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What If… Hillary’s Campaign Imploded? Who fills the void?
Apr 27th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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Most people believe that the Bush Administration invaded Iraq in 2003 without a plan for what to do once they had overthrown Saddam. But they DID have a plan. ONE plan. To replace him with a man named Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi exile that tried & failed for nearly a decade to convince the Clinton White House that Saddam possessed “stockpiles” of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and that he needed to be overthrown to avoid an inevitable attack upon the United States. He failed to convince the Clinton White House, but found a far more receptive audience once the Bush neocons took over. Suddenly a plan was set in motion (“from day one”) to overthrow Saddam and replace him with Chalibi. But when we invaded and those “stockpiles” were nowhere to be found, the Bush Administration wasn’t about to “reward” the man that duped them into launching America’s very first preemptive war, so they suddenly found themselves without a “Plan B”. Chaos broke out and Iraq has yet to recover from that lack of planning. Might Democrats be making the same mistake by not seriously considering another candidate should Hillary falter? Who steps up to fill the void? What’s our “Plan B”?

The GOP scandal machine was switched on the day after President Obama was re-elected to a second term and a Hillary candidacy seemed inevitable. There was “Benghazi!TM” on September 11th of 2012, followed by demands for an investigation into Clinton’s handling of the incident (just imagine how they might of reacted if four THOUSAND people had died that 9/11 instead of just four?) Republican tears over Romney’s loss weren’t even dry before Karl Rove suggested Hillary might have suffered “brain damage” as a result of a head injury that left her hospitalized that December, with some Republicans even questioning the “timing” of her injury as happening “conveniently” just before yet another hearing on “Benghazi!TM. They ridiculed her attempt to “hit the reset button with Russia” while not seeing the Ukrainian crisis coming (this is the Party whose own leader less than a decade before claimed to able to “see into Putin’s soul” and praise him as “a reformer”), and the latest scandals-du-jour are “email-gate” and (an old chestnut) the Clinton’s fund-raising from “foreign” donors (Republicans are proud to be bought & paid for by a handful of AMERICAN Billionaires. “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”)

With no other “serious” opponents on the Left to focus on, all 37 Republican contenders can focus nearly every dime of their ad buys against a single candidate. The GOP can use its control of Congress to host countless partisan investigations (all funded by the taxpayer) to try and accuse Clinton of everything from being “incompetent” to an outright “criminal”. That’s a lot of negative attention & scrutiny focused on just one person.
 

What if something sticks? Then what?
 

The GOP knows that… with no other Democratic contender with a serious shot at winning the presidency… all they have to do is take out Hillary and a GOP victory in 2016 will be so easy they may not even worry about enforcing strict “Voter ID” laws (aw, who am I kidding? An election is no fun if they can’t screw over enough Democrats so that the margin of victory is wide enough to claim an imagined “mandate”.) That’s a lot of targets on Hillary’s back. If a dog keeps digging long enough, he’s bound to find a bone. What then?

For many, the obvious answer is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, no matter how many times she insists she is not running. And as much as I adore Warren (having watched her as a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ NOW long before she ran for the Senate), I just don’t see her as “Commander-in-Chief” of the United States military. And besides, we REALLY need her in the Senate.

I have a personal preference for Bernie Sanders. I was stunned to see him give an interview to Fox “news” Sunday last week, and host Chris Wallace brought up the fact Sanders is “a self-described Democratic-Socialist.” I could hear the sound of every #FnS viewer across the nation (all 17 of them) audibly gasp at the revelation that “a NAZI” and/or “admitted COMMUNIST” is a serving United States senator thinking about running for president! While I personally WANT Bernie to run… and run as a Democrat in order to share the stage with Hillary in a debate that pushes her to the Left… if HE were the nominee, he’d be spending 90% of his time explaining to the Trailer Park Crowd that a “Socialist” is not a “Communist” or a “Nazi”. It’s the third largest political Party in the UK (after the Conservative & Labor Parties) and is currently the ruling Party in France. But to Bubba on his Bass boat or the Sarah Palin’s of the world chewing on Moose Jerky (and even a few reliably Liberal voters that just don’t know better), “Socialism” is either “watered-down Communism” or the foundation for the “National Socialist (aka Nazi) Party” (actually, Hitler’s Fascists took-over Germany’s Socialist Party to give themselves credibility, but were in fact Corporate neocons.) I’d say a Bernie victory is less likely than the election of the first black president that just happened to share a (middle) name with one of America’s greatest enemies (“Hussein”). Not impossible, but very very unlikely. It took a catastrophic economic disaster at the hands of the GOP to do it. Bernie will have no such advantage unless the GOP Senate goes completely off the rails between now and Election Day.

Then there is the former governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley who is known for… uh… ummm… hmmm. I don’t think the former governor of Maryland is even known for being former governor of Maryland. If Hillary were to falter, does anyone see the nation rallying around Martin O’Malley?

That leaves Joe Biden. With the continued success of the economy, a stunning military victory in the Middle East could suddenly make a desire to “extend the Obama presidency to a (metaphorical) third term” very attractive. One big downside is Biden’s age, who… should he win… would be the oldest person ever elected president. It was Joe Biden who got the ball rolling on the sudden stunning wave of approval towards equal rights for gays, declaring his support for same-sex marriage on “Meet the Press” in the middle of the 2012 campaign when President Obama himself was reluctant to openly support gay marriage for fear of how it might play out in an election year.

It was Biden who first advocated for a “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, once again forcing the White House to take a principled stand on an issue before they were ready.

While I’m not sure Biden should be actively challenging Hillary for the nomination, should there be a need for another candidate to step up, Vice President Biden is the obvious next best choice.

PS: And for your listening pleasure…

“You’re kicking the tires. Looking under the trunk.” (???) Hillary during a 2008 campaign appearance

 


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OKC Bombing 20 years later. Remembering Right Wing Inspired Domestic Terrorism
Apr 20th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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Remember when terrorists were lily-white Conservative Americans? Religious fanatics and neo-Nazi’s alike, the people we had to fear most in this world weren’t the ones in the Middle East providing us with all that lovely oil, it was anti-government militia groups, bombing abortion clinics, the Olympic Park in Atlanta and a federal building in Oklahoma City. Those same gun-toting “anti-government” zealots are called “Patriotic Americans” today, and by no coincidence they gravitate towards the GOP and “The Tea Party”.

If, like me, you were in at least your 20’s during the late 1990’s and the Bill Clinton administration, you probably remember the visceral hatred the Far-Right had for the man. They hate President Obama too to be sure, but it’s nothing compared to the absolute loathing they had/have for Bill. It was the first time in my life that I can remember either Party actively stoking the flames of hatred for a president and his Administration. Even Jimmy Carter at the height of the Iranian hostage crisis didn’t have people frothing at the mouth they way they started to in the late 1990’s. I blame nothing short of the active, incessant, 24/7 non-stop Clinton-hatred-as-bloodsport atmosphere nurtured on the right for the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 20 years ago yesterday. You keep turning up the heat on a Pressure Cooker and eventually it’s going to explode (and when was the last time anyone accused the GOP of over-analyzing the consequences of their actions?) With the election of Barack Obama, I’ve often wondered if they learned their lesson not to provoke anyone into doing something rash. Reel it in just a smidge? And I worry should Hillary win the presidency in a close race, will we see that seething hatred of all-things-Clinton return for another 4-to-8 years? (at the very start of the 2008 presidential race in late 2007, I wrote of my concern that we might be seeing a return to that extremism when a mentally disturbed New Hampshire man held a group of “Hillary For President” campaign workers hostage at gunpoint (as it turns out, the admittedly mentally disturbed man was making a point about his desire to see “mental health” coverage included in Clinton’s signature issue: health care reform.)

In a way, I see the “Tea Party” as the (believe it or not) more subdued step-child of the Republican rage of the 1990’s. Five years ago, I wrote about Republicans egging on Teabaggers from the Capitol balcony, concerned how they once again appeared to be cluelessly inciting hatred… much of it racial… for political gain, without concern for the consequences. And I thank my lucky stars every day that President Obama never did anything foolish like have an extra-martial affair for Republicans to use as an excuse to “crush” the man (because we all know just how much Republicans abhor adultery.)

During President George HW Bush’s final year in office (1992), the BATF attempted to arrest a white separatist by the name of “Randy Weaver” (why exactly isn’t all that clear even after reading the Wikipedia entry on the subject.) Weaver was already a “fear the government” zealot who moved his entire family to a cabin in the deep woods of Ruby Ridge, ID to live in isolation. When BATF officers stormed Weaver’s cabin, it was their worst fears come true… not just Weaver’s, but that of every anti-government separatist group in the country. “The government is coming to take your guns!” Weaver’s wife & young son were inadvertently killed by BATF officers during the siege, and in the end (IIRC) Weaver was acquitted of all charges. Fledgling militia groups across the country were outraged and the anti-government movement was born.

And this was during a Republican Administration mind you.

Republicans already hated Bill Clinton with a passion back when he was still just a candidate for president that same year. And they deemed him “illegitimate” for winning the presidency with less than 50% of the vote thanks to Ross Perot. (When George W. Bush was “awarded” the presidency by the US Supreme Court in 2000, did Democrats go on an 8 year manhunt of the man’s legacy because he was deemed “illegitimate”? No, they followed him into Iraq. But I digress.) So barely a month into the Clinton presidency when BATF agents once again attempted to carry out a search warrant of a Right-Wing cult known as the “Branch Davidian’s” in Waco, TX, it was their worst fears come true once again: “An out-of-control government coming to take your guns away so they can oppress you. And despite the fact the first such siege was ordered by a Republican president less than a year earlier, Republicans found a way to turn that mistrust of government… held not-coincidentally by mostly Evangelical, mostly white, mostly red-state, gun-loving sub-sub-suburbanites, into a “hate-the-Democrats” anti-government “they’re-coming-to-take-your-guns-away and lock-you-up-in-FEMA-Camps” movement that still exists to this day… broadened and made more palatable for public consumption by calling themselves the “Tea Party” (heavily financed by Billionaires who benefit by enraging the simple-minded over anything that might hurt Billionaires. But it’s still the same Right-Wing anti-government even-my-dog-has-a-gun-rack crowd we first laid eyes on in the 1990’s.

We very well COULD have seen a repeat of history had President Obama of taken the bait and sent an army of Federal officers in after that “Cliven Bundy” idiot when all those gun-toting anti-government right-wing “patriots” rushed to his defense in Nevada and pointed their guns at the local police & few Federal officers that were already there. Sometimes you just have to look these idiots in the eye and say, “You’re just not worth the trouble.”

The OKC bomber (whose well-known name I won’t repeat here) was one such person. Outraged by the events of Ruby Ridge, he was there in Waco to witness the siege for himself. There is no question the OKC Bomber was aghast by what he saw in Waco, but he didn’t carry out his attack against a government building the very next day, or even on the ONE year anniversary of the Waco siege. No, it was only after TWO long years of stoking his hatred against the federal government by Right-Wing talk radio and Republicans in Congress on the warpath against President Clinton, that his rage quite literally exploded into an act of terrorism that… before 9/11… was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history.

And we still see it whenever some nut armed with a knife & gun jumps the White House fence in hopes of attacking the First Family. We see it when Tea Partiers strap assault rifles to their backs, daring the cops to try and take it away from them. It’s “artificial rage”, manufactured by people who have something to gain by whipping the stupid up into a frenzy. Be it Billionaires that don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes, health insurance companies that might see their profits decrease if they have to start paying out more claims and can’t indiscriminately raise premiums or cut people off when they get too sick, gun manufactures that stand to make billions if they can convince you the government is going to knock on your door and try to take your guns away, ad infinitum.

Anyways, the point is that Republican childishness stoked the fire that erupted into the OKC bombing 20 years ago yesterday. And no, I won’t take that back. I mean every word of it. They are as much to blame for those deaths as the man who built the bomb. And the Middle-East now awash in terrorism? You can thank the GOP for that too.
 


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If Hillary is nominee in 2016, she has my vote. Here is how to win my SUPPORT.
Apr 13th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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At the start of the 2008 presidential race, I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. I was a “Health care Reform” voter and she had made reform a key plank in her campaign. But as the race dragged on (with the help of Republican’s engaging in what Rush Limbaugh coined “Operation Chaos”), the debate turned nasty between her and Obama, at which point she lost me. I didn’t become an Obama supporter right away though until Hillary told some reporters during a campaign stop in Fort Worth that “McCain would be better than Obama.” Bye-bye, Hillary. Hello, Barack. Since then, I’ve repeatedly watched her reflexively toss fellow Democrats… President Obama chief among them… under the bus for the sake of her own political advancement. Needless to say, I’m not a fan. However, outside of “National Defense” issues, she has a good Progressive record, and I’d much rather have her possibly picking the next four members of the Supreme Court than ANY Republican. But she STILL hasn’t taken a position on the potentially disastrous Keystone XL pipeline… which to me is a bit like not taking a position on whether or not water is wet. If she’s the nominee, she’ll have my vote. But if she wants my “support” (ie: “money” & “activism”), I need to see a few things first:

1) Peace. Hillary was a hawk during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, clearly trying to avoid looking like “another weak on National Defense” Democrat (an absurd rewrite of history successfully spun by Republicans), when she should have been asking the kind of serious questions that needed to be asked prior to committing the nation to its very first preemptive war. As noted above, she expressed a position similar to that of John McCain that perhaps “if only” we had armed the Syrian Rebels, there might be no ISIS today. No Hillary, many of the Syrian Rebels WERE ISIS and had we of armed them, just imagine how much worse that region might be than it already is today. “If only” we had NEVER INVADED IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE, there would be no ISIS today (remnants of Saddam’s Mahdi Army.) I need to know if she has learned her lesson. Where does she stand on the peace talks with Iran and Cuba? Good thing or bad?

2) The Keystone XL pipeline. There’s no wiggle-room on this one. President Obama has already conceded too much ground to Republicans. So much so that should disaster strike and a member of the current GOP Clown Car were to win the presidency, they’re just one presidential signature away from lighting the fuse on the most devastating ecological bomb in the history of mankind. It’s not enough to “just say No” however. The next President needs to SELL the idea of a “Green Jobs Economy” being a bridge to the future, not a slide backwards into the past. Will she ensure the KXL is never built? Will she be smart enough to point out the greater opportunities by investing in Green Energy jobs instead of one leaky pipeline?

3) No equivocation on Climate Change. The time for debate is over on this one. The house is on fire and some Republicans are still debating whether the fire started “naturally” or was “man made”, while others pick up a bucket of water in DC and joke how its existence proves there’s no drought in California. Not only is Global Warming real, but it’s an incredible business opportunity and should be talked about in that context. Not only am I looking for someone to take a stand on Climate Change, but being clever enough to know how to SELL IT to Republicans so that everyone is on-board.

4) The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). If there is one issue President Obama and I deeply disagree on, it’s the potentially disastrous 12 nation “Trans-Pacific Partnership” free-trade agreement he hopes to pass before the end of the year. Hillary’s presidential announcement yesterday sounded very much like she’s decided to adopt the Elisabeth Warren narrative of being “a champion of the Middle Class”. Warren is (rightly) fiercely opposed to the TPP… NAFTA on steroids. In 2007, Hillary called NAFTA… signed into law by her husband to appease the unappeasable GOP… “a mistake”. If she wants to distance herself from Obama to appeal to both middle-class Republicans and Democrats alike, this would be an excellent place to take her stand, as most Republicans hate NAFTA as well, and couching the TPP in those terms would win support from both sides. But the corporate money is on the side of the TPP. Will her desire to be president and raise enough money to defeat the eventual GOP nominee win out over choosing what’s right? Will she take a brave stand early or drag out taking a position on the issue for as long as the money rolls in?

5) Defend the Obama economic record. Democrats allowed the GOP to spin the fantasy that President Obama is “unpopular” and siding with him during the 2014 mid-terms would lead to their defeat. So they ran away from the amazing Obama economic record (tripling the stock market since it bottomed out two-months after Bush left office, record job growth, America the world’s #1 Auto Maker again after being on the brink of bankruptcy under Bush, etc) and ended up losing anyway. Of course, as I’ve pointed out numerous times, the “low Obama poll numbers” are a myth, dragged down by insanely irrational Republicans that still think he’s “a Kenyan Socialist Muslim” on the Tea Party side, and those who believe he’s “The Anti-Christ” on the Religious Right. Take those irrational people out of the mix and President Obama’s approval ratings would likely shoot into the mid-60’s. Eschewing President Obama’s economic record and buying the GOP narrative that he’s a failure (“Bush? Bush, who?”) could do for her campaign exactly what it did for spineless Democrats in 2014. Will she defend President Obama’s economic record or downplay it?

6) Stop throwing Democrats under the bus. Ronald Reagan got one thing (and only one thing) right: “Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”. With the huge lead in the polls Hillary has over any potential Democratic challenger, she should feel safe enough to say, “My Democratic challenger would make a great president. We simply disagree on policy”, and be prepared to answer when inevitably asked for examples. Because you can disagree with Democrats on “policy”, but there should be no question which Party’s agenda is better for the nation. This will be a “yellow flag” indicator whether it’s all about “winning” or about Democratic ideals. Will she turn on her fellow Democrats in pursuit of the White House?

7) Learn to play chess. Maybe not literally, but there is one core principle of the game: every move can’t just be a defensive one, it must also be an offensive move that distracts your opponent from relentlessly attacking you. Once all you’re doing is playing defense, the game is over. If they try to go after her on Benghazi, not only should she point out the NINE Republican witch hunts that turned up absolutely nothing, but don’t be afraid to bring up all the Embassy attacks under President Bush that went uninvestigated by these hypocrites. Those emails? Romney destroyed hard drives and Karl Rove “misplaced” 2 million emails of his own. Turn it back on them. Get the Press asking THEM, “yeah, what about that, Senator Schmuck?” or “What would you have done differently, Governor Gasbag?” Show me you know how to go on the offensive (and not just against Democrats.)

8) A new strategy for the Middle East. If 15 years of war (by the end of 2016) isn’t enough to convince you that maybe it’s time to try something new, nothing will. Hillary’s inclination to be a hawk is the most disturbing thing about her, and I fear that she believes being seen as willing to use military force makes her look “tough”. That’s how we ended up with 50 years of sanctions against Cuba that went absolutely nowhere, and a “drug war” that has done little-to-nothing to stem drug use in this country. Will Hillary be a hawk or will she be open to new ideas?

Winning over ambivalent Democrats like myself is going to be Hillary’s greatest challenge this election season. She may have my vote as a Democrat, but if she wants to win in the General, she’s going to need my enthusiastic support as well. Winning over a few Moderate Republican voters will be no easy feat either, yet Hillary’s reputation as a “hawk” that is quick to throw her fellow Democrats overboard does win her some approval on the Right. Meanwhile, I recommend you check out some of the Youtube comments in response to Hillary’s announcement video yesterday. Within minutes, frothing mad Conservatives… sounding very much like irrational pre-teens that didn’t start paying attention to politics until “the black guy” got elected… were already posting vicious personal attacks against her. But what you’ll also notice is a near total absence of anything of substance in their criticisms. Oh sure, a few still cite “Benghazi”, blaming her for the deaths of four people on 9/11… 2012, and maybe some old-timers accusing her of murdering Vince Foster in the 90’s, but almost nothing of substance. “Harpy” will be the new socially-acceptable “N-word” of the 2016 campaign. Speaking as one who dreads the thought of The GOP firing up the old “Destroy the Clinton’s at all costs” machine once again, and what another four-to-eight years of wildly partisan obstructionism might mean for our country, I’m really hoping Hillary gives me something to be enthusiastic about this time around.
 


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These “Religious Freedom” laws were the same counter argument to the 1965 Civil Rights Act
Apr 7th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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When the Johnson Administration pushed for equal rights for blacks in 1964, the Religious Right opposed the bill on the grounds that it was impinging on their rights. Their “religious” right to be a bigot. They claimed that The Almighty himself segregated the world by putting people of different races on different continents, and that forcing people of faith to mingle with “Negroes” was against “God’s Will”. There was “No need” for “integrated lunch counters” because if “they” didn’t like it, they could just eat someplace else. And if the public didn’t agree, they too could just patronize another shop. If enough people didn’t like it, “The Free Market” would either force that business to conform or go bankrupt. Problem was, in 350 years, NOT ONCE did public sentiment close a business over their treatment of minorities. Private businesses resented being forced to seat blacks at the lunch counter. “If you don’t like it, eat someplace else”, they were told. “There are plenty of other restaurants that are Separate But Equal to ours. Go there!” Does any of this sound familiar? The exact same “Religious rights” arguments made against the 1964 Civil Rights Act are being used again TODAY by the same people to defend pro-discrimination laws in Indiana and Arkansas 51 years later citing “Religious Freedom” as their defense. Only THIS time around, it’s the bigots that are in charge.

When people never spend any time around the “others” they look down upon, they remain alien to them, making it easy for them to discriminate. “Those disease-ridden, sinful, morally ambiguous degenerates!” They didn’t want to be around them or have anything to do with them. “Stay away and don’t corrupt my children!” They were an “offense to God” and treating them badly was “justified in the name of God.”

The genius of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to spare NO ONE. No individual, no business, public nor private, was exempt. And once people got used to being around those “others”, they discovered that they were not in fact different from themselves. Open bigotry is actually publicly shamed by a majority of Americans today as more than half of America’s population has no memory of growing up in a time when the races were not regarded as equals.

When Indiana governor Mike “Shut it down” Pense trumpeted their new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”… a Conservative law designed to protect the right of bigots to be bigots… he rightly immediately caught flack for it. He tried to argue this was a law designed to “protect” the rights of people claiming their religious freedom was being violated by being forced to serve people they disapproved of, contrary to their faith; not discrimination. The arguments made to defend the right of certain individuals to discriminate against “others” on “religious” grounds are the EXACT SAME arguments made 51 years before. And the “alternative remedies” being proposed are the same as well. “Let the Free Market decide!” They argue the REAL victims of discrimination here are the bigots… er “people of faith“. Victims of “reverse discrimination” (cue Jessie Helms’ “hands” ad here) by people intolerant of their intolerance. It’s the same argument the KKK uses to protest “Affirmative Action” and “Racial quotas”. “THEY are the bullies, not ME! THEY are violating MY right to practice my faith!”

Meanwhile, the scenario The Media has latched onto is the baker that was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. “Could they now legally refuse to serve a gay couple without the fear of being sued?”, repeatedly asks George Stephanopoulos of Pense, who repeatedly dodges the question like a weasel in a minefield.

This drastic over-simplification of the problem with the #RFRA may be doing more harm than good, possibly leading to a “fix” that barely scratches the surface of the harm this law can do.

While not providing a gay couple with Marie Antoinette’s favorite dish might be a travesty, and a pizzeria refusing to cater a gay wedding might go down in history as worse than Watergate, what about the pharmacist that refuses to provide your 16 year old daughter with birth control pills to treat her debilitatingly painful endometriosis… because he thinks she’s using it to have sex, which offends his fragile sensibilities?

What about the private (not public) school teacher that openly “shames” little Bobby, making him a target for bullies, because he has two dads?

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, but you get the picture. Anyone can now claim “religious freedom” as a defense for things that could cause far more harm to a person than simply denying them baked goods.

BTW: What does a “gay” cake look like anyway? How does a baker know the wedding cake they are making is for a “gay” couple? The rainbow icing?
 


Writers Wanted Got something to say? Mugsy’s Rap Sheet is always looking for article submissions to focus on the stories we may miss each week. To volunteer your own Op/Ed for inclusion here, send us an email with an example of your writing skills & choice of topic, and maybe we’ll put you online!

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