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Ukraine in Chaos. Could Syria Become a Proxy War?

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

Ukraine exploded in violence last week. At the same time, a chemical gas attack against rebels may or may not have been committed by Syria (we must consider the possibility that some psychotic and/or desperate rebel faction/individual released a homemade chemical weapon against their own people in order to draw the U.S. into the Syrian conflict (now in its third year.) Conservatives like John McCain almost seemed to take pleasure in shuttling between political morning shows to basically call President Obama “spineless” for failing to involve the United States in a THIRD war for not acting after “his own red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons. And now that it has happened again, the drumbeat for war in Syria is bound to rise again on the Right. Russia is a major ally of Syria, and that backing is probably the only thing that has kept the United States out of Syria so far.

Meanwhile, violent protests broke out once again last week as “pro-Russian militants” stormed a Ukrainian police station in Slovyansk (in Eastern Ukraine). The American & European governments have stated their belief that the militants are actually members of the Russian military. Russia says they were really American “CIA” there to stir-up trouble. Either way, between events in Syria and now Ukraine, tensions between the U.S. and Russia haven’t been this high since the end of the Cold War 26 years ago.

When Hitler (no, I’m not about to compare Putin to Hitler so I’m not violating Godwin’s Law) invaded Poland in 1939, it was because he was headed for Russia (map). So when the U.S. finally entered World War II two years later, Russia became the epitome of “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” An uneasy alliance was formed between the United States, England and Russia. But for the most part, America and England were appalled by some of Stalin’s tactics, and by the time the war was over, the allies had reason to be concerned about the way Russia was annexing smaller border nations to create a buffer zone around their country.
 

Scene from “The Right Stuff” (1983)
Start of the Cold War?

 

Then came the “Red Scare” of the 1950′s. The Soviet Union backed the North Korean invasion of South Korea, and the U.S. sent troops into South Korea in what was essentially a “proxy war” where America used Korea as an excuse to go to “war” (technically called a “police-action”) with Russia. It was long (back when 2-1/2 years to fight a war was still considered a long time) and bloody, and ended in stalemate. Senator Joe McCarthy (before he was reincarnated as Senator Ted Cruz) sent the nation on a nationalistic Communist witch hunt that ruined the lives of thousands of good Americans.

In 1962, Russia attempted to place nuclear missiles in the newly Communist nation of Cuba. The 13 day stand-off between President’s Kennedy & Kruschev were consider the closest we ever came to an actual direct war (possibly even a nuclear one) between the two countries. By this time, Russia’s military involvement in Korea had already spread South to Vietnam, but, after Korea (and Japan during WWII), Americans were not eager to get involved in yet another war in the Pacific. But when Kennedy was assassinated 13 months later, LBJ was quick to believe Russia was behind it, and soon America was sending troops into Vietnam in yet another proxy-war with Russia.

Ronald Reagan, a staunch anti-Communist holdover from the 1950′s who believed Joe McCarthy was right, used the power of the presidency some 30 years later to finish what Joe began, launching a series of micro proxy-wars in South America… El Salvador, Panama, Grenada, and to some extent even the Philippians.

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month, and now the threat of annexing Eastern Ukraine before its government can join the European Union, America has become increasingly worried about President Putin’s reckless behavior. Russia is also allies with Syria and has been the leading obstical in the use of military force to stop President al-Assad from using WMD’s against his own people in rebellion against him (can’t imagine why they hate him).

Late last year, Republicans (always looking for another excuse to criticize President Obama as well as start another war) were quick to mischaracterize President Obama’s “red line on Syria” speech to suggest that ANY use of chemical weapons in Iraq would be grounds for war. Two problems: 1) He said if we see “a whole lot” of chemical weapons being used in Syria (we didn’t. It was one small attack that killed a few dozen, raising serious doubts about whether it was actually committed by Syria. Risking a U.S. invasion simply to kill 20 people?) and 2) never any confirmation it was actually the Syrian government acting on the orders of Assad. Chicken Hawks are very quick to send the nation to war… so long as it’s someone else that’s doing the fighting & dying. We saw that with Iraq.

But now this second use of chemical weapons might be harder to ignore. Add to that the lingering question of whether Syria will meet its agreed upon deadline to destroy it’s chemical stockpiles, and suddenly, military action in Syria starts to look more & more inevitable. And if Russia continues to thumbs it’s nose at the U.S. and attempts to annex Eastern Ukraine to prevent it from allying itself with The West, might we see the U.S. and Europe sending troops into Syria in yet another “proxy-war” with Russia? We can only hope that cooler heads prevail.

PS: What about The Space Station? The current crew consists of three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese astronaut. While the U.S. has suspended contact with the Russian government, the ISS is “exempt”. Russia has also been providing (small “s”) shuttle service to ferry crew to & from the ISS since the Space Shuttle was monthballed and we await its replacement. So what happens if the U.S. and Russia find themselves on opposite sides in a proxy-war? I suppose the ESA (European Space Agency) can take over shuttle service, but it’s nearly impossible to leave the ISS totally unmanned, and I shudder to think about the consequences of Russia starting a turf war in space as they refuse to remove their cosmonauts from the ISS. Interesting thought.

 



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Filed in Middle East, National Security, Right-Wing Insanity, War April 14th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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These people are dangerous, and they’re costing lives

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 7, 2014

As I predicted last Monday, this was a bad week. Mom passed away Friday morning as I sat at her hospital bedside, holding her hand for 61 minutes after they switched off the ventilator and I slowly watched my mother’s heart rate fall to zero. It was agonizing, and a trauma I hope none of my readers ever have to endure. I couldn’t sue for malpractice while Mom was alive, but we sure as hell can file for “wrongful death” now that she’s gone.

But I’m not here to reopen that wound and cause myself more pain. Another busy week ahead with the funeral, collecting evidence and calling lawyers, so this will have to be brief (pardon the dearth of links.)

On yesterday’s Fox “news” Sunday, former CIA/NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden was on to discuss (what else?) Benghazi and the second Ft. Hood shooting. The (non)story is already on life-support, but Hayden brought Fox a step closer to pulling the plug. Quite honestly, I’m not quite sure why they keep inviting him on. Sure, in private, when he goes on the record only as “an anonymous source”, Hayden is a snarky bitter partisan, but when he makes statements in public, he’s frequently quick to defend the White House, be it Bush’s or Obama’s. Pretty soon they are going to stop having him on if he keeps defending Obama’s White House this way.

I’ve cobbled together a few highlights from yesterday’s lengthy interview. Wallace goes into the commercial break with the following teaser (and flat-out lie):

   “Turns out it was the CIA that changed the Benghazi Talking Points to avoid embarrassing Hillary Clinton’s State Department.”

We return from the break and Wallace asks Hayden why Morell “ignored” the CIA’s own “Station Chief in Libya” who “repeatedly told him in the days after Benghazi that this was a terrorist attack”, choosing instead to take the word of CIA analysts back at Langley.

   “How unusual is that to disregard the word of your own man in the field?

“Disregard” the word of your own “man in the field”? Clearly, the suggestion here is that the guy who was actually IN Libya would know better about what happened in Benghazi than some pencil-pusher 8,000 miles away back at CIA headquarters. Hayden jumps to Morell’s defense quickly:

   “Look, you give a lot of weight to your man-in-the-field, but keep in mind, our man-in-the-field was more than 500 miles away from the incident [in Tripoli].”

Not exactly an eye-witness. Hayden went on to point out that Morell also went so far as to inform the White House that there was a “dissenting opinion” as to what happened so they wouldn’t “put all their eggs in one basket.” Wallace quickly moves on (emphasis Wallace’s):

   “Morell said that he went around his boss David Petraeus and took out [from the CIA's report] the fact that the CIA had repeatedly warned the State Department about the threat level in Benghazi”, followed by Wallace playing the clip of Morell testifying that he felt the claim was only there to allow the CIA to “pound its chest” and “lay all the blame on the State Department”.

Hayden again unspins Fox’s attempt to turn this into something sinister by pointing out that the CIA putting that line in about “repeatedly warning the State Department” was inappropriate, and removing it was an attempt to NOT politicize the issue rather than provide State with political cover.

The entire interview was sad all around and I may try to post it online in the near future when I have more time.

Then there was the (second) shooting (in 5 years) at Fort Hood. Right Wing Congressman Mike McCall went on Meet the Press to suggest that maybe restricting firearms on the military base was a bad idea and that maybe allowing everyone to go around packing heat would make the place much safer. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed as Former Joint Chief Admiral Mike Mullen came on later to disagree with McCall, noting that NOT having everyone going around armed has likely resulted in FEWER such incidents. Lord only knows how much worse it could get if every soldier with PTSD was allowed to carry a loaded semi-automatic firearm with them every where they went on one of the largest military bases in the country. And it’s not like they can’t GET guns quickly at Ft. Hood. One Right Wing argument for armed guards in schools is that no one had access to a gun to stop any rampage. Well at Fort Hood, they DID have guns. Heck, they were armed to the teeth, and this still happened… not once, but twice.

Later on in the evening, NBC hosted a special presentation on Global Warming and whether a tipping point had been reached. It was fairly good as one hour summaries of complex issues go, even taking time to explain how we can have “Global Warming” and the record-breaking freezing cold we’ve been having at the same time. But you really can’t do a topic as complex as Climate Change in just one hour, and while they mentioned the skeptics, I think not including Jesus-freaks Paul “lies straight from the pit of Hell” Broun and Jim “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind” Inhoff in the story was an opportunity lost. These Ludites are more than willing to jeopardize the lives of tens of millions based on their own personal interpretation of a 5000 year old Harry Potter novel known as The Bible. I say “their” interpretation because even the freaking Pope believes in Climate Change and released a report on the subject (pdf) in 2011.

In truth, the GOP DESPISES the subject of Global Warming primarily because they associate it with Al Gore. So basically, this one tiny group of anti-science mental midgets that have chosen to interpret The Bible in such an extreme and narrow fashion that not even the Vatican agrees with them, is willing to risk global catastrophe rather than admit that maybe Al Gore was right. Really. That is all it boils down to.

And if Gore had been President on September 11th, do you think for a moment that they would have rallied around him the way Democrats embraced George Bush after 9/11? Hell no. They would have begun impeachment proceedings on 9/12. Don’t believe me? Just look at their outrage over four dead in Benghazi. Now multiply that by 1,000.

These people are twisted. They’re dangerous, and they’re endangering lives. My mother was just their latest victim.
 



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Filed in fake scandals, Middle East, myth busting, National Security, Politics, Scandals, Terrorism April 7th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Keystone XL Protest Signs for Download

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

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

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

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


The oil is to be EXPORTED - The oil is to be EXPORTED


HIGHER prices NOT lower -  - HIGHER prices NOT lower


The JOBS myth - The JOBS myth


No good for gasoline - No good for gasoline


Massive Tailing Ponds - Massive Tailing Ponds


An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water - An ENORMOUS waste of fresh water


Summary poster - Summary poster

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Browne

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

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

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

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychic Twins

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

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

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

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

Political Prognosticators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Did.

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

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

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

So now my Predictions for 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, voting, War December 30th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuclear War & Peace

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

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

 

THANKSGIVING ASIDE DISH

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

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


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

 


 


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

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The Syria Compromise Was No Accident

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

Last week, Secretary Kerry was asked by a London reporter if there was anything Assad’s government could do to avoid a military strike, he nonchalantly replied, “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week.” And while the response was perceived by most as a passing off-the-cuff remark, Russia seized on Kerry’s words, desperate to avoid having their ally drag them into a war, and told Assad to take Kerry up on his generous offer. But if you think that Kerry’s comment was just an innocent “slip of the tongue”, you don’t know how Washington works.

Last August, both President Obama and his Secretary of State… two men known for their staunch criticism of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War… started using the EXACT SAME cowboy language as former President Bush on the need to “disarm a dictator” with “Weapons of Mass Destruction” through the use of “military force“. They even started courting former Bush Administration officials to make the case for invading Syria, and quoting those who agreed with them. The goal was obvious: to convince Syria & Russia that President Obama was serious (and he was) about using military action to disarm Assad. Russia & Syria NEVER would have moved on this issue had President Obama not threatened the use of force. Congress gave President Bush the “authorization to use force” against Saddam Hussein in 2002, hoping that simply giving the president the “power” to declare war on his own would be enough to scare Saddam into complying with inspectors in order to avoid war. AND IT WORKED. Congress just never expected that President Bush would then go ahead and take the country to war anyway. President Obama is simply using that power the way in which it was originally intended: Let the enemy know you are Ready, Willing & Able to use force so they’ll do anything to avoid it. But that power was worthless if Obama didn’t sound like another reckless cowboy-President that readily used that power before. So he took to the airwaves sounding very much like President Bush, upping the anti by having Secretary Kerry echo the same language, talking about “disarming a tyrant” with “weapons of mass destruction”.

About two weeks later, President Obama let it be known that he had canceled a scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin while attending the “G20″ Summit in Russia because of Putin’s decision to give American “whistleblower” Edward Snowden asylum. While at the G20, the two leaders were kept at a distance from one another and shared little more than a handshake when Obama first arrived. While there, President Obama reminds reporters that he was elected “to end wars, not start them.”

Then suddenly, on his final full work day of the trip, the Press revealed that President Obama had secretly met with President Putin. The details of the meeting are unknown other than that the two leaders “still disagree on Syria”. I think it’s safe to assume then that they talked about Syria, not Snowden.

The Global Media went into a tizzy. It suddenly looked like war was inevitable. America was going to start yet another war in the Middle East, taken there by a president that was awarded The Nobel Peace Prize almost immediately upon taking office, ended the war in Iraq as promised, has started winding down the war in Afghanistan, and helped unseat Qadaffy without committing a single ground troop. This president, the most unlikely of all presidents, was sounding more like his predecessor than the president we had come to know as a peace-maker.

As public opposition to starting yet another war in the Middle East grew, President Obama found a way to let the pot simmer a little longer by saying he would leave the decision to invade up to Congress, all the while making it known that he didn’t HAVE to go to Congress and that he retained the power to use military force regardless of what Congress decided (translation: Don’t think you’re off the hook if Congress votes “No”, Assad.)

With no breakthrough in sight and Congress looking more & more like they might undermine President Obama any day now, Secretary Kerry conveniently let it slip that there’s still a way for Assad to avoid war, thus throwing Russia & Syria a lifeline just as war with the U.S. was starting to look inevitable.

There’s an old saying in Washington (if you consider the 1970′s “old”), a paraphrase of something FDR said in 1935: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens you can bet it was planned that way.” It’s a phrase that Republicans love to cite when trying to miscast Democrats or their bills as having an evil ulterior motive (see: “ObamaCare”). So it only stands that the same must also be true when things go right, right? Apparently not in Right-Wing World.

Almost from the moment Russian President Putin publicly took Kerry up on his offer, the Media (both Left and Right) started proclaiming that Putin had come to the “rescue” of the “bumbling” Obama Administration to “save-the-day”. Even the great political cartoonist Mark Fiore came up with:
 

Operation Accidental Diplomacy

 
Consider, one thing NOBODY on ANY White House staff EVER does while representing the president is “ad-lib” or express a personal opinion when it comes to U.S. policy without clearing it with the White House first. Try to imagine if White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had suggested Assad could avoid war by baking cookies for the orphans. He’d be out of a job before his words ceased echoing in the room.

GOP pundits are already calling this success-story “a failure” because it does nothing to remove Assad from power, punish Assad for using chemical weapons, or do anything to end the war. Of course not! That’s not our job and none our business. Meanwhile, President Putin gets to “strut around” looking like he saved President Obama’s bacon. The Chickenhawks can’t understand that it’s not our place to overthrow the Syrian government, play “World Policeman”, or meddle in Syria’s Civil War.
 

Fox’s Rodger Ailes Suggested Syria Resolution Strategy a Year Ago
Ailes: “Let Putin have all the credit.”

 
After hearing GOP pundits take to the airwaves to ridicule Obama as needing to be “bailed out by Putin”, I was reminded of a 2004 episode of The West Wing where WH Communications Director Toby Ziegler saw an opportunity to “save Social Security”. But in the end, the only way to get the two sides to come to the table was to forfeit taking any credit for bringing the two sides together (try to imagine President Obama and John Kerry having this conversation before Kerry’s “off-hand remark” to the Press):
 
West Wing (2004): “The only way to do this is to not take credit.”

 
One would think they learned their lesson after Iraq. Snort! Republican Congressman Mike McCaul correctly pointed out yesterday that, “Both sides are not good actors. Assad is a dictator who used chemical weapons. Rebel forces have been infiltrated in large part by alQaeda factions.” The ONLY goal here to rid the world of weapons that might be used against US. That’s the ONLY thing that should concern the United States.

John McCain was on “Meet the Press” yesterday (yes, again) and restated his support for arming the Syrian Rebels. The idea to “arm the rebels”… something John McCain has been begging for almost since the Syrian conflict began in 2011… was a non-starter from the moment it became known some Rebel factions were courting alQaeda to aid them in overthrowing Assad. (Yes, if McCain/Palin had won in ’08, we likely would have been arming alQaeda by 2012.) Ain’t that a comforting thought?

The pundits say that all this stalling is simply giving Assad time to move/hide his weapons. Irrelevant. Any time Assad spends “hiding” his weapons is time he’s spending not USING his weapons. “Hidden” weapons are not at-the-ready to be deployed. And the moment he tries using them, it’s all over. He reveals not only their existence but their location. And once the International Community sees that he’s been lying all along and can’t be trusted, he’s toast. “Hiding weapons” is tantamount to rendering them useless.

Fill-in host John Roberts (the anchor, not the judge) on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday called it “a torturous week for President Obama” as the Media lambasted his handling of the Syrian conflict as “inept”. Really??? “Inept”? A ruthless dictator that denied even HAVING chemical weapons two weeks ago is suddenly considering giving up his chemical weapons stockpiles and allow U.N. Weapons Inspectors in without President Obama firing a single shot… is an example of “ineptitude”? Does anyone (anyone SANE I suppose) REALLY believe this was anything other than an incredibly well-orchestrated success?

If president Obama pulls this off, he deserves a second Nobel Peace Prize.
 



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Filed in fake scandals, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, War September 16th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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What Happens in Syria on Day Two?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, September 9, 2013

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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Filed in Middle East, Predictions, War September 9th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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If You Want to Help the Syrian People, Help the Syrian People.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, September 3, 2013

“So let me get this straight”, the boy asked his teacher. “Because Syria bombed Syria, we’re going to bomb Syria for bombing Syria?” It seems almost surreal, yet that is the question. And I must admit that my initial reaction to the news that Syria used chemical weapons on “1,500 of its own citizens… including “at least 426 children“, I too was outraged, believing nothing short of an immediate military response was required. Ah, but is the report accurate? Yesterday, French Intelligence reported that they found (just) “281 people” had been killed in a chemical attack… a fraction of the number being reported by American Intelligence. (Great minds think alike? Truthout has a more detailed report on the questionable numbers emerging from Syria.) Shades of the Bush Administration’s wildly fluctuating intelligence reports on Iraq’s WMD’s in the ramp-up to war in 2003. But the fact is, the victims are crying out for America to help those who have ALREADY been attacked. What they REALLY want is for us to help the people hurting now, not to worry about who might be attacked next. If you want to help the Syrian people, then start by actually helping the Syrian people. Medical aide and sanctuary (perhaps a no-fly zone over refugee camps on the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. You could find FULL U.N. support for something like that.

The use of military force against Syria is already fraught with potentially huge negative consequences. How do you use military force in Syria and guarantee it won’t escalate or spread and we won’t have to go back? We already know that UN approval of military action against Syria is not forthcoming thanks to a veto threat from both Russia & China. Russia… an ally of Assad… has sent a reconnaissance ship to monitor American warships parked off the Syrian coast, and Iran has likewise issued a thinly veiled threat that attacking Syria would “result in a conflict that would engulf the region”. Are we toying with war with Russia? Might Iran start lobbing SCUD missiles into Israel? Might Assad give chemical weapons to Hezbollah? And what if we do bomb Syria and a few weeks later, Assad uses chemical weapons again? Then what? A ground invasion?

The point of ANY punishment is to dissuade OTHERS (eg: Iran, North Korea, etc) from doing the same thing in the future. It does nothing to help those already injured. And in this case, military action doesn’t even ensure that it won’t happen again. It may even INCREASE the possibility of chemical weapons being used again… if not on the Syrian people, then perhaps in Tel Aviv… or maybe even New York?

We are already hearing stories of the Syrian regime “celebrating the start of President Obama’s retreat.” Screw ‘em. Let them “celebrate”. They’re not even fooling themselves. For over a decade, Saddam Hussein used to celebrate the day Iraq “defeated” the American Military in the 1991 Gulf War. Assad is still quaking in his boots that we may attack in the next week or two, and I guarantee you, he won’t be dropping any more chemical weapons in the next two weeks. And does anyone really think that because we’re questioning using military force in Syria that they can just thumb their nose at America and do something stupid and not see a squadron of Blackhawks overhead the next morning? Of course not. Let them celebrate. Every conflict must be taken on its own merits. We can’t allow “emboldening our enemies” for the next war dictate how we deal with a current situation.

President Obama finds himself on the side of GOP Chickenhawks when in comes to bombing Syria without regard for the consequences. And as I’ve been saying all week: “Only Republicans use military force without thinking about the consequences.” They think you can just bomb another country and be home in time for supper. And the country we attack will drop to their knees and say, “No more! We promise we’ll be good!” Yes, by all means, let’s take advice from the people that got it wrong on Iraq.

So we have questionable reports on the number of people killed that appear to wildly inflate the numbers (why? Isn’t “281″ bad enough?) and a plethora of negative consequences if military force is used (becoming a regional conflict; Spilling over into Israel; Provoking Russian involvement; Escalation if WMDs are used again; etc), no support from Great Britain or even the majority of the American people.

But then, there are questions about whether actual “prohibited” chemical weapons were even used. We know that things like “incendiary bombs” were dropped on school children killing ten, but “incendiary bombs” are not “nerve gas”. Secretary of State Kerry slammed Syria the other day, for its use of chemical weapons on civilians… which is a war-crime. Yet, in his own announcement, Kerry made the eerily Iraq-ish claim:
 

“In the last 24 hours, we have learned through samples that were provided to the United States that have now been tested from first responders in east Damascus and hair samples and blood samples have tested positive for signatures of Sarin.”

 
Did he just say “signatures of sarin”? I hate when politicians start using qualifiers when making the case for war. Congressman (and personal hero) Alan Grayson pointed out Friday that the effects of chemical weapons like Sarin are lingering. You get it on your skin and your clothes, and then anyone that comes in contact with your skin or clothes will get sick & die for WEEKS to come. Why aren’t we hearing about people still dying of chemical weapons exposure days or even weeks after the attack? The USE of White Phosphorous as a weapon may be a war-crime, but not its possession. WE use “Willy Pete” on the battlefield (as illumination), but that doesn’t make its possession a crime. We’d better be DAMNED sure that illegal weapons were used before we ourselves embark on what could very well be another illegal war.

Sen. Rand Paul made a disturbing argument on Fox “news” Sunday questioning whether we were even fighting on the right side, noting that Assad had “protected Christians inside Syria for decades, while the rebels are allied with alQaeda.” A disturbing argument to be sure, but the “alQaeda connection” is still a valid point.

Tavis Smiley on “Meet the Press” Sunday said, “Mass doses of violence never solve our problems”, adding that “The same week we honored Martin Luther King’s words, we dishonor him with our deeds.” Well said.
 



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Filed in Middle East, Seems Obvious to Me, Terrorism, War September 3rd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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When Republicans Start to Agree with Me on Egypt, I Get Nervous

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 19, 2013

We’ve all seen the famous photo of the Egyptian Sphinx with its missing nose. I learned as a child that the nose of the Sphinx was shot off by Napoleon’s Army using it for target practice when they invaded Egypt in the early 1800′s. It’s an historical fact. A bit of trivia I’ve carried around in my mental Rolodex for decades.

It’s also not true.

And so it goes in politics, just when you are SURE that the two Parties are hopelessly split by ideology, something happens to surprise you. For me, that surprise was the support of many in the GOP of President Obama’s reluctance to cut off financial aid to Egypt. And when I find myself agreeing with the likes of Bill Kristol and Sen. Bob Corker, my first instinct is to question my own thinking.

 

[T]here still are things within Egypt that are very much in our national interest. And we need to keep the lines of communication open. … I think, [not] a suspension but a recalibration.” – Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).
 
“What better thing is going to happen in Egypt or in the region if tomorrow morning the president got on TV and said we’re cutting off the aid?” – Bill Kristol

Both comments during ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday (8/18/2013)

 
Now (of course), I disagreed with just about every other comment to spew from these two men’s mouths during the program, but in this one regard, we agree (as much as it pains me to say it). We can & should reevaluate our funding of Egypt’s military, and flat out cutting off aid to Egypt would be cutting off our nose to spite our face (you were wondering when I’d get around to the Sphinx reference).

My own position on continuing to give $1.3 Billion dollars a year to a nation on the brink of Civil War while its military continues to slaughter literally hundreds of its own citizens, has been just as complex as President Obama’s own thinking on the matter. On one hand, it buys us influence where we otherwise would have none (my position on Foreign Aid in general). On the other, the Egyptian military is using that money to fund their slaughter. The best solution, in my opinion, has been that we attach strings to the money, demanding that none of it goes towards the purchase of weapons or munitions. Yes, they may violate the agreement and just buy those munitions from someone else, but if they do and we find out, bye-bye aid.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, intrepid roving reporter Richard Engle pointed out the obvious:
 

[D]oes Washington really want to back the Muslim Brotherhood? At the end of the day, we can talk about process and our love for the democratic process, but now that is broken and the choice is binary. Do we want to be with the military or do we want to be with the Brotherhood? Israel doesn’t think we should drop the military and side with the Brotherhood. Neither does Saudi Arabia, neither does Jordan, neither does the UAE. I don’t know why Washington would want to go against so many of its key allies.

 
Despite the slaughter, most Egyptians still support the military. The crackdown is against supporters of ousted (and currently imprisoned) President Morisi and The Muslim Brotherhood.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-Bachmannville), the newest “Amigo” of the McCain/Graham Trio since Lieberman took a powder in 2012, ACTUALLY said (after acknowledging that our aid buys us influence) that we should “cut off” that aid. Not “threaten” to cut it off, but flat out cut it off, because doing so would motivate the Egyptian military to do whatever it takes to get that funding back:
 

“[T]hey are obviously getting the impression that no matter what they do, our aid will continue, so we do need to exercise our influence by saying we’re going to follow the law [the 1980 Camp David Peace Accords], particularly in light of your recent violent crackdowns, suspend aid until you restore democracy.

 
“No aid till you restore democracy!” So we suspend aid to Egypt, they tell us to F-off and turn to Russia for their funding. Brilliant! Think Putin might demand Egypt cede some control over the Suez Canal in exchange? Nah! He’d never do that! Putin’s a pussy cat.

Oh, but it gets better (worse?), dear reader.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Chucky Cheese) pointed out on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday that we can safely cut aid to Egypt because not all that money is going to fund Egypt’s military anyway:
 

“I don’t think we’re buying any love of the Egyptian people when they see an American tank on the street, when someone is shot down or rolled over by a tank that was purchased with American money, do you think that buys any friendship with the Egyptian people? What happens with foreign aid is basically foreign aid to Egypt is more likely to buy a lavish chateau for a dictator or a general in Paris than it is to buy bread for people in Cairo.”

 
So I’m confused here. Is the money going to buy weapons to kill Egyptians or is it (quote) “more likely” being spent by Generals on lavish chateaus on the French Riviera (which kills no one yet continues to buy us influence?) Setting aside for a moment that in (literally) the same breath, Paul expresses more concern over the waste of taxpayer dollars on a “lavish chateau” than tanks used to kill civilians, I understand not wanting to waste Taxpayer dollars so some tinpot dictator can live like a Pharaoh, but if your justification for defunding Egypt’s military is because it’s using that money to kill its own citizens, only to then argue that very little of the money is actually going to do that, haven’t you just destroyed your own argument? And just how many of these “lavish chateaus” are Egypt’s generals buying? You think there’d be a way to find out.

Who knew the GOP loved The Muslim Brotherhood so much? Well, you know what they say about “your enemy’s enemy”? They hate Obama more than they hate TMB.

Naturally, the GOP is split between those who attack President Obama for his continued support of Egypt’s military, and those who believe that our aid to Egypt buys us leverage we otherwise would not have.

We’ve listened to the GOP blast the president for over a week for his “failure” to “act decisively” on Egypt, yet now suddenly, many in the GOP seem to be switching gears faster than a NASCAR driver on the final lap of the Daytona 500 (author bows for the apt redneck metaphor.) But Democrats are likewise split on whether or not we should continue funding Egypt’s military… though their hesitation has more to do with whether or not what happened in Egypt is indeed a “military coup”, which would make funding that coup illegal. I don’t like when people allow “semantics” to drive policy. “Yes” it’s a coup, and “yes” funding a coup is technically illegal. But does stopping that aid put us in a stronger or weaker position? A few Republicans seem to be willing to side with the President on this one and give him a pass on the issue.

But wait for it: this tenuous “support” for the president by members of the GOP cannot and will not stand. If I had to make a prediction, I foresee a call for “military intervention” in the near future… something President Obama would NEVER support short of quelling a genocide. Very soon, dear reader. Because the Republicans that want war always win out over the ones who don’t.
 



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Filed in Middle East, Money, Partisanship August 19th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Republicans Seem Eager to Invade Syria Over WMDs On Ten Year Anniversary of “Mission Accomplished”

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 29, 2013

Iraq 1 year later (2004 cartoon)In 2006, three years after “Mission Accomplished”, the GOP controlled Congress set aside $20 million dollars in the 2007 Defense Budget for “a victory party” to celebrate the end of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars. (note: the linked story is dated “2009″ because it was updated, but I’ve had it bookmarked since October 2006, as the date in the URL confirms.) It seems that the only people that didn’t know that Iraq had turned into the very “quagmire” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed as even a possibility before the war began, were the people that cheerleaded us into that war. The invasion of Iraq was a horrendous mistake, and the voters let them know it in a big way in the mid-term election that year, switching control of BOTH houses of Congress over to the Democrats. Rumsfeld was fired and a Republican critic of possibly invading Iraq in 1991 (Robert Gates) was nominated to take his place. That anger over being mislead into a costly and totally unnecessary war of choice with no exit-strategy after 5-1/2 years played a significant part in Barack Obama’s decisive victory over John McCain in 2008. In December 2011, President Obama successfully pulled the last American combat troop out of Iraq, a move supported by 75 percent of all Americans. And now, almost ten years to the day (May 1st) of President Bush’s “Top Gun” moment off the coast of San Diego to announce the end of a war that would continue for NINE more years, with recent news that traces of “Sarin nerve gas” have been found in tissue samples of victims in Syria’s civil war, the same chicken-hawks that couldn’t wait for us to invade Iraq are now suggesting this phantom “red line” that President Obama understandably drew in the sand on Syria, has been crossed and demands military intervention.

Except that that was NOT the “red line” President Obama drew in the sand:
 

President Obama (8/21/2012): “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around and being utilized.”

 
Clearly the red line has been crossed” announced both Fox’s Chris Wallace and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during yesterday’s Sunday Talk Shows. John McCain was out there as well last week, once again eager to embroil the U.S. military against yet another Middle-Eastern nation, declaring that it was “clear” that “a red line has been crossed.”

NO! It is NOT “clear” AT ALL! What was reported last week was NOT “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons, as NBC’s roving warzone reporter Richard Engel pointed out on The Rachel Maddow Show Friday night:

Engel: “There are some holes [in the case against Syria having used Sarin].”

Engel: “What doesn’t make sense however is: Why? and How?, you don’t use Weapons of Mass Destruction to do minimal killing [less than two dozen people].”

“Imagine: A nuclear weapon… we’re gonna make just an acorn-sized one and see what the world does. That seems strange.”

 
While there is little reason to doubt that Syria does indeed have “stockpiles” of chemical weapons, it has never been confirmed. Syria began pursuing chemical weapons in the 80′s to counter Israel’s development of nuclear weapons, but has never actually used them in combat [ibid]. No inspectors have been allowed in to document Syria’s stockpile of WMD’s. It all sounds a tad too familiar:
 

Saddam: “I lied about Weapons to scare off Iran.”

 
So a brutal dictator with a “stockpile” of chemical weapons used just enough of his Weapon of MASS Destruction to murder only a handful of people that were nowhere near the capitol? Why? Was it just a test? Could someone… a member of the resistance or maybe even a rival nation… have been trying to draw the U.S. into a war with Syria? Might a member of the opposition have been trying to develop their own homemade Sarin gas in an experiment gone horribly awry? We just don’t know. These scenarios might be unlikely, but we DID just arrest a man Saturday that sent homemade Ricin nerve toxin through the mail, so the possibility that the Syrian government didn’t in fact actually “cross that red line” must be considered before using military force against yet another Middle-Eastern nation. But as Bill Kristol said on yesterday’s Fox “news” Sunday: “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do” (invade Syria for “crossing the red line”.)

There are a LOT of unanswered questions before we do something like use military force against another country. It’s heartening to see that the lessons of Iraq were not lost on our current Commander-in-Chief even if his opposition has the memory of a goldfish.
 

Editors’ aside: My departure from “Crooks & Liars”:

First some background…

If you are a regular visitor to Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, you probably know that last year I was asked if I’d like to be a volunteer contributing editor to the popular video blog “Crooks & Liars”. The offer was made out of appreciation for my weekly contribution to their “Sunday Morning Bobbleheads” thread for the last six-and-a-half years, live-blogging highlights from the major network Sunday talkshows for 3-4 hours nearly every Sunday morning since 2006. However, that wasn’t the first time I was asked if I’d like to be an Administrator. Back in 2008, I turned down the same offer because I wanted to focus on getting my own blog better established first… a move I later regretted because M.R.S. was not achieving the numbers I had hoped. So when the offer was made again during the 2012 Election Season, I said yes. I was given low-level Admin access, shown how to create posts of my own, and added to the “Team” mailing list. This is useful for people seeking “help” researching a particular topic or needing help finding a photo/video (of which I was able to provide several times). I was pleased to help in any way I could.

I continued to live-blog the Sunday Morning thread each week, and during the busy election season, I even found time to write several posts. When the Sandy Hook massacre occurred last December, I volunteered to live-blog a one hour “discussion” on “gun control”, citing my unique position of living in Texas, having been raised around guns and gun-owners that are extremely protective of their “Right to Bear Arms”.

But as an unpaid volunteer, I was not a frequent contributor to the site. Who exactly can afford to spend hours upon hours during the work week monitoring the Conservative News Outlets and scrounging the web for choice comments from random insane Right-Wingers when they’re not being paid to do so? Hell, I only update THIS site once a week, and I do that on Sunday evening (which it now is as I write this). C&L has a lot of “editors”, but most of them do not post every day (I dare say I’d be surprised if some contributors post even once a month.) One of the reasons I finally agreed to join the team was that I often heard my favorite Liberal talk-radio hosts quote stories they had read on “Crooks & Liars” on their radio shows, reaching tens of thousands. My hope then was to have something I wrote quoted on the radio and perhaps translate into traffic to my own site. But unfortunately, I quickly discovered that if your story isn’t Breaking News, the chances something I wrote would appear on C&L during the daytime hours was close to nil. Timing the appearance of ones post was a lesson in futility. Even posting the night before provided no increased likelihood that my posts would appear early the next day. Being a bit of an historian, I sometimes wrote on a subject a day in advance of the anniversary of such & such, then having to carefully monitor the site to make sure my post did not go up too soon. A posts that announces: “Today is the anniversary of…” looks kind of stupid if it appears a day too early or around 7pm when the day is nearly through and the fact “Today is the anniversary of…” is already old news. The long delay between submitting a story and it actually appearing on the site long after the height of the talk radio day was over negated any benefit I had hoped to gain from my writings, providing me with less & less incentive to contribute.

Anyway, two weeks ago following the Boston Bombings, I did not post anything or provide any research on any of the stories being covered that week. The bombing took place on a Monday and an arrest was made by Friday. It was, as you know, a frenetic news week, and while I wasn’t able to provide any “scoops” from my home in Texas, I was still the recipient of a growing flood of “Team” email every day… something I can understand and fully appreciate… when it is people seeking legitimate help.

I was already directing my “Team” mail to a separate Inbox, but that didn’t alleve me of the burden of going through every message looking for ones of people seeking help. At first the amount of mail was manageable, but despite checking my mail just before bedtime (10pm), I awoke last Wednesday morning to find an astounding TWO-HUNDRED & TWENTY-SIX messages waiting for me. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but after reading my 12th “Thankyou” and “Your Welcome”, I sent a brief note to the Team asking them: “if a message does not need to go out to everyone, to please take a moment to change the “Reply-To” address to the person you are responding to, and don’t just click ‘Reply’. There is no reason to send a ‘Thankyou’ intended for ONE person to everybody on the Team mailing list.”

Am I wrong?

I quickly received a terse response from “Nicole Belle”, one of the higher-ups at C&L (and incidentally the Moderator of the Sunday Bobbleheads thread) telling me that I “had not contributed enough during last weeks’ Boston Bombing” to start telling “us” how to run “our” business. The response seemed a might over-the-top for such a mild (and polite I might add) request. And the “us” really irked me since the clear implication was that I was still considered an “outsider”.

Not being a hypocrite, I sent Nicole a polite reply to her personal address rather than the Team Account explaining that I was only requesting that team members show a little consideration before replying, and I didn’t feel that was deserving of such a hostile response. I also noted that her “you” vs “us” characterization of me in response was disturbing, and that if she felt the amount of time I was “volunteering” was “inadequate”, to please let me know and I’d “do what I could to rectify the situation” (meaning, relieve her of the burden of having me as an unpaid contributor.) Telling a volunteer that they didn’t “volunteer enough” was particularly galling. For all she knew, that was the week I started driving my mother to Chemo each morning and was stuck at the hospital waiting for hours. (It’s not my job to provide you with content each day, Ms. Belle.) She responded with a nasty reply, telling me she was “done with me” and would be removing my name from the group email account. Oh, and did I mention that she changed the Reply-To address of her response back to the “Team” mailing list just so she could have an audience while she told me how difficult and time-consuming it is to change the Reply-To address?

Again, I replied privately to Nicole and again she changed the Reply-To address so she could attack me publicly, saying I had been removed from the Team mailing list. She told me of how she herself regularly receives “something like 400 emails every day and [C&L founder] John Amato regularly receives over 5,000 [ListServe messages a day].” Well, that’s not MY problem. I didn’t make Nicole sign up for all those mailing lists, and if she has a problem with them, then she can always unsubscribe. I was only trying to control my tiny corner of the world. (I found it curious though that she would complain to me about the amount of mail she receives each day after attacking me for doing the same thing.) I mentioned to her that it seemed my suggestion would not only benefit me, but apparently her as well.

Fortunately, there were other members of the team that showed deference towards me, and The Big Cheese himself, John Amato, asked if I wanted to be removed from the Mailing List. I told him, “No,” only that it would be nice if people didn’t address messages to Everyone that were intended for just one person, to help cut down on the amount of unnecessary mail we all receive each day. Again, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel I was asking too much of anyone. I assume John had my email added back to the mailing list because I continued to receive “Team” email.

Last Thursday, one of the messages I received mentioned something I felt I could help with, so I replied and my Server quickly responded that I “didn’t have the right to send messages to this account.” I was still receiving “Team” email, but couldn’t respond to them. So what was the point? I quickly concluded that the sole purpose of sending me messages I could not respond to could be for no other purpose than to “annoy me”. Unable to send a “Team” email, I sent an email to the personal address of all the primary members of C&L telling them to “discontinue my relationship with them” if the sole purpose of sending me email I could not respond to was “simply to annoy me”. A short while later, I received a friendly reply from a supporter telling me an “error” had been made by adding the wrong one of my email addresses to the mailing list (which confirmed to me that Nicole had indeed deleted me from the mailing list and was ordered to add me back), which is why my replies were being rejected, but, I was told, “the problem was now fixed and I should be able to contribute again.” I tried again about an hour later but my message was still being rejected. I visited the C&L website to find all my Administrator privileges had been revoked.

A few weeks before being asked aboard last year, I noticed one Sunday that I seemed to be the only one posting to the “BobbleHeads” thread for several weeks in a row. So I wrote John to express my concern that I seemed to be “monopolizing” the Sunday Thread and would be willing to back off for awhile until traffic resumed if they’d like. I quickly received a reply telling me that it was perfectly fine to keep live-blogging my weekly highlights. It wasn’t until I was asked to join the Team a few weeks later that I discovered that the Sunday Show highlights I had been reporting each week were being sent to everyone on the Team mailing list that same morning to provide others with post-ideas throughout the week… as I had hoped. I was told around that same time how everybody there “freaked out” when I had offered to take a sabbatical weeks before because they had all come to depend upon my weekly contributions.

“If C&L does not want my input, they certainly don’t need my continued contributions to the Sunday Morning Bobblehead thread”, I decided Friday. (A simple demonstration of Nicole’s pettiness can be seen in the fact that… I was later told… she had deleted my post to the Sunday Morning thread yesterday where I let everyone know I would not be doing my weekly highlights anymore. I used no profanity and even noted that it would be inappropriate for me go into detail of my dispute with her on their site. And despite receiving a number of replies from friends telling me I would be missed, I was told she posted yet another nasty and dismissive response before deleting my post.)

So following my “excommunication” by Nicole, I knew that there was absolutely no reason for me to continue providing assistance to someone that didn’t appreciate my contributions to the team. Crooks & Liars financially profited from my assistance each week, for which I received nothing in return other than hostility and called an outsider that wasn’t volunteering enough to be considered part of the team.

And that is why I am no longer contributing to their site. – Mugsy



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Filed in Middle East, Politics, rewriting history, Right-wing Facism, Terrorism, War April 29th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 12 comments | Add/View

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Republicans Desire for Us the Worst of Every Society

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 1, 2013

GOP 'logic'.Just a short hit & run on this holiday weekend folks. Have you ever noticed how Republicans seem to look at some of the most deplorable aspects of any society and say, “Hey! I like that!” I first noticed this after 9/11, when after we were attacked by religious zealots stationed in a middle-Eastern theocracy, Conservatives started “admiring” (for lack of a better word) the strict religious teaching methods of Madrassas, and the “dedication” of the very people they raged against. Don’t believe me? Check out the movie “Jesus Camp” where parents sent their young children to be “God Warriors” for Christ. President Bush famously referred to the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan as “a crusade”. The anachronism of the Pro-”Life” Holy-Roller Party also being the Pro-gun, Pro-war, Pro-Death penalty Party is never lost on me. But lately, it seems to go beyond that.

Here’s something to think about: What do “Austerity” and “The Black Plague” have in common? In the mid 1300′s (yes, I promise to keep this short), a deadly disease swept through Europe killing millions. This was centuries before anyone knew of the existence of bacteria or viruses. “Illness” was either a punishment from God or inflicted by “Evil”. One of the ways people dealt with The Plague was to kill stray cats by the hundreds because cats were considered “minions of the Devil” or Hosts for witches that would then go about making people ill. The irony is that The Plague was actually being spread by fleas on rats, which the cats might have killed and kept the spread of the disease under control.

So, what does that have to do with “Austerity”, you ask? Right now in Europe, The UK is in danger of having their credit-rating downgraded again (last February, The UK’s credit rating was downgraded from “AAA” to “AA1″ because their economy isn’t growing like it should. Why? Austerity! While President Obama passed a “Stimulus Package” of spending to stimulate growth in this country, the Brits went the other way and imposed economic austerity, deep spending cuts and raising taxes on the Poor. Now there is talk of a possible second downgrade barely six weeks after the first one, and the answer from Brittan’s ruling Conservative Party? Stay the course. More austerity. Once again, Europeans have decided that the “cure” for their ills is to do the very thing that… not only didn’t make things better, but in fact are almost guaranteed to make things worse.

And here in this country, Republicans who think “President Obama wants to turn America into Europe”, keep pushing European-style “austerity” in this country, demonizing Stimulus spending and thinking up ways to shift the tax burden from the Rich to the Poor.

Oh, but it gets better my friends.

Ever get the feeling many Republicans would like to see the return of “Jim Crow”? Ron and Rand Paul aren’t the only ones that think including “private businesses” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act” was a mistake. And now, we are… quite literally… hearing the same “separate but equal” arguments being made about “Same Sex Marriage”. “I’m comfortable with giving gay couples all the rights of ‘straight’ couples, from tax breaks to ‘hospital visitation rights’. Everything except the right to marry”, said GOP Spokesperson Ed Gillespi on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Adding that the GOP still supports an “anti-gay marriage amendment” to the Constitution. I’m still waiting for someone on that side to produce a convincing legal argument for why it is in the Federal governments’ interest to go to such lengths to prevent gays from marrying and the catastrophic consequences if they do, of such danger & magnitude that it demands amending the freaking Constitution.

Republicans do this amazing dance where they denounce the most obvious flaws in other societies, and then go right out and start advocating for us to emulate them.

Remember Gov. Romney’s “Razor-wired factory” story from his infamous “47%” video? He talked about how, in his “private-equity days”, he went to China to buy a factory and was stunned to see “razor wire” along the prison-like walls around the factory. When Romney inquired about it, he was told… and believed… that “the razor wire is there to keep people on the outside from getting IN, not the other way around.” He described the horrid sweat-shop conditions, even noting how some workers… once they got out for some national holiday or what have you… never returned, opening up spots for someone new. Now, if the jobs were so desirable, why would workers not return? Such a question clearly never crossed Mitt’s mind. Instead, he relates this anecdote to his $20,000 a plate guests as a GOOD thing, possibly even a model for work-conditions in America.

In China, underage workers are common-place. Children as young as 12 can be found working in factories. In this country, Newt Gingrich thinks they should be janitors. No OSHA in China or the third-world either. That’s just more “job-killing regulations!” No minimum wage. 12 hour workdays. Republican paradise.

There’s the “Free Marketeers” that want Government completely out of the way to let business do its thing. I believe it was radio’s “Sam Seeder” that first pointed out that the only purely “unregulated Free Market” economy on Earth is Somalia. “You want to see what an unregulated Free Market economy looks like? Move to Somalia!”, said Sam.

And of course, (yes, with “Godwin’s Law” in mind) Government run by & for the Corporations… also known as “Corporatism”… better known as “Fascism”… the worst of all possible societies which Republicans claim to despise and use as The Ultimate Parjorative in describing things they hate, is also something they seem quite eager to emulate. Think about it.
 



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Filed in Economy, General, Middle East, Politics, Racism, Religion, Right-wing Facism, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, War April 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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10th Anniversary of the Iraq War, the Price of Gas, and the Mess We’re In Today

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013

Iraqi alSamoud missiles on way to being destroyed. (Feb 2003)Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the saddest chapter of the George W. Bush presidency. Every disaster to follow… to this day… can be traced back to that decision to invade a relatively unarmed nation that had not attacked us, under the false pretense of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Our exploding National Debt, our decimated economy (from gas prices that led to the mortgage crisis that led to the Wall Street bailout), to even our muted response to North Korea’s latest reckless provocation. It all goes back to the decision to invade Iraq. So on this inauspicious anniversary, we should pause for a moment to reflect on how it all ties in.

It all began, incredibly enough, back in April of 1993 when Former President George H.W. Bush (“Bush-41″), fresh off his reelection defeat to Bill Clinton, traveled to Kuwait to bask in his “greatest achievement” as president: Winning the “Gulf War” and kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait (after we basically gave him the green light to do so). While in Kuwait, a plot to assassinate the former president by Saddam’s military was uncovered and thwarted. Newly sworn-in President Clinton responded by launching a missile strike on the HQ of Iraqi Intelligence, but that wasn’t enough for Bush’s son, “George W”, who never forgave… nor forgot… the attempt on his father’s life.

A group of Right Wing pro-military extremists… few of which had actually ever served in the military… calling themselves “Neo-Conservatives” (“neocons” for short) formed a group called “Project for a New American Century” (“PNAC”) and repeatedly urged President Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein… a dictator that was in charge of the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, on the grounds he was developing “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (most notably Sarin nerve gas.) President Clinton did in fact take the bait several times, first launching a missile strike against what was believed to be an Iraqi “chemical weapons plant” in Sudan in August of 1998 that turned out to be nothing more than a pharmaceutical company making generic Tylenol for export to Iraq (in a program approved by the U.N.) and then again in December 1998 in response to Saddam’s continued refusal to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott called the timing of the strike on Iraq “suspect” and “cursory”… “an effort by President Clinton to distract Americans from his pending impeachment.” After both strikes failed to turn up any evidence of WMD’s, the Clinton Administration never again claimed Saddam Hussein currently possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (sans one remark by Sec. Albright in 1999 noting that UN monitors “had yet to verify” Saddam had been disarmed, and another mention in September of 2000 of not wanting Iraq to “reconstitute” its [defunct] WMD program.)

Why was Saddam refusing to cooperate with weapons inspectors when he had no weapons?

Shortly after his execution, Saddam’s closest American confidant while in captivity revealed that the Iraqi dictator admitted, “I lied about WMD’s to scare off Iran”… the country he had been at war with for eight years. If Iran knew that following the 1991 Gulf War he had been left defenseless, Iran would invade. If the U.S. believed he had WMD’s, so would the Iranians. Little did he realize he had more to fear from gullible American Neo-cons than he did from Iran.

It wasn’t until Texas Governor George W. Bush entered the Presidential race in February of 2000 that anyone started claiming Iraq “still possessed” and might be actively pursuing WMD’s.

Two Texas oilmen, George Bush & Dick Cheney, took office planning the invasion of Iraq & overthrow of Saddam Hussein “from Day One”. So single-minded focused on Iraq was he, Bush “ignored” the threat of alQaeda, despite multiple recent bombings including the attack on the USS Cole less than one month before the election.

Rather than go into the weeds regarding all the warnings President Bush ignored prior to 9/11, I’ll simply refer you to this NYT article. Worthy of note:
 

“[N]eoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled [re: warnings of a stateside attack by alQaeda]; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.”

 
Moving on…

The Bush Administration started cooking up a reason to invade Iraq from day one, but “9/11″ helped seal the deal, praying on the fears of a panic-stricken populace with daily warnings of another looming attack on the “homeland”. It didn’t matter that prior to “9/11″, President Bush’s own Secretary of State and National Security Adviser (Colin “Slideshow” Powell and Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice respectively) had already spent the preceding year reassuring people that Saddam had been “disarmed” and “no longer a threat”:
 


 
Barely two years in office, with the war in Afghanistan still going on and the economy in the toilet, people were asking if we could even afford to start a second war. The Bush Administration worked overtime to allay fears that the invasion of Iraq would not only “pay for itself” but possibly even turn a profit as the price of oil plunged from the heady highs of $30+ dollars a barrel to a more reasonable $18 dollars/barrel once Saddam was no longer in control of all that luscious oil (reminder, five years later, oil was hitting a then unimaginable high of $145/barrel, and still hovers close to $100 to this day.) “No blood for oil!” the people cried. “Blood for oil?”, asked the Bushies perplexed. Why on Earth would anyone think Operation Iraqi Liberation” had anything to do with “oil”?

Current TV’s John Fugelsang recalled last week how much the war that was promised “to pay for itself in Iraqi oil revenues” actually ended up costing us (roughly $1-TRILLION dollars… not counting the economic catastrophe, the loss of over 4,000 American troops, or the future cost of caring for our wounded warriors:
 

Fugelsang on Iraq War cost:

 
Finally on the evening on March 19th, 2003 (just after midnight, March 20th Baghdad time), despite months of unimpeded UN weapons inspections, Bush gave the order to invade Iraq. Between 9/11/01 and 3/20/03, the price of oil barely fluctuated from its close of $28.03/barrel on September 8, 2001 to $29.88/barrel on March 20, 2003. Yet one year after “Mission Accomplished”, oil closed at $40/barrel after the Energy Department warned in April of 2004 that oil was likely to hit the lofty height of $51/barrel by 2025. Oil broke that “distant future 2025″ price by September. And you thought “Mission Accomplished” had something to do with the end of the war. Silly you.
 

 
As I described in detail about a year ago, the rising price of gasoline meant people had less money to spend elsewhere. And when people aren’t buying, companies need fewer employees, causing the economy to contract even more. To make matters worse, a deregulated banking industry took advantage of interest rates being cut to the bone after 9/11, and continued to rate “mortgaged backed securities” as “AAA” even after newly unemployed Americans were defaulting on their Adjustable Rate Mortgages left & right as rates started to spike. Suddenly, the Bush Administration was faced with having to bailout Wall Street to the tune of $700 BILLION dollars… or about 40 percent MORE than the ENTIRE 2008 Federal Deficit. As a result, the Deficit exploded from just $459 Billion in 2008 to over $1.4 Trillion in 2009 (both budgets written by the Bush Administration as a “fiscal year” stretches from October 1st to September 30th.)

So the Obama Administration took office after being handed a $1.4T Deficit. With the Bailout behind them, the next Deficit would only be around $500-Billion, but in May, “The Stimulus” added back $787-Billion to the Deficit for 2010. The following year, it was revealed that for the past seven years, the Bush Administration had been running two wars “off the books” funded entirely with “Emergency Supplementals” (PDF). In late 2010, despite the 2008 Wall Street bailout being behind us and the 2009 “Stimulus” over & done with, the wars were put on the books and the Deficit remained at the “over $1 Trillion” level until just this year with the latest budget coming in just under the $1T mark. And just as the Market was trained to accept $100 oil as “the new normal”, so will military spending in the hundreds of billions become commonplace even after the war in Afghanistan is over.

And here we are. Happy 10th Anniversary Everybody!
 

The Neocons that brought us Iraq

Now go put some air in your tires and cheat the oil companies out of a few bucks.
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Middle East, Money, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Terrorism, War March 18th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View