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The Path to Hell: Trump Proposes Right Ideas in Worst Possible Way Making Things Worse
Mar 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Trump hosted a rally over the weekend for a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania, where he bragged about himself (natch) more than the candidate. Trump bragged that “Obama, Bush and [Bill] Clinton all talked about sitting down with North Korea, but only *I* got it done!” Yes, because those other presidents demanded concessions from North Korea first, and when they didn’t get them, THEY had the good sense to say “No”. And Clinton/Bush/Obama didn’t say No following a year of breakneck nuclear testing and the appalling death of an American hostage (Otto Warmbier) like Trump had. I keep thinking about the message Trump is sending other rogue nations like Syria & Iran by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un after such behavior? “Develop your nuclear capabilities, kill an American hostage, and threaten Washington DC, and Trump will meet with you too… without preconditions.” Good intentions. Worse outcome. I’m all for talking with your enemies, but you get CONCESSIONS first. And you send envoys first. Not the President himself. North Korea isn’t suddenly agreeing to talks because they fear Trump’s “bluster” (as Trump himself claimed over the weekend), they are agreeing because they want the SANCTIONS lifted (and seeing life in South Korea during the Olympics probably made them think a lot about their own miserable lives.)

Trump also declared… with no apparent forethought… to impose a blanket tariff of “25% on all steel and 10% on all aluminum imported into the United States” without regard for country of origin. Tariffs can be a GOOD thing… when applied on a case-by-case basis to deny impoverished nations an excuse to underpay their workers. But applying the same 25% tariff on German imports where workers are paid more than most American workers, as you impose on China where workers earn pennies a day, is wildly unfair. You’re punishing trading partners whom do us no harm. In fact, you punish some nations which we have a trade-SURPLUS with. And they WILL retaliate.

After an outraged Canada (our largest steel exporter) pointed out this was in violation of NAFTA, Trump amended his impulsive blanket tariff to “exclude Mexico & Canada”. Great! Now he just created a MASSIVE incentive for foreign steel exporters to move to Mexico. I’m sure Mexico is happy about that. American steel-workers? Not so much. So in the end, cheap foreign steel will continue to flow into the United states, but instead of by boat, now it’ll come in by truck/rail across our Southern border, lowering their export costs even more. Excellent work, President Dumbass. You may have just made things worse.

Following the (latest) school massacre in Florida, in a highly-staged meeting with both Republicans & Democrats on the subject of “gun control”, Trump bragged about how HE would “stand up to the NRA”, that HE wasn’t “afraid of them” and that HE would succeed where all his predecessors failed. Then he impulsively proposed “if someone is believed to be a danger, he’d even support taking the guns away first and “worry about Due Process later” (right sentiment. Wrong policy. If a Democrat had said that… OMG! Republicans would be rioting in the streets!), pretty much ensuring nothing gets done on gun control as Trump is forced to walk back his impetuous remark. So then he talks to a VERY upset NRA and they convince him the “solution” is MORE guns and to arm every teacher. Once again, right idea delivered in the worst possible way, resulting in a “compromise” that may actually end up making things worse. What did THE NRA concede? Nothing… though they did “lose” the fight to protect “Bump Stocks”… though they didn’t really put up much of a fight. I’m sure they are delighted that’s ALL they lost. They gladly soldout “bump stocks” (giving Trump his faux “victory”) to save the AR15.

Trump also declared recently that we need to invest in “infrastructure”. Democrats said this for a decade but Republicans repeatedly obstructed them (If you recall, just three days before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota, a bridge collapsed in MN killing four and injuring dozens more, yet STILL Republicans refused to support the Democratic call to invest in infrastructure. Then Trump starts making ridiculous promises of how we can get all of our infrastructure rebuilt on the cheap and Republicans swoon. Never mind the details. So then Trump announce his big plan on how to rebuild our infrastructure for very little money. We basically SELL-OFF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE TO CORPORATE AMERICA, who then turn our roads & bridges into TOLL roads & bridges, public schools into private schools. If you live in rural America where it would be harder for corporations to make their money back, tough luck. Your infrastructure is just going to have to wait. Once again, the right intentions implemented in the worst possible way, only ensuring to make matters worse.

He never actually “repealed” ObamaCare BTW. His followers think he did, but all he did was undermine it in a way that ensures MILLIONS of Americans will find themselves with no insurance (or inadequate policies where every claim is denied.) People were complaining that “costs had gone up too much” and (despite Obama’s assurances), if their doctor was not on their new plan, they could NOT keep their doctor. Well, policy prices went up because insurance companies could no longer sell you worthless “junk” policies where every claim is denied. And you COULD have kept your doctor if Conservatives hadn’t stripped out The Public Option. But now, thanks to “TrumpCare”, insurance companies can sell you worthless policies once again. You can even go totally without insurance if you so desire (driving rates up for everyone else.) But at least you’ll save a few bucks (until you get sick or injured.) And just like that, once again, Best Intentions resulting in a “solution” that makes matters far worse.

Trump rolled out his 2020 Campaign Slogan yesterday. Maybe he should consider “Trump 2020: Best Intentions Going Lousy Yesterday”… BIGLY.
 


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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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When Do We Stop Listening to Conservatives on How to Fight Terrorism?
Dec 7th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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Today is Pearl Harbor Day. An American naval base was attacked by the Empire of Japan on this day in 1941, killing 2,400 American servicemen (half of which were aboard just one ship: The USS Arizona.) We declared war on Japan (NOT Germany), which in turn led to Germany declaring war on US (sorry Iraq War defenders.) That war ended 3-1/2 years later when the leaders of those nations surrendered and their citizens agreed to abide by that decision. Wars don’t end that way any more. In October of 2001, just SIX WEEKS after 9/11, president Bush declared he “wasn’t that concerned” about the man who had just orchestrated what was then called “a second Pearl Harbor”… the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history… and instead started selling us on the idea that we need to instead focus on deposing Saddam Hussein. So manic was the Bush Administration’s focus on Saddam so recently after 9/11 that millions of Americans came to believe he was connected to 9/11. “He MUST have been” to be so important so soon after the attack with the war in Afghanistan still raging. It took another year-and-a-half of wild accusations about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and the “imminent threat” posed by Saddam to get America to take its eye off the ball in Afghanistan and expand the war to Iraq. 14 years later, war still rages in both countries and the situation has only grown worse. So why are we still allowing the same people who got us into this mess to tell us how to get out?

In Greek mythology, after Pandora’s Box was opened and all the world’s ills spilled out, the only thing left inside was “hope”. But those ills are still out there and “hoping” it’ll get better has failed as a strategy. Control of Iraq was both figuratively & literally decapitated with the removal of Saddam… unquestionably a bad guy, but a pressure-valve on the pressure-cooker that is the Middle-East… a mess that we have yet to figure out how to clean up.

There’s an old saying: “fight fire with fire”. Now, a “hawk” will likely argue that this means going in BIGGER, using MORE troops and a LARGER military presence to bring the region under control. But let’s stop for a moment. The phrase “fight fire with fire” does NOT mean one should “burn down the village to save it”. No, ask any firefighter and they’ll tell you that it literally describes a method of depriving the fire of fuel (by setting tiny “back-fires”), not dropping incendiary bombs on the forest.

And THAT is what we must do: “Deprive the fire of fuel”. Going in bigger won’t make the region like us more. And no one-person in the Middle-East has the power to “surrender” on everyone’s behalf to bring the war to an end. Whether you like it or not, we’ve given the Muslim World reason to hate us. Sorry, but it’s true. We destabilized the Middle-East with the invasion of Iraq and created the power vacuum ISIL, Iraq & alQaeda are fighting over now. When Ron Paul made that point in 2011 (and NO I’m NOT a Ron Paul supporter), his fellow Republicans attacked him and accused him of “blaming America for 9/11″… a crass political ploy, accusing your opponent of being “soft on terror” while scoring cheap political points for yourself. How can one not be reminded of children accusing one another of having “cooties”?

Donald Trump leads the GOP field with his “bomb them into the stone age” rhetoric. Not only has he called for the return of “waterboarding” (against who? We don’t have any ISIS prisoners and we already know where they are) and forcing all Muslims to carry ID (so if a Muslim terrorist doesn’t have an ID, they must not be a Muslim terrorists?), but NOW he says the only way to “win” (like it’s some sort of game) is “to adopt their tactics” and “go after their families”. Great, the GOP front-runner is Kaiser Sosse:
 


 

It’s time for this nonsense to stop. Stop listening to the people who got us into this mess, have kept us there for over 14 years, and will keep us there for another 100 if we follow their advice. Abandoning their failed strategy after 14-years is NOT a sign of weakness, and you can’t embarrass us anymore by saying we have cooties if we do. “YOUR POLICIES HAVE FAILED! MOVE OVER, TIME TO LET THE ADULTS DRIVE.”

I won’t bore you yet again with my recommendation that we focus on improving the lives of the people in the middle-East, giving them less reason to hate us and taking the wind out of the sails of ISIS when they try to recruit people into attacking those who are making their life better. And if I may point out the obvious: war, bombing & occupation clearly isn’t working. We are allowing ourselves to be bullied by people like Donald Trump and (dear Lord) yet-another Bush (???) who think you can bomb people into loving you (or at least unwilling to do you harm.) Ask any 5-year old child if you can hurt someone into liking you, and I think you’ll find them smarter than the average Republican.

PS: President Obama delivered a rare address from the Oval Office on the subject of terrorism last night, citing not only the San Bernardino ISIS-wannabe terrorist couple in California, but the spread of terrorist ideology across the globe. He addressed the easy-availability of assault weapons in America and Congress’ lack of will to address the issue. But he also mentioned how vilifying & alienating Muslims in this country is counter-productive, potentially helping to radicalize people who could be our best “eyes & ears” inside the Muslim community… something I’ve talked about a lot lately since my column on the Syrian Refugees a few of weeks ago.

His plan “to defeat ISIL” cites four key activities:

  • (Good) “First, our military will continue to hunt down terrorist plotters in any country where it is necessary, using air strikes to take out ISIL leaders and their infrastructure in Iraq and Syria.”
  •  

  • (Questionable) “Second, we will continue to provide training and equipment to Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting ISIL on the ground so that we take away their safe havens.”
  •  

  • (Good) “Third, we are leading a coalition of 65 countries to stop ISIL’s operations by disrupting plots, cutting off their financing, and preventing them from recruiting more fighters.”
  •  

  • (Not enough) “Fourth, with American leadership, the international community has established a process and timeline to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution to the Syrian civil war.”

No mention of improving the lives of the people in the region to win over “hearts & minds” (he used the phrase only to describe the American people’s reaction to the San Bernardino attack), proposing no other grand strategy other than to continue the use of military force to wipe-out “ISIL”. In short, nothing new.

During “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, frequent round-table guest/pundit Conservative radio host Alex Castellanos pre-criticized President Obama’s Sunday night address as just “throwing more words at the problem.” This from a man whose own Party has done nothing but whine about how President Obama “refuses” to utter the words “Radical Islamic Terrorism” (like somehow using those words will make a difference.) These same people refuse to say “Radical Christian Terrorism” to describe the Planned Parenthood shooter just two days earlier.)

Go away Conservatives, you’ve had your shot. 14 years of failure is MORE than enough time to recognize that you don’t know how to drive and it’s time to stop handing you the keys. You’ve killed enough people. Scoot over.
 

ADDENDUM: Brilliant actor & activist Mandy Patinkin, on The Late Show (12/18/15) makes the same point I’ve been making that the ONLY way to end war is to IMPROVE the lives of those who hate us rather than give them more cause to continue their fight:
 


 

 


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Paris, Freedom Fries and The Problem of Jihadi Recruitment.
Nov 16th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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The terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday brought back memories of 9/11 for a lot of people. But for me, I was more reminded of how all this leads back to George Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq in the first place… and the fact France warned us not to do it, calling military intervention in Iraq: “the worst possible solution.” (I bookmarked a great column back in September of 2003, six months after the invasion, comparing France to a “designated driver” that tried to “take away they keys” from drunk driver Bush. Recommended reading.)

Because of their opposition to invading Iraq, Republicans lambasted the French, calling them part of “the Axis of Weasel”, noting how “WE” rescued THEM from “Hitler” but THEY wouldn’t help us “defend ourselves” from “today’s Hitler: Saddam Hussein”. One outraged Republican demanded the Capitol cafeteria rename French Fries to “Freedom Fries”, and Bush himself renamed the French Toast aboard Air Force One : “Freedom Toast” (yes, that IS every bit as childish as it sounds) because of France’s opposition to the invasion of Iraq as long as inspections appeared to be working (and they were). Republicans called the French “surrender-monkeys”. France’s response: “We think that military intervention would be the worst possible solution.” And they were right.

Friday’s attack was just the latest catastrophe to come out of Bush’s reckless & unwarranted invasion of Iraq 12-1/2 years ago. To paraphrase, the definition of insanity is believing that after 14 years of war, the way to end the war is by more war. That’s just nuts… pardon my French.

If the Paris attacks confirm anything, it’s that the greatest threat to peace comes from ISIS SYMPATHIZERS more than ISIS itself. As I’ve written MANY, MANY, MANY times before, the people in these countries simply want a better life. When you bomb the areas where they live, you don’t just make martyrs out of those you kill, but you make enemies of the innocent who see their lives… their homes… their country left in ruins by foreigners dropping bombs on them… and you attract sympathizers in other countries. It’s a great recruiting tool.

President Obama said earlier this year that we had “stopped the expansion of ISIL.” But ISIL/ISIS doesn’t need to control huge swaths of land to “grow”. ISIS now “expands” via recruitment. Our goal should NOT be helping them recruit sympathizers by turning them into martyrs.

Many (most?) Republicans already talk about Muslims like they are all terrorists. Even when they don’t… qualifying their statement by saying things like “not all”… there is still that sense of having to “prove your innocence first”. They feel unwelcome even in their own country, only making it easier for groups like ISIS and alQaeda to recruit them, giving them a sense of belonging from a fellow group of outcasts. Even willing to die for their new found friends/family.

I proposed a question to all the presidential candidates last July: “How will we know when the war over there is over?” I mean, think about it. After 14 years, one thing we know is this isn’t going to end with the signing of a declaration of surrender on the Battleship Missouri. You can’t win a “war on terror” anymore than you can “win” a “war on drugs”.

So how do we end the war? Simple, by taking the wind out of their sails and crippling their ability to recruit. Invest in building schools and hospitals and roads and bridges. IMPROVE their lives. ISIS & alQaeda can’t expand if they can’t convince people to attack the people making their lives BETTER. And it’ll cost a HELL of a lot less. Eventually the radicals will become marginalized, societies will stabilize, and the war will truly be over. (Ironically, this method also works on Red-State Republicans. Just ask FDR.)

I knew when I work up Saturday morning that Republicans would find a way to blame President Obama for the Paris attacks. And sure enough, later that morning and during the Sunday shows yesterday, the Republican presidential candidates were already blaming the president’s “weak foreign policy” for the tragedy. Now let’s be clear, these are the same Republicans who just last month were praising Vladamir Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, only to see one of Russia’s passenger jets blown out of the sky with over 200 civilian passengers on board.

By Sunday morning, I added the Syrian refugees to that list of people the Right Wing wack-a-doodles would blame for the Paris attacks, and indeed, all the major network Sunday shows asked their guests what impact the Paris bombings would/should have on any decision to allow Syrian refugees into our country. Germany allowed in FAR more refugees than France, so why France? Russia is tough on ISIS and they are brutally attacked. France is far less involved and gets attacked too. So just whose “foreign policy” do Republicans think we should mimic to stay safe?

Speaking of which, what exactly do the Syrian Refugees have to do with the Paris attacks? Well, apparently, a passport was found belonging to one of the suicide bombers, revealing they were from Syria and had traveled through Greece (one of the lead destinations of the Syrian refugees.) Now, I’m not sure why a refugee would even HAVE a passport. It’s not like they entered the country through a checkpoint. It would be as if a Mexican immigrant was caught illegally crossing the border with a perfectly good passport in their back pocket. It makes no sense. Greece doesn’t issue Syrian passports, so why is anyone assuming this one terrorist was a refugee?

Two other bombers were identified as “French nationals” [ibid]. Evidence that they’ve even been to Iraq/Syria is sketchy at best, yet here they are killing Parisians in the name of ISIS. THAT is “expansion through recruitment” and is also why sending troops into Syria isn’t going to solve anything. I’m reminded of the old joke of the man searching for a lost quarter under a street light nowhere near where he dropped it only because “the light is better over here.” Bombing ISIS in Syria because of the actions of sympathizers in France is no less stupid.

Donald Trump said last January following the “Charley Hebdo” attack… and repeated last Saturday… that it somehow “is no coincidence” that ISIS would attack a country with “some of the strictest gun laws in all of Europe”. We’ve heard this before. It’s the: “mass murderers target gun-free zones” & “if only they had allowed guns in movie theaters” nonsense all over again. And I find myself wondering what his point is here. If France had the same lax gun laws as the U.S., France could enjoy 30,000 deaths a year instead of just 150? WTF are you talking about, Donald???

During the GOP debates last Saturday night, only Senator Sanders advocated for LESS U.S. military involvement in Syria… though not going as far as my “infrastructure-based” solution to ending the war… instead proposing to shift more of the burden onto those most directly affected by all this chaos in the Middle-East: The Middle-East itself.

As for the rest: Why on Earth would we elect anyone that thinks the way to end 14 years of war in the Middle East is thru more war?
 

MLK: Darkness can't fix Darkness

 


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Obama Extends The Longest War in U.S. History. Here’s How to End It
Oct 19th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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Last week, President Obama was forced to reluctantly concede that the War in Afghanistan was not going to end on his watch as hoped. One of his first acts upon entering office in 2009 was to send an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan (Side note: Republicans blame the continued fighting in Iraq on President Obama withdrawing our troops. So what’s their excuse for the continued violence in Afghanistan?) In 2011, the war looked much closer to being over as U.S. forces located and killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan. I argued at the time that we should have then “declared victory” and came home (I said the same thing about Iraq after Saddam was found in late 2003). It was clear there was nothing more to be gained in Afghanistan, and the U.S. could have exited the region with the powerful message that “if you hurt us, we won’t rest until you’ve been brought to justice.” But we didn’t. Instead, we allowed Conservatives to drive the debate, arguing that the war would not be over until we had “crushed” OBL’s enabler’s: The Taliban and somehow ensured they could never return to power. How exactly would one go about doing that? And how would you know when you were done? It was a dubious unattainable goal set by the NeoConservative war hawks in Washington and their friends in the defense industry. The result? The war in Afghanistan is now in it’s 15th year with no end in sight. Bin Laden is gone but ISIS has moved in to take his place, enabled by the destabilization of the entire region. And what is the only “solution” under consideration? Staying longer and possibly sending in even more troops… ie: putting out a fire with gasoline.

In 1781, the British Army surrendered to the colonists in Yorktown, VA. ending the 6 year long Revolutionary War. British government soldiers a long way from home fighting an undisciplined army of locals with the home-field advantage. The foreign military lost only to return 31 years later for a rematch in 1812. Again the foreign invaders lost.

In 1939, Hitler’s Third Reich invaded Poland on their way to Russia, starting World War II. After attempting to invade nation after nation, Germany ended up surrendering 6 years later in 1945, followed by Japan, whom also attacked first, surrendering four months after that.

Then came Korea, the first war with US in the role of foreign invader. That war ended in stalemate after 2-1/2 years in 1953.

Vietnam began as a minor French offensive in 1955, but our involvement didn’t explode until after the assassination of President Kennedy when a suspicious President Johnson turned it into a proxy war against the Soviet Union (whom he suspected of orchestrating JFK’s murder). America’s heavy involvement in Vietnam lasted 11 years from mid-1964 to mid-1975. Part of the reason the war went on so long? No one wanted to be the first president to “lose” a war. The goal was no longer clear, yet the war went on for years more despite President Nixon conceding it was unwinnable. Eventually the war was abandoned as America became consumed by Watergate.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, it was another month before we took action as the Bush Administration was forced to suspend their plan to invade Iraq and create a plan to respond to 9/11. That “plan” entailed invading Afghanistan and capturing Osama bin Laden. When American forces had cornered OBL in the mountains of Tora Bora, the army only surrounded him on three sides. OBL escaped, and, looking for a “win”, the Bush Administration decided to turn it’s attention back to Iraq rather than finish the war in Afghanistan. After dropping the ball so catastrophically on 9/11, the Bush Administration thought it could use the excuse of preventing “the NEXT big attack” as justification for invading Iraq. So now, we were fighting TWO wars on foreign soil with the U.S. in the role of “invader”. But the whole thing blew up in their face, and the Bush Administration found themselves mired in TWO wars with no exit strategy. As Iraq devolved into chaos, by late 2006 (sites like “IraqBodyCount.com” would report over 100 U.S. troop deaths a day for months), the decision to send in 20,000 reinforcements into Iraq in 2007 brought the death toll back down to a dull roar. But it didn’t last. alQaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (“AQAP”)… also known as “alQaeda in Iraq”… moved into neighboring Syria, now in civil war, to help the rebels overthrow President Assad, where they continued to grow. The new Shia government in Iraq made life miserable for the Sunni’s (of which ISIS belonged), denying them employment or even representation in government, so AQAP returned as “ISIS” to take back what was once theirs. And once again, just as in Vietnam, no one wants to be the president that “lost the war.” With no change in strategy, the war goes on forever.

Insert definition of “insanity” here.

It’s a topic I’ve returned to again & again this past year: The wars in Afghanistan & Iraq (and now Syria) will continue as long as our only strategy for fighting them continues unchanged as well. These are untraditional wars. They require an untraditional solution.

Be it Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or even the United States, people want just ONE THING: A better life. For FAR less money, all of our wars in the Middle East could be brought to an end if we sent in engineers instead of bombardiers. Tractors instead of tanks. Hire local housing contractors instead of flying in thousands of military contractors from Halliburton or Black Water to act as mercenaries. People just want a better life, and they are going to embrace & defend those who are making their lives BETTER by building roads and schools and hospitals and a working power grid.

Do you know that the largest country in South America… Brazil… speaks Portuguese not Spanish? With all the Spanish Conquistadors all over The New World, why did the largest South American nation adopt the language of tiny Portugal? Because while Spain sent conquerors, Portugal sent merchants looking for TRADE. The Brazilian locals willingly learned the Portuguese language so that they could conduct trade with the Portuguese merchant sailors rather than adopt the language of the people that came to conquer them.

And because of that, 500 years later, the largest nation in South America speaks Portuguese while everyone else speaks Spanish. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

If we help the locals build a better life, just how long do you think they’ll tolerate groups like ISIS or alQaeda coming in and blowing things up? Locals who were once taking up arms and joining ISIS to fight the American invaders making their lives miserable are suddenly more apt to defend the people there making their lives better. Instead of breeding enemies plotting the next 9/11, we create friends seeking to replicate us and bring Democracy to their country. The end to the wars may finaly be within sight once we turn former enemies into friends. And that “magical flourishing spread of Democracy across the Middle East” that George Bush thought he could achieve at the barrel of a gun might actually take root once we put down the weapons and start making lives better instead of worse.

Oh… and besides being multitudes cheaper than what we’re doing now, shortening the length of the war would save us Trillions as well. Not creating any more disabled vets will save us Billions. The reduction in global instability would reduce the threat to us here at home, saving us still more money. Military contractors can still reap their rewards if they shift from building weapons of war to building infrastructure… both abroad and here at home. And the cost burden won’t be 100% on us anymore as other nations would gladly hire former military contractors to come in to rebuild infrastructure.

The wars are finally brought to an end, we save Billions (Trillions?) of dollars and tens of thousands of lives, we create lifelong friends instead of lifelong enemies looking to do us harm, military contractors make out like bandits providing infrastructure rebuilding services here at home and abroad… talk about a WIN/WIN/WIN. All it takes is political will and a president who won’t allow themselves to be bullied by the same clueless warmongers whose policies have led to America’s longest war in history with no end in site.
 

NOTE: I updated the site last week, adding a “Search” function (upper right column) so that you may now search through our entire eight year collection of past Op/Eds.

 


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Iraqis Showing the Route to Peace/Progress with Massive Infrastructure Project?
Jun 8th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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After 12 years of war, Iraq may be showing America and the rest of the world the path to peace: Iraqi’s are building an entire city, Bismayah, just outside Baghdad. The massive infrastructure project has already created hundreds (thousands?) of new construction jobs (and hundreds more tangential jobs, related and non to construction) and once completed will provide 100,000 middle-income homes to over 600,000 Iraqi’s. The plan is to eventually build one million such residences across Iraq as part of a massive Infrastructure & Revitalization project. Running these cities means still more jobs, from grocers to law enforcement. South Korean construction company “Hanwha” won the $8 BILLION DOLLAR bid to build the city (another American opportunity lost) and expects to have the first 7,000 apartments ready by the end of this year (with completion of the city scheduled for 2019). And while ISIS… most of whom are Iraqi’s themselves… is still a threat to workers, they don’t seem to be interested in bombing the newly constructed buildings that are bringing hope to so many Iraqis. The Turkish corporation “Enka Insaat” won an additional $3 Billion dollar contract to build a gas-powered Power Plant for the city, and another South Korean firm, LS Industrial Systems, won an additional $150 Million dollar deal to build the Power Grid to link it all together.
 

Construction of Bismayah (3:24)

 

Author Rita Mae Brown (not Einstein) coined the popular phrase (for AA): “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over, and expecting a different result each time.”  And famed 18th Century Irish statesman Edmund Burke warned us: “Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” And here we are, now in our 15th year in the Middle East, and I don’t hear anyone questioning our strategy of how to end the wars and get us out of there.

Though I was never a fan on Rep. Dennis Kucinich, I have long thought that his idea of appointing a “Secretary of Peace” to find NON-military solutions to end & avoid war would not only make the world a safer place, but save literally HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS that could be put to better use here at home. Last January, I proposed a non-military solution to ending the wars in the Middle-East (specifically, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine): “Infrastructure”. Build schools, roads and hospitals. And if the enemy blows them up, build them again. Locals will get very tired of the anarchists very quick, doing nothing to help, only serving to make their lives miserable, and turn on them quickly (Just how many wanna-be Jihadi’s do you think ISIS will be able to recruit if they are seen as the ones doing nothing positive, serving only to make people’s lives miserable? Reconstruction projects mean jobs that revitalize the community, and Americans will be seen as a people of “hope & peace”, not “misery & war”. The cost of rebuilding infrastructure would be magnitudes cheaper than war, not only in blood & treasure but in greatly reducing the length of time we occupy those countries. And all the money saved could be spent on desperately needed infrastructure projects here at home.

“Tens of thousands of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. A third of the nation’s highways are in poor or mediocre shape. Massively leaking water and sewage systems are creating health hazards and contaminating rivers and streams. Weakened and under-maintained levees and dams tower over communities and schools. And the power grid is increasingly maxed out, disrupting millions of lives and putting entire cities in the dark.” […] It gets worse. A New York Times report found that “a significant water line bursts on average every two minutes somewhere in the country”—or 720 times daily! – RealTruth Magazine

Throughout the country, many urban roads and highways built decades ago now carry five to 10 times the traffic the original engineers expected and require constant emergency repair — creating horrible traffic jams. Water and gas pipelines laid in the first half of the 20th century are failing, leading to explosions and floods. “Some of this infrastructure is more than 100 years old,” said Rick Grant, owner of a Maryland structural engineering firm, “but it wasn’t designed with more than a 50-year life span in mind.” – The Week, Aug 22, 2014

And as I noted recently: China and Japan are currently competing to build America’s very first bullet train between Los Angeles & San Franciso… a contract estimated to cost around $67 Billion dollars.

Tap the “Military Industrial Complex” to build bridges instead of bombs. Hospitals instead of Command Posts. Roads instead of rockets. You get the picture. I assure you, there is WAY more money to be made building infrastructure around the globe and in all 50 states than there is building bombs to kill a wedding party of two-dozen innocent by-standers.

All eyes will be on Iraq to see whether a job and decent place to live in peace can trump anarchists mad at the world for making their lives miserable and bent on destruction.
 


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When Your Only Tool for Peace is a Military Hammer…
Jan 12th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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This past week saw the bloody attack on French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and a nearby Jewish deli by three Muslim extremists (trained by ISIS… or was it AQAP? No one seems to be sure) out to “avenge The Prophet!” for being depicted in a cartoon (question: If no one if allowed to draw “The Prophet”, how do you know that’s a cartoon of Him? How do you know what He looks like?). First, may I just point out for the record that if your “Prophet’s” ego is so frickin’ fragile that he demands you murder innocents in cold blood that dare insult him, maybe you need a new prophet. How thin-skinned can you get? Whatever. But I also couldn’t help but notice all the Muslim clerics that then came out and publicly denounced these acts of terror. (I found myself wondering when was the last time American Christian leaders came out en masse and publicly denounced the bombing of a Planned Parenthood or threats against immigrant children?) But the REAL question is WHY is the Muslim Community so outraged? Why is the Middle East still in flames after more than a decade of war? And most importantly, what to do about it? American psychologist Abraham Maslow famously wrote, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” When it comes to fighting Terrorism, the only tool in the American arsenal is apparently the Military Hammer (and remember Pentagon Hammers don’t come cheap.) I was never a fan of Dennis Kucinich (mostly b/c when he wasn’t running for president, he was nowhere to be found), but one idea of his stuck with me: creating a Cabinet-Level position of “Secretary of Peace”. Someone whose job it would be to solve crises via non-military means. Not unlike JFK’s “Peace Corp” concept but on a much larger scale (something with a multi-billion dollar budget… magnitudes cheaper than the Pentagon’s budget, yet more effective.) Clearly, “bombing” our enemies isn’t getting the job done. It’s time for a change in strategy.

So what exactly would a “Secretary of Peace” do? Consider this idea: “Infrastructure”. Pay locals to build schools & hospitals in regions threatened by ISIS or Al Qaeda. Trust me, people will like you a lot more when you build a new electric power-plant in their town that doesn’t leave them without electricity 18 hours a day. They’re going to be protective of it, and if ISIS or Al Qaeda tries to destroy it, who do you think they’re going to side with? And if the enemy DOES destroy it, you build it again. Pretty soon, they’re going to get pretty damned tired of building the same school over and over again. When a single Cruise Missile goes for about a million a pop, you can build infrastructure for a faction the cost of destroying it, with a far greater payoff in return… spending less money on guns, bombs, bullets, missiles, armored vehicles, dead & injured soldiers, fighting generations FOR generations… it all adds up. And money saved abroad can be spent on infrastructure here at home.

“War by the rich is called ‘war’. War by the poor is called ‘terrorism.” – unknown

People who live in a constant state of hopelessness and see no future for themselves are more willing to fight because they believe they have nothing to lose. Right now, we are fighting people that see death as their only route to a better “life”. Their real lives are Hell. Tell me, does war make that better or worse? A man that believes he has nothing to lose will die to protect what little he has. Give them something to live for. Give them reason to NOT want to fight.

In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned us of “the Military Industrial Complex”, which is shorthand for corporations that have turned War into big business. They have a strong financial incentive to ensure America stays in a perpetual state of war. So how about we give them a strong financial incentive for peace? Use these same military contractors to build infrastructure… both here & abroad? Definitely no shortage of need after decades of war around the globe.

Ike was right. JFK was right. Everyone to come after was wrong. Thomas Jefferson warned of the danger of “standing armies”… a permanent military whose only function is to fight wars and isn’t going to sit around twiddling its thumbs waiting for the next war to start. We’ve made “war” a business in this country. Maybe it’s time to try the same with “peace”?
 


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An Unintended Stroll Down Memory Lane
Feb 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy

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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:

  • 60 Minutes did a couple of stories about “Remote Area Medical” and their globetrotting doctors, who provide free medical services to refugees in third-world countries, setting up shop in downtown LA and Michigan, where THOUSANDS of desperate Americans drove hundreds of miles for free medical/dental care.
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  • About a dozen reports on the Bush Administration changing the justification for invading Iraq after no weapons were found, trying to claim it wasn’t about the WMD’s, and two reports on the U.N. wondering if they should open a CRIMINAL (read: war crimes) investigation.
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  • The Bush Administration slashing federal worker’s salaries to pay for the soaring cost of the Iraq war without raising taxes. Then, on top of that, lowering the standards to be labeled a “manager” so that your company could deny you over-time pay.
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  • Another dozen stories about the “exploding national Debt & Deficit” (and the GOP dismissing it.)
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  • Rapidly rising unemployment being a major issue as far back as mid-2003, with every month reporting another “decade long record high increase”.
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  • Remember that major blackout in August of 2003 that left almost the entire North Eastern seaboard… including New York City… in the dark? The outage was traced back to a failure of the Power Grid in Ohio (owned by a politically well-connected family there). That’s when people started talking about the desperate need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure… which is 10 years older now.
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  • And speaking of stories that have been going on for far longer than I realized, Republicans were already calling for war with Iran (just months after invading Iraq while the Bushies were scrambling to explain the missing WMD’s) over its nuclear program, which they were CERTAIN was NOT for peaceful purposes like the Iranians were claiming, and were supposedly on track to build a nuclear bomb by 2008.
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  • Fake news reports, extolling the successes of the Bush Administration, produced by the White House with fake reporters using fake names, being broadcast in small-market TV locations as legitimate news. (also fake letters from vets appearing in newspapers across the country in support of the war, sometimes the same letter appearing in multiple cities.)
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  • The Bush Administration embracing known-terrorist Mohamar Quadaffi in exchange for oil, taking him off the terrorist watch list. (You might recall, while the Bush WH befriended Quadaffi, President Obama took him out, and which one did the GOP call a “terrorist sympathizer”?)
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  • The price of oil climbing into the stratosphere, peaking at $147.22 a barrel before the economy collapsed in on itself.
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  • The Bush White House repeatedly editing EPA reports on Climate Change (specifically, by interns with no scientific training) that said things they didn’t like.
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  • Draft-dodger George Bush giving a speech before the VFW, telling a room full of vets that our biggest mistake was leaving Vietnam too soon, that if we had just hung on a little bit longer, we would have won that war (and Vietnam wouldn’t be the hell-hole it is today?) and that he wouldn’t make that same mistake in Iraq.
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  • The discussion of “same sex marriage” was already a hot topic in 2003, and amazing ABC reporter Michelle Martin being the first to school George Will that if “procreation” were the standard for marriage, the infertile and the elderly would be banned from marrying as well.
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  • Riot police attacking peaceful protesters, including a particularly brutal take-down of “Democracy Now!” host Amy Gooodman despite her Press credentials clearly visible around her neck as she cries “Press! Press! Press!”

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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What Happens in Syria on Day Two?
Sep 9th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy

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It’s the one question, yet arguably the most important, that few people seem to be asking: “What happens on Day Two following a U.S. bombing of Syria?” As I noted last week, the desire to “do something” to stop Assad is visceral. The mere thought of anyone using chemical weapons is SO abhorrent to us that it is only natural for us to want to punish those who do. So let’s say we do. Let’s say we use what remains of our already-stretched thin military might against the Assad Regime and targets unknown. We can’t bomb the weapons themselves for fear they’d “aerosol” and poison the nearby civilian population. So our exact targets are a bit of a mystery. Day One: We carpet-bomb Assad. Then what? Recall our ships and bombers after Assad throws up his hands in surrender, begging for mercy? You know, the way the Bushies expected Saddam to in response to “Shock & Awe”. Is THAT the plan? So far, no one seems to know just what is supposed to happen AFTER we attack Syria. And what is “Plan B” if everything doesn’t go according to plan (and when does the use of force ever go according to plan?)

Believe it or not, the Bush Administration actually DID have a plan for the invasion of Iraq. ONE plan. The plan was to force Saddam out of power and replace him with Ahmed Chalibi of the “Iraqi National Congress”… a made up group of Iraqi dissidents living in exile, seeking the overthrow of Saddam by convincing the Bush Administration Saddam was stockpiling massive amounts of chemical & biological weapons as well as secretly developing nukes. But once we went in and found there WERE NO Weapons of Mass Destruction and Chalibi had tricked his willing dupes into taking out Saddam for him, suddenly the Bushies found themselves with no Plan B. They couldn’t reward Chalibi by putting him in charge of Iraq (they instead ended up accusing him of being “an Iranian spy”), so they found themselves winging-it for the next 5+ years, desperately trying to control chaos until an interim government and “free” elections could be held (which were a disastrous failure.) David Gregory of “Meet the Press” said yesterday: “Part of the failure of Iraq was a failure to anticipate what could go wrong.” Good for Gregory. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

One of the first signs you’re making a huge mistake: you start quoting former Bush Administration officials to sway Republican support for attacking Syria. The former Bushies LOVE the idea of President Obama seemingly vindicating Bush’s use of force against Iraq over WMD’s (Yes, Saddam used them… WHILE he was our ally. We looked the other way when Saddam used WMD’s against his own people as well as Iran in the early 80’s, and conveniently ignored that little hypocrisy when Bush used those same attacks to justify war 20 years later.

So here we are one decade later being told by another president that we must wage war against another Middle Eastern nation over “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. And just as no one knew the Bush Administration’s “Plan-A” in 2003, no one quite seems to know the Obama Administration’s “Plan-A” in 2013. And do they even have a “Plan-B”? When the guy in charge of “strategic planning” for the Iraq War starts endorsing your plan, maybe you need a new plan.

They say we must act because “America’s credibility is at risk. If we don’t act now, it’s like giving Iran, North Korea, etc a green light” that they can do whatever they want without fear of the United States using force to stop them!” Nonsense. Anyone else buy that… that our enemies will now think they have nothing to fear from us? America’s credibility is NOT at risk. The day after Congress votes “No” on using force against Syria, the FIRST reaction from the Assad Regime (out of view of the cameras) will be a huge sigh of relief. Trust me. They might claim victory on TV, but no one’s going to poke the bear the next morning. NOT attacking Syria might actually improve America’s image in the Middle East as they come to realize that the American People don’t necessarily agree with everything our government does, that the government abides by what its people say, and that we’re not a nation of warmongers eager to topple every Middle Eastern country. Even Assad won’t dare use chemical weapons again because he’ll know that while he got away with it once, the world would never stand by and let him do it again. And if you believe that just because we don’t bomb Assad this time, Iran will think it can start developing nukes without fear of reprisal… you’re living in a dream world.

The Obama Administration seems certain that we can simply bomb Syria, dust off our hands and it’ll all be over in just a few hours. Supporters of military action mention Bosnia & Rawanda as examples of genocide where hundreds of thousands were murdered before we finally intervened. The problem with those examples: both those wars went on for YEARS. How do we intervene without becoming DEEPLY involved in Syria’s civil war? Once we begin using military force to aid one side over another, their war becomes OUR war. There’s no way to extricate ourselves from that. President Obama answered questions of “why it always seems to be OUR job to play the part of ‘the World’s Policeman?'”, saying in effect that the rest of the world looks to us to lead.

I’m reminded of the story of how a man saw a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. The shell seemed a little tight so the man decided to assist the butterfly by cracking open the cocoon to free it. But once he did, the butterfly was unable to fly away. It was too heavy. Unbeknownst to the man, the butterfly needed to squeeze it’s way out of its cocoon to drain its water weight, making it light enough to fly. By helping the butterfly, he had actually done it harm. I am NOT referring to the Syrian people here by suggesting they need to work this out for themselves. No I’m referring to the International Community, which sits back and says to themselves, “Don’t worry. America will handle it”, incurring the wrath of the Middle East, while the rest of the world spends their money on education & infrastructure. As Randi Rhodes said on the radio Friday, “We’ve become hitmen for hire.” We just don’t get paid.

The four nations bordering Syria, three of them our allies… Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan & Iraq, all oppose military action. No one is more deeply affected by what’s going on in Syria than they are. MILLIONS of refugees are spilling over their borders, and if anyone should be concerned about a madman living next door using chemical weapons, it’s them. Yet, even they don’t want us getting involved. And the next two largest military’s on the face of the Earth… Russia & China… both allies of Assad, oppose an attack by the United States. This country has already endured (at least) three major “proxy-wars” with Russia/China (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan in the 1980’s and about a dozen micro-wars under Reagan in South America). Do we really want to risk starting another one?

What’s probably most maddening as a Democrat is that some of the same arguments being used by Republican opponents of using force against Syria (like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz) were the SAME arguments DEMOCRATS used against going into Iraq in 2002. Sen. Ted Cruz on ABC’s “ThisWeek” actually said:
 

Sen. Cruz: I think a military attack is a mistake.

George Stephanopoulos: Why?

Cruz: For two reasons. One, because I think the Administration’s proceeding with the wrong objective, and Two, because they have no viable plan for success.

 
Always the cautious ones, those Republicans.

Don’t doubt for one moment that if Romney had become president (I’ll never use the phrase “Pr——- Romney” in these pages even in the abstract), we’d have put boots on the ground in Syria over a year ago with the full support of the GOP, with no one like Cruz calling it “a mistake”. The typically great Gretta Van Sustren mentioned the “bad optics” of President Obama “playing golf” and failing to “recall Congress from its August recess” as sending mixed messages over the urgency of attacking Syria. Agreed, but how do you mention Obama “playing golf” and not mention: “Now watch this drive!”. When the Bush Administration was asked about failing to recall Congress for a vote on Iraq during that year’s Summer recess, their response was that “You don’t roll out a new product in August.”

So what happens in Syria on Day Two if we bomb the Syrian government? While you MAY cripple Assad’s ability to attack his own people (temporarily), what’s to stop Iran from smuggling weapons to Hezbollah in a retaliatory strike against Israel? How would Russia react? And you can forget about China’s cooperation the next time North Korea’s boy king gets bored and starts firing rockets into South Korea or the Sea of Japan again.

Or maybe you think of “non-military” ways of bringing about a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict, earn the respect of world, and give the international community incentive to act on their own the next time there’s a crisis, and not just sit back and wait for America to police the world for them?

Postscript: Wednesday will also be the 12th anniversary of “911”. Will we commemorate it with yet another war that is certain to be misinterpreted as having something to do with that day, or shall we honor that anniversary with a vote of peace?
 


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Thinking Outside the GOP Box: Creating New Jobs Without Resorting to Tax Cuts
Aug 5th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy

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Last Tuesday, President Obama began his “Better Bargain” jobs tour promising to “overhaul business taxes” in exchange for jobs created here at home. Every time I hear a Democrat using the language of Republicans, suggesting “tax cuts” as a way to create jobs, I cringe. There are PLENTY of ways to encourage job growth here at home without destroying the tax base. Corporations are ALREADY paying next to nothing in taxes (see blue line in chart on left) by exploiting the dozens (hundreds?) of tax loopholes already provided them by the GOP (see: Arthur Andersen/Enron). “Why do they need more tax cuts?” It seems like the only solution anyone in Washington (BOTH parties) can think of the encourage businesses development here at home rather than overseas is to give huge tax breaks to corporations (destroying the greatest source of tax revenue we have) and shifting the tax burden to workers so that they end up footing the bill for all public services (including roads, security and fire safety of the business itself). And in the end, the companies that receive these imperious gifts rarely produce enough jobs to make up for the lost tax revenue. There’s a better way. Zero interest loans, Free use of publicly owned buildings and/or land, faster/easier licensing, local infrastructure improvements (roads/bridges/beautification) that benefit the surrounding area around a business to make it more attractive (which also creates public jobs), for starters.

I find it appalling that many Democrats… even Moderate ones like President Obama… are quick to jump onto the “tax cuts create jobs” bandwagon. Lord knows there’s ample evidence that “corporate tax cuts do nothing to promote job creation” and actually do more harm than good. If there’s one thing Progressives are good at is thinking “outside the box”, so it is maddening when a Democratic president and head of our own Party continues to promote the GOP gospel of “tax cuts” as a panacea for job growth.

Over the years, I have written extensively about ways to create jobs without resorting to budget-busting tax cuts. Yet still, the myth persists.

Sign my petition on the White House website:

Corporate tax cuts do NOT create jobs. Here’s a half dozen ways to create new jobs without resorting to costly tax cuts:

Be sure to click the link at the bottom of the petition to promote it on Facebook & Twitter. Thanks to Teabaggers and “9/11 Truthers”, it now takes 100,000 signatures in 30 days to reach the president’s desk, and 150 signatures just to get on the Front page of the White House’s Petition website. So please help out by spreading the word.
 


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Why Mitt Romney’s Taxes Matter
Aug 9th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy

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Who's Paying for that Deficit?A few weeks ago, I wrote: “Possible Reasons Romney Is Suppressing His Tax Returns”, listing a number of things we could possibly learn should he ever decide to release them. But I didn’t discuss if any of those reasons were important when it came to choosing a president. Consider this “Part-II” of that review. I had an interesting conversation the other day. An old friend with Right-Wing tendencies was wondering, “What’s the big deal over Mitt Romney’s taxes? I hate the IRS, and if I could cheat on my taxes, I would do it in a second!” Illegality aside, why does it matter how much/little the GOP nominee for president paid in taxes… if he paid anything at all? Isn’t that what we all aspire to? Paying as little in taxes as possible? Well, there are a number of very important reasons why Governor Romney’s taxes are important… more so in this election than any other. With an exploding National Debt and Trillion dollar deficit, crumbling American infrastructure, and a nation stuck in a costly decade-long war in Afghanistan, not to mention a growing concentration of wealth that hasn’t been seen since The Great Depression, the fact we DON’T know if the GOP’s nominee for President is “paying his fair share”, or worse… engaged in illegal activity to drop his tax rate… Romney’s tax returns matter a great deal at a time struggling Americans are being told the answer to their problems is to elect a man that would give even larger tax breaks to the extremely wealthy. FACT: America’s 10 Largest Corporations Paid 9 Percent Average Tax Rate Last Year (2011).

 

The new Patriotism

Over the past week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been claiming that a source he trusts told him that there was a ten year period where Romney paid “NO [Federal Income] taxes!” And while the Romney campaign has indignantly denied it, the one thing they could quickly & easily do to discredit Reid and prove him “dead wrong”… release the governor’s taxes… they have steadfastly refused to do. Why? The one person that HAS seen Romney’s taxes, John McCain, who is now a Romney campaign surrogate and whom Romney turned over 23 years worth of taxes to be considered for the VP spot in 2008, rather than confirm or deny Reid’s accusation, instead accused Reid of going “over the line” for publicly accusing Romney “without proof”, and criticized him for not “revealing his sources”. He did NOT call Reid a “liar”, but instead accused Reid WITHOUT PROOF of making an accusation “without proof”:
 

During his 2004 reelection campaign, President Bush criticized John Kerry’s call to end the budget-busting tax cuts for the Rich. Bush ridiculed the idea of raising taxes on “the Rich” by pointing out that “the Rich have lawyers and accountants” to get out of paying taxes, so if you raise taxes on them, you’d actually be raising taxes on yourselves. Yes, President Bush admitted that the Rich were ALREADY not paying their taxes. So why then did they need a “tax cut”? And when THEY don’t pay their taxes, who does the burden fall upon? One would think we would WANT the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes to relieve the burden on the Middle Class. “But we’re not going to let him!”, proclaimed the President, and the crowd cheered:
 

“You’re paying the Rich’s taxes for them.” Yeaaaaaaaa!
Bush in 2004 at campaign stops in Baltimore & Reno
(Audio only. Composite. 26 seconds)

Oliver Wendell Holmes (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1902-1932) famously said, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Your taxes go to pay for all those government services you depend upon that private corporations just can’t do. Roads & bridges, police, national defense, FEMA, education, and the whole alphabet-soup of government agencies: SEC/FAA/FBI/CIA/etc. These all cost money, and when you cut taxes for one group of people, the burden falls upon everyone else. President Obama pointed out recently that an independent analysis of Governor Romney’s plan to cut taxes across the board by 20% and pay for it by “eliminating tax loopholes” would actually INCREASE taxes on the average American family by $2,000 a year. Why? Because the bulk of those “tax loopholes” are claimed by the Middle Class, not the Rich (home mortgage deductions, et al). So while the wealthy get their tax cut, you pay for it with the loss of your tax deductions.

Republicans think the “solution” to cutting taxes is to Privatize most of these services. While that might reduce your tax burden, the cost of all those now privatized necessary services would skyrocket (not to get into a debate over “Privatization”, I’ll simply say, “If you think four years of college is expensive, try 12 years of private schooling.) I’ve had my share of debates with furious Right-Wingers complaining about how THEY are supporting all the “lazy freeloaders on Welfare”. It “chaps their hide” to think of all “those people” (ie: “poor blacks” & “illegal immigrants”) that refuse to work that “they’re supporting” (Note: “illegal” aliens are not eligible for Food Stamps or Public Assistance.) Actually, the biggest “Welfare” recipients in this nation are the Rich. Welfare for the Poor doesn’t come close to “Corporate Welfare”. For everything the poor receive, the Rich receive 100x more. “Food stamps”? “Farm subsidies”. “Home heating oil assistance”? “$2-Billion/year in Oil subsidies”. In addition, The Rich use FAR more government services than The Poor. Our schools educate their workforce. Our public roads bring customers/employees to their business (I often say, “I’ve never seen a Wal*Mart at the end of a dirt road.”), and U.S. Highways transport their goods. They use our courts like crazy fighting over “patent infringement”, “trade deals”, defending themselves from “product liability” lawsuits and prosecuting the people that rob their stores. You could prosecute 10,000 petty thieves for the cost of prosecuting Bernie Maddoff, Enron or Martha Stewart. It takes more cops to protect their huge homes filed with expensive furnishings/jewelry/art and expensive cars that lure thieves, and more firefighters when their homes catch fire. Police patrol their businesses at night to protect them from thieves, and if they pay little to nothing in taxes, they’re getting all those services for free (or nearly free). Meanwhile, millions of home-owners went bankrupt after a deregulated Wall Street gambled with their mortgages and lost Trillions when the economy tanked. Who got bailed out? Hint, it wasn’t you.

As I noted Monday, Republican strategist Ed Rollins bemoaned the fact that “20% of the country pays 94% of the taxes”:
 


 

Maybe this is why:
 

20percent of American owns 80percent of the wealth

The core question then: “Did the Republican nominee for President actually engage in illegal activity to get his tax rate so low (or pay nothing at all)?” As we all know by now, Romney (supposedly) left “Bain Capital” in 1999 to run the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah, then returned to Massachusetts in 2002 to run for governor. Problem is, Massachusetts law requires that any candidate for governor must have lived in the state for the last seven years. To qualify, Romney insisted that while he was away, he “paid BOTH Utah AND Massachusetts state taxes” and was therefore an uninterrupted resident of Massachusetts. But it turns out, that was a lie, and Romney was forced to “retroactively” pay his 1999 & 2000 MA state taxes as well as refund the Utah state tax credits he claimed on his Utah home, before he could become governor. So Romney has a history of lying about paying taxes. And while it may be cute for you or me to joke about “cheating the IRS”, do we REALLY want someone who might be guilty of “criminal tax evasion” as president?

My life is (not) an open book

In the column I wrote a few weeks ago, I was able to list ten things that Romney would find “uncomfortable” to try and explain in the lead-up to Election Day. The question then is just how much would voters care? I guess that depends on just what we learn.

Governor Romney… with an unimpressive record as governor of Massachusetts… is running instead on his business record as the CEO of “Bain Capital”, but is quick to disassociate himself with some of the company’s worst practices of dissolving companies, selling off the assets, raiding pension funds and dumping the liability off on American taxpayers, then putting hundreds/thousands out of work. Romney’s tax returns could reveal not only that the governor was still running Bain at the time, but actually profited off many (all?) of those business activities he has claimed he had no connection to.

Another potential problem I noted in my earlier article, the Governor might have contributed to some charities that he might find difficult or “uncomfortable” to explain. We know that… while he now claims to be a committed “Pro-Lifer” that wants to “end Planned Parenthood” (97% of what the woman’s health clinic provides are publicly funded STD/Cancer screenings and other women’s health services vs privately funded abortions)… Romney was once “Pro-Choice” (a position fostered by his mother and the loss of a relative… his brother-in-law’s 21-year old sister… to a botched back-alley abortion) and a long-time supporter of “Planned Parenthood” (attending a PPA fundraiser with his wife in 1994.) As I noted last week, Romney has been avoiding releasing his taxes since he first ran for Senator in 1994. As recently as 2002, Romney was still defending “a woman’s right to choose [abortion].” Might he have still been contributing to PPA as recently as ten years ago (or less)?

To date, Governor Romney has released only ONE tax return (2010) and an estimate for 2011 (after filing an extension that extends past Election Day.) I’ve noted repeatedly that Romney released his taxes just for the year he KNEW he’d be running for president and was able to tweak it for maximum appearances. Yet, just from the one return he was willing to show us, we already learned he paid less than even the 15% minimum tax rate placed on “Capital Gains”, has tax shelters in a half-dozen foreign countries, and anywhere from $20.7 to $101.6 million dollars in a tax-free IRA. How? Contributions to your IRA are capped at $2,000 a year, and Romney is not 5,175 years old (assuming matching corporate contributions). The Romney Campaigns’ defense is that he has a “SEP-IRA” with larger maximum annual contribution of $30,000. Assuming matching corporate donations, it should have taken him 345 years to amass that minimum estimated $20.7-Million dollars. So how did he pump so much money into his IRA is such a brief period of time? The Romney campaign isn’t saying. And even if it was done completely legally, by law he must start withdrawing that money by age 70-1/2, at which point that becomes income, taxed at the full 35% (actually, this may depend on more details than I’m prepared to go into here). Governor Romney is currently 65 years old. Tax cuts he might pass as president could directly benefit him, possibly saving him tens of millions of dollars. Just how much, no one can say without seeing his returns.
 

The concentration of wealth relative to the price of milk.
(click to enlarge)

So, in summary:

  1. Conservatives, outraged last year by the news “nearly half the country paid nothing in [Federal Income] taxes”, and suggested The Rich are supporting The Poor, will have to find a new excuse should we learn their uber-wealthy presidential nominee is one of those “freeloaders” that paid nothing in Federal Income taxes.
  2. Romney may have donated to a charity or organization that he would have trouble explaining to his supporters/Media/critics.
  3. Romney has a tax-free IRA containing tens of millions of dollars. How he achieved this the campaign won’t say. Explaining how it was done legally (IF it were done “legally”) would invite a LOT of uncomfortable questions and a far deeper probe of his finances than the Governor might want.
  4. The intense secrecy around Romney’s tax records, in and of itself, raises great concern as to just what the GOP nominee is hiding. If he’s this secretive now, what are we to expect should he become president?
  5. ADDENDUM: With the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP pick, we find that under “The Ryan Budget”, Romney’s tax rate would plummet (or “rise” depending on whether or not you believe Harry Reid) to just 0.82% (that’s not a typo), so it is important to know how Gov. Romney’s tax policies would affect him personally.
  6. ADDENDUM 2: There is a new theory making the rounds that Romney might have taken advantage of President Obama’s Tax Amnesty program for people with overseas accounts in 2009, in order to avoid prosecution.

 


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