Email This Post Email This Post

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.
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
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

Email This Post Email This Post

What Do The Polar Vortex, the Immigration Crisis and the California Wildfires All Have in Common?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 14, 2014

The connection isn’t immediately clear: This week, a mass of frigid Arctic air is moving down from the North, dropping high temperatures some 20 degrees below normal across much of the Midwest with some Northern states expected to see highs only in the mid-60’s in July. Also in the news, an estimated “tens of thousands” of refugees… mostly children… from Central America have easily crossed a dry Rio Grande riverbed into the United States to create an immigration “crisis”. And from Southern California to Washington State, wildfires rage out of control for “the third year in a row”. What do they all have in common? Global Warming.

Now the connection to #1 on our list, “The Return of the Polar Vortex”, is not readily clear. What does “Global Warming” have to do with unusually Cold temperatures in July? Well, the reason for the sudden dip in temperatures is due to the literal dip in the Jet Stream out of the Arctic and down into the Great Lakes region, a “river” of rapidly moving air that circles the globe counter to the rotation of the Earth. And that sudden change-of-course in the jet stream was caused last week by Typhoon Neoguri, a massive Category 3 hurricane in the Pacific that struck Japan last week. Superman might have been “powerful enough to change the course of mighty rivers”, but it takes something as massive as a hurricane to redirect a river of air encircling the planet. And warm water fuels a hurricane like hatred fuels Rush Limbaugh. It makes them bigger and nastier.

Last Winter, the “Polar Vortex” produced one of the longest and coldest Winters in recent memory. Conservative blowhard Climate Change deniers like George Will think the entire world spans only from California to Maine with “the Middle East” orbiting “Planet USA” like a Muslim Death Star, so naturally, if it gets really cold in Atlanta in the middle of Winter, that must mean “Global Warming” is a hoax (because if Fox “news” doesn’t report the record heat wave in Australia taking place at the same time, it never happened.) That too was due to record warm temperatures forcing the “jet stream”… which normally runs relatively around the United States… to channel a river of frigid Arctic air right down into the heart of the Midwest.

Record drought along the Southern border of the U.S. is so bad there are actually places where you can walk across the Rio Grande on foot without ever getting your feet wet. I pondered last week if this might finally be a way to get Republicans to act on Climate Change? Harness their hated for immigrants (of the Latin persuasion) to make sure “God’s Moat” doesn’t dry up like the Tea Party’s support for the GOP. The average depth along the entire expanse of waterway… a mere 3.64 feet… is roughly 43% of normal.

Listening to Republicans this past week, by the way they’ve blamed “Obama!” for this current immigration crisis, they would have us all believe: “You see! THIS is why we opposed The Dream Act!” They are out there suggesting that this sudden surge in Central American refugees is exactly what they knew would happen if we tried to enact Immigration Reform. They are prescient, you see. They saw this coming a mile away. And President Obama “suddenly” talking about not deporting the children of undocumented immigrants that grew up in the U.S. and in many cases have never even been to Mexico and don’t even speak the language, is responsible for the “sudden” flood of children across the Mexican border.

A few points: 1) These are not “Mexican” children, most are from lower Central America in the vicinity of Guatemala who are fleeing an outbreak of extreme violence that started in 2011. While I have no doubt ruthless “coyotes” are spreading misinformation about our immigration polices to drum up more paying customers (roughly $8,000 a head… a fortune in these impoverished countries), consider the fact that the same misinformation has not resulted in a flood of MEXICAN children into the U.S.. Why is it that Obama’s “reckless talk” about giving “amnesty” to “illegal alien children” hasn’t resulted in a flood of kids from Mexico into the U.S.? Hmm? Maybe these kids REALLY ARE fleeing extraordinary violence in their home countries?

And so, you’ve probably already figured out #3 by now: The cause of those wildfires in the West? Beetles, of course! You thought I was going to say “drought from Global Warming”, didn’t you? True, the prolonged drought on the West Coast has turned our forests into kindling so that we now see a “100 year forest fire” EVERY year. But every bit as bad as the lack of rain has been for our forests, the “Mountain Pine Beetle” has made monumentally worse. Warmer weather has caused the ravenous buggers to multiply as fast as the wildfires they produce, killing trees and turning entire forests into tinder boxes. Fresh, healthy trees slow them up a bit as they can get all the moisture and nutrition they need from fewer trees. But as the trees grow dry and lifeless, the beetles go on an eating binge, destroying entire forests looking to get enough food to eat.

It’s time for America to get serious about Climate Change. It is REAL, it is DEVASTATING. It threatens to destroy our entire planet, and we can’t afford to wait until Glenn Beck comes out and finally admits once again, “Liberals, you were right”.
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
Filed in Environment, Global Warming July 14th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

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
 


 

Share
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

Email This Post Email This Post

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.
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
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

Email This Post Email This Post

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.)
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

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

Email This Post Email This Post

Iran Deal Underscores Need to Abandon Nuclear Energy as a Power Source

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 25, 2013

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the GOP presidential candidates were saber-rattling over “Iran’s nuclear program”, completely devoid of any self awareness as they simultaneously complained about rising gas prices without connecting the two events… not now, not in the eight years it was happening under President Bush (side note: gas prices have been steadily falling for months, dropping to a national average of just $3.19/gal last week and for me locally as low as $2.75/gal. You have to go back to November of 2010 when we were still shaking off the last vestiges of The Great Recession to find the last time gas prices were that low). The first treaty between the U.S. and Iran in nearly 35 years is both amazing and historic. And if it were not for our continued/pointless war in Afghanistan and recent reports that we might still be there for another decade, I’d be first in line to nominate President Obama for a second Nobel Peace Prize. He ended the war in Iraq, ousted Kadaffi without sending in a single troop, got Syria to (first admit and then) give up their chemical weapons without resorting to force, and now the first treaty of ANY kind with Iran in over a third of a century let alone one to start the ball rolling on nuclear disarmament. Criticism from The Right on whether or not this is a good deal sounds remarkably similar to their arguments against ObamaCare: “It doesn’t solve the problem 100 percent” to everyone’s satisfaction, and therefore anything short of “perfection” means the entire thing must be scrapped. But my problem with the Iranian deal isn’t that it doesn’t stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. My problem is that we don’t have a leg to stand on to stop Iran from developing so-called “peaceful” nuclear power (that the hawks believe could be misused in the future) so long as we continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear power. I’ve said this many times before: NUCLEAR POWER ISN’T GREEN. We should be PHASING OUT our use of nuclear energy. And it would be infinitely easier to tell Iran “no nuclear development of ANY kind. Period” if we ourselves didn’t continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy.

The nuclear energy industry has been quite successful at convincing the world that nuclear power is “green”. “No smokestacks! No carbon! Doesn’t promote Global Warming! See! It’s great for the environment!” There is an enormous (and dangerous) misconception that nuclear energy is “clean” simply because it does not emit greenhouse gasses.

“Air” pollution is but one of many types of pollution we should concern ourselves with. And while nuclear power plants don’t pollute the air like coal-fired plants do, they (as you know) produce tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste-water in their lifetime (typically a mere 20-30 years), and “cooling” of the reactors requires Millions of gallons of cold water. The heat they produce is then pumped back into rivers & streams where it kills the fish and aquatic plant-life. In essence, you are trading off a power plant that emits one form of pollution for a plant that emits TWO. Add to that the mining of uranium… a finite energy source not unlike the coal or oil used in fossil-fuel powered power plants. Nuclear power is not “renewable”… the hallmark of “green” energy.

Consider that if the ancient Egyptians had used nuclear power 5,000 years ago, we would STILL be dealing with their nuclear waste today and for another 10,000 years, all so they could enjoy 30 years worth of electricity five millennia ago.

Wind, Solar, Tidal & Geothermal are ALL 100% POLLUTION FREE ways of generating enormous amounts of power upon which we should be concentrating all our resources.

$11 Billion to build one plant. 20-40 years of useful life at a cost of $1.5-3 Billion per year just to operate. 150 YEARS to decommission one plant at a cost of another $3-6 billion/yr. Best case costs for one plant (20 years+150 years to decommission): $491 Billion dollars. Worst case costs (40 years+150 years to decommission): $1.3 TRILLION dollars (or over $84 per kWh). Check your electric bill. Does eighty-four bucks an hour sound like a bargain to you? And neither of those price tags take into account the cost of another nuclear disaster like Fukashima.

It takes ELEVEN YEARS of nuclear power generation to counter the air pollution created in the construction of the plant and the mining of the ore used in it. And nuclear power plants are also a prime terrorist target. We should be getting RID of the ones we have, not building more… let alone encouraging countries like Iran to get into the business.

And ask the fishermen off the coast of New Orleans following the BP disaster if they’d rather be fishermen off the coast of Fukashima.

Nuclear War & Peace

Then there are other concerns. Saudi Arabia is likewise terrified of a nuclear armed Iran tipping the balance of power in the region. Might this provoke Saudi Arabia into starting a nuclear program of their own? How do we tell an ally that they can’t go nuclear after allowing Iran to? Could this be the start of a nuclear arms race in the very heart THE most unstable region of the world today?

As long as we continue this absurd belief that there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy, how do we tell Iran that’s it’s not okay to pursue nuclear energy without the concern that that technology might be misused? It would be SO MUCH easier if we could simply say to Iran, “No nuclear power of ANY kind. Period. We’re are in the process of getting RID of our OWN nuclear power-plants, not building more.” If, after Fukashima, the Iran Treaty doesn’t underscore how much easier our lives would be without nukes, nothing will.

 

THANKSGIVING ASIDE DISH

Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that a number of major retail outlets will be open Thanksgiving Day, forcing their employees to work rather than spend the holiday with their families. The silence from the “War on Christmas” crowd has been deafening. No protests of greedy corporations having no respect for “families” or the holiday season. And if you don’t think “Thanksgiving” is a religious holiday, ask yourself just WHO are you supposed to be “thanking”?

The Rachel Maddow Show last week reported on all the employees that are being forced to work on Thanksgiving, including the story of an Ohio Wal*Mart putting donation bins out for co-workers to donate food to fellow employees… people that work for a living and yet might otherwise go hungry this holiday:
 


If you had any question just how disingenuous the whole Right-Wing “War on Christmas” outrage is, look no further.

 


 


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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS

Share
Filed in Energy Independence, Environment, fake scandals, General, Middle East November 25th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

A Quick Thought on the Wildfires & Floods As We Pause For a Week.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 12, 2013

Hey folks. Sorry to say M.R.S. is going to have to take a sabbatical this week. Fortunately, there wasn’t much new to report in the news last week. If I had to write anything about this past week, it would be about the massive deadly floods that have been reigning/raining down upon Middle-America all last week at the same time, huge wildfires decimate California and the Western states. Years ago, I noticed a pattern (one that Al Gore brought up in his documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”) of how often we see Wildfires in one part of the country and simultaneous flooding in another. This is because excessive heat from Global Warming is sucking all the moisture out of one region and then dumping it in another. I had collected about a half dozen TV news clips before I lost them all in a computer crash. But the theory is dead on, proven repeatedly year after year with alarming frequency now (and by the way, when this happens in the Winter, all that moisture comes down as “record snowfall”… to the bemusement of moronic Climate-Change Denying Conservative jackasses like Jim Inhoff (R-OK) who think being buried under 15feet of snow in the Wintertime makes Gore look dumb).

Just something to think about until I return next week.
 

PS: Oh, and thanks to everyone for asking about Mom. We finally got her out of that deathtrap of a hospital and into a Rehab facility. I’m currently searching for a good malpractice attorney that’s willing to take on an entire hospital (and maybe her HMO to boot.) Don’t know what the hospital has to fear. Mom’s can’t testify against them. They saw to that! – Mugsy



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
Filed in Environment, Global Warming, Rants August 12th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

Yes, Even Late May Snow Is Evidence of Climate Change (aka Global Warming)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 27, 2013

Broken HeartlandIt’s as inevitable as the sunrise and twice as predictable: a freak Late-May snowfall causes Right-Wingers to declare that it is PROOF that “Global Warming is a hoax”, and gee, don’t all us “environmental wackos” feel foolish? Of course, not once does it occur to these “authorities” in the Meteorological Sciences that “freak” weather events are EXACTLY what “Climate Change” science predicts. To top it off, the same time the upper-North-East is seeing snow in late may, Moore, Oklahoma was just leveled by an incredibly rare “EF5″ tornado for the second time in less than 15 years, and as of Sunday morning, the postman needed a whitewater raft to deliver the mail in downtown San Antonio. As a former teacher, I always feel obligated to “educate” the people that send me snotty letters informing me of just how “stupid” I must feel every time more than 20 inches of snow falls in the middle of Winter. But this latest spate of near-Summer snow in the North-East has the deniers absolutely giddy. It NEVER occurs to them to ask, “Just where did all that snow come from in the first place?” Yes, even late May snow is evidence of climate change.

I’ve noticed in my dealings with these people that a big part of the problem is the phrase “Global Warming”, used as shorthand by the Wingnut-o-sphere for “Summer in the Wintertime.” I think we’d be a lot further along in fighting “Climate Change” if it weren’t for that “easily debunked by looking out the window” misimpression. Despite what they say every year on the right, “Climate Change” isn’t a “new” term that Environmentalists are “suddenly” using because “Global Warming” keeps making them look foolish. “Global Warning” doesn’t mean “an end to Winter”. That’s some bizarre definition the Right made up because it’s so easy to debunk. When you don’t have a clue about what the heck you’re talking about to begin with, it is EASY (and takes balls of stone) to declare YOU, with your Associate degree in Journalism from the prestigious North Idaho Community College (Palin’s alma mater) are right and several thousand Climatologists (many with PH.D’s in the subject) are all wrong.

CBS’s “Face the Nation” actually took a moment yesterday (albeit in the second half hour of their program that many local stations don’t even carry) to question whether all this wild weather we’ve been seeing lately… from late May snowstorms to massive tornadoes and flooding…. might be due to Climate Change. With no representatives of BigOil on the panel, all agreed that recent freak weather events are in fact being made worse by Climate Change. With no “Meet the Republicans Press” or “ThisWeek” competing for airtime yesterday, more people probably tuned into “Face the Nation” than usual, so it’s a shame they waited until after most stations broke away following the first half, to discuss the issue, but we’ll take our victories where we can find them. Of course, they could have run the program in primetime hosted by Toby Keith and half this country would have chosen to watch “Wheel of Fortune” reruns instead.

The note I received Sunday morning was mercifully brief (and not my first from this particular person):

“[It’s] May 26th and my hometown just got a foot of snow overnight! Good luck with that whole ‘Global Warming’ thing.”

Feeling compelled to beat my head against their thick skull just once more, I (knowingly in vain) just had to reply:
 

Sadly, anti-science Luddites like yourself who don’t understand the first thing about Climate Change are going to be the death of us all.

First off, the term is “Climate Change”, not “Global Warming”. GW is the shorthand description used by Deniers like yourself b/c you think it means “100′ days in Winter”. It doesn’t. It ONLY refers to a tiny increase in GLOBAL temperature of 1-6 degrees. If you don’t think 1′ is a big deal, ask an ice cube what the difference is between 32′ & 33′.

Second, you’re confusing “Climate” (a permanent condition) with “Weather” (a daily event). If it were to snow in Miami one year, you wouldn’t suddenly say “Miami has a cold *climate*”. Just because we still have cold weather doesn’t mean Climate Change isn’t real.

Third, while you saw record *snowfall*, you saw very few “record *low* temperatures”. Cold temperatures do not guarantee “snow”. There are parts of the South Pole where it hasn’t snowed in 10,000 years because it’s just too cold. You don’t need “record cold” to get snow. For every “one” record “cold” temp each year, we see TWO record highs (and that gap is growing).

Fourth, if you don’t think “freak late May snow storms” are a sign of “Climate Change”, you’re not paying attention. WHERE DO YOU THINK ALL THAT SNOW CAME FROM? Increased evaporation means more water in the air, and warm air holds more water than cold air. Once all that moisture moves over a colder region, you get snow… and LOTS of it. (The video you replied to w/o watching explains this.)

Lastly, we just saw an entire town wiped out after being hit by an EXTREMELY rare EF5 tornado for the second time since 1999 and the third outbreak of EF5’s in the last decade (Joplin). We’ve seen more EF5’s in the last 15 years than we’ve seen in the prior FIVE DECADES.

Please share this information with your fellow Climate Change Deniers and stop making a fool of yourself by telling people freak weather events disprove Climate Change.

 
You too may have noticed that the critics never use the term “Climate Change”. They always say “Global Warming” because every snowfall “disproves” it. “Aha! See! Global Warming isn’t real” because the temperature didn’t do what I falsely claimed you said would happen. The standard straw-man argument: They setup an easily disprovable condition, then when it fails, it’s proof they were right all along. See how that works?

“Democrats think all Republicans are racists, but millions of Republicans voted for Hermann Cain”, ergo you clearly have no idea what you are talking about! Never mind the fact that I never called “ALL” Republicans “racists”, or the fact you are using a generalization to disprove a generalization. They create a false narrative that they KNOW already isn’t supported by the “facts”, and then declare you a fool for believing something you never claimed to believe.

“It’s snowing in May! Global Warming is a hoax!” Oh what short memories we have. Barely year ago last January, everyone on the news was wondering, “Where is the snow?” A month into Winter, and a “heat wave” meant many cities across the country had yet to experience their first snowfall of the season:

January 2012 Winter Heat Wave (1:41)

Incredibly (well, probably not), Breitbart.com recently ran a story (no, I will not link to it) claiming the last week of April saw “32 record lows for every record high”. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I had to check the story out. Eight lines long with just one link to the website of a Climate Change denier who found a map on a weather website that showed an unusual number of record low temperatures that particular week.

One commenter on Breitbart.com was clear-headed enough to point out that “32:1″ isn’t exactly a sign of “normal” weather either. But regardless, claiming that a cluster of record “low” days one week somehow nullifies all the other weeks of record “highs” is a bit like declaring that a coin will “always” come up tails just because it came up tails ten times in a row.

By March, 2012, that record Winter heat wave had confirmed what we already knew:

I wonder where the Deniers were THAT week?

ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention that two weeks ago, we finally surpassed the much warned of “400ppm (parts per million)” mark concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere. 520 Environmental Scientists released this statement demanding action on our rapidly changing climate, including a laundry list of consequences if we don’t act quickly.
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
Filed in Environment, Global Warming, myth busting May 27th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

State Dept Says Modified Keystone Would Have Negligible Impact? (updated)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 4, 2013

IT'S A MIRACLE!Last May, after the original Keystone XL Pipeline proposal had been rejected by the Obama Administration, TransCanada submitted a new modified proposal for a shorter, more direct route for the same pipeline to pipe saturated tarsands “oil” from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. After a ten-month review, the U.S. State Department released a preliminary report on Friday concluding that the revised pipeline is “unlikely to have a significant impact on the environment”. Why? Well basically, because compared to the old KXL proposal, the new one seems almost sane (it isn’t). The revised pipeline would be shorter (in theory, only because it only extends to Nebraska where it will hookup with the already approved “Keystone extension” approved by the Obama Administration last year.) I wrote about the myths surrounding the original KXL project way back in April of 2011. ThinkProgress reported on the State Departments’ positive review of the revised plan last Friday and noted that for the next 45 days, the State Department would be accepting public comments (keystonecomments@state.gov) on the matter before a final decision is made. Here is a copy of my own comments. I highly encourage you to do the same:

 

Dear Sir or Madam,
  I am writing to express my deep disappointment and serious concern regarding the potential approval of a revised Keystone XL Pipeline project. Based on my own research, it is quite clear that the KXL would not only be an environmental catastrophe, but would not produce an abundance of jobs as many have claimed, and would in fact lead to higher gas prices (also in direct contradiction to stated claims) to go along with the aforementioned ecological disaster.

Even the premise of the pipeline “lowering gas prices” is absurd on its face. WHY would any company lobby so hard and spend tens of millions to push a project that would REDUCE their profits?

Reading the latest report on the revised pipeline proposal, right from the beginning I find myself gravely concerned that what is to be pumped through this pipeline being referred to as “oil” as it is not. It is in fact an oily sludge called “bitumen” that must be extracted from the sand and converted into oil. Thick bitumen sludge does not flow like oil, so it must be mixed with water… and LOTS of it (a minimum ratio of 3:1) to liquify it to the point it can be “pumped” like oil. That’s a horrendous waste of fresh water at a time when record heat means record drought.

Upon arrival at its destination, much of the water must then be extracted before the refining process may begin. The waste water… now a muddy chemical sludge, is dumped into giant “tailing ponds” of toxic waste that seep into the ground water, poison the soil for centuries, and kill off local wildlife.

The resulting “heavy-sour crude” is unsuitable for the production of gasoline (which relies on “light-sweet crude”), making it only suitable for producing “diesel” for export to Europe & South America. American refineries will have to give up roughly 15% of their existing refining capacity to convert this sludge into diesel, diverting gasoline production intended for the U.S. market to diesel production for export. Less gasoline being produced means HIGHER prices, not lower.

And there is no question “export” is the ultimate goal. Why else build a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico? Wouldn’t it be cheaper/faster/easier to simply build a refinery in Canada (or anyplace between Alberta and the Gulf Coast?)

So TransCanada (the owners of the resulting “oil”) gets to export its oil and reap huge profits, while we get higher gas prices, toxic waste ponds and a leaky pipeline bisecting the nation and endangering ground water (and it WILL leak, as the sandy sludge “sandblasts” the thin metal pipeline transporting it.)

We also learned this past week that construction of the pipeline itself would produce no more that 42,100 temporary jobs and only between 35-50 permanent jobs. That’s a FAR cry from the “nearly 1 million jobs” falsely claimed by the pipeline’s supporters.

The solution to America’s energy problems is not to further embed our dependence on fossil fuels from one of the worst sources of oil on the planet, for an energy supply that would last only a few years (not “100+” as claimed), wreak havoc with our environment, increase gas prices and not produce anything close to a significant number of jobs to justify such a costly project. For a fraction of the cost, making our energy grid more efficient and investing in Green energy technology would produce FAR more “bang for the buck”… more jobs, better paying sustainable jobs with an actual future.

The idea that a revised pipeline proposal might be approved simply because the “new” proposal isn’t as an environmentally devastating as the first one is simply insane.

Thank you.

In the same report that says the pipeline is “unlikely” to have any affect on the GPA (“Great Plains Aquifer”) because the groundwater runs too deep and below bedrock, just three bullet points down it says this:
 

There are 2,537 wells within 1 mile of the proposed Project, including 39 public water supply wells and 20 private wells within 100 feet of the pipeline ROW. The vast majority of these wells are in Nebraska. Those wells that were in the vicinity may be affected by a petroleum release from the proposed Project.Executive Summary, pg.12.

 
Tell us again how the pipeline is “unlikely” to affect the ground water?
 

UPDATE: A week after release of the report (March 9th), an investigation revealed that this latest report claiming a negligible impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline on the environment was not prepared by neutral government officials, but instead:“Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement.” Color me shocked.

 

Just for fun, and a reminder of what once was, the intro from the 2008 Apocalyptic comedy “Zombie Strippers” joked about “Bush’s Fourth Term”:


 



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

Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts!


 

Share
Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Jobs, myth busting March 4th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Outrage for… More Outrage.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 11, 2013

Thanks for the warning.There was no shortage of things to talk about this week, with the a record-setting blizzard hitting the North-East, GOP feux-outrage over the use of “drones” as part of a secret National Defense policy where the government asserted it can kill anyone overseas deemed a threat to National Security… even United States citizens. And, of course, Tuesday night will be the President’s State of the Union Address, where he is expected to lay out his priorities for his second term. But something even more traumatic… for me personally… came up last Friday that I feel I just have to talk about first. “Lefty’s Autopsy”. You might remember me mentioning two weeks ago how my beloved cat “Lefty” passed away after being diagnosed with cancer but then being told I had to wait ten days for the next available appointment for a bone marrow biposy before they could perform life-saving surgery on him. But by then, he was too weak and died on the operating room table. 2-1/2 traumatic months and $3,400 dollars later, all I have to show for my ordeal is a tiny urn on my kitchen table. I told the doctor upon his death that I wanted… nay needed… them to perform an autopsy because I HAD to know what happened to him. I finally got those results back Friday, and what I learned turned my sadness into outrage.

First, the topics I’m glossing over this week:

But back to Lefty’s autopsy. It all began last October. Not having much cash to spare and three cats to feed, I purchased “Purina Cat Chow” for the first time… knowing Lefty was unlikely to like it… because I had a $2 coupon that was about to expire. And sure enough, he didn’t, eating only small amounts. At the same time, I was growing increasingly concerned about his two sisters who are grossly overweight. Hearing them eat all night long as I tried to sleep, I started collecting their food before going to bed at night and putting it back out the next morning. After a couple of days of this, Lefty began throwing up in the middle of the night. The first night I didn’t think anything of it, the second night I became concerned, and after the third night in a row of him vomiting, I threw away the “Cat Chow” and called my vet to make an appointment, which wouldn’t be for another two days. Despite throwing away the “Cat Chow” and leaving other food out for him all night, he continued to barf for the next two days. I finally got him to the vet who diagnosed him as having “pancreatitis”, prescribed some bland wet cat food and gave him an injection of antibiotics that would last him ten days. I brought Lefty home the next morning (following a barf-free night) and hand-fed Lefty for the next ten days when he suddenly started throwing up again.

Not willing to trust the first vet again, I called a specialist that agreed to see him the next morning. Another night with poor Lefty throwing up (I was now flushing his throat out with water after vomiting to prevent acid erosion damage… something I should have been doing all along), I rushed him to the specialist the next morning. By now, he was already in very bad shape after having not eaten very much in nearly two weeks (only “Cat Milk” and the bland wet food I was now baby-feeding him). He went from a healthy 16-lbs to just 11-lbs in two weeks. By that time you could see/feel his spine along his back. They gave him IV fluids and aggressive care that included non-anabolic steroids for the next 36 hours before they released him. When I picked him up the next day, I was told Lefty did NOT have “pancreatitis” and the first vet had come to that conclusion based on a test for dogs. The specialist noticed that his spleen felt enlarged and scheduled him for a Sonogram the following Monday. I picked him up Friday evening and Lefty was once again stable with no vomiting.

On Monday, I brought him back for his Sonogram. It showed his spleen was indeed enlarged, so they performed a “needle biopsy” to check for cancer. The biopsy found the presence of “mast cells” indicating he had cancer… which seemed unimaginable as developing in barely two weeks, but I was told the cancer had probably always been there, dormant, coincidentally revealing itself only just now. The only treatment was to remove his spleen at a cost of “around $1,500″, being told it wouldn’t save his life, only alleviate his discomfort till he succumbed to the cancer in about a year. I couldn’t afford such an expensive surgery for something that wasn’t a cure, buying him just one more year of life.

I brought Lefty home, saddened by the thought that my pet… who was perfectly healthy just four weeks ago, was now predicted to be dead of cancer in just two months. I jumped online and started Googling “needle biopsies and cancer” to discover “needle biopsies” have a whopping 25% error rate, lending support to my suspicion he could not possibly have developed cancer so quickly.

The following weekend, Lefty started vomiting again. The Specialist was incredibly expensive (two visits totaled $2,300), and not trusting their diagnosis of cancer, I took him to a third vet. I expressed my concern and they reviewed his chart only to “agree” with the previous vet that cancer seemed all but certain and he needed surgery to remove his spleen… which, as I already mentioned, was a lot of money for something that wasn’t a cure. They prescribed some anti-nausea medication and a pill for gastrointestinal upset. I also continued the steroids the Specialist had prescribed even after the prescription ended because it was the only thing keeping his strength up (ironically, I take the exact same pill every day, so I gave him some of mine until the vet renewed his prescription.) Lefty did quite well and went another ten days without throwing up. By now I was crushing all his pills together in a pill grinder and filling empty medicine-capsules because forcing three pills twice a day down his throat was pure torture (for us both). Lefty had become quite adept at faking swallowing his pills only to spit them out the moment my back was turned. So forcing three pills became “twelve” as I redeposited the same pills over & over until he finally swallowed them. By now, Lefty was actually eating on his own again, which was good because trying to force specially prescribed bland wet food down his throat was a lesson in futility.

When Lefty started vomiting again about ten days later, a family friend (also a vet) told us of a veterinary surgeon that could remove his spleen for only $700. She referred us to a local veterinary oncologist (pet cancer doctor) that I (incorrectly) presumed was the same doctor that would do the surgery. She wasn’t. All she did was examine Lefty, look at his chart, agreed with the first vet’s diagnosis of cancer based upon the needle-biopsy and charged us $450.

I went home and started calling every local vet to see if I could find someone that could remove a spleen for less than $700. Instead, I was quoted everything from $3,500 to $4,800. Another family friend suggested “Texas A&M Veterinary School”, having once taken his own cat there years ago and only being charged the cost of anesthesia. So I called, but they wanted $2,300 and could not see him for at least a week, which was way too long. Suddenly, $700 didn’t sound so bad. I had to stop Lefty from vomiting, even if it only bought him one year, as least it would be a good one with no suffering. I called and scheduled Lefty for surgery in 36 hours.

A day & a half later, I brought Lefty in for surgery and the vet expressed concern over his apparent anemia, saying he would have to run some tests first. I left him there only to receive a call a few hours later saying his blood count was now so low (having fallen from a marginal 19 to just 10 in barely a week) that it suggested the cancer had spread to his bones meaning his cancerous spleen might be the only thing keeping him alive (producing red blood cells) and removing it could kill him. The only way to know was a bone-marrow biopsy. Here I was thinking I’d finally be bringing home a pet no longer in discomfort, and now he would have to wait still longer for yet another test. I once again called every local vet only to be told that “only two places left do animal bone marrow biopsies: one is in California and Texas A&M.” So I called TAMU to schedule an appointment and was told the soonest appointment I could get with a veterinary oncologist is in ten days! “Nothing sooner?”, I begged? “No, that’s the first appointment we have available.” How on Earth was I going to keep this poor animal healthy for another ten days?

I worked like a dog to keep him healthy, giving him his pills, keeping him hydrated by squirting water in his mouth because by now he had stopped drinking on his own, and making sure he had food at the ready any time he straying into the kitchen looking to eat (he still had an apatite, which was a very good sign, but he was only eating a few bites, which was bad.) I went back to squirting wet cat food in his mouth. The fact he fought me so vigorously was amazing considering how emaciated he had become. I nursed him day & night to keep him reasonably healthy till his scheduled biopsy (eventually the vomiting became more frequent, reaching twice a day towards the end.)

On Day-8, I called TAMU to confirm the appointment I had made the week before because I didn’t want to make the 90 mile journey only to be told there was a problem. The nurse on the phone asked me for the reason I was bringing him in. “Bone-marrow biopsy. The surgeon won’t remove his spleen until he has one to see if his cancer has spread.”

“When did you make the appointment?” (“Uh oh!” I thought.)

“Eight days ago”, I told her.

“Is there a reason you are waiting so long?” I explained that that was the earliest appointment I could get.

“You always could have brought him into the Emergency Room”, she replied, and my heart just sank. Here I was desperately trying to keep this poor animal alive and free of discomfort (never any sign of pain) for the past eight days and now I was being told there was never any need to wait??? I told her that I therefore would be rushing Lefty up there the next morning a day early. I was told to call once I was on my way so they could prepare for him, which I did.

My father and I made the 90 mile drive the next morning and after an hour wait, a nurse finally came out to talk to us and take Lefty in back for some tests. I never saw Lefty again. Another hour later we were told that Lefty needed surgery immediately to remove his spleen whether the cancer had spread to his bones or not, with a “20% chance” of not surviving the surgery. My $700 surgeon back home said he was booked, meaning TAMU would have to perform the surgery for $2,300. Out of options, we agreed and left Lefty there for the night where he was put on an IV due to dehydration to prep him for surgery (I gave Lefty as much water as he’d allow, but clearly it was not enough.)

The next day I received a call “before 11am” as promised to let me know how the surgery went. At 10:30, the doctor called, started using words in the past tense that I knew meant the worst had happened, and told me Lefty was in cardiac arrest, was being given CPR, and even if they revived him, he would probably be on a respirator at a cost of $10,000, asking me what they should do. Knowing Lefty’s quality of life was now over, I tearfully gave them permission to stop their resuscitation efforts and greenlighted an autopsy for an additional $50 because I HAD to know what killed him. With two more cats at home, I couldn’t risk this happening to them. I was told (not at that time) that it would take two weeks for the results.

Two weeks was last Thursday and no call. Friday I called and they agreed to email me the results. I was stunned (but not surprised) by the findings.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I was right and Lefty didn’t have cancer. Reading the report with my jaw agape, the words “Cause of death: unknown” stood out like a dagger in my heart. Plowing through lots of medical jargon (which I’ve gotten quite good at interpreting following years of battling my own health issues years ago), buried towards the end, almost in passing, I read that an ulcer was found in his stomach. The poor animal suffered for two weeks and died of a completely curable stomach ulcer (which would explain why he responded so well to the antibiotics the first vet put him on despite the misdiagnosis of pancreatitis.) Lots of internal damage from the chronic vomiting, and the presence of precancerous “mast cells” in his spleen and liver were reported. His bone marrow was fine, and the words “cancer” or “carcinoma” appear nowhere in the two-page report, but the word “presumed” appears several times.

I never trusted the diagnosis of “cancer” based on a single test with a “25% error rate”. It just made no sense. My own determination of what happened? Lefty was allergic to something in the “Cat Chow” resulting in vomiting. By day three, it created an ulcer that kept him vomiting even after I threw the food out. Repeated vomiting damaged his spleen (just behind the stomach) resulting in it being flooded with precancerous “mast cells” (naturally present in the system) which were detected by the needle biopsy. No one ever did a “tissue biopsy” to confirm the diagnosis. They all just looked at the first test result, nodded their heads in agreement and charged me hundreds of bucks. Once they had made up their mind it was cancer, Lefty’s fate was sealed. All that misery they put my poor pet through, and all I have to show for it is a bank account that is now several thousand dollars lighter and this:
 

An urn & some saved fur in a baggie

The Moral of this story: No one cares about your health (or the health of those you love) more than you do. If something doesn’t sound right, you’re probably right.
 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
Filed in Environment, General, Global Warming, Healthcare, Politics, Rants, Seems Obvious to Me, War February 11th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

Mugsy’s Predictions for 2013. Fight, fight, fight.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 31, 2012

Ominous 2013Well, as the cliche’ goes: “It’s that time of year again” for my annual “Predictions” edition of Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, when we look back at how well I did last year, a little schadenfreude examining just how badly the so-called “psychics” did, and ending with my own predictions for the coming year. My own record (with all humility) is incredibly good, averaging well above 50%. But I think my call on the Constitutionality of “ObamaCare” (see more below) will stand out for years to come. Off-election-year political predicting is more difficult because there are no races to call, and politicians are far more predictable in an election year. Conservatives pick fights over things they might otherwise have ignored, attempting to rile their base to score cheap political points. Democrats trade their spines in for Jell-O as they try to look like “the reasonable ones” by compromising on everything they way voters claim to want (but really don’t because Republicans have no respect for people that don’t stand up for their principles, while Liberals become infuriated by Democrats repeatedly caving-in to GOP blackmail.) 2012 was one wild ride with the election & all. And despite my confidence in my predicting ability, there were plenty of times when I thought I’d be lucky if I got even one prediction right. And while I missed my share this past year, I think my hits outweigh my misses. So without further ado:

My 2012 Scorecard (17 predictions):

  1. Correct!“President Obama will win reelection. Handily. I’d say by roughly the same margin he beat John McCain (around 5% of the popular vote).” President Obama’s Electoral Vote victory was 332 to Romney’s 206, with a popular vote margin of nearly 4-percent (even with widespread attempts at voter disenfranchisement.)
  2. Correct!Romney will be the GOP nominee. As noted, other candidates came and went during the 2011 Debates as Republicans desperately searched for “anyone but Romney”, but Romney always hovered in the top-3 while his competitors imploded around him. (Gingrich did give me a fright there momentarily when he came back a second time to win South Carolina. But thankfully, his enormous ego did him in again.)
  3. Correct! – A lack of enthusiasm for Romney will have an effect “down ballot”, with Democrats making big gains in the House and holding onto at least five seats in the Senate. My final “pick-up” totals might have been off, but that “enthusiasm gap” did indeed crash the GOP. Appalling “gerrymandering” of voting districts ensured the GOP lost only 6 seats in the House despite receiving 1.2-million fewer votes. In the Senate, Democrats won all but 1 out of 22 incumbent races and picked up two more for a 54/46 majority (including two independents.)
  4. inconclusiveThe “Arab Spring” uprisings will finally reach Iraq. A string of “Arab Spring” uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya all leading to the ouster of their corrupt leaders and historic political reform, followed by a series of protests in Iraq led me to believe that Iraq would likely follow. And while weary Iraqi’s did not overthrow their corrupt government over the continued violence and lack of services in 2012, hints of such protests did indeed surface on Friday (in just under the wire), so I’ve upgraded this miss to “inconclusive” because if it is the dawn of an “Arab Spring” in Iraq, it will have definitely started in 2012 as predicted. Only time will tell.
  5. WrongGas prices will hit a new record high momentarily next Summer. Mercifully, this is one prediction I don’t mind getting wrong. While gas prices did indeed hit record highs in parts of the country or for “that particular time of year”, the “National Average” peaked at $3.92 last March, never breaking the $4.10/gal record set under President Bush in July of 2008.
  6. WrongSyria’s King Assad won’t still be in power by the end of 2012. While I could rate this “Correct” on a technicality, I never expected him to hang on this long. The revolution in Syria had already begun in mid-2011, and by the end of 2011, the Arab League had already sent 60 Monitors into Syria to witness/prevent the reported slaughter of civilians. Other “Arab Spring” nations fell in only a matter of months. But shocking support from Russia & China, even vetoing the use of force against Assad in July as part of the UN Security Council, allowed him to cling to power all year. And Arab League observers were forced to retreat barely a month later after incidents of violence against some of their own people by Syrian troops. Recent appalling acts of genocide could pressure Russia and China into reconsidering their longtime support for Syria sometime in the coming year. We’ll see.
  7. WrongCharges of “racism” surrounding Ron Paul will hurt him badly in early primary states. – While Paul’s notorious racist history always lingered just beneath the surface, he never drew enough “mainstream” support to make it an issue. Nothing could shake Ron’s loyal “Revolution” devotees’ fawning adoration of him, and “racism” doesn’t make the Top-10 List of Concerns in Republican primaries searching for the old white guy that will rescue them from the nation’s first black president whose very place of birth they question. So it came as no surprise that Paul’s racist past had little to no impact on his campaign.
  8. Correct!With Gingrich & Perry failing to get on the ballot in the Virginia primary, Romney will win Virginia easily (but with low voter turnout); Gingrich will take the state to court while Perry simply drops out. The headline after the VA Primary: “Mitt Romney Wins Virginia Primary With Lethargic Voter Turnout”. I was right on the legal challenge but got the names reversed. Perry was the one to go to court, dropped out after losing and endorsed Newt Gingrich.
  9. WrongThe “99%” Movement gains strength. Obama hosts a “99%” rally while the GOP candidates host “Tea Party” rallies. While the “Occupy Wall Street” movement did indeed have a substantial impact on the election… most notably in response to Romney’s devastating “47%” video… the President did not host/attend any OWS rallies, nor did the GOP candidates host any “Tea Party” counter rallies.
  10. Correct! Correct! Correct!The Supreme Court will declare “ObamaCare” Constitutional, citing the government’s power to tax, in a 5-4 split decision. On June 28th, the Supreme court ruled “The Affordable Care Act” constitutional. The deciding vote in a 5-4 split decision was cast by none other than Conservative Chief Justice Roberts (now THAT I didn’t predict!) who specifically cited the government’s power to “tax” as what made the “mandate” portion of the law legal. I’d call that prediction a slam dunk! I’m counting it as three.
  11. Correct!Someone will FINALLY get around to asking the GOP candidates that “if they repeal ObamaCare, what would they replace it with?” The idea of simply “just going back to the way things were” before Health Care Reform was finally recognized as unacceptable. Many sources did indeed start asking about the “replace” portion of the GOP’s call to “repeal & replace”, but this exchange on “Fox news Sunday” on June 30th particularly stood out.
  12. Correct!The return of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan won’t strain the job market as much as expected, but in fact have a mini stimulative effect with the increase in consumer demand. The return of all troops from Iraq in December of 2011 and 33,000 troops from Afghanistan last September did not push the unemployment rate up as soldiers returned home looking for work. Economic growth continued to rise slowly but did not in fact contract.
  13. Correct!Unemployment will be under 8% in time for the election. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8% at the end of September, ticking up to 7.9% by the end of October, but indeed below 8.0% as predicted.
  14. Correct!Gitmo will still be in service by the time of the November election. Probably not the most difficult of predictions. Such issues have a way of falling onto the back burner when attentions are drawn elsewhere.
  15. Wrong.The planned removal of  23,000  33,000 additional troops from Afghanistan by September 2012 will hit a snag. Not much to say here. I expected protests in Iraq that never materialized, coupled with civil war in Syria to derail the withdrawal of “Surge” troops from Afghanistan. I should of had more confidence in President Obama.
  16. Correct!The London Olympic Summer Games will go off without a hitch. No violence, terror threats, or major disruptions of any kind.
  17.  
    And the “Should have quit while I was ahead” award goes to:
     

  18. Wrong.If Mitt Romney does win his Party’s nomination as predicted, Virgina Governor Bob McDonnell will be his running mate. A last minute prediction I tossed in just before midnight on December 31st. McDonnell was campaigning hard for the job, and probably would have been the pick if he hadn’t gone off the rails and pushed a “mandatory vaginal ultrasound” law for rape victims seeking an abortion. I suppose he thought it would endear him to the whacked-out Evangelical Right, but instead made him the poster-boy for the GOP “War on Women”. Not even I could have seen that coming.

The final tally: 12 of 18 (I’m counting #10 as three) correct, 6 wrong and one “inconclusive”. 66%. That’s a heck of a lot better than I thought I’d do after Newt won South Carolina and McDonnell imploded. Even if you count #10 as just one prediction, I still scored an impressive 62.5%.

So let’s look at how the so-called “psychics” and Political Pundits did:

Psychic Blair Robertson, who claims to have predicted the 2011 Japanese earthquake (which is a bit like predicting snow in Winter), the plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski (no link to original prediction provided, so no way to verify the claim), along with some unnamed Soccer and Oscar predictions, was touted as a psychic whose track record of “successful forecasts” demonstrates he has the ability to “see into the future”. Let’s see:

Mr. Robertson predicted:

…a GOP Presidential victory, major volcanic activity in the Northwest and a “good chance” of a large eruption (none of which occurred), the “bombing of a cruise ship” (which I expect Robertson will point to the “Costa Concordia” being run aground by its captain as fulfilling his prophecy of a “cruise ship disaster”), North Carolina heavily damaged by storms in April, Jennifer Aniston will marry (nope), major riots in Miami and London, a train crash in Southern Europe caused by sabotage (nada)… okay, by this point, I’m just rubbing it in. Of Mr. Robertson’s 26 “psychic” predictions, only one came to pass (arguably): “a baby for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge” (pregnancy but no birth yet). 1 for 26 (0.4% accuracy).

Here is a sample of predictions from Cable TV’s “well known Long Island psychic” Janet Russell for 2012 (excuse me for picking on her for a second year in a row, but how is she “famous”? She truly sucks as predicting. 0-for-20 over the past two years):

…more people will be forgiven for their [home] loans and will be able to forgo foreclosures (I found no such widespread movement).

…one state will be open to “alternative lifestyle” and people will move to that state because they feel more comfortable (actually, same-sex marriage was on the ballot in four states in 2012, and passed in support of gay marriage in all of them. No mass migration into those states was reported.)

…the government will admit that we do have contact with other beings in other dimensions. (Uh… no.)

Several other “psychics to the stars” predictions appear on that same page (ibid: “Janet Russell”). Of the 50 or so predictions listed, I’m not sure a single one came to pass.

But that’s Hollywood. How did our friends over at Fox “news” do?

A Fox list of “5 Medical Advances in 2012″ is interesting:

  1. Medicine gets closer to treating cancer with vaccines. – There was actually plenty of news in 2012 to grant this a bonafide “Correct”. Vaccine treatments for cervical, lung, and breast cancer were all announced in 2012.
  2. An anticipated “Malaria vaccine” did not pan out.
  3. Millions will breathe easier, thanks to new EPA air pollution Regulations. – Gotta give this one a “No”. A minor “Cross-State Pollution Rule” was passed in 2012 (no surprise) that even their own best estimate was that it would improve life for up to 820,000 in the region, not “millions”. I think Fox’s own unfounded belief that Obama is a “regulation-crazy” president, played a part in that prediction.
  4. Many crucial drugs will become cheaper. – While a WSJ report claimed “Name-brand Drug Prices Rise, But Generics Get Cheaper”, with some generics falling as much as 22%, reading the Fox prediction, the basis for their prediction was that the price of many “name brand drugs” would fall as their patents ran out, while insurance companies (under ObamaCare, seeking maximum profit) would push doctors into prescribing cheaper generics. This did not happen, so I rate this prediction a “No” as well.
  5. Legislation will make it easier to choose health insurance. – There really was no “new” legislation specifically to aid in “choosing” a health insurance provider, so this is another swing & a miss.

Five predictions; one right: 20%. The fewer predictions you make, the easier it is to get a high score. Make one prediction and if you’re right, you score 100%. But even with that in their favor, they still tanked.

But medicine really isn’t in Fox’s wheelhouse. How did their “political” predictions go? On the Christmas Day 2011 edition of “Fox news Sunday”:

  1. Steve Hayes of “The Weekly Standard” predicted: “It’s more likely than not that Republicans win the White House in 2012 (later, “Probably Mitt Romney”), win the Senate in 2012, [and] despite some good Democratic recruits, keep the House of Representatives.” – One for three there, Steve. And the other two weren’t even close. Go fish.
  2. Liz Marlantes of the CSM predicted an Obama reelection and Republicans holding onto the House, but Democrats only “narrowly hold onto the Senate” losing “at least three seats”. For the record, Democrats increased their margins in both the House and Senate.
  3. Susan Ferrechio of “The Washington Examiner” disagreed with Marlantes, predicting Republicans regaining control of the Senate for an “all-Republican Congress”, but losing the White House. (Amazing how many Republicans, even back then, were pessimistic about unseating Obama.)
  4. Charles Lane of “The Washington Post” refused to reveal his prediction for the winner of the election, but was willing to predict they would “win the Electoral vote but not the popular vote”. Maybe he should have revealed his pick because it’s clear to me he was expecting Obama to win, so he would of gotten at least ONE thing right. And sorry Chuck, but Obama won both votes handily… just as *I* predicted.
  5. Hayes also predicted “economic growth will be under 2.5 percent every quarter of 2012″, and “unemployment on Election Day of 8.5 percent” (seconded by panelist Liz Marlantes.). – Sorry Steve & Liz. Economic growth was 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and the unemployment rate was under 8 percent by election day (again, as *I* predicted.)
  6. Lane called a General Motors rebound looking “a little iffy right now”. – To be clear, General Motors saw its second straight year of “robust profits”, earning “$1.48-Billion dollars” in 2012, well above Wall Street expectations. Hang it up now, Chuck.

Okay, enough of that. Conservatives suck at predicting politics because their predictions always follow their own personal biases and ignore reality. It’s a waste of time to guess what Republicans think because they are so damned predictable themselves. Time for my “Predictions for 2013″:

  1. I can’t really make a prediction regarding whether or not we’ll go over the imaginary “Fiscal cliff” because Congress is likely voting on it as you read this on December 31st, so let me split my 1st prediction depending on whether a deal is struck or not:
       o If a deal is made before the clock expires that comes very close to what President Obama already wanted ($250K ceiling with no cuts to Social Security & Medicare), Republicans will have done so only because they intend to hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again to get what they want when they think they’ll have more power… an astoundingly dangerous and irresponsible game, playing Russian Roulette with “the full faith & credit of the United States”. Too many Teanuts in Congress mistakenly believe the Debt Ceiling has something to do with future spending, and refusing to raise it somehow means we’ll be forced to “live within our means”, instead of an agreement to raise money to pay for past obligations already passed by Congress.
       o If a deal is struck with Democrats making wholly unnecessary concessions, President Obama will have fudged on the cutoff figure, possibly agreeing to raise his “$250K” ceiling to “$500K”. But since 20 Republicans in the House already rejected Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” that set the ceiling at “$1-Million”, the likelihood they’ll agree to a much lower “$500K” ceiling seems unlikely. And no sane Democrat should be willing to accept that deal either. Not only would it be a bad deal that makes the entire point of this fight moot, producing lots of pain for very little gain, but voters have already sided with the president, blaming Republicans for the obstruction. Caving in to GOP Blackmail is pointless because Democrats could obtain almost everything they asked for if they just hold out for a couple of weeks.
       o If no agreement is made before midnight and we “go over the imaginary cliff”, that puts Democrats in the cat-bird seat. The Bush Tax Cuts will expire for everyone, and Democrats will then propose The Obama Tax Cut in the exact form proposed by the President during the 2012 campaign. Until that time, the Stock Market will quake a little for about a week (or wildly roller-coaster for a month or two until the new tax cut is passed). Democrats will dare Republicans to vote against a tax cut for 98% of Americans, and anyone that refuses will only be proving to the entire country just where their loyalty lies: protecting the rich at the expense of the Poor & Middle Class. Since Republicans will have no choice but to vote for The Obama Tax Cut, it’s an absolute certainty that they’ll hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again to get the concessions they lost in the tax fight.

     
    Of the three options, I expect the second to be the most likely. Which brings us to #2:

    (Dec 31, 2012 Update: Senate agrees to a last-minute compromise with the tax-cut threshold pushed up to $450K with spending cuts postponed for two months… so the end result was basically a hybrid of the first two scenarios. We shall see if the inevitable “Debt Ceiling” fight… and now a fight over the “sequester” at roughly the same time… will be a “hybrid” as well.)
     

  2. IF Republicans play chicken with the Debt Ceiling” once again and take us down to the wire once more (and #3 below does not come top pass), President Obama won’t play that game a second time around. The moment it looks like the GOP’s hostage crisis might jeopardize our credit rating again (and cost us BILLIONS in interest on the money we barrow), President Obama will circumvent Congress and raise the Debt Ceiling all on his own, invoking The 14th Amendment. To say the GOP will have a conniption will be an understatement. Had the GOP of won control of the Senate, we would assuredly see another round of “impeachment hearings” as the GOP attempts yet another coup against the second Democratic president in a row (which would not have gone well with the public). Thank your lucky stars the GOP didn’t win control of the Senate in 2012. (Addendum: See #3 below.)
     
    Which leads us to #3:
     
  3. While I despise making predictions that will be proven right or wrong within a day or two, expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold true to his word and pass a rules change on day one of the new Congress to reform the filibuster. I think it unlikely he’ll get all the reforms he wants, with plenty of Senators concerned about “the slippery slope of 1st day rules changes passed with a simple majority”, but passing a simple agreement to force a “standing filibuster” (also known as a “talking filibuster”) is almost certain to pass w/o much of a fight. With Republicans still in control of the House for another two years, and another shot at retaking the Senate in 2014 and changing the rules back, there really isn’t much of a downside for them. The GOP House will ensure Republican Senators don’t have to filibuster anything that draws public fire, and they get to look like the reasonable affable ones by agreeing to “those power-crazed Democrats”. And let’s pray I’m right because should that “Debt Ceiling” fight come to pass, the change in the filibuster may be the only thing standing between us and default. I’m trying to imagine the public response to seeing a single GOP Senator holding the Senate hostage for hours… even days… and it won’t be pretty, making the likelihood of an extended challenge less likely. (Addendum: If I’m right and the Rules Change comes to pass, there will likely be no need for the President to invoke the 14th, negating prediction #2.)

    UPDATE 1: Sen. Reid delayed voting on filibuster reform on the first day of the new (113th) Congress, calling for a “recess” rather than an “adjournment” so that upon their return in three weeks, the Senate will still in its opening session.

    UPDATE 2 (1/24/13): In a move that has shocked Democrats, Reid has agreed to only mild changes to the filibuster rule, but otherwise leaves all of the GOP’s obstructive powers intact. When asked for an explanation, Reid said that he “didn’t feel it was time to get rid of the filibuster. But that argument does not wash since none of the proposed rules changes would have actually “abolished” the filibuster.

  4. Election Reform: Despite what President Obama said in his victory speech last November, since 2013 is not an election year, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of Election Reform this year… which is a shame because NON-election years are the best time to tackle the problem. More time to implement changes, and less paranoia on the Right over what those changes will do (everything from “helping ACORN… which went defunct in 2010… steal the election” to “helping illegal aliens vote”). I’ve finally come around in support of abolishing the Electoral College. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the idea that candidates can ignore less populated areas and simply focus all their efforts on big cities, but baldfaced attempts by the GOP to gerrymander electoral votes by district despite receiving over a million fewer votes in the House nationally, and an insane amount of focus on just one state (Ohio) deciding our election, I’m finally convinced that it is time for it to go. It’s a moot point, but I’m predicting little to no action on Election Reform in 2013. Damn shame too.
  5. The Unemployment Rate: Hmm, that’s a tricky one. Again, it depends on the “Fiscal Cliff” and “Debt Ceiling” votes. If the votes go (arguably) smoothly, I expect unemployment to be very close to 6.9% by the end of the year (give or take 3/10ths of a point). If however these votes become a long and protracted fight that drives the Stock Market nuts, it’s going to be very close to where it was in October (7.8%, give or take 3/10ths of a point.)
  6. Afghanistan: People are already asking, “why are we still there?” and the “Debt Ceiling” debate will thrust the cost of the war into the spotlight. I’m predicting that towards the end of the year, the idea of waiting another full year “until the end of 2014″ to bring our troops home will become increasingly unpopular, with calls to end the war in Afghanistan… if not by the end of 2013… then by early 2014 at the latest.
  7. Gas prices: Unlike during the Bush years where a stream of never-ending chaos kept the Middle East in turmoil for nearly a decade, President Obama has shown his desire not to rock-the-boat in the Middle East. Stability aids recovery. And gas prices go up FAR more easily than they go down. Gasoline over $3.00/gal is the new normal. Assuming nothing insanely stupid takes place like an Israeli attack on Iran sometime next year, expect gas prices to remain close to where they are today, hovering in the $3.50/gal range by years end.
  8. As such, I’ll also predict no U.S. or Israeli missile strike on Iran in 2013. I honestly don’t think Iran is suicidal. They may even be willing to negotiate in response to their devastated economy resulting from current sanctions. (This is a much easier prediction to make after Bill “The Bloody” Kristol predicted yesterday a  U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iran next year.)
  9. Syria and Assad: Dangerous territory for me, since I (incorrectly) predicted last year that he would no longer still be in power by year’s end, not foreseeing Chinese and Russian support for Assad. So with that in mind, the only thing left is for the Syrian people to overthrow Assad on their own, which would be a Herculean task. However, now that we know the score, expect the Assad regime to be “economically starved out of power”, with opposing countries refusing to do business with him, and commencing all business with a parallel government formed by the Syrian opposition. Seen as irrelevant, Assad will be left with no choice by to step down voluntarily from a meaningless “Presidency in name only”.
  10. The DOW: On December 28th, the last day of trading in 2012, the DOW closed at 12,938.11 (down 158 points on Friday, but was averaging above 13,000), up less than 1,000 points over 2011. But, assuming we avoid a nasty drawn-out debate over the “Debt Ceiling” and no missile strikes on Iran jacking up oil prices, a relatively stable economic situation means better-than-average economic growth in 2013. Expect the DOW to be up over 14,500 by the end of 2013.
  11. They say when the U.S. economy sneezes, the world catches cold. The reverse is also true. Positive economic growth in America will mean the first signs of economic recovery in Europe, particularly the hard-hit countries of Greece & Spain. Of course, a protracted debate over the “Debt Ceiling” would only help destabilize the world economy. With so much at stake, and while there is NO doubt in my mind the GOP is going to threaten to hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again, I don’t think President Obama will let it get that far again. So I repeat my prediction for the first signs of economic recovery in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe (and Conservatives will credit “Austerity” for their recovery.)
  12. Is 2013 the year we’ll see some serious Immigration reform? Don’t bet your Aunt Fanny on it. Will we see some “token” reform(s)? Yes. With the 2012 election still fresh in the GOP’s memory, and a recognition that they need to do damage-control with Hispanic voters, Republicans will agree to one or two minor changes in our immigration laws that poll well with Latino voters, but the Republican’s instincts (and deathly fear of offending their Redneck base) will win the day, making sure little to nothing substantial takes place in this non-election year. The time to gild-the-Lilly is in an election year, when pandering is most likely to help them at the polls. So, no, don’t expect much in the way of Immigration Reform this year.
  13. And finally, do Democrats finally pass an Assault Weapons Ban or pass meaningful restrictions on the amount of damage they can do (like limiting clip size)? This will be an ugly fight, so let’s pray Harry Reid does indeed pass filibuster reform, but yes, I do expect Democrats to pass something similar to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in 2013. Early on, many Republicans will express “support” for new gun laws, but when they don’t get their way on some “conditions” (eg: an armed guard in every school but with no explanation how to pay for it), the final vote will split almost straight down Party lines, passing with a few (less than 5) Republican votes in the Senate and maybe 20 in the House.

And that’s my list of 13 predictions for 2013. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it? 13 for ’13? Completely coincidental I assure you. This year is going to be a toughy. So much depends upon things that happen in just the first few days, I could be either incredibly accurate or incredibly wrong by this time next year. We’ll see. I encourage you to add your own predictions in the Comments below.

Postscript: How do you like the new look? Not sure I see myself sticking with it for a year or two if I can’t tweak it a bit more. We’ll see. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

 


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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS

 

Share
Filed in Economy, Environment, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Taxes, Unconstitutional, War December 31st, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

Email This Post Email This Post

Why Would Anyone Vote for Someone With This Record (Romney)?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 22, 2012

Truth in advertisingThis past week, I’ve listened incredulously to reports that President Obama’s lead over Governor Mitt Romney has continued to shrink following Romney’s impressive first debate performance despite his embarrassing second debate humiliation and VP Biden also being seen as “the winner” in his debate performance. Team Romney is 1-for-3 (and likely 1-for-4 tonight), and “fact checkers” have not been kind to Romney’s debate claims, yet we are to believe that none of this matters because… well, basically, because no matter what you believe, the governor has agreed with you at some point. But when you go down the list issue-by-issue, I find it unimaginable that this country would even consider putting these people back in control. But then again, I felt the same way leading up to the 2010 midterm elections. That prompted me the day before Election Day to openly wonder: When did “Republican” become this nations fall-back position? It seemed to me (and still does) that this country is WAY quicker to give Republicans’ the benefit of the doubt, and incredibly impatient with Democrats when they don’t fix the Republican’s mess fast enough, ready to go back to their “default” setting of Republicans in charge because they are really good at making themselves sound like they know what in the heck they are doing. But let’s look at that list issue-by-issue:

1) Fiscal Responsibility:

It has reached the point of “common knowledge” that “Republicans are the fiscally responsible ones” DESPITE the fact that TEN POINT THREE TRILLION of our $11.9 Trillion National Debt before Obama took office was run up by just three presidents: Reagan, Bush-41 & Bush-43. And Bush-43 took a projected $250-Billion dollar SURPLUS left to him by DEMOCRAT Bill Clinton, and stuck his successor, Barack Obama, with a $1.2-Trillion dollar annual DEFICIT. Hamstrung with the most astronomical deficit any president has ever left another administration, Obama’s presidency was hobbled from the day he took office by Trillion dollar annual deficits that HE DIDN’T CREATE. In fact, the Deficit will actually be LOWER next year (PDF) than it was when President Obama took office. Only two presidents have CUT SPENDING AND REDUCED THE DEFICIT in past 40 years: Bill Clinton and Barack Obama… both DEMOCRATS. So someone PLEASE explain to me where this myth of “Republican fiscal responsibility” comes from? Republicans LOVE to talk about the deficit, but only when DEMOCRATS are in charge.
 

Only Democrats cut spending

Imagine for a moment that a co-worker asked you to meet him for lunch at some fancy restaurant. He arrives an hour early, orders a steak and drinks a bottle of expensive wine, but when you arrive, all you see him with is a salad and a glass of water. Getting up to leave just as you arrive, he tells you, “Sorry, but I’ve been called away on an emergency”, and you generously offer to pay his bill, only to find out after he’s gone that he hosed you. You didn’t order so much as a slice of bread, but YOU are the one stuck with the huge bill. Meanwhile, you’re starving and can barely afford to buy yourself lunch. Worse, his buddies at the office all blame YOU for draining the expense account and try to get you fired. Republicans blaming president Obama for the size of the National Debt today is a lot like that. And how many years do you think it would take before you stopped criticizing the guy that hosed you?

2) National Security

Somehow, Republicans have an entirely undeserved record as being strong on “National Security” despite having a terrible track record (especially recently) when it comes to actually winning wars:

Wars since 1900 (only wars that have ended are shown in color):

Governor Romney OPPOSED pulling our troops out of Iraq, criticized our intervention in Libya to depose Qadaffy, and is already saber-rattling about using military force in Syria and Iran. And just like his Republican predecessor, wants to do it all on the Federal Credit Card while giving enormous fiscally irresponsible tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. Republicans are BIG on increasing defense spending… even when the military doesn’t want it… because it makes them sound tough on national security (even though General Mike Mullen told President Bush that the National Debt is probably the greatest threat to our national security.

And as you already know, the latest batch of Neocons pimping all this war talk are notoriously short on military credentials. “In the Land of the Blind, the one eyed man is king”, and so was President Bush who (questionably) “served” stateside in the National Guard during Vietnam, placing him head and shoulders above the likes of “five deferments” Cheney and now Mitt “went to talk French people out of drinking wine during Vietnam” Romney (the fact Romney actually protested IN SUPPORT of the Vietnam War makes it all the more sickening.)

3) Pro-Life, anti-abortion

I’ve often said, “You can’t be Pro-War, Pro-Gun and Pro-Death Penalty and still call yourself Pro-Life.” The fact is, three things reduce abortion rates more than anything else: a strong economy (so parents can support their children), access to affordable health care (especially prenatal care), and the availability of birth control. As you read here on M.R.S. last week, Passing Laws does NOT curb abortion“.

Under President Obama… with absolutely no help from Republicans, the economy is improving, everyone will have medical coverage under “ObamaCare”, and insurance plans MUST provide contraception coverage. The GOP has vowed to do away with the second two, and their “plan” to grow the economy is Bush-onomics on Steroids, continuing to believe despite ALL evidence to the contrary that if we just cut tax-rates… not just “a little more”, but by a staggering 20%… that’ll magically create jobs and balance the budget.

If you’re “Pro-Life” and want to reduce the number of abortions, simply passing a law doesn’t do it. All it does is drive the problem underground. If simply passing laws stopped things from happening, there would be no murders, no crime and no drugs. Look around. Do we still have murder, theft and drugs? Thinking you can stop abortion simply by passing laws prohibiting them should earn you some time in a rubber room somewhere.

If you want to bring down abortion rates, the LAST thing you should be calling for is to repeal “ObamaCare”, object to contraception coverage, and make The Pill illegal (and yes, that’s EXACTLY what Romney’s support for a “Personhood Amendment” would do.)

4) Bain Capital didn’t “create jobs”, it DESTROYED them

This to me is insane. The idea that Mitt Romney knows anything about “creating jobs” because of his experience at Bain Capital is absurd. The business that Romney ran was a “venture capital” firm (which I’ve had plenty of experience with). They don’t RUN businesses. Early on, they gave out business loans to companies that someone else ran (Venture capitalists do typically sit on the Board and approve/reject decisions, but rarely MAKE those decisions unilaterally. So their record as a “job creator” based on that is weak at best.

But soon, making money by giving out loans was deemed “too slow” (by Romney?), leading them to acts of (as Rick Perry called it) “Vulture Capitalism”, where they bought up successful yet cash-strapped companies, bled them for all they were worth, fired all the employees, and then sold off the empty husk, reaping huge profits.

Is THAT the kind of “business experience” you believe “creates jobs” and would be good for this country?

Meanwhile, our current president (and again I point this out because it can’t be said often enough), with NO help from the GOP, reversed a loss of 750,000 jobs a month to where we’ve actually been GAINING jobs each month (not as many as we’d like, but tell that to the Republicans who filibustered “The Jobs Act” or “The Veterans Jobs Bill”), with over 5-Million jobs created since taking office (more than twice the net number of jobs Bush created in eight).

And finally…

5) “No Core”

I still find it astounding that in 2004, Republicans savaged Presidential nominee John Kerry for ONE inartfully stated fact: a reporter asked him to explain his vote opposing supplemental funding for the Iraq War. This led to the famed “I was FOR it before I was against it” remark. What the Senator was referring to there was voting in favor of the funding when it was to be paid for by repealing the Bush Tax Cuts for the very wealthy, but then voted against the bill when that provision was stripped out by the GOP. And for that one poorly worded response, Kerry was branded a “flip-flopper” by the Right like it were The Mark of Cain. Bush supporters showed up at rallies waving flip flops (the sandals), and the GOP ran TV ads of him engaging in the pretentious sport of “wind surfing” and saying his positions shift “as the wind blows”.

Flash forward just eight short years, and the GOP has nominated a man that a member of his own Party called “a perfectly lubricated [political] weather vane” in a TV ad depicting just a few of Romney’s flip-flops:
 

Jon Huntsman’s “Perfectly Lubricated Weather Vane” TV ad

 

Romney’s flip flopping has become legendary, clearly telling people whatever he thinks they want to hear at that particular time, and when caught, insists he has not changed positions. Probably the best example of this was when he ran for Senator in 1994, he gave an impassioned defense of how he was “pro-choice” as the result of a family tragedy regarding an illegal cross-border abortion in Mexico (his sister-in-law died), and because of that, would never change his position. He repeated that claim as he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002. No change, no way, no how. And when Mitt Romney gives you his word on something, you can take it to the bank.

One guy, John Kerry, was a wind-surfing elitist “flip flopper” on a single issue that Republicans used to paint him as out-of-touch and untrustworthy. The other, someone whose dancing “dressage horse” was entered into the Olympics, as he himself sets an Olympic record for “flip flopping” that would put Gabrielle Douglas to shame.

Mitt Romney has no core. He’s whatever you need him to be at that particular moment as a matter of political expediency. His own campaign director compared this philosophy to “an Etch-a-Sketch”. We got a real good look at this in action during the first presidential debate, where Romney basically “won” by abandoning just about every principle he’d ever had and repeatedly lied about his own position on various issues: from birth-control to the size of his tax plan. If the hypocrisy wasn’t bad enough to make Republicans question everything they believe, it should (at the very least) make you question your vote.
 

PS: And for those still asking, “Okay, you’ve given me plenty of reasons not to vote for Romney, but why should I vote FOR Obama?”
 

Obama lists many of his first-term accomplishments.

 



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

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS


 

Share
Filed in Economy, Election, Energy Independence, Environment, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Money, myth busting, Politics, Taxes, War October 22nd, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View