Articles of Impeachment. Past Presidents vs Trump
September 16, 2019

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The long overdue impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump officially began last week. I’ve often heard people mention past “Articles of Impeachment” previous presidents were charged with that Donald Trump also appears to be guilty of, and it got me wondering “Just how many AoI’s the three presidents previously threatened with impeachment (Andrew Johnston, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton) would ALSO apply to Trump?” So I tracked down the AoI’s against all three. A few things stand out immediately: 1) LOTS of redundancy. Multiple charges often sound like 5 different ways of saying the same thing. The proverbial “padded list.” But legally, each denotes a separate crime. 2) LOTS of legalese, sometimes making it difficult for a layman like myself to discern exactly what they were being charged with (so forgive me if I interpreted anything incorrectly) and 3) Not only does Donald Trump seem to be in violation of nearly every one of the charges laid out against his predecessors, but at least several more crimes as well. So here is my rundown of the “Articles of Impeachment” levied against past presidents (Nixon resigned before he could be impeached. Johnson & Clinton were both impeached in the House but not convicted in the Senate.):

Andrew Johnson – Impeached in 1838.

Johnson was charged with eleven Articles of Impeachment:

1. Fired the “Secretary of War” appointed by Congress during recess and then (2) replaced him with someone of his own choosing (3) WHILE Congress was still in session.

The first clearly would not be considered an impeachable offense today as we have since decided all Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the president and therefore can be fired at any time. But the Second… appointed a replacement on his own without obtaining the approval of Congress, Trump is arguably guilty of in spades. The number of “Acting” Secretaries in his administration… people chosen by Trump and ONLY Trump… now serving as the heads of their departments without Congressional approval or review with no clear replacement forthcoming… currently stands at SEVEN with the firing/resignation of “National Security Advisor” John Bolton… Trump’s third in less than three years. The man who claimed to know “all the best people” sure seems to have a difficult time finding the right people. And when he does, is unwilling to subject them to Congressional approval (as required by law.)

The third AoI: Appointing a replacement Cabinet-level position while Congress was still in session (and therefore not a recess appointment) also applies if you accept that refusing to replace hand-picked deputies now serving in the top spot is no different than appointing your own cabinet members without going through Congress.

4. Threatened a potential candidate (for SoW) so they would refuse nomination by Congress.

5. Refused to enact a law passed by Congress (the appointment of their approved SoW).

6. Seized gov’t agencies to prevent them from doing their job.

7. Refused to instate SoW chosen by Congress.

8. (Rehash on #6 regarding SoW.)

9. Circumvented the “General of the Army” to issue military orders directly.

10.[A]ttempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States, and the several branches thereof, to impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof.”

“Which said utterances, declarations, threats and harangues, highly censurable in any, are peculiarly indecent and unbecoming in the Chief Magistrate of the United States, by means whereof the said Andrew Johnson has brought the high office of the President of the United States into contempt, ridicule and disgrace, to the great scandal of all good citizens, whereby said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, did commit, and was then and there guilty of a high misdemeanor in office.”

11. Called the 38th Congress “illegitimate” and “not authorized by the Constitution”.

The breakdown:

Johnson fired the Secretary of War (now called the “Secretary of Defense”) and replaced him with someone that had not been approved by Congress. He then openly ridiculed members of Congress for opposing his unconstitutional power-grab.

Now let’s examine the Articles of Impeachment against Johnson. How many crimes (among those that would still be considered crimes) is Trump guilty of? Well, Article 1 (firing his Secretary of War without Congressional approval) would no longer be considered an Impeachable offense today, but Art-2 & 3… naming replacement Secretaries without going through Congress… definitely still are. And one need look no further than all of Trump’s “acting” cabinet level appointments (three as of this writing) all people installed by Trump and Trump alone without the need for Congressional approval… not to mention all of the acting directors of positions that don’t require Congressional approval… automatically bumped up into the lead role after Trump fired their boss. He seems to have found a “loophole” that allows him to appoint anyone he likes without Congressional approval.

While Congress might debate how much time must pass before an “acting” Secretary should actually be considered a “permanent” replacement, please note it took seven months for Trump to finally nominate “acting SoD” Mark T. Esper to be the new permanent Secretary of Defense after Our last SoD, General Mattis resigned in protest last December (and despite this, Secretary of State Pompeo… supposedly our chief diplomat… has been acting more like our SoD.) Appointing a replacement Cabinet-level position while Congress was in recess just to skirt the law… is basically what Trump does with every “acting” director, but in one case, right after the “resignation” of Attorney General” Jeff Sessions, rather than permit Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to take his place as the generally accepted order of succession, Trump appointed his own totally unqualified hand-picked replacement… Matt Whitakera strip-mall lawyer (under criminal investigation for running a patent promotion scam) and critic of the Mueller Investigation he saw on (where else) Fox “News”, to be his new AG. Fortunately, Congress balked at this absurd appointment (only to approve the equally partisan frequent Fox guest, Bill Barr.)

Article-5: “Refusing to enact laws passed by Congress”. In 2017, Congress voted to impose sanctions against Russia for meddling in our election, which Trump then vetoed, forcing Congress to vote again with an OVERWHELMING veto-proof majority (419 to 3) that left Trump no choice but to sign it into law. He then sat on it for at least seven months (probably longer) refusing to impose those sanctions (Russia is not a major trading partner and we were not in the middle of delicate negotiations with them at the time, nor did we need their assistance on any issue, so there really was no justification for not imposing those sanctions other than not wanting to upset his new best friend Vladimir Putin. During that time, failing to enact this law was clearly every bit as impeachable as “Article-5” against Johnson.

There is no question Trump is guilty of Article-10… ridiculing and threatening members of Congress… in spades. But whether or not this would pass as an “impeachable offense” today is unlikely. My how our standards have fallen.

This also seems to apply to Article-11 as well, as Trump has (on numerous occasions) suggested particular members of Congress are illegitimate, elected with the help of Mexican and/or Muslim immigrants voting illegally, are not American citizens, or are guilty of treason by criticizing the actions of this government under Trump. But again, probably not impeachable by today’s standards.

Summary: Of Johnson’s 11 impeachable offenses, Trump is guilty of six, three of which (2, 3 & 5) would still be regarded impeachable offenses today.
 

Richard Nixon – Resigned before he could be impeached, in 1974.

Nixon was to be charged with just three Articles of Impeachment:

1. Obstruction of Justice into the investigation of the Watergate burglars.

2. Violated the Constitutional rights of citizens and “impairing” their ability to seek justice in a court of law.

3. Failed to turn over subpoenaed documents & materials requested by Congress as part of their investigation.

The breakdown:

Article-1 We know Trump is guilty of Obstruction of Justice on a myriad of issues: from the investigation into his campaign’s possible involvement with Russian oligarchs connected to the Russian government to fund his “self-funded” campaign, to his repeated refusal to release his taxes to investigate… not only any denied (and therefore potentially compromising) business ties to Russia… but investigations into the multitude of “Emoluments Clause” violations we know he is guilty of (covered below). Trump denied he fired FBI Director James Comey over the Russia investigation (a clear Obstruction of Justice if he had), only to then admit to NBC’s Lester Holt that the “Russia” investigation was indeed behind his reasoning for firing Comey, followed by inviting two Russian ambassadors, a Russian banker (who was also the handler for Russian spy Maria Butina) Alexander Torshin and their staff into the Oval Office (WITH cameras while denying the American press) to tell them “the pressure is off” and the Russia investigation dead now that he has fired James Comey. So there is no question the firing of Comey was intentional “obstruction of justice”.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller testified that while he could not conclude whether or not Trump himself directed, was involved with, or knew of his campaign’s activities with Russian nationals during the 2016 race (likely BECAUSE of rampant obstruction of justice), he could NOT… repeat NOT… conclude no obstruction of justice ever took place.

Article-2 “Violating the rights of citizens”. For Nixon, Art-2 was referring to his use of federal agencies like the IRS & FBI to investigate his political enemies. During the 2016 race, Trump did threaten to (ab)use the power of the presidency to investigate Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server (something members of his own cabinet and even his WH employed daughter Ivanka are guilty of in spades) and a reckless disregard for Top Secret national security documents in her possession (something Trump himself is guilty of in multiple instances). It was recently discovered that Trump has directed his AG/lackie Bill Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation in order to go after his political enemies, but it bears repeating that even NON-citizens have Constitutional rights (that’s why “enemy combatants” are held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.) And every man, woman and child held prisoner in Trump’s Concentration Camps on the Mexican border has been denied their Constitutionally protected basic human rights.

So Trump is guilty of Nixon’s Article-2 two times over.

Article-3, the failure to turnover documents requested by Congress. Trump has repeatedly refused to release his taxes as requested by Congress. But he has also refused to release his 2016 campaign’s financial records (with the investigation abruptly shutdown as soon as serious questions were raised), and Trump tried to cover-up the fact he instructed his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay off a pornstar, and enlisted the aide of a friend (National Enquirer publisher David Pecker) to pay hush money to a Playboy Playmate he had been having an affair with for months while his wife Melania was pregnant, gave birth to, and then nursing “her” son Baron. These crimes should/would be considered additional acts of “obstruction of justice”.

Summary: Of Nixon’s 3 articles of impeachment, Trump is guilty of all three, with MANY additional violations to justify each and every one of the charges.
 

Bill Clinton – Impeached in 1999.

President Clinton was charged with four Articles of Impeachment:

1. Obstruction of Justice (via perjury.) – Falsely testifying under oath that he “did not have sexual relations” with Monica Lewinski.

2. Perjury – Denying he even had any relationship with Ms. Lewinski.

3. Obstruction of Justice by:
 a) Telling a witness to falsify an affidavit.
 b) Instructed witness to lie under oath.
 c) Concealed evidence.
 d) Bribed witness with a job in exchange for false testimony.
 e) Allowed his lawyer to mischaracterize an affidavit in order to prevent questioning deemed relevant by the judge.
 f) Gave a misleading account of events relevant to a Federal civil rights action in order to corruptly influence the testimony of a witness.
 g) Lied to witnesses to influence their testimony.

4. Refused to respond to written requests for admission and willfully made perjurous, false and misleading sworn statements in response to a written request by the impeachment inquiry. (“In doing this, William Jefferson Clinton has undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”)

The breakdown:

If I hadn’t already covered the AoI’s against Andrew Johnson, I’d definitely call this “a padded list”, where they seem to find five different ways of restating the same crime, looking for ways to get Congress to vote “guilty” depending on how you look at it. So with that in mind…

Article-1, “Obstruction of Justice”, we’ve certainly covered in ad nausium and concluded Trump is repeatedly guilty of, but in this specific context (lying under oath to obstruct an investigation), Trump is every bit as guilty as Bill Clinton was (only worse because Congress decided Clinton’s lying about cheating was not material to the criminal investigation he was supposedly being investigated for in the first place). Trump fired anyone investigating him (Preet Bharara… AG for the SDNY, Sally Yates… acting AG before Trump appointed his own, and James Comey) as soon as he got wind they might be investigating him.

Article-2, Perjury. Trump’s lawyers, well aware of how getting Clinton to testify under oath just so they could catch him lying about having an affair so they could charge him with perjury, refused to let Trump testify in person under oath before Special Council Robert Mueller regarding the Russia investigation where he could be cross-examined. So instead, Trump agreed to answer written questions submitted by the Special Council. Mueller testified that Trump’s answers demonstrated that he “generally” wasn’t always being truthful in his answers… Translation, he lied under oath (perjury) to obstruct a federal investigation (OoJ.)

Article-3, additional instances of Obstruction of Justice:

3a: Instructing a witness to falsify an affidavit. An affidavit is written testimony under oath. We already covered how Trump himself submitted a false affidavit under Art-2, but we know of at least one example of someone knowingly submitting false written testimony at Trump’s instruction under penalty of perjury, and that’s when he personally wrote Junior’s letter explaining why he agreed to meet with a Russian lawyer (Natallia Veselnitskaya and three others) promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump did so on Air Force One in the presence of his first Communications director, Hope Hicks (more on her in 3b) where he knowingly lied for his son to claim the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “lifting the U.S. ban on the adoption of Russian children.” Don Jr. then knowingly submitted that untruthful affidavit knowing full well it was not written by him and not the truth.

Trump’s lawyer (Michael Cohen) and Second Campaign manager (Paul Manafort) also submitted false affidavits, but there is no way to prove it was at Trump’s instruction.

3b: Telling a witness to lie. Most of Trump’s loyal lackies and family members were more than willing to lie on his behalf without having to be asked (Rodger Stone, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort to name a few), but Hope Hicks, raised eyebrows when she testified… if you can call it that… that she had “never been asked to lie about matters of substance or consequence by Trump or the White House regarding what she knew of his affair with pornstar Stormy Daniels. That qualifier was almost as odd as her refusal (at the recommendation of her lawyers) to simply refuse to answer ANY questions at all no matter how mundane (“Where was your office located?”). 155 times Hicks refused to testify. Telling a witness to be uncooperative to ensure they don’t reveal the truth isn’t that much different from instructing a witness to lie. This goes more to “obstruction”.

3c: Refusing to turn over evidence. This has also been covered numerous times regarding Trump refusing to turn over bank or tax records of himself or his campaign.

3d: Bribing witnesses – Every time Trump or his Team suggested there was a possibility a witness in the case against him might receive a presidential pardon if they just keep their mouth shut, that’s bribing a witness in exchange for false testimony. And arguably, the National Enquirer paying off Playmate Karen McDougal with the promise of authoring an article in “Men’s Fitness” magazine (a job that was not fulfilled until two years later when people started asking questions) was the offer of a job in exchange for false testimony (denying her relationship with Donald Trump.)

3e: Knowingly allowed his lawyer to submit a false affidavit to prevent questioning: see 3a and Don Jr’s false affidavit. Trump’s lawyers knew Trump wrote it himself, yet they submitted it as Don Jr’s own testimony anyway.

3f: Lied about events to influence a witness and elicit false testimony – Trump lies like normal people breathe. Trump makes up his own reality, declares it as fact, and hopes no one will check him on it (of course they always do and then get called “fake news” for reporting it), but whether any of his multitude of lies were meant to steer witnesses into lying for him is impossible to say. Every time Trump denied having any business interests in Russia (a well-established lie now), witnesses knew how to testify. Witnesses who then repeated this lie and then found to have perjured themselves when the proposed “Trump Tower Moscow” project was confirmed, was clearly toting the line set by Trump.

3g: Lied to witnesses so they would give false testimony. – The biggest problem with Trump lying so openly and frequently (eg: declaring on Air Force 1 that he “knew nothing about” Michael Cohen paying $130,000 in hush-money) is that it is impossible to know if he was lying specifically to influence someone’s testimony. He was certainly lying rather than admit to a crime.

Article-4, “refusing” to comply with written requests for documentation and testimony. Again, this has been covered. Every written request by Congress for the release of documentation has been refused.

Summary: Of Clinton’s 4 Articles of Impeachment, Trump is guilty of all four (including at least 4 of 6 subcharges under Art-3). Of all of the charges laid out against Bill Clinton, I find this statement at the end of his Articles of Impeachment most striking:
 

“[Bill Clinton] undermined the integrity of his office, has brought disrepute on the Presidency, has betrayed his trust as President, and has acted in a manner subversive of the rule of law and justice, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.”

 
Can you think of ANYONE this applies to more than Donald Trump? Besmirched the presidency, betrayed the public trust, and subverted the rule of law. Trump has SO lowered the bar of what is considered “acceptable behavior” by a president, I fear we might never recover. The childish behavior, the lies (over 12,000 at last count), the routine circumventing of the law and finding loopholes to get what he wants, the rank hypocrisy (from criticizing how much golf Obama played, to his own carelessness with classified information like he accused Hillary of), and the shame of his bigotry where he praises Nazi’s, tells black female members of Congress to “go back where they came from” and his Child Concentration Camps on the US/Mexico border, have brought a shame to this country that will take decades to make up.

But beyond all of the Articles of Impeachment against PAST presidents Trump is also guilty off, there are a number of additional crimes Trump himself is uniquely guilty of:

1. Violating the “Emoluments” clause of the Constitution: Accepting anything of value from foreign officials was the original interpretation of “emoluments”, but The Founders added “domestic” sources as well. Trump refused to give up his business empire and continues to profit handsomely from it. Jimmy Carter was forced to give up his grandfather’s peanut farm (which is a MUCH bigger deal than most people realize since peanut farming is HIGHLY regulated and only a few farmers were granted “Peanut Proxies” that allow them to sell their product in the United States) just to serve as president for just four years. So, anytime someone spends lavishly in one of Trump’s hotels, pays the exorbitant $200,000 membership fee to join Mar-a-lago in hopes of rubbing shoulders with the president, approves a business deal or clears the red tape for a business/property deal just to please him, he’s accepting a bribe and in violation of the Emoluments clause. But using the office of president to enrich himself via activities that don’t involve someone else trying to bribe him is a violation of U.S. Ethics Code 2635.702“Use of public office for private gain” statute. Whenever Trump steers government money into his pocket (be it charging his own Secret Service detail to stay in his hotel every time he visits Mar-a-lago to go golfing, announces he plans to host the next G7 Summit at one of his struggling resorts, or (as recently discovered) orders military transports to land at a struggling commercial Scottish airport closest to one of his failing resorts and pay full price for jet fuel (vs much cheaper fuel supplied at a U.S. military base for a tenth the cost) just to keep the airport serving his resort from going bankrupt, he’s violating U.S. ethics laws and guilty of an impeachable offense. No one asks why a man who claims to be so wealthy keeps nickle & diming the government over “pocket change”? Every Ethics/Emolument charge could have been avoided if he simply didn’t charge any of these people to stay at his properties. His Secret Service detail, foreign heads of state, using his own resort to host the G7… simply don’t charge them. But he does. Why? Because he’s broke. Even when he donated money to his own presidential campaign, he did so as a loan with the expectation that his own campaign would pay him back. That famous “Trump Jet” he flew around on during the 2016 campaign… an ancient 1968 Boeing 727… is all that’s left of his failed airline that he sold off in the 1990’s. Like all great con-artists, Trump knows how to create the illusion of great wealth on the cheap in order to extract money from the greedy/gullible.

Trump’s supporters lovingly swoon over how the altruistic Donald Trump donates his annual $400K presidential salary to charity… as if $400K/yr would be a big deal to someone who claimed to be worth “over $10 Billion dollars” (0.004% of his net worth.) But the truth is, Trump (and many of the billionaires in his cabinet) refuse a salary just so they too can skirt “financial reporting laws”. “Cabinet members, the president, vice president and Supreme Court justices are required by the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to file annual reports disclosing their personal finances.” If they take no salary, they don’t have to release their taxes or file any such report to reveal just how they are profiting off their positions of power.

2. Campaign finance violations. Specifically, paying hush-money to pornstars to keep them quiet before the election. The sad irony is, if Trump really were worth $10-Billion like he claims, a paltry $130,000 payoff would be nothing to him. But instead, for some reason, his personal lawyer had to mortgage his own home to scrounge up the money to protect his client’s presidential aspirations… which makes it an illegal campaign contribution. “Billionaire” Trump repaid Cohen in installments of eleven checks paid throughout the year (two of those checks were for $35,000/each, meaning the remaining $60,000 was spread across NINE other checks. NINE? Either he was so broke he needed 4-6 months just to come up with the remaining $60K, or he was was deliberately trying to hide the payments by keeping them low so as not to raise any red flags. I’d love to know which is the correct answer.)

3. Treason. If indeed Trump knowingly conspired with a hostile foreign power to subvert our Democracy, that’s treason pure and simple. And since becoming president, Trump has deferred to Putin’s word over that of our own intelligence agencies regarding their meddling, refused to do anything to protect the next election from them meddling again, and has accused The Press and members of congress of being “enemies of the state”. This is the most uncomfortable charge because the punishment if convicted is Death. I think if the punishment were reduced to something like a huge financial penalty, Congress would be more willing to press a charge of “treason” against Donald Trump. The evidence is there, and if it is proved “Trump knew and participated” in Russian meddling in his campaign and our Democracy, Trump would… without question… be guilty of Treason. And if he’s never charged with Treason (even if incontrovertible proof is uncovered), it would only be because the punishment is so severe. Not because Congress decided the crime hadn’t been committed.

So there you have it. Of the 19 Articles of impeachment levied against past presidents, Trump is guilty of 13. Add to that three more impeachable offenses all his own (including quite possibly the Capital offense of “Treason”.) If I were a member of Congress on the Judiciary Committee, I’d combine the articles of Impeachment drafted against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, change the name to “Donald Trump”, make as few changes as possible just so it makes logical sense, then see how Republicans react to their own words. I have little doubt the hypocrisy would be stunning.

FLASHBACK: While Ted Cruz and other Republicans accuse Democrats of being “impeachment happy”, here is a little reminder from Rachel Maddow in 2013 (video no longer available but the story is) of the “Impeach Obama for Something, Anything movement” among the GOP almost from the day he took office. Republicans might have terrible memories, but fortunately The Internet never forgets.


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September 16, 2019 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, Money, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Russia, Scandals, Unconstitutional

CALLING ALL CANDIDATES: Solving the Gun Crisis (part 3). Repeat: TAX GUNPOWDER.
August 12, 2019

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Gilroy, CA, El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH. Three deadly mass shootings in the space of less than a week earlier this month has brought the subject of “Gun Control” roaring back to the forefront of the 2020 Election. Way back in 2013, I wrote my first Op/Ed on the subject asking then Vice President Biden to “Focus on the Ammunition” instead of what I (correctly) predicted would be yet another failed attempt to restrict the guns themselves. Nearly five years later, I wrote again on how we could dramatically cut down on the number of mass shootings and save lives by taxing gunpowder/cordite. As I listen to all 20+ Democratic candidates again go down the same “doomed to fail” path of focusing on the guns themselves and trying to craft laws capable of predicting who is likely to go on a murderous rampage, it is clearly time to reexamine my FAR more doable idea of focusing on the ammunition instead of the guns themselves.

In my second Op/Ed (ibid), I remarked on comedian Chris Rock’s brilliant joke about how each bullet should cost “$5,000”. That’s a bit excessive, putting weapons of self-defense out of the hands of the “poor” and limiting them to the wealthy (most of whom can afford other security measures like alarms and guards.) Simply taxing the bullets would not solve the issue because MANY gun enthusiasts (my father included) make their own ammunition. When you do a lot of target shooting for fun, buying large amounts of commercially made ammunition can get quite costly. So many sportsmen “pack” their own ammunition. As such, simply taxing “pre-made” ammunition still leaves a gaping hole in limiting the number of bullets out there and risks driving the manufacture & sale of bullets underground (which would only make things worse.) But no one makes their own gunpowder (actually, bullets today use the more explosive propellant “cordite”, so we must include that in any tax), so there is little chance of getting around the ability to buy/make cheap ammunition in bulk.

#TaxGunpowder
So let’s examine the issues one-by-one:

1. Gun advocates believe their “Right to Bear Arms” is absolute. This is not the case. The only reason ANY restriction on gun ownership is legal is because the Second Amendment does NOT start with “dot dot dot” (as frequently seen in ads/banners/images of the text of the 2nd), it starts with the proviso: “Well Regulated”. Most people (even many gun rights supporters) falsely believe fully automatic weapons are illegal. They are not. They require extensive background checks, extremely steep licensing fees, proficiency certification, and a long waiting period, but you CAN still legally purchase a fully automatic weapon. So to some extent, they are correct that there is no such thing as a total gun ban. However, there is no “Constitutional Right” to an endless uninterrupted supply of cheap ammunition. In 2010, when Republicans tried & failed to get the “ObamaCare” mandate declared “unconstitutional”, Supreme Court Justice Roberts cast the deciding vote, noting that “Congress’s authority to tax is absolute. They could tax you for breathing if they wanted to”, he noted. Trying to restrict the purchase of ANY firearm is guaranteed to run into Constitutional challenges by the gun lobby which will tie the law up in court for years (during which time many more people will needlessly die) only for the bill to ultimately fail and nothing is actually done to prevent more gun deaths. Trying to ban certain types of guns is a waste of time. But a gun without ammunition is just a stick. Hashtag #ThinkOutsideTheBox.

2. Which brings us to “Background Checks”. Only people with a recorded history of criminal behavior or mental illness might be identified by a background check. How many times have we heard that the latest mass shooter “purchased their gun(s) legally?” The Bush-43 and Obama Administrations both saw the wisdom of preventing people suffering from “mental illness” from purchasing firearms. Yet, one of the FIRST things Trump did upon taking office was repeal the law that made it harder for the mentally ill to buy guns. Now they are all over the airways talking about how we need to stop the mentally ill from buying guns. Right. There is an extremely thin & blurry line between “dangerous nut who intends to murder people” vs “dangerous nut who thinks the gub’mint is out to get them.” In my humble opinion, anyone who hoards guns & ammo because they think the government coming to take away their hoard of guns & ammo is suffering from mental health issues and should be denied a gun. There is no “mental health check” that is going to accurately distinguish between the two. In the first month of the Clinton Administration when the FBI descended on Waco to stop a religious cult from selling unlicensed modified assault weapons across state lines, the siege was viewed by the gun-rights crowd as their worst fears realized: Democrats were coming for your guns. Lesson learned. Every time a Democrat is elected president, the NRA starts fear-mongering how “Democrats are coming to take your guns”. Yet in his eight years, the ONLY gun legislation signed into law by President Obama was to make it EASIER to bring a gun into a National Park. There is no way on God’s Green Earth you will ever be able to pass any meaningful/effective law that keeps guns out of the hands of “crazy people.” Those are the very people who BUY the most guns and keep the industry afloat. Background checks are still a vital tool towards stopping domestic violence, but not mass shootings like we saw in Gilroy, El Paso or Dayton barely a week ago. How many mass murderers were later found to have “passed a background check”? Instead, gun rights advocates would rather scapegoat things like “violent video games” rather than actually do anything meaningful about guns (yes, they’d rather place restrictions on buying “video games” than on the weapons players would then have to use to actually harm people.) Not only does every other nation on Earth play these games, but there are numerous studies showing “NO link between playing violent video games and real world violence”. To the contrary, they may actually provide potentially violent people with an outlet to act out their rage in the virtual world rather than in real life.

3. Also doomed to fail: Banning “certain types” of guns ambiguously classified as “assault weapons.” One of the biggest failures of the (otherwise effective) 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was that gun manufactures simply found ways around the law. A few simple changes to the appearance… removed the pistol grip, changed the stock to wood… turned an “AR15 Assault Rifle” into a completely legal “Ruger Mini-14”:

AR15 vs Ruger Mini-14
Same weapon. Same firing capability. Just a different look. Then there is the inevitable issue of “3D Printed Guns”. Cheap and No “background check”. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can make one. But no one is “3D printing” their own gunpowder. And what about the famed “gunshow loophole”, “strawman purchases” and private sales/gifting of firearms between individuals? All of these would continue to be missed by any enhanced “Background Check” process. But last I heard, they all still needed ammo.

4. Tax gunpowder to make “rapid-fire” weapons too costly to operate. If you are such a bad shot you require something capable of spraying bullets like confetti just to hit your target, you have no business firing a gun. The Dayton shooter had attached a “drum” magazine capable of holding 100 rounds of ammunition. Bullets would essentially be priced according to caliber. The more propellant/deadly, the higher the cost. If the Dayton shooter’s bullets cost $100 each (based on the amount of gunpowder in them), a fully-loaded magazine would have cost him $10,000. “Extended clips” were banned in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. George W. Bush allowed that law to lapse. But even a 15-round extended clip means spending $1,500. We live in a time where many people can’t afford a surprise $600 expense (like car repair or dental visit) let alone waste several thousand dollars on a few dozen bullets. How many school shootings were committed by young kids? You think most kids can afford to set aside $2,000-$3,000 just to buy 20/30 bullets?

5. People will say, “Yeah, but a tax on future sales of gunpowder/cordite will do nothing about people who already own stockpiles of ammunition.” Au contraire mon frère. People who already have stockpiles of ammo would begin to ration it as the cost of replacing it goes up. And eventually, those stockpiles will be used up. About a month ago, my local grocery store discontinued my favorite salad dressing, so I stocked up. And despite now having a huge supply, I went through it slowly knowing I would not be able to replace it. The same thing here. No matter how much you have, people expend their supply more slowly knowing it will be difficult to replace.

6. Another argument: What about all the people who “target shoot” for fun? And the cost of training people to shoot accurately? Well, “gun ranges” & “gun safety classes” can sell their own ammunition at a reduced rate, require you to account for every shot fired (turn in your spent shells), and require you to turn in any unused ammo for a refund. And they will comply if they wish to keep their license (and access to a supply of cheap ammo.)

7. “What about Fireworks & Demolition? Innocent victims of your tax on gunpowder?” Well, first off, as noted in #5, most bullets today use “cordite” not gunpowder because it has more kick. “Class-C” (Common) fireworks like you purchase at your local fireworks stand actually contain very little gunpowder (and most are mixed with chemicals like phosphorus that produce bright colors but render it ineffective for ammunition.) And demolition experts use “Nitro” (which is already highly regulated & expensive) not “gunpowder”. So neither would be significantly impacted (if at all.)

8. Some Republicans like to try the “holier than thou” moral argument linking gun control to abortion: “If Democrats were truly concerned about saving lives, they’d oppose abortion which kills 20x as many ‘children’ each year.” Ignoring the nonsequiteur for a moment, the day paranoid gun nuts decided the mass murder of twenty innocent First Graders and seven teachers at Sandy Hook was an acceptable price to pay just so they could continue to arm themselves to the teeth, they lost the moral high ground. But more to the point, there aren’t rogue doctors running around performing surprise-attack abortions… 20 to 30 in five minutes… against the will of the mother(s).

9. “People will still kill using cars, knives, even hammers.” Cars, knives & hammers have other uses. Bullets do not. And please list for me how many mass murders are committed in the United States each year using cars, knives or hammers? Stupid argument. And definitely not a legitimate reason for doing nothing about mass shootings that kill hundreds each year. The number of people killed by guns (including suicide) is the equivalent of a 9/11 every three weeks in this country. If al Qaeda were doing that instead of us doing it to ourselves, we would have dropped a nuclear bomb on them by now.

I tried to think of a Tenth good reason or bad excuse, but I couldn’t come up with one. No matter. Nine is more than enough. Tax gunpowder. Completely legal. Already deemed Constitutional by the Conservative Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Congress could enact it immediately. It’s a great compromise I think a lot of Conservatives would willingly embrace because it allows them to keep their word of protecting their constituents “Right to Bear Arms” while actually doing something constructive about gun violence. It takes the wind out of the sales of “Second Amendment” zealots who would fight to the death any restriction on their ability to purchase whatever firearm they want. And it is difficult to argue that anyone NEEDS hundreds of rounds of ammunition simply for personal safety. If you want to buy an AR15, an AK47, or even a MAC-10, I could care less. But if you want to load up with hundreds of rounds of military-caliber ammunition, prepare to lay out thousands of dollars and be red flagged by the ATF.


 

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August 12, 2019 · Admin Mugsy · 5 Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, Election, Guns & Violence, Party of Life, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, Unconstitutional

Predictions for 2019. – You thought 2018 was tumultuous.
December 31, 2018

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I‘m back for my annual year end “Predictions” issue… something I’ve been doing for over a decade now with relative success. With Trump’s second year now in the rear-view mirror, and with what I expect will be a tumultuous year for politics not seen since the days of Watergate ahead of us, I’ve returned with yet another round of predictions.

First, as always, a fun/funny look back (read: “reality check”) at what others predicted for the year that was, followed by a scoring of my own Predictions for 2018 (link below), and finishing up with my predictions for the coming year.

As most of you know, I live-blog the three network Sunday political talks shows (Fox “news” Sunday, “Meet the Press” and ABC’s “ThisWeek”) on Twitter every week. I used to tweet via Facebook, but some troll convinced Facebook I’m not a real person, so they deleted my account w/o out explanation or recourse. Anyhoo… for some reason, those shows stopped trying to predict the future last year and didn’t try again this year… which is probably for the best because if you look back at my previous “Prediction” coverage, you’ll see that they were REALLY bad at it (all predicting the “repeal of ObamaCare in 2017″… it wasn’t. And how great certain members of the Trump Administration would do… whom instead were forced to resign amidst scandal.)

I love the predictions of so-called “psychics”. They make the most outlandish predictions… typically dozens… and should ONE of them prove correct (or interpreted that way), they use that as “proof” of their “psychic ability”. If they were truly psychic, wouldn’t their success rate be better? I point out every year that I AM NOT PSYCHIC. Nor have I ever claimed to be. My own predictions are not based on any “clairvoyance”. I’m just really good at spotting political trends.

PBS’s NewsHour posted “18 Predictions for 2018“. I think they got one, maybe two, right. No boom in the sale of human body parts (a frequent prediction I’ve never understood since doctors don’t accept organs they can’t source), Americans did not rally to boycott “Citgo” (Venezuela’s state-owned oil company), governments didn’t start hording fertilizer, nor did they start “taxing robots” to offset job losses. But there were some massive wildfires & earthquakes (a common prediction made by most “psychics” every year.)

But that was 2017. Predictions for 2018 were a bit more scatter-shot: Most people predicted Democrats would retake the house, but few predicted a #BlueWave that early on. And Yes, it was indeed a “Blue Wave” despite the fact Republicans not only retained control of the Senate but actually gained two seats. It took an awful lot of GOP Gerrymandering to undermine the will of so many voters:

Gerrymandering suppressed the Blue Wave
Notice how a smaller popular vote victory in 2010 resulted in Republicans winning more seats in Congress. And a massive Democratic win of the Popular Vote in 2018 resulted in Democrats winning far fewer seats than even the historic “Gingrich Revolution” of 1994? If not for Republican Gerrymandering, Trump would have suffered devastating losses in the mid-terms not seen since 1974 (the year both Nixon & Agnew resigned in disgrace.)

Forbes correctly predicted the Mueller investigation would still be going on by years end, and a sluggish Stock Market would encounter a “correction of at least 10% sometime during the year.” But they also predicted “Justice Stevens would not retire and deny Trump a second Supreme Court pick”, and Democrats would fail to retake the House.

After a bit of scrounging around the web, I’m finding that just about everyone avoided making any dramatic predictions for the U.S.. Even the far-Right Heritage Foundations stuck to only predicting “International” events (North Korea, Iran, Turkey) and for the most part, eschewed trying to predict what Trump would do… which is not surprising since trying to predict what our Toddler-in-Chief will do from one minute to the next is like trying to predict what any child with A.D.D. will fixate on next.

So let’s review my own predictions for 2018:

    • Mixed: – Expect the price of oil to continue to rise in 2018 and depress the economy. – On the final day of 2017, oil closed at “$61.19/barrel”. And while it did climb to $76.73 by the end of October, OPEC panicked when U.S. gasoline prices hit a 4 year high of $2.61/gal in November and inflation nearly broke 3% in July. Both US and Saudi oil production increased, dropping the price of oil to an average of just $50.12/barrel and gas to a national average of $2.27/gal by years end. So for the first 10 months, I was absolutely right. I didn’t count on last minute intervention that would so dramatically affect the price in such a short amount of time. Half-credit.

 

    • Wrong: As the Mueller investigation draws down on Trump, he [Trump] will respond by trying to make nice with Democrats. – I actually tried to give Trump the benefit of the doubt here. I forgot what a petulant snowflake he really is. Any rational person wouldn’t try to piss off their opponents, rile up the resistance and motivate them to come after you even more. Trump proudly ran for president on what a good negotiator he is. The Art of the Deal no less. But instead, he dug in his heels, continued to attack his political opponents… on BOTH sides of the aisle… and ended the year throwing a hissy-fit that shutdown the government because Democrats refuse to give him Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to waste on a costly & ineffective wall he repeatedly insisted “Mexico” would pay for. My bad.

 

    • Right: Expect Democrats to retake the House and possibly even the Senate come November. – (I said “possibly” the Senate <wink>.) The Blue Wave resulted in Democrats retaking the House of Representatives by winning 42 House races to give them a 36 seat majority for 2019. And while Republicans picked up two Senate seats, there was great controversy surrounding how some of those seats were won. Dumb-as-a-stump Cindy Hyde-Smith had to go through a runoff election in (of all places) Mississippi to defeat her opponent after proudly declaring she be “in the front row” for if we brought back public hangings (aka: lynchings), and her public statements explaining herself fell flat. But her opponent was black and Trumpster rednecks flocked to her defense. The GOP had to get creative to defeat Senate Democrat Heidi Heitkamp, passing a last-minute rule that you can not vote if you don’t have a street address… a rule invented specifically targeting Native Americans, whom live on Reservations and made the difference in Heitkamp’s last narrow victory six years ago. There was no such law during the primary, creating much confusion and disenfranchising hundreds.

 

    • Right: Expect an economic slowdown by years end (brought on by rising oil & gas prices. – As noted earlier, the price of oil & gas DID continue to rise and the economy DID begin to slow. And even with the eventual drop in oil & gas prices, Trump’s Trade-War with China (et al) and threat of a government shutdown sent the Stock Market into a tailspin on Christmas Eve (followed quick by an irrational record-setting 1000+ point gain right after Xmas for a near zero net gain.

 

    • Right: When the deficit starts to explode, Republicans will use it as an excuse to cut entitlements and programs for the poor. – Almost on cue, Trump announced (right before Christmas) new restrictions to make it more difficult to get Food Stamps. And Trump’s third Chief-of-Staff in two years (Mick Mulvaney) bragged how Trump had proposed a budget that would “cut entitlement spending” (ie: “MediCare & Social Security”) as part of their plan to reduce the Deficit (created by their massive tax cut for the rich.)

 

    • Wrong: Unemployment will be up by years end. – While I still expect a sharp increase in the unemployment rate early next year thanks in part to Trump’s shutdown, the economic slowdown, Trade War and Market instability, the Unemployment Rate is ending the year at a historic low of just 3.7%, below the 4.1% it was at when the year started, and far below the “6%” I feared we might see. Trump’s economy is still riding on the sugar-high of his massive tax cuts. We have yet to see the hangover of when the bill comes due. (I fear I might only have been slightly premature on that prediction.)

 

    • Right: No wall. No progress on getting his idiotic wall. Trump has shutdown the government because Democrats are refusing to give him FIVE BILLION DOLLARS to pay for a wall he repeatedly insisted “Mexico” would pay for. They DID briefly offer him “$1.6B for border security” IF he’d restore DACA (protection for the “Dreamers”), but he said “No. It’s $5 Billion or nothing.” They tried again, offering him $1.3B (who’s teaching whom how to negotiate?) to try and avoid a Shutdown, but again he said No. Now Democrats aren’t inclined to give him squat. And the polls are on their side.

 

    • Wrong: Trump’s approval rating will be below 30% by years end. – Despite the slowing economy and most people blaming him for the Shutdown, Trump’s approval rating is still an unfathomable 43% (down 5% since October.) I’ve been saying all year that the only thing Trump has left going for him is the strong economy, and should that go South, he’s going to be in deep doo-doo. But as for now, his numbers are still hanging in there.

 

    • Right: Mueller might wait until after the 2018 mid-terms to announce anything significant regarding the case against Trump, [but] will release some controversial findings before the mid-term election. – Mueller has not yet started levying charges against Donald Trump, and he waited until after the midterms to sentence Michael Cohen and Mike Flynn. A few “revelations” came out during the year, but the most notable ones (Trump’s lie about never pursuing a “Trump Tower Moscow” not only turned out to be a lie, but he pursued it for far longer than he claimed. And news of corruption of “The Trump Foundation” didn’t come out until after the election as well.)

 

    • Right: As controversy over GOP misconduct grows, Dem chances in the mid-terms improve. – Indeed, the Blue Wave was very much a result of people being fed up with a GOP that refused to hold Trump accountable for anything.

 

    • Right: [Trump] will find ways to distract the public from the growing controversy swirling around his Russia ties. – Master of Distraction that he is, Trump always knows how to concoct a new controversy to distract people from the last one. Most recently, when Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3-years in prison and his former National Security Advisor was about to receive the same, Trump chose that time to spontaneously declare (in a tweet no less) without consulting anyone that “we had defeated ISIS and were pulling all of our troops out of Syria”… which I’m sure was music to Putin’s ears but prompted his Secretary of Defense to resign in protest (a U.S. first.) I wish I still had access to my old Facebook account because I must have posted the following image a dozen times last year every time Trump found a way to change the subject:

 

Distraction Accomplished
 

    • Right (arguably): One of the revelations to come out of the Mueller investigation is Trump’s business ties to the Russian Mob. – While no one revealed a direct connection between Trump and The Russian Mob, ample evidence turned up that all sorts of criminal enterprises knew Trump was more than eager to turn a blind eye to the origin of hundreds of millions in criminal cash being laundered through Trump’s “legitimate” real estate empire (in violation of U.S. law.)

 

    • Right: Republicans will grow increasingly desperate to discredit him. Possibly with Republicans launching an investigation of their own… into Mueller. – This one was a bit of a tough call because Congressional Republicans didn’t launch an “official” investigation into Mueller, but some Republicans were sufficiently worried enough about him to solicit a Vermont Law School professor to falsely claim she had been “sexually harassed” by Robert Mueller… someone she had never met. She described the email she received as “creepy” and forwarded it to the Special Prosecutor’s office.

 

    • TBD: Will Bernie Sanders declare he’s running for prez again after mid-terms? I suspect he will. Senator Sanders has not yet “officially” declared his candidacy, but he has given every indication that he is certainly thinking about it, which is understandable considering he came in second behind former VP Joe Biden as the preferred 2020 Democratic candidate (both of whom came in behind “someone new”.) No score.

 

    • Right: Cooler heads prevail and we see no significant conflict between the U.S. and North Korea in 2018. – It’s easy to forget that towards the end of 2017, tensions between the U.S. and North Korea were heating up with a flurry of provocative talk on both sides between two man-child leaders that crave attention and love talking big. But once the spotlight disappeared, so did their obsession with each other.

 

    • Wrong: Michael Flynn will testify in open court. – While Gen. Flynn did indeed go to court to be sentenced following pleading guilty to lying to the FBI (among other things), he never testified. But the judge basically urged Flynn’s lawyers to reconsider sentencing him now until he had done more to mitigate his crime (of secretly representing a foreign nation while serving as National Security Advisor to the President of the United States after lying about that conflict of interests to the FBI.) But it may still happen. Watch this space.

 

    • Mixed: Past tweeted statements [by Trump] will be used to contradict assertions he makes. – Like any Republican, when they become conspicuously indignant about something (like Bill Clinton’s affairs), just wait a bit and eventually you will discover they’re total hypocrites. And while Trump too has repeatedly proven himself a hypocrite many times over doing things he once criticized President Obama for doing, he has repeatedly falsely claimed he has said or done things that were contradicted by his own tweets (and typically video). For example, accusing Democrats of incorrectly believing his border wall “would be made of concrete”, only for video and a tweet to turn up of Trump on the campaign telling everyone “the wall will be made of concrete”. Or telling Chuck Schumer & Nancy Pelosi in a televised Oval Office meeting that “I won’t blame you if there’s a shutdown” [over refusing to pay for his border wall], only to then immediately blame Democrats for the Shutdown. But my thinking on this prediction was that buried deep in Trump’s tweet history, someone would uncover Trump admitting to doing something (like business with Russia) or being in a particular place/time when he was actually philandering with pornstars or some other activity connected to a crime he may be charged with. So in that regard, I was wrong. So this gets a “mixed” rating. Half-credit.

 

    • Right: [Some] Democratic leaders will (stupidly) do their best to downplay the possibility of “impeachment” in the lead up to the 2018 mid-term election. – Nancy Pelosi already did this once before during the 2006 midterms, so it was no surprise some Democrats might do so again in 2018. Republicans in 1994 practically campaigned on impeaching Bill Clinton and won in a landslide. But wishy-washy Democrats think voters don’t want them to hold a criminal Commander-in-Chief responsible for what appears to be an ever-growing litany of crimes. Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke was not shy about saying that he believed we should impeach Donald Trump, and ended up losing in deep red Texas by only 2.6%, putting the fear of God into his opponent Ted Cruz.

 

    • Right: Puerto Rico will still be far from recovered from the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season. – I’m marking this one as right even though I predicted they might suffer additional damage in 2018. 2018 has ended with Puerto Rico STILL not fully recovered from being struck by Hurricane Maria in 2017. No additional recovery assistance has been forthcoming from the Trump Administration.

 

  • Right: The war in Afghanistan will still be going on by years end. – A bit of a gimme, SEVENTEEN YEARS LATER, we are still no closer to getting out of Afghanistan than were a decade ago. World War II took two & a half long years to finally win. Vietnam ended in shambles after 10 long years with no strategy on how to “win” the war (and long after it was decided there was no way to win.) The war in Afghanistan is on course to last twice that long with no end in sight.

So how did I do? 14 right, 4 wrong with one TBD: 78%. I think that’s a record, exceeding my previous record of 73% set in 2015, and well over my 10 year average of 59.5%. Not bad. Not bad.
Okay, so on to my predictions for 2019 (in no particular order.):

  1. Trump will not participate in most (or perhaps any) GOP presidential debates. – 2019 will be the start of the 2020 Presidential Race. Around the middle of the year we will see the first Presidential Debates, and at least several Republicans will challenge Trump for the 2020 nomination… particularly if the economy starts to go South (or if criminal charges against him begin to mount.) Trump will initially say he will take part in the debates, and might even take part in one or two early on, but just as he once declared he “100% would testify under oath” in the Mueller probe only to eventually only agree to answer written questions, he will also promise to take part in any GOP debates only to eventually refuse.
    (Sept 16: GOP starts canceling primary debates.)
  2.  

  3. The economy will reverse course sharply before the end of the year. – I’ve been warning people to expect this sometime in late 2019 or early 2020 since before I wrote this Op/Ed last May. There is an economic crash coming that will make 2008 look like an economic hiccup. Interest rates MUST rise to compensate for Trump’s massive tax cuts. We saw a dramatic rise in oil prices that wasn’t reversed until serious intervention by U.S. oil companies and OPEC to increase production. But lower oil prices hurt the profits of oil producers, so don’t count on them coming to Trump’s rescue over & over again. Trump and the GOP will blame Democrats for this turnaround (natch), falsely claiming the reversal began after they took power (2018 ended with the DOW in freefall due to Trump’s Shutdown threat and eventual closure, as well as the protest-resignation of Defense Secretary Mattis in response to Trump’s spontaneous announcement of our complete & total withdrawal from Syria, threatening international stability.)
  4.  

  5. And it almost goes without saying that if the economy reverses course, Unemployment will jump. First due to the Government Shutdown taking place here at the end of 2018, and later due to interest rate increases and higher energy prices as Trump creates more instability in the Middle East. I was vastly over-estimating when I predicted a dramatic reversal hitting 6.0% by the end of 2018 last year, but I’m quite certain unemployment will be over 1% higher by the end of 2019 than it is as of this writing (3.7%).
  6.  

  7. The first U.S. soldier born after 9/11 will die in Afghanistan (the amorphous “War on Terror”.) – A tragic and sad milestone never before seen in American history. By the end of the year, we will have been at war in the Middle East for longer than most new recruits have been alive. And tragically, it’s almost inevitable that one of them will die in combat. I can only hope that this person’s tragic death will be a wake-up call for millions of Americans who’ve grown numb to the fact we have been in a state of perpetual war for a generation. And if this does occur, it is likely to become a subject of debate during the 2018 campaign.
  8.  

  9. Investigations of Trump will become more public. – To date, much of the Mueller investigation has taken place behind closed doors, and The Special Counsel’s office has done an amazing job of not leaking or responding to attacks that could reveal the status of their investigation (or allow anyone to paint it as “biased”.) But all that changes as the investigation begins to wrap up sometime in 2019, charges are filed, and Democrats in the House are freed up to reveal what they know and campaign on criminal prosecutions. Expect Trump’s most rabid supporters to go into deep denial… deeper than most already are… to the point of absurdity, as the walls start closing in. I’m not going to predict Trump’s Approval Rating by year’s end, but it will be low enough for the GOP to seriously debate whether or not he should be their 2020 nominee.
  10.  

  11. If economy turns, even many Republicans will begin to support impeaching Trump. – And to that end as described in the prediction above, expect just enough Republicans (including pundits) to openly consider impeaching Trump, to put the fear of God into him. How he responds to that is anyone’s guess (but it will almost certainly be characteristically childish.)
  12.  

  13. Hillary Clinton will NOT run again for president of the United States. – As the poll cited earlier (see: Biden reference above) shows, Hillary has the lowest “excited about” numbers and the highest “shouldn’t run” numbers of any major potential candidate of the 2020 election. Trump vs. Hillary? “Been there, done that, and we know how it turns out.”
  14.  

  15. Someone most people aren’t currently talking about will become an early front-runner in the Democratic race as voters look for “someone new” to take on Trump. – Democratic voters are not particularly excited about any of their choices. What they REALLY want is someone with “gravitas” that can effectively call out Trump’s bullshit when he starts making crap up in a debate. Some potential dark horse candidates include Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, though I wouldn’t place bets on either becoming overwhelming favorites without some help.
  16.  

  17. And that help is likely to come in the form of Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke topping the list of every candidates’ shortlist of potential VP picks. – O’Rourke narrowly lost to Ted Cruz in deep red Texas. And a Democrat who could potentially bring in both California AND Texas is extremely attractive to many Democrats (though it wasn’t enough to help Mike Dukakis when he picked Texas Senator Lloyd Benson to be his running mate in 1988.) But in the end, O’Rourke DID lose his last race, and comes with some controversy of his own (chief among them, a claim he fled the scene of a traffic accident, supposedly the result of a DUI, when he was 26.) And we haven’t elected a Representative president since James Garfield in 1880 (I believe the ONLY person ever elected straight from the House to President.)
  18.  

  19. Another potential dark horse candidate is General Stanley McChrystal, the former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. IF he should decide to run, he would likely jump to the front of the pack, particularly following his very public criticism of his former boss on national TV last weekend, calling Trump “immoral” and “doesn’t tell the truth”. McChrystal is a Registered Independent and I know absolutely nothing about his politics, but he certainly has the gravitas and seriousness of someone I think could seriously worry Trump about his reelection prospects. But he would need to change Party’s, run as a Democrat, and impress millions with his debating skills to get the nod from most voters. Will he or won’t he? I’m not hearing any rumblings from him about potentially running, so at this point I think it is unlikely. But if he does, he’ll be an early favorite.
  20.  

  21. Paul Manafort will not flip and start dishing dirt on Trump. He can’t. He’s terrified. Both the Trumpsters and Russia would ensure he (or someone close to him) died a horrible death should he implicate either side… and there’s no question he has the evidence to do so. Manafort was brought in to be Trump’s Campaign Manager specifically for his access to people (crime bosses, et al) with access to boatloads of dirty money. Russian (and Ukrainian) oligarchs, the Russian Mob, and the Russian government itself (his own business partner was Konstantin Kilimnik, Russian “political consultant” whom reportedly worked (works?) for the GRU (the Russian CIA.) But what he knows WILL come out eventually either in the form of documents, emails, phone calls or other records. Manafort is going to spend the rest of his life in prison… however long that may be.
  22.  

  23. I’m torn on the subject of when impeachment hearings might begin (and they will. Eventually.) On one hand, I think investigations take a long time and public support needs to grow before any serious action can be pursued. On the other hand, an impeachment smack-dab in the middle of the presidential race in 2020 would look purely partisan and surely backfire on Democrats before the election. In 1998, Republicans began threatening the impeachment of Bill Clinton during the midterms, helping them in those elections. But avoided waiting until the presidential race in 2000. Democrats didn’t control the House prior to the midterms to impeach Trump at that time, and they’d be loath to start such a fight in the middle of the 2020 Primaries. So while I can’t predict the outcome, I’m reasonably confident we will see the first movement towards Impeachment Hearings by September… depending on the state of the economy or any increase in the number of “ISIS-related” acts of terrorism resulting from his precipitous withdrawal from Syria. (Trump better pray the economy holds out and Syria doesn’t dissolve into violence. If Republicans start to turn on him, they might grow just as eager to get rid of him.)
    (Sept 12: Democrats open Impeachment Inquiry upon return from August Recess.)
  24.  

  25. No border wall. Not gonna happen. Democrats have exactly ZERO incentive to give Trump FIVE BILLION DOLLARS of U.S. taxpayer money to pay for a Monument to his Racism along our Southern border. Democrats will likely give him a substantial (around $1.5B) amount for “Border Security” in exchange for reinstating DACA (which to me would be giving in to extortion, giving him incentive to take something else away, only to give that back in exchange for some concession), but as for a giant 2,000 mile long concrete wall, forgeddiboudit. Trump will, of course, declare victory, even if it takes convincing his Luddite supporters that “a virtual invisible security fence” is as good as a concrete wall (or “steel slats”, or whatever he’s calling it by then.)
  26.  

  27. The DOW began the year at 24,922.68, and peaked at 26,616.71 on January 26th. It ended the year at 23,327.46… a loss of over 3,000 points. The last time the DOW ended the year lower than where it began was The Great Recession of 2008. If the economy goes South like I predict the DOW is likely to close lower than where it began by the end of 2019 for the second year in a row. The DOW has NEVER closed lower than where it started two years in a row, and would completely destroy Trump’s leading credential as “a great businessman”. Not once during the Obama presidency did the Stock Market end the year lower than it started that year, and the only time it did so under Bill Clinton was during the 2000 Presidential election when Bush & Cheney were crisscrossing the country, talking down Clinton’s record economy, telling voters at every campaign stop that “the economy isn’t as good as they say” because he knew he couldn’t beat Gore on the economy. Bush ended up handing himself the first of two Recessions (and blaming them on the Democrats.)
  28.  

  29. Uh oh! Melania won’t be joining her hubby for New Years Eve after they spent Christmas apart as well (her at “Mar-a-lago” in Florida while Donnie whined about being “all alone” in DC.) While I don’t think we’ll see the first ever divorce in presidential history, much like the first few months of his presidency where she lived in NYC for months before finally moving to Washington, I expect we’ll see less & less of Melania in 2019, conspicuously missing some major events that will become harder & harder for the White House to explain.
  30.  

  31. More people connected to the 2016 Trump campaign will be indicted in 2019. Most likely suspects: Jerome “Swift Boaters for Freedom” Corsi and Rodger “proud Ratfucker” Stone. By the end of the year, the number of people connected to the Trump-2016 Campaign whom have either been indicted or confess to committing crimes will near a dozen (it is already over five.)
  32.  

  33. If Trump does indeed pull all U.S. forces out of Syria, expect the first attacks on The Kurds in Northern Iraq by Turkey and/or Iran. – And with Russia’s help, the genocide of Syrian rebels opposing Assad will be nearly complete.
  34.  

  35. And last but not least: We will finally see Trump’s tax returns. – Now that House Democrats will have subpoena power, we will finally get to see Trump’s tax returns (who knows how far back) as part of the Congressional investigation of Donald Trump’s business dealing both prior to & during the 2016 campaign.

And that’s about it. We’ll see if I do as well next year as I did this past one. – Mugsy


 

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December 31, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Economy, Election, General, Middle East, Money, mystery, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Right-Wing Insanity, Russia, Scandals

Stop Blaming Bush’s Lies About WMD’s to justify your refusal to believe in Russian meddling today
July 23, 2018

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Few things anger me more than people who lie about easily provable truths in order to push a political agenda… except maybe for the people who willingly believe those lies w/o checking them out because it suits THEIR agenda. Some of the worst are people who post memes… false quotes, doctored photos, cherry-picked statistics… on Facebook & Twitter. I have literally spent hours on Facebook debunking false memes posted by pro-Trump Conservatives (just like the Bush years.) And right now, one that truly annoys me are all the people who simply refuse to believe Russia meddled in the 2016 election on the grounds that “the same sources told us Iraq had WMD’s too!” They reject out-of-hand any recognized news outfit that dares contradict Trump’s insane “everyone who disagrees with me is Fake News” narrative. Every legitimate, responsible journalistic outfit (New York Times, The Washington Post, any network or cable news)… even the NON-legitimate Conservative water-carriers over at Fox “news” who worked overtime to convince us we could trust Bush on WMD’s, today acknowledge the evidence of election tampering by Russia. Critics deride The Gray Lady as “fake news” and cite absurd spurious questionable websites (and yes, I get the irony, but I backup EVERY claim with at least one link) that are as credible as Aunt May’s bunion is at predicting the weather. “You can’t trust CNN or MSNBC” but “you CAN trust RT [Russia Today]!” Uh… riiiiight! Because THEY don’t have a dog in this fight??? The fact is, most news & intelligence agencies did NOT report as fact Iraq/Saddam had WMD’s. In fact, many had serious doubts. Time Magazine published an interview with former weapons inspector (and lead critic of the case for war) Scott Ritter. CNN ran a story claiming “Most experts agree Iraq has tons of chemical weapons” but the only “experts” they could find worked in the Bush White House. British newspaper The Guardian reported there was “considerable doubt” that Iraq actually possessed what was claimed. And note the corner photo above of millions of people around the globe who were not convinced of the danger the politicians were insisting we were in. The Bush Administration actually attempted to link Saddam to 9/11 ON 9/11. It took them 18 months to finally convince enough people that their claims were true before they finally got the green light to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003. That’s because the Media WASN’T rallying behind them on the need for war.

On September 11, 2001, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wrote on a note that we need to “Hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] @ same timenot only UBL [bin laden]” and use 9/11 to “Sweep it all up. Thing [sic] related & not.” Yet it STILL took until March of 2003 to invade Iraq. Why? If all of our intelligence agencies were saying Iraq had WMD’s, and a compliant GOP controlled BOTH houses of Congress, why did it still take 18 months to convince enough people to support the invasion of Iraq on the grounds they possessed WMD’s? Because there WASN’T a consensus among our intelligence agencies.

Those of you old enough to remember the events 14 years ago, plenty of people were questioning the Bush Administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein possessed “vast quantities” of “chemical & biological weapons and was pursuing nuclear weapons.” THE DAY BEFORE Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the New York Times published: “Bush Clings To Dubious Allegations About Iraq”. “Dubious?” Why would they call the Bush Administration’s claims “dubious” if they were pushing for war? This is the same “mainstream media” Russia-gate deniers now say we can’t trust today because they lied to us about WMD’s. Among the many reports of doubt published, former U.S. Ambassador to the region, Joe Wilson famously rebuked (see linked photo: hand written notes are Cheney targeting Wilson’s wife) Bush’s infamous 2003 State of the Union claim that Saddam had purchased “20,000 tons of yellow-cake uranium from Africa” in an Op/Ed published in the NYTimes, stating matter-of-factly that there was NO way Bush’s claim was true. Among numerous reasons given, he pointed out there was just no way to transport such a massive amount of material on the tiny, muddy, unpaved dirt roads in Niger. Nor did they have any means by which to excavate such a massive amount of deadly material, no one witnessed any such massive excavation/transport of such material, nobody worked on any such project, and the mines showed no evidence of such activity, concluding (rightly) that there simply was no truth to the frightening claim President Bush made during his address. And just like with Trump, the only way for Dick Cheney to nullify Wilson’s report was to declare it “fake news”. VP Cheney exposed the fact Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA (endangering her life and anyone she may have worked with, burning an entire established CIA front organization that took years to develop) all in an effort to discredit Wilson’s op/ed as “lies” being spread by the CIA because they were “out to get” President Bush. Seriously. And Bush’s supporters rallied in support of President Bush against the evil CIA (which admittedly wasn’t a tough sell… though to this day no one has ever explained WHY they would want to do that.) Today, Trump tells everyone we can’t trust our own intelligence agencies… not just the CIA but the FBI, the DIA, the NSA or foreign intelligence like MI6. Bush forced our intelligence agencies to back up his baseless beliefs by feeding them false information. And you KNOW if Trump could do the same, he would. They won’t so he’s throwing a tantrum.

It took Cheney repeatedly flying to CIA headquarters in Langley, VA pushing them to produce “proof” that Saddam had WMD’s (what was later referred to as “stove-piping”.) Why was it necessary for Cheney to repeatedly fly down to CIA headquarters and push to produce evidence they did not have if they were already complicit in making the case for war? Because THEY WEREN’T. They were NOT telling the Bush neocons what they wanted to hear. It took Secretary of State Collin Powell’s now infamous United Nations slideshow to finally convince enough Americans that Saddam posed “an imminent threat”, instigating our first ever “First Strike” war.

So when I hear people today telling me they absolutely refuse to believe Russia meddled in our election (despite all the evidence) because the Media and our intelligence agencies lied about WMD’s because “they want to start another war”, that just isn’t the case. The biggest (I’ll generously call) “manipulator of the truth” was the Bush Administration. It wasn’t The Media or our Intelligence Agencies that were lying to advance their agenda. The only people with a motive to lie today are the same people who were the only ones with a motive to lie 14 years ago: the White House.

Trump routinely dismisses every inconvenient fact by simply calling it “Fake News!” It’s incredibly convenient. You don’t have to produce any evidence to contradict any claim, just say your accusers are not to be trusted. Say everyone is simply out to get you. “They’re just bitter because they lost!” Lie about known facts & evidence. Even claim photographs and audio tape of yourself is manufactured even when you KNOW it wasn’t (“Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes/ears?”) Trump’s entire life, growing up as a privileged rich kid, then the CEO Of his own company, no one ever dare tell him “No” or called him “a liar”. No one ever punished him or dare confront him when he was wrong. Children raised to lie with impunity continue doing so throughout their lives. Trump was able to get away with that as a child, or when he ran his own private companies (who’s going to tell the boss he’s wrong?) This is the first time in Trump’s life anyone has corrected him. He has an army of reporters fact-checking his every word in real time and he just doesn’t know how to handle it (other than to just accuse them all of lying. The way a child would.) “They ALL said I was going to lose in a landslide! They were wrong! How can you trust them now?” says Trump. It’s a convincing message if you’re a Trump fan who really wants to believe the majority of Americans think/feel like they do. And when those same reporters uncover evidence that the only reason Trump won was because he had help, you can dismiss that too. “They were wrong then, so they must be wrong now, right?” Unless they were Right back then and are Right now. All the evidence favors the latter. Trump’s loose relationship with the truth and questionable past business dealings don’t help matters any (for him at least.)

I‘ve often revealed to people that I used to be a Republican. I also used to be a devote believer in UFO’s. I stopped believing in both for the same reason: Every time I checked out something I was told was true, 90% of the time it turned out to be total crap. “This photo absolutely shows an unexplained UFO.” No, it’s the lid of a milk can. “If we raise taxes, it’ll torpedo the economy and cause a massive Recession.” No, as it turned out, both Bill Clinton and Obama raised taxes and the economy boomed. Both Bushes cut taxes and caused huge recessions (Bush-43’s second recession was global and nearly cataclysmic.)

Were there a lot of “news” sources pushing the unproven claim that Saddam had WMD’s? Yes. I don’t claim otherwise. But most of those were Conservative. Fox “news” was a leading offender of pushing the Bush narrative on WMD’s. And I think we’ve all learned to take Fox’s fealty to Trump (did somebody say, “Fox & Friends”?) with a grain of salt. Yet today, EVEN FOX isn’t uniformly touting the Trump line that there’s “no evidence of Russian meddling”. While there will always be ass-kissers like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson over there desperate to protect any Republican anywhere for anything, we also have anchor Chris Wallace challenging Putin to his face when he rejects Mueller’s indictment of 12 members of the G.R.U. (Russian Intelligence). Trump claims he saw “no reason why Russia would meddle in our election” (emphasis HIS), nearly stripping his gears throwing it into reverse when he was universally condemned for taking the side of Putin over his own intelligence agencies, declaring he actually meant “wouldn’t” (moments before inviting Putin to the White House as an honored guest. Seriously? Is that what you do if you truly believed Russia meddled?) Trump’s track record for honestly is a hell of a lot weaker than that of his accusers. If I must choose between trusting Trump and trusting “The 4th Estate”, I’ll side with the newspapers all day long.

“Forget about Iraq. What about The Gulf of Tonkin?” This reminds me of the old joke about the man who repeatedly ignored red lights while driving, on the grounds “my brother does this all the time!” But then stops at green lights because “My brother might be coming the other way!”

One, I doubt most of the people who cite Tonkin could even tell you what happened and why it’s significant. And two, if you must go back 50 years to find the next credible example of “our intelligence lying to start a war”, you’re stopping at green lights.
 

Postscript: If there are any repeat readers of M.R.S. still out there, you may have noticed I have since discontinued weekly updates after 15 years, now posting only on an “as-needed” basis. I simply ran out of ways to say “You’re being lied to. And here’s the history to prove it.” Other past pages (such as my extensive lists of “known Trump/Russia connections” and “absurd Trump superlatives” (both links on right) will continue to be updated, so check back often.

 


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July 23, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: Election, mystery, myth busting, National Security, rewriting history

Reconciling Trump’s Incompetency With Economic Success
May 7, 2018

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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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May 7, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: Economy, Jobs, mystery, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes

Peace At the Barrel of a Gun. Is Threatening to Nuke Our Enemies the Way to Encourage Peace Talks?
April 30, 2018

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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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April 30, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: National Security, Partisanship, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity, War

FAKE NEWS. Republicans mastered it ages ago
April 23, 2018

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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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April 23, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: General, myth busting, Politics, Rants, rewriting history, Right-wing Facism, Right-Wing Hypocrisy

Trump Bombs Syria. Now what?
April 16, 2018

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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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April 16, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Immigration Reform, Middle East, National Security, Terrorism, War

From Bush to Trump, Republicans don’t think about consequences
March 26, 2018

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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 26, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: General, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Rants, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy

March Madness: CONSERVATIVE Media lied to you about Iraq (and now Trump)
March 19, 2018

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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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March 19, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: General, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Rants, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals

The Path to Hell: Trump Proposes Right Ideas in Worst Possible Way Making Things Worse
March 12, 2018

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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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March 12, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Economy, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Partisanship, Rants, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, War

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

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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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March 5, 2018 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, Greed, Money, myth busting, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity