SAME Conservative media that dismisses the accusations against Trump today. So if there is ONE Media outlet that got it wrong back then and undeserving of your trust today, it’s the same Conservative Media trying to convince you Trump is the innocent victim of a “witch hunt.”

And the March Madness continues. So far, this past month alone (which is barely half over), Trump has fired (or pushed to resign) SIX people: FBI Director McCabe, Deputy CoS Rick Dearborn, Communications Director Hope Hicks, Economics Advisor Gary Cohn, SoS Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s “Body Man” John McEntee…. in less than three weeks. Trump set a record for White House turnover long ago:
 

Trump Admin Departures
(March 13th. Already out of date.)

 
On October 1st last year, Trump declared that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man [North Korea]”, to which Tillerson responded by calling Trump “a f*****g moron” four days later. Trump let it slide (and recently agreed himself to a no-concessions meeting with Kim Jong Un). But it wasn’t until Tillerson openly sided with the UK on whether of not Russia was behind the poisoning/attempted-murder of a former Russian spy, did Trump decide (in a tweet natch) that it was time for Tillerson to go (because he no longer represented Trump’s views.) Trump has yet to give an “official” reason for why he abruptly fired his Secretary of State. The “Trump fired him because he called him a moron [SIX MONTHS AGO]” excuse isn’t playing. The “he allowed the State Department go unstaffed for too long” excuse doesn’t pass the laugh test either since that is EXACTLY what Trump WANTED his SoS to do… to decimate the very department Hillary once ran and Putin despises.

If you want to blame something for Republican insanity this time of year, blame “March Madness”. That’s a better excuse than believing Trump is rational and ‘The Media’ is not.
 


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The Path to Hell: Trump Proposes Right Ideas in Worst Possible Way Making Things Worse
Mar 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Trump hosted a rally over the weekend for a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania, where he bragged about himself (natch) more than the candidate. Trump bragged that “Obama, Bush and [Bill] Clinton all talked about sitting down with North Korea, but only *I* got it done!” Yes, because those other presidents demanded concessions from North Korea first, and when they didn’t get them, THEY had the good sense to say “No”. And Clinton/Bush/Obama didn’t say No following a year of breakneck nuclear testing and the appalling death of an American hostage (Otto Warmbier) like Trump had. I keep thinking about the message Trump is sending other rogue nations like Syria & Iran by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un after such behavior? “Develop your nuclear capabilities, kill an American hostage, and threaten Washington DC, and Trump will meet with you too… without preconditions.” Good intentions. Worse outcome. I’m all for talking with your enemies, but you get CONCESSIONS first. And you send envoys first. Not the President himself. North Korea isn’t suddenly agreeing to talks because they fear Trump’s “bluster” (as Trump himself claimed over the weekend), they are agreeing because they want the SANCTIONS lifted (and seeing life in South Korea during the Olympics probably made them think a lot about their own miserable lives.)

Trump also declared… with no apparent forethought… to impose a blanket tariff of “25% on all steel and 10% on all aluminum imported into the United States” without regard for country of origin. Tariffs can be a GOOD thing… when applied on a case-by-case basis to deny impoverished nations an excuse to underpay their workers. But applying the same 25% tariff on German imports where workers are paid more than most American workers, as you impose on China where workers earn pennies a day, is wildly unfair. You’re punishing trading partners whom do us no harm. In fact, you punish some nations which we have a trade-SURPLUS with. And they WILL retaliate.

After an outraged Canada (our largest steel exporter) pointed out this was in violation of NAFTA, Trump amended his impulsive blanket tariff to “exclude Mexico & Canada”. Great! Now he just created a MASSIVE incentive for foreign steel exporters to move to Mexico. I’m sure Mexico is happy about that. American steel-workers? Not so much. So in the end, cheap foreign steel will continue to flow into the United states, but instead of by boat, now it’ll come in by truck/rail across our Southern border, lowering their export costs even more. Excellent work, President Dumbass. You may have just made things worse.

Following the (latest) school massacre in Florida, in a highly-staged meeting with both Republicans & Democrats on the subject of “gun control”, Trump bragged about how HE would “stand up to the NRA”, that HE wasn’t “afraid of them” and that HE would succeed where all his predecessors failed. Then he impulsively proposed “if someone is believed to be a danger, he’d even support taking the guns away first and “worry about Due Process later” (right sentiment. Wrong policy. If a Democrat had said that… OMG! Republicans would be rioting in the streets!), pretty much ensuring nothing gets done on gun control as Trump is forced to walk back his impetuous remark. So then he talks to a VERY upset NRA and they convince him the “solution” is MORE guns and to arm every teacher. Once again, right idea delivered in the worst possible way, resulting in a “compromise” that may actually end up making things worse. What did THE NRA concede? Nothing… though they did “lose” the fight to protect “Bump Stocks”… though they didn’t really put up much of a fight. I’m sure they are delighted that’s ALL they lost. They gladly soldout “bump stocks” (giving Trump his faux “victory”) to save the AR15.

Trump also declared recently that we need to invest in “infrastructure”. Democrats said this for a decade but Republicans repeatedly obstructed them (If you recall, just three days before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota, a bridge collapsed in MN killing four and injuring dozens more, yet STILL Republicans refused to support the Democratic call to invest in infrastructure. Then Trump starts making ridiculous promises of how we can get all of our infrastructure rebuilt on the cheap and Republicans swoon. Never mind the details. So then Trump announce his big plan on how to rebuild our infrastructure for very little money. We basically SELL-OFF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE TO CORPORATE AMERICA, who then turn our roads & bridges into TOLL roads & bridges, public schools into private schools. If you live in rural America where it would be harder for corporations to make their money back, tough luck. Your infrastructure is just going to have to wait. Once again, the right intentions implemented in the worst possible way, only ensuring to make matters worse.

He never actually “repealed” ObamaCare BTW. His followers think he did, but all he did was undermine it in a way that ensures MILLIONS of Americans will find themselves with no insurance (or inadequate policies where every claim is denied.) People were complaining that “costs had gone up too much” and (despite Obama’s assurances), if their doctor was not on their new plan, they could NOT keep their doctor. Well, policy prices went up because insurance companies could no longer sell you worthless “junk” policies where every claim is denied. And you COULD have kept your doctor if Conservatives hadn’t stripped out The Public Option. But now, thanks to “TrumpCare”, insurance companies can sell you worthless policies once again. You can even go totally without insurance if you so desire (driving rates up for everyone else.) But at least you’ll save a few bucks (until you get sick or injured.) And just like that, once again, Best Intentions resulting in a “solution” that makes matters far worse.

Trump rolled out his 2020 Campaign Slogan yesterday. Maybe he should consider “Trump 2020: Best Intentions Going Lousy Yesterday”… BIGLY.
 


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Survival Instinct. Trump to evade impeachment by befriending Democrats. How much would you Sell Out for?
Mar 5th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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It’s something I’ve feared from the very beginning: With Republicans in control, Trump appears exclusively to Republicans. Should Democrats seize control of Congress, Trump will appeal almost exclusively to Democrats. It’s part of his survival instinct. He is the very epitome of: “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” Trump has no core beliefs. All he wants is to be adored (something he clearly never got from Mommy & Daddy.) His denial Obama got more votes than he did and had a bigger inaugural crowd, the cold fact Hillary got more votes, the entire Mueller investigation suggesting he needed help to win, and now the very real likelihood Democrats are going to retake one or both houses of Congress this year… all are tiny daggers to Trump’s massive ego that maybe, just maybe, he just isn’t as beloved as he thinks he is. And Trump desperately needs to be adored (not “loved”. There’s a difference. He doesn’t understand that.)

What concerns me most is that whomever Trump is “pleasing” at that particular moment, they apparently will sell out an awful lot of what they claim to believe in if they think it’ll get them what they want on another issue. “Gonna build that wall, and MEXICO is gonna pay for it! What? No? WE are going to pay for it? That’s okay! As long as he still agrees with us on keeping the Mex’cuns out.” Meanwhile, how much will Democrats overlook to get something done on “gun control”? Would they stop supporting the Mueller investigation? I honestly believe that is exactly what Trump is hoping when he publicly agrees with Democrats on guns, even going further than any Democrat has ever proposed: saying he actually supported “taking the guns away first, immediately, prior to Due Process,” if someone is suspected of being a threat. I’m not totally in favor with such a move but sure wouldn’t hate it if he did it (the entire subject would be a lot simpler if they just took my advice and “focused on the ammunition, not the guns.”) How many of your principles would you sellout to get what you wanted from this president? This isn’t just some hypothetical where you can answer knowing it’ll never happen. We now have a president with no core principles whom you really could talk into almost anything if it meant he’d be adored by one side or the other for doing it. And the big danger of that is how it affects the presidency from here on out. Do rules even matter any more? Do we set a precedent that the Chief Executive can get away with practically anything if he gives the Party in control of Congress whatever they want?

Remember what a “security risk” Hillary’s private email server was? Her “reckless behavior” was grounds for “locking her up” as far as Trump’s supporters are concerned. Meanwhile, Trump has had over 100 staffers in the Trump White House operating with “temporary” security clearances for over a year. At least three were discovered to have a history of “domestic abuse”, and Kushner was cashing-in on his plumb WH position by conducting personal business INSIDE the WH, securing over a half billion dollars in loans for his personal real estate business, making all of these men HUGE blackmail risks. But do you think his clueless minions care? No, they are STILL chanting “Lock Her Up!” at every Trump rally (and why is he still holding rallies? It’s that need for adoration.)

Trump complains about Media criticism of him, but he still watches it. All of it. Negative tweets from critics? He reads them. Even “bad” attention is still attention. He doesn’t care if one side vilifies him so long as the other “adores” him. And if that means pleasing Democrats one minute then pleasuring the NRA the next, that’s what he’ll do. I believe it was Senator Chuck Schumer who described negotiating with Trump “like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.” Even Republicans have criticized him for always “agreeing with the last person he talks to”. Trump loved to sound defiant on the campaign trail: “You’re fired! Drain the swamp! Tell China they’re Currency Manipulators! I’ll stand up to the NRA!” But get him in private, face-to-face, and his desperate need for approval takes over: “Putin tells me they didn’t meddle, and I believe him.” “China isn’t a currency-manipulator, they are just doing what they think is best for their country”, after speaking with President Xi face-to-face. Then he talks to his Justice Dept and agrees Russia meddled. What Trump says to a faceless crowd isn’t always what he ends up saying in private. If you disagree with Trump on something, get him alone in a room to discuss it. It you have a solid grasp of your subject, he’ll agree with you (half out of wanting to please you and half out of not wanting to appear stupid if he doesn’t totally understand you.) But if the next person to talk to him is your opponent, he’ll flip-flop like an unwanted fish on the deck of a tuna boat. Consider, have you EVER heard Trump stick to his guns “on principle”? (“I hear what you’re saying, but I truly believe my position is the right one?”)

At Trump’s Media-laden roundtable on gun control surrounded by Democrats, Sen. Chris Murphy (CT) noted: “97% of the population supports background checks, but we just can’t get it done!” Trump responded, “That was before me! You’ve never had someone like ME president, before”, suggesting HE’LL stand up to the NRA and members of his own Party to finally get something done on gun control. The next day he he meets with the NRA and he immediately he starts walking it back. “That was before ME!” he told Senator Murphy. “No one else could get it done, but *I* will”. Now it looks like he too will get “nothing done”… just like all those presidents before him.

So now the issue is “tariffs”. After one of the most chaotic weeks of an administration that has been wall-to-wall chaos, Trump is going back to his bottomless well of campaign promises looking for something to please his supporters and regain their love. Republicans LOVE “Free Trade” and despise tariffs. Because the only way to keep prices low without cheapening out on the cost of materials or underpaying your employees is to cut corporate profits and exorbitant CEO salaries… the two groups Republicans are totally beholden to. Democrats have LONG made their hatred of “Free Trade” known. When President Obama proposed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)“, Democratic voters were SO vocally opposed to it, they actually forced him to back down from pushing it thru before he left office. Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State, called the TPP “the Gold-Standard of trade agreements”, but reversed her support for it (as she did on most issues where she took the Conservative position first until it proved unpopular) a few weeks into her campaign. Opposition to “Free Trade” is something both Liberal & Conservative voters alike oppose (briefly propelling Ross Perot into the lead in ’92 with his opposition to NAFTA.)

So now members of Trump’s Administration… Conservatives all… are filling the airwaves forced to defend AND support their bosses position on tariffs an opposition to “Free Trade”. Actually making the case that something Republicans in Washington have fought for for over 30 years is not necessarily a “good” thing.

But what if he flips yet again (as per his history?) All these people putting their reputations on the line, making the case that tariffs would actually be a “good” thing and “help” create jobs. What if Congressional Republicans get him alone in a room and convince him that “maybe tariffs aren’t such a good idea.” Then what? How do all these staffers who just made the case Trump’s idea for tariffs on imported steel & aluminum would be beneficial, then go back out there and say “tariffs might actually be bad” and come away with any credibility at all?

“To sleep, perchance to dream! Aye, there’s the rub!” said Hamlet. The “rub” was the gamble that in death, you’d have pleasant dreams for all eternity, not an eternity of nightmares from which you can’t awake.

Trump, after angering his own Party on tariffs and assault weapons, desperate to be adored, might very well become Democrats best friend just to avoid prosecution. The question is, do Democratic principles have a price?
 


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Listening to Gun-Rights Advocates Reveals Why They Oppose Denying Guns from the Mentally Ill
Feb 26th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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I was confronted on Facebook by a terrified Right-Wing gun owner whom took issue with my calling Assault Weapons “Weapons of War” because they are not actually issued by the government to soldiers for use on the battlefield, and just couldn’t resist (right off the bat) calling me a “pussy” for not wanting MORE guns in our classrooms as an answer to protecting our children (he also called me a “Nazi” presumably b/c he believes the Nazi’s took the guns away from their own citizens… which they did not (Hitler was adored and had nothing to fear of an armed uprising against him.) But clearly, my Facebook friend is terrified that if we take away his assault weapons, he’ll be defenseless when the jack-booted government comes knocking on his door to… to… I really have no idea. Make him eat tofu?

And that’s pretty much the problem in a “nutshell” (intentional metaphor). The most fearful, paranoid, irrational, DANGEROUS people are the ones setting our nation’s policy on guns.

Donald Trump thinks the solution to stopping gun violence in schools is to arm the teachers. (“Some are ex-military!” he declared. I’ve been a teacher and not a lot of ex-military go into the profession.) An NRA “solution” to be sure. Any “solution” that results in INCREASING gun sales is their goal as lobbyists for the gun industry. We won’t give just ANY teacher a gun of course. Just a select few who are willing to undergo “training” and WANT to bear the responsibility of engaging in a firefight in an enclosed classroom (“Shootout at the OK Classroom”, teacher and gunman firing at each other from behind overturned desks) full of kids with a crazed gunman wielding an assault weapon… possibly even wearing body armor… with multiple 30-round magazines and is NOT concerned where he fires. Quite honestly, any person who thinks they are capable of handling a nightmare scenario like that is exactly the kind of person I believe should not be allowed to own a firearm.

One Republican congressman, Rep. Masse of Kentucky, went on “Meet the Press” yesterday to repeat his belief that instead of raising the age to buy an AR15 from 18 to 21 like handguns (I still can’t fathom who thought that made sense), the age to buy a handgun should instead be LOWERED to 18 (why not 16?). The NRA of course also opposes raising the age at which you can buy an assault weapon because it will cut into gun sales… and that is, after all, what the NRA is all about. Forget the nonsense about “protecting the Second Amendment” or “the right of people to protect themselves”. If a gun restriction made the gun companies more money, they’d be all for it (during the debate over the ’94 Assault Weapons Ban, one of the items included was a requirement for “trigger locks”. Most gun owners opposed them, but the NRA didn’t fight them very hard because it was another accessory for gun manufacturers to sell. As a result, “trigger locks” successfully made it into the bill.) Just about every rational gun owner supports a ban on “bump stocks” like the one used in Vegas that basically turned a semi-automatic weapon into a FULLY automatic assault weapon that mowed down over NINE-HUNDRED concert-goers, yet the NRA opposes such a ban. They also oppose and a ban on “silencers” too (a ban Don Jr publicly opposed online last week and stared in a promo video for last October… as if you needed another example of the link between mental illness and a love of guns.) According to the NRA’s own poll:
 

Over three quarters of Americans support a ban on assault-style weapons (79%), a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds (78%), and a ban on firearm attachments like bump stocks (82%).

 
The Second Amendment does not protect your right to own “bump stocks” or a silencer (nor high capacity magazines.) They are not “arms.” But they ARE money-making accessories for the gun industry.

Trump and the GOP will make sure such restrictions never reach the floor of Congress.

I first wrote about my idea for “bullet control” (Taxing Gunpowder) about a year ago, and noted back then how ludicrous some of these gun rights advocates are, believing that if THEY were in that darkened movie theater in Aurora, CO when an insane man wearing body-armor, armed with multiple assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, whom had tossed in canisters of tear-gas prior to opening fire, THEY would of been able to “save the day” and take the guy out with their trusty side-arm with one… maybe two… shots to save the day. That kind of delusion is an excellent example of the kind of mentally ill people whom should not be allowed to own a firearm.

And that is EXACTLY why they are so fearful of denying guns to the mentally ill. Repealing that ban was (after all) one of the very first Executive Orders signed by Trump upon taking office. Just WHO though THAT was a good idea? Just WHO pushed for him to do that?

And now Trump is bemoaning “metal illness” as the cause of mass murder involving assault weapons. Way to go, Dickhead.

The NRA of course waited their requisite one week (as per their pattern) following the latest horrific mass-shooting before they started attacking the victims. NRA President (and Vietnam draft-dodger) Wayne LaPierre began by accusing people whom have had enough of the unnecessarily bloody aftermath of mass shootings that result from the availability of assault weapons, of “politicizing” the issue. His toady, Spokesperson Dana Loesch has been making the rounds accusing anyone who argues in favor of restricting guns as the REAL threat to the safety of our children. On ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday, Loesch had the gall to blame lax gun laws and the police for failing to do their jobs (from “heeding warnings” to the armed security officer at the school who failed to enter the school to confront the shooter.) Steph-O challenged her on her hypocrisy of complaining about lax/unenforced gun laws and political inaction, and the expectation that an armed teacher will respond more effectively than a trained officer. As if we don’t already expect too much from our teachers. Now they expect them to be Rambo too? But you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. (I’ve worked as a Substitute teacher, a teacher’s aid, and a Lab Proctor, and I’ve seen plenty of situations where I’m glad no teacher had easy access to a gun. And teachers can go nuts too BTW.)

“Politicizing” the issue indeed. Demanding lawmakers take action against rapid-fire weaponry isn’t “politicizing” an issue. Claiming the Second Amendment protects your “right” to own an assault-weapon (it doesn’t) so that they can continue to make their blood money… THAT is “politicizing” an issue. I tweeted after the Parkland school shooting:

 

Guns over Kids

 

At least one person took issue with that statement, trying to claim the people defending gun rights only do so out of a desire to protect their children… from guns. I find it a bit like telling someone to get over their fear of handling snakes by telling them to drink more poison… not simply say, “Hey idiot! Stop handling snakes!” Actually, I find little evidence that the people who want assault weapons to remain legal are actually worried about an erratic gunman attacking their family with an assault weapon. More often, they are like my “You’re a Nazi” friend who thinks the government is out to get them.

Now, as I wrote in that Op/Ed last year (ibid: “Taxing Gunpowder”), I am NOT advocating “gun confiscation”. Few people are (and they too are not totally rational on this issue.) But I DO support reinstating the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Given enough time (which Dubya did not by refusing to renew it in 2004), the production and availability of these weapons will decline over time. Republicans (natch) lobbied HARD for years to repeal/end the ban arguing that the April 1999 Columbine massacre using assault weapons… a mere 4-1/2 years into the ban… PROVED an assault weapons ban does not work. It takes years… perhaps even decades… for those weapons to eventually fade from society. We didn’t ban fully automatic machine guns until 1986. “Tommy Guns”… those machine guns seen in old 1930’s gangster films with the circular magazine… were legal until 1986. Where are they now? Museums mostly. Eventually, “fully automatic” machine guns faded from our streets (and the government never came busting down any innocent civilian’s door knowing they’d be unable to protect themselves without their trusty machine gun.)

In 1986, Reagan signed the ban on “fully automatic machine guns” and Armor-piercing “Cop killer” bullets (which he championed) that could rip through Kevlar vests (Damn those Democratic gun-grabbers!) One of just 21 members of Congress to vote against that ban was then-Representative Dick Cheney. Cheney was also one of only four members of Congress to vote against “plastic guns” that could slip past metal detectors, and voted to end the 7-day waiting period to buy a handgun in 1988. (If you ever needed more evidence of the connection between dangerous people and an irrational need to protect guns at any cost, I can think of none better.) The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expanded Reagan’s restriction on “armor piecing” bullets to include not just “metal” bullets, but “polymer” rounds that were invented to evade that very ban. When Bush-43 allowed the ’94 Ban to lapse, that included that ban on polymer “Cop Killer” bullets. But Reagan’s ban on fully automatic machine guns and fragmenting metal rounds is still in effect… because, as you know, IOKWARDI (“It’s OK when a Republican does it.”)

Most people don’t remember anymore that back in 2004 when people were arguing over whether or not the ’94 Ban should be renewed, there were a LOT of Right-Wing gun nuts rights advocates (mostly online) defending “so-called cop killer bullets”, arguing “there is no such thing as a ‘cop killer’ bullet“… that it was just a term made up by Ted Kennedy to give good bullets a bad name (just Google: “cop killer” bullets 2004.) They distracted from the point so successfully that people stopped asking “Why” such ammunition was even necessary, and instead wasted time debating the definition of what constituted “a ‘cop killer’ bullet“, allowing the ’94 Ban on them to lapse.

Someone made the point last week (I forget who) that: “The moment you start arming teachers is the day you legalize teachers killing black students.” Because there WILL come an instance where some teacher claims they felt “threatened”, and justified in shooting & killing young Jamal because he appeared to be “reaching into his waistband” for “something”. We already don’t prosecute COPS for shooting & killing unarmed black kids. You think a teacher is ever going to be convicted when their defense is: “I was worried about the safety of my students!”

Now let me be clear: I am NOT claiming everyone whom owns a gun is mentally ill. By now, you have undoubtedly seen on the news footage of a mother & daughter operating a liquor store in Oklahoma when a masked gunman attempts to rob them. Instead, both mother & daughter pull out guns of their own and fire upon the would-be robber, striking him numerous times and thwarting the attack. The tearful duo appearing everywhere on the news this weekend crediting each other with saving each other’s lives. The video is being shopped everywhere as PROOF of the necessity of guns in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. I’d like to point out a few observations of my own:

1) The gunman had a handgun. Not an assault rifle. If the two women had attempted to take on a maniac with an assault rifle who entered firing, the outcome likely would have been very different.

2) I’m willing to bet this was not the robber’s first offense (no confirmation yet.) How does a repeat offender get his hands on a handgun? Answer: He buys one. Legally. That needs to change.

3) Screen-grab of the robbery:
 

Daughter fires at robber... AND her mother.
Daughter fires at robber… AND her mother.

Mom decided to take on the robber herself and a struggle ensued as she attempted to wrench the gun away from the robber. The daughter then points her gun at the two of them and fires, striking the robber in the back, narrowly missing her own mother. In fact, the bullet COULD have passed though the robber and struck her mother. And a spit second after being hit, the robber twists, tossing the mother directly between him and the armed daughter. Had she of fired twice in a row, Mom might be dead right now by her daughter’s hand, not the robber’s.

Now, of course, a gun-rights advocate would look at this and say, “Yeah, but none of that DID happen and both women are alive today because they knew how to handle themselves.” No. I’m sorry, nothing about that footage cries out: “Good Judgement”. Firing in the direction of the gunman with the person or persons you are trying to protect directly in the line of fire? This is EXACTLY the kind of reckless bad decision making you’d almost certainly see if we started arming teachers who THINK they know how to protect themselves. Things could just as easily turned out very bad for our heroes.

These same gun nuts will also “do the math” and argue “the mistaken death of ONE child is acceptable if it saves 20 others.” Are you willing to take that gamble with the life of YOUR child? And once again, anyone who thinks the accidental/preventable death of one (or maybe more) students is “acceptable” if it saves the lives of even more children is just the kind of person I don’t want to have access to a gun in school.

Listening to the gun nuts on Facebook & Twitter, one gets a sense they are terrified children whom without their guns would likely be huddled in a dark corner of their home, terrified of the outside world. That’s why they want Trump to build that idiotic Wall… even if WE end up paying for it despite telling them over & over again he could provide them with security from Mexicans at no charge. And they want Trump to protect them from “Muslims”… even that bloodied 3 year old boy photographed in the back of an ambulance that touched so many hearts last year. And now they want to arm the teachers because the surest way to protect children trapped in a classroom with a crazed gunman with an assault rife is, of course, crossfire. And any attempt to take away their blankie guns will be seen as the first step towards a government that comes knocking on their door to… to… again, I have no idea. The people most supportive of gun rights are clearly the most fearful, the most irrational, and know that if they were evaluated by a psychiatrist, their overwhelming fear of the outside world would be the very basis for which they would be labeled “mentally unstable” and prohibited from buying a gun.

And THAT, dear reader, is the REAL reason they oppose any gun ban.
 


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“Now Is Not the Time to Talk About Guns.” Yes. Yes it is.
Feb 19th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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“Now is not the time to talk about guns.” We’ve heard that exact line so many times it’s practically a Republican catch-phrase. And we all know its intent: to suppress the issue until public interest/urgency wanes and people are distracted by other more “immediate” issues, ensuring nothing ever gets done so that the people who profit off the deaths of children can continue to make money. Remember all the talk about “Bump Stocks” following the Vegas shooting? Those spring-loaded rifle butts that use a gun’s recoil to fire like a fully automatic machine gun? Everyone… gun opponents and gun supporters alike, seemed to agree that something like “bump stocks” should be illegal. It seemed like a compromise everyone could support. Gun opponents get rid of a device that clearly serves no purpose other than to circumvent the ban on fully-automatic machine guns, and gun supporters get to pretend like they are actually doing something about gun control without actually removing a single weapon from the streets. Remember that?

That law never passed. It never even came up for a vote in the House (despite passing in the Senate.) House Republicans killed it in Committee (Senate Republicans often vote to support things they otherwise wouldn’t because they know House Republicans will bail them out.) Several state legislatures then tried to pass it on their own. Washington and Colorado succeeded. Virginia where the deadliest school shooting in history took place (“Virginia Tech”) a decade earlier, the bill was killed in a “Public Safety” subcommittee by a Party-Line vote (4-to-2… that’s right, just FOUR Republicans is all it took to keep bump stocks legal for the entire state of Virginia.) In Nevada where the massacre took place, state law actually forbids the banning of gun accessories like bump stocks. Insane.

Here are some of the most notable gun events in recent memory (and after each, nothing was done):

  1. “Virginia Tech” – 2007 (32 killed, 23 wounded)
  2. Northern Illinois University Shooting, 2008 (5 killed, 21 wounded)
  3. Fort Hood #1, Tx – 2009 (13K, 30W)
  4. Hartford Beer Distributor, Manchester, CT – 2010 (8K, 2W)
  5. Tuscon, AZ “Safeway Rally” shooting killing 6 and wounding 13 including Rep Gabby Giffords, 2011 (6K, 13W)
  6. Aurora Movie Theater shooting, CO – July 2012 (12K, 58W)
  7. Sandy Hook Elementary, Newtown CT – December 2012 (27K, 2W)
  8. D.C. Navy Yard shooting – December 2013 (12K, 8W)
  9. Fort Hood #2 (yes, a second shooting at the same place), TX – April 2014 (3K, 12W)
  10. Isla Vista mass murder, Santa Barbara, CA – May 2014 (6K, 13W)
  11. Charleston church shooting, VA – June 2015 (9K, 1W)… only the THIRD deadliest of seven mass shootings that year.
  12. Umpqua Community College, Roseburg, OR – October 2015 (9K, 9W)
  13. Planned Parenthood, Colorado Springs, CO – November 2015(3K, 9W)
  14. Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, CA – December 2015 (14K, 21W)
  15. Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, FL – June, 2016 (49K, 53W)
  16. The attempted murder of Congressman Steve Scalise on a DC baseball field last June 2017 (0K, 2W)
  17. The Vegas massacre last October 2017 (58 dead, 851 injured)
  18. Sutherland Springs church shooting, TX – November 2017 (27K, 20W)

…And now the horrific murder of 14 students and 3 teachers at a Florida high school last Ash Wednesday (which was also Valentine’s Day.) Lord only knows how many shootings I missed. (“Mother Jones” documented NINETY-SEVEN mass shootings in the past 35 years.)

According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of today, there have been 7,050 incidents of gun violence (where one civilian kills or injures another civilian using a gun)… not “in the past decade”, not “since Trump was elected”, not even “last year”, but in just 2018 ALONE. And we are only halfway through February. That’s nearly 147 SHOOTINGS PER DAY! That’s nuts.

Lately, I’ve begun to feel like everything there is to be said about certain subjects… be it guns, Trump/Russia or Republican hypocrisy in general… I’ve already talked about till I’m blue-in-the-face. This was one of those weeks.

But even more fascinating is that somehow, Republicans actually found a way for all three to overlap this time! According to Trump, the reason the FBI… a massive agency with thousands of agents investigating tens of thousands of crimes… “missed the warning signs” regarding the Florida shooting is because “they were too busy investigating him for collusion with Russia.” The man’s narcissism knows no bounds (Please note, despite all the tweeting acknowledging the FBI’s findings, not one word about responding to the ongoing Russian attack on our democracy. Not even a harsh word for Putin.) That photo of 12 Trump tweets in the upper left? All of them posted since the shooting on February 14th, and not a single mention of guns. Five of those tweets were posted just this weekend.

Guns, Russia… and then there’s the hypocrisy.

Republicans have been flooding the airwaves to attack Democrats for “politicizing the issue” by calling for action on guns while emotions are still running high. I don’t know about you, but the ONLY people I see “politicizing” this issue are REPUBLICANS accusing others of “politicizing” the issue in order to once again shut down any debate on the subject of gun control (ie: “Bullet Control.“) As I’ve repeatedly said, “When a Republican accuses you of something, it’s because THEY themselves are either doing it or would do it if they were in the same position, and naturally assume everyone else is/would too.”

No Corporate Lobby is making huge campaign contributions to Democrats in exchange for tighter gun laws. There’s no profit in that. But the NRA spends tens of millions each year on campaign contributions to politicians willing to kill off (pardon the phrase) sensible gun restrictions that might cost the gun industry millions. (I’m reminded of Republicans who try to claim “greedy scientists and colleges” who receive all that “Climate Change research funding” are actually the ones behind the “Global Warming Myth”… yes, there are Republicans who seriously believe that. Not the Trillion-dollar oil industry spending billions to sough seeds of doubt and quash any such legislation.)

Here in Houston, the 2018 primaries are rapidly approaching (March), and we already have one Republican woman candidate (whose name I won’t mention) who is running ubiquitous ads comparing herself to Trump, bragging of his “accomplishments” and her promise to help him fulfil his campaign promises (including that wall.) The same ad ran for weeks.

THE DAY AFTER the Florida school shooting, she released a new ad, posing with a (simple lever-action .22) rifle, touting how she “learned to shoot as a child” taught by her father, and how she would “fight to protect the Second Amendment.”

Seriously. The very next day.

If your FIRST reaction to the mass murder of 14 children and 3 teachers is to worry more about protecting GUNS than KIDS… YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! (Shall we talk some more about “Democrats politicizing” the gun issue?)

I can’t imagine what kind of hole a person must have in their soul if their first reaction to such a tragedy is to rush to pander to gun nuts to reassure them that you’ll protect their right to buy yet more guns… because you KNOW that audience already has them. That’s beyond disgusting. I pray I’m not the only person who noticed and was wildly offended by that.

After the Pulse Nightclub massacre in 2016, I pointed out that after every mass shooting, there’s always a parade of Conservative Gun Rights defenders claiming that if THEY had been “there” when the latest shooting was taking place, THEY could have taken down the shooter with their trusty handgun. I’ve NEVER heard one say they would have needed an assault weapon to achieve this amazing feat. Never has one ever said it’s impossible to stop such a crime unless THEY TOO had an assault weapon on them. I NEVER heard anyone claim it couldn’t be done without an extended clip holding 30 or more rounds, either.

Not once.

All they needed was a simple handgun. So why again do they need an assault rifle with 30 round clip “for protection”?

I actually heard Republican Senator Jim Lankford claim on “Meet the Press” yesterday that “some people actually DO hunt with an AR-15 rifle.” No, I didn’t make that up. In case you are wondering, Yes, you DID just hear a Republican senator argue that the weapon of choice of most mass murderers needs to remain legal because there are people who are such miserable shots they need an assault weapon to take down a moose. If you need a gun capable of spitting out 45 bullets/minute in order to hunt, you probably have no business firing such a powerful weapon… unless of course you just love liquefied deer meat.

Every time there is a mass shooting, we are told “Now is not the time to discuss gun reform.” Why? Because “emotions are running high” and gun-opponents might not be open to a “rational” discussion on restricting guns. But then, people soon forget about it and another important issue steals the spotlight. And should you bring the issue back up a month or two later (assuming there hasn’t been another mass slaughter since then), the issue is no longer seen as “urgent” and quickly falls by the wayside… until the next mass shooting and we are told once again, “Now is not the time”. In an age where people are developing the attention span of goldfish, “waiting” is to “issues” what “assault weapons” are to “human lives”: death.
 


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Stunning Trump & GOP Hypocrisy Amidst Wild Week
Feb 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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I‘ve always been keenly aware of Republican hypocrisy. It’s one of the things that drives Democrats like me nuts (which incidentally, gives Republicans orgasmic pleasure because… as I’ve repeatedly said… they’re provocateurs.) They also have an uncanny ability to turn it around and accuse their accusers of being the TRUE hypocrites. It wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t keep falling for it. And we MAY just be nearing one of those tipping points.

The past few weeks of the Trump White House have been some of the worst weeks seen in ANY White House since the start of Nixon’s second term. But we are barely three weeks into Trump’s second year and they are already giving Nixon a run for his money when it comes to scandal. But when you layer ON TOP OF THAT the incompetency, the in-fighting, the chaos, disrespect for our own government institutions, the fiscal irresponsibility and just the stunning magnitude of their hypocrisy, not even Richard Nixon disgraced his office to the degree Donald Trump has (and continues to do.)

This isn’t an Op/Ed on a particular issue in a week FULL of controversy: A plunging DOW, another White House staffer accused of domestic violence is forced to resign, Trump approves the release of a GOP “Memo” attacking the Mueller investigation despite FBI security concerns, but a Democratic rebuttal memo is blocked by Trump citing “FBI concerns”, and #KimJongDon accusing Democrats of “treason” for not applauding his every word at the State of the Union… you know, the way Republicans did at every one of Obama’s State of the Union speeches (including the unprecedented disrespect of shouting “You lie!” at his first joint address of Congress). No, this is more a look at how Republicans… whom have ALWAYS been raging hypocrites… are becoming even more bereft of principle now than ever.

Don Jr… every bit as smug and disingenuous as his father… suggested black critics who once posed for photos with his father and accepted money from him were hypocrites… turning on him only once he became president. One of the people he singled out as a hypocrite was Reverend Al Sharpton… now host of his own show on MSNBC. Yesterday on his show, Sharpton pointed out (in so many words) that Trump’s critics are not the ones who changed upon entering office, it was Trump. Sharpton pointed out that he was one of Trump’s chief critics during the “Central Park 5” controversy, and if Trump actually DID donate any money to black causes, he never saw it.

Which illustrates a point: Republicans see the world through a very special prism. One where they are the benevolent ones contributing to society, and everyone else are the leeches who are a drain on society only to bite the hand (theirs) that feeds it. And because of that self-righteousness, any hypocrisy is excused on behalf of “the greater good.”

Budget/Deficit hypocrisy.

In 2000, Congress had balanced their second budget in a row. The Deficit was ZERO and we were actually paying off the Debt with the surplus. George W Bush campaigned across the country telling Republican voters at every stop that the surplus PROVED they were being over-taxed. “It’s not their money, it’s OUR money, and we want it back!” And the crowd cheered. And that’s why a Republican president will NEVER balance the budget, because the moment we collect enough in taxes to do so, they will point to it as an excuse to cut taxes. How will the government EVER bring down the Debt if every time we bring in enough tax revenue to start paying it off, they reverse it (arguing the resulting economic growth will result in even more tax revenue)? By the time Bush left office, the economy had collapsed and the deficit had exploded to $1.2Trillion dollars.

And when Obama became president, Republicans immediately blamed Obama for the $1.2T deficit… and I’m even hearing Trump and his supporters continuing to do so today (even though it was cut by nearly 2/3rds by the time he left.) In 2011, Congress was faced with raising the Debt Ceiling to pay for all the spending THEY approved. As I noted back in December (“If GOP Tax Bill Passes, here is how it will tank the economy“), self-proclaimed Head of The TEA Party, then Senator Mike Pence, said that if shutting down the government was what it took to get the National Debt/Deficit under control, “I say, shut it down!” Now VP, he defends Trump for saying we should shut down the government if Democrats DON’T pass his massive unfunded budget.

For decades, Republicans ran as “the Party of fiscal responsibility.” Ronald Reagan… after he exploded the deficit… audited the government to (famously) discover it was being wildly overcharged for simple items. Famously, things like “$37 screws, a $7,622 coffee maker, and a $640 toilet seat made headlines across the country. Over 30 years later, Republicans still cite those same overcharges as evidence there is always “fat” we can cut from the budget so we can cut taxes without increasing the deficit. Except they never do. Most of that “fat” was trimmed away decades ago, and the total saving from those cuts is NEVER greater than the resulting tax cut it is used to justify.

Flash forward to 2018. The MASSIVE corporate tax cut Trump just passed is going to create… at a minimum… a $1T hole in the Deficit (and I’m dead certain it will climb to over $2T by the 2020 election… not that I give a rat’s ass what it does to the GOP’s prospects that year. In the 1980 election, Reagan criticized Carter for allowing the National Debt… the total Debt NOT the deficit… to reach $800 Billion dollars. By the time Reagan left office, the Debt had tripled to $2.4 Trillion dollars. And now, I believe Trump’s corporate tax cut will eventually cost us that much money EVERY YEAR.

And how do Republicans dismiss warnings Trump’s tax cuts will explode the deficit? “Voodoo Economics” of course (the idea cutting taxes will result in MORE tax revenue via growth.) They KNOW it’s a lie (well, I’m sure they are plenty of true believers who still believe that crap despite history), yet they support it anyway because they get to tell their voters back home that they can continue to have candy for dinner and never get a cavity! No Republicans is willing to be the adult in the room and say, “No! You can’t have another tax cut! All those nice things you say you want the government to provide for you? Well, those things cost money. And if you don’t think the company you work for should pay for it, then the burden falls upon you.”

When Bush-43 became president, Dick Cheney famously said, “Ronald Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” That huge deficits have no significant impact on the economy.

Except when a Democrat occupies the White House… then deficits are a tragedy beyond words.

The Handling of Top Secret info (aka: “Lock her up!”)

It seems like ages ago now when Trump and his supporters were accusing Hillary Clinton of “mishandling classified info.” The idea Hillary Clinton “recklessly” used an insecure private email server in her home that America’s enemies could (and they suggested “did”) hack into and uncover classified documents. They even pointed to Clinton forwarding emails with a “(C)” designation (for “Classified”) in the subject line as “proof” she was “extremely careless” with classified material (material which had been declassified by the time it was sent.)

Fast forward 6 months later. Donald Trump invites two Russian ambassadors and an entire Russian camera crew (but NO American reporters) into the Oval Office to show off, revealing Top Secret intel on what we knew about the location of (Russian made) North Korean submarines… Top Secret intel we obtained from British Intelligence. Trump revealed to the Russians… North Korea’s ally… that the Brits had infiltrated the NK government, who then likely notified them that they have a British spy in their midst (burning an invaluable asset.)

Once in the White House, Trump proceeded to surround himself with people who were incapable of obtaining a Top Secret security clearance. Rob Porter (Staff Secretary who regularly handled the MOST secret documents and whose job was to BURN those reports when done) could not obtain Top Secret security clearance because BOTH of his ex-wives accused him of domestic abuse. Despite that, he continued at his job handling the most sensitive information in government until he was forced to resign just last week.

White House speechwriter David Sorenson “resigned” as well last week after nearly seven months on the job amid domestic abuse charges of his own. While Sorenson didn’t have direct access to classified information, do you think Conspiracy-minded Trump supporters wouldn’t have been screaming about how “reckless” Hillary was for allowing a clear security threat to have free-reign within the White House?

And many forget Trump’s right-hand man, Steve Bannon, who likewise was unable to obtain Top Secret security clearance because of past charges of Domestic Violence. But that didn’t stop Trump from signing an Executive Order that permitted Bannon to sit in on NSC meetings.

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner… the man whom he tasks with every boring job he doesn’t want to do… does NOT have Top Secret security clearance. Yet he sits in on top secret meetings in the Oval Office and handles some of the most sensitive security information imaginable.

And lets not forget Trump reportedly (and the White House denies) tried to obtain security clearances for his kids, Ivanka, Bevis AND Butthead, right after the election. Consider that this is mere DAYS after winning an election due in part to accusations Hillary Clinton was “reckless” with Top Secret information.

Sexual Misconduct

In addition to the White House staffers who were kept on for many months (even a year) despite allegations of Domestic Abuse, there is of course the man himself… Trump… whom they elected in spite of his history of philandering (cheated on wife #1 with future wife #2, and wife #2 with future wife #3), and despite his “Access Hollywood” confession caught on tape admitting to repeatedly committing sexual assault, grabbing & kissing women without their permission, they still voted for him. The same Republicans who decided Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct made him unfit to occupy the Oval Office, were (surprisingly?) quick to defend Trump when news broke that his personal lawyer paid off two women… a pornstar named “Stormy Daniels” and a former Playmate named Karen McDougal… to stop them from revealing just before the election that they had had affairs with Trump (reportedly soon after Melania became pregnant with their son Barron.) At least seventeen women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, all of whom he has branded “liars” as part of a giant conspiracy to bring down his presidency.

And his supporters continue to believe & defend him. They believe in conspiracy theories, and Trump is the king of conspiracy theories (even giving the most offensive conspiracy theory lunatic on cable TV… InfoWars’ Alex Jonesa White House Press Pass.)

Dueling Memos

As you almost certainly know, Republicans in the House and Senate announced last month that they had “a memo” that proved… PROVED… Trump was the target of a partisan witch-hunt being waged by a “biased” FBI in an investigation that was initiated by Democrats during the campaign seeking dirt on Donald Trump.

That Earth-shattering memo “proving” malfeasance by the FBI? The GOP wrote it. Their claims were not true at all (the initial investigation was launched by one of Trump’s REPUBLICAN rivals… almost certainly Jeb Bush… then later passed along to Clinton, who continued it.) They publicly claimed the reason for the investigation were the findings of a biased British former MI6 agent (Chris Steele) yet on the last page of their own report, they concede the FBI investigation was initiated two months earlier based on a warning they received about another Trump advisor (George Papodopoulis). They flailed their arms wildly in outrage over text messages attacking Trump exchanged between two (of among a hundred) FBI agents working on the Russia investigation… agents who had already been removed from the case months ago because of those texts, and cited what was clearly a joke about a “secret society” within the FBI as evidence of some bizarre “Deep State” shadow government working behind the scenes to undermine our hero: poor, misunderstood Donald Trump. And despite security concerns from both the FBI & CIA about possibly revealing classified information should the GOP Memo be released, Trump ignored those warnings and approved the release of the misleading/erroneous memo anyway.

To which, Democrats demanded Trump likewise approve the release their own rebuttal memo correcting those false & misleading claims, to which Trump said he would… but when it reached his desk, NOW he was suddenly sensitive to FBI concerns over what classified intel it might reveal, and refused to approve it.
 

Memo Hypocrisy (:40)

 

Trump minion Marc Short actually defended Trump’s obvious hypocrisy on “Meet the Press” yesterday by claiming he believed Democratic Intel Committee Chair Adam Schiff deliberately inserted clearly classified material in the Democratic Memo in order to force Trump to reject it just to make him look bad. No. Seriously.

Trump fired FBI Director Jim Comey because he wouldn’t shut down the Russia investigation, and has publicly ridiculed his own Attorney General. Remember when Republicans were “the law & order Party” that had nothing but good things to say about our law enforcement agencies? Now they’re the “Trash the FBI. Trash the Justice Dept” Party.

Russia

Ronald Reagan… patron saint of the GOP… was the harshest critic and least trusting of Russia as any president in history. Republicans under Reagan justified spending over a Trillion dollars fighting the “Cold War” to defeat the Soviet Union. They were not to be trusted… least of all, someone connected to the KGB.

Today, we have a president who openly defends Russia and thinks former KGB agent Vladamir Putin… a ruthless dictator who has essentially appointed himself “President for Life”, has his critics imprisoned, murdered, or both… is telling him the truth when he insists over & over that he didn’t meddle in our election… something even Trump’s OWN STAFF now concedes is true:
 

Trump vs his own Administration on Russian meddling (:43)

 

And no wonder Trump prefers to believe Putin over his own staff. Because to concede Russia meddled is to concede that maybe… just maybe… Trump didn’t actually win the election on his own and would have lost to Hillary Clinton. And THAT though is just unfathomable to Trump. Remember this is the same guy who denied PHOTOS of the smallish crowd at his inauguration were accurate, and claimed he “actually won the popular vote too… if you don’t count the more than THREE MILLION illegal aliens who voted for Hillary”… an absurd claim with no foothold in reality. But SO fragile is this man’s ego, he’d rather do NOTHING to protect the NEXT election from meddling by a hostile foreign power (let alone investigate the LAST election) than do his job and protect American democracy. (He inaction COULD easily backfire on him. If Putin’s goal is “to sough chaos” in America, if he suddenly decides he doesn’t like Trump, Putin could help the Democrat win the next election and put Democrats on the defensive of trying to justify their own win against accusations of a fixed election. Talk about “chaos.” Do nothing at your own peril, Mr. Trump.

Trump critics make excuses for him when it suits them

Some of Trump’s harshest critics on the campaign trail suddenly discovered a new-found respect for the Billionaire CEO-turned-president as soon as it looked like it might benefit them personally.

We all remember the awkward “Somebody-help-me” smiles on Mitt Romney’s face as he auditioned for the job of Trump’s “Secretary of State”… strung along for weeks and posing for photo-ops groveling at Trump’s feet, stroking his ego, only to be rejected (with rumors everywhere that Romney was never truly under consideration, Trump just liked humiliating one of his critics, like the child sociopath who tears the wings off butterflies, taking pleasure in another’s pain.)

During the campaign, one of Trump’s harshest critics was GOP rival Lindsey Graham. Trump famously gave out Graham’s private cellphone number while on the campaign trail in retribution for some criticism Lindsey leveled upon him. Now suddenly Graham is Trump’s golfing buddy and a frequent defender of the Toddler-in-Chief in the Media. Why? Because Trump is advancing his pet issues. As long as Lindsey is getting what he wants, Trump isn’t an irrational man/child, he’s a patient chief executive who examines all sides of an issue.

We remember Chris Christie attacking Trump on the campaign trail, only to later see him standing behind Trump at campaign events, almost agog at what was spewing from the man’s mouth, all in hopes of being honored with the job of “Attorney General”… which he was was never going to get, only to be excluded from more & more administrative functions during the transition and not included in Trump’s cabinet.

Matt Dowd on ABC’s ThisWeek made the keen observation yesterday: “Trump’s greatest ability is that he reveals people for who they really are.”

Which brings me to the two biggest hypocrisies of all:

“Draining the Swamp” & “A CEO knows how to hire the best people”

These were the two biggest selling points to justify electing Donald Trump to be president. He would “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, lackies & sycophants from the Federal Government and hire only the most qualified people to run our government as efficiently as he ran his corporations to become a multi-Billionaire.

Instead, to date, the only “swamp creatures” Trump has cut loose are people HE HIRED:
 

Trump Admin departures-Feb 9, 2018

 

He filled his administration full of Washington insiders, lackies & sycophants like Steve Bannon… the White Nationalist wife-beater who ran a Right-Wing online tabloid… to be his chief strategist. He appointed Jeff Sessions… the first (and for a long time only) Republican senator to endorse him, to be his Attorney General. He appointed a wealthy donor (and sister of the head of Blackwater)… whom had NEVER held a job in public education, to run his Department of Education. He appointed a Climate Change denier who sued the EPA more than a dozen times to run the EPA, appointed his own Son-in-Law his “chief advisor”, and a former model (Hope Hicks) who worked for his daughter Ivanka modeling her clothing line, to be Deputy Communications Director. Rick “Oops” Perry was appointed to run the very agency he wanted to shutdown… The Dept of Energy… an agency Perry was totally unaware was in charge of our nuclear arsenal. Before Perry, the job was last held by an MIT professor of physics, and before him, a Nobel laureate. And Trump appointed former brain surgeon Ben “Sleepy” Carson to be… not his Surgeon General… but the head of HUD (because Carson once lived in Public housing.) These were “The Best People” he could find to fill these jobs?

(An aside here as I note that EVERY business Trump has pursued outside of real estate empire has been a spectacular failure. Trump Airways, Trump Casinos, Trump Vodka, Trump Steaks, Trump University, Trump Magazine… just to name a few… all ended up declaring bankruptcy. His condos are “80% sold” and “80% vacant” because nobody lives in them. His ONLY “successful” business has been selling property to Russian mobsters looking to launder dirty money by purchasing real estate from a greedy moron who doesn’t ask questions when you pay him in cash. Trump isn’t “a brilliant businessman”. He’s the Russian mob’s “useful idiot”… and now they’ve put him in the White House.)

What we’ve learned about Republicans from the election of Donald Trump is that there is no principle they won’t sellout in the name of advancing their ideology. If their word is meaningless and they repeatedly prove their incompetence and inability to govern, why on Earth would anyone ever trust them again? Yet millions happily reject everything they’ve ever claimed to believe in… defenders of law & order, national security and fiscal responsibility… and have done a total 180′ standing all those principles on their head so long as it suits their agenda… which as far as I can tell is simply annoying their critics (because as I’ve said all along, “Republicans are provocateurs who get off on upsetting their critics.”)
 


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Is This the Beginning of the Trump Economy? DOW loses over 1,000 points to start 2018.
Feb 4th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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(UPDATE: Monday, DOW falls an additional 1,175 points… the largest one day drop in history.)
(UPDATE #2: DOW falls another 1,032 points on Thursday.)

Like the old saying goes: “Facts can be stubborn things.” Last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered it’s worst week (day?) in two years (I’m having some trouble confirming that statistic, but the 666 point drop on Friday may have been the biggest one-day drop since Bush-43’s final year in office.)

Now, there is no denying that the DOW set numerous records in Trump’s first year… which was easier to do when you START with a strong economy and the DOW already near it’s record high. Under Obama, the DOW grew nearly as quickly his first year in office (see corner thumbnail graph) as it has under Trump, but it wasn’t “setting records” because Bush left him an economy in free fall, needing to gain nearly 6,000 points just to get back up to where it was before the crash. So in very blunt terms, Trump had a 6,000 point “head start” on growing the Stock Market.

In reaction to a good jobs report for January (190K jobs created, first hourly wage increase in eight years), investors panicked… believing either (GOP version) the economy is doing SO good the Fed will be forced to raise interest rates next month to stave off inflation (which is nonsense because we’ve had periods of lower unemployment and higher job growth without needing to raise interest rates), or (MY interpretation) the jobs report confirmed what they already KNOW: that the Fed MUST raise interest rates next month… and will do so at the first opportunity… to fill the budget shortfall Trump’s massive tax cut for corporations and billionaires will create, which caused the DOW to plunge nearly 666 points… it’s worst one day drop since January 2016 (and the less said about that number, the better.)

And that “good jobs report” is terribly misleading: 1) Note the “jobs expansion” is now in its EIGHTH year (so this isn’t a new phenomena thanks to Trump) and Congress has YET to pass a new budget, so we are STILL operating under Obama’s final December 2016 budget.

2) The reported “first hourly wage increase in eight years” was a whopping NINE CENTS and due almost entirely to 18 states raising the Minimum Wage. Unless you have a healthy 401k or other investment in the Stock Market, the average person is actually seeing very little benefit from the rise in the Stock Market.
 

Job Growth by Presidental Budget
Job growth by president
(Trump’s first year in purple, but he has yet to pass a budget.)

 

That region in purple… a straightline continuation of the seven years before it… is what Trump has been taking bows for. As you can see from in the region in green, the last budget of the preceding president continues to impact the economy long after they are gone, and passing your own budget can set the trajectory of the remainder of your presidency. (That little spike at the start of Obama’s first budget is “The Stimulus”.)
 

Don’t be fooled. Trump deserves little (if ANY) significant credit for the good Jobs Report that came out last week (other than he has yet to do any “significant” damage.) And whether or not the economy “takes off like a rocket” as promised as a result of his policies (which are taking effect only now this year) is left to be seen. We won’t know for sure until well after he passes his first budget… and right now, that doesn’t look to be any time soon.

And because of Trump’s massive corporate tax cut, they are going to have to cut spending somewhere. And you KNOW the first place Republicans are going to look. They can’t look to the wealthy & corporations whom they just gave a massive tax cut to, and Republicans will NEVER cut the Military Budget (in fact, Trump wants to INCREASE IT… MASSIVELY… along with Billions to start his ridiculous border wall), so they are going where they always go… Medicare, Social Security and programs for the poor.

But not right away. Republicans still believe Trump’s massive tax cut will increase tax revenue due to all the “economic growth” they are certain it will create. Bush senior called this “Voodoo Economics”, and he was right. Both Reagan, Bush-41 and Bush-43 all tried it, exploding the deficit and massively increasing the National Debt. Reagan and Bush-41 both tried to mitigate the damage by raising taxes 11 times and by hiring tens of thousands of additional government employees. Bush-43 however gulped down the Kool-Aid, steadfastly refused to do either, and nearly tossed the entire planet into another Great Depression.

And now Trump and Republicans with an almost evangelical belief in “Trickledown Economics” are looking to do it again. (And this budget-timebomb is set to go off on the Democrats watch after retaking Congress in the midterms.)

Congress will be meeting again this week in yet another attempt to finally pass a budget. Don’t hold your breath. Nothing has changed and they are no closer to passing a budget now than they were when they kicked the can down the road two weeks ago. We have been operating under Obama’s final budget… passed in December 2016… Trump’s entire time in office. And for all of 2017, corporations have been operating under Obama’s tax rates and Obama’s “Job Killing” healthcare mandate. Trump simultaneously brags of the economy we’ve seen so far despite those “obstacles to growth” while claiming those same obstacles were “destroying jobs.” Clearly they weren’t. Extending the Obama budget may not be the worst thing to happen to Trump. Look how well it has served him so far. Unfortunately we can’t run on the same budget forever. New legislation needs funding. Old projects expire and no longer do. Eventually, Trump is going to have to remove the training wheels and peddle his own damn bike.

I noted in both of my last two Op/Ed’s that the federal government will HAVE to borrow Hundreds of Billions… pushing the Deficit into the stratosphere… to pay for Trump’s massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. And the only way to encourage people/nations to lend us money to fund the federal government is to raise interest rates… which sucks Billions out of the economy as more & more people tie up their money in savings instead of spending it. This creates a deadly feedback loop… last seen during the economic collapse of 2008… where less money being spent means corporations need fewer workers and start laying off people, who now have no spare cash, slowing the economy still further. It’s Keynesian Economics 101 and why “Trickle-down Economics” doesn’t work.

Republicans insisted that Trump’s tax cuts will “turbocharge the economy” (here in Houston, we already have one Republican woman running for Congress using that exact phrase in her ads) as lower tax rates encourage corporations hiding “Trillions” overseas in tax shelters to bring that money home (because what company wouldn’t prefer to pay a low 25% corporate tax rate vs leaving the money overseas in a tax-free tax shelter? Right? #SMH)

I’m being factious, of course.

So last Monday (Jan 29th), The DOW plunged 177 points. On the 30th, it fell an additional 362. A slight rebound of 72 & 37 points on Wednesday & Thursday, only to lose a whopping 665.75 points on Friday (possibly the largest one-day loss since December 2008… Bush’s final full month in office.) And Update: An additional 1,175 points today/Monday.

And right now, there is NO reason for investors to believe the Fed ISN’T going to raise Interest Rates in March. They sure as heck didn’t take to the airwaves Friday to reassure investors that they were worried for nothing and they are unlikely to raise rates next month.

They didn’t say that because they CAN’T. hey KNOW Trump’s tax cuts are going to break the bank and they will HAVE to find a way to pay for it. That means a rate hike… whether the economy needs it or not.
 


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