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The Botched Execution and The Party of Life

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 5, 2014

Last Tuesday, the state of Oklahoma began the process of executing two death row inmates by “lethal injection”, which is no longer a simple matter. The original drug cocktail necessary to do the job is no longer made and actual doctors have been banned from taking part in executions… the kind of deadly combination one might actually want when administering the Death Penalty, but not if your goal is a quick & painless death. As you know by now, the execution in Oklahoma went horribly awry, and a parade of truly despicable people known collectively as “pro-life Republicans” were thrust before the cameras last week, either to defend the practice of State-sponsored executions, or to find the most incredibly offensive comparison they could think of to turn the focus off them and onto their political opponents.

Texas Governor Rick “Oops” Perry, the uber-Christian 2012 GOP presidential candidate that was cheered at one debate for executing prisoners via conveyor belt, and is so dumb he thinks wearing glasses will trick people into thinking he’s smart (kind of a “Clark Kent” for dullards), was invited on “Meet the Press” yesterday specifically to be asked if what happened in Oklahoma might change his thinking on his fevered use of the Death Penalty. Nope, of course not. But you already knew that. Then on the opposite end, we had Right-Wing bomb-thrower Laura Ingraham express her opposition to the Death Penalty by equating it with Abortion… because in Ingraham’s world, pregnant mothers are no different than Serial Killers. And while not related to the botched execution, fellow mental midget Congressman Jason Chaffetz (who frequents these Sunday shows despite speaking only in Talking Points with no real insight into any matter) actually said yesterday (in the same sentence no less) that, “I believe in peace through strength” and that if we had more war, we’d “see more peace” (sorry, no transcript yet and I can’t bear to watch the video again). Let that sink in for a moment. The world would be more peaceful if only the U.S. flexed its military might around the world more often. Just as incredible, no one ever asks Chaffetz what he means by that. Because, really, who cares? It’s such an inane talking point that the explanation doesn’t really matter. Chaffetz doesn’t really matter, so any follow-up is a waste of time anyway.

Another Right-Winger blasted “Lib’rulz” last week for criticizing the botched execution, claiming that they were taking the side of the sick & sadistic criminal and didn’t care about his victims. Outrage over this botched execution has NOTHING to do with the person being executed (you’ll notice that I haven’t, nor will I, mention his name) and everything to do with an imperfect government carrying out the most permanent of punishments that is fraught with error (117 people on Death Row… roughly 2%… have been exonerated since 1972) and applied wildly unequally among poor & minorities. But no matter, if you’re rich & white, it’s okay to support wars you’ll never fight, shut down government services you’ll never need, and cheer the use of a death penalty that no one would ever seek against you. And you can still feel good about yourself so long as there are “sluts” in the world that you can look down your nose at while you accuse them of “killing babies”.

I’ve always been somewhat bemused by the fact that the same “Pro-Life” crowd that thinks God is a Republican, is also pro-war (so long as it’s someone else doing the fighting & dying), pro-gun (unless that gun is in the hands of a black man) and pro-death penalty (for people, not corporations… which they think are people too.) One of the reasons I left the GOP over 30 years ago was the rampant unapologetic hypocrisy, latent (and sometimes overt) racism, disdain for the poor, and a mind-numbing pride in being outright stupid (or “common man” as they like to look at it). The reason so many people in college become Liberals is not because teachers are “indoctrinating students”, but because no one goes to college to stay stupid, and being an idiot in college is nothing to be proud of. That just left the Junior Fascists. Sorry dudes. No thanks. You’ll find me at the Young Democrats meeting across campus.

So how is it that the Party of Death is repeatedly brought on to these programs to judge the morality of their opponents? I’m really getting quite fed up with it all.

Postscript: On an unrelated note, after the illness, misdiagnosis of cancer, and eventual death of my cat, Lefty, a year ago, followed soon after by the illness, misdiagnosis of cancer and eventual death of my mother four weeks ago, last week, one of my remaining two cats became deathly ill from Salmonella tainted cat food (vomiting and bleeding from the eyes). I knew I’d have to quickly figure out what was wrong with her myself when the vet called and asked to have her tested for gastric cancer. I swear, I think these doctors/vets say “cancer” the moment they run out of ideas. I’m happy to say Knuckles is back home and recovering rapidly once I told the doctor what to treat her for. No discount on a $3,100 vet bill despite having to diagnose her myself. It’s bad enough we have to be our own doctors, now we have to be our own VETS too! – Mugsy

 



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Filed in Crime, Party of Life, Rants, Right-wing Facism May 5th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Mom Near Death, my letter to the White House

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 31, 2014

I‘ve spoken to you several times over the past 10 months regarding my mother’s ongoing medical catastrophe. Last week, she had to be rushed to the hospital after developing pneumonia. After just five days, the hospital discharged her back to the nursing home. 22 hours later, she went into cardiac arrest and is now in extremely serious condition, having seizures every few seconds and not even able to close/blink her eyes.
 
Early this morning, I took the time to write the following letter to the White House (actually, I had to trim it nearly in half to accommodate their 2470 character limit):

Dear President Obama.

In 2004, Texas Governor Rick Perry (and current GOP gov candidate Greg Abbott) lobbied HARD for a “Medical Liability Tort Reform Law” that was the GOP cure to soaring health care costs by capping legal judgements at just $250,000 for a lifetime of care (from which you must also pay legal fees) be you 1 or 100 at the time you were harmed. And greedy Texas voters fell for it, lured by the promise of cheap insurance. The result? Hospitals, doctors and insurance companies saved millions, Texas fell to 50th in the percentage of people covered, and health care & insurance costs continued to soar.

Last May, an over-zealous Oncologist convinced my mother that she needed Chemo. I told her doctor, “No, absolutely not! Chemo is for people *riddled* with cancer. She doesn’t have cancer in her FEET!”, but the doctor convinced my mother she was indeed riddled with cancer (she wasn’t) and talked her into having the chemo against my wishes.

By her third & final treatment (6 weeks later), I had to rush my mother to the hospital, dehydrated from severe diarrhea, a 102′ fever with Walking Pneumonia.

The hospital gave my mother “something to cough up the phlegm” and after 3 days of non-stop coughing, suffered a collapsed lung. Six days after that, she told her nurse that she hadn’t had a bowel movement in “FIVE DAYS” (how do they *not* know?), requesting a laxative and a Commode Chair.

The nurses got my mother up out of bed for only the 3rd time in two weeks to use the toilet. Constipated with a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side, she suffered a cardiac arrest and ended up in a near-vegetative state. (To make matters worse, they left her lying motionless in a hospital bed for two months and we did not know she had developed a severe bed sore until she arrived at the nursing home and they inspected her.)

When I asked her doctors to explain what had happened to account for her state, they assured me that she was “revived in under two minutes”. It was only after hiring a Patient Advocate to review her records that I found out she had actually been technically dead for roughly TWENTY minutes and was on the verge of being pronounced clinically dead when they revived her.

My mother took extremely good care of herself, walking 3-miles twice a week, using the gym and went dancing on the weekends… all at the age of 75. The horrible irony of all this is that the ONLY reason she ended up in this condition is because she was trying to take care of herself.

I’ve since spoken to 15 lawfirms, all of whom agree I have an excellent case, but not one is willing to pursue it because “it would cost more to prosecute that you could win due to Texas’ Medical Tort Reform cap”. One lawfirm did say they were willing to sue over *the bedsore* because it was a “should never happen” event, but I refused because suing over a bedsore would be like suing over a splinter following a plane crash (plus, anything she won would quickly be eaten up by her hospitalization after being dropped by Medicaid.) The sad fact is, if she had *died* that morning, I could have sued for “wrongful death”, but because they managed to revive her, they insured they wouldn’t be sued.

So the people who harmed my mother go unpunished, with no incentive to correct their behavior and continue to treat patients unaware they are taking their very lives in their hands. The insurance companies get fabulously rich, and the only people who are punished are victims like my mother who had to become a burden on the State via Medicare/Medicaid as she languishes in a hospital bed.

Last night my mother suffered a second cardiac arrest that seriously worsened her already serious condition. I’m not sure how much longer she has to live.

I have contacted (as noted above) 15 lawfirms, 4 TV stations, 2 members of Congress and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Of them, only Rep. Rodney Ellis has replied.

Not only do Republican “solutions” to health care reform not work, but they are actively doing great harm. This message needs to get out there. I’ve tried for the past ten months to spread my mother’s story in hopes of finding her help, to no avail. Now it seems it is too late and my mother is beyond help. All I can hope for now is that her story serves a warning to others.

Thank you.

(PS: The one bright-spot in this entire tragedy was that the ACA limited my mother’s liability before she qualified for Medicaid, preventing her from going bankrupt as we dealt with her situation.)

This is going to be a bad week.
 



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Filed in Crime, Greed, Healthcare, Right-Wing Insanity March 31st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Which Was Worse? Snowden’s Revelations or Cheney’s?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

The latest big-reveal by self-proclaimed “whistle-blower” Edward Snowden over the weekend was the fact that the U.S. government has been using/abusing its electronic surveillance capabilities… intended to protect Americans from terrorism… for “industrial espionage” purposes, providing Corporate America with high-tech secrets from foreign corporations. Set aside for a moment the distasteful notion that we are abusing a massive government anti-terrorism program to profit mega-corporations, because I have a feeling we’re not the only ones. Instead, consider this: Which was more harmful to National Security? Revelations by Snowden about the misuse of the NSA for corporate profit, or members of the Bush White House endangering national security (and likely the lives of numerous agents & informants) just to punish their political enemies? I’m serious. In any sane world, which should be more deserving of outrage? It’s a thought that struck me while listening to the Sunday talk shows yesterday, wondering, “Is Snowden a foreign spy?”, “Did he get help from the Russians?” “Should he be given clemency in exchange for stopping the leaks? Talking heads breathlessly covered Snowden’s latest interview from Russia with a German reporter, where he revealed… with a smile on his face no less… that the American government has been using the NSA to spy on some of the world’s biggest corporations.

Anyone who read my piece three weeks ago questioning the legitimacy of Snowden’s labeling himself as a “whistle-blower” knows I’m no fan of his. Hey, I’m as glad as anyone that this information about abuses of government power is getting out, and hopefully positive changes will come from it. But Snowden’s a glory-hound that decided to take it upon himself to expose rumored government spying on American citizens (remember, we ALREADY KNEW about warrantless wiretapping since the Bush Administration) and who sought out a high-security job with the specific intent of stealing top secret information without actually knowing if abuses he suspected were taking place were in fact taking place. On top of all that, he is deciding for himself what we do or do not deserve to know. He’s unwilling to face justice the way any legitimate reporter or true “whistle-blower” would because he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. So let’s be clear that what I write today should in no way be misconstrued as in defense of Edward Snowden. My point is that, compared to what The Bush White House… and Dick Cheney in particular… revealed about our National Security apparatus in the name of partisan politics was FAR worse with FAR greater National Security implications, resulting in little-to-no outrage on the right (in fact, ranging from indifference to outright support.)

I first detailed the Valery Plame case following the conviction of Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, “Scooter” Libby, in 2007. Libby was convicted of “Obstruction of Justice” for not only refusing to reveal who instructed him to leak the true identity of “Ambassador Wilson’s wife”, but for deliberately misleading investigators attempting to figure it out on their own. Libby should have gone to jail, but President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence because he felt losing his law license and paying a stiff fine were punishment enough for destroying a high-value intelligence asset whose job it was was to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, obliterating any future value of the secret CIA front-company she worked for (“Brewster/Jennings”) that took decades to establish, and endangering not only her life but the lives of every employee that ever worked for the CIA front and any foreign asset known to have associated with them. All of it, gone (and placed in grave danger) in the blink of an eye.

And why did they do it? To undermine the credibility of the guy that exposed their lie about an “Iraqi nuclear program” as justification for war. (And whether or not the Bush Administration also leaked the name of alQaeda informant “Noor Khan” three months before the November election just to score some cheap political points with the voters, we may never know.)

Now compare that to Edward’s Snowden’s yawn-inducing revelation that the government is (still) spying on American citizens and abusing its power to benefit Big Business (that STILL contributed heavily to the Romney campaign.) Now you tell me, which revelation was more damaging to National Security and deserving of more outrage?

 



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Filed in Crime, National Security, Politics, Scandals January 27th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Guest Blogger: A Degree Of Civilization; The American Prison System

By Ebon - Last updated: Monday, January 20, 2014

The degree of civilization in a society may be judged by entering it’s prisons” ~ Dostoevsky

Pop quiz, kids: Which nation has more of it’s populace imprisoned than any other country on earth?

Nope, it’s not China. It’s not Russia either. Cuba? Good guess but they’re number five. According to Wikipedia (which has it’s problems but is generally fairly reliable), the number one prison population on earth is the USA, both per capita and in sheer numbers. In per capita terms, the US locks up around 743 people per 100k. In absolute terms, the BBC tells me that there are 2,193,798 people in prison in the USA. Obviously, that number rises and falls slightly each day as people get imprisoned and released but still, over 2 million people. Red China, where the government is outright oppressive and dictatorial, has around 1.5 million under lock and key but free and democratic America has two million and change locked down.

Of those, around a quarter are there for drug offenses of various kinds. That’s the population of San Bernadino locked up for drug offenses. According to the Department of Justice, 17% of state and 18% of federal prisoners committed their crimes to obtain money for drugs (Bureau of Justice). According to DrugWarFacts.org, around fifty thousand total are held purely for offenses relating to cannabis. Full disclosure: I haven’t smoked pot in about twenty years but I did when I was a teenager and I’m sure a fair few of you did as well. Were we dumb to smoke pot as teenagers? Yeah, probably. But we were teenagers, making dumb decisions is what teenagers do. Another piece of full disclosure: I think pot should be legalized. Age-restricted but otherwise legal, just like alcohol. I still wouldn’t smoke it because taking any form of mind-altering substance is a very bad idea but it makes no difference to me if my neighbour chooses to smoke a joint rather than have a drink. I also don’t want to turn this into a rant about the virtues of legalising weed (although, if you’ve a mind, Salon has a chilling piece about pot sentences) so let’s move on.

Around 40% of the US prison population are black. According to the Census, black people comprise about 14% of the US population but around 40% of prisoners. What explains that? Well, partly, it’s because black people are more likely to live in poverty and poverty is the most reliable indicator of criminal acts during life but it’s mostly because the average prison sentence handed down to a black guy is 20% longer than the sentence for the same crime committed by a white guy (Wall Street Journal). The 100-1 ratio of crack to cocaine sentences has led to the incarceration of thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Even though that difference has been reduced to 18-1, those prisoners remain in the system. The US prison population was mostly static from 1925 onwards. It started to rise in the late Seventies (as crime always rises during recessions) but then it exploded during the Eighties and onwards (Wikimedia). Why is that?

Two reasons. Firstly, the drug war. Let’s be honest here, the drug war has been lost. It is no more difficult to buy a hit of heroin now than it was in 1975. It hasn’t been a success and it can’t be a success. It can’t be a success due to a basic fact of human nature: Where a demand exists, people will appear to meet that demand. That’s just how things work, a basic law of humanity. So the laws against drugs are commonly broken and, by that breaking, a massive number of people are classified as criminals. Now, proponents of the drug war would argue that the laws against murder are commonly broken so should we abandon them too? That’s a fair question. The difference is that murder harms someone else whereas taking drugs, in and of themselves, harms only the taker. What about the crimes committed to support a drug habit, like theft? What about them? We already have laws against theft and I’m not proposing the legalization of all drugs anyway, just of certain soft drugs like pot.

The other thing that changed was the rise of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This is one of the stupidest movements in human history. The whole reason we have a judge deciding sentencing is so that the sentence can reflect the circumstances of the crime and the perp. Mandatory minimums throw out all that human wisdom in favour of flat sentencing that pays no attention to circumstances. In New York, for example, possessing (note that’s possession, not supply) more than four ounces of any hard drug will get you a minimum of fifteen to life. There are easily found stories of people locked up for life under three-strikes laws for offenses as minor as stealing a slice of pizza or a loaf of bread.

And the US does a lousy job of rehabilitating prisoners as well. We’ve all been shown on tv that prisoners get to complete their education. There are good reasons to educate prisoners. A prisoner who earns their GED inside is half as likely to re-offend. A prisoner who earns their college degree will almost certainly never see the inside of a prison again. You might say it’s unfair that people get sent to prison and get a free education. I would respond that firstly, I’d like to make everyone’s education free and secondly, look at the facts. According to a study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, every dollar spent on inmate education saves twelve dollars in future crimes (ABC News). Another study by UCLA found that a million dollar investment in incarceration produced 350 jobs while that same million invested in education, produced 600 jobs (ibid.). Prisoners used to be able to apply for Pell grants to cover the cost of their courses but that was eliminated in the mid-Nineties. The result is that there isn’t funding for prisoners to get educated. Prison budgets are constantly being cut and the first thing to go, after the gyms that tv thinks are in every prison, are education programs.

Oh, and your prisons are over capacity as well.

So what happens when the average prisoner gets released? He probably hasn’t had a chance to finish his education. Because of the prejudice against ex-cons (in fairness, not entirely undeserved prejudice), he’s probably not going to be able to get a job. Ex-cons are routinely discriminated against in housing, public assistance and education (Guardian). So what does he do simply to get by? Chances are pretty good he goes back to crime. That’s why the recidivism rate in 2004 was about 67% (Bureau of Justice). In countries that take rehabilitation seriously, like Sweden or Canada, it’s about 35% (Released & Restored).

Some would say that we send people to prison to be punished. But we don’t. The prison is the punishment. With the exception of lifers, we send people to prison in the hopes that prison will, in some rough and ready fashion, turn them into honest people. The lifers, we’re just warehousing them until they die (or, in some cases, executing them) but for the rest, we have to acknowledge that they will eventually be released and, if we want them to become productive members of society, we have to equip them to be productive members of society. That means educating them. It means drug rehab facilities, preferably at the end of their prison stay (works better that way). It means making an effort to ensure that ex-cons can find work. Look, I’m not saying that we can just open the gates and let all prisoners free. That would be stupid and, more importantly, unjust. But it’s also unjust that people whose only offense was puffing a joint years ago should be rotting in jail twenty years later. It’s unjust to impose a life as a member of the underclass on someone who has paid their debt to society.

And that’s not even touching on the subject of private prisons. This is another incredibly stupid idea brought to you by the worship of private enterprise. The states and the Fed already do prisons about as cheaply as it’s possible to do them so the only way private prisons can do it cheaper is to cut corners. Less guards, less nutritious food, less education. And the corporations that run private prisons are going to behave like any other corporation, they’re going to try to maximize their profits. That means they’re going to lobby for more and longer prison sentences. That means that your government, which is already thoroughly corrupted by campaign contributions and lobbying, have every incentive to create more crimes with longer sentences. That means your prison population will continue to grow. And those prisoners are increasingly being used as a profit centre for big businesses too (Global Research). Workers who work for pennies an hour, can’t unionize, can’t refuse to work or quit, who have very few rights and to whom their employers owe nothing. The corporate dream. The rich against the rest, as always.
 



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Filed in Crime, Greed, Guest Blogger, Money, Taxes January 20th, 2014 by Ebon | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Why the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Matters

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Whether NJ Governor Chris Christie actually ordered the closure of three out of the four outgoing lanes of the busiest bridge in the world is almost besides the point now. I’ll assume you already know the story rather than rehash it here. Last Thursday, Christie held a two hour Mea Culpa where he basically told everyone how betrayed he felt by his staff, all of whom assured him there was nothing to the story of how the 4-day closure of the GW Bridge was supposedly an act of political retribution (against whom? Rachel Maddow seems to have come up with a FAR more plausible target than the mayor of Fort Lee). But here’s the big problem with the governor’s “they lied to me” defense: Christie is a former U.S. Attorney. He earned a reputation as a tenacious prosecutor, a reputation he campaigned on when running for governor in 2009. So how is it that a (supposedly) dogged former U.S. attorney was so easily deceived by his own staff. Christie never asked any follow-up questions? “Who decided we needed a ‘traffic study’ of the George Washington Bridge and why now? Just what did they expect to find?” “Why did they keep it going for FOUR DAYS even after Fort Lee’s Mayor Sokolich contacted them about how emergency vehicles were being delayed?” And most basic of all: “Where is this ‘traffic study’? Can I see it?” Christie’s defense that he had no idea what his own staffers were doing right under his nose hardly lends to his credibility if he plans on running for president in 2016. Not only did he not ask his staffers any follow-up questions, he is PROUD of his disinterest, declaring during his press conference that he “didn’t know and didn’t care why [they] did it.” But trust me, a prosecutor will be asking that question even if former prosecutor Christie does not.

Maybe Christie didn’t know what members of his own staff were doing right out of his own office. I don’t know. But the “political punishment” behavior does fit a pattern, playing right into his reputation as a vindictive “bully”, so if he wasn’t involved, it definitely rubbed off on his staff, who appear to have taken great pleasure in making the lives of Fort Lee commuters miserable for nearly a week.

In June of 2011, NJ gov Chris Christie went on “Caucus NJ”, a local public broadcast radio show (simulcast on TV for the big event) and took questions for nearly an hour. One questioner named “Gail” asked Christie if his willingness to cut funding for public schools might have something to do with the fact that he himself is wealthy enough to send his children to private school and is therefore unaffected by those cuts. Christie, clearly not listening to the woman, viciously attacked her for asking “where” he sends his kids to school, which any parent in his position could reasonably perceive as a threat. But “Gail” never asked Christie “where” he sends his kids to school, only asking if he felt it fair of him to do to her children something that clearly would not affect his own. He continued lambasting her for questioning the extravagance of sending his kids to private school… again, something she never brought up. His supporters cheered Christie’s defense of his children (whom, as I note, were never criticized nor threatened), and to this day I don’t think anyone has ever pointed out to him that he clearly misheard her, attacking her for things she never said, never did answer her very legitimate question, nor did he apologize for attacking someone for his own mistake.

During his two-hour round of damage control last week, the governor denied any involvement in the closure of the bridge, stating that doing something so vindictive for political purposes was not in his nature, actually telling reporters, “I’m not a bully”. The Daily Show had a bit of fun with that one:
 

The “tone” of the Christie administration (1:11)

“I’m not a bully.” If you’re thinking of Richard Nixon right about now, you’re not alone. Not just for his, “I’m not a crook” moment, but also in the way the circle seems to be closing in on Christie as investigations into top staffers bring us ever closer to the man himself. But the fact is, Nixon was a crook. And Christie also has his share of “shady” backroom deals: “deferred prosecution agreements” with major corporations made while he was still a prosecutor that dogged him while running for office. And last month, Firedog Lake reported on Christie’s stint as a Washington lobbyist, forging connections with some very deep pockets that became major contributors to his gubernatorial campaign a decade later.

The George Washington Bridge Scandal matters because it shines a white hot spotlight on Christie’s two biggest traits: 1) that he’s a bipartisan Republican that knows how to work with political opponents, and 2) that he’s a “schoolyard bully” that likes to (forgive the pun) throw his weight around. Republicans hated #1 and loved him for #2. Democrats, just the reverse. How will this play out in the days/weeks/months to come? Stay tuned.
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, General, Politics, Scandals January 13th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 5 comments | Add/View

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A Liberal Look: Snowden No Hero

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 6, 2014

In 1992, the short-lived ABC investigative news program “Primetime Live”, following up on reports by former employees, revealed that national grocery chain “Food Lion” was engaging in “cost cutting measures” that included cleaning old food that had already been tossed in the dumpster (eg: cutting off the discolored spots on broccoli), washing expired meat with bleach and then repackaging it as fresh, and changing the expiration date on meat that had already been on the shelves past their original expiration date. The grocery chain sued ABC News… not for false reporting (though they claimed such) or defamation, but the fact that reporters “lied on their job applications” to gain access behind the scenes. And in 1997, a jury ruled that two of ABC’s journalists had gone “too far”, ruling in favor of “Food Lion”. I remember how incredulous many of us were to learn that jury deliberations took so long (5 days) because one juror, an elderly woman, stubbornly argued that “Food Lion” had done “nothing wrong” and believed the $5.5 million dollar judgement against ABC News wasn’t harsh enough. There was outrage among many in the public… myself included… that ABC should have to pay anything while the grocery chain got off scot-free. They had done us all a great service by exposing “Food Lion’s” practices, and deserved our praise, not slapped with a huge fine that might discourage similar investigations in the future. With that in mind, I now find myself on the opposite side of many of my fellow Liberals because I don’t consider NSA Leaker Edward Snowden to be “a hero” nor a “Whistle Blower”. With a twinge of false modesty, Snowden himself declared, “I’m neither a traitor nor a hero. I’m an American.” No Mr. Snowden, you’re another Wannabee-cop not unlike George Zimmerman. And now there’s a movement to grant Mr. Snowden “clemency” that would allow him to return to the U.S. if he promises to turn over all the data he took and not leak any further information. And I find myself asking, “How is it I can defend ABC for exposing Food Lion’s criminal practices 21 years ago, but not support Edward Snowden today?” Does that make me a hypocrite? It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for weeks now because my #1 Pet Peeve in this world are hypocrites, and the last thing I want to be accused of is being a hypocrite (synonymous with “Republican” in my book.)

Clemency for Snowden?

That’s the big question. Why promise Snowden that you won’t prosecute him (“clemency” and “pardon” mean the same thing, requiring an admission of guilt, unlike “amnesty” which is protection from prosecution) in exchange for his cooperation? I’m reminded… fairly or unfairly… of promising a kidnapper or thief that you won’t prosecute them so long as they return your belongings safe & sound. Does Snowden deserve to be compared to a kidnapper? Well, he IS threatening further harm to his “hostage” (National Security) if we don’t meet his demands. So there’s that.

One of my favorite movies ever is 2005′s “V for Vendetta” about a man, once tortured by a brutal fascist regime that had taken over the government by staging a fake terrorist attack, who exacts revenge by murdering each of the government officials that brutalized him, murdered hundreds of thousands, and assisted their takeover of England. He is branded a “terrorist” by the government, and then executes a terrorist attack to bring down the brutal and criminal dictatorship that was repressing its citizenry. The movie has become an “anti-hero anthem” among critics of the government, often donning “Guy Fawkes” masks identical to the one worn in the movie, to hide their identity (though the movie character did so partly because he had been disfigured in a fire, not because he was seeking anonymity). Again, I find myself asking, “How is what Snowden doing any different?” (Listen to the linked clip above in the context of Snowden and it does seem to make a convincing case.)

First off, let’s get a few facts straight. Snowden sought out jobs that would give him access to Top Secret information with the intent of revealing it. He wasn’t an investigative reporter sent on assignment by his Editor. He’s not “Woodward & Bernstein”, he’s James O’Keefe. He decided he wanted to play rent-a-cop to expose the extent of NSA wiretapping that was already in the news. He’s not “V”, he’s George Zimmerman. He hadn’t been personally victimized as far as he knew or suffered any detriment by the government misdeeds (not crimes) that he suspected them of doing. He didn’t act on any specific information. He’s not Daniel Ellsberg, he’s Edward Snowden. Neither Hero nor Traitor, but definitely not a “Whistle Blower”. He sought out a job with the intent to “expose something” but knew not what. He took FAR more Top Secret info than he could possibly have read (over 20,000 documents by some estimates), has threatened to trade on that information for personal gain (seeking asylum), and is now deciding for himself what we do or do not deserve to know.

Even if you disagree with our government’s wholesale warrantless domestic spying program (that began under Bush’s “Patriot Act” and has only grown under Obama), we’re not a brutal fascist dictatorship that rules by fear. That’s the GOP:

Convention of Fear

The 2004 Republican National Convention

Snowden isn’t “exacting revenge” upon the people who “harmed him” personally. And, unlike “V”, in the end (spoiler alert), “V” was willing to die for what he believed in.

Snowden has been described by some on the Right as a “Liberal Hero”. That bugs the crap out of me. Because this is one Liberal that does not consider him a “hero”. And judging by the replies to radio-host Randi Rhodes’ question whether Snowden is a “hero or a traitor?”, many of my fellow Lefties feel the same way.

Before Edward Snowden, there was Private Bradley (turned Chelsey) Manning who leaked to the public the largest collection of Top Secret Intelligence documents in history. Manning didn’t go looking for material to steal. He actually SAW evidence of crimes while on the job that he knew needed to be exposed (most notably the “Baghdad airstrike” video), released the information, accepted responsibility and then stood trial. Snowden’s case is the exact opposite in every instance.

On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul cited former Director of National Intelligence “James Clapper” who lied to Congress last March when he testified that the government does not collect “any type of data on hundreds of millions of Americans.” Turns out that was a total lie, and it is only because of Snowden’s leaks that we now know this not to be true. Unsurprisingly, Paul says he does not defend Snowden’s actions and believes he needs to stand trial. This is another of those rare times where Paul & I agree. Snowden’s revelations HAVE exposed some great misdeeds by our government. I shall not deny that. But do the ends justify the means? The 1st Amendment doesn’t protect “Whistle Blowers” from prosecution and being held responsible for their actions. I think that was the lesson we all tried to explain to “Duck Dynasty” fans two weeks ago defending cast member Phil Robertson who was (as it turned out, temporarily) fired after being caught on a viral video going on a jaw-dropping homophobic rant that offended hundreds of thousands (if not millions). Fans of the show protested that Robertson’s “Right to Free Speech” had been “violated” by the network, and it took Liberals like myself to point out that “free speech” is not “freedom from consequences”. Even Fox “news” Sunday shocked me when the entire panel took the side of “A&E” over defenders of Mr. Robertson (a leading Fox demographic), pointing out that “the government” isn’t suppressing Robertson’s ability to speak, he can still go out and say whatever he wants, just not on his employers TV show (at least not then, but in an amazing show of spinelessness, A&E rehired Robertson following a torrent of redneck outrage.)

So does the fact that some good has come from Snowden’s revelations negate the way in which he came by that information? As in the “Food Lion” case I spoke of earlier, exposing Food Lion didn’t aid those who wish to harm us. Unlike Snowden’s revelations, lives were not put at risk by ABC’s revelations. ABC’s reporters weren’t vigilantes operating on their own seeking personal glory, and when the s#it hit the fan, they accepted responsibility as their network went to trial. So, No, I don’t consider myself a hypocrite for defending REAL “whistle blowers” like ABC News or Private Manning while condemning the actions of Edward Snowden. I hope you agree.
 

Snowden trading on secrets

Note: I added a new video to our “FREE MOVIES” section: “Freedom Fries: And Other Stupidity We’ll Have to Explain to Our Grandchildren”; a look at the linking of “Patriotism” to “Consumerism”. Enjoy!

 


 


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Filed in Crime, Rants, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional January 6th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Strike Nine. No lawyer will take Mom’s case because of Texas tort law. Help.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 28, 2013

Over the past few months, I’ve kept you apprised of the situation regarding my mother, first ending up in a Houston hospital after receiving chemo over my objections, reporting on how Obamacare has already helped her, and my update this past week on how the Shutdown created still more problems for her. Well, as the saying goes, “it gets worse”. My mother was unquestionably catastrophically harmed by a series of medical mistakes from incompetent doctors, and getting her the care she needs will be incredibly expensive (no, this is NOT a plea for money). Mom’s sole source of income is Social Security and a tiny pension (remember those?) of about $80/month. I’m as poor as a church-mouse myself, so who’s left to pay for the extraordinary care she really needs? Well, apparently, no one. My attempts to find a lawyer fell flat. NINE lawfirms have now all refused to take her case deeming it “too complicated with too little payoff”, all citing Texas’ draconian 2003 “Tort Reform” law pushed through by Governor Rick Perry, the GOP, and their overlords from the insurance industry.

A brief recap of what happened to Mom: Last April, my nearly 76 year old mother was told that she needed full-body chemo to treat a lump in her cheek. I told her doctor, “No! Absolutely not!”, but the doctor convinced my health-obsessed mother that if she didn’t have the chemo she’d die. As expected, the chemo made her seriously ill after developing a chest cold, and rather than stop the chemo, her Oncologist simply prescribed antibiotics and pressed on. Mom ended up in the hospital where additional mistakes resulted in a collapsed lung. A week later when she told her nurse she was constipated and hadn’t had a bowel movement in five days (how do the nurses not know?), they got her out of bed for only the third time in two weeks to use a commode-chair despite a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side. She immediately went into respiratory distress & cardiac arrest that resulted in severe brain damage, leaving her in her in a vegetative state. The doctors then attempted to cover up their mistake by repeatedly lying to us about how she was revived in “under two minutes” and couldn’t account for her condition. We later learned from reviewing her medical records that she actually flatlined for nearly twenty minutes before she was revived.

So that happened.

My mother is now in serious need of diagnostic tests and intensive therapy if she is to ever regain even a modicum of recovery. With every passing day, we see the light flicker out of Mom’s eyes. Once slightly responsive, looking at faces with her eyes and turning her head slowly with interest, those actions are becoming more & more rare after only four months. Time is definitely not on our side. But tests and therapy are expensive and my mother is on Medicare and Social Security (without which, she would be destitute). I’ve contacted NINE Medical Malpractice attorneys here in Texas (including a few ambulance chasers that advertise on TV), but no one will take her case, ALL citing our ridiculous “Tort Reform” law here in Texas.

In 2002, Governor Rick Perry (America only had to endure President Bush for eight years, but in Texas, we had Bush and his Lt. Gov Perry going back to 1996 followed by “Governor Oops” taking over in 2000 where he has remained, long past Bush leaving office, until he retires at the end of next year… 18 years total) pushed for “Medical Malpractice Tort Reform” that he (with the aid of massive funding from the Insurance lobby) claimed would “control soaring health care costs”. It didn’t. All it did do was limit judgements to a mere $250,000… including lawyer-fees… to cover a lifetime of care (whether the victim be 1 or 100.) Unless your case is incredibly simple or you can join in a class-action lawsuit, there’s just too little payoff for a lawfirm to pursue a complex case like my mother’s. Translation: The bastards that ruined my mother’s life will never be held accountable, and are still out there treating unwitting patients.

I’ve contacted one local TV station (I may try others now) and several national TV shows seeking help. None have responded to my emails. Over the weekend, I contacted my local Democratic State Senator and Democratic US Representative (everyone else is a Republican and a likely waste of time, but I’m probably going to try contacting them as well now), but I don’t know what any of them can do short of reversing a ten year old state law in a matter of weeks.

I know some people turn to Facebook, starting Action pages seeking help on an individual level. But I just don’t see something like that going viral based on my one lonely voice. So I come to you dear reader, looking for advice/support/assistance on how to get out the word on how The System has failed my mother and is desperate for your help. This wasn’t a “crack” that Mom slipped through, this is a gaping chasm crowbarred open beneath her feet by Rick Perry, The GOP, and clueless voters that voted this nonsense into law without considering the consequences, all on the false-promise of saving a few bucks on their insurance.

(Please share this story on your Facebook page or Tweet it to your friends. The more people that hear about her story, the better the chances are of finding help. Thanks. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Healthcare, Money, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity October 28th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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Ted Cruz, The Debt Ceiling, Guns and Mental Health

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, September 23, 2013

(Note: Theme has been changed temporarily upon finding a bug in the theme we normally use. My apologies for any inconvenience. – Mugsy)
 

“There’s something WRONG with these people.” I’ve said it. I know YOU’VE said it. Our country is being held hostage by people with a tenuous grip on reality. Paranoid delusionals that believe government conspiracies are real. They get their “news” from Conspiracy Nuts like “Glenn Beck”, “Infowars” and “World Nut News Daily”. They believe everything Fox “news” tells them without question because it simply reaffirms what they already know in their heart-of-hearts to be true, and with that “confirmation”, they reject all other evidence to the contrary. It’s a world where… when a ruthless Middle-Eastern dictator gasses hundreds of his own citizens… they see an Obama-orchestrated conspiracy designed to distract Congress from investigating “Benghazi”. It’s a world in which… when Tea Party darling and “Joe McCarthy-wannabee” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is publicly ridiculed for repeating his insane beliefs in public… they decide he MUST be a secret Liberal infiltrator out to discredit the movement from within (despite the fact that what he says is EXACTLY what they too believe… never making the connection that that means the public has declared their own views to be “nuts”.) You know, because that’s what evil Liberals do: they run as Republicans (and win because Republicans are apparently incredibly easy to fool), vote with Republicans on every issue, and then go out and push for something The Tea Party WANTS, knowing it will draw ridicule, discrediting the movement. This is not the thinking of a sane group of people.

The Federal Government runs out of money one week from today on September 30th. If Congress does not agree to raise the Debt ceiling… something they did FIVE TIMES under President Bush (four of them under GOP control of BOTH houses of Congress)… and shuts down the U.S. government, it will do something it has NEVER done in its 237 year history: default on its debts… the result of which would be catastrophic for the U.S. economy.

Sen. Cruz is leading the charge in the threat to shutdown the government if “ObamaCare” is not repealed on the grounds that “ObamaCare will be devastating to American businesses… unlike defaulting on our National Debt. Shorter Ted Cruz: “I’ll destroy the economy if we don’t stop ObamaCare from destroying the economy!” Makes perfect sense (in Wingnutistan.)

Sorry to tell you folks, but Cruz isn’t pretending. The Tea Party really is that nuts. Check the Comments beneath any news story of Cruz’s latest insane remark (from claiming there were more declared Communists in Harvard Law School than Republicans, his recent praise for the late racist Senator Jessie Helms… who incidentally would have been no friend to a guy named “Cruz”… or his latest promise to hold the Debt Ceiling hostage if we don’t defund “ObamaCare”) and you’ll find no shortage of Wingnuts supporting him.

So, how do you run a Federal Government when 1/4 of Congress is certifiably insane? I’ve written about “Right-Wing Insanity” so often I had to give it its own Tag. In 2011… the last time we had this fight… Republicans were threatening to default on The Debt if we didn’t cut the Deficit, complaining that the government “spends too much” (the deficit will have been cut in half by the end of this year under Obama). Had we of defaulted on our debt FOR EVEN ONE DAY, we would of had to raise interest rates to convince people to lend us money knowing they might not get paid back. Do you (read: “they”) have any idea what “raising interest rates” would have done to our Debt and our economy? Just the dance up to the precipice prompted the Standard & Poors credit rating agency to downgrade our nations credit rating from “AAA” to “AA+”. And just how much money does stopping the paychecks of nearly 2 million Federal employees suck out of the economy?

And here we are again, with a whole new crop of Tea Bagger Republicans that weren’t in Congress the last time the Teanuts tried this two years ago. If it were just “the full faith & credit of the United States” that these ideologues were endangering, that would be bad enough. But it’s not:

Liberal Democrats see a guy walk into a schoolhouse and murder 20 First Graders and 6 teachers with a semi-automatic assault rifle, and feel the need to pass laws to prevent it from ever happening again.

Tea Party Republicans see a guy walk into a schoolhouse and murder 20 First Graders and 6 teachers with a semi-automatic assault rifle, and see a (“false flag”) government conspiracy orchestrated by President Obama to give him an excuse to confiscate their guns, and once disarmed, round them up and put them in Concentration Camps run by FEMA.

This is not the thinking of sane people. This is the thinking of paranoid delusionals.

On occasion, I’ve also mentioned the insane rantings of Right Wing nuts commenting on my YouTube video archive. This past week, one gadfly, an oldie but a goodie I’ve affectionately dubbed “Gasbag”… a corruption of his username… made a surprise reappearance and started ranting about “Socialized Medicine” following a report by a retired British doctor that once ran the NHS (the UK hospital system) reporting a 45% higher mortality rate among British NHS patients than in US hospitals as proof positive that the American System is superior to “Socialized Medicine”. When I started pointing out serious flaws in the report (like the fact that the NHS treats EVERYONE including the Poor, drug users, etc, where our poor may never go to the hospital due to their inability to pay, or end up in the ER to receive beyond-ordinary care), naturally he became outraged that I couldn’t see what was patently obvious to him, cursing, changing what I actually said (never could understand people who claim that you said something other than what’s clearly typed just a few paragraphs above) and attacking me for refusing to “accept facts”. Naturally, his comments quickly drifted off into rants about “lazy people on Welfare” and this absurd claim from (where else?) Fox “news” that a whopping EIGHTY PERCENT of our Federal Budget is spent on Welfare (for the record, it’s actually about 10%)… which would be 50% more than the annual cost of the Iraq War. Pointing our just how ridiculous a figure that number was, was pointless. Fox said it, and “the numbers come from the GAO”, ergo it’s indisputably true. Well, no. In fact (not surprisingly), Fox included “Entitlements” like “Social Security”, “Medicare” and “Unemployment Benefits” as “Welfare”.

I eventually received the inevitable post ending with a dismissive “Goodbye!”… which as you may have guessed… wasn’t actually his last post. He’s still at it, now desperate to convince me that “Social Security” is Welfare because some people draw out more than they put in (demonstrating not only that he doesn’t understand how Social Security funding works, but by that standard, ALL insurance programs could be labeled “welfare”.)

This is not the thinking of sane people.

For some inexplicable reason, another mental deficient, a white supremacist with delusions of grandeur (supposedly running for state office in Louisiana) seized upon a recent post of mine as the appropriate place to start ranting about “gun violence among ‘coons’ in Chicago.” I have no doubt he believes his eventual electoral victory is certain.

This is not the thinking of sane people.

We saw yet another mass shooting last week in which a man with a documented history of mental illness was able to purchase a shotgun the week before and murder 12 people in the museum-section of the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington DC. And just as they did following the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 school children, NBC’s “Meet the Press” invited NRA president Wayne LaPierre to advocate for MORE guns. When it was pointed out to him that two “good guys with guns”… the station guards… were “gunned down and killed” by the armed intruder, LaPierre defended his claim by pointing out that it was “good guys with guns” that (30 minutes later) took down the insane gunman (AFTER he had murdered 12 people in cold blood.) He argued that stricter gun laws preventing those who have been ADJUDICATED mentally-ill from obtaining firearms are necessary (yet would not have prevented this particular mass-murder… nor the Aurora or Sandy Hook mass murders). Problem is, the gun-nuts I’ve spoken to actually believe that perfectly sane people might be labeled “insane” by a government appointed psychiatrist or activist judge for no more reason than the fact they love guns… all as part of a secret plot to disarm them, and would therefore never support a law such as the one LaPierre just proposed.

This is not the thinking of sane people.

Fortunately for us, the recent rash of mass shootings by mentally ill gunmen is likely to prompt new gun laws targeting the mentally ill.

The GOP has been trying desperately for years to kill “ObamaCare”… which includes provisions for Mental Health Care. Coincidence? Crazy people don’t want Mental Health Care any more than bacteria want antibiotics (sorry, I wracked my brain for a better metaphor to no avail. I am not calling Republicans “bacteria”.) Almost as if to make the point crystal-clear, the arguments against “ObamaCare” read like a crazy-ass hit parade: paranoia over “Death Panels” where “government bureaucrats make health care decisions” instead of your insurance agent doctor, and transforming our multi-trillion dollar private health care industry into evil “socialized medicine” overnight, with “long lines” similar to “the post office” or “The DMV” as you wait for hours to see a “civil servant” doctor.

This is not the thinking of sane people.

- Mugsy
 


Postscript: According to the National Weather Service, Tropical Storm Humberto reached hurricane status on September 10th, just shy of setting the record for the longest it has ever taken to reach the first full-fledged hurricane of the season. I bring this up because FOUR YEARS AGO I told you that Global Warming would mean FEWER hurricanes, not “more”. It’s worth re-reading.

Note: If you haven’t already, be sure to join our Facebook & Twitter feeds for the latest commentary on current events.

 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, Guns & Violence, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity September 23rd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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Florida Codifies that Your Stalker Can Legally Murder You If Threatened

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 15, 2013

Last Saturday night, the Florida jury in the George Zimmerman murder trial declared that if you defend yourself against an armed stalker to the point where your stalker fears bodily injury, he can kill you “in self defense”. It doesn’t even matter if that fear is justified or not. All they have to do is claim they feared for their life, and anything they do after that is justified. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more asinine ruling in my life. Think about it. If Trayvon Martin had been an attractive white girl that was being followed by a man with a gun, and she took it upon herself to kick his ass, at which point he shoots & kills her in the name of “self defense”, is there any question Zimmerman would be sitting in a concrete room with striped sunlight right about now? What is even more troublesome is that the Florida ruling has just provided criminals with an added incentive to kill their victims to ensure that only one side of the story (theirs) is ever heard. The most mind-boggling thing in all this is just how many people see this completely differently; that Zimmerman’s claim of “self defense” was justified and that he never should of even been arrested in the first place.

Living in a deep read state like Texas, I’ve had my share of encounters with Zimmerman Defenders. One thing I’ve noticed among ALL of them (without exception) is that, to them, the Zimmerman Case has nothing to do with Zimmerman or the crime itself, it’s all about the Second Amendment and their own right to shoot and kill anyone they feel threatened by… which is a dangerous thing when you consider that they’re all paranoid gun-nuts that think blacks, immigrants, alQaeda and Uncle Sam (in no particular order) are all out to get them. It should come as no surprise that the SAME people defending Zimmerman’s right to shoot & kill an unarmed young black kid that he took upon himself to pursue, are the SAME people that believe THEY could of taken out the Colorado movie theater shooter if only THEY had been there with their gun (in a fire fight with a man dressed in full body armor, firing a semi automatic rifle in a darkened theater filled with teargas and people running around fleeing for their lives.) To say these people don’t live in the Reality-Based Community is an understatement.

In order to conclude Zimmerman “did nothing wrong”, you must totally disregard how the two men came in contact with one another in the first place (another shocker from the same people that think the Second Amendment begins with “dot dot dot”). Because if Zimmerman had not been looking out his window that night (or had just stayed home and not taken it upon himself to pursue Martin), Trayvon simply would have walked home uneventfully with his purchases from the convenience store and lived to see another day. Zimmerman put himself “in harms way” by following someone he had profiled as “up to no good”. So concerned was he that the person he was pursuing might be dangerous that he brought along a loaded weapon. Upon confronting Martin, he didn’t identify himself as from “the neighborhood watch”. Likewise, Trayvon was living in that neighborhood, so in fact, Zimmerman’s job was to protect Trayvon. He didn’t ask him, “Where are you going?” or “Let me walk you home so you’ll be safe out here at night”… something I’d betcha $1000 he would have done if Trayvon has been an attractive white girl. No, George only saw a “suspicious” black male supposedly “looking in windows” (the defense never produced a single witness to substantiate that claim) that he was determined to “detain” until the cops arrived.

“They always get away.”

One of my first thoughts upon learning of the verdict yesterday was the Rodney King Trial and how the assault of King was actually caught ON TAPE and yet the jury STILL acquitted the people that assaulted him. There too, the prosecution played the “dangerous black man” card, suggesting the FIVE armed police officers surrounding King (only four were tried IIRC) were justified in feeling threatened by the severely injured, unarmed black man they had just beaten to a bloody pulp. No one ever claimed King, with a lengthy arrest record, was a choir boy, but there was NO justification for beating the crap out of him rather than simply handcuffing King and throwing him in the back of a squad car.

The Defense’s case looked like it had been ripped from the pages of a “lynching” trial in the 1930′s, showing carefully selected B&W photos of a frightening looking black man to the all female, mostly white, jury, suggesting that the victim was someone white women needed protecting from and the world is now a safer place without Trayvon in it.

I learned yesterday that I hate ABC’s “Dan Abrams”, who was brought on to both “ThisWeek” and the World News Tonight as an “expert”, declaring that “the only thing that mattered was whether or not Zimmerman reasonably feared for his life as the moment he pulled the trigger”. Bullshit. PURSUERS CAN NOT CLAIM SELF DEFENSE. Period. End of story. As I noted two weeks ago, the two men should never have come in contact with one another in the first place. Zimmerman had NO justification for leaving the safety of his home that night to pursue Martin. He’s not a cop and it wasn’t his job to “detain” people he deemed suspicious. Hell, the “neighborhood watch” didn’t even permit watchers to carry firearms. This was a wannabee cop that called 911 so many times (sometimes 2-3 times a night) that he was on a first name basis with the operator (note the number of times Zimmerman called to report a “suspicious black male”). His job was to report “suspicious” activity to the police and let them handle it, NOT take matters into his own hands and try to detain a suspect at gunpoint.

“They always get away.”

So ANY discussion of what happened after he left the safety of his home is irrelevant. At that point, he had knowingly placed himself (and Trayvon) in harms way.

The act of pursuing makes you the instigator. The Florida verdict sets a very bad precedent. It declares that ANYONE… including Stalkers, Rapists, thugs of any kind… can now pursue someone, and should that person try to defend themselves, their attacker can kill them and claim they “feared for their life”. I nearly said, “as long as they don’t attack first…”, but that doesn’t matter either, because now the Stalker has an incentive to kill their victim to ensure they can’t challenge their side of the story in a court of law. “I didn’t touch her! She just walked up and attacked ME for no reason! And fearing for my life, I shot & killed her. Those cuts & bruises on her are from when SHE attacked ME, not because I attacked her.” Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? Yet that is EXACTLY the defense George Zimmerman used to justify killing Trayvon Martin.

I find it interesting that the all-female six-member jury is in hiding tonight and have refused to speak to the Press. Do you think maybe they’re afraid some nut with a gun might walk up to them in the middle of the night and shoot them? I can’t imagine why.
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Guns & Violence, Racism, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity July 15th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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BREAKING NEWS: Zimmerman found Not Guilty. Nation Mourns.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Sunday, July 14, 2013

“Insane” is the only word that comes to mind. Last night the 6-member jury in the George Zimmerman trial, all women, one black (correction: Hispanic), three five of them mothers themselves, actually decided that George Zimmerman, a man with a gun, could legally stalk an unarmed kid, pursue that kid even after being told not to, instigate a confrontation, shoot and kill the person he was stalking, and then be found Not Guilty.

Only in America. Add your comments below. More details later.
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Guns & Violence, Racism, Right-Wing Insanity July 14th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 17 comments | Add/View

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A Market Plunge/Rally, Trayvon, DOMA, Voting Rights and Paula Deen. The Heat is On.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 1, 2013

So much has happened these past couple of weeks, I could have spent hours discussing each one: We saw a series of triple-digit plunges in the DOW in just a few days caused by what? GOOD news on the economy. (WTF?) The “Zimmerman Trial” finally got underway… with a Knock-Knock Joke. The Supreme Court declared Same-Sex Marriage legal in states where it is already legal, but left the door open for state-bans where it isn’t… essentially GUARANTEEING an inevitable return to the Supreme Court when a married couple from one state moves to a state where their marriage is not recognized. And while the Supreme Court was extending marriage rights to gay couples, it was taking Voting Rights away from millions of minorities, essentially declaring that racism in the South was dead the same week people excused famed Southern TV Chef Paula Deen for using “The N-Word” because… “she’s from The South and that’s just how they are.” (I wish I could say I was surprised Justice Thomas would vote against the Voting Rights Act, but he’s always been an OREO… and yes, that is meant to be as offensive as it sounds.) And to cap it all off, the nation closed out the first week of Summer with a record-breaking heatwave, with my hometown of Houston hitting a stifling 107′ at 5:00 in the freaking evening (most years the temperature here peaks around 101′ the first week of August.)

Let’s take them one at a time:

First, the Stock Market: I used to write about The DJIA (“DOW Jones Industrial Average”) frequently  during  the  Bush  Presidency. Plunges of 250 points or more became commonplace, culminating with a total collapse of Wall Street and the financial industry Bush’s final year in office. There were no extraordinary one-day gains to balance out the declines, and just about every plunge could be tied to a stupid decision made by The GOP and/or The Bush Administration (the skyrocketing price of oil as a result of invading Iraq; deregulating the financial ratings industry that led to Trillions in bad investments being labeled: “AAA”; and cutting deregulated mortgage interest rates to zero resulting in a wildly over-valued market bubble balanced on the point of a pin).

But during the Obama Administration, I’ve written very little regarding the Stock Market. Primarily, because fluctuations in the DOW of less than 200 points have very little to do with the health of the general economy, and because every series of declines over the past four years have been brief, followed soon after by upswings that more than made up for the losses.

The DOW, at its lowest point following the Bush Presidency and the Financial Collapse, barely a month after Obama took office, bottomed out at 6,443.27 on March 6, 2009. Last month, the DOW closed at a record high of just over 15,400… that’s an increase of almost 240 percent in just four years. If President Obama is a “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.

So what caused last week’s momentary 800-point drop in the DJIA over 3 days a few weeks ago? Believe it or not, “good” news from the Federal Reserve that the economy is recovering so well that it may be able to halt “quantitative easing” (IE: “Stimulus”)… pumping $85 Billion dollars a month into the economy. On that news, the price of Gold and Treasury Bonds plunged because Gold & Bonds are where you put your money when the economy is bad. Fears that the Fed would stop pumping money into the economy brought about fears that they might also raise interest rates to keep the economy from growing too fast. But quickly, cooler heads prevailed as news of a healthy economy might actually be a good thing, and the DOW is already back up near the 15K mark.

Oh, and the S&P 500 saw its best six months since the heights of the Clinton Bull Rally in 1998.

Next is the “Zimmerman” trial over the murder of Travon Martin. As you already know, Zimmerman’s lawyer opened with a Knock-Knock joke, but that’s probably not the most damaging thing he did to his clients’ case last week. He is NOT using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his client’s defense, and with good reason. As Zimmerman’s lawyer himself pointed out, “Travon Martin was not unarmed that night”, pointing out that Martin “didn’t have a gun or a knife that night”; his weapon was “the concrete sidewalk”. So basically, he just admitted Trayvon was “standing his ground using the sidewalk as his only weapon”. Had he of used a gun, he might have shot & killed his stalker… who was armed with a gun himself and confronted Martin with it in the middle of the night… at which point Martin would have been arrested and thrown in jail for murdering Zimmerman. Trial not included.

The moment Zimmerman… who is not a police officer… left his mother’s basement with a gun to play “rent-a-cop” in the middle of the night the moment he saw a black kid walk past his window, he himself was responsible for anything that happened. And we know WHY he left his home to pursue Martin: Because “they always get away”, he is heard saying on the 911 tape after the operator asked him if he was following Martin and told him “We don’t need you to do that.” But a young black guy… for whom there was NO reason to suspect had done anything other than walk through the neighborhood at night… was “about to get away”. After doing what? There were no alarms going off. No one shouting, “I’ve just been robbed!” I find it hard to believe even Zimmerman could mistake a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles for handfuls of stolen property. So why exactly was Zimmerman following him? Why did he think it necessary to “call the police” and detain Martin himself until they arrived?

Think about it? Why was Zimmerman following Martin?

Zimmerman… armed with a gun and was stalking Martin in the dead of night, then confronted Martin. Probably even pulled his gun on him and ordered him to stop. At some point, they came in close enough contact to grab one another and fight. Unarmed, Martin used the only weapon within reach: the concrete… as Zimmerman’s own lawyer pointed out. Now in a struggle he himself provoked without regard for the consequences (what if Martin HAD been an armed robber? Was it wise for Zimmerman to put himself in harms way?), he pulled out his gun and killed the man he himslf provoked a confrontation with.

The fact that anyone in this insane country even thinks Zimmerman has a leg to stand on here, justifying the need for a trial, highlights just how screwed up our gun-crazy culture has become in this country.

Next, we saw the Supreme Court rule of Marriage Equality. While the High Court’s narrow 5/4 ruling is seen as a victory for the Gay Rights movement, the ruling basically threw the decision back to the states.

Now here is where it gets clear as mud: The Supreme Court basically ruled that a state law establishing Marriage Equality is just as valid as a state law BANNING Marriage Equality. So basically, the highest court in the land that rules on the National efficacy of a law, has declared that something can be both legal AND illegal at the same time depending upon where you live. Why do I get the feeling this isn’t over?

The Supreme Court also decided to strike down key parts of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act”, calling it “outdated” because “times have changed”. No word on their updated ruling on The Second Amendment.

And finally, a record heatwave was parked over most of the Southern United States last week, tying & breaking records across the U.S.. But don’t worry, Global Warming is still a hoax and we’ll be seeing snow in July any minute now.

Any minute now.

I said, “any minute now.”

Hello? Snow? Where are you? Hey, I’d settle for a cool breeze right about now.

(Oh, and an update on Mom. If you read last weeks post, things are not going well and my mother had had a bit of a setback, unconscious in the ICU, I’ve been visiting her hospital bed every day now and hoping for things to improve. As such, I haven’t been as on top of the news as much as I might otherwise have been, and posting may become a bit erratic in the common weeks. Hopefully, Mom’s recovery will be swift and full. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, Global Warming, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Politics, Racism, Rants, Unconstitutional July 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

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Revealing Surveillance Methods Just Result In More Complex Surveillance

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 10, 2013

Back in the 1980′s/90′s, the National Security Agency (NSA) was so top secret, the joke around Washington was that “NSA” stood for “No Such Agency”, because no one would even confirm its existence. I can remember when saying that you believe such a super-secret agency even exists made you sound like a conspiracy nut. But in January of 2000 (under President Clinton), the existence of the NSA was finally confirmed. Not only was it real, but had been around since 1951 (or 1948 under a different name). The reason for the sudden big reveal? Republican investigations into the anti-terrorism surveillance activities of the Clinton Administration had made its existence all but common knowledge. The endless GOP investigations into the Clinton Administration had found that the NSA had been instructed to monitor all electronic communications for terrorist threats. Cellphones were exceedingly rare, and the Internet was still in its infancy, so the bulk of surveillance was electronic monitoring of phone calls for word combinations like “bomb” & “target”. AlQaeda was already a huge and growing threat with a series of bombings and terrorist attacks across the Middle East (see the Khobar Towers bombing and the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Kenya & Tanzania). Thanks to the GOP’s obsession with bringing down President Clinton, the terrorists now knew that we were monitoring them, driving terrorist activities further underground. There was no longer any point in denying the existence of The National Security Agency, thus the big reveal. And so it continues. Republicans scream about violations of privacy when a Democrat is in the White House even if it jeopardizes public safety, and dismisses the president’s critics when a Republican is in office. The more they reveal, the more they “tip our hand” to the terrorists, forcing the NSA to become more intrusive trying to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. (I won’t be arguing the merits of the surveillance program here, only how it is being made worse by revealing its practices.)

It has been odd this past week listening to Progressives who feel upset & critical of President Obama (expressing everything from dismay to an outright feeling of betrayal), while many Republicans (like Bill Kristol) defend him. But there are also Republicans who… without a hint of shame or irony… are attacking Obama for doing the same thing as President Bush as just “one more example” of him using the government to trample our Civil Liberties (along with the IRS “scandal” and “Fast & Furious”)… unlike the guy who gave us The PATRIOT Act.

I am decidedly torn on the surveillance program. Personally, I was more bothered by the Bush Administration eschewing the FISA Court and Congress for permission than by the surveillance itself:
 

Bush 2004: Wiretapping only with a (FISA) court order.
Bush 2006: FISA was written in 1978
(explaining why they didn’t bother seeking a court order.)

 
Flash forward to yesterday (June 9, 2013):

Former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on Fox “news” Sunday says
Obama has added “incredible oversight mechanisms” to surveillance program:


 
So the idea that what Bush did and President Obama is doing are “the same thing” is horse-pucky. In fact, the more we learn about the surveillance program under Obama, the more the argument against it falls apart. Where the Bush Administration flat out lied about seeking permission to do something clearly illegal, the Obama Administration has gone out of its way to keep the program “above board”.

But can’t such monitoring also be a good thing? In England, “CCTV” (Closed Circuit Television) cameras are everywhere as a crime-fighting tool. The 7/7/2005 London Bombings suspects were captured & convicted thanks to being spotted on surveillance cameras positioned throughout the city. And knowing that the cameras are there has likely proved as a deterrent against future attacks.

Others see such invasive surveillance as a “Big Brother” government invasion of privacy. ThinkProgress stated on Saturday that the tangible harm of these programs is that it “changes your behavior” so that even people who never do anything wrong feel they must act/behave a certain way for fear of reprisal.

Well, I’ve got news for you: You just defined RELIGION… the belief that an omnipotent being with the power to punish you is watching your every move to ensure that you’re being a good little boy or girl.

This also defines Santa Claus.

Americans are perfectly fine with the idea of “being constantly watched” as a means of “protection” and “behavior modification”. So anyone that whines about “Big Brother” on their way to church on Sunday… clearly you have no problem with the concept, so what’s your beef?

Conservative columnist Matt Dowd on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday pointed out that “the same Conservatives supporting NSA snooping as an acceptable violation of their Civil Liberties in exchange for a little safety are the very same people unwilling to accept even the most modest gun control laws. I love when someone points out glaring Conservative hypocrisy.

But I digress.

As the presidents’ (whomever he may be) critics publicly reveal more & more about the types of information that is gathered, the MORE information they’ll have to collect as a result of our enemies now knowing what devices/words we are monitoring. If the president’s critics reveal we are checking Hotmail accounts for word like “bomb” and “embassy” in close proximity (the way I just did meaning this Op/Ed has been flagged as you have been too for reading it), they’ll just start using Yahoo mail instead and substituting words like “comb” or “qwoq” for what they really mean, making it tougher to catch them.

Some argue that there’s an upside to all this: Tell them that we’re monitoring cell phones and they’ll go back to using land lines. Tell them that we’re reading their emails and they’ll switch to snail-mail, greatly slowing down and hindering their efforts.

Problem is, our enemies are tech savvy now too. They’re not going to rely on “Smoke Signals” or “the Pony Express” (as suggested by Mary Matalin on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday) to avoid having their communications intercepted, they’re going to get MORE sophisticated, not “less”. Hell, alQaeda publishes its own online magazine on its own website. Does anyone REALLY believe they’re going to get LESS sophisticated to avoid detection? Of course not. All these “revelations” do are push our enemies into using more complex methods to avoid detection, forcing US in turn to become ever more invasive. By that logic then, all we need to do is simply lie about how powerful we are and our enemies will just give up trying to attack us. (Hey, it worked for Saddam, right?)

We are sweeping up more data now because we’ve revealed the existence of these programs, putting our enemies on alert. We had all the information needed to prevent 9/11 before the attack without the extensive invasion of our privacy that we see today, we just didn’t analyze that data in time to prevent the attack. We didn’t have to collect the MASSIVE amount of data we do today from an infinite number of sources. Now we do because the existence and methods of these agencies have been revealed. These very revelations are driving the ever growing invasions of privacy the critics are screaming about. These leaks aren’t making us safer, and they DEFINITELY aren’t resulting in greater privacy.

Note: M.R.S. will be off next week for Father’s Day but will return to our regular schedule on June 24th.
 



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Filed in Crime, fake scandals, Politics, Terrorism, Unconstitutional June 10th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View