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Puerto Rico Crisis the Result of Years of Conservatism. Coming soon to a state near you.
Oct 2nd, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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I will admit I know very little about Puerto Rico other than the fact it’s an island in the Caribbean, it’s not a state, and everyone there is an American citizen… which I’m certain is at least one thing more than Donald Trump knew before last week. So when Trump responded to the crisis in Puerto Rico by attacking them for their poverty instead of showing the same concern he showed Texas & Florida after their respective hurricanes, it was doubly insulting. Not only did he decide that the middle of a humanitarian crisis was the time to blame them for how poor they are, but the fact is, Conservative policies… like the one Trump is planning to roll out with his massive tax cut for the Super Rich… that are to blame for their economic state.

From the 70’s to the early 00’s, Puerto Rico was a haven for corporations looking to evade U.S. taxes:

In Puerto Rico, over a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product already comes from pharmaceutical manufacturing. That shouldn’t be surprising. According to the U.S. Federal Tax Reform Act of 1976, manufacturers are permitted to repatriate profits from Puerto Rico to the U.S. free of U.S. federal taxes. And by the way, the Puerto Rico withholding tax is only 10%.Counterpunch, 11/21/2006

(Reminder, “1976” was Ford, not Carter.)

But all those U.S. corporations relocating their headquarters to Puerto Rico wasn’t a boom to the Puerto Rican economy. They didn’t hire locally (many HQ’s were little more than P.O.Boxes), and paid little to nothing in taxes (thanks to Republican tax policies.)

Rather than dive into the weeds of tax policy and attempt to explain why all this was very illegal, just understand that all these Republican tax loopholes that allowed corporations to hide in Puerto Rico to avoid paying taxes and turn it into an economic black hole, was made even more devastating following the massive global economic crash Bush’s final year in office, putting what few corporations left hiding in PR out of business and taking what few jobs they provided with them.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, there was an effort by the GOP Congress to inflict mandatory “austerity” measures upon bankrupt PR until they repaid their massive debt to the government… with no say in the matter themselves. I wrote about this back in June of last year when Hillary supported the GOP plan and Bernie opposed it, visiting Puerto Rico before their primary to receive his usual large reception. (The mayor of San Juan… Carmen Yulín Cruz… whom we’ve seen on TV quite a bit recently after being attacked by Trump… made headlines last year when she joined with the former governor to switch her support from Hillary to Bernie, after which Hillary declared she too was now opposed to the GOP austerity plan and never really supported it. But I digress.

Turning Puerto Rico into a massive tax shelter where corporations moved there to avoid paying income taxes and consuming local resources without paying for it, was strike one. Resulting in few jobs and no tax revenue to put into rebuilding their infrastructure.

The GOP Congress imposing “austerity measures” upon them (with no say in the matter) when they were already bankrupt with an economy that was decimated by the crash on 2008, was strike two.

And… arguably… the devastation caused by two Cat-4 hurricanes just weeks apart was made even worse by Republican denial of Climate Change, making these storms exponentially more destructive. Strike three against Puerto Rico.

And now the GOP is about to do what they did to Puerto Rico to the entire nation. They’ve already kneecapped our efforts to fight Global warming, but now Trump’s proposed tax plan is “Voodoo Economics” all over again. In case you need a refresher, “Voodoo Economics” is what George Bush Sr. called Ronald Reagan’s claim that a massive tax cut would pay for itself by all the economic growth it would create. Poppy Bush was right, by November of Reagan’s second year in office, unemployment soared to 10.8% and he was forced to raise taxes TWELVE TIMES before leaving office to stop the bleeding (which never stopped but did significantly slow.)

They called it “Trickle Down economics”, the theory that giving massive tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, all that wealth would eventually “trickle down” to the rest of us in the form of jobs and investment. The problem is, corporations don’t reinvest their savings back into the company without incentive (like a tax break in exchange for doing so) or unless there’s a need for it due to increased demand. As Keynesian economics proved, money doesn’t “trickle down” like rain, it is “absorbed up” like a sponge. Put the money in the hands of those who spend it and they create DEMAND, which forces companies to expand to meet that demand, hiring more people who buy more products, thus creating more demand.

It’s not just theory. We have decades of economic history… both Republican and Democratic… to prove it. Reagan cut taxes for corporations and created an economic crisis that tripled the entire accumulated 204 years National Debt in just eight. Poppy Bush tried to follow suit, but the man who coined the phrase “Voodoo Economics” tried to do it without the massive borrowing Reagan relied on to fund the government and ended up creating a nasty recession that cost him his job.

Then Bill Clinton took office and raised the top tax rate 3%… which Republicans claimed would throw us into an even deeper Recession than Poppy Bush put us in. The result? Not only did we see the healthiest economy in fifty years, but unemployment fell to a stunning 3.9% (which the Republican congress tried… and continues to try to this day… take credit for) and a balanced budget.

Then Bush Jr took office claiming that being able to pay off our Debt only proved we were “overtaxed” and therefore deserved a tax cut (which is EXACTLY why no Republican administration will EVER cut the National Debt… because the moment we do, they’ll argue it’s proof people are “over taxed” and therefore deserve a tax cut.) The result? Not one but TWO massive Recessions (the second nearly destroying the GLOBAL economy) and turning a budget SURPLUS into a $1.4 TRILLION annual DEFICIT.

That mess was handed to President Obama in 2008, who raised taxes on the wealthy again, cut the deficit, and took unemployment back down to under 5.0% again.

And here we go again. Trump’s new tax plan is “Voodoo Economics” on steroids. Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (who ironically needs a “new chin”) made the rounds yesterday pushing this ridiculous strategy once again like no one has ever tried it before, insisting that isn’t a massive tax cut for the rich and that “trickle down economics” works. In a move that was almost comical, Mnuchin started to qualify his plan as not a massive “INCOME” tax cut for the rich after it was pointed out that slashing the Estate Tax… which multi-millionaire Mnuchin kept using the GOP trick of calling it a “death tax” to make it sound ridiculous & unfair… from 35% to just 20%… meaning a loss of tens of billions in tax revenue all going to the top 2/10ths of 1%. Trump unveiled his tax plan a speech where he assured his idiot followers that it was NOT in fact “a huge tax cut for rich people like myself… Believe me.” A little tip: any time Trump says “Believe me”, he’s lying.

As George Stephanopoulos pointed out to Mnuchin yesterday, “Since Trump refuses to release his taxes, how do we KNOW his tax plan won’t benefit him?” Mnuchin’s non-answer answer was basically a reassurance that we can trust the Snakeoil-salesman-in-Chief, founder of “Trump University”, promised Mexico would pay for his wall, and told the “LGBTQ community” he had their back before proposing the military kick active duty soldiers out of the Service… when he says his plan won’t be a huge gift to himself, we can believe him. So there! (Though analysis of the only tax return of his that we have… the two pages he leaked earlier this year of a return that made him look as good as possible when he was seeking citizenship for Melania… still show his tax plan could save him over a billion dollars.)

And all these economic (and environmental) policies that decimated Puerto Rico are about to be tried on the U.S. as a whole. But don’t worry, they won’t fail THIS time.

Believe me.
 


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Two Cat-4 Hurricanes in Two Weeks. Ignoring Climate Change is getting VERY expensive
Sep 11th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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“This is the first time in history two Catagory-4 storms have made landfall in the same season.” – ABC News weather anchor Ginger Zee.

Hurricane Harvey raged outside my window as I typed my column two weeks ago. I was fortunate where I live to have avoided the flooding & power outages, but many around me were not so lucky. And at the time, they were already predicting the cost of Harvey to surpass the former record holder Hurricane Katrina ($160 Billion in damage vs $180 Billion). Now, as I type this a mere two weeks later, Hurricane Irma… briefly a Catagory-5 and presently a Cat-4, is lashing Florida’s West coast and is already predicted to beat out even Harvey in terms of destruction, for an estimated total cost to taxpayers of nearly $400 BILLION dollars in the space of two weeks (yet another Category-4 just beyond Irma lies “Juan”… which is presently predicted to turn North missing land entirely. Let’s pray they are right because the Texas Gulf Coast can’t endure much more of this.
 

Life imitates art

 

As Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Texas shoreline and dropped a record 27 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER on the state, for days I carefully listened to the national news reports for ANY mention of “Climate Change” or “Global Warming”. I watch “BBC World News” regularly and thought “Surely the BBC will discuss it”. Alas, they never did. It wasn’t until the very end of Harvey before I heard my first mention, when a BBC reporter stuck a mic in the face of a man in a pickup truck driving through flooded streets who proclaimed: “If you don’t believe in Climate Change, you’re a moron.” That was it. The one and only mention of either “Climate Change” or “Global Warming” I had heard mentioned on any network news program during Hurricane Harvey.

As Hurricane Irma grew and approached Florida, I again listened closely for any mention of Climate Change. It wasn’t until Irma made landfall in the Florida keys Sunday morning that I heard ABC’s weather anchor Ginger Zee throw climate change deniers a lifeline with the tired “we just don’t know” bullcrap line of whether or not “Global Warming causes hurricanes.” This is bullcrap because THAT’S A BULLSHIT QUESTION. We don’t need to know what CAUSES hurricanes to know that WARMER WATER EQUALS MORE SEVERE STORMS. Every 1′ degree rise in ocean temps adds (roughly) 62 Million atomic bombs worth of energy to a hurricane. Continuing to suggest there is “uncertainty” about the EFFECTS of Global Warming by focusing on the more complex question of “what causes hurricanes in the first place” only allows the debate to drag on without anyone doing anything about it. Our house is burning. Stop arguing over WHY and put the damned fire out!

During the election, Donald Trump famously tweeted that “Climate Change is a hoax by the Chinese” to trick every other nation on Earth into “handcuffing” their major industries while China grows their economy by ignoring it. The problem is, China ISN’T ignoring it. THEY signed the Paris Accord and is one of (if not THE) biggest investor in Green Energy/Technology, building the largest solar farm in Earth (in the shape of a Panda no less), one of the largest wind farms in the world, and one of the fastest “MagLev” (Magnetic Levitation) bullet trains on the planet shuttling workers & travelers clear across the country at an average speed of 431KPH (271MPH) (with plans to build a 600Kph version soon), and (as previously reported) set a manufacturing goal of 12% of all new vehicles built in China to be full electric by 2020. Does THAT sound like a country that’s ignoring green technology because they think it stifles the economy?

And we’re falling behind. WAY behind.

While the rest of the world sees Green Tech as the way of the future, investing hundreds of billions of dollars that they expect to earn back 100x over, Republicans in this country believe “Global Warming is one big joke. A Liberal fantasy” to trick rednecks into eating Tofu.

“Regulations that force corporations to fight phantom Climate Change cost businesses billions of dollars in lost revenue, meaning lost jobs and higher prices” they claim. It’s bullshit of course. Tesla is already one of the fastest growing companies in America. Wind now rivals oil as producing the most energy in Texas. Anyone who looks at the exploding growth of the Green Tech industry in China & Europe knows that’s nonsense. BUT EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE (which it’s not), the cost of damage to our nation caused by IGNORING climate change is growing exponentially. Hurricanes are becoming more intense. Rising sea levels means more flooding. More frequent/severe tornado seasons. The cost of the damage simply due to severity grows each year, while these weather events simultaneously become more frequent. Any “savings” you think you’re enjoying by ignoring Global Warming is rapidly being gobbled up by the steadily rising cost of recovery from these weather catastrophes (and lost lives can not be replaced.)

And STILL they balk, make snide comments and ridicule anyone who dare accept reality.

Rush Limbaugh, who actually joked on air last week about the “Liberal hysteria” over calls to evacuate Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma, was himself forced to evacuate his home/studio from where he broadcasts his show in Southern Florida. What are the chances he admits he was wrong once he finally returns to work? Anyone taking bets?
 

Size comparison

 
In 2015, the GOP controlled Senate held a (mock) hearing on “Government Regulations” (claiming “Overregulation Harms Minorities” The GOP’s sudden concern for “minorities” was actually just a thinly veiled excuse to attack “Regulations” in general. Ted Cruz, mugging for cameras as he planned to run for president in 2016, attacked the president of the Sierra Club, Aaron Mair (to the delight of Conservatives) for daring to say “climate disruption should not be up for debate any more so than the science behind climate change itself.” Cruz feigned astonishment that someone claiming to be a scientist would declare that a matter of science was “not up for debate.”

Think about that. We don’t “debate” science FACT. No one debates that the Earth is round (except on Facebook) or revolves around the sun, that gravity exists and that “2+2=4”. And as Mair rightly pointed out, “when 97% of the worlds scientists agree on something” and the 3% who don’t are either politically motivated, financially motivated, or both… to sow seeds of doubt, then it becomes established fact. You don’t waste your time lending credibility to the Flat Earthers by continuing to debate the issue. ONLY in the United States, is there any widespread belief that “Climate Change isn’t real”… because it’s either a massive hoax perpetrated by “greedy scientists” or “tofu-eating Liberals” who resent giant SUV’s intimidating them while they drive their Prius, or “a hoax by the Chinese to slow down the competition”. All while trusting blindly in the integrity & nobility of oil companies and the coal mining industry who clearly DON’T have any financial motivation to lie about the harm their products produce. Oh, and cigarettes don’t cause cancer either.

The most notorious Climate Change denier of all is Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who once snarkilly tossed a snowball in Congress during a blizzard in the middle of Winter to ridicule “Global Warming”. We ridicule what we don’t understand, and Inhofe does not understand that “warm air holds more moisture”. In the Summer, we call these massive moisture events: “floods”. In the Winter, Republican’s guffaw as people call it a “Snowpocalypse”. In the most extreme coldest regions of Antarctica, it hasn’t snowed in over 10,000 years. It is so cold there it freezes the moisture right out of the air. Air needs a modicum of warmth to hold moisture. And warm air in Winter creates a LOT of wet heavy snow. Apparently, no one ever explained to Mr. Inhofe how “evaporation” works, and snow isn’t created by The Snow Fairy. Inhofe has been strangely “snarkless” during Harvey & Irma (other than to praise the new Climate Change denying head of the EPA for stripping the EPA down to “its smallest size since the Reagan Administration” on Sept. 6th AFTER Harvey hit Texas.) Inhofe’s chief argument against Climate Change is Biblical, claiming “the Bible says God created the Earth for mans use and would always exist for that purpose.” That didn’t stop Noah from building his Ark.

The 2016 Federal Budget was $3.5 Trillion dollars. The cost of recovery for just hurricane’s Harvey & Irma could be as much as $380 Billion, or 8-1/2% of the entire Federal budget… more than twice of what we spend on the VA each year (after 16 years at war with troops in seven countries.)

Which brings me to the fact that today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11. As Global Warming makes more of the Earth unlivable (either due to devastating droughts or catastrophic flooding due to sea level rise), wars will break out around the globe as more & more people fight over fewer & fewer resources. “Climate Refugees” come knocking on our doors, and even Trump’s ridiculous wall can’t keep them out. The humanitarian crisis that is coming if we continue to ignore the warming of our planet is going to look like we were worried about rescuing a roll of dimes from a bank fire.
 

Flag tattered by Irma.

 


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Trump Says Paris Accord Too Tough. Staff Justifies Backing Out Because It Wasn’t Tough Enough
Jun 5th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly dismissed the very existence of Global Warming, even tweeting (and publicly declaring) that “global warming” was just something “made up by the Chinese” to gain an economic advantage as everyone else supposedly curbs their manufacturing while they ramp up their own. He also dismissed it as a money-making industry”. What kind of “successful businessman” belittles the greatest business opportunity since The Internet as “just a way for people to make money”??? It is difficult to quantify the mind-numbing stupidity of such a remark. The fact it’s held by the man who ran for president on his reputation as “a successful businessman” who would know how to negotiate a great deal for the American people, and is now running the most powerful nation of Earth, is horrifying.

The concept of “Global Warming” is not new. It’s not a recent concoction of the Chinese made up in the 1990’s. And just WHO does Trump think is getting rich off promoting this “hoax”? Scientists? WHO has more financial motive to convince you “Climate Change” isn’t real? Scientists making teacher’s wages, or the Trillion dollar fossil fuel industry? If the goal of China is to convince others Global Warming is real only to distract other nations’ economies, how come China is one of the biggest investors in Green Technology, imposing some of the most stringent environmental regulations in the world upon itself? The Shanghai MagLev is the fastest commuter train in the world, ferrying people at a mind-blowing 360Kph. That wasn’t Capitalism that did that. That was the largest Communist dictatorship on Earth.

Former Vice President Al Gore, in his famed 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth“, talked about his college professor back in the 1960’s first describing the infamous climate “hockey stick” graph projecting a rapid rise in average global temperatures over the coming century:
 

The hockey-stick graph

 
And that projection has been right on the money.

Seven years ago, I wrote an op/ed regarding how Conservatives like George Will would frequently cite false claims in the late 1970’s of “Global Cooling” and “the coming Ice Age” to justify ridiculing fears over “Global Warming” today. There were several flaws to this argument. First and foremost, there was almost NO science behind the claim. The consensus was simply “we’re due”. “It’s been over 10,000 years since the last Ice Age, and they occur roughly every 10,000 years”, so we’re past due. The same way California is “way overdue” for a massive Earthquake. Just because “we’re due” isn’t a scientific argument that compares to the MASSIVE amount of science to back up the evidence of man-made Climate Change we know to be true today. Second, what little science there was at the time, it WAS detecting changes in the climate even back then, except drawing the wrong conclusion: more particulate matter in the atmosphere isn’t “reflecting light” to result in a cooling of the planet, it’s trapping heat like a blanket and causing the Earth to warm. Right observation; wrong conclusion. Which leads to point #3: We know more about climate science today than we did 40 years ago.

So Trump has quite publicly taken the position of the Far Far Right… territory staked out by Evangelical End-Timers and tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorists… that Climate Change is either an invention of Lefty Liberal Scientists as a way to keep that sweet-sweet government funding flowing into their research coffers AND/OR a made-up invention of the Chinese to convince other countries to impose “job killing regulations” and waste Billions of dollars to hamper their industry while they… China & India… continue to pollute and gain an economic advantage. OF COURSE those are the people who can’t be trusted, and definitely NOT the Trillion-dollar fossil fuel industry and Rapture-pining Evangelical End-Timers who clearly have NO motivation to foster disbelief in Climate Change while assuring us all “we’ll be just fine” if we do absolutely nothing.

Except that it’s China & India who signed the Paris accord (as did Russia) and are imposing tight (almost draconian) environmental restrictions on themselves while investing Trillions to fight a problem Trump thinks they don’t believe is even real. China… which was globally shamed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics over their choking smog… is pledging to produce more Green energy by 2030 than the United States produces from ALL sources today. And India is pledging that by the same 2030 deadline, 100% of all vehicles produced in that country will be electric. And if you don’t think that’s a big deal, India’s “Tata Motors” is one of the largest auto makers in the world and owns “Jaguar” (taking them from near bankruptcy back to being a market leader today) and one of the largest producers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the world (building more than even Germany.) Try to imagine if Ford or Chevy vowed to build nothing but electric cars in little over a decade from now. THAT’S how big a deal this is.

So Trump is justifying backing out of the Paris Climate Accord on the grounds it will stifle American industry because the restrictions are too tough, while he sends out members of his Administration… EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley out to argue that the Paris accord is “too weak” and “doesn’t do ENOUGH” to prevent climate change (so why bother doing anything, right?) The problem with that argument is obvious. Trump isn’t demanding tougher restrictions or saying he’ll only sign if pollution regulations set forth in the accord are stronger, so sending out his flying monkeys to dismiss the treaty as “too weak” doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Pruitt went on all three (if not more) of the major network news talk shows yesterday, citing on each and every one of them that famed NASA Climatologist James Hansen had called the Paris agreement “a fraud and a fake”… which is true, but only because he’s one of those saying it needs to be stronger… MUCH stronger… because the looming ecological disaster demands FAR more serious action. Meanwhile, Pruitt is citing Hansen as an excuse to do nothing (and I’d argue, using Hansen’s “fake and a fraud” criticism of the accord in such a way as to imply even NASA’s to Climatologist doesn’t believe in Global Warming… which isn’t close to true.)

Trump called the agreement “a bad deal”, but the Paris Accord was a “non-binding agreement” there is no such thing as a “bad” “non-binding agreement”. If it turns out to not work or even be harmful, you simply STOP COMPLYING. There is simply NO excuse for backing out of a “non-binding” agreement other than to placate those Evangelical End-Timers and Tinfoil hat wearing Conspiracy theorists whom support you.

Trump met with Al Gore twice to discuss environmental policy. The first time was as president-elect, meeting with the former VP at Trump Tower, and again recently to discuss the Paris Accord, where Gore said yesterday he strongly urged Trump to sign the agreement by appealing to his business sense as a way to create jobs. And we now know how THAT turned out. Trump met with Gore the way he met with Romney when he was interviewing candidates for Secretary of State. He had absolutely no intention of joining with them. He already had his mind made up before he ever called them. It’s theater. He just wants to give the appearance of having an open mind and making it look like he’s taking advice from political rivals. But it’s all just a game to Toddler Trump getting his rocks off, humiliating his rivals by making them grovel at his feet, as he soaks in the praise for his “apparent” non-partisan “businessman-like” managerial skills, only to then ignore everything he was told and make some asinine decision for reasons with no basis in reality.

Making the Paris agreement “binding” and tougher on China & India would NOT have convinced Trump to sign the accord, so he needn’t waste our time sending out staffers to whine about how “weak” the agreement was, as if to suggest THAT was the reason he didn’t sign. Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg summed it up best last week when he said we needn’t worry about Climate Change because “God will sort it out”. What if God’s “fix” is to simply render us extinct? The planet doesn’t NEED *US* to survive. If you believe in The Bible, it wouldn’t be the first time God wiped out the entire planet and started over again (see: Noah.)
 


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Trump Has Been Great for Advancing Progressivism
Jan 30th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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They say you never appreciate what you’ve got until someone tries to take it away. One day after Donald J Trump was sworn into office, a massive GLOBAL protest took place condemning the new Commander-in-Chief on Women’s Rights. And just this past weekend, tens of thousands of protesters rallied to oppose Trump’s ill-conceived (and likely unconstitutional) “Muslim Ban” that singles out travelers from any of seven “red flagged” Middle Eastern nations, yet incredibly, excludes five nations, most with known links to terrorism inside the United States including Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia… where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from, and Turkey, a close ally of the U.S. but where ISIS committed a brutal attack on the Istanbul Airport just last June (the fifth nation being the UAE, also linked to 9/11.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bloomberg pointed out Friday that the five exempted majority-Muslim nations all just happen to be countries in which Trump has business interests. Hmmm.

More people are talking about the potential negative consequences of enacting Trump’s extremist Conservative agenda in just the past week than have stood up and defended Progressive ideals in the past 30 years. When Obama took office in 2009, just WHO did we see taking to the street in massive protests? Teabagging idiots, carrying semi-automatic weapons, waving racist misspelled signs demanding: “keep your government hands off my Medicare!” If Hillary or (and it pains me to say this) even Bernie had won the election, just WHO would we see protesting in the streets today? The same racist teabagging idiots demanding we “build the wall”, take away their own health care, and “lock up” Hillary Clinton for something, something, BenghaziTM.

But instead, we see people flooding the streets demanding the protection of women’s rights, demanding fair treatment of non-Christian immigrants, welcoming refugees and pointing out all the problems with Trump’s ridiculous border wall with Mexico. Columnist Tom Friedman on “Meet the Press” yesterday pointed out that “Every time someone on the terrorist watch list flies into Mexico, the United States is notified. Just how willing will they be to continue such cooperation if Trump builds his wall?” And one of the proposed means of raising money to pay for the wall would be to “place a 20% import tax” on all goods entering the United States from Mexico. Well, who then pays that tax? YOU DO, not Mexico (of course, you could boycott all Mexican imports, but then YOU’RE STILL stuck with the bill since they’re not waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall before they start building it at YOUR expense.)

And because of all this Conservative stupidity, I’ve seen more Progressives on my TV in the last 8 days than I’ve seen in the last 8 YEARS.

On the flip side, there is one issue in which Progressives and Trump agree, and that’s the issue of “Free Trade”… or more precisely, OPPOSITION to it. Progressives have long railed against the nonsense of “Free Trade” while Conservatives have long championed it. In the 1990’s, President Clinton passed NAFTA with mostly Conservative votes. Republicans told us how “great” it would be for American business while Ross Perot warned of “a giant sucking sound” as American companies rushed to move their factories to Mexico for the cheap labor and then reimport it back into the US for sale. Trump’s opposition to NAFTA (or more precisely, Mexico since he never talks about “Free Trade” with Canada) and the TPP are driving Republicans nuts. Suddenly, they are forced to agree with their Party Leader that perhaps “Free Trade” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and Progressives were right all along.

So while Trump is ranting about “US sovereignty” and railing against foreign countries taking advantage of us only to sell their goods back in the U.S. without benefiting a single American worker, he then signs an Executive Order granting permission to two Canadian oil companies to build a pipeline through the U.S. to produce “oil” that very little of which we can even use. As part of the deal, Trump is demanding the pipeline “be built using American steel”, thus “creating American jobs”, but as I pointed out [ibid], most of that pipe has already been purchased and there is no requirement they scrap all that leaky Chinese pipe and purchase all new American steel pipe. As such, the number of jobs created from providing steel pipe will be minimal.

In addition to Keystone, Trump also restored the controversial “Dakota Access Pipeline” (DAPL) that had hundreds of protesters… including veterans… protesting in the freezing cold of Northern North Dakota a few months back against the building of a pipeline from Canada through native American land and endangering their water supply. President Obama, who initially supported the plan, relented to protesters and shelved the project. Enter Donald Trump who reignited the controversy by allowing the project to resume, promising it will create more temporary jobs over several years than the U.S. economy needs EVERY WEEK just to keep up with population growth.

Also announced last week, hundreds of thousands of scientists are planning their own “@ScienceMarchInDC” in April to protest the Trump Administration’s anti-science policies, not just their disbelief in Climate Change that leads them to believe they can build those pipelines without consequence and go ahead with plans to reduce regulations on coal production. But in addition to Climate Change, they are also protesting “slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public“, calling it “absurd.”

For six years, Republicans railed against “ObamaCare” and vaguely promised to “repeal & replace” it with “something better”. During the presidential campaign, Trump said he was “working on a plan” for a replacement to “ObamaCare” that would still “cover everyone”, continue to prohibit exclusions for “preexisting conditions”, all without a mandate or possibly causing you to lose your doctor. And every time people asked Trump or Republicans about “their plan” to replace “ObamaCare”, they always assured us they were “working on it” but it would be great. Trust us. Barely two weeks ago, just as Obama was preparing to leave office, the new Congress made voting to “repeal ObamaCare” (for the 66th time) one of their very first acts. The big cowards passed the bill before Obama left because they knew he’d veto it. But they don’t DARE pass it again NOW, forcing Trump to sign it before they have a plan to replace it.

So then, just this past Wednesday/Thursday, at a “retreat” in Philadelphia, Republican lawmakers got together to discuss what to replace “ObamaCare” with now that they finally have a president that’ll sign whatever they pass. Audio of the meeting (93 minutes) was described as Republicans “freaking out” over the fact they HAVE NO replacement, no plan, no clear ideas, no agreement regarding what to “replace” it with, and that coming up with their own plan is going to be a matter of months not “weeks” as they had hoped, was leaked to the Washington Post.

This is what Democrats have been saying all along. “They have no plan!” They “can’t keep just the parts they like and get rid of the parts that help pay for it!” Conservatives are irresponsible children and they appointed a reckless Toddler promising them candy for dinner, only to wake up with tummy aches. Conservatives are just starting to realize how empty those promises have been all along.

Trump ran for office on being a successful businessman who was adept at finding “the best people” to run the government. Then he nominates people like Rick “Oops” Perry to run a department he was forced to admit in his confirmation hearing that he didn’t realize everything the department did when he proposed shutting it down four+ years ago, and Ben “Sleepytime” Carson (a surgeon) who has been tapped to run the office of “Housing and Urban Development” (NOT Surgeon General) whose sole experience is that he “once lived in Public Housing” (by that logic, I should be flying jumbo jets around the globe.) And in case you were wondering (as I was), No, Trump has not yet picked a Surgeon General… someone he could use as the GOP hashes out their “ObamaCare” replacement.

Even Republicans are expressive concern now that Trump’s Travel Ban “wasn’t properly vetted” before it was enacted and they clearly did not think things through. McCain & Graham, who have openly criticized their new Party leader before, are expressing concern that the backlash from this travel ban could actually do more to harm national security than help it as we anger the few allies we have left in the Middle East and leave interpreters & guides wondering why they should help a country that views them as “the enemy” simply for their religion?
 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Travel ban protests across country
Tens of thousands protesting Trump’s Muslim Ban across the country – 1/28/2017

 

People are starting to realize the emperor has no clothes, and Progressives are the ones pointing it out. Ignored once, but rapidly organizing & growing. And it took electing an incompetent, racist man-child to mobilize them.
 


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Predictions for 2017: It’s the end of the world as we know it.
Dec 31st, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Okay. Maybe not the “The Apocalypse”. The election of a new president already provides lots of fodder for those making predictions. Literally EVERYTHING becomes an open question, but the $#!+storm awaiting us as a political novice with the impulse control of a toddler takes control of the most powerful office on the planet is difficult to quantify. No one (outside of the Trump campaign and his most ardent believers) thought he was going to win. But in the end, the Clinton campaign was a victim of its own success. They made Clinton’s victory seem SO inevitable, and Trump’s presidency SO unthinkable, that millions of Democrats didn’t even bother to vote, allowing a reality TV show star riding a wave of xenophobia to ascend to the presidency. And his choices to lead his Administration raise serious concern. Trump’s case for why he should be president was that… as a corporate CEO… he knows how to pick “the best people” to create an incredibly effective government. But instead, he has been awarding top-level cabinet-level positions to friends, lobbyists and far right ideologues the way other presidents awarded ambassadorships… not based on qualifications, but purely on their fealty to Trump himself.

We start off year nine of my prognostications as we do every year by looking back at the predictions of others. Always good for a laugh, I find myself wondering why anyone takes these people seriously with such miserable track records. Typically, most “psychics” make dozens… even hundreds… of incredibly vague predictions, then declare success when one of their predictions is twisted and massaged to where they can claim they accurately predicted some obscure global event. Some place no time-frame on their predictions, so they are never “wrong”, their predictions simply “haven’t come true yet.” I don’t do that. I don’t make “vague” predictions (the “Two moons will join as one” crap) and only make predictions for the coming year. If something I predict doesn’t happen within the next 12 months, that prediction is ruled “wrong”.

The Huffington Post declared “16 Shocking Predictions for 2016” written by clinical psychologist Dr. Carmen Harra. What a psychologist is doing making “psychic predictions” is anyone’s guess, but of her 16 predictions, I found none of them particularly “shocking”, and only one prediction… the election of a female South American president (Dilma Rousseff of Brazil)… appears to have come true. Even her “gimme” predictions (like “more extreme weather”) I’d classify as “wrong” because there were no widespread devastating weather catastrophes in 2016.

As many of you know, I live blog the top three political talk shows every Sunday: Fox “news” Sunday, “Meet the Press” and ABC’s ThisWeek. Typically, their final show of the year includes predictions for the coming year. I always find the predictions of Conservatives on Fox the most fascinating. It really is a window into their dark fantasy world. Simply put, Democrats will always usher in economic chaos, and Republican policies are always a resounding success:
 

Fox “news” Sunday’s Predictions for 2016 (8:57)

 

Some highlights:

  • “Common sense will prevail [within the GOP] and Trump won’t win the nomination”. – Oops. I guess it didn’t.
  •  

  • Economy will be down. “Recession.” – The U.S. economy continued to grow, growing at a remarkable 3.5% in the third quarter of this year.
  •  
    The political predictions end about halfway in, but I posted the full clip because it highlights just how routinely wrong the extremely partisan frequent guest panelist Mike Needham (of National Review Online) is. In previous years, “Bloody” Bill Kristol (of The Weekly Standard) was the Fox panelist that never got a single thing right before swapping places with George Will (a fixture on ABC’s ThisWeek for decades but became buttsore when they handed hosting duties over to Stephanopoulos). Like all Republicans, Needham is extremely sure of himself despite rarely ever being right on anything, and allows his partisanship to get in the way when making his predictions. Nothing connected to a Democrat ever turns out good. Nothing linked to a Republican ever turns out bad. I’m not sure Needham is EVER right on anything. But he tells Republicans what they like to hear, so he’s repeatedly asked back to give his opinions.

    Mike Needham:

  • “Low interest rates [are] maintaining the facade of Keynesian monetary policy.” – In Mike’s world, “Trickle-down” Reaganomics was a huge success while Keynesian “trickle up from the poor” economics is fantasy. Mike predicted that the Obama economy was being artificially propped up by low interest rates and once rates started to rise, the economy would start to implode. Interest rates are rising while Trump takes credit for the surge in the Stock Market.
  • Disagrees that Chicago (Hillary’s hometown) Cubs will win World Series. Instead picks the NY (Trump’s hometown) Mets. – While the Mets did okay in 2016, they came in sixteen games behind the World Series champion Cubs in the National League.
  • Picked “Batman vs Superman” to be the next big Hollywood blockbuster. – “Batman vs Superman” turned out to be a flop of epic proportions. Needham also predicted (noted Hollywood Liberal) Ben Affleck would go down as “the worst Batman in history.” To the contrary.

Give it up, Mike.
 

ABC’s ThisWeek predictions for 2016 (6:18)

 

Less drama (and fewer predictions) over on ABC’s ThisWeek. Everyone seemed to agree Trump had a better than average chance of winning the GOP nomination, with two of them even accurately picking “Tim Kaine” to be Hillary’s running mate.

Now let’s look back at my predictions from last year to give you some idea of just how seriously you should take me. Compared to “celebrity psychics”, even on my worst years, I totally crush them. The difference is that I freely admit that I’m no psychic. I’m just very good at spotting political trends and knowing how people think. So let’s take a look at my “Predictions for 2016”:

  • wrong – “Will we see another “France-style” terrorist attack in 2016? I don’t think so.” 2015 saw the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris (including a suicide bomber detonating just outside the National soccer stadium), so it seemed unlikely anyone would be able to pull off a similar attack in 2016. But unfortunately, last June, suicide bombers killed 41 in a siege of the Istanbul International Airport in Turkey, and France’s Bastille Day celebrations came to a tragic end when lone disturbed ISIS Sympathizer killed 84 and mowed down hundreds more using a large truck. Germany also saw a less deadly but no less tragic mass murder using a large truck driven by another ISIS sympathizer.
  •  

  • wrong – The establishment of “Safe Zones” inside of Syria & Iraq to counter the flood of refugees into other countries that were becoming increasingly unwelcome. Seriously, I am quite disgusted that six years later, we are still talking about the Syrian civil war. Unfortunately, the rest of the world found it easier to do nothing than to try and safeguard the civilian populations living in the region. The massacre in Syria has been a sticking point with me ever since I (incorrectly) predicted in 2011 massive international intervention to stop Assad from massacring his own people. But instead, Russia sided with their good friend King Assad, labeled the rebels “terrorists”, and made it impossible for anyone to intervene without risking a war with Russia. And instead, four years later, we’ve elected a president that sides with Russia on every controversy, and the city of Aleppo was pretty much obliterated and recaptured by Assad’s forces. Even more disturbing is the number of Trump supporters who believe photos like “Aleppo Boy” were “staged”. I’m not sure what has to die inside a person to look at that photo, call it a fake, and take the side of Syria & Russia.
  •  

  • right – ISIS will still be about the same size as it is today… roughly 30,000 fighters. – While it is difficult (if not impossible) to get an accurate reading on the number of people fighting on the ground in the region of Syria & Northern Iraq, most analysts seem to agree that “ISIS is shrinking”, not growing, preferring instead to try to inspire weak-willed outcasts feeling ostracized by society to commit “lone wolf” attacks in other countries and then take credit for those attacks. It is difficult to inspire Muslim sympathizers to the ISIS cause when the majority of their targets are fellow Muslims (see the Turkey airport attack above.) I fear Trump’s “take no prisoners” scorched Earth plans for dealing with ISIS will do more to create sympathizers and grow ISIS than actually serve to defeat it.
  •  

  • wrong – Russia WILL focus more on attacking ISIS and less on helping Assad destroy the Syrian rebels – I was wrong about Russia suddenly growing a conscience and pulling back in it’s support of helping Assad crush him political opponents, though I was correct that they would not JOIN forces with the U.S. in alliance to destroy who they claim is a common enemy: ISIS. Poor naive Donald Trump has bought Russia’s line of bull that the Syrian civil war is all about fighting terrorism. Russia has only become more bold in its international meddling in 2016 as Putin sees an opportunity to regain its Soviet-era dominance in the world as America’s influence wanes as we begin our 15th year of war.
  •  

  • right – Iran is likely to increase military aid to Assad as Russian support for the war wanes. – Iran “reportedly felt blindsided by the terms of the [Syrian] truce brokered in Turkey between Russia and the rebels.” Iran’s involvement in Syria has deepened as they disapprove of Russia focusing more on seizing more control in the region.
  •  

  • right – The Syrian conflict [will] still be raging throughout the year, eventually culminating in a treaty between Assad & the rebels. – The Syrian Civil War is only now being declared “coming to an end” here in the final days of 2016 as Russia brokers yet-another cease fire treaty. After years of conflict, it has become clear that we have are now incapable of bringing wars to an end.
  •  

  • wrong – We will see a MILD economic decline as the Republican controlled Congress stifles the economy to help the GOP presidential candidate. I’m actually quite stunned the GOP didn’t do more to cripple the economy to help the GOP nominee win the election. But then, I didn’t expect the GOP to be so unhappy with their candidate. In the end, they weren’t exactly enthusiastic about helping Donald Trump become the leader of their Party (and if you ask me, they are terrified of being branded “The Party of Trump”.) Instead, the Obama economy continued to grow at a remarkable rate.
  •  

  • right – Gitmo to still be in operation by the end of President Obama’s presidency, [though] steps will finally be in place to close it permanently before he leaves office. – Yes on both counts. Our POW camp at Guantánamo Bay is indeed still in operation (though currently down to just 59 detainees that will reportedly be down to just 41 by the time Obama leaves office. In February, he did send his Guantánamo Closing Plan to Congress, but no action was taken. And Trump has vowed… not only to keep it open… but to even EXPAND it, so our giant “middle-finger” to all our principles will continue to operate for the foreseeable future.
  •  

  • wrong – GOP will retain control of the House following the election but lose the Senate. – This did indeed become the conventional thinking in the final days of the election, and there’s no way of knowing if Russian meddling had any impact on the outcome, but Democrats did pick up two seats… three seats short of control of the Senate (under a Republican White House.)
  •  

  • right – The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be relatively uneventful. – No terrorist attacks, and despite concerns of rampant local crime, polluted water, and unfinished facilities, the Rio Olympics pretty much went off without a hitch.
  •  

  • right – Trump will be the GOP nominee. – I’m surprised (well, maybe not) that so many people believed Republicans would come to their senses and pull back from the brink before allowing this cartoonish man-child to come within earshot of the presidency, but I was one of the few that knew better. Before the first primary of 2016, I knew from the 2012 nomination of Mitt Romney, “wealth = good” among low-information Republican voters. Bush & Cheney ran as “businessmen” in 2000 promising a “CEO presidency”, and it was an absolute disaster. But that didn’t stop them from nominating Mitt Romney in 2012 (regardless of how he made his money.) Just as in 2012, Republicans didn’t like the GOP front-runner (Romney) and constantly kept looking for someone to take the nomination away from him. But as each new front-runner crashed & burned, Romney kept floating back up to the top of the bowl. The same thing with Trump in 2016. There were a couple of brief scares when Ben Carson and Ted Cruz became the front runners momentarily, but they always came back to Trump as his rivals crashed & burned.

    I also predicted that Trump will plan to delegate most of his responsibilities as he has no interest in actually doing the job, which he & his son both confirmed last May.

  •  

  • wrong – Expect Trump to name his running mate early if he finds himself struggling to win the nomination. – This didn’t happen… with Trump. But it bears mentioning that this is EXACTLY what Ted Cruz did all the way back in April. Also of note, I included the caveat that “if [Trump] gets locked in a battle with the Democratic nominee, his ego will rope him in until the election in November” seeing his candidacy through to the bitter end, win or lose. And I was absolutely right on that. All the polls were predicting an easy win for Clinton, and even Trump himself was surprised when all of the “must win” races started falling his way, yet he stayed in to the very end with most expecting him to challenge the result if he lost… completely unwilling to believe this country might choose Hillary over him.
  •  

  • right – Hillary to win the Democratic nomination. – Probably my most painful prediction as a Bernie supporter, but this is what separates me from Republicans who shape their predictions to fit their personal ideology. And this is why their record of predicting things is so miserable. They are SO sure their beliefs are right, the possibility they could be wrong never crosses their minds.
  •  

  • wrong* – the Democratic nominee will win the election in November. – It is difficult to know if Russian meddling in our election may have altered the outcome, but I’m not aware of even one legitimate poll that predicted a Trump victory. The entire Trump candidacy was one embarrassment after another, from making racist & sexist remarks during his campaign, the embarrassing Convention with guest speakers like Scott Baio, culminating in the “Access Hollywood” (“grab them by the [meow]” tape.) And despite needing to sweep nearly every single swing state to win, that’s exactly what happened… an achievement suspicious in itself. But I didn’t factor possible election fraud into my prediction.
  •  

  • right – As ISIS begins to feel the pressure of increased international focus on defeating them, they will in turn focus more on inspiring outside sympathizers to commit “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in their respective countries. I predicted at least three such attacks in the coming year. – Indeed, this was the case, with terrorist attacks by ISIS sympathizers in Istanbul, Turkey, Nice, France, and the Christmas Market attack in Berlin, Germany.

8 right, 7 wrong. 53%. Not bad. I’ve done worse. That keeps my lifetime average well over 50%. I was one of the few to predict the presidential race to come down to Clinton vs Trump when must people were predicting a “Hillary vs Jeb” contest. I’m pretty proud of that.

And now…

My Predictions for 2017:

With a totally new administration full of billionaires, ideologues and sycophants with no track record of public service whatsoever, the possibilities are endless as what to expect from the coming year. As “president-elect Trump” rejects the need for a “Presidential Baily Briefing” (on the grounds the information is “repetitive”), I’m frequently reminded of how President Bush in 2001 repeatedly dismissed his own PDB’s while our intelligence agencies were desperately (“Lights were flashing red”) trying to get him to pay attention to the threat of alQaeda until it was too late with the attacks of 9/11 just eight months into office. Now Trump is doing the same while ISIS attacks seem to be growing in magnitude & frequency. Predicting the first year of any new administration is one big crap shoot, but I know how Trump and his ilk think.

  1. Trump is already taking credit for a rise in the Stock Market since his election while Obama is still president, but once he takes office, if the economy does not continue to improve, he’ll stop taking credit and start blaming Obama (remember how Republicans berated Obama the first couple of years for “blaming Bush” for the deep hole we were still digging our way out of?) Trump will be handed an economy that’s 180 degrees from what Obama inherited (soaring stock market, unemployment falls to just 4.6%), and President Obama’s final budget will still be in effect until October, so it is unlikely the economy will turn South in Trump’s first year unless he does something extremely provocative to spook the global financial (or oil) market. We’ll have to wait & see if Trump becomes a “don’t rock the boat” president, or (more likely) an impulsive hothead that doesn’t consider the consequences before acting (which is the defining characteristic of Republicans.)
  2.  
    Trump’s coziness with the Russians continues to disturb me. His first campaign spokesman, Paul Manafort, was forced to resign when it was discovered that he had been paid millions lobbying for pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs… not because of his Russia connection, but because he worked as a lobbyist at a time when Trump was still trying to act as though he disapproved of lobbyists and the Russian annexing of Ukraine was unpopular with most Americans. Yet, despite being fired, Manafort continued to live in Trump Tower (along with another fired Trump staffer, former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski.) This tells me Trump doesn’t learn from his mistakes, he just tucks them away until after the heat blows over.

    His eventual choice for Secretary of State, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, wasn’t even on the original lists of nominees. The person that appeared to have to best chance was Mitt Romney… who called Russia “our #1 Geo-political enemy” when he ran in 2012. Then suddenly, Romney was out and Tillerson… a man who was awarded the “Russian Medal of Friendship”…. was in.

    His daughter Ivanka was even caught palling around with Putin’s girlfriend in Croatia.

  3. Trump’s Russian ties will continue to haunt him in 2017, but with a GOP controlled Congress, nothing will ever come of it. Every move that involves Russia will draw additional scrutiny. Investigative reporters may start to report on concerns of Russian influence on the Trump White House, but President-elect Trump has been working hard to delegitimatize the Media as “Fake News” so that… should they report anything critical of his administration, he can simply dismiss it as “fake news”.
  4.  
    George Bush appointed a single unqualified mega-donor sycophant to his Administration (Michael “Heckuva job, Brownie” Brown)… an Arabian horse judge… to be in charge of FEMA, and we all know how that turned out. Trump’s cabinet is FULL of unqualified “Brownies”. He has been gifting crucial administration posts the way other presidents once awarded “ambassadorships” to friends & big donors. This is particularly disturbing when one of the key arguments Trump and his supporters gave to justify electing a “CEO President” with NO political experience to the presidency was that he’d appoint only “the best people” to manage his administration. Among some of Trump’s other “So good, you won’t believe it” appointees so far:

    Former opponent Dr. Ben Carson… NOT as Surgeon General which might make SOME sense… but as the head of “Housing & Urban Development” (which Carson himself justified due to having “once lived in Public Housing”. By that standard, I should be piloting 747’s because I once flew in one.)

    Co-founder of the WWE (“World Wrestling Entertainment”) Linda McMahon to head the SBA (“Small Business Administration”.) I think we know how she got the job:

     
    Trump in Wrestlemania
     
    Trump wrestles McMahon

    (Remember all the Republicans who whined Bill Clinton was destroying the dignity of the Oval Office?)

    The former Attorney General from the Oklahoma oil-patch, climate change denier Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” and “Clean Water Rule” while OK-AG, and even tried to pass off a letter written by oil company lobbyists critical of the EPA as his own. And now he will be in charge of the organization.

    While not yet appointed at this time, Trump is reportedly considering billionaire eccentric “Peter Thiel” to head the FDA. Like Ben Carson who believes he’s qualified to run HUD because he once lived in public housing, it is reported that Theil once ate food and took medicine.

    Trump appointed Steve Bannon the head of alt-Right website “Brietbart.com”… probably the only “news” outlet to endorse Trump… to be his Chief Strategist. While Team-Trump is working overtime to delegitimize the legitimate news as “fake news”, Brietbart is the very definition of “fake news”.

    Former Texas Governor and “Dancing with the Stars” reject Rick “Oops” Perry… who famously forgot that the Dept of Energy was the third government agency he would close as president… was appointed Trump’s Secretary of Energy. He will be replacing nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz.

    …to be continued.
     

  5. With so many incompetents put in charge of so many prominent offices within the Trump Administration, the chances of another “Brownie”-like disaster in the next few years increases exponentially. I predict at least one of Trump’s incompetent appointees will have their appointment questioned and perhaps even be forced to resign due some inexplicable cock-up that embarrasses the incoming Trump Administration.
  6.  

  7. Trump detests having to answer questions. He considers having to explain himself an indignity and the Press exists solely to try & discredit him. This is why he adores Twitter where he can simply ignore any question he doesn’t like. Trump will hold a record low number of Press Conferences, preferring instead to use Twitter to communicate with the American people. He, his staff, and his supporters will herald this as “a new era in unprecedented access to the Commander-in-Chief” that supposedly makes him more “accessible” by the American people, when the truth is it will quite the opposite: a new era of secrecy in presidential administrations that closely controls just how much access the fourth-estate has to it. (August 10 edition of “60 Minutes”, former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon praises Trump’s use of Twitter as “circumventing Big Media and speaking directly to the people.”)
  8.  
    In these final days of 2016, we keep seeing situations where the incoming Trump Administration is publicly disagreeing with… not just the outgoing Obama Administration, but U.S. foreign policy of the past 30 years when it comes to Israel and the pursuit of a “two state solution” to bring peace between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a neo-con, and his continued illegal building of settlements in occupied territory threatens to jeopardize any hope of peace in the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the recent construction of new Israeli settlements as provocative and not in the interests of achieving peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu… who never liked the Obama Administration and vocally condemned it for agreeing to lift sanctions on Iran… basically told the U.S. to mind its own business. Trump… breaking with decades of “one president at a time” tradition (an unwritten rule where the incoming administration doesn’t publicly contradict the outgoing administration, instead declaring “the U.S. speaks with one voice”), Trump again publicly criticized the outgoing Obama Administration, taking the side of Israel and declaring “things will be different” come “January 20th.”

  9. Taking the side Israel so publicly, there is NO way the U.S. can be seen as an honest broker in any possible future peace negotiations between Israel & Palestine. Trump’s chosen Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer with no relevant experience other than the fact he is president of the US fundraising arm for Bet El, a settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. Both Trump & Friedman have taken the unimaginably provocative position of calling to move the capital of Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem… nothing short of spitting in the eye of a billion Muslims. Indeed, Osama bin Laden even cited the “Israeli occupation” and part of alQaeda’s justification for 9/11 and their war with the West. Trump has just made his job of achieving an end to the wars in the Middle East infinitely more difficult. Couple that with his pledge to “quickly, easily & completely” defeat ISIS, I have great difficultly in seeing how he can “defeat ISIS” and end the war in Afghanistan without doing something monumentally insane like declaring war on the entire Middle East and conquering it using nuclear weapons. No matter how nuts he may be, there are still enough sane people left in Congress to stop him from starting World War III. As such, I have little doubt that as Commander-in-Chief, Trump will still deploy between 100,000 and 300,000 troops back into Iraq & Afghanistan (and possibly Syria) by the end of the year, greatly expending the war rather than helping to resolve the conflict and bring America’s longest war to an end (cooler heads will prevail among his generals not to introduce nuclear weapons into this war, but reports will emerge that it was discussed).
  10.  

  11. In 2015, increased pressure on ISIS resulted in various domestic terrorist attacks overseas, and (as I correctly predicted) there were at least three more such incidents of domestic terrorism around the world as that pressure continued to grow. If Trump does indeed greatly expand the war in the Middle East, coupled with openly taking Israel’s side in promoting illegal settlements, expend the number of incidents of domestic terrorism committed in the name of ISIS to grow. I predict at least five such deadly mass casulty attacks across the world in the coming year.
  12.  

  13. The election of the first black president allowed a stunning number of closeted racists to feel liberated, coming out as openly racist, cloaking their racism as nothing more than “political differences”. The election of an openly bigoted xenophobe like Trump will worsen this three-fold as Trump-supporters feel they now have carte-blanc to be openly bigoted against Mexican’s and Muslims as well.
  14.  

  15. Which reminds us of Trump’s promise to “build a border wall along the U.S./Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it”, and deport… not just 11 million “illegal immigrants”, but in many cases their American-born children as well. There will be NO significant border wall construction in 2017 as the issue falls by the way-side. However, the Trump Administration may try to claim plans for a border wall are “in the works”. And rather than Mexico paying 100% of the cost, to save face, the Trump Administration will rely on some creative accounting to try and claim Mexico will be paying for it when they are in fact not.
    UPDATE: 1/6/2017 – Not even president yet, “Trump asks Congress, not Mexico, to pay for border wall.
  16.  

  17. During the primaries, a number of countries were so appalled by Donald’s Trump’s “racist & sexists remarks”, they went as far as to say the GOP candidate was “not welcome” in their country. Scotland declared Trump “unwelcome” in that country the day after the election and urged him not to visit. In January of 2016, the British Parliament had already discussed banning Trump from the UK. And in October (just before the election), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau banned Trump from entering Canada until he apologized for his offensive remarks about Muslims & Mexicans. I predict that in the coming year, at least one nation will say Trump is not welcome in their country.
  18.  

  19. As I’ve been pointing out since the day he declared his candidacy in 2015, Trump only wanted to prove he could win the presidency if he wanted it, but has no interest in actually doing the job. Early on, he will appear to be doing his job, but gradually over time, we will see less & less of him as he tries to delegate more & more of his job over to others in his administration, setting up a Constitutional crisis.
  20.  

  21. Calls for investigations into all of Trump’s conflicts of interest will grow along with demands that he fully divest himself of his empire (which he’ll never do) as it becomes clear foreign countries are trying to curry favor with the American president though his investments. Trump’s massive ego will never permit him to sell off his empire. All those skyscrapers with his name on them feed his massive ego. If it becomes a serious enough problem for him, he’d resign his presidency before selling off his empire.
  22.  

  23. Speaking of which, every building with Trump’s name on it will become an instant terrorist target the moment he’s sworn in, and the cost of protecting those buildings will become a serious matter.
  24.  

  25. Beyond foreigners trying to get on the good side of America’s president by renting out his hotels & casinos and possibly giving him favorable treatment when his companies seek construction permits in foreign countries, simply being president gives Trump an unfair advantage over his American competitors that will open him up to all sorts of lawsuits. Expect at least one American company to file an “unfair trade practices” lawsuit against Trump.
  26.  

  27. Trump’s Climate-Change-Denying policies of promising to “greatly expend the use of coal” and “complete the Keystone XL Pipeline” will be met with a resounding thud as both projects prove to no longer be cost effective in the modern era. There just aren’t that many workers looking to get started in the lucrative business of digging coal (yes, that’s snark) in the 21st century, and for the mining/conversion of tarsands to “oil” to be cost effective, oil needs to be up over $70/barrel again. George W. Bush destroyed the global economy and brought the United States to the brink of economic collapse by pushing the price of oil from $30/barrel to nearly $150/barrel in six years. Oil prices are (at this writing) just above $50/barrel after having been much lower in recent years, and some analysts fear that if Trump greatly expands the war in the Middle East, the price of oil could shoot back up to over $100/barrel which would make both energy sources financially viable again. But if that happened, it would absolutely crush the U.S. economy. As friendly as the Trump Administration clearly will be with Big Oil, I have my doubts that even THEY could be THAT fiscally irresponsible.
  28.  

  29. Russia may find themselves wondering if they made a mistake by cozening up to Trump (and possibly aiding his election) as they quickly learn how erratic and vindictive he can be. Early in the primaries, Ted Cruz leaped into second place when he refused to criticize GOP front-runner Donald Trump like all of the other candidates. Just before the start of the 2016 primaries, Cruz even tweeted: “@realDonaldTrump is terrific. #DealWithIt” Then the race began, and as soon as Cruz became a threat, the bromance was over. By the Convention in July, the two were already the worst of enemies. I expect Trump’s relationship with Russia to become strained as he grows increasingly erratic.
  30.  

  31. As much as Trump and his supporters may want it, he will not be able to amass enough Republican votes (and zero Democratic votes) to repeal “ObamaCare” without having a replacement program ready to go first. Republicans will try (repeatedly) throughout the year to immediately end the program despite having no alternative, but Democrats need only three Republican Senators to stop any repeal from reaching the president’s desk. And while Republicans honestly believe Americans want to see the entire program scrapped, they are in for a rude awakening if 20 million Americans are suddenly faced with the potential loss of their insurance. Trump says he won’t allow insurance companies to deny patients with “preexisting conditions” from getting coverage again, but there is NO way to do that without the “mandate” they so deplore. And in eight years, no Republican has been able to devise a system that covers everyone that doesn’t include a mandate. So, no ObamaCare repeal. They will try. They will get close. They may even pass a bill severely limiting it, but no full repeal of the law.
  32.  

  33. Early on, Russia will test their new found relationship with the new administration to see just how much they can get away with and what reaction (if any) they get. Democrats in Congress will demand action. Republicans will not. And the public will be evenly split, ensuring nothing gets done.
  34.  

  35. Trump didn’t remember half of the promises he made during the campaign. He had completely forgotten he promised to stop the export of over 1,000 jobs at an Indiana “Carrier” plant until he heard a plant worker on TV state that he had personally promised them he’d save their jobs. He also forgot HOW he said he’d save them (by threatening to charge “Carrier” a reimportation tax.) Likewise his ridiculous threat to “lock her [Hillary] up” was quickly dismissed following his victory, the deportation of “11 Million illegal immigrants” quickly became only “a few million with criminal records” (illegal immigrants with criminal records are already deported upon capture), and his “border wall” was scaled down to “a fence in some locations.” Trump has a very short memory when it comes to his promises, so don’t be surprised if focus on many of his campaign promises are overshadowed by new catastrophes that develop in his first year.
  36.  

  37. In the final week of 2016, Trump startled the world by suggesting that we need to start expanding our nuclear arsenal again… reversing more than 30 years of American nuclear policy. Will Trump start a new Nuclear Arms Race? That takes money. Sadly, I don’t see enough sane Republicans in Congress willing to say “No” to Toddler-Trump and reject the possibility of attracting a few thousand defense industry jobs to their states, but I DO see just enough to side with Democrats to stop any such proposed increase in our nuclear stockpiles. No expansion.
  38.  

  39. And rounding on for an even 20, 2017 will be declared “the hottest year on record”.

 

Wow, that’s one incredibly dark miserable year I foresee. But Toddler-Trump is just too immature, too erratic and too impulsive to see things becoming anything other than a total mess in 2017.


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How Many Trump Appointments Also Have Conflicts of Interest?
Dec 12th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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President-elect Trump seems to be going out of his way to pick the worst possible people to staff his cabinet & White House. But beyond appointing a neurosurgeon to run HUD, beyond putting “generals” in charge of making “peace”, beyond appointing an opponent of public schools to run our public schools, and beyond appointing a critic of Civil Rights to be in charge of the protecting Civil Rights, he’s putting a Climate Change denier in charge of the EPA, and billionaires in charge of agencies that could DIRECTLY affect their own personal wealth. Questions of “conflicts of interest” no longer begin & end with Trump himself. Trump announced on “60 Minutes” a few weeks ago that he would accept a salary of only “$1/year” as president. A magnanimous gesture even for a billionaire to give up a $420,000 salary. But evidently, he has asked his wealthy cabinet picks to follow suit, stating during his Fox “news” Sunday interview yesterday that his cabinet members will be paid only $1/year as well. And why wouldn’t they? Do you think 20th Century bank robber Willie Sutton would have turned down the job of bank guard if it only paid $1/year? No. They are more than happy to do these thankless jobs because they’ll finally be in control of the agencies that stood in their way all these years. They’re not agreeing to do these jobs out of the goodness of their hearts. They are out to destroy these agencies for personal gain (at the expense of the rest of us.) This is putting the foxes in charge of the hen house.

We already know about asinine picks like putting Ben Carson… a retired neurosurgeon… in charge of “Housing & Urban Development” on the grounds Carson “once lived in public housing”… which is like me saying I can land a 747 because I once flew in one. But I don’t think Carson has any “conflict of interest” where he or members of his family might stand to personally benefit from decisions he makes at HUD.

However, many of Trump’s other appointments do. Beyond the hypocrisy of appointing three former Goldman Sachs executives to his administration after blasting Hillary Clinton & Ted Cruz for their ties to the Wall Street bank, some of the Billionaires Trump has appointed to his cabinet will be running agencies they themselves have a personal grudge against… not because of any belief those agencies are not operating in the best interests of the PUBLIC, no. But because these agencies have been standing in the way of making these Billionaires even more obscenely wealthy than they already are (echos of Ted Kennedy asking, “When does the greed stop?”)

Among Trump’s appointees:

  • Steven Mnuchin – Trump’s pick for Treasury Secretary is not only one of those former Goldman Sachs bankers, Mnuchin left the firm to start his own bank, “OneWest“, that earned him the nickname “foreclosure machine” during the banking crisis for foreclosing on over 36 thousand home loans plus another 40 percent (16,200) of all reverse mortgages. As Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin will be able to set interest rates deciding how much banks like his will earn on the loans he makes.
  •  

  • Steven Pruitt – Trump’s pick to head the EPA… the former Oklahoma Attorney General… has sued the EPA at least 13 times. Why? Because Pruitt doesn’t believe in Global Warming (and not too sure about gravity either) and is currently suing the agency’s Clean Power Plan, which he called a “war on coal” for setting “pollution standards for power plants and statewide goals for cutting carbon pollution.” Is there any question why the AG from Oklahoma would be hostile towards any regulation of the Energy industry… which stands to make… not just millions or billions, but literally Trillions of dollars pending rollbacks of a host of environmental regulations… which he will now be able to do as head of the EPA. Those costly lawsuits he filed all go bye-bye. And I can assure you Pruitt’s wealthy friends won’t forget him when he’s looking for a job four years from now.
  •  

  • Andrew Puzder – Trump’s pick as Labor Secretary, the owner & founder of the Hardee’s and “Carl’s Jr” fast food chains, opposes raising the minimum wage (not just to $15, but thinks even $10.10 is “too high”), is a bit of a misogynist (like his boss), opposes expanding eligibility rules to qualify for overtime pay, and waxes poetic over the notion of replacing workers with robots:
     
    Puzder on automation
    “They’re always polite, they always upsell,
    they never take a vacation, they never show up late,
    there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age,
    sex or race discrimination case.”

     
    If that sounds like employment nirvana that’ll make YOUR life happier & more prosperous… not Puzder’s… then the Puzder pick should make your short miserable life a little bit brighter.
  •  

  • And probably by the time you read this, Trump will have named Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State. As Rachel Maddow pointed out last week, Tillerson has close ties to Russia, and as America’s chief diplomat, could easily choose to show favoritism towards nations either doing business with Exxon or are seeking to do business with Exxon. The State Department also brokers treaties and trade deals… all of which could prove to be highly lucrative for his company Exxon/Mobile.
  •  

  • And of course, we’ll always have the man himself, Trump, the mother of all “conflicts of interests”, whom last week announced he will still be an Executive Producer of his TV Show “Celebrity Apprentice” (which was canceled last year after his remarks about Mexicans, but was miraculously renewed with his election victory.) Trump does not think this is a “conflict of interests” because he thinks the term refers to “divided attention” (and no one dare correct the president-elect no matter how often he denies his business interests “aren’t a conflict of interests” because he can “do both at the same time.” Lord help us. The man is an idiot and our journalists won’t do their jobs.) Trump will still profit from his hotels as well. Every time a foreign dignitary chooses to stay in one of his hotels, they are greasing his sweaty orange palm in direct violation of The Emoluments Clause. The Embassy of Bahrain has made plans to host their “National Day” celebration at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. and the RNC themselves chose to host their Xmas party there as well. All that money goes right into his pocket. Trump says he intends to keep “a stake” in his empire. Good. That’ll make it that much easier to impeach his ass for accepting bribes two years from now.

Other Billionaires appointed to the Trump Administration: industrialist Wilbur Ross to head the Commerce Department, who has amassed a fortune of $2.5 Billion through decades at the helm of Rothschild’s bankruptcy practice and his own investment firm, and Todd Ricketts, son of a billionaire co-owner of the Chicago Cubs as his deputy. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway, and transportation secretary Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell who previously worked as Bush’s Labor Secretary, is the daughter of a shipping magnate.

Do ANY of these people strike you as the altruistic type seeking only to serve their fellow man? How many of these Billionaires have established charities or actively served their communities? Editor of the National Review, Rich Lowry, said yesterday during ABC’s “ThisWeek” that all these Billionaire CEO’s “only want to see workers become more prosperous.” Really? Because all of these guys already employ tens of thousands. If all they want is “to see workers become more prosperous”, what’s stopping them? There’s no regulation prohibiting them from giving their employees a raise or increasing overtime pay. In fact, we know at least one of them (Puzder) is openly opposed to doing anything that profits his workers. He’d rather replace them with robots.

No, these people aren’t taking these jobs for “humanitarian” reasons or out of any sense of “public duty”. They are volunteering for these jobs because they seek to financially benefit Special Interests… which sometimes is the person staring back at them in the mirror.
 

Postscript: More news broke last week as the CIA confirmed that not only did Russia break into DNC servers during the Primaries, but they broke into RNC servers as well (but never released anything they found.) Reince Priebus on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday conceded that Russia may have broken into DNC servers, but absolutely refused to admit they may have broken into RNC servers as well. I want you to think about that for a second. Is it so improbable that the RNC servers could have been hacked? Does he believe RNC servers are somehow less hackable than the DNC’s? If so, how would he know? Or perhaps they have been in communication with the Kremlin and have received assurances they wouldn’t be hacked? (Remember, Trump practically encouraged Russia to hack into either the DNC or Clinton’s private email server to dig up those “30,000 missing emails” during the campaign.) Or perhaps he knows the RNC servers WERE hacked because Russia admitted it to them, which would mean the RNC was aware Russia was hacking our election but said nothing about it. There is no “good” explanation for why Priebus would adamantly defend Russia and deny even the possibility of being hacked. Chuck Todd had to talk to Priebus like a child during “Meet the Press” yesterday as he futily tried to get the future Chief-of-Staff to understand how denying RNC servers were hacked didn’t negate the possibility of Russian meddling in our election. Exasperated, Todd was eventually forced to give up as they came upon a commercial break.

Trump himself attacked the CIA for suggesting Russia may have interfered with our election to help him win, saying “These are the same people who said Saddam had WMD’s.” (Well, no. Cheney stovepiped intel to Langley and changed Directors until they told him what he wanted to hear, but the one time they told the Bush Administration what they DIDN’T want to hear… “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.” on August 6th, 2001… they were dead on.)

Trump criticizes our own intelligence agencies while defending Russia… again. His likely Secretary of State pick was awarded the Russian “Medal of Friendship” by Putin himself, whom Trump bragged, “Has a very good working relationship with Russia” when defending Tillerson’s qualification to be Secretary of State, and most forget this his first campaign manager Paul Manifort was forced to resign because of his close financial ties to Russia.

Trump supporters don’t see how having the President-elect of the United States defending Russia… even over his own intelligence agencies… is a public relations coup for Russia.

Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave like a top.
 


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“I’m not a scientist”, #Ballgazi and #ClimateChange
Jan 26th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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My reaction to seeing the hashtag “#Ballgazi” regarding the controversy over whether or not the New England Patriots cheated to win the AFC Championship? #Facepalm. “Oh, dear God”, I remember thinking. “Seriously?” But the idea that the same people that see a “conspiracy” by the Patriots to win last week’s game are the same people that see a “conspiracy” regarding Benghazi, wouldn’t surprise me one bit. For the past ten years or so, whenever I heard someone start a sentence with, “I’m not a scientist, but…”, I could be reasonably sure what was to follow was a rant by some Right-Wing Climate Change Denier trying to explain away a pattern of extreme weather events in such a way that doesn’t make them look like a Climate Change denying imbecile to rational thinking people, yet without totally alienating their anti-science low-information base. But this past week, suddenly I could make no such assumption as defenders of the New England Patriots now use that same phrase to explain how their footballs “deflated” during the course of last week’s AFC Championship game against the Colts. Suddenly, “I’m not a scientist” pundits are saying it’s not possible that deflation of the footballs could be a “natural occurrence” and it “MUST be result of human activity.” And suddenly my eyes are buried in my palms again.

Uh, can we get our stories straight, guys?

Last week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sen Jim “The Greatest Hoax” Inhofe (yes, THAT Sen. Inhofe) co-sponsored a bill to declare that “Climate change is REAL and NOT a hoax.” You read that right, Inhofe co-sponsored (AND voted FOR) a bill declaring that climate change is NOT a hoax. Inhofe is another of those, “I’m not a scientist” guys.

I’m not entirely sure Inhofe even knew what his own bill was when he tweeted for his fellow senators to “join me in voting YES on Whitehouse’s amdmnt saying climate change IS a hoax, bc it is.” But afterwards, Inhofe snarkily explained that his argument is that climate change “is not man-made“… THAT is the “hoax”. So he’s admitting Climate Change exists but we should do nothing about it? I suppose that’s progress (doesn’t exactly explain his tweet though.) Inhofe went on to explain that something as insignificant as “Man” believing he can transform the climate of an entire planet “created by God” is (quote) “arrogant”. (Should God strike Inhofe’s home with lightning for admitting Climate Change is real, I hope the firemen suggest to him that since the fire was not “man-made”, it would be “arrogant” of them to attempt to put the fire out.)

There is a time when “heavier-than-air” flight was described as “contrary to the will of God” and “arrogant” for man to believe he could duplicate the power of flight that God uniquely bestowed upon birds. Moses was told that men that dared climb Mount Sinai all died for “daring to seek the face of God” when it is more likely they died of exposure to extreme cold and oxygen deprivation. Death by “arrogance”? Maybe. Death by ignorance? Definitely.

Healing through medicine instead of relying on prayer was once considered “arrogant” too. More recently, “cloning” and genetics were also powers limited to the Almighty. Only Zeus could cast lightning bolts (electricity) and dead witches’ bodies floated on water.

Muslims believe it is “arrogant” for any man to presume to know “the face of God” and therefore, drawings & paintings of “The Prophet” are matter-of-factly blasphemous. Nice company you find yourself in, Senator.

Jim, we’re not talking about “one man” all on his own countering God’s work, we’re talking about 7-BILLION PEOPLE, plus corporations & industries building giant factories that belch BILLIONS tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but American power-plants alone emit roughly “2.2 Billion tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere annually, while the typical American family of four emits 85 tons of CO2 every year. It all adds up.

All these Greenhouse gases must go somewhere. They don’t magically disappear. Much of the heat and the carbon floats into the upper atmosphere and literally blankets the Earth, warming it up by trapping in heat. That which doesn’t float into the upper atmosphere is absorbed by our oceans which are quickly reaching their saturation point. Anyone here ever lived next to a pond in which a chemical spill killed all the fish and became so toxic nothing could live in it? Now just image that happening to a planet where 65% of its surface is covered by oceans teaming with life?

If you want to talk “arrogance”, let’s talk about believing YOU’RE right and ten thousand climate scientists are all wrong, risking the future of an entire planet on your personal belief that “man can not change what God created”… a belief than has been disproven again… and again… and again…

Traffic Jam-USA
Traffic jam in the USA
 
Traffic Jam-Sydney, AUS
Traffic Jam-Sydney, Australia
 
112 mile traffic jam-Sao Paolo, BRZ
112 mile traffic jam in Sao Paolo, Brazil
 
Coal plant-USA
Coal fired electric plant-USA
 
Factory in China
Factory in China
 
Streets of China
Streets of China
 
Oil Refinery in the USA
Oil Refinery in the USA


 

But what do I know? I’m not a scientist
(actually, I am. Got a degree and everything.)
 


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Keystone XL: Not Just a Potential Environmental Disaster But An Economic One Too.
Nov 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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What Do The Polar Vortex, the Immigration Crisis and the California Wildfires All Have in Common?
Jul 14th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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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”.
 


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Keystone XL Protest Signs for Download
Feb 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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

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

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


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


HIGHER prices NOT lower –  – HIGHER prices NOT lower


The JOBS myth – The JOBS myth


No good for gasoline – No good for gasoline


Massive Tailing Ponds – Massive Tailing Ponds


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


Summary poster – Summary poster

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


 

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No, the Keystone Tar Sand Oil is NOT Inevitable
Feb 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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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.

  • First off, the most immediate effect would come by cracking down on rampant speculation in the Oil Commodities Market. Bring back the requirement that no one can purchase oil on the open market that doesn’t have a place to take delivery of all that oil they just bought. No more Day-Traders at home in their bathrobes sitting in front of their computers spiking the price of oil to make a quick profit with no consideration for what it may do to the economy. That’ll cut down on wild fluctuations in the market post haste. And knowing that the rules change is coming will convince thousands of Billy Bob’s sitting on loads of Oil Futures to dump their shares, rapidly driving down the price of oil.
     
    Critics might say that if “We” tighten Regulations on Oil Trading, they’ll just do their investing overseas. A few may at first, yes. But when you institute the regulations here in the U.S., that means no brokerage IN the U.S. can handle those trades. A brave few might just start buying their oil from overseas brokers, but most will not. And I guarantee that it WE Regulate it and it makes a dent, most other industrialized nations will quickly follow suit. That’s number 1.
     
  • Second, invest heavily in GREEN energy. Not only do you create jobs this way, but jobs with an actual future. Good paying High-Tech jobs. Jobs where your energy source is unlimited (the tar sands will only last about a dozen years, then what?). Promote technologies that shift us AWAY from fossil fuels (larger tax credits for hybrid cars, solar panels on your roof, insulating your home, etc), thus driving demand… AND oil prices… down even further.
  •  

  • And third, update the electric grid. Did you know that for less than the lifetime cost of just ONE nuclear power plant, we could update our desperately degrading electric grid, conserving as much electricity (wasted in heat and inefficiency) produced by OVER ONE HUNDRED nuclear power plants? And cheaper electricity means fewer people using oil, which (again) drives down oil prices.

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

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

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

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


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Apathy Latest Enemy In Fighting Keystone XL Pipeline
Feb 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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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!

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