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Plunge in Oil Prices Foretells Looming Economic Disaster. Aribrary pricing can go up easier than it came down.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 8, 2014

During the 2000 presidential campaign, after oil climbed a whopping 72cents in one day (yes, that’s sarcasm) to $33.05/barrel, causing gasoline prices to hit an “unthinkable” $1.68/gallon nationally, Interstate “long-haul” truckers across the country threatened to go on strike saying that the soaring price of fuel was putting them out of business. Naturally, the leading candidates, Bush & Gore, were both forced to respond. On June 22nd of that year, George W Bush openly criticized the Clinton Administration for rising gas prices, saying (famously) that if HE were president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” to bring down gas [sic] prices. Over the prior two decades, the price of gasoline had not fluctuated by more than a few cents a year until the “dime a gallon” spikes we saw in early 2000. But that stability vanished following G.W.Bush’s ascent to the presidency:

DoE graph of weekly oil prices from 1991 to Present (link)
Weekly gas prices 1991 to present

The range circled in yellow is the relatively flat/stable gasoline prices we had become accustomed to for decades, with a slight dip following 9/11. Gas prices rarely rose more than a couple of pennies per gallon in a month let alone a single day. After becoming president, the price of gasoline under George W Bush remained in the “strike zone”… and by that, I mean quite literally the “over $1.50/gal” price point at which truckers had threatened to strike… for the next three years. The day AFTER 9/11… and for the next two years… oil was still (roughly) only $29/barrel. It took the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and tossing the Middle East into chaos to drive the price of oil into the stratosphere (I’ll let you decide if that was the goal all along.)

The range circled in red is the dramatic plunge in gasoline prices after peaking at just over $4.10/gallon in July of 2008 (reportedly, one journalist asked President Bush at the time what he thought about the price of gas breaking $4/gallon, to which a startled president Bush… who last saw gas prices around $1.68/gal during the 2000 campaign… supposedly said in surprise, “How much???”) Breaking the $4.00 barrier was probably the final straw in the looming collapse of the economy, the bankrupting of the banking industry and the implosion of Wall Street, with the price of gas falling to a national average of just $1.89/per gallon in just seven months. The election of President Obama and the promise of getting out of Iraq was seen as likely to bring some stability to the Middle East (don’t laugh), which in turn would reduce the threat to our oil supply, allowing prices to quickly “rebound” back to the “new normal” of over $2.50/gallon in less than a few months (and over $3.50/gal in the year to follow). Again, as you can see from the graph, gas prices began to flatten out (relatively) until this most recent plunge (circled in green.)

I’ve been writing about the skyrocketing price of oil under Bush for many years now, so one might think I’d be thrilled to death to see the price of oil (and gas) plunge back to Earth… and under a Democratic president no less to really rub it in Republican’s faces. Low gas prices are like a shot of nitrous in the economic gas tank. What Republicans think “tax cuts” do for the economy, falling gas prices actually DO (because the benefits hit the Poor & Middle-Class FAR more directly/substantially.) But sadly, this current plunge has only highlighted a big flashing neon-sign at just how arbitrary oil pricing was to begin with, and how likely this rubberband is poised to snap back in our faces. Not to sound like a “Debbie Downer”, but there is a reason oil prices have been falling so precipitously in recent months and the chance they could shoot back up at almost any time is very real (if not likely)… the consequences of which could get very ugly.

The reason oil prices are falling are manifold. First, the United States, under President Obama, has dramatically increased oil production to a 38 year high. The “Drill here! Drill now!” crowd that vilified Obama during the 2008 & 2012 presidential races has an unexpected ally in President Obama. While touting the need to cut our dependence on fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy, President Obama has disappointingly been very supportive of increased drilling across the country (mercifully, he stood up against the “Keystone XL pipeline”, but have you noticed since the vote failed in the Senate, Republicans aren’t exactly banging the drum on how they’ll hold another vote after they take control of Congress?)

Increased U.S. production has triggered a price-war with OPEC… which represents about 1/3 of all the oil produced in the world… increasing their own production to compete with America. So right now, it’s a fight to see “who blinks first”. Two weeks ago, OPEC voted on whether they should CUT production in an attempt to drive prices back up. In the end, they voted “No” because they knew they would lose Billions in sales as more people purchased American oil. OPEC’s response was that they could withstand the price of oil falling to as low as $50/barrel again… a price not seen since right after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But American oil companies are likely to blink first before allowing oil prices to fall that low again, and would cut their own production to drive prices back up. OPEC would happily cut their own production in turn, the price of oil would skyrocket overnight and the U.S. economy could crash.

And American oil companies have ample incentive to drive prices up. First, when you sell a product billions of people literally can’t do without, you can almost charge whatever you want. And if they want $75 oil again, they wouldn’t break a sweat getting it back up there. And if you’re “TransCanada” and have millions of acres of oily sludge just begging to be turned into a pile of cash if only it were cost-effective to do so (presently, oil needs to be over $75/barrel to make converting tarsands sludge into oil profitable), nothing would make them (or their investors) happier than to see the price of oil shoot back up.

Of course, U.S. oil production can’t remain at this pace forever. Eventually (very soon I believe), production is going to start falling off (either from actual shortages or artificial ones), thus prices will start inching back up and the U.S. economy will falter. Desperate to eschew blame, Republicans… having missed the lesson entirely… will cry, “If only Democrats hadn’t blocked the Keystone pipeline in 2014, it would be built by now (actually, most of it is already built) and the price of oil wouldn’t be so high!”

No, the lesson to be learned here is that now more than ever, while oil prices are low and the economy is growing, we need to be investing in Green Energy now more than ever. Think of it as a “rainy day fund”. You don’t put money in the fund when you’re struggling and need it most, you fill it when times are good and need it least. We shouldn’t allow our… nay The World’s economy to be subject to the whims of the Oil Cartels. They’ve already subjected us to ONE global economic disaster. Do we REALLY wanna try for TWO… especially with so much warning?

POSTSCRIPT: I decided not to report on the recent protests regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and whomever is next because the subject is already being covered thoroughly by others. Rush Limbaugh went on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday to blame “high taxes on cigarettes” for the death of Eric Garner (the “logic” being that the only reason there was a market for him to sell lose cigarettes was because of the high taxes on them, and the city’s dependence on that tax revenue is why “so many” cops descended upon him to the point of taking his life.) Yes Rush, blame the government; blame the victim; just don’t blame the guy with his arm around Garner’s neck… which “wasn’t a choke hold” because the cops told him so.

Limbaugh… the man who sang “Barack the Magic Negro” on his radio show to the same Teanut listeners who carried signs of Obama dressed like a witch doctor while protesting “ObamaCare”… complained bitterly that “people thought electing a black president would move the country past racism” (an irony lost on Limbaugh), but instead President Obama is to blame for an even greater racial divide in this country. He went on to lament that “you can’t criticize Obama without being accused of being a racist.” No Rush, before Obama, closet racists like yourself kept their racism in check. Once they were able to openly use racial code to criticize a black politician under the protective guise of simply “criticizing the president”, that’s when you and your ilk were exposed as the racists asshats we always knew you to be.

 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Greed, Money, Predictions, Seems Obvious to Me December 8th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Keystone XL: Not Just a Potential Environmental Disaster But An Economic One Too.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 17, 2014

Did you know about 1/2 of the Keystone XL Pipeline has ALREADY BEEN BUILT? The KXL project is a 1,200 mile long pipeline extending from Hardisty, Alberta to refineries in Houston, Texas near The Houston Ship Channel. The southern legs of the pipeline, one branch from Steele City, KS to the pipeline hub of Cushing, Okla., and the other to two refineries near Springfield, Ill, were constructed between 2011 and earlier this year. in The state of Kansas… which just reelected Governor Sam Brownback despite a record of extraordinary economic malpractice thanks to massive unpaid-for tax cuts strapping the state with a whopping $279 Million dollar budget deficit… gave the Canadian oil company “TransCanada”$15 Million dollar ANNUAL tax cut (ibid first link) to entice them into building the pipeline through their state. That’s like bribing a highway construction crew already knocking on your front door to reroute the freeway through your living room. The tax revenue lost to Brownback’s idiotic tax cut was NOT recovered in tax revenue from new employment. Worse, when that pipeline starts leaking… and it will… the state of Kansas can TRY to get TransCanada to pay for the cleanup, but the imposed fine (if there’s even one at all) won’t cover the actual cost of cleanup or damages. It never does. Who picks up that tab? But “health” and “cleanup” costs are just two of the half-dozen or so economic pitfalls from allowing this pipeline to continue. I already noted the loss of tax revenue in Kansas. Consider that land and the immediate area around it a dead zone for the next 100 years as people decide they don’t want to live near a pipeline (noisy, smelly, dangerous). And the list goes on.

Businesses near the pipeline will soon be forced to relocate as the local population moves away. That translates to fewer jobs and less tax revenue. At the destinations of these pipelines, not only will residents/businesses flee the pipeline itself, but the massive lakes of toxic waste (called: “tailing ponds”) will chase away new residents better than being told their house was the site of a brutal murder/suicide.

Ask anyone from South-East Texas about a place called “Texas City”, and the first thing they’ll mention is how bad it smells. “Texas City” is home to three major oil refineries, only a short hop away from “Port Arthur”… one of Keystone’s three destinations… with its three additional refineries. Trust me, no one lives there unless they have to (employed at the refineries). Not only does the air stink of rotten eggs (sulfur) for miles around, but the air actually burns your eyes and throat after just a few minutes (it is common local knowledge to “roll up your windows” when driving past this section of East Texas.)

I keep hearing supporters of the pipeline say, “It will create jobs!” like it’s a universally accepted statement of fact, and to doubt “that one simple fact” makes you irrational. During last Friday’s episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher”, CNN “Political Contributor” Margret Hoover stated as a fact: “The reality is that the Keystone XL Pipeline will create jobs. Who could be against that?” And MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also repeated the mythical “it will create jobs” claim during “Meet the Press” yesterday. In both cases, NO ONE challenged those assertions. JUST ONCE I’d like to hear someone ask the obvious (bleeping) follow-up: “DOING WHAT?” Seriously. Certainly not in the actual construction of the pipeline itself. As I’ve already pointed out, nearly HALF of the pipeline has already been built. And most of the steel pipe used to construct the pipeline has already been purchased from India. And if you think that Indian steel is stronger than American-made steel with less risk of rupture as 1million barrels a day of liquified dirt SANDBLASTS the walls of that pipe 24/7/365, I have a bird estuary to sell you. No surprise by the lack of pushback on MtP, but one would think that at least on a Left-leaning show like Maher’s, he’d challenge the notion. But he didn’t. Yesterday, ABC’s “ThisWeek” had on the CEO of TransCanda who conceded an AP report that the pipeline would create “just 50 permanent jobs in the U.S.”, but countered that it was still a “job creator” because it would also create “9,000 (low-paying temporary) construction jobs” and “42,000 indirect” jobs (over 2 years)“:
 

CEO of TransCanada, Bill Girling, concedes that the costly pipeline may create only FIFTY permanent jobs in the US and perhaps only 50,000 “temporary” and “indirect” jobs along the construction route over TWO years.

 

Seriously? These are the “jobs, jobs, jobs” Republicans have been promising? We’re risking certain environmental disaster to produce less than half as many jobs as the U.S. economy needs EACH MONTH just to keep up with population growth, over the span of TWO YEARS? Tell me we’re not being ruled by people THAT dumb!

UPDATE: Doing the math, best case scenario of 51,000 temp jobs (9,000 + 42,000) spread out over two years has the same impact as adding just 490 jobs a week for the next two years, or roughly a 0.45% increase in monthly job growth.

While live Facebooking/Tweeting the Sunday News Shows yesterday (click here to follow us on Twitter or here to follow us on Facebook), I found myself in a Twitter “debate” with a “Proud Truther” that thought I wasn’t very bright if I couldn’t figure out all the jobs that could be created from “Construction and maintenance” of the pipeline. Long story short, after I advocated promoting “Green jobs” over the pipeline, he responded with the familiar Republican claim that “government does not create jobs”. This is a common (and painfully stupid) response by Republicans whenever talking about using the government to promote job creation. The “logic” (if you can call it that) goes this way: “If the government creates the job, it costs tax dollars, for a net gain of zero.” And if government were the employer, he might have a point (he’d still be wrong, but at least a defensible argument.)

So I respond back, “Government doesn’t create jobs? That’s demonstrably false. The government creates jobs ALL THE TIME.” May I just point out that this mental midget was arguing with me OVER THE INTERNET… which was a government project and now responsible for hundreds of millions of jobs. Before that, we are STILL reaping the benefits of President Eisenhower’s “Interstate Highway Project” today. And the next time you drive over an eighty year old bridge built under FDR’s WPA (Work Projects Administration), ask yourself how much each of these things has contributed to Commerce in this country?

Remember that “failed” government program that lost millions on “Solyndra“… a GOP punchline for the past six years that Republicans pointed to as an example of “money wasted trying to promote green jobs”? Well, it’s slated to turn a $5 to 6 BILLION dollar profit next year as the majority of companies backed by the program more than out-performed the losses.

Some “reluctant” supporters of constructing the pipeline (and many Republicans, like Sen. John Thune, trying to straddle the fence on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday) like to say, “Construction of the pipeline is inevitable. They are going to sell that oil whether we build the pipeline or not, so we might as well just build it.” Few arguments in favor of the pipeline anger me more than this one. It’s the, “we’re all going to die someday so why not just put a bullet in our brains now?” argument. Former Talk Radio host Ed Schultz made this asinine argument on his radio show last year creating a firestorm. People like myself quickly set him straight and eventually he recanted, but the damage had been done and his show was off the air a few months later.

No. Construction of the pipeline is NOT “inevitable”. Turning tarsand into “oil” is an extremely expensive process, and it is only cost effective with oil between $65-$75/barrel (add this to the mess with ISIS and it’s just one more way the Bush Administration royally screwed this country.) Get the price of oil below $70/barrel and it is no longer cost effective to try to turn that sludge into “oil”. Last week, the price of oil fell below $75/barrel for the first time since 2006. The price of oil the week before the invasion of Iraq? $32/barrel. 

I heard numerous Conservative Commentators yesterday repeat the “common sense” logic that “increasing the supply of oil” (by tapping the Tarsands reserves) will bring down the price of oil. I’ve already detailed in my “Truth About the KXL” report how there isn’t enough oil in the Alberta tarsands (even when added to our our own Bakken shale reserves) to “glut the market”, and that even if there were, OPEC would simply cut production to drive the price back up. So any idea that the tarsands oil will mean lower gas prices is based on nonsense.

For FAR less money… with the side benefits of creating FAR more PERMANENT high-tech green jobs and without the double costs of environmental and economic disaster… we can REDUCE our dependence on oil… the ONLY thing that would actually have an impact on oil prices. I pointed out a couple of years ago that roughly 8% of our electricity is generated by oil-powered turbines. Replace them with windfarms and you DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of oil this country consumes each year (FAR more than “8 percent”), which in turn would bring oil prices down… quickly. OPEC can’t simply drive prices up by cutting production of a product for which there is already less of a demand. They’ll just drive away customers.

There is no economic future in continuing our dependence on fossil fuels. Green jobs pay better and have an actual future, but our government is about to be dominated by people desperate to protect the Blacksmithing Industry from the invention of the Automobile. Senate Democrats are suddenly willing to hold a vote on Keystone because they think helping Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu agree with her opponent on the pipeline will save her job (bang head on wall repeatedly). Have they learned NOTHING from the beating they took just one week ago? Conceding your opponents position doesn’t win you elections. I can think of no better/safer time to kick Landrieu to the curb as a warning to other Democrats. Keeping this notorious DINO in office doesn’t change the balance of power. She’s about to vote with the Republicans (again) in opposition to President Obama (again), so tell me again why I should waste ONE DIME trying to save her seat in Washington? Keystone is a White Elephant for Democrats. Add to that the economic costs of cleanup and the decimation of local economies from “blight flight” (you like that? I just made it up) and Republican “tax cuts” to attract something any sane group would pay to keep away, and you have a project that is SO bad on SO many levels, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone is taking this idea seriously.
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Greed, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Right-Wing Insanity November 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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History Has Shown Us What Happens With Republicans In Charge – and it’s not good

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 3, 2014

Probably THE reason I’ve been writing this blog every week for the last ten years is because of the importance of elections. As the subtitle says, “Recording History for those Who Seek to Rewrite it”. Of course, you wouldn’t need to be reminded of something if you had no power to change it. Not only is it about the elections, but also to remind voters of what happens when they vote while uninformed/misinformed. (Side-Note to anyone that thinks elections don’t matter: Ask the people spending BILLIONS trying to suppress your vote why do they bother if elections don’t matter?) Republicans are notorious for their hypocrisy when their politicians do the very things they claim to oppose (eg: GWB decrying “nation building” during the 2000 RNC Convention, to name but one) to a wholesale rewrite of the Reagan Legacy to turn the former union-leader that raised taxes 12 times, decried Assault Weapons, never attended church and granted amnesty to 10 million undocumented immigrants into “Jesus Meets John Wayne”. I’ve written multiple times of how the founder of “The Party of Lincoln” couldn’t get elected Dog Catcher by today’s GOP. And those are the Republicans we liked. But the past three-decades has produced what has to be the most noxious, partisan, short-sighted Republican Party I’ve ever seen. Republicans have left a long (slimy) trail of hypocrisy and economic disaster in their wake, yet somehow they keep managing to get elected by people with incredibly short memories and no foresight. I’ve likened it to psychotics that believe they “don’t need their meds” WHILE ON their meds (ie: Voting Republican after Democrats clean up their mess), discontinuing them only for disaster to ensue. So let’s take a little stroll down Memory Lane for a look back at the GOP Highlight Reel.

Reagan

During his 1980 Presidential campaign, Reagan criticized the Carter Administration for allowing the National Debt to grow to to a “staggering” $800-Billion dollars. Just days after entering office, in an address to Congress in February of 1981, Reagan’s speech-writers came up with the infamous “stack of dollar bills” analogy to give people a sense of just how much money “one Trillion dollars” really is. The Reagan prescription called for a massive tax-cut intended to (quote) “starve The Beast” [ie: government] in a misguided belief that less money coming in would force Congress to cut spending and reduce the Deficit. Sounds reasonable enough. But what the Reagan Administration didn’t count on was there there isn’t that much “fat” in the Federal Budget. And spending wasn’t exactly curbed when the staunch 1950’s anti-Communist decided that the way to defeat “The Red Menace” was to spend them into oblivion via a costly arms race. Before Reagan was governor of California, the former actor was the Head of “The Screen Actors Guild”… a union to protect the rights of people in the film industry… and volunteered to be an FBI informant in McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch-hunt that led to him testifying against “the Hollywood Ten”… a blacklist that ruined the careers of a number of prominent writers, actors and directors.

What the Reagan Administration did not count on was that sucking that much money out of the economy meant fewer paychecks. Less than two years later, Reagan’s Corporate tax cuts led to 10.8% unemployment, the highest since The Great Depression and a level not seen since. To get the unemployment rate back down, the Reagan Administration went on a hiring binge, greatly expanding the size of the Federal Government… which cost money, further exploding the Debt.

By the time Reagan ran for reelection in 1984… less than four years after lambasting the Carter Administration for allowing the National Debt to grow to $800-Billion dollars… “Reaganomics” had nearly doubled 204 years worth of accumulated Debt to $1.5-Trillion dollars. Because the government was borrowing so heavily to finance the Federal Government, people enjoyed all the benefits of low taxes AND a fully-funded Federal Government without realizing just how much they were putting on the National Credit Card. By the time Reagan left office, the National Debt had more than TRIPLED to $2.7-Trillion dollars. 12-years later, soon after taking office, Dick Cheney declared that “Reagan proved that Deficits don’t matter”. Then the Bush Administration proceeded to turn Clinton’s Surplus into a $1.4-Trillion dollar a year Deficit… which didn’t seem to bother Republicans all that much until Barack Obama inherited it. Then suddenly, The Debt (but not The Deficit which is shrinking) became an apocalypse waiting to happen. But I digress.

If the hypocrisy of Deficit Spending under Reagan weren’t enough, how about being “the most corrupt Administration in history”… a title that took some doing barely a decade after the Nixon Administration. Reagan’s presidency ended with ONE-HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT public officials being indicted or going to Federal prison, the most in American history thanks to things like the “Iran/Contra” scandal (selling arms to Iran to finance the Nicaraguan Contras). And I well remember when… after Congress rejected Reagan’s request to provide rebel Contra forces with money to buy guns, as “Commander-in-Chief”, “St. Ronnie” simply circumvented Congress (sound familiar?) by ordering the U.S. military to storm the beaches of Nicaragua loaded down with as much weaponry as they could carry, dump it all there on the beach, and walk away. The Contras got their guns and Congress was forced to spend the money anyway to rearm our military.

Bush-I

Despite the exploding Debt and record corruption, the country still elected Reagan’s Vice President, George HW Bush, to continue the Reagan presidency. Unfortunately for Republicans, Poppy Bush… who ran against Reagan in 1980 criticizing his economic policies as “Voodoo economics” (the belief that you can increase Federal Revenue by slashing taxes on the rich) was a bit more responsible when it came to Federal spending (not by much mind you, but enough.) Poppy Bush, after assuring cynical Republicans that he wouldn’t raise taxes with his infamous “Read. My. Lips.” pledge, was forced to do so when he saw what Reagan’s tax cuts were doing to the Deficit. So he agreed to a small tax increase in exchange for concessions on drastic spending cuts… inflicting the worst of both worlds on the economy, which thew itself headlong into a Recession.

Bill Clinton’s 1992 Campaign Theme was “It’s the economy, stupid”, ridiculing Poppy Bush for refusing to even mention the subject on the campaign trail. So upset were most Americans with the Bush-I economy, many (myself included) turned to Third-Party candidate Ross Perot. To this day, I wonder what disasters might have befallen the country if Perot had actually won the election… a man that it turned out had no interest in “negotiating” with Congress or anyone else, believing there was a “mandate” for what he believed was right for the country and would ignore anyone that told him otherwise (that’s not a guess. That’s what we learned after one of his campaign managers, Ed Rollins, revealed when he resigned in protest.) I view my support for Perot as a learning lesson for why it is so important to be an informed voter today.

The 1994 Gingrich Revolution

In 1994, following two years of vicious partisan attacks and recriminations by Republicans against a president they viewed as “illegitimate” (thanks to Perot’s third-party candidacy that allowed Clinton to win with less than 50% of the vote), House Minority Leader Newt Gingrich orchestrated the GOP takeover of Congress during the 1994 mid-terms resulting in six straight years of pointless costly investigations in a failed attempt to derail the Clinton presidency. When their partisan witch-hunt failed to deny Clinton reelection in 1996, the GOP controlled Congress turned its attention toward “impeachment” to ensure Clinton didn’t finish out his second term. But there was no “there” there. “White Water”… a failed land deal, never produced evidence of criminal wrong-doing. Clinton’s reported philandering was an embarrassment, but not criminal. For some inexplicable reason, President Clinton allowed the GOP to subpoena him and force him to testify under oath that he wasn’t cheating on his wife… again, scummy but not a crime. Under oath, Clinton denied the truthful accusation, which in itself was (arguably) criminal, thus handing the GOP on a silver platter the justification to impeach him.

Two of Clinton’s key critics, Rep. Newt Gingrich and Sen. Henry Hyde were both currently having extramarital affairs WHILE they were denouncing President Clinton for his, a fact that did not to come out until years later. The sum culmination of six-years of investigations of everything from “The White House Christmas Card List” to “Socks The Cat’s Fan Club”: $70 Million dollars, no conviction, and Clinton leaving office with a (legitimate) popularity that rivals that of St. Ronnie (illegitimate, based on the most whitewashed record imaginable).

Bush-II

During the 2000 presidential race, George W Bush… whose only claims to fame prior to being elected governor of Texas were being a chronically failed businessman, son of a former president, and managing a baseball team that traded away Sammy Sosa… crisscrossed the nation talking down the record-breaking Clinton economy, claiming that “If only a Republican president had been in charge with the Republican Congress for the last six years… just imagine how much better things might have been.” People bought it and (arguably) elected a Republican president to preside over THE SAME Republican Congress Clinton had. The result was a disaster. Economic gains reversed almost immediately and the Stock Market plunged nearly one thousand points from Bush’s first day in office (10,587 on 1/19/2001 to 9,605 on September 10, 2001… so no blaming 9/11). The incoming Bush Administration was too busy plotting the invasion of Iraq to listen to CIA warnings of an impending attack on the US mainland by alQaeda, resulting in the arguably avoidable disaster of 9/11. A wave of post-9/11 patriotic fervor swept the GOP back in power in 2002 and Bush (narrowly) back in office in 2004 despite the disastrous decision to invade Iraq on grounds that people were quickly beginning to realize were totally bogus… with the Bush Administration actually campaigning on “You don’t change horses in mid-stream”… a “stream” that ironically only existed because they blew up the dam.

The Stock Market continued to plunge and unemployment continued to climb as rising oil/gas prices (thanks to the invasion of Iraq) made everything more expensive, ushering in the first or TWO Bush Recessions. The Bush Administration’s solution was to cut interest rates to the bone and encourage people to invest in real-estate. Millions of people were talked into taking out “Adjustable Rate Mortgages” to purchase well beyond their means, but as the economy continued to decline, those ARM rates started to go up & up. As more money shifted from buying goods to paying high interest rates on their mortgages and $3/gal gasoline, the economy started to implode as people began losing their jobs and defaulting on their mortgages, resulting in the collapse of the Banking industry and the biggest economic bailout in history… ON TOP OF the ongoing costs of two wars… one of which we never should have been in and neither with a plan to get out. President Bush would be only the second president in history to leave office with the DOW lower the day he left than the day he took office (the first was Herbert Hoover.)

The GOP under Obama

This is the Sh!t storm President Obama inherited. Yet today, less than six years later, the economy is recovering DESPITE unprecedented Republican obstruction. The DOW has nearly TRIPLED where it was following the collapse of the Bush economy (from 6,547 in March of 2009 to 17,390 last Friday), unemployment has fallen to just 5.9% (below where it was when Obama took office) and GDP grew at 3.5%, the strongest rate in 10 years.

o Republicans said Raising taxes on the rich would crash the economy. President Obama raised taxes on the Rich. The economy is strong and getting stronger by the day. The Deficit is shrinking as a result and has NOT ONCE been larger than the Deficit left to him by President Bush.

o Republicans said ObamaCare would push up unemployment as companies laid off employees rather than insure them. Instead, unemployment is at it’s lowest level in over six years… helping prove the point that tax breaks for the rich don’t create jobs, consumer demand does. So employers are hiring, not firing, despite “ObamaCare”.

o Sarah Palin’s “Death Panels”? They never materialized. In fact, people who were denied coverage by insurance companies’ OWN “death panels” before ObamaCare are now covered. The GOP has vowed to repeal that coverage if they regain power.

o They told us “the only way to get gas prices down is to approve the (disastrous) Keystone XL pipeline”. Gas is below $3/gallon and falling thanks in part to increased competition among OPEC nations, not the construction of any pipeline.

o Obama is mishandling Ebola? ONE death by a man that was turned away from a hospital in a RED state. ZERO cases of Ebola spreading within the general public. By all accounts, handling of the Ebola outbreak has been WILDLY successful.

o Mishandling ISIS? First, let’s not forget there wouldn’t even BE an ISIS if it weren’t for the invasion of Iraq ala the GOP.

o Border crisis? As I pointed out last week, the GOP is actually running ads suggesting ISIS is entering into the U.S. across the Mexican border, while others openly wonder if those poor Central American children entering the country may be carrying the African disease of Ebola. Neither of which are true.

The Republican Party, unable to run on their own record or on Obama’s economic record, are instead doing what they always do: make baseless hypocritical claims of criminal wrongdoing (“Fast & Furious” and “IRS-gate” brought to you by the backers of Iran/Contra and Iraq/WMDs), hypocritical claims of incompetency (cries of “Benghazi!” from the people that brought you “9/11″), and threats of impeachment for circumventing GOP obstruction (the same Party that praises St. Ronnie despite circumventing Congress to arm the Contras.)

They can’t win on their record, so they’ve enacted Draconian “Voter ID” laws across the country, suppressing literally millions of traditionally Democratic low-income voters in the name of “voter fraud”… an activity so rare that more people are convicted of “migratory bird violations” each year than have been convicted of voter fraud in the past decade… not only incredibly rare but hardly enough to swing an election. Don’t think for a moment that they don’t know what they’re doing. If the voters were truly on their side, they’d be doing everything to encourage the vote, not suppress it. And, a question I’ve been asking all year: I’m still waiting for someone to explain what cutting Early Voting hours/days has to do with fighting “voter fraud”?

Ebola, ISIS and trumped up claims of wrongdoing. Fear & Smear. That’s all they have to offer this election season. “Be afraid! Be very afraid! Oh, and vote Republican!” The GOP thinks you should ignore the economic growth and their unprecedented obstruction, and put them back in charge. The amazing thing is that it seems to be working. Those who do not learn from history…
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, myth busting, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Taxes, voting November 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Dems, If You Want To Win the Senate, stop accepting GOP line that Obama is a failure.

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

Obama's achievements only make them hate him more.

I don’t know what angers me more: Hearing every pundit on TV talk about how “unpopular” President Obama is citing questionable polling numbers as the basis for their opinion, or Democratic candidates who believe it and then run in fear of being associated with him (again, I’m looking at YOU Alison Lundergan-Grimes. You are about to lose to someone with a 31% approval rating… a race that was yours to lose… because you think eschewing Obama will win over Conservative McConnell voters? Seriously?)

For ONCE, do you know what I’d like to hear? How about just ONE of these candidates say in response to “Do you support Obama?”:

“You mean, do I support the guy that brought unemployment down to 5.9% just 22 months after Romney said he’d do it in four years? Do I support the guy who TRIPLED the stock Market since it bottomed out following the collapse of Wall Street six years ago? The guy who has already created over TEN MILLION NEW JOBS? The guy who has cut the Deficit to its lowest rate since Bill Clinton balanced the Budget in ’98? The guy whose healthcare reform has slowed the growth of rising insurance rates to its lowest in 30 years? And, of course, the guy who got bin Laden? Is THAT what you’re asking me? You think that’s something I should be ashamed of?”

As I’ve pointed out repeatedly here on M.R.S., Obama’s poll numbers are being DRAGGED DOWN BY INSANE UNJUSTIFIED REPUBLICAN HATRED FOR THE MAN. The better he does, the more they hate him. Amazingly, President Obama’s approval rating is still in the low 40’s despite having a stunning SEVEN PERCENT approval rating among Republicans. Seven percent? Are you freaking kidding me??? Hell, even Ebola gets nine. Tell me ONE legitimate thing that could justify a 7% approval rating? At the absolute BOTTOM of President Bush’s popularity in 2008, Democrats still lavished him with a 31% approval rating (ibid). Remember when Rush Limbaugh said he “hopes Obama fails” (despite knowing Obama’s failure means the country failing)? Because it’s more important to them that Democratic ideology doesn’t succeed, because if it does, we’ll see more off it. So if raising taxes on the rich leads to more tax-free reinvestment into their businesses spurring job and economic growth, that might mean more tax hikes in the future, meaning greedy bastards like Limbaugh or the Koch Brothers might have to pay higher taxes.

But what these Luddites fail to realize (and we saw this after the Clinton tax hikes of the 1990’s) is that the resulting economic growth means MORE profits and a healthier economy, while GOP policies eight years ago led to TWO Recessions and the collapse of Wall Street.
 

Complain about Obama’s handling of Ebola and I’ll raise you “Katrina”.

Complain about Obama’s handling of ISIS and I’ll ask you whose invasion of Iraq destabilized the entire region into the chaotic mess that led to their rise?

Complain about slow economic growth and I’ll point to THE MOST OBSTRUCTIVE GOP IN HISTORY BLOCKING THE PRESIDENT AT EVERY TURN, ensuring that nothing gets done so they can then turn around and blame him for the lack of progress, hoping you’ll be dumb enough to reward them for it in November.
 

Grimes wants to be like Mitch

This is how it works: A Republican prez makes a massive mess and an angered populace replaces him with a Democrat. Then a Republican Congress blocks him from doing anything to clean up that mess just so they can get (re)elected. And then, if that president uses his Constitutionally given powers to circumvent their obstruction (beating them at their own game), they become so outraged they threaten to impeach him for it (“We can’t have him getting around our attempts to keep him from getting anything done!”)

So manic is their obsession to stop President Obama from achieving anything, Sen. Jim Inhoff (R-Climate Change Denying Cuckoo Bird) actually withheld emergency funding to fight Ebola, relenting only after drawing sharp criticism for his craven partisan obstruction.

The more President Obama succeeds, the madder they get. So when pollsters ask people to rank the president’s job performance… numbers already artificially depressed due to Republican obstruction that has earned them a 16% approval rating… those numbers are dragged into the toilet by the seething hatred of all things Obama, turning mildly low numbers into the low forties.

Meanwhile, despite approval ratings in the single digits, a GOP controlled House is going to remain in GOP control, and a Senate that has been “Wag the Dogged” by unprecedented filibustering by the GOP is going to be REWARDED with additional seats to ensure even LESS gets done in President Obama’s final two years in office (because they’ll be too busy impeaching him for wearing black socks with sandals… or something equally stupid.)

But even with these artificially low poll numbers, President Obama is still wildly popular compared to President Bush when he left office (and the less said about Dick Cheney, the better.)

Remind me again why any Democrat is worried about being linked to this president?

The Rachel Maddow Show makes the same point on Monday’s show, questioning why Democrats seem to be running away from Obama this election season despite a legacy of achievement:

 



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Filed in Economy, Election, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, voting October 13th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Labor Day: Record Job growth. S&P hits 30th record high. Obama approval among Republicans: 11%.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, September 1, 2014

On this Labor Day, I’ll let the video do the talking (I apologize for the low quality. Recording technology has improved greatly since I recorded this ELEVEN YEARS AGO TODAY):
 

Bush campaigns for reelection amid record bad jobs numbers. (2:48)
September 1, 2003

The woman in the video that “doesn’t blame” President Bush for rapidly rising unemployment because “[the economy] was bad before he got in there” pretty much says it all. When Bush took office in January 2001, the unemployment rate was 4.2% TWO FULL POINTS LOWER than it was at the time of the video. Unemployment would hit 7.4% by the time he leaves office. (I apologize for the lack of indexes in those graphs, but they are auto-generated by the BLS.)

Now try to imagine if President Obama had inherited the same record economy George W Bush did (22 Million new jobs and a balanced budget) and turned it into a basket case in less than three years; took the country into an unnecessary war after asserting as “fact” that another Middle-Eastern nation was preparing to use “stockpiles of WMD’s” against us; stage a “Top Gun” photo op to declare that war over while soldiers were still fighting & dying looking for those weapons, only to later joke about not finding any of those weapons during a White House Correspondents Dinner following the deaths of nearly 800 American soldiers. Imagine the backlash. (Think about the Republican reaction to FOUR deaths overseas in Benghazi on 9/11/12 vs FOUR THOUSAND deaths on U.S. soil on 9/11/01.)

And Republicans cheered Bush… and gleefully reelected him. His average approval rating that year: 62.2%.

Let’s contrast this with President Obama’s record:

Inherited the worst economy since The Great Depression where we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs per month, a 3/4 of a TRILLION dollar bailout of Wall Street, a Stock Market in freefall, and turned it all around, having already created more than THREE TIMES as many jobs in just six years than Bush did in eight.

Six straight months of an economy that’s producing more than 200,000 jobs per month… the first time that’s happened since 1997… the start of the Clinton boom years. (And the Conservative response: yeah, but the numbers are “lower than expected”, “still too many people out of work” and… my favorite… “we needed that many jobs just to recover what we lost” [unspoken: under Bush].)

The S&P-500 has hit a record high… not just once, but for THE THIRTIETH TIME this year, breaking the “2,000” mark for the first time.

And President Obama’s approval rating among Republicans? An absurd 10.7%, dragging down his overall approval to just 42%.

At the height of the economic mess in 2008, President Bush’s approval rating among Republicans was “down to” 60%. The only thing one can conclude from this is that Republicans must LIKE economic disaster.
 


 

Another helpful reminder of where we were more than a year before President Obama took office:
 

Disaster Presidency: Two weeks in November 2007.

 

That was after six years of a Republican president and Republican Congress.

And if you think this current “Do-nothing Congress” (with its 15% approval rating) is bad, just imagine what the next two years will be like if Republicans gain control of the Senate and spend the next two years impeaching Obama the way they did at the end of Clinton’s presidency.

Republicans would love to credit themselves for the economic turnaround. But what actions could they point to to justify it? “Stopping Obama” via unprecedented obstruction? Two signature accomplishments they failed to obstruct… his “tax hike” and “ObamaCare”… they said would kill jobs and destroy the economy. They clearly didn’t. The deficit is shrinking rapidly and I’ve already pointed out record job growth. Republicans have done nothing, even threatening to sue the president for doing “too much.”

During the 2000 Presidential campaign, Bush & Cheney insisted that the Clinton economy “wasn’t as good as it would have been if only we had had a Republican president in charge of the Republican Congress. We gave it to him and you saw the result. Now they want you to imagine how much “worse” the recovery would have been if they hadn’t been there to obstruct everything for the past four years. You buying it?

 



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Filed in Economy, Jobs, Partisanship, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy September 1st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Must a President Be a Failure to Be a Success?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 19, 2014

I was watching former Vice President Dick Cheney and his with Lynn pollute my TV screen yesterday on Fox “news” Sunday, and I’m always struck by how stunningly self-UNaware Cheney is about the havoc his administration caused. Naturally, both Cheney’s blamed President Obama for America’s lack of credibility around the world, because he “drew a red line in Syria” (that wasn’t actually crossed), and apparently has nothing to do with the Bush Administration invading Iraq on false pretenses. And naturally, President Obama’s reluctance to send American troops into Syria or Ukraine has nothing to do with the fact we still haven’t finished the LAST war these numbnuts got us into yet couldn’t finish. Our military has been stretched to its near breaking point and the American people have no appetite to see us get involved in yet another war. But tell that to The Vader Family.

(More info on that corner photo. It’s Cheney’s memoir, “My Life” on the right. I snapped this photo with my cell phone at my local grocery store on 9/1/11, the same week the book was released. It was already marked down “40% off” and placed next to a copy of James Patterson’s “Kill Me”. Note: I live in Texas.)

The Bush-II Administration was mind-numbingly incompetent. Yet, President Bush’s approval ratings were never higher than immediately after 9/11… the worst terrorist attack on American soil in history, of which we now know they ignored numerous warnings from the CIA because they were too preoccupied planning the invasion of Iraq. President Clinton said something interesting last week regarding the foiled “Millennium Bomb Plot”, about how no president ever gets credit for the terrorist attacks they thwarted because no one ever knows about them. There’s nothing for people to “rally around”.

And this got me wondering about how when things appear to be going smoothly, no one takes notice or credits the Administration in charge. It’s only during times of upheaval, lurching from crisis-to-crisis that people seem to take notice of the ongoings of Washington. Must a President create & fail in managing multiple disasters before they look like a “Leader” and achieve high approval ratings?

On December 22, 2008, just days before leaving office, Cheney defended President Bush’s record on fighting terrorism. Strange thing though, he could just as easily have been talking about President Clinton’s record without changing a single word:

Let’s look at Bush’s REAL record: Ignored multiple warnings that might have prevented 9/11. Two Recessions. Katrina and the catastrophic consequences of putting a Horse Show director in charge of FEMA. Gas prices explode creating global Economic disaster. Stock Market lost nearly half it’s value (first decline since Hoover). National Debt doubled where it was previously shrinking. Iraq. Never got Bin Laden. The Patriot Act. Began the practice of widespread warrantless domestic wiretaps. A deregulated “credit ratings” industry that led to the biggest banking scandal & bailout in American history.

We already heard Cheney defend the Clinton record. What about Obama? No attacks on US soil. Period. Got Bin Laden. Ended the war in Iraq and is ending the war in Afghanistan this year. A stable and growing economy with both the DOW and S&P 500 closing at record highs last week, NO Recessions. NO FEMA failures. First president to pass sweeping healthcare regulations mandating minimum basic care standards and a competitive market to keep insurance rates down. Housing sales are back on the rise. Created the “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” to protect consumers from deceptive credit/banking practices.

In a way, President Clinton was a victim of his own success, making the job of president look so easy that even someone like George W. Bush could do it. I don’t think anything believes President Obama has had an easy time of it these past 5+ years, but he sure as heck doesn’t seem to be getting any credit for all the disasters that HAVEN’T taken place on his watch. (Note: the current “VA controversy” has more to do with GOP-underfunding and Bush’s wars dumping an additional two million wounded vets into an already stretched system. Local Administrators cooked the books precisely to deceive Washington, and Republicans want to fire Shinseki because he didn’t know he was being deceived.)
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me May 19th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Keystone XL Protest Signs for Download

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Friday, February 28, 2014

As promised, here are seven posters/signs that I created for the Keystone XL Protest that I plan to attend this weekend.

As I mentioned on Monday, I believe it is FAR more effective to focus on NON-CO2 related reasons for opposing the pipeline when your goal is to convince people that don’t believe in “Global Warming” and have been spoon-fed a steady stream of lies of “Job Jobs Jobs”, “cheap gas” and “Energy Independence”, to vote against something they’ve been told would be a magic bullet for the economy.

Previews are in JPG format. Each poster in both “tall” and “wide” formats for signs or posters. Click images to download in high resolution PhotoShop format:


The oil is to be EXPORTED – The oil is to be EXPORTED


HIGHER prices NOT lower –  – HIGHER prices NOT lower


The JOBS myth – The JOBS myth


No good for gasoline – No good for gasoline


Massive Tailing Ponds – Massive Tailing Ponds


An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water – An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water


Summary poster – Summary poster

If you find these posters useful, let us know. – Mugsy
 


 

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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Greed, Jobs, Middle East, myth busting, Politics February 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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No, the Keystone Tar Sand Oil is NOT Inevitable

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 24, 2014

A little birdy tells me that President Obama is now considering approving the final leg of the infamous “Keystone XL” pipeline because some big names on the Left have resigned themselves to the idea that the tar sands making it to market is “inevitable”, so we might as well be the ones to do it before a “less” environmentally conscientious nation “like China” (who is investing heavily in Green energy and focusing on pollution after Beijing started hitting blindingly toxic levels of smog prior to the 2008 Olympics.) Meanwhile, ask North Carolina and West Virginia what they think about our environmental record. Quite honestly, anyone claiming to be “a Liberal” that tells you the KXL “is inevitable so we might as well do it”, isn’t really a Liberal. Because a true Liberal finds the better way. They don’t just throw up their hands and say, “Okay Big Money, you win! I surrender!” Screw you and the Iron Horse you rode in on. That’s like saying, “Wall Street is going to find a way to screw us out of our money anyways so we might as well deregulate the whole damned thing.” No, Naysayers, the tar sands oil making it to market is NOT “inevitable.” Answer me this: That “tar sand” has been there for tens of thousands of years. Why now? Why are we suddenly considering using it “now”? Was there a sudden drop in the supply of oil that I’m not aware of? Are we running out of places to drill? Has OPEC suddenly cut back production because oil is suddenly harder to find? No. The reason… the ONLY reason they are suddenly looking at it is because it’s suddenly economically feasible thanks to the Bush Administration driving oil prices into the stratosphere. In the past, converting tar sand into “oil” was just too damned expensive. Now, with $95/barrel oil, suddenly, the process is cost effective. Wanna stop the tar sand’s from being used, GET THE PRICE OF OIL DOWN. And there’s several ways to do it.

As I reported last week, if the price of oil were to fall $30 to just $65/barrel, excavating the tar sands would no longer be cost efficient. And arguably, I don’t see the U.S. refining tar sand for China. If they want it, they are going to have to ship it someplace else to refine it. Suddenly, we’re not looking at $65/barrel, you’re looking at more like $75/barrel before it becomes too expensive for a foreign country to try an utilize it.

Ever wonder why CANADA doesn’t just simply refine it THERE in Canada? Why not simply build a refinery there rather than bisect the United States with a 1,800 mile long pipeline to the Gulf? Because they plan to EXPORT that oil once it has been refined. No port, no profit. And as long as oil is in the $75+ range, there’s profit to be made. Get that price down, and all your worries about Keystone go too.

I personally believe that protesters that focus on the catastrophic environmental damage the KXL would do are doing themselves a tremendous disservice. If your target audience is people that don’t believe in “Global Warming” and believe in all the lies they’ve been fed about what an economic boom it would be, you might as well be claiming the KXL kills “Spotted Owls” for all the good it would do. No, you’ve gotta hit them where they live. TELL THEM that it WON’T “create a million jobs” like they’ve been told. TELL THEM that it WON’T lower… but in fact RAISE… the price of gas. TELL THEM that it means an enormous 11-foot deep lake of black toxic sludge the size of Central Park (840 acres) in their backyard blighting the landscape, stinking the air, and lowering their property values. Hit them where they live. And be ready to answer question when they ask you to defend your claims. Because as long as these lies are allowed to persist, they become the truth. “Everyone” was gung-ho to invade Iraq over “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that we were literally guaranteed were there (“slam dunk”). But afterward when the weapons didn’t turn up, suddenly everyone realized they had been lied to for someone else’s personal gain and WE were stuck with the check.

I plan on taking part in a “Stop the Keystone XL pipeline” protest this Saturday, and I hope to create some nice “ready-to-print” signs that I can distribute in file format to fellow protesters. If I do, I’ll be sure to post them here on M.R.S. for free download sometime this week.
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Seems Obvious to Me February 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Apathy Latest Enemy In Fighting Keystone XL Pipeline

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 3, 2014

Back in April of 2011, I wrote a lengthy post detailing all the misconceptions, deceptions and outright lies being spread by supporters of the “Keystone XL” pipeline. It was popular and important enough that I gave that post its own page, linked from the Top Menu above. Quite literally, EVERY benefit being claimed about the pipeline is complete & utter nonsense: a million new jobs, lower gas prices, and energy independence with minimal impact on the environment. All of it, total bullshit (read my report for details.) In March of last year, the U.S. State Dept declared that they believed the pipeline would have a “negligible” impact on the environment (based on a report prepared for them by people working for TransCanada), which I reported on at the time. Last week, the State Dept released its follow-up report on the environmental impact of the KXL, declaring their belief that it would in fact have “minimal impact”, giving President Obama cover should he decide to approve the final/key leg of the pipeline, extending it up to the Alberta Tarsands itself. Critics of opponents like me think the only reason we oppose the KXL is because of its impact on “Global Warming”… which they deny anyway, so we’re easy to dismiss. We’re just a bunch of squishes that “over-react” when it comes to the Environment. Well, as I pointed out in my post last year, even if you don’t believe in Climate Change, there are plenty of other reasons to oppose the KXL. Few jobs (would you believe fewer than FIFTY permanent jobs?), HIGHER (not “lower”) gas prices, and other environmental hazards like incredibly frequent massive spills of thick gooey tar (292 in North Dakota alone in less than two years) that are next to impossible to clean up. They say “pipeline technology has improved” to the point where such spills are rare. Since when? How long must we go without a pipeline rupturing that we can start calling them “rare”? Because last I checked, we haven’t gone a full 7-months yet without a pipeline leaking tens of thousands of gallons of oil somewhere in the United States.

The State Department report is rubbish. It has already been revealed, once again, that “consultants” hired to write the report were lobbyist for a trade group linked to TransCanada (owners of the pipeline). And their “conclusion” that the pipeline would have a negligible impact is based on the enormously questionable belief that if the pipeline were not built, the “oil” would just be “shipped by rail”, getting out into the market anyway (meaning the “pipeline” would have little impact, not the oil). Not only does rail not move as much product (I’m not calling it “oil” because it’s not. It’s a thick mud called “bitumen”) as a pipeline would, but as The Washington Post points out, if the price of oil falls to roughly $70/barrel, shipping by rail is no longer cost efficient. And if the price of oil falls below $65/barrel, it doesn’t matter how it’s transported, it’ll be cheaper just to leave the tar-sand in the ground. So the assumption that “we might as well just transport it by pipeline since it’s going to be delivered one way or another” is questionable at best.

I don’t like the fact that opposition to the KXL seems to have waned in the Progressive Media as of late. I hear Progressives talk about the KXL almost with a sense of futility that it’s going to happen eventually no matter what. We’ve been talking about this pipeline “for years now” and nothing bad has happened “so far” so maybe the criticism was overblown? “Nothing” has happened “so far” because it hasn’t been built! It reminds me of critics of health care reform blaming “Obamacare” for things that happened before it went into effect. Progressive radio host Ed Schultz… who has been on my shit-list ever since he spent an entire show in 2009 defending dog-killer Michael Vick’s right to earn millions of dollars playing football the same day Blue-dog “Democrat” Max Baucus (D-MT) announced that he would be siding with the GOP to deny Democrats a 60-vote Super Majority if the Health Care Reform bill included a Public Option… stated on his show last Thursday that he “supports” the KXL pipeline and “thinks it should be done” (then spent Friday’s show talking about the Super Bowl). Bye-bye, Ed. I’m done with you. I suggest you find a new job as a sportscaster, since that seems to be where your interests really lie.

Here are some new photos, and a video clip, to go with my earlier reports on the Keystone XL pipeline:

Tailing pond pipe in Alberta, Canada
Tailing pond pipe
 

Tailing pond with pipes (left)
Tailing pond, Alberta
 

Tailing pond dwarfs rig
Tailing pond, Alberta
 

Oil sands, Canada
Oil sands, Canada
 

Mildred Lake, tailing pond
Mildred Lake
 

Pipes in Sudbury tailing pond
Sudbury tailing pond
 

More pipes
Tailing pond pipes
 

Tarsands oil contains 17% more carbon than conventional crude oil.
17percent more emissions
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

More Alberta tarsands
Alberta tarsands
 

Closeup of tailing pond:
Tailing pond

All of these tailing pipes gush toxic waste 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
Gusher
 

Video clip showing that gushing pipe in action (11sec)


So I’m posting this brief reminder/update on the Keystone XL Pipeline before I hear any more foolishness about the “futility” in fighting a pipeline that seems to be inevitable. That’s how they win, by wearing us down. They have deep pockets to drag this out for as long as they need until they lull us into believing, “Smoking’s good for you. Never mind the “licorice smell in your water, West Virginia. Oh, and the check is in the mail.”

Starting on February 5th, the State Department will begin an “open commenting period” of just 30 days allowing people to write them in opposition/support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Be sure to make your voice heard (don’t contact them before the 5th or risk having your message ignored.)
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Jobs, myth busting, Politics February 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Mugsy’s Annual Predictions for 2014: No more predictions for Syria (kinda)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 30, 2013

I never put any stock in “13” being an “unlucky number”, but after the year I just had, one can’t help but wonder.

My predictions for 2013 were a bit rushed. I cranked them out at the last minute as I spent my days preoccupied trying to save the life of my beloved cat “Lefty”. One year later, my days are now preoccupied trying to save the life of my mother. And in both instances, gross medical negligence is to blame. The frustration I feel is profound as I watch helplessly as another loved-one fights for life following the harm done to them by incompetent doctors, with no legal recourse because of the state I live in (Texas). So please bear that in mind if my predictions for 2014 seem a bit bleak.

We begin by looking back at how well the “Professionals” did at making predictions for 2013. I may not get 100% of my predictions right… or even 75%…, but compared to some of the so-called “experts”, I should be sitting on a mountain top somewhere, an oracle allowing but a brave few to ask “Just one question”.

First off, can I just say that if you publish your “Predictions” AFTER December 31st, you’re not “predicting”, you’re reporting the news.

With that said, here is what some famous “psychics” predicted we’d see in 2013:

Sylvia Browne

Maybe it’s a bit unfair, but I love picking on self-proclaimed “psychics” because their accuracy is always dismal. But they make so many predictions, that when one or two pan out, the media responds as if that person has “second sight” and deserving of being taken very seriously.

Famed “psychic” Sylvia Browne passed away in November. It almost seems crewel to “fact check” Miss Browne posthumously, but when you’re as big a name in the “predicting” biz as she was, maybe keeping her on the list is a sign of respect for her particular brand of hucksterism. In 2012, Ms. Browne predicted President Obama would NOT be reelected; in a 2006 appearance on “The Montel Williams Show”, she told the mother of one of the three girls that had been held captive by that nut in Ohio for over a decade only to escape earlier this year, that her daughter was dead and would be waiting for her on the other side (the mother died the next year), and on that same show, Browne told a widow whose husbands’ body “was never found” that he was “in water”, presumably lost at sea. It turns out the woman was the widow of a 9/11 fireman.

As I noted, Ms. Browne passed away in November. Apparently, she never saw it coming because she booked no less than 14 public appearances from December of 2013 to April of 2014. If you want to read her final list of predictions for 2013, you must purchase an ANNUAL membership to her “inner circle” for a minimum buy in of $49.95 or an EIGHTEEN MONTH membership for $79.95 (which, if you do the math, is slightly more expensive than just buying 1-year memberships.) Seeing as how Ms. Browne is no longer with us, anyone who purchases a 12 or 18 month membership at this point to find out what she has to say next deserves to have their money taken from them. They’re still taking Reservations if you wish to meet her.

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

It’s funny how many people bestow upon themselves the title “Psychic to the Stars”. I suppose if two “stars” just happen to meet the same psychic backstage at a taping of “A Sucker’s Born Every Minute”, they can call themselves a “Psychic to the Stars”. But type the phrase into Google, and top of the list is “Nikki”… whom apparently shall remain last-nameless. Among Nikki’s predictions for 2013:

“Nikki’s” list of predictions for 2013 reads like a script for the next Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie. Of the 115 World Events she predicts, EIGHTY (by my count) fall into the “death & destruction” category.

Of course, when you make well over 100 predictions, random chance almost ensures a few hits (“even a blind squirrel finds a nut now & then”):

  1. More cyber attacks. – There were four notable instances of computer crime this year: Britain’s NatWest Bank was the victim of a distributed denial of service (“DDoS”) attack that inconvenienced thousands of customers for a few days, the Bank of China was hacked by (reportedly) some frustrated “BitCoin” users, North Korea is believed to be behind a cyber attack on South Korean TV stations and two banks, and, of course, more significantly, the recent hack of some 40 million “Target” store customer’s credit cards here in the U.S.. Personally, I suspect that if asked for more detail, Ms. Nikki was expecting an attack more along the lines of a “terrorist” nature, not kids hacking credit cards.
  2. A major automobile company will go bankrupt. – You know what, I’m feeling generous and will give “Detroit Declares Bankruptcy” to Ms. Nikki. The auto-companies themselves might have declared “record PROFITS” this past year (their best since 2007), but the city synonymous with the auto-industry did in fact (thanks to a Republican appointed viceroy who dismantled the local government, disenfranchised nearly a million people and is now liquidating the city’s treasures) “declare bankruptcy”. Probably not what she was predicting, but there you are.
  3. Great floods in the US and in Europe – Yes, massive floods did indeed hit Colorado and Central Europe this year.

3-for-115 (she actually made many more predictions than that if you count “celebrity” predictions), for an accuracy rate of 2.6%… and that was after being a bit generous. It’s up to you to decide whether “Ms. Nikki” is psychic or just guessing.

The Psychic Twins

A sister duo dubbed “The Psychic Twins” are laying claim to a number of accurate predictions in 2013, including the “Lone Wolf” shootings in DC’s “Navy Yard” a knife attack by a mentally disturbed student at a Houston Community College (that I just happened to attend some 20 years ago) that ran around stabbing other students with a craft-knife, and an armed gunmen at North Carolina’s A&T University that was subdued before a single shot was fired.

They also predicted strict new gun laws passed in Connecticut just days after the Sandy Hook massacre. They MUST be psychic!

“The Psychic Twins” appear to only make their predictions on video, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend hours verifying their accuracy, though I have little doubt it would be another case of “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks”. This short second-hand list of their predictions for 2013 as documented by a fan is predictably (pun intended) hit & miss. Hits with further “Lone Wolf” attacks following Sandy Hook, misses on Economics (but also predicted “cyber attacks”) and vaguely all-too-general predictions of weather/natural disasters.

Last year I singled out another “celebrity psychic, Blair Robertson” for his poor performance in predicting what 2012 held in store for everyone. Mr. Robertson did a little better this year, (arguably) over his one correct prediction for 2012, correctly predicting this year that “a boxer would die in the ring” but falling short everywhere else. Robertson improved his score this year by a half-point for “predicting” Rhianna and Chris Brown would “tie the knot”. The couple played the Media like a fiddle, with photos of “a ring” and even rumors of a “secret wedding”, but no, the most famous dysfunctional couple in Hip-Hop did not in fact get married in 2013 (correct me if I’m wrong.)

Political Prognosticators

It’s a bit more difficult this year to find Republicans opining about 2013 after they all had just finished predicting a Mitt Romney landslide, “easily” winning the election as Americans were “fed up” with President Obama, “Obamacare”, “taxes” and “Benghazi”. That bubble they built up had some might thick glass.

So naturally, when Republicans carried out their threats of being even more obstructionist in 2013, the Right crowed… crowed I tell ya… how “Mitt Romney was right!” when he “predicted” a government Shutdown in 2013. It’s a bit like predicting your “homies” are going to “trash this place” if they don’t get their way, and then being lauded for your insight when they carry out your threats.

Mitt Romney also “predicted” (according to them) Detroit going bankrupt when he in fact only argued for it as being preferable to a bailout. As noted above, the only reason Detroit declared bankruptcy is because a Viceroy appointed by the state’s Republican governor made it so.

In 2010, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn predicted that because of “Obamacare”: “There will be no insurance industry left in three years”. I have little doubt that Senator Coburn wishes millions of people had lost their insurance and the industry imploded, but darned the luck, they still exists and are expected to reap record profits next year.

Bloomberg Right-Wing News Columnist and “AEI Fellow” Ramesh Ponnuru made a number of negative predictions about President Obama and his policies. He actually didn’t do too bad until you consider how many Republican “predictions” were actually self-fulfilling prophecies. Ponnuru “predicted” the Healthcare Exchanges “would not open for business on October 1st” when Secretary Sebelius “admits the federal government won’t be ready by then.” The government was ready, the private contractors that built the glitchy website were not. They did indeed open on October 1st, but weren’t ready and had to be closed soon after for about a week. As a result, Ponnuru predicted support for Obamacare would continue to decline. If you do a Google News search for “poll support for Obamacare”, you’ll see lots of links to sites all claiming this to be true… ALL of them… each and every one… a Right Wing blog or media outlet (from the NRO to Glenn Beck). Interesting, because all the major networks are reporting how the number of people signing up for insurance through the Exchange “surged to over 1.1 Million” in December in a trend that is expected to continue.

Ponnuru also predicted the courts would continue to rebuke the Obama Administration on the rights of Catholic owned businesses to deny their employees contraception if they view it morally objectionable. The most notable of these cases, the “Hobby Lobby” case, is still waiting in the Supreme Court (see my own prediction on that below.) He also predicted The Supreme Court would find a way to weasel out of ruling on Same Sex Marriage. They didn’t, with repercussions that have led to legalization into deep Red Utah.

He predicted “a new monetary regime” between the U.S. and the U.K. that insulates both nations from the problems of Europe. No idea what he means by “a new monetary regime” even after reading his piece on the subject. Whatever it is, it never happened and Europe’s economy is starting to show signs of recovery.

More wishful thinking? “Paul Ryan,” feeling he can’t work within the GOP, “will resign” in order to “focus on running for president”? No date cited and hardly makes sense as a 2013 prediction, but maybe Ponnuru is looking to late 2014?

How I Did.

Now is the time I look back at my own predictions last year to see how I did. All year long, I thought about the predictions I made for 2013, and as I do every year, I am certain I did “incredibly poorly” that year only to look back at years end and find I didn’t do quite as bad as I thought.

  1. Correct: My first prediction regarding the “fiscal cliff”, and whether the GOP was irrational enough to go over it, had to be split into three scenarios: a) the GOP agrees to President Obama’s demand that taxes go up on people making over $250K per year, but only because they intend to hold the Debt Ceiling hostage again, b) a deal is reached only after Democrats concede to raise the starting point at which taxes go up to $500K, or c) the Bush Tax Cuts expire because no deal can be reached allowing Democrats to pass the “Obama tax cut”. It all depended upon how the GOP reacted. Knowing Scenario “c)” would be the worst possible outcome for them, the GOP agreed to a hybrid of “scenario A” and “scenario B” (pre-planning to hold the Debt Ceiling hostage while agreeing to a deal where the tax increase begins at $450K instead of $250K.)
  2. A Push: #2 was conditional on the GOP being suicidal enough to go over the cliff and refuse to raise the Debt Ceiling, forcing President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment. They didn’t, so he didn’t have to. No way to know if he would have (though he said he wouldn’t.) I’m certain when faced with certain global economic catastrophe, he would have. And I think the GOP knew it too, the consequences of which would have been to render them irrelevant the next time a Debt Ceiling fight rolled around. So they had no choice but to cave.
  3. Wrong: Harry Reid would make good on his threat to “reform the filibuster” at the start of the session. While a “Psychic to the Stars” might take credit for the eventual decision of Reid to “go nuclear” last November, I’m no hypocrite. I was hamstrung when I made my prediction late on December 31st by the fact it might be proved false in less than 24 hours. Considering the record-setting obstructionist year we had just had, and Reid’s own admission that he was “wrong” for not reforming the filibuster the way Democrats pleaded with him to do at the start of the 2011 session. it was almost unimaginable that he would make the same mistake twice. And while he dragged his feet and messaged Senate rules to extend his time to make a decision till the end of the month, Reid did eventually cave to Republican threats, agreeing only to minor, essentially irrelevant changes… something he quickly came to regret as the GOP shutdown the government months later. The reform he finally agreed to last November likewise was only a narrow rules change affecting only the President’s judicial & Cabinet appointments.
  4. Correct: Despite promises of “Election Reform” following the mass disenfranchisement of Poor & Middle Class voters seen during Early Voting and on Election Day 2012, not a damn thing was done about it. On to 2014!
  5. Correct: The Unemployment rate, which I predicted would be “very close to 6.9% by the end of the year (give or take 3/10ths of a point).” After November, the BLS reported the Unemployment Rate had fallen to 7.0%, a 5-year low and more than a full point below where it was the year before.
  6. Wrong: Sadly, concern over spending did not spark public pressure to exit Afghanistan by years end.
  7. Wrong (and happy about it): While they did remain fairly stable, my prediction that gas prices would still be close to $3.50/gal a year later turned out to be too high, with the national average presently at just under $3.30/gal. I can’t in good faith count that as “correct”. Maybe a difference of ten cents a gallon, but not twenty. And I didn’t foresee things like “nuclear talks with Iran” to bring down oil prices to a three year low.
  8. Correct: – No U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran. Funny to think how long this nonsense has been going on. And the fact no provocative moves have been made by Iran in all that time only goes to show how reality rarely lives up to the most wild militarist fantasies of Neoconservatives. Much to their chagrin, not only did Iran not do anything threatening, they even reluctantly have opened discussions of disarmament. Astounding.
  9. Wrong: Ah, Syria! It’s depressing to think that Civil War is now in it’s THIRD year. I was stung after my first prediction of the fall of Assad in 2011. A bit more cautious last year, I predicted Assad to fall into irrelevancy as the rest of the world just stopped recognizing him as the legitimate leader of Syria. They didn’t; he didn’t; so for 2014 , I won’t.
  10. Wrong (another “and happy about it”): I predicted the DOW would be around 14,500 points by years end, predicting an impressive rise of more than 1500 points in just one year. Instead, we saw an astonishing rise of nearly 3,500 points in just one year to a new record of just under 16,500 points. If President Obama is a  “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.
  11. Correct: As America’s economy recovers, so does Europe’s and the rest of the worlds.
  12. Correct (sadly): My exact words were: “Immigration reform? Don’t bet your Aunt Fanny on it.” Republicans said they wanted it. President Obama said he wanted it. So it was inevitable that nothing would get done.
  13. Wrong (sadly): Just days after Sandy Hook and the massacre of twenty 6/7-yearolds and six teachers, I couldn’t imagine even Republicans turning this into a partisan fight, caving to their gun-nut base and doing absolutely nothing to keep weapons of war out of the hands of children, the mentally unstable and known criminals. Lesson learned: Never under-estimate the depths of GOP cowardice or the ignorance of their base.

Final score: 6 out of 12 (#2 was inconclusive) for 50-percent. Not too shabby for a list I was certain all year long would be one big goose egg. Take that you “Psychics to the Stars” with your “2.6%” accuracy rating!

So now my Predictions for 2014:

  1. Failing to extend Unemployment benefits at the end of 2013 will mean great hardship that extends beyond Party Lines. Just as Republicans mistakenly believed that voters would side with them for “taking a principled stand” on the Government Shutdown even after it started to affect them personally, they undoubtedly believe the same is true here. As far as the GOP is concerned, only poor Minimum Wage slackers are home waiting for their Unemployment Checks to roll in while they sit on their lazy duffs. But their refusal to continue the extension of those benefits past the end of 2013 will come back to bite them in the butt, not realizing just how many “Poor & Middle-Class” workers make up their Redneck base. As a result, expect the GOP to agree to a “compromise extension” of Unemployment benefits. There will be an insistence that it be “paid for”, but then there will be a huge fight on just what to cut. There will be an extension, just not the “90+ week” maximum some are seeing now. Probably something closer to “52 weeks”, double the standard length, with some “creative accounting” paying for it.
  2.  

  3. Where will the DOW be by the end of 2014? I sure as heck didn’t foresee the meteoric rise of 3,500 points in 2013. Another rise like that would have us knocking on the amazing “20,000 point” mark, and that’s going to make a lot of investors nervous about “over exuberant” investors buying stocks just to set a record. I expect the DOW to close just over the “19,200” mark come years end… which is an incredible thought. Bill Clinton took the DOW from around 3700 points to over 11,700 points seven years later… an increase of OVER 300 percent. The DOW bottomed out barely a month after President Obama took office at just over 6600 points. A close of “19,200” would be another rise of nearly 300% in just SIX years. George Bush cut the taxes of the Rich & Powerful, but cut their portfolio’s in half as the economy crashed. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why Wall Street hates Democrats, and loves Republicans (yes, that’s snark.)
  4.  

  5. Marriage Equality – No surprise that more states will officially declare Same-Sex Marriage as legal, but with it suddenly legal in nearly half the states in the Union and no solid legal argument for why any group of people should be discriminated against, expect a positive ruling from the Supreme Court… probably 5/4 but possibly even 6/3… telling states where SSM is outlawed that they must recognize marriages performed in another state. As people flood to neighboring states to get married, laws banning SSM will become moot and fall like dominoes.
  6.  

  7. The Mid-term elections – AKA: “The Battle for the Senate”. Not surprisingly, with the House and the Senate so narrowly split, both sides will be pulling out all the stops seeking control of Congress. The big question? What will be the mood of the public come Election Time? Will problems with the health care law sour voters on the Obama Administration? Will unemployment continue to fall making them optimistic? And what role will record low approval ratings for Congress have on turnout? In the end, it’s pretty much a wash. The people that hate “Obamacare” will continue to whine about “Obamacare”. The people that like the law will continue to do so. I ran into a lot of Conservatives this past year that believe “Obamacare” is an insurance program that you must (MUST) buy into, and they can implode the entire system if they simply refuse to sign up. Little do most of them realize, “Obamacare” does not even apply to them because they already get insurance through their employer. They couldn’t “sign up” even if they wanted to. So the entire system doesn’t implode, and for most people, nothing changes for them. It will be hard to be “outraged” over health care reform come November. Good economic news will continue, so there will be little economic motive to head to the polls. And despite near single digit approval ratings for Congress, don’t expect control of either House to change hands, though, thanks to Gerrymandering, I think Democrats have a better chance of picking up seats in the Senate than the House.
  8.  

  9. Which of course takes us to the start of the 2016 campaign (hard to believe it’s already a topic.) Though she will try to wait until January 2015, Hillary WILL announce her intention to run for President, as will Chris Christie, whom even this far off, already look to be the front-runners. But anything can happen between now & then.
  10.  

  11. Paul Ryan & Patty Murray coming to a two-year budget deal here at the end of 2013 insures no “Fiscal Cliff, Debt Ceiling, Shutdown” economic brinksmanship before the election. No GOP manufactured crisis means we can expect a reasonably smooth, growing economy in 2014. Expect GDP growth in the 4.0+ range next year.
  12.  

  13. What will become of NSA Leaker Edward Snowden? I expect a move to South America sometime next year. The last shoe has yet to drop in that story because Snowden took FAR more material than he could possibly have read when he absconded from the NSA with all that Top Secret information. But time is not on his side as much of the information he took grows out of date. As he continues to pour through the files he stole, I expect few additional revelations, perhaps saving his biggest bombshell in time for the election.
  14.  

  15. Will Congress raise the Minimum Wage? If this weren’t an election year, I’d say yes, but since it is, the state of the economy will play a large part in whether it gets raised or not. A number of states won’t wait and raise it on their own, but nationally, if the economy continues to improve, forget it. With no Budget Battles for the GOP to hold hostage, they must dig their heels in somewhere, and The Minimum Wage is it.
  16.  

  17. The Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia is going to be a mess. Technical and scheduling issues as civil unrest disrupts the games. As I type this, we’ve already seen acts of terrorism very close to Sochi, and Putin won’t have a clue how to handle Gay Rights protests in a country where just holding a sign can land you in jail. International condemnation of Russia’s anti-gay laws will overshadow many events.
  18.  

  19. And while we’re on the subject of Sochi, in a separate prediction, I believe the reason President Obama chose former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead a delegation of openly gay athletes is because she herself intends to come out as gay upon her arrival in Sochi, almost daring the Russian government to arrest her.
  20.  

  21. So what will the Unemployment Rate look like by the end of 2014? If current trends continue, I don’t think an unemployment rate of 6.1% (give or take 3/10th of a point) is out of the realm of possibility. If it weren’t an election year, I’d might go lower than that, but it’s in the GOP’s interest to encourage a worsening economy going into the Mid-term elections. With no budget battles to destabilize the economy in an election year, it’ll be difficult. I’m interested in seeing how they pull it off.
  22.  

  23. What about Iran? I think a nuclear disarmament deal WILL be struck that allows Iran to continue to develop nuclear energy using Uranium bred outside the country (probably Russia.) IAEA inspectors will be allowed into the country to check for nuclear weapons development. In exchange, the U.S. will once again allow Iranian oil to be traded on the U.S. Market, causing a decline in the price of oil (maybe $80/barrel give or take $5?), lowering gas prices in the U.S., serving as a substantial boost to the American economy. 2014 will be a very good year for the U.S. economy.
  24.  

  25. Ted Cruz announces his intention to run for President. Outside of the (dwindling) Tea Party, support for his candidacy will not exceed that of Michele Bachmann in 2012, and his campaign will fizzle out early in 2015.
  26.  

  27. Hobby Lobby’s “my religious beliefs supersede yours because I’m your boss” Supreme Court case will return a verdict in favor of the Christian-owned craft store. Any other sane Supreme Court would realize that if a “Christian” owned company can decide what health care you can get, so could an Amish, Muslim or even Satanic boss dictate your health care choices. But an “Amish, Muslim or Satanic” corporation didn’t file this case. A “Christian” one did. And therefore, this Conservative Court will tie the Constitution into knots to accommodate them. Republicans will tout it as “a victory for Americans over the scourge of Obamacare.”
  28.  

  29. Following up on last year, no “Election Reform” bill will be taken up in an election year. Republican governors will step up their efforts to disenfranchise tens of thousands of Democratically leaning voter blocks… most of whom will be minorities.
  30.  

  31. As an homage to my “psychic” friends out there, a really big hurricane will hit someplace somewhere.
  32.  

  33. And another “Lone-wolf” gun nut will go on a shooting spree, killing over a dozen people. And what will come of it in terms of gun control? Nothing.
  34.  

  35. And finally, Syria. In 2011, I predicted Assad would be overthrown just like all the other “Arab Spring” nations did to their leaders. But Assad was willing to be far more brutal and had the army on his side. In 2012, I predicted him to become irrelevant as the rest of the world simply stopped recognizing his authority, but that didn’t happen either. So now, in year three, all I’m willing to wager is that the Syrian conflict will still be raging a year from now. That’s a prediction I’d be happy to get wrong.

Eighteen predictions. I can live with that. How do you think I did? Post your own predictions for 2014 in the Comments.
 


 


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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, voting, War December 30th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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The Lesson of Christmas this Year is to Always Look at Things Differently.

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

Back when I was in college, I was having lunch with a group of friends, one of which was a girl from Switzerland (one of the great things about college is it’s one of the few times in your life when you’ll frequently come in contact with people from other countries). The topic? What we miss most being away from home on Christmas. I mentioned how I missed all the Christmas lights & decorations. My friend from Switzerland said bluntly, “I hate American Christmas.” This took me by surprise. “What? Why?” What do Americans do different at Christmas that makes it so awful, I wondered? “It’s so tacky. Plastic trees strung with electric wires and colored lights. Houses covered with the same gaudy lights so they look more like used car lots than homes.” Thinking about it, I couldn’t quite disagree. “Geez, when you put it that way, it really does sound awful.” But I had to ask the obvious, “If you don’t use electric lights on your trees, how do you light them?”

“Candles!”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“No. We spray the trees with fire retardant and blow out the candles at night, lighting them only when company comes over.”

Suddenly, the Christmas lights I missed moments ago now embarrassed me.

And I must admit, the mental-picture of a Christmas tree covered in candles does sound awfully nice. Ever since that exchange 25 years ago this month, I’ve never looked at American Christmas quite the same again. There are TV Shows now that pit families against each other to see who can turn their house into the gaudiest electric light show this side of Vegas in hopes of winning $50,000 bucks in Christmas cash… which, of course, is what Christmas is all about. No?

As 2013 grinds to a miserable (for me, your mileage may vary) close, I’m happy to report that our continuing War on ChristmasTM has attracted a big-name supporter: Pope Francis, who is driving the Religious Right batty with his intolerance… dare I say even outright disgust, for the way the Religious Right in America has somehow melded the teachings of Christ with Bigotry, Consumerism, hatred of the Poor, the sick and Immigrants.

Mark Fiore: Jesus Rebranded
Jesus Rebranded

I grew up in a very religious Italian family. My grandparents had a shellacked & framed “Last Supper” jigsaw puzzle hanging just above portraits of Jesus Christ and FDR on the kitchen wall. Holy Ghost salt & pepper shakers rested on the back of the stove beneath a plastic crucifix, and dinner always started with “Giving Thanks”. I knew what it was like to be around “religious” people growing up, which is probably why the people claiming to be the “Family Values” “Religious Right” seem so alien to me. Pope Francis would have fit right in as my long-lost Uncle Frank (though I do have trouble imagining him in a wine-stained “wife-beater” undershirt and Bermuda Shorts with black socks & sandals.)

Rush Limbaugh called the Pope “a Marxist” for criticizing (without specifying, but we all know who he meant) America’s Religious Right’s embrace of Greed & Capitalism and seeming hatred for The Poor. Noted theologian Sarah Palin, while plugging her new book criticizing the commercialization of Christmas, rushed to the defense of commercialism:

“I`m not saying it’s way too commercialized. I love the commercialization of Christmas because it spreads the Christmas cheers [sic],”

When the “Family Values” Party decided that Christmas Time was the perfect time to cut back the Food Stamp program for hungry families, they turned (as they always do) to The Bible to defend their heartlessness as being right in line with the teachings of Jesus:

“Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Read in context however, the “work” referred to in that passage includes “prayer” and service to the church. Of course, The Bible is probably the most abused, quoted out-of-context book in existence used to justify whatever hateful position the worst in any society can dream up so they may claim to be “on the side of God”. The most obvious response to the “unwilling to work” justification for starving the poor is to point out the obvious: that not everyone on Food Stamps is “unwilling to work”. Many (most?) HAVE jobs and ARE working, but (thanks to GOP policies) don’t make enough to feed their family. Many more are actively searching for work. Personally, I find the passage immediately preceding more informative:

“Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Which passage do you think The Right should be more worried about? Merry Christmas, and remember to always look at things differently.

Note: Next week will be our annual “Predictions for 2014″. Don’t miss it.
 


 


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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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Filed in Economy, General, Partisanship, Religion December 23rd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Pinging the Bullshit Meter: Gingrich Says Poorest Big Cities All Have Dem Mayors

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 16, 2013

“Sorry Newt, that’s a Bullshit statistic.” That was my immediate reaction to Newt Gingrich’s claim that, “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city!” He said it as a rebuke to Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s suggestion that the GOP was responsible for the inability of so many people to move out of poverty. Having lived in the South almost my entire life, and in a very tiny town for much of that, if there’s one thing I know: Most dirt-poor rural residents vote Republican. The poorest states in the Union are deep red states like Mississippi and Louisiana, where some of the richest are deep blue like Massachusetts and California. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that “statistic” about “Democrats running the poorest cities” (and “Detroit” always tops their list), but it’s a bit like arguing that ALL Republicans are soulless turds because all of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates were soulless turds. It’s a highly selective feux-“statistic” that is representative of nothing. If nothing else, Gingrich is guilty of wildly over-simplifying the matter.

Wiki (for what it’s worth) lists the top 10 poorest major cities in the United States (w/percentage living in poverty):

  1. Detroit, Michigan – 42.3% – Democratic Mayor
  2. Cleveland, Ohio – 36.1% – Democratic Mayor
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio – 34.1% – Democratic Mayor
  4. Miami, Florida – 31.7% – Republican Mayor
  5. Fresno, California – 31.5% – Republican Mayor
  6. Buffalo, New York – 30.9% – Democratic Mayor
  7. Newark, New Jersey – 30.4% – Democratic Mayor
  8. Toledo, Ohio – 30.1% – Independent Mayor
  9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 29.9% – Democratic Mayor
  10. St. Louis, Missouri – 29.2% – Democratic Mayor

(I would like to point out that Michigan’s Republican governor stripped Detroit’s mayor and City Council of ANY power, declared bankruptcy, and is about to liquidate the city’s assets, treasure-for-treasure, with NO plan to grow the local economy. Of the seven Democratically run cities on that list, FIVE are in states with Republican governors.)

Is the list top-heavy with Democrats? Yes. Is it exclusively Democrats? No. So what does this prove? Nothing. Inner-cities typically have larger minority populations that tend to vote Democratic. So are they poor because they vote Democratic or do they vote Democratic because they’re poor? That same Wiki page lists the Top-100 poorest cities in America regardless of size. By my count, EIGHTY-FOUR of the top-100 poorest cities in America are in Red states (with Texas accounting for more than 1/4 of the 100.) Of the Top TWENTY states with the highest per capita income, only TWO are Red states (Alaska at #8 and Wyoming at #17). The rest are all Blue. of the Top-20 Poorest states, just two are blue states (Michigan, the least poor at #30 and New Mexico at #45.) The rest are all Red.

(I feel I could do a far more in-depth analysis of this nonsense pseudo-“statistic”, looking back at whether previous mayors were Republican or Democrat and which Party’s policies were more responsible for the poor economic conditions in these cities, but that would only lend credibility to this particular bit of nonsense.)

In the 60’s many large cities fell victim to “White Flight”, a phenomena where many affluent whites fled to the suburbs, leaving behind large minority populations in the inner city. Poverty and unemployment are higher among Blacks and Latinos than whites. So it just goes to follow that poverty and unemployment are higher in the city than in the suburbs. They also tend to vote Democrat. Newt and the GOP would have you believe that the poverty-stricken people in these big cities are either too dumb to figure out that voting for Democrats is why they are still poor, or that they’re just lazy and like all the “free stuff” Democrats promise them.

Gingrich has had a problem with viewing Blacks as a different breed of human being altogether. “Poor work ethics” are responsible for their chronic poverty that can be cured if we just gave all their kids janitorial jobs at school, and the only “work” Black kids are interested in is crime where they can make a lot of money with very little effort. They vote Democratic because they’re clearly too stupid to figure out that Republican policies will lift them out of poverty… the way it did under the last two Republican presidents (Bush-I and Bush-II) but not under Clinton (yes, that’s snark.)

Newt Gingrich is just one of those Republicans that bugs the crap out of me. Like Rush Limbaugh. They are race-baiting pseudo-intellectuals that make ridiculous claims with all the authority of Stephen Hawking, pass morality judgements upon others when they themselves are guilty of the same or far worse, and the Media showers them with undeserving praise & respect as authority figures even though they are ALWAYS wrong. And I do mean ALWAYS.
 


 

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Filed in Economy, General, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Politics, Seems Obvious to Me December 16th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View