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VIDEO: Sen. Robert Byrd on Iraq invasion – Mar. 13, 2003
Jun 28th, 2010 by Admin Mugsy

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Senator Robert Byrd passed away this morning at the age of 92.

Here is Sen. Byrd’s prescient speech warning against the invasion of Iraq on March 13, 2003… six days before the invasion (40 min):
 

While I highly encourage you to watch the entire 40 minute speech, here are a few highlights:

     

  • “The cost of occupying Iraq has been estimated to be between one and four Billion dollars a month!” … “That’s one to four dollars for every minute since Jesus Christ was born!” … “and these costs do not include the cost of rebuilding Iraq!”
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  • “What if Saddam goes on the lam?” We could be tied up in Iraq for months hunting him down.
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  • “It will be up to the US to support 23 million Iraqis” after we leave them without a functioning government.
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  • There’s the cost of reconstructing Iraq. … “Building roads just to deliver humanitarian relief.” “Providing electricity for hospitals.” “Drinking water.” “Phones.” etc.
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  • General Shinseki, “who refuses to back down on his estimate of three to five hundred thousand troops needed to secure Iraq. “Now there’s a man who doesn’t break & run!”
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  • “Gen. Barry McCaffrey estimated the occupation would take five years.”
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  • “We risk becoming the next Colonial Power to occupy Iraq. Those who greet us as ‘Liberators’ in 2003 may come to view us as ‘interlopers’ in 2004, 2005, 2006, and beyond.”
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  • “We will have to rearm and rebuild the Iraqi army so they can protect themselves from neighboring nations once they have been weakened. … The Arms Industry must be salivating at the prospect of rebuilding the Iraqi Army from scratch.”
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  • 4:12:55 – “Our President [Bush], back when he was Governor running for the office he now holds, said he sought an end to the peace-keeping missions in the Balkans [Bosnia], but we are now staring in the face of a peace-keeping mission that DWARFS that of the Balkans!” … “I am astonished that a President SO opposed to ‘Nation building’ would then LAUNCH military scenarios that so clearly culminates in that very outcome.”

 
Senator Byrd, you will be missed.
 


 

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WRITERS WANTED – Keeping this blog current can be a bigger job than for just one person. “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” is looking for VOLUNTEER guest writers to contribute to our blog to help make it worth visiting more than once a week. To contact us, please send an email to the address on our About Us page along with a sample and/or link to your writing skills. – Mugsy


 

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Cheney gets himself some more of that Government Healthcare
Jun 28th, 2010 by Admin Mugsy

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Last Friday, Dick Cheney was admitted to George Washington University Hospital in DC after experiencing “discomfort” in his chestal area. Though ruled “Not” a heart attack, Cheney has been rushed to the hospital for some of that evil government heath care at least nine times before:

“Mr. Cheney, 69, who has been having heart problems since he was in his late 30s, had a minor heart attack in February. Before that, he had had four heart attacks, quadruple-bypass surgery and two procedures to unclog his arteries.

In July 2007, Mr. Cheney had a defibrillator replaced and received electric shocks to correct irregular heart rhythms. – The New York Times

Where are those “Death Panels” when you really need them?

Speaking of Conservative hypocrisy over health care, the “historic Financial Reform Bill” passed Congress on Friday as well. The bipartisan bill that added sweeping new regulatory powers over the $615 Trillion-dollar Banking industry is nearly 2,000 pages long. Do a Google search for the term “health care over 2000 pages” and count the wails of Conservatives and Tea baggers over the “size” of the health care bill, and how that alone was reason to vote against it. Huh. I guess Republicans have suddenly decided that size really DOESN’T matter.

President Obama returned home from the G20 Summit in Toronto over the weekend. I was more than a bit pleasantly surprised to hear he was at odds with Germany’s Chancellor Markel on how to deal with the Global Recession. President Obama actually (thankfully) argued that “now is not the time to cut spending” and pull money out of an economy struggling to restart itself. Germany, on the other hand, views the economic crisis in Greece as a harbinger of what’s to come if countries don’t get their debt under control. But like most Conservatives, Markel doesn’t seem to realize Greece is not in the position it is in today because it “spent too much”; Greece is in trouble because it invested heavily in fraudulently AAA-rated American mortgage-backed Securities, which became worthless when the housing bubble burst.

So it was almost shocking to hear President Obama taking the advice of Robert Reich and Paul Krugman to heart (see earlier posts for links) that there is a difference between short-term deficits and long-term debt, and you must do some deficit-spending now to get people back to work so that they can start paying off that long-term debt. Maybe President Obama is listening to advice from noted Progressives more than we thought?

Oh, and now that the American soccer team is out of the World Cup, we won’t have to listen to those annoying Vuvuzella horns ever again. I felt like The Grinch having to listen to all that “Noise, noise, noise” wafting up from Whoville every Christmas. By the way Mr & Mrs TV Reporter, it’s pronounced “vu-VU-zella”… rhymes with “Methuselah”, not “vu-vu-ZEY-la”. Listening to people mispronounce the name of the cheap plastic noise-maker for two weeks was every bit as annoying as the horns themselves.

 


 

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If I Were President. The mistakes Obama is making.
Jun 14th, 2010 by Admin Mugsy

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“If I were President…”. How many conversations have started like that? The other day, my mother… whom agrees with me politically… asked if I thought President Obama was doing a good job. There is a mood in the country (myself included) that is frustrated that President Obama doesn’t seem to “get it” on a range of issues. “This isn’t what we voted for!”, a great number of Democratic voters cry out. Expanding the war in the Middle East by sending in more troops, a lack of action on Climate Change, unemployment still hovering close to 10% for nearly a year now, a dreadful compromise on health care that could of been drafted by Mitt Romney himself, an ecological disaster in the Gulf where… not only are the criminals in charge, but they are actually restricting news coverage to try and whitewash the scale of the disaster, and where are all those Green jobs we were promised?

The only comfort I could provide my mother? “I may not agree with some of the decisions he makes or how he makes them, but compared to the alternative, I’m not about to replace him with some BSC* Republican that got us into this mess in the first place and hope he’ll do better.” As I wrote a few months ago, “when did the Republican Party become this nations fall back position?” If a Democrat can’t fix in 15 months the disaster left behind by eight years of Republican mis-administration, why on Earth would we want to put them back in charge?
(*Bat S#it Crazy)

House Minority Leader John Boehner, on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday suggested that winning the ONE-HUNDRED House seats necessary for the GOP to regain control of that body was an attainable goal, saying (no joke) that “Americans will put Republicans back in charge to stop the out of control spending coming out of this White House.” I’m not kidding. The Party that DOUBLED 225 years of National Debt in under SIX says they are the ones to get the deficit under control. Riiiiiiiight. How much for that bridge again? (Brooklyn or “Bridge to Nowhere”. Your choice.)

So I’m not happy with the way President Obama is doing things. Hey, while I support the guy, he wasn’t my first choice for President (I was a Richardson supporter because I wanted a Diplomat with a green-jobs record in the WH). I see the president making a lot of mistakes. Here is a brief rundown, along with my alternative solutions:

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, whom I regard as brilliant, noted during that same episode of “This Week” that the president is making a mistake by allowing BP to remain in charge of the oil breach (he said “spill”) in the Gulf of Mexico. “BP is first and foremost beholden to its shareholders”, he noted, “not the people of the gulf coast”. WE are not their first priority. If they could weasel out of this with a PR media blitz without ever capping the well or cleaning up a single beach, they would. It is only because of “the bad PR” of all those oil covered beaches, dead animals, and unemployed fisherman (not “the threat of government fines and sanctions”, which are meaningless) that is forcing BP to do anything at all about this disaster they created. Just look at what their first action was in response to the breach: “dispersants” to thin out the spill, making it appear less severe by making it less visible. NOAA is reporting (which BP denies) that there is a second submerged layer of oil floating more than a half mile beneath the oil on the ocean surface thanks to the use of dispersants. Think about that. A second hidden spill beneath the one we already see, effectively DOUBLING the size of the spill we see on TV. Are you worried yet?

Reich rightly advised President Obama to “put BP America in temporary receivership”. Seize all of its assets and dedicate it to stopping this leak and cleaning up the spill, because as long as BP is in control, their top priority will always be their shareholders. It will also have the added side-benefit of making President Obama looking like he’s “taking charge” of the situation, whereas at this moment, no one is quite sure who is in charge.

Second mistake of President Obama: the moratorium on offshore drilling during this crisis without providing an alternative. I agree completely with the idea to suspend all offshore drilling during this crisis (I would say, “until we know what happened” but we KNOW what happened). I also agree with Bill Maher that the death of a murderous industry is no vice. But in the midst of an economic and employment disaster, you don’t compound the problem by effectively rending hundreds of bluecollar workers out of a job without providing them alternative work. If we had a green-jobs program, I’d say move those oil workers into that. But since we don’t, there needs to be a compromise.

Every offshore well that has ALREADY been drilled and is safely bringing in oil without problems should be allowed to continue. Those wells that HAVEN’T been completed yet, suspend them until at least one relief well is drilled next to them.

CORRECTION (6/26/2010): MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow pointed out that the THOUSANDS of “production” rigs were NOT affected by President Obama’s moratorium on “drilling”, only 33 “drilling” rigs were suspended from continuing to drill until the current disaster is resolved. The GOP would have us believe that “all 3,000 rigs” were shut down and their employees laid off, which isn’t even CLOSE to the truth. I fell for it, and I apologize. I should have known better.

Once the relief well has reached sufficient depth, you may resume drilling on the original platform. This will get every rig worker back to work immediately in a relatively safe manner. But continue the moratorium on any new wells being dug, and in the meantime, start pushing an alternative energy program while making the case that additional drilling is unnecessary. Just because we got it, doesn’t me we should use it (as I noted last week, despite the massive scale of the disaster in the Gulf, the less than 50 million gallons of oil that have leaked into the Gulf so far would supply our energy needs for less than ONE HOUR (I had to update my figures from last week. I apologize for any confusion).
 

An hours worth of oil

 

At that rate, we would need over EIGHT THOUSAND GUSHERS just like this one to supply us with just one years’ worth of oil… assuming we don’t use it as quickly as it comes in. In fact, at a rate of “50days for just 1hours worth of oil”, you would need 192 THOUSAND wells exactly like this one just to keep up with demand.

Next issue is one I’ve harped on a lot is the lack of a Green jobs program. The White House has been reluctant to the point of disaster (see: “Gulf of Mexico”) to spend any “stimulus funds” on the very thing that would stimulate the economy more than anything else: a Green Jobs Program. President Obama appears unwilling to incur the wrath of Republicans by spending that “stimulus money” they themselves approved in the waining days of the Bush Administration because Republicans don’t think we need any Green jobs. They’d rather spend that money rescuing BP from financial disaster.

In the 1950’s, President Eisenhower asked for and got “the Interstate Highway System”. As a four star General in command of allied forces during WWII, Eisenhower was impressed by Germany’s national highway system, which allowed Hitler to move his military quickly and efficiently around the country. Selling his idea as “a matter of National Security”, Eisenhower’s MASSIVE government project is still paying dividends to this day.

In the 1990’s, the Clinton Administration opened up “ARPANet”, the military’s Global Communications network, for public use. The network had been in existence since 1969, and private industry had pushed every president since Ronald Reagan (coinciding with home computers) to allow public access. Reagan (followed by Bush-41) both considered ARPANet a military asset and refused to commercialize it. But when Clinton/Gore took office and Vice President Gore was put in charge of technology matters for the White House, they lobbied him hard to make the network commercially available. Gore saw the promise in a public global network and pushed the Pentagon to approve its release to the public domain. So when Gore said he “was instrumental in the creation of the Internet” (which the Right rephrased years later as him claiming he “invented” the Internet), he was absolutely right.

And what do these projects have in common? Both started life as massive government projects that became economic booms because they greatly facilitated an increase in trade. And both were WAY too big for private industry to create on their own. No privately owned business could have built the Interstate Highway system. It would of been just too damned expensive, and they would of only built roads through the most populous towns with the most customers. Ditto for the Internet. No private corporation could afford to have built a global telecommunications network in 1969. Today, it could conceivably be done wirelessly, but not in 1969. And while President Obama can’t repeat what Eisenhower or Gore already did, he CAN create an entirely new industry, an eco-tech industry, for which there would be a global demand, creating millions of high tech jobs right here at home. But in a Recession, someone has to get the ball rolling. Someone has to be that first big customer. And only the Federal government is big enough to place an order that big (affecting the entire United States). That means deficit spending, and lots of it. But as Robert Reich pointed out, “the President needs to explain the difference between short-term deficits and long-term debt.” The National Debt is a long term problem. Unemployment is a short-term problem. It is the job of government to be the “buyer of last resort” to get the economy moving again, and put people back to work so they can start paying taxes again and pay off that long term debt. If people aren’t working, no taxes are coming in, and the deficit will just continue to grow. Short-term loss for long-term gain. Eisenhower knew it. And he was a Republican.
 

I leave you with this one final thought: Republicans today come in two varieties: the “I got mine, go get yours” crowd, and the Wal*Mart “I’m gonna be rich one day, so I’m going to vote to give millionaires huge tax breaks at my own expense now in preparation for the day I strike it rich” crowd. I compare that second group to people whose entire Retirement plan is to “win the lottery”. Folks, if you’re in your mid-40s and haven’t “struck it rich” yet, you’re not going to.

 


 

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WRITERS WANTED – Keeping this blog current can be a bigger job than for just one person. “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” is looking for VOLUNTEER guest writers to contribute to our blog to help make it worth visiting more than once a week. To contact us, please send an email to the address on our About Us page along with a sample and/or link to your writing skills. – Mugsy


 

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How to fix everything: The oil leak, the Gaza blockade, unemployment
Jun 7th, 2010 by Admin Mugsy

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Why is it that for every dumb problem, there is an overly complex & doomed to failure “solution”?

The Gulf of Mexico is quickly becoming choked with thick brown oil sludge as “fix” after “fix” fails miserably. As if things weren’t bad enough for Israel, last weeks “siege” of a cargo ship filled with “humanitarian aid” to the 1.4 million people living in the Gaza Strip has even Israel’s allies questioning their policies. And last but not least, the unemployment figures for May came out last week. Despite the seemingly good news of 431,000 jobs created and the Unemployment Rate ticking down two points to 9.7%, only 41,000 (less than 10%) of the jobs were created in the private sector. All the rest were temporary jobs hired by the Census Bureau.

What is most frustrating of all is that all these “catastrophes” (quite possibly) have relatively simple solutions. But there’s no apparent public place for people to offer up their solutions to the people in charge. So let’s correct that.

This week, I’m going to proffer three simple solutions to the above problems, and I invite you to offer your own. Maybe… just MAYBE… someone with some pull will stumble across our ideas and put them to use. I myself emailed the White House with a simple solution on how to stop the leak in the Gulf. I never heard back from them. Here’s my idea. Tell me what you think:

1) Why not simply pinch the oil pipe closed with a hydraulic press? It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? And at the very least, if it doesn’t “stop” the leak, it will at least slow it down. If a stupid “cap” over the wellhead is supposed to be capable of stopping the oil, then I see no reason why simply crimping a section of the pipe together, like a soda straw, can’t stop the flow of oil. I even worked up this crude 3D animation:

Mugsy’s Pipe Pincher

By fitting a crimping device like the one I crudely fashioned above around any exposed section of pipe, hydraulic pistons on either side would then compress two rounded bars together, pinching the pipe closed. You must use round bars to avoid ripping or breaking the pipe as the two sides are pressed together. If you don’t stop the leak completely, at the very least, you slow the leak down until the relief wells are finished later this year (August by the earliest). Okay, now I am fully aware there may be extenuating circumstances as to why such a solution may not be possible, due to the nature of how the pipe is lying, how much of it is exposed, and the condition of the pipe itself. But here are some of the (pathetic) excuses I heard as to why an idea like isn’t possible:

1) it is too cold, near freezing at that depth, so the pipe would simply snap/break. This is nonsense. First off, the temperature of the oil bubbling out of that well must be in the hundreds of degrees. Friction from the oil rushing out is heating the pipe as well. And if all that isn’t enough to soften the pipe to the point where it can be crushed, we can always use welders torches and such to heat the pipe till it softens.

2) The pressure of the oil is too great. Again, stupid. If a “cap” or “dome” can plug the well, then so can this. And if you have to, use two.

3) Crimping the pipe in one place will simply increase the leak someplace else. Again, I refer you to the “cap”, but I’d also point out that the simple answer to that is to crimp the pipe at its base. Yeesh! Is that so hard to figure out?

An actual, honest-to-goodness 21- year old genius came up with the opposite idea to “inflate tires (or more precisely, innertubes) inside the pipe”, plugging the well, much the same way an angioplasty balloon is inflated inside a human artery to clear blockages. The biggest stumbling block with her idea: how to you get innertubes inside the pipe while oil is blasting out at 8,000 gallons a minute? (and on a personal note, what is the likelihood of inflated rubber tubing stopping tens of thousands of pounds of pressure pushing on a blockage inside a well-lubricated metal tube?) Personally, I think my idea is easier and much more practical.

One REALLY DUMB idea making the rounds is to use a “nuclear bomb” to “collapse the well”. This insane idea has received so much coverage that even President Obama himself was forced to respond to it, with Administration officials (rightly) calling the idea “crazy”. First, there is no guarantee you won’t just create 1,000 new fissures for the oil to leak up from. Second, the nuclear radiation will kill off more life in an instant than the oil will over the next two decades and create a “dead zone” in the middle of the Gulf for 100 years (if not longer). Talk about using a sledgehammer as a fly swatter. Why is it the most manifestly insane, yet highly dramatic “solutions” receive the most coverage, but practical common-sense solutions die an orphan?

(To date, approximately 75 million gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico thus far. The “Drill Baby, drill” crowd sees all this oil as an argument IN DEFENSE of more domestic drilling, arguing that this proves there is a lot more oil to be found domestically if only we allowed for more drilling. In fact, the amount of oil spilled into the Gulf would supply the U.S. with less than ONE HOURS WORTH OF OIL, used not just as fuel, but in lubrication, road repair, and in the making of rubber and plastics. If we found 8 THOUSAND more wells exactly like this one, if would only satisfy our oil needs for ONE YEAR. Increased domestic drilling is NOT a path to energy independence.)

Next “disaster” in need of a simple solution: the blockade of Gaza requiring the stopping and searching of aid ships that resulted in a deadly confrontation. Last week, Israeli commandos repelled from helicopters down to the deck of a “relief” ship seeking to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza, where an Israeli clampdown has permitted no outside aid into the region for THREE YEARS. The Netanyahu Administration (and Fox News) insists that “there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza”. ABC News begged to differ in a report during last Friday’s broadcast.

During “Fox news Sunday” yesterday, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, when asked to respond to Iran’s threat to provide “armed escort” to any aid ship headed to Gaza, repeatedly said that Israel would “do whatever was necessary to defend itself”… an implicit threat to fire upon any Iranian vessel entering Israeli waters.

Tell me, doesn’t this all sound a bit insane to you? It does me. The cost of enforcing the blockade of ships bound for Gaza must be tremendous. And the potential cost of an armed conflict can be counted not only in dollars, but in increased aggression towards Israel by the enemies it already has and isolating the friends it still has left in the world. It seems to me it would not only be FAR CHEAPER, but a tremendous PR move for Israel to simply increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. Not only would it be cheaper, but you would render the need for “aid ships” moot (so the next ship you see headed in, you will KNOW they are up to no good). By being the de facto suppliers of aid to Gaza, Israel would know EXACTLY what was going in, rather than “guessing” whether a humanitarian aid ship might be carrying something other than “humanitarian aid”. The blockade of Gaza can’t continue indefinitely. Eventually, you would be left with one giant welfare state sapping the nations coffers dry. At some point, Israel needs to set up a “trade zone” with the people of Gaza, to stimulate job creation and inject some stability into the region.

Which brings me to Obvious Solution to Problem #3: unemployment. As May’s job figures demonstrate, the government has the ability to do ONE thing to stem unemployment… create government funded jobs. But you can’t simply add “temp jobs” like Census Workers that have no long-term impact on the country. You must create infrastructure jobs.

I posted a petition on this subject last year (see “Petitions” link on left) recommending that the government hire people to “greenify” all government buildings by making them more energy efficient. Solar panels on the roofs, insulated glass in the windows. More energy-efficient computers in the offices, etc and so on, not only creating jobs that span industries, but adding value to our infrastructure that will last for decades, and save the government money to boot in energy costs. At the same time, convert the nations fleet of postal delivery vehicles into hybrid-electric vehicles. Buy new hybrids to replace older vehicles that aren’t worth upgrading. Spread the contract across the Big Three U.S. automakers to help out those struggling corporations. Not only do you create a slew of new jobs across a range of industries (not just car makers, but electronics makers, engineers of all disciplines, manufacturing, suppliers, R&D, etc), but you save money on fuel (meaning less of a need to “Drill baby, drill” or import oil from our enemies), offsetting the cost of the upgrade. The number of jobs created and the amount of money spent would give us the jolt we need to spur a lasting “green jobs” economy.

Why must they make everything so damn difficult? Do you have a simple solution to a major problem? Add your ideas in the Comments section below.
 


 

Please REGISTER to post comments or be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE7+ users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts!
WRITERS WANTED – Keeping this blog current can be a bigger job than for just one person. “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” is looking for VOLUNTEER guest writers to contribute to our blog to help make it worth visiting more than once a week. To contact us, please send an email to the address on our About Us page along with a sample and/or link to your writing skills. – Mugsy


 

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