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Republicans think “the world changed” on September 11th. No it didn’t. 17 months later it did.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The world did not change on September 11th.

Maybe for Republicans it did, but for the rest of us, we were just as concerned about terrorism on September 10th as we were on September 11th. Just because Republicans were suddenly & violently awakened as to just how serious a threat “terrorism” was on “9/11″ doesn’t mean the threat wasn’t there on September 10th… or for the previous eight years when Bill Clinton made “keeping us safe” look easy (and Republicans accused his going after bin Laden as a “Wag the Dog” manufactured distraction.) The threat was there when the World Trade Center was bombed in February 1993, barely a month into Bill Clinton’s presidency. It was there when alQaeda was bombing U.S. embassies in Nairobi & Kenya in 1998. The threat was there when they tried & failed to bomb Seattle’s “New Years 2000″ celebration. And it was there when the USS Cole was attacked a month before the election. It was also there when National Security Advisor Richard Clark was desperately trying to get the incoming Bush Administration to pay attention to alQaeda, and it was there when President Bush ignored a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6th, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”. Whenever I hear Republicans “accuse” Democrats of having a “pre-September 11th mentality”, it infuriates me because ONLY REPUBLICANS HAD A “DIFFERENT MENTALITY” ON SEPTEMBER 10TH. Democrats were well aware of the threat on September 10th. THEY are the ones who were caught by surprise.

But you know when the world DID change? When George W Bush unnecessarily invaded Iraq on March 19th, 2003. Only the most partisan “divorced-from-reality” neoconservative Republican’s still believe that the invasion of Iraq was necessary and that the mess we see in that region of the world today would still be taking place even if Saddam Hussein hadn’t of been removed from power.

Does anyone (sane) believe ISIS would have risen to power and been able to overtake nearly half of Iraq if Saddam Hussein were still in power? And even if you believe they still might have, how much stronger would our military be today to confront them if it hadn’t been decimated by eight years of chaos in Iraq?

And now it looks like we’re about to invade Syria to go after ISIS. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, that’s where the ultra-violent yet highly-organized “Sunni rebel group” formed as part of the resistance to overthrow Syrian President Assad… the guy who gassed children. This is the same group of rebels John McCain was demanding we send weapons to as recently as January of this year, and is now demanding we go after as a threat to the stability of the entire Middle East.

Despite being made up of mostly young men (and a number of women as well), ISIS is extremely well organized, with a “command structure” and “supply lines” like a regular army. And that’s because the leadership of ISIS consists of a number of former Iraqi Army officers.

You see, despite Sunni’s being a minority in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was a Sunni, so he put Sunni’s in charge of everything, with an army made up mostly of Sunni men, and then ruled ruthlessly to suppress the Shia majority. When George Bush invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremmer disbanded the entire Iraqi Army… the closest thing they had left to a functioning police-force… telling them essentially, “You’re all fired. Go away and take your guns with you.” To make matters worse, the new president of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki (a Shia) did exactly what you’d expect an Iraqi Shia to do after decades of repression: flip the government 180 degrees, putting Shia Iraqi’s in charge of everything and banning Sunni’s from power.

So, what’s an angry, unemployed, well-armed, well-trained former Iraqi soldier who can’t get a job because his country is in shambles and his government bans him from public service because of his religion… to do all day? First he joins the fight against the American soldiers occupying his country (ISIS began as “alQaeda in Iraq“), then when they leave, goes looking for “work” (as a soldier) where he thinks he’s needed most… supporting the Sunni rebels in neighboring Syria.

And of course, beside providing plenty of motivation, we supplied them with U.S. weapons & vehicles as well. How thoughtful of us!

And now they’re back in Iraq. Bigger & Badder than ever. All courtesy of the Bush/Cheney Administration and their invasion of Iraq. “The world” did not change on 9/11… Republicans did.
 



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Filed in General, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, War September 10th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Both Sides Are At Fault? Democrats Don’t Control the Senate. They Just Don’t.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 4, 2014

Every time the news reported on how little Congress got done before embarking on their annual August Recess, some newscaster was always sure to point out the fact that “the Senate… controlled by Democrats…” likewise has been every bit as unproductive as the GOP-controlled House. The obvious implication being: “Both sides are equally to blame!”, followed by “The Democratically controlled Senate likewise went on recess without passing a bill [on XYZ subject]. Can’t blame just Republicans for doing nothing!” The hell I can’t. Since President Obama first took office in January of 2009, Democrats controlled Congress unobstructed for a total of just 24 working days. That’s it. Then the illness & death of both Sen. Byrd and Ted Kennedy denied Democrats of their “Super Majority” in the Senate, and Republicans Gerrymandered their way into majority control of the House in 2010. Other than those 24 days, Republicans have forced EVERY vote of consequence to require a 60 vote super majority just to pass, ensuring that Democrats can’t pass ANYTHING of consequence without the votes from the Republican minority. So while voters gave control of the Senate to Democrats (four times since 2006), and 50+1 votes is normally enough votes to pass anything, now even 55 votes (53 Democrats + 2 Independents that caucus with them) isn’t enough thanks to GOP obstructionism. Democrats don’t control EITHER half of Congress. They just don’t. Oh sure, Democrats may have the Majority in the Senate, and get to decide what bills they take up for a vote, but even then, there’s no point in even bringing a bill up for a vote without pandering to the lunatic fringe on the Right. The Minority is setting the agenda in the Senate. Meanwhile in the House, it’s strict “majority rules” over there. No “Super Majority” gamesmanship over there. Democrats are less-than-powerless in the House and castrated geldings in the Senate. So whenever I hear one of these talking heads tries to lay blame on “both sides”, pointing out that “the Democratically controlled Senate” is just as dysfunctional as the Republican controlled House, I want to reach through my TV and throttle them. The ONLY thing Democrats “control” is the White House, and Republicans are hard at work at bottling THAT up too, threatening to sue the president for doing anything on his own after they worked so hard to prevent Congress from getting anything done. So STOP apologetically “acknowledging” that “Democrats control the Senate” because they don’t. Except for 24 days back in 2009… and not all in a row mind you… Democrats have been blocked from getting ANYTHING of substance done.

Meanwhile, pollsters are asking people who probably couldn’t name the Vice President if you stuck a gun to their head, their opinion on who’s to blame for: [insert political issue here.] I heard one poll the Media breathlessly trumpeted that “33% of Americans think President Obama should be impeached” while “only 30% of Americans ever thought President Bush should have been impeached.” That’s because Republicans are insane. The poll in question reached 33% only because so many RepublicansFIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT… support impeachment while “just 35 percent of independent voters and 13 percent of Democrats” do. These are the same Republicans that still want to see President Obama’s Birth Certificate. It’s also the same Republican Party that is obstructing everything Democrats try to do, hoping Obama will get the blame. And those same people being polled… they don’t know why things don’t seem to be getting better fast enough, or in some cases, seem to be getting worse (eg: border security and Foreign Policy)… all they know is “Obama is in charge so he must be at fault.” They don’t know that our nation has been hijacked by a secret Republican coup ensuring nobody gets anything done.

And the Media plays the “both sides are to blame” game.
 


 

Fox “news” personality Greta van Susteren appeared on her home-away-from-home, ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday and demanded that President Obama “call Harry Reid and the Senate back into session”, yet made NO similar demand of Boehner and the GOP-controlled House.” Like the Senate could do anything with half of Congress still away on vacation. On a personal aside, Why do ABC, CBS & NBC have on so many Fox personalities on their shows as guest pundits week after week? You NEVER see pundits from any of the OTHER rival networks on FOX as guest commentators. When was the last time you saw Rachel Maddow on the “FnS Power Panel” or George Stephanopoulos guest-hosting “Fox & Friends”? But I digress. (BTW: That screenshot in the upper left is from the TV app on my PC listing information about ABC’s “ThisWeek”, but due to a programming flaw, longer descriptions of other programs aren’t erased by shorter ones, producing some rather comical descriptions.)

So the next time someone tries to “blame both sides” for the dysfunction in Congress by pointing out that “Democrats control the Senate”, correct them. On the spot. Don’t let them get away with it. Our country has been hijacked by Right-Wing ideologues controlling not only the House, but the U.S. Senate as well via unprecedented obstruction. One need look no further than the fact that before Bill Clinton, this nation had impeached only ONE president in our 222 year history. Now it looks as though this is what Republicans will do in the sixth year of EVERY Democratic presidency.

ANNOUNCEMENT: August 1st marks the 10-year Anniversary of Mugsy’s Rap Sheet. The site began life as a “Blogger.com” site back during the height of the 2004 Presidential election and in the wake of the invasion of Iraq over “WMD’s” that never materialized after a year of assurances with 100% certainty that they existed in great “stockpiles” being readied to be used against us. It has been the job of M.R.S. ever since to ensure that no Republican lies are ever forgotten, no misinformation goes unchallenged, and no hypocrisy goes unnoticed. – Mugsy

 



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Filed in Election, General, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics August 4th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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John Goodman Explains the Start of WWI 100 Years Ago Today (video)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Saturday, June 28, 2014

Exactly 100 years ago today (June 28th, 1914), the Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, was murdered by Serbian nationalists while visiting neighboring Sarajevo. One week later, the murder of the Archduke precipitated the start of World War I. In the Season 4 cliffhanger of NBC’s “The West Wing”, President Bartlett’s daughter Zoey is kidnapped by terrorists, leading to President Bartlett needing to temporarily resign as president and hand the presidency over to the (Republican) Speaker of the House, played brilliantly by John Goodman. The Speaker, upon taking over as president, gives the staff a quick history lesson on how a terrorist act against the member of a head of state can have unexpected, global consequences. Definitely worth sharing on this historic anniversary:
 

Acting President Walken explains the start of WWI (:59)

 

That was 100 years ago this very day. And the speech he just gave explaining the start of World War I is more than 99.9% of Americans still know about a war that killed SIXTEEN MILLION PEOPLE (and wounded another 20 Million more).

Violence is now erupting in Iraq as the nation convulses in the wake of our invasion 11 years ago. And in 2103, when people are asked about why we went to war in Iraq, how many do you think will be able to give you a clear answer? Hell, forget about 100 years from now, how many can give you a clear explanation even today?

 



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Filed in General, War June 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Must a President Be a Failure to Be a Success?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Maybe Howard Dean Was Right on Affirmative Action?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 28, 2014

On January 15, 2003, President Bush stopped by the University of Michigan while campaigning for re-election. UMich had recently implemented new state restrictions on the use of race when deciding just who they’d admit enrollment to, and he condemned Affirmative Action measures as “a quota system”. Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean later condemned President Bush’s remarks for injecting race into the campaign. And while Dean made the case for Affirmative Action himself (weakly), his Democratic rivals pounced on the front-runner, pointing to a 1995 comment of his suggesting affirmative action should be based “not on race, but on class.” Dean went on to defend his 1995 remark by suggesting it’s time to consider economic based Affirmative Action where poor students who excel despite difficult circumstances, be they black or white, receive preference over wealthier students that grew up with all the advantages of being rich, be they black or white. And it does make sense that a wealthy minority probably doesn’t need a leg up as much as a poor white student. Dean was wrong of course a decade ago, but considering the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding Michigan’s anti-Affirmative Action law, might it not be a good idea today now that there is the very real danger of “race-based” Affirmative Action being abolished across the country?

President Bush went on to add in that 2003 speech that, “Our Constitution makes it clear that people of all races must be treated equally under the law.” Of course, if I may state the obvious, a university is not a court of law, and despite what the Constitution says now (because for 150+ years, “3/5ths” was the measure of a black man), it rarely works out that way. Minorities just aren’t treated equally in our society. That’s a fact. Whether “Affirmative Action” helps level the playing field may be up for debate, but there is no question that simply being a minority is an instant disadvantage in our society.

Last week, this fact was made startlingly clear, first with the racist remarks by Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy questioning whether “the nig’ras” were better off as slaves than they are “dependent on the government” (said the man dependent on government land to feed his cattle rather than pay for it himself). Then again, less than a week later with the comments of LA Clippers owner Don Sterling, who chastised his young girlfriend (?) for posting photos of herself posing with black athletes on her Facebook page, demanding she not bring “black people” with her to basketball games, and patting himself on the back for being the benefactor of so many black men. (Though to be fair, the 80 year old Sterling was not openly hostile towards “blacks”, blaming societal norms for his discomfort, whereas Bundy was just plain ol’ Deep South shit-for-brains ignorant.)

So in the same week that we have Bundy and Sterling demonstrating that race is still very much an issue in this country, our Conservative-leaning Supreme Court brands racism a thing of the past, and that any effort to counter that racism is, in itself, “racist”. See how that works?

Two weeks ago on Fox “news” Sunday (yes, I watch it every week. The things I do for you people)… the same week token black Moderate Juan Williams was not there… quite by coincidence I’m sure… Brit Hume (or was it George Will?) decided to accuse President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder of “making everything about race” and in effect accusing them of reverse racism. Of course, neither Obama nor Holder “make every issue about race”… at least, not to the degree Conservatives on Fox do… but it casts a spotlight on the fact that we just can’t talk about race anymore without some Right Wing idiot accusing you of racism for doing so.

And that brings us back to Howard Dean. Ten years ago, GOP racism was still mostly underground, and being caught making racists remarks was cause for embarrassment and a public outcry for an apology. Today, GOPundits like Rush Limbaugh proudly wear their racism like a badge of honor, singing “Barack the Magic Negro” live on the air and then defending doing so, while the Supreme Court undoes wide swaths of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act” (which was created specifically to empower the 1964 Civil Rights Act). I dare say Deep South Republicans of 2014 haven’t been so comfortable being openly racist since they were Deep South Democrats in 1952.

With the Supreme Court last week declaring Michigan’s anti-Affirmative Action law to be “Constitutional”, the obvious next question is whether other states might follow suit? Could this be the beginning of the end for Affirmative Action?

An Affirmative Action based on income would still disproportionately benefit minorities without carrying the stigma of “skin color” being attached to a student’s achievements. It would also deny racists one more ignorant talking point of how they are the truly oppressed ones, and how “Mr. Black” only got where he is because of race (everyone remembers the deplorable Jesse Helms “Hands” ad that helped him win reelection in 1990). If the choice is between “Affirmative Action for the poor” vs no Affirmative Action at all, I think a lot of people might suddenly become very comfortable with Dean’s idea. Howard Dean was right, just a little ahead of his time (again.)
 



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Filed in General, Racism, Seems Obvious to Me April 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Obama, Putin, and The Right’s Daddy Issues

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 10, 2014

Conservatives have “Daddy” issues. I’m not making a joke, I’m pointing out a demonstrative fact.

For the past week, Republicans have been quick to express their admiration, if not outright praise, for “Vladamir Putin: Man of Action” for the way he (supposedly) bested President Obama (supposedly, once again) by invading the Crimean peninsula without any apparent concern for how President Obama might react… apparently because (according to Genius Grant Award Winner Sarah Palin) Putin is a manly-man who “wrestles bears” vs “Mom jeans” wearing, “equivocating” (read: “thinks before acting”) President Obama. Republicans praised Putin as a bare-chested man of action. However, I imagine that if Putin had to run every decision past a rabidly obstructionist Congress the way Obama must, he probably wouldn’t appear quite so “decisive”. As The Daily Show pointed out last week, these are the same people that went ballistic barely one month ago when President Obama dared to suggest that he might act on his own if Congress didn’t (re: raising the minimum wage). They called Obama “a dictator” and attacked him for (falsely) threatening to ignore Congress and enact legislation on his own (using his Executive Authority to raise the Minimum Wage for Government Contractors is WELL within his Constitutional Powers.) Just this past week on Fox (where else?), Rudy Giuliani praised Putin as “what you call a [real] leader” adding (quote) “Putin decides what he wants to do and acts in a half a day.” If there is one thing we all learned from last weeks fetishism of Putin by the Right, it’s that their “ideal leader” is a neo-Communist dictator with a rubber-stamp Congress… which by no coincidence perfectly describes President Bush invading Iraq in 2003. He wanted to invade, and a GOP controlled Congress gave him the power to do it. And if you dared criticize The President of the United States, you “hated America” and were urged to “move to France”. If Obama threatens to act if Congress does not, he’s “a dictator”, but if Putin “makes a decision and acts in half a day”, he’s “a leader”. And praising a foreign enemy of freedom while ridiculing your own president makes you a patriot.

Living in a Red state as I do with Conservative family members, my first thought is always: “How would they explain this inconsistency?” And the conclusion I came to was that they would say “National security is different.” Because “war” is for “manly men”. “Manly men” invade countries on false pretenses, love guns, use force as a first resort (be it invading another country like Iraq or killing a black kid carrying Skittles and an Iced Tea), hunts (tranquilized) tigers, and just generally acts like a bully (unless of course they happen to be black, then they’re “thugs”.) Oh, and incidentally, they’re misogynists too (even the women). From the spokes-models over at Fox “news” to “Sarah Palin”, do you think ANY of these women would be as prominent in the Republican Party if they looked like Madalyn Albright? Have you ever seen so many Right-Wing homophobes openly fawning over all things masculine (most conspicuously, a shirtless former KGB agent?) And probably uncoincidentally, they all seem to suffer from a serious inferiority/paranoid/delusional complex. “The Media” is out to “get them“, to “silence” them, is on the side of their critics and is actively working against them. So they flock to Fox “news” where they receive the ego-stroking praise they didn’t receive from Mom or Dad as a child. “You’re right! They ARE out to get you! Everything you believe is absolutely correct! How smart of you! No, you’re not a racist, you’re just misunderstood! And those awful lazy poor people want to take your hard-earned money!” (and killing a child before it is born is an abomination, but cutting off food stamps or school lunches to that child AFTER it is born which could lead to malnutrition and even death is just “God’s Will.”)

People that think before acting and trust science over “their gut” are regarded as “weak”, and Bullies, by their very nature, love to pick on the weak. So they raz those who believe in sciencey things like “Global Warming” (it is stunning to watch a group of people as massive as Climate Change Deniers ridicule something they clearly don’t understand, like joking about “Global Warming”… but never “Climate Change”… during a historic freak Winter snow-storm) and look down their noses at people who attended college as “Elitists”.

Pick any prominent Republican leader and I’ll show you someone who had an authoritarian father. John McCain? His father was a Navy Admiral during World War II. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz (which BTW is “Ted’s” REAL name. He’s a Jr), is a certifiable Right-Wing nut that was a fire & brimstone preacher who proclaims the same God who Commanded “Thou Shalt Not Kill” ordained the Death Penalty in Chapter One of The Bible, “thank[s] God for Glenn Beck”, and still wants to know where the Birth Certificate is. John Boehner (who recently conceded that it is indeed pronounced “boner”) is the son of a saloon-owner, and Sarah Palin’s dad? A Track coach. Or there are those Republicans who were traumatized by their fathers masculinity being attacked like George W. Bush’s dad being called a “wimp” or Mitt Romney’s father who was forced out of the presidential race after using the unfortunate phrase “brainwashed” about himself regarding his prior support for the Vietnam War. Is it any wonder that a group of people so obsessed with being seen as “manly” would also be full of homophobes? (And the less said about Mitch McConnell, currently fighting for his political life amidst charges of “weakness” in confronting Obama, walking onto the stage at CPAC holding a giant phallic symbol aloft over his head, the better.)

And if you think about it, who’s the most manly-man of all? God. The ultimate authoritarian figure. A judgmental eye-in-the-sky that watches your every move, who laid out his “Commandments” and threatens to banish anyone that doesn’t comply into the pit of Hell for all eternity. You can’t get any more authoritarian than that. And they’ve claimed him as their own.

Who’s your Daddy, Mr. GOP?
 



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Filed in General, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity, War March 10th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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You can always find another lunch counter, er, baker, florist

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

I‘m fairly convinced by this point that Conservatives just don’t listen to themselves when they speak. How else do you explain Fox’s George Will or ABC guest pundit Rich Lowrey decrying yesterday the veto of Arizona’s noxious “(bigotry in the name of) Religious Freedom Act”, saying, “Hey, if a baker or florist refuses to cater your gay wedding, there are plenty of other bakers & florists. Just find one who will.” I’m certain there were plenty of other lunch counters those young black men could have patronized in 1960 as well. In fact, no one told those young men in Greensboro they couldn’t eat in that particular Woolworth’s. The establishment was perfectly happy to serve them in a booth, just not up front at the lunch counter where Farmer John might have to rub elbows with some Darkie. And Sen. Rand Paul was abundantly clear when he stated he believed the Federal government had no right to tell private establishments (like Woolworth’s) that they couldn’t discriminate based solely on skin color. And now, 54 years later, we are once again having the same fight with “Social Conservatives” (Democrats back then, Republicans today) that honesty believe that bigots should be allowed to oppress a group of people they hate if they claim it’s “in the name of God.”

I’m about as Done with people using “God” as an excuse to justify every hateful thing imaginable, as one can be. The greatest evil ever inflicted upon the world has to be “organized religion”… with a few notable exceptions like the late Mother Theressa and the current Pope Francis… but then, they are just “individuals”, while the church they represent doesn’t exactly have the best record… from protecting child-molesting priests, to codifying women’s subservience to men, and even this Pope still regards homosexuality a “sin”, so there’s that. When you look at just about every war in the Middle East, Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill (that was walked back to just “lifetime imprisonment”), on through to the Religious Right in this country fomenting hate towards every “Other” you can name: “Illegal Aliens” (that, by no coincidence, just happen to be Mexicans, not Canadians or Europeans), the (lazy, shiftless) Poor (begging for food stamps), “Thugs” (the new “N-word”), Women that use birth control… even their proclaimed “love” of Israel is a façade for their true motivation… ensuring that the “Armageddon” prophecy of an end-of-the-world conflict between Christian’s & Jews takes place… and they all call The Republican Party home.

And now it’s Teh Gays. “Law’s telling me I must treat you like a human being is a violation of my Religious right to be a bigot!”

I believe it all started when God kicked Adam & Eve out of The Garden of Eden because they didn’t comport with God’s idea of morality (the “serpent” that “enticed” Eve was Adam’s penis. The “forbidden fruit of knowledge” was “lust” and the discovery of “sex for pleasure”. That’s the version they don’t teach you in Bible class.)

Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t another “Garden” down the road that they could have patronized instead. So apparently being a judgmental bigot is next to Godliness.

During the Civil Rights struggle, bigots used religion to justify their bigotry back then as well. “The Almighty separated the races by putting them on different continents” they proclaimed in defense of segregation. Except that’s not true. China and Russia are on the same continent, yet those races couldn’t be more different. “Europe” is labeled a “continent” despite being (for the most part) physically connected to the same land mass as “Asia”. And European “Whites” were not native to North America, so arguably, bigots of European decent continuing to live in the United States were in violation of God’s desire to separate the races by continent. Oops!

Long long ago… way back in 2012… I remember Republican idiots having a conniption over “Sharia Law” and their (mistaken) belief that some Federal judges were allowing Muslims to violate Federal Law on the grounds that the Federal law violated their religious rights. This was just another example of “our Muz’lum prez’dent” slowly-but-surely allowing Islam to overtake the American judicial system.

And now, just one short year later, those very same people are rushing to the defense of “Sharia Law” and Muslim’s right to ignore Federal law based on their religious beliefs. I know, right? Whoda’thunkit?

If you’re looking for “consistency” from the Religious Right… what is WRONG with you? Have you been asleep these past two decades? You should know better by now. My advice to them: stop using religion to justify your bigotry. This fight has been fought before. Been there, done that. And when you say stupid things like, “Just find another wedding photographer”, ask your self, “Why should they have to?”
 



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Filed in fake scandals, General, Racism, Religion March 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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An Unintended Stroll Down Memory Lane

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

Last week, the company that hosts M.R.S. wouldn’t let me in to update the blog. at first, I thought the problem might lie on my end because my computer had recently started acting funny. As a computer-tech by trade, my first thought was that I had a virus, but several thorough scans pronounced my PC as safe & clean. The next morning when I switched on my PC, one entire hard drive (I have three) was gone. And not just any drive, my primary 1.0-Terabyebyte data drive that was nearly full, containing most of my data. All my photos (family & otherwise), all my documents, hundreds of videos, artwork, program configurations… POOF! All gone. No virus, the reason the computer was acting funny was because my hard drive was dying. Now, for the average user, this is where panic would set in. 850 GIGABYTES of unbacked up data, gone! Holy crap! But I was “reasonably” confident that I could recover most if not all my data. Long story short, one brute-force utility was able to “recover” about 60% of my data. 310-Thousand files with NO FILENAMES (assigning names like “f873625.bmp” or “f123456.doc”). So now I’ve begun the laborious task of opening nearly every file one at a time, seeing what it is, assigning a name to it, and moving it someplace safe. I figure at the rate I’m going, I should have relabled all of my recovered files by Easter… of 2020.

Among the media stored on that drive, about eleven years worth of political news video clips going back to May of 2003 (and a couple of audio clips going back to 2002) when I first started recording stories about the Iraq War and phantom WMD’s. I had been very outspoken around the people I knew in the lead-up to the war, but I didn’t start writing about politics for about another year when those “stockpiles” of “chemical & biological weapons” that President Bush so adamantly insisted were in Iraq being readied to use against us failed to materialize. Well… you know the story from there.

So, anyway, here I am, going through literally hundreds of old videos, repeatedly amazed by how much I had forgotten and just how bad things were in this country under the Bush Administration, and in the light of current GOP “outrage” over everything-Obama, how ridiculous Republicans look actually threatening impeachment of president Obama over delaying… yes, delaying… implementing the health care mandate that they so despise. Here is just an oh-so-brief list of some of the clips that caught my attention:

Yeah, it was a miserable eight years. I had almost forgotten just how miserable it was until I started rewatching all these old news clips I forgot I even had. And when I live-blogged the Sunday shows on Facebook yesterday, the sheer chutzpah of Republicans accusing President Obama of “abuse of power” even “unconstitutional criminality” because he is using the powers given to him by the Founding Fathers to raise the Minimum Wage for federal contract workers on his own, or threaten impeachment because he delays implementing a law those same Republicans openly despise, all I can do is shake my head.

If you’ve ever moved out of a home you’ve lived in for years, you may remember how amazed you were by all the old things you found that you either forgot about or thought you lost forever? That’s what sifting through these hundreds of thousands of old files was like for me this past week. Maybe everyone’s computer should crash once a decade to force us to go through and rediscover all those things we forgot about?

On second thought…
 



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Filed in General, National Security, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Scandals, War February 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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(Server down over weekend. Next update TBA.)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 10, 2014

My apologies to our regular readers that came looking for this weeks latest Op/Ed. The web-host serving “Mugsy’s Rap Sheet” was down all weekend and was not restored until Monday morning. Please check back again soon for (or become a free member to receive automatic notification by email of) our next update. – Mugsy

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Filed in General February 10th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Why the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Browne

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

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

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

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychic Twins

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

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

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

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

Political Prognosticators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Did.

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

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

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

So now my Predictions for 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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

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

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

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

“Candles!”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

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

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

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

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

Mark Fiore: Jesus Rebranded
Jesus Rebranded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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