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Tell me how More Guns would have prevented crossfire shooting death of Wade’s cousin?
Aug 29th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Over the weekend, Donald Trump was rightly excoriated for politicizing the death of Nykea Aldridge, cousin of Chicago Bulls superstar Dwyane Wade, after tweeting (natch) that such incidents would win him the African-American vote. Now, Trump rightly deserves condemnation for politicizing Aldridge’s death (and no, I’m not doing the same. I’m attributing no benefit/harm from this tragedy), but no one seems to be asking the bigger question: Just HOW does Trump’s position on guns… the NRA’s position that “more guns make us safer”… translate into less violence that might have prevented this tragedy from happening?

In case you don’t yet know the story, Ms. Aldridge was pushing her baby stroller down a Chicago sidewalk when two gang members attempted to chase down & kill a driver for a rival gang. Details are sketchy at this point, but this mother-of-four was caught in the crossfire, struck in the arm and head, killing her (her baby “unharmed”).

Supporters of the NRA… like Donald Trump… have attempted to link/blame “strict gun laws” in states like Illinois, to the rise in gun violence there, arguing in effect that somehow knowing their victims are less likely to be “packing” makes them ready targets for gun violence, and “if only more people carried guns, there would be less gun crime” as criminals would be more fearful their victims might shoot back.

Nice theory.

Only in this case, the intended target was a gang member. The killers in this incident clearly were not concerned whether or not their target might be carrying a gun. He almost certainly was. And Aldridge? How would carrying a gun have prevented her from being caught in the crossfire and this tragedy from happening?

Let’s imagine for a moment a completely different scenario… a robbery. Picture an armed mother pushing her baby stroller up the street when she is suddenly accosted by a man demanding money at gunpoint. At what point does this mother… child between her and her attacker… pull out her own gun (preferably an AK47 semiautomatic assault rifle with folding stock) and start threatening to reenact “Gunfight at the OK Coral” from behind her infant child? Even if guns were ubiquitous, do criminals start mulling over whether or not a mother with baby-stroller might be crazy enough to brandish a gun around her child? Or perhaps the pro-gun crowd thinks an innocent bystander with a gun would have rushed to her defense, pulling out his own gun in front of the child ready to start a firefight with two gang members in order to protect a stranger with her child? And also, have we now just inadvertently made “people with children” preferred targets for armed robbery?

It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so tragic. We have a 14 year old prepubescent Twitter junkie trapped in the body of a 70 year old man running for President of the United States who will say stupid things off the top of his head, and when later confronted, tries to spin his statement in a way in which “that’s what I meant all along” to avoid admitting a mistake (I’ve often pointed out Bush’s “Can’t get fooled again” is a textbook example of Republican paranoia over even entertaining the possibility of admitting a mistake. Palin was likewise paranoid about this when she ran for VP in 2008, resulting in a steady stream of ridiculous word-salad as she desperately tried to sound smart on camera.)

But, that’s hardly unique to Donald Trump. How do you think we got into Iraq without an Exit Strategy? Republicans just don’t think things through. If they did, they wouldn’t be Republicans.

During ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, Conservative radio host Alex Castellanos… an advisor to the Trump campaign… became visibly agitated by all the criticism of Trump “flip-flopping” (or as he put it: “Change & Grow”) on his signature issue of deporting 11-million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., and tried to change the subject by bringing up what he felt FOR CERTAIN was an issue Democrats have no good argument against: “School Choice”.
 

Castellanos thinks Democrats who oppose school choice are hypocrites (2:26)

 

“Why not let students pick what school they wish to go to?” he kept asking over & over, clearly believing he is exposing some undeniable Liberal hypocrisy. “School choice” is an upper-middle-class pipe-dream. In Republican Utopia, every child lives relatively close to a high-achievement, low-cost, efficiently run private school (or perhaps a public school in a more affluent neighborhood with better teachers and less crime.) And the tiny government voucher every parent receives covers 100% of the costs, every child is guaranteed admittance, and the parents have plenty of time to drop the child off on their way to work (because buses can’t be crisscrossing routes all over the city). That’s Republican Fantasy-Land.

The problem with Castellanos’ “challenge” (beyond the unrealistic belief private schools don’t reject under-performing students and charge more to keep out “the riff-raff” to maintain those high ratings, and aren’t always conveniently located), the fact is most privately run schools are RELIGIOUS schools. I’d REALLY like to hear Castellanos make the case to Republicans that their tax dollars should go to funding an American madrassa, or even a “Church of Satan for troubled youth”.

Trump thinks another shooting death will convince blacks to vote for a man whose solution to gun crime is “more guns.” And Castellanos thinks there’s no legitimate argument against “school choice” (so long as it’s the kind of school THEY approve of.) Republicans never think things through (because thinking is hard and tiresome.)
 


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Trump is the Living Embodiment of Plato’s ‘Republic’
Aug 22nd, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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I was watching the latest episode of “Trump-splaining” on TV last week (where people from both sides of the aisle are trying to tell me what Trump “really” meant when he said XYZ) when it suddenly dawned on me that Trump himself is a microcosm of everything the GOP has been evolving into over the past two decades. All the bigotry, xenophobia, quick tempered anti-intellectualism that defines the modern GOP rolled into one ridiculously immature man-child. “Where have I seen that before?” An entire society reduced to a single entity sounded awfully familiar. Then it dawned on me: Plato’s ‘Republic’!” College was a long time ago, and archaic Greek fiction doesn’t exactly stick with you, but I remembered the concept.

A little over 2,300 years ago, Greek philosopher Plato wrote a book called “Republic” where he attempted to explain different aspects of life using a series of “thought-experiments”. In chapter (“Book”) two, his main character (Socrates) was challenged to prove that “justice” is its own virtue using an ingenious technique: Pointing out that things are easier to see when magnified, he applied all the characteristics of an single individual to an entire society (“kallipolis”) where a flaw in one man was present in EVERY man, and what impact… positive or negative… that would have on society as a whole. So, for example, if you want to know if it’s okay for a hungry man to steal a loaf of bread, what would be the consequences if EVERY man stole a loaf of bread when hungry? It’s much easier to see the impact is negative when it is multiplied by thousands. And that is Donald Trump. A magnification of everything The Republican Party has become over the past 20 years. To paraphrase the 2012 RNC platform: “You built this!”

Donald Trump IS Plato’s “kallipolis”. In “Republic”, the antagonist believes the selfish crook would be happier than the honest man because he can do/say/take whatever he wants, whenever he wants, while the honest man feels constrained by the rules and must make sacrifices. And indeed, that is how most of Trump’s supporters describe him. “No filter”, saying what he wants, when he wants, without regard for the consequences or what the “politically correct” police think is appropriate. With all the impulsiveness & self-assuredness of a 14-year old boy, Trump is the epitome of the modern GOP… as much as they refuse to believe it. Conservatives all believe that “greed” is a virtue and “poverty” is a sign of some moral failing.

But Plato/Socrates demonstrated how the chaos that results from every man, woman & child impetuously doing their own thing, taking unnecessary risks that endanger those around them, committing crimes, lying, cheating and stealing… would quickly make life miserable for everyone, and how justice creates rules that bring order to society that make obtaining happiness possible. The problem is the Trumptonions think one can achieve order & prosperity through greed & belligerence. Plato proved them wrong over two-millenia ago, yet they persist.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, “Mitt Romney” was the GOP nominee because: “He’s incredibly rich, so he MUST know what he’s doing!” Didn’t matter HOW he made his money. “Wealth = Intelligence/Superiority” in GOP Land. And it’s how I knew way back in December before the race ever began that Trump would be the GOP nominee. The majority didn’t love him, but there is a “floor” of support for wealthy Republicans that ensures they’ll always just tread water. Romney was briefly topped by Herman Cain; Trump was briefly topped by Ben Carson. Romney had his apocryphal religious nut rival Rick Santorum, and Trump had his apocryphal religious nut rival Ted Cruz. We had seen this movie before. And I had read this book before.

Trump is a bigot. But he doesn’t think he’s a bigot. “Black people love me!” he declares, and to prove it, he points to once awarding “Arsenio Hall” the winner of an episode of “The Apprentice”. Trump is a misogynist, and to prove he isn’t, he points to the Beauty Pageant he’s owned/promoted for the last 20 years. He has the same grasp of foreign policy as the kid who sat in the back row of your High School geography class (remember when schools taught “geography”?) playing games of “paper-football” with his buddy in the desk next to him, then blames his failing grade on “the teacher didn’t like me!”. He has all the patience of a toddler wondering why he can’t touch the hot stove. He doesn’t pause before blurting whatever crosses his mind. He is totally unfazed by the magnitude of the role bestowed upon him by becoming the GOP presidential nominee, and how 7-BILLION people analyze his every utterance for clues as to what it might mean for global economic/militaristic/environmental security. And like any other moody ‘Tween, he picks fights on Twitter over things someone said about him on Facebook. He’s immature, has a depth of understanding of the issues that wouldn’t soak a frog’s kneecaps, he’s rude, impulsive, obnoxious, childish, more than a trifle racist, dishonest, reckless, and clueless about just out of touch he truly is. Today’s Republican Party. He is them. They are him.

And that is why Donald J. Trump is the GOP nominee. Plato proved it over 2,000 years ago.
 


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Lack of Quid Pro Quo Doesn’t Make Soliciting Donations to Clinton Foundation Ethical or Legal
Aug 15th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Hillary’s supporters Senator Claire McCaskill and former DefSec Leon Panetta were on the Sunday Talk Shows yesterday defending her in light of revelations she may have solicited donations to The Clinton Foundation while she was Secretary of State… at the minimum, an ethics violation, and at worst, a crime… citing a “lack of evidence” that she did anything in exchange for these donations. As the old detective saying goes: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” But their argument completely misses the point (and they know it). It is entirely improper for someone so high up in any administration to be asking for support of a pet cause when they are in a position of power. Rarely is political “quid pro quo” in exchange for donations as obvious as when the (Bill) Clinton White House was accused of gifting stays in “The Lincoln Bedroom” to donors to his re-election campaign. And in 2004, it was discovered that “104 of 246 ‘Pioneers’ (largest contributors to the Bush campaign) ended up with either a job or appointment in the Bush Administration. But another reason such fundraising is taboo is the concern that White House officials soliciting donations puts our political friends/allies in the awkward position of feeling obligated to donate to stay in the good graces of the powerful person soliciting them… OR… every bit as worrisome… the potential problem that WH officials themselves might feel “obligated” towards the donor in some way.

It’s like The Boss asking if you’d like to buy some of his/her daughter’s Girl Scout Cookies. No pressure, right? But who’s going to say “No” to someone you’d like to please? Buying the Boss’ daughters cookies may not result in anything so obvious as a prime parking space or a pay raise, but simply not being excluded from principal meetings, being invited to play golf with The Brass, or not being fired the next time you show up late to work, are ALSO possible perks that might sway you to purchase 30 boxes of over-priced cookies you neither want nor need. But short of contacting every donor to The Clinton Foundation between the years of 2009-2013 to ask if they felt pressured to donate (and expect an honest answer), or auditing the Secretary’s phone logs to see if donors calls were put through or returned more quickly/frequently than those of people whom refused to donate, how exactly does one “prove” such donations had no influence?

Back in 2008, there was a minor “scandal” when it was discovered Bush Administration officials had used government resources to engage in partisan political activity (using government resources to get Republicans elected in the 2006 midterms)… a violation of the 1939 “Hatch Act”. And in 2004 it was revealed:
 

[D]eputy director of political affairs Scott Jennings gave a PowerPoint presentation that included slides listing Democratic and Republican seats the White House viewed as vulnerable in 2008, a map of contested Senate seats and other information on 2008 election strategy, GSA Administrator Lurita Doan asked how GSA could help “our candidates.”

 

Since Hillary is not accused of fundraising for her own political campaign, soliciting donations for her Foundation would not likely be a violation of the Hatch Act specifically, but the ethics of using one’s political position to fund-raise is no less unethical. Ethics rules are clear: “The Code of Federal Regulations says government employees should not participate in matters in which they have a personal financial interest.” The problem is, The House Ethics Committee has only defined “personal financial interest” as “campaign activity”, so whether or not any laws were broken might be a matter for the Supreme Court… of which Clinton is likely to have at least one (the current) vacancy to fill (if not more.)

In 2008, when Clinton was picked to be Obama’s Secretary of State, she pledged to provide him with an annual list of donors to The Clinton Foundation “to ease concerns that… as secretary of state… she could be vulnerable to accusations of foreign influence.” But after just one year, in 2010, donations to the “Clinton Health Access Initiative” (CHAI)… which accounts for more than 50% of the Foundation’s donations… were excluded from that list. No explanation for the exclusion has ever been given despite requests. [Ibid]

Last week, the NY Post published an article accusing the former Secretary of State of running “a shocking pay-to-play scheme” out of the State Department, where “fat cat donors” were granted “favors and access to Clinton’s inner-circle.”

Last April, the GOP posted a video of ABC’s Jon Karl asking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest if he could “categorically deny” that donors to the Clinton Foundation or paid Bill Clinton speaking fees received “favorable treatment from this administration or the State Department [while Hillary was in charge]?” Earnest seemingly dodges the question, citing a “memorandum” that was drafted to outline “all of the existing ethical guidelines” to ensure Hillary’s State Department was not in violation of those guidelines. But when a second reporter notes that “The Clinton Foundation” was specifically exempted from that memorandum, Earnest dismisses “accusations [that] have not been accompanied by much evidence.” Feel better now?

I’m reminded of the fact Debbie Wasserman Schultz was “rewarded” with role in the Clinton campaign after being ousted when it was revealed she used the DNC to aide the Clinton Campaign to defeat Bernie Sanders… another serious breach of ethics. Such an act would make Schultz political poison anywhere else. To the Clinton campaign, ethics violations in the name of loyalty is what it’s all about.

When Hillary’s defenders demand her critics provide “proof” of quid pro quo in exchange for donations, they are setting up a straw man argument… something you thought only Conservatives did… you know, like skirting the rules then making excuses.
 

I'm voting Democrat but don't know who

 


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Someone at the DNC needs to go to jail. If the Clinton campaign wants Sanders voters, they must.
Aug 1st, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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There has been a lot of discussion lately over just WHO hacked into the DNC’s email server to expose the fact that the DNC subverted democracy, actively aiding the Clinton campaign and deliberately sabotaging the Sanders campaign to ensure Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee (despite polling worse against all the GOP candidates), but NO discussion whatsoever about the revelations themselves and what (if anything) should be done about it.

When news of these hacked emails broke last June, I agonized over “How does one support Hillary without rewarding the DNC for subverting democracy?” I’m even more ambivalent today about the idea. In one of my first Op/Ed’s this primary season (last February), I stated how if Clinton were to win the nomination, I would vote for her despite the fact I know her to be a closet-Conservative, a hawk, and an opportunist whose positions on the issues shift like the desert sands because the alternative… no matter whom it was going to be… would be far worse.

But now, I’m not entirely certain I can keep that promise as a result of these revelations regarding the DNC. My ambivalence having more to do with ensuring the DNC is held to account for undermining the election of the next president of the United States than any dislike/mistrust I have for Hillary Clinton. Electing a political wind-sock would not be the worst thing so long as that wind-sock tends to drift Left when pushed. But “rewarding” the DNC by actively supporting their hand-picked candidate only encourages them to do so again in the future. Someone needs to be held CRIMINALLY responsible. The simple resignation of DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not enough. A self-inflicted slap on the wrist is meaningless. Nothing so toxic that the Clinton campaign wasn’t willing to appoint her “honorary chair of [the Clinton] campaign’s 50-state program”. Schultz’s career in Washington is anything but over.

No, someone needs to GO TO JAIL over what happened if we are to ensure this never happens again. If I’m to cast my vote for Hillary next November rather than vote 3rd Party or leave that space blank on my ballot, someone in the Clinton campaign needs to step up and say, “That’s not right what they did! People need to know they can trust our elections and that their own Party does not actively sabotage the candidacy of fellow Democrats to promote one candidate over another!”

But instead, the Clinton Campaign is leading the charge in misdirecting the media to focus on the leakers rather than the revelations themselves. Their charge is that “this is Russia attempting to aide Donald Trump.” We actually have little-to-no evidence that that is the case. What if the “leaker” turned out to be Edward Snowden? Plenty of Democrats love Snowden. He IS after-all living in Russia. But you never hear anyone from the Clinton camp blaming Snowden for the leaks. Why? You know why as well as I do. Because it would make things very difficult for both the Clinton campaign AND supporters of Edward Snowden now supporting Hillary.

The silence and misdirection surrounding this story feels every bit as orchestrated as the primaries themselves. Meet the Press yesterday conducted an interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who mentions how skillfully the Clinton campaign has changed the subject from “how the DNC subverted the Sanders campaign” (“pushing fake stories that Sanders supporters were violent, etc.”) to instead get everyone to focus on the leakers themselves instead. MtP host Chuck Todd spends the entire 10 minute interview trying to get Assange to reveal the identity of the leaker while Assange keeps trying to bring the focus back to the revelations themselves… that “the DNC actively sabotaged the Sanders campaign and disenfranchised millions of Sanders voters” by undermining his campaign and nullifying their vote:
 


 

Not once during the interview did Todd discuss the revelations inside those leaked emails. Instead, he begins the interview with the false claim Assange was being being detained pending being tried for “child rape” (he has long been cleared) and ends the interview with the false charge that a Wikileaks revelation was responsible for the failed deadly Turkish coup last month… both obvious attempts to impugn the integrity or Assange and the value of Wikileaks itself.

Lately, I’ve been seeing these memes from Hillary supporters trying to “pre-blame” a potential “Trump victory” on Sanders voters who are threatening to vote for Trump. Total nonsense. The number of Bernie supporters that will vote for Trump would probably fill a phone booth with room left over to hold another convention. If Hillary loses to Trump, it won’t be because Sanders voters gave him the win. It will be because the DNC hand-picked the weakest candidate in the race to go up against him despite the fact she never polled beyond the single digits against ANY GOP candidate since the race began in mid-2015.

Some have tried to argue that the DNC was only promoting Hillary over Sanders because “Hillary was a Democrat and Sanders was not”. Even if that were true (it’s not. Sanders changed his Party affiliation before running), Maryland governor Martin O’Malley was ALSO in the race, so now, justify the DNC taking sides to push Clinton over O’Malley before a single vote had been cast. If anyone has a case against the DNC, it would be Governor O’Malley (whom has said nothing other than his lack of surprise that Russia may have been the ones who hacked the DNC.)

Hillary supporters don’t GET (and likely don’t care) that the DNC *undermined our Democracy* by actively promoting one candidate over another, while simultaneously actively *suppressing* the others. If they were REAL Democrats, that should raise serious concerns in them. But it doesn’t so long as their candidate is the one who benefited. But just imagine if Hillary had decided NOT to run again and Donald Trump… who once said he would be more likely to run as a Democrat, had in fact done so, and the DNC decided to ensure “The Donald” was the Democratic nominee? It could have happened. How would all these blase’ Hillary supporters feel about DNC malfeasance THEN? The neo-Democratic Party of today has become indistinguishable from the GOP of 40 years ago, where manipulating elections was once the exclusive purview of Republicans. But now, as long as it is THEIR candidate benefiting from this anti-Democratic misbehavior, they are just fine with it.

They undermined the Sanders campaign. They made sure Sanders would lose and then get Hillary to adopt his most popular positions in an attempt to assuage his supporters into supporting her. Am I supposed to just accept that because the alternative is worse?

I’m also repeatedly annoyed by the (false) claim that this Democratic platform is “the most Progressive platform in history” to try and mollify me. FDR had a FAR more progressive platform than what Hillary is proposing this election. Arguably, even Nixon’s platform of ending the war in Vietnam, creating the EPA and promising a National Health Insurance program was every bit as Progressive.

But far worse is the nonsense claim Hillary is the “most experienced candidate in history!” Even President Obama said it in his Convention speech last Wednesday, and we KNOW he knows better. Hillary was a Senator for 8 years and Secretary of State for 4. Thomas Jefferson… who wrote the Declaration of Independence, served as Governor of Virginia, was appointed both Vice President AND our first Ambassador to France… was FAR more experienced than Hillary… as was every other Founding Father who went on to become president. Every former governor or senator that went on to become VP and then president had more “experience” than Hillary Clinton does now. Hell, even Al Gore… who was also a Senator for 8 years, then VP for 8 years, and in the House of Representatives for 5 years before that had more “experience” than Hillary. She’s not even “the most experienced candidate of the last TWELVE years” let alone “in history.”

But I digress.

The DNC hand-picked the most vulnerable Democratic candidate, and now tries to guilt Sanders voters into supporting Hillary with the threat of a Trump victory. The only option left available to us is to make good on that threat.

It was only the threat of a “contested convention” that got the DNC to incorporate much of the Sanders platform into the official Party platform. And it is only the need of Sanders voters to vote for Hillary in November that will ensure she doesn’t lose in a razor-thin election defeat to Donald Trump. If they believe this race is going to be close, they are going to need the support of every Sanders voter. And right now, they think they have enough of us “locked up” that they don’t have to court our votes anymore. In a PBS interview from the floor of the DNC Convention, Senator Barbara Boxer said, “We have about 95% of Sanders voters, so I think we’ll be okay.” Translation: “We don’t need to worry about that last five percent. We’ll win without them.”

It’s a giant game of chicken, and the DNC is betting that Sanders voters will blink first. But Sanders voters have more leverage. We know a Democratic Congress will block every insane thing Trump might try to do (and block his SCotUS picks). The Generals have publicly stated they would “refuse” any unconstitutional order (such as ordering them to resume using “torture”.) And a Trump victory makes winning the all-important 2020 election ever more likely (“2020” will be a HUGE deal because it’s a Census year when redistricting takes place. And the Party in charge of Congress draws those maps. Before Obama, this country had never had more than two presidents serve two 8-year terms back to back. Now we’ve had three (Clinton-I, Bush-II, Obama). The likelihood of Hillary being re-elected to a second term to be the fourth straight two-term president are incredibly unlikely, making 2020 likely to be a big Republican year. So there is a small argument to be made that a Trump victory now might actually help Democrats in 2020 (and beyond.) That gives us leverage.

So, to the Clinton Campaign I say: The ball is in your court. Do you hold the DNC accountable (calling for a criminal prosecution?), or do we hold you accountable for doing nothing?

It’s hard not to think of Pastor Niemöller’s famed “first they came for the…” poem. Hillary supporters be warned. Ignore the DNC’s crimes now, and you have no recourse next time when the candidate they undermine is yours.
 

Silverman-ridiculous

 


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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