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No, the Keystone Tar Sand Oil is NOT Inevitable

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 24, 2014

A little birdy tells me that President Obama is now considering approving the final leg of the infamous “Keystone XL” pipeline because some big names on the Left have resigned themselves to the idea that the tar sands making it to market is “inevitable”, so we might as well be the ones to do it before a “less” environmentally conscientious nation “like China” (who is investing heavily in Green energy and focusing on pollution after Beijing started hitting blindingly toxic levels of smog prior to the 2008 Olympics.) Meanwhile, ask North Carolina and West Virginia what they think about our environmental record. Quite honestly, anyone claiming to be “a Liberal” that tells you the KXL “is inevitable so we might as well do it”, isn’t really a Liberal. Because a true Liberal finds the better way. They don’t just throw up their hands and say, “Okay Big Money, you win! I surrender!” Screw you and the Iron Horse you rode in on. That’s like saying, “Wall Street is going to find a way to screw us out of our money anyways so we might as well deregulate the whole damned thing.” No, Naysayers, the tar sands oil making it to market is NOT “inevitable.” Answer me this: That “tar sand” has been there for tens of thousands of years. Why now? Why are we suddenly considering using it “now”? Was there a sudden drop in the supply of oil that I’m not aware of? Are we running out of places to drill? Has OPEC suddenly cut back production because oil is suddenly harder to find? No. The reason… the ONLY reason they are suddenly looking at it is because it’s suddenly economically feasible thanks to the Bush Administration driving oil prices into the stratosphere. In the past, converting tar sand into “oil” was just too damned expensive. Now, with $95/barrel oil, suddenly, the process is cost effective. Wanna stop the tar sand’s from being used, GET THE PRICE OF OIL DOWN. And there’s several ways to do it.

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

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

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

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



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Seems Obvious to Me February 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Guest Blogger: A Degree Of Civilization; The American Prison System

By Ebon - Last updated: Monday, January 20, 2014

The degree of civilization in a society may be judged by entering it’s prisons” ~ Dostoevsky

Pop quiz, kids: Which nation has more of it’s populace imprisoned than any other country on earth?

Nope, it’s not China. It’s not Russia either. Cuba? Good guess but they’re number five. According to Wikipedia (which has it’s problems but is generally fairly reliable), the number one prison population on earth is the USA, both per capita and in sheer numbers. In per capita terms, the US locks up around 743 people per 100k. In absolute terms, the BBC tells me that there are 2,193,798 people in prison in the USA. Obviously, that number rises and falls slightly each day as people get imprisoned and released but still, over 2 million people. Red China, where the government is outright oppressive and dictatorial, has around 1.5 million under lock and key but free and democratic America has two million and change locked down.

Of those, around a quarter are there for drug offenses of various kinds. That’s the population of San Bernadino locked up for drug offenses. According to the Department of Justice, 17% of state and 18% of federal prisoners committed their crimes to obtain money for drugs (Bureau of Justice). According to DrugWarFacts.org, around fifty thousand total are held purely for offenses relating to cannabis. Full disclosure: I haven’t smoked pot in about twenty years but I did when I was a teenager and I’m sure a fair few of you did as well. Were we dumb to smoke pot as teenagers? Yeah, probably. But we were teenagers, making dumb decisions is what teenagers do. Another piece of full disclosure: I think pot should be legalized. Age-restricted but otherwise legal, just like alcohol. I still wouldn’t smoke it because taking any form of mind-altering substance is a very bad idea but it makes no difference to me if my neighbour chooses to smoke a joint rather than have a drink. I also don’t want to turn this into a rant about the virtues of legalising weed (although, if you’ve a mind, Salon has a chilling piece about pot sentences) so let’s move on.

Around 40% of the US prison population are black. According to the Census, black people comprise about 14% of the US population but around 40% of prisoners. What explains that? Well, partly, it’s because black people are more likely to live in poverty and poverty is the most reliable indicator of criminal acts during life but it’s mostly because the average prison sentence handed down to a black guy is 20% longer than the sentence for the same crime committed by a white guy (Wall Street Journal). The 100-1 ratio of crack to cocaine sentences has led to the incarceration of thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Even though that difference has been reduced to 18-1, those prisoners remain in the system. The US prison population was mostly static from 1925 onwards. It started to rise in the late Seventies (as crime always rises during recessions) but then it exploded during the Eighties and onwards (Wikimedia). Why is that?

Two reasons. Firstly, the drug war. Let’s be honest here, the drug war has been lost. It is no more difficult to buy a hit of heroin now than it was in 1975. It hasn’t been a success and it can’t be a success. It can’t be a success due to a basic fact of human nature: Where a demand exists, people will appear to meet that demand. That’s just how things work, a basic law of humanity. So the laws against drugs are commonly broken and, by that breaking, a massive number of people are classified as criminals. Now, proponents of the drug war would argue that the laws against murder are commonly broken so should we abandon them too? That’s a fair question. The difference is that murder harms someone else whereas taking drugs, in and of themselves, harms only the taker. What about the crimes committed to support a drug habit, like theft? What about them? We already have laws against theft and I’m not proposing the legalization of all drugs anyway, just of certain soft drugs like pot.

The other thing that changed was the rise of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This is one of the stupidest movements in human history. The whole reason we have a judge deciding sentencing is so that the sentence can reflect the circumstances of the crime and the perp. Mandatory minimums throw out all that human wisdom in favour of flat sentencing that pays no attention to circumstances. In New York, for example, possessing (note that’s possession, not supply) more than four ounces of any hard drug will get you a minimum of fifteen to life. There are easily found stories of people locked up for life under three-strikes laws for offenses as minor as stealing a slice of pizza or a loaf of bread.

And the US does a lousy job of rehabilitating prisoners as well. We’ve all been shown on tv that prisoners get to complete their education. There are good reasons to educate prisoners. A prisoner who earns their GED inside is half as likely to re-offend. A prisoner who earns their college degree will almost certainly never see the inside of a prison again. You might say it’s unfair that people get sent to prison and get a free education. I would respond that firstly, I’d like to make everyone’s education free and secondly, look at the facts. According to a study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, every dollar spent on inmate education saves twelve dollars in future crimes (ABC News). Another study by UCLA found that a million dollar investment in incarceration produced 350 jobs while that same million invested in education, produced 600 jobs (ibid.). Prisoners used to be able to apply for Pell grants to cover the cost of their courses but that was eliminated in the mid-Nineties. The result is that there isn’t funding for prisoners to get educated. Prison budgets are constantly being cut and the first thing to go, after the gyms that tv thinks are in every prison, are education programs.

Oh, and your prisons are over capacity as well.

So what happens when the average prisoner gets released? He probably hasn’t had a chance to finish his education. Because of the prejudice against ex-cons (in fairness, not entirely undeserved prejudice), he’s probably not going to be able to get a job. Ex-cons are routinely discriminated against in housing, public assistance and education (Guardian). So what does he do simply to get by? Chances are pretty good he goes back to crime. That’s why the recidivism rate in 2004 was about 67% (Bureau of Justice). In countries that take rehabilitation seriously, like Sweden or Canada, it’s about 35% (Released & Restored).

Some would say that we send people to prison to be punished. But we don’t. The prison is the punishment. With the exception of lifers, we send people to prison in the hopes that prison will, in some rough and ready fashion, turn them into honest people. The lifers, we’re just warehousing them until they die (or, in some cases, executing them) but for the rest, we have to acknowledge that they will eventually be released and, if we want them to become productive members of society, we have to equip them to be productive members of society. That means educating them. It means drug rehab facilities, preferably at the end of their prison stay (works better that way). It means making an effort to ensure that ex-cons can find work. Look, I’m not saying that we can just open the gates and let all prisoners free. That would be stupid and, more importantly, unjust. But it’s also unjust that people whose only offense was puffing a joint years ago should be rotting in jail twenty years later. It’s unjust to impose a life as a member of the underclass on someone who has paid their debt to society.

And that’s not even touching on the subject of private prisons. This is another incredibly stupid idea brought to you by the worship of private enterprise. The states and the Fed already do prisons about as cheaply as it’s possible to do them so the only way private prisons can do it cheaper is to cut corners. Less guards, less nutritious food, less education. And the corporations that run private prisons are going to behave like any other corporation, they’re going to try to maximize their profits. That means they’re going to lobby for more and longer prison sentences. That means that your government, which is already thoroughly corrupted by campaign contributions and lobbying, have every incentive to create more crimes with longer sentences. That means your prison population will continue to grow. And those prisoners are increasingly being used as a profit centre for big businesses too (Global Research). Workers who work for pennies an hour, can’t unionize, can’t refuse to work or quit, who have very few rights and to whom their employers owe nothing. The corporate dream. The rich against the rest, as always.
 



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Filed in Crime, Greed, Guest Blogger, Money, Taxes January 20th, 2014 by Ebon | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Pinging the Bullshit Meter: Gingrich Says Poorest Big Cities All Have Dem Mayors

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

“Sorry Newt, that’s a Bullshit statistic.” That was my immediate reaction to Newt Gingrich’s claim that, “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city!” He said it as a rebuke to Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s suggestion that the GOP was responsible for the inability of so many people to move out of poverty. Having lived in the South almost my entire life, and in a very tiny town for much of that, if there’s one thing I know: Most dirt-poor rural residents vote Republican. The poorest states in the Union are deep red states like Mississippi and Louisiana, where some of the richest are deep blue like Massachusetts and California. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that “statistic” about “Democrats running the poorest cities” (and “Detroit” always tops their list), but it’s a bit like arguing that ALL Republicans are soulless turds because all of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates were soulless turds. It’s a highly selective feux-”statistic” that is representative of nothing. If nothing else, Gingrich is guilty of wildly over-simplifying the matter.

Wiki (for what it’s worth) lists the top 10 poorest major cities in the United States (w/percentage living in poverty):

  1. Detroit, Michigan – 42.3% – Democratic Mayor
  2. Cleveland, Ohio – 36.1% – Democratic Mayor
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio – 34.1% – Democratic Mayor
  4. Miami, Florida – 31.7% – Republican Mayor
  5. Fresno, California – 31.5% – Republican Mayor
  6. Buffalo, New York – 30.9% – Democratic Mayor
  7. Newark, New Jersey – 30.4% – Democratic Mayor
  8. Toledo, Ohio – 30.1% – Independent Mayor
  9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 29.9% – Democratic Mayor
  10. St. Louis, Missouri – 29.2% – Democratic Mayor

(I would like to point out that Michigan’s Republican governor stripped Detroit’s mayor and City Council of ANY power, declared bankruptcy, and is about to liquidate the city’s assets, treasure-for-treasure, with NO plan to grow the local economy. Of the seven Democratically run cities on that list, FIVE are in states with Republican governors.)

Is the list top-heavy with Democrats? Yes. Is it exclusively Democrats? No. So what does this prove? Nothing. Inner-cities typically have larger minority populations that tend to vote Democratic. So are they poor because they vote Democratic or do they vote Democratic because they’re poor? That same Wiki page lists the Top-100 poorest cities in America regardless of size. By my count, EIGHTY-FOUR of the top-100 poorest cities in America are in Red states (with Texas accounting for more than 1/4 of the 100.) Of the Top TWENTY states with the highest per capita income, only TWO are Red states (Alaska at #8 and Wyoming at #17). The rest are all Blue. of the Top-20 Poorest states, just two are blue states (Michigan, the least poor at #30 and New Mexico at #45.) The rest are all Red.

(I feel I could do a far more in-depth analysis of this nonsense pseudo-”statistic”, looking back at whether previous mayors were Republican or Democrat and which Party’s policies were more responsible for the poor economic conditions in these cities, but that would only lend credibility to this particular bit of nonsense.)

In the 60′s many large cities fell victim to “White Flight”, a phenomena where many affluent whites fled to the suburbs, leaving behind large minority populations in the inner city. Poverty and unemployment are higher among Blacks and Latinos than whites. So it just goes to follow that poverty and unemployment are higher in the city than in the suburbs. They also tend to vote Democrat. Newt and the GOP would have you believe that the poverty-stricken people in these big cities are either too dumb to figure out that voting for Democrats is why they are still poor, or that they’re just lazy and like all the “free stuff” Democrats promise them.

Gingrich has had a problem with viewing Blacks as a different breed of human being altogether. “Poor work ethics” are responsible for their chronic poverty that can be cured if we just gave all their kids janitorial jobs at school, and the only “work” Black kids are interested in is crime where they can make a lot of money with very little effort. They vote Democratic because they’re clearly too stupid to figure out that Republican policies will lift them out of poverty… the way it did under the last two Republican presidents (Bush-I and Bush-II) but not under Clinton (yes, that’s snark.)

Newt Gingrich is just one of those Republicans that bugs the crap out of me. Like Rush Limbaugh. They are race-baiting pseudo-intellectuals that make ridiculous claims with all the authority of Stephen Hawking, pass morality judgements upon others when they themselves are guilty of the same or far worse, and the Media showers them with undeserving praise & respect as authority figures even though they are ALWAYS wrong. And I do mean ALWAYS.
 


 

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Filed in Economy, General, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Politics, Seems Obvious to Me December 16th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Strike Nine. No lawyer will take Mom’s case because of Texas tort law. Help.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 28, 2013

Over the past few months, I’ve kept you apprised of the situation regarding my mother, first ending up in a Houston hospital after receiving chemo over my objections, reporting on how Obamacare has already helped her, and my update this past week on how the Shutdown created still more problems for her. Well, as the saying goes, “it gets worse”. My mother was unquestionably catastrophically harmed by a series of medical mistakes from incompetent doctors, and getting her the care she needs will be incredibly expensive (no, this is NOT a plea for money). Mom’s sole source of income is Social Security and a tiny pension (remember those?) of about $80/month. I’m as poor as a church-mouse myself, so who’s left to pay for the extraordinary care she really needs? Well, apparently, no one. My attempts to find a lawyer fell flat. NINE lawfirms have now all refused to take her case deeming it “too complicated with too little payoff”, all citing Texas’ draconian 2003 “Tort Reform” law pushed through by Governor Rick Perry, the GOP, and their overlords from the insurance industry.

A brief recap of what happened to Mom: Last April, my nearly 76 year old mother was told that she needed full-body chemo to treat a lump in her cheek. I told her doctor, “No! Absolutely not!”, but the doctor convinced my health-obsessed mother that if she didn’t have the chemo she’d die. As expected, the chemo made her seriously ill after developing a chest cold, and rather than stop the chemo, her Oncologist simply prescribed antibiotics and pressed on. Mom ended up in the hospital where additional mistakes resulted in a collapsed lung. A week later when she told her nurse she was constipated and hadn’t had a bowel movement in five days (how do the nurses not know?), they got her out of bed for only the third time in two weeks to use a commode-chair despite a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side. She immediately went into respiratory distress & cardiac arrest that resulted in severe brain damage, leaving her in her in a vegetative state. The doctors then attempted to cover up their mistake by repeatedly lying to us about how she was revived in “under two minutes” and couldn’t account for her condition. We later learned from reviewing her medical records that she actually flatlined for nearly twenty minutes before she was revived.

So that happened.

My mother is now in serious need of diagnostic tests and intensive therapy if she is to ever regain even a modicum of recovery. With every passing day, we see the light flicker out of Mom’s eyes. Once slightly responsive, looking at faces with her eyes and turning her head slowly with interest, those actions are becoming more & more rare after only four months. Time is definitely not on our side. But tests and therapy are expensive and my mother is on Medicare and Social Security (without which, she would be destitute). I’ve contacted NINE Medical Malpractice attorneys here in Texas (including a few ambulance chasers that advertise on TV), but no one will take her case, ALL citing our ridiculous “Tort Reform” law here in Texas.

In 2002, Governor Rick Perry (America only had to endure President Bush for eight years, but in Texas, we had Bush and his Lt. Gov Perry going back to 1996 followed by “Governor Oops” taking over in 2000 where he has remained, long past Bush leaving office, until he retires at the end of next year… 18 years total) pushed for “Medical Malpractice Tort Reform” that he (with the aid of massive funding from the Insurance lobby) claimed would “control soaring health care costs”. It didn’t. All it did do was limit judgements to a mere $250,000… including lawyer-fees… to cover a lifetime of care (whether the victim be 1 or 100.) Unless your case is incredibly simple or you can join in a class-action lawsuit, there’s just too little payoff for a lawfirm to pursue a complex case like my mother’s. Translation: The bastards that ruined my mother’s life will never be held accountable, and are still out there treating unwitting patients.

I’ve contacted one local TV station (I may try others now) and several national TV shows seeking help. None have responded to my emails. Over the weekend, I contacted my local Democratic State Senator and Democratic US Representative (everyone else is a Republican and a likely waste of time, but I’m probably going to try contacting them as well now), but I don’t know what any of them can do short of reversing a ten year old state law in a matter of weeks.

I know some people turn to Facebook, starting Action pages seeking help on an individual level. But I just don’t see something like that going viral based on my one lonely voice. So I come to you dear reader, looking for advice/support/assistance on how to get out the word on how The System has failed my mother and is desperate for your help. This wasn’t a “crack” that Mom slipped through, this is a gaping chasm crowbarred open beneath her feet by Rick Perry, The GOP, and clueless voters that voted this nonsense into law without considering the consequences, all on the false-promise of saving a few bucks on their insurance.

(Please share this story on your Facebook page or Tweet it to your friends. The more people that hear about her story, the better the chances are of finding help. Thanks. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, General, Healthcare, Money, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity October 28th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 8 comments | Add/View

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Time to Liberate the Debt Ceiling Hostage

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 14, 2013

Why do we even HAVE a “debt ceiling”? Plenty of people have asked this question in the past and no one seems to have a good answer. It doesn’t limit spending. Spending is decided in The House, and clearly Congress doesn’t keep the Debt Ceiling in mind when passing a Budget or appropriations. It’s a self-imposed limitation passed in 1917 during the First World War as a way to streamline the government by allowing it to spend money whenever it felt it necessary without putting every expenditure to a vote. Senator Coburn (R-OK) blithely stated last week that “We don’t [actually] have a Debt Ceiling” [because we just keep raising it anyway]. That’s not the point. ALL spending originates in the House, and this House is controlled by Republicans. And how many times have I pointed out that Republicans apparently lack the gene that allows them to foresee the consequences of their actions [see: Iraq]? So they pass spending bills and tax cuts without any consideration for how they’ll pay for them (Iraq was to be paid for with “Iraqi oil revenues” and “tax cuts pay for themselves”.) Then when we run out of money, they simply raise the Debt Ceiling. That’s what they did eighteen times under Reagan and six times under GWBush (three under Clinton and now Obama). If the ceiling exists only “in concept” (according to Coburn), then why would the GOP go apoplectic if President Obama were to bypass Congress and simply raise it on his own to avoid certain economic catastrophe inflicted by a select few Teabaggers with a third-grade understanding of economics telling them that sucking a half Trillion dollars out of the economy won’t hurt us? Because then you take away their hostage.

Two weeks ago, I predicted that the Tea Party extremists that think nothing bad will happen if we fail to raise the Debt Ceiling have a secret goal in mind: forcing President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment to circumvent Congress and avoid default, and therefore provide them with an excuse to begin impeachment hearings in the House against the president in an election year. It’s a win/win for Teanuts with NO incentive to give-in and raise the Debt Ceiling before the deadline. If the deadline passes and the ceiling is not raised, they do irreparable harm to the government and they win. If President Obama invokes the 14th, the House begins impeachment hearings and they win again. The Teanuts have NO incentive to compromise as long as they stay insane. However, it appears the “Tea Party” is about as popular with the public right now as a pimple on a first date, and Moderate Republicans are starting to have second thoughts about being seen as aligned with them. If a clean vote to raise the Debt Ceiling comes to the floor before the ceiling expires, there’s probably not enough Teanuts to prevent the bill from passing and their grand scheme falls apart.

IF however they convince enough Republicans that saying “No” is a “win/win”, they might very well take us to the brink.

Consider for a moment though that if the Debt Ceiling is raised at the last minute once again, it’s future value as a threat drops to nil, and the GOP knows it. Because the next time they do it, the rest of the world will just yawn, knowing it’s just the GOP playing games again, confident in the knowledge that it will eventually be raised at the last second. So we might as well just abolish it. Take it away from Congress so the full faith & credit of the United States can’t be held for ransom once again. (Knowing it’s future value as a hostage drops precipitously after this, only increases the odds there will be no deal by the end of the week. “Impeachment” may be the only thing of value they can extract from this final losing battle.)

If the Debt Ceiling is not raised, we’ll have to raise interest rates to entice other countries into loaning money to a nation that might not pay them back. Every 1-point increase in interest rates would costs us an additional $120-Billion dollars a year. So much for claims of “fiscal responsibility” to justify this charade.

President Obama, screw the GOP. Invoke the 14th Amendment and deny the GOP this hostage now & forever. If you give a child a gun and that child threatens you with it till you exchange it for a cookie, you don’t then turn around and give the gun back. “ObamaCare” passed Congress and it became law on the condition that it not take effect until AFTER the 2012 election (believing the public will so hate it, they’ll elect a Republican to overturn it.) It survived a Constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court AND the 2012 Election, yet less than half of one-half of one-third of the U.S. government (the Teanut minority in the House) is now holding the Debt Ceiling hostage in order to extort everything they lost in the 2012 election out of the other 5/6ths.

It’s time to stop handing this hostage back over to the kidnappers and set it free.
 

Reagan on Raising the Debt Ceiling: 1983/85/87 (1:45)

 



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Filed in Economy, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional October 14th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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What the Debt Ceiling Fight is REALLY About: Impeachment

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013

By the time you read this, you’ll already know whether or not the GOP has once again Shutdown the Federal Government for the first time since they last did it 17 years ago. But let me make a last minute prediction that in the wee hours of the morning, both sides will agree to a one-month extension, at which point we’ll be right back here to start all over again. But first, a refresher: Almost from the moment Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States in 1993, the Republican Party was already hell-bent on destroying him. And the reason for their endless “Scandal-du-Jour” hysteria couldn’t have been more clear: they were plotting his defeat in 1996. But their plan backfired following, not one but TWO incredibly unpopular government shutdowns in 1995 & 1996 that the public clearly knew was purely partisan gamesmanship. They demonized the president for four straight years and STILL he won reelection, meaning they were now “stuck” with him for another four years. Any of this sounding familiar? Once again, extreme partisans within the GOP are threatening… not only the shutdown of the Federal government, but a possible default on the National Debt by refusing to raise the debt ceiling to pay for the things THEY THEMSELVES already agreed to spend money on, the results of which would be catastrophic. So why are they doing it? “Why”, I pondered previously, “would anyone invite CERTAIN economic disaster to prevent something they only speculate would be an economic disaster?” (and as I’ve heard others point out, you would think the GOP would be EAGER to see “ObamaCare” implemented only to crash & burn). No, what they REALLY want is something much more sinister/cynical: they want President Obama to invoke the “14th Amendment” to unilaterally raise the Debt Ceiling on his own so they may use it as grounds for impeachment.

Why? Because that’s what Republicans apparently do now when a Democrat is in charge. They are childish sore losers that can’t bear the idea of a Democratic president advancing Democratic solutions only to see them succeed and last another 80 years the way Social Security has (It’s a damn shame they didn’t call it “FDR-Care” only to hear Republicans defend it today.)

The relevant portion of the “14th Amendment” regarding the Debt reads as follows:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

But the infamous “14th Amendment”, passed in 1868, isn’t just “Section 4″. No, Republicans want to make The 14th a 2014 campaign issue because it’s just chock full of headaches for the GOP:

Section 1 is where anyone born “in the United States” is automatically a citizen regardless of the parents’ citizenship… a clause that is the source of unlimited pain for the Nationalists in the GOP, which I’m certain they’d love to see stricken. Unfortunately, the next line of that SAME clause mentions not “depriving life” of any “person without first receiving due process”… a clause commonly used by the Pro-Birth Life crowd to argue the unconstitutionality of Abortion.

Section 2 is regarding the appointment of Representatives based on the number of adult males in each state. Irrelevant here.

Section 3 is regarding “insurrection” in support of the Confederacy. Also irrelevant.

Section 4 noted above is regarding ensuring that the Federal Government will always pay its debts (translation: the repatriated South can’t stop the Government from repaying debts incurred by the North during the war, and by that same token, the Federal Government is not obligated to repay debts incurred by the Confederacy because they weren’t part of the U.S..)

Section 5 gives Congress the power to enforce the prior four Articles.

Clearly #5 is the stickler. Since this is a Constitutional Amendment, it’s not a “law” and therefore can not be ignored nor repealed. But it also doesn’t give the power of “enforcement” to the president. So what happens if Congress fails to comply with the “Enforcement Clause”? That’s one for the courts… The Supreme Court to be exact. And with a 5/4 Conservative advantage, I’d be willing to bet that young “Tea Party” Conservatives full of piss & vinegar like Ted Cruz are more than happy to push this to the Supreme Court…

…for “what” exactly, who knows? It certainly wouldn’t get past a Democratically controlled Senate to remove President Obama from office. No, for that, they need to retake the Senate as well. And, gee, let me think… What mid-term election issue can we think of that would attract Conservative morons to the polls in 2014? Maybe if we delayed the implementation of “ObamaCare” for one year? And it’ll be a lot easier to clinch that vote if they institute a bunch of voter ID laws and reduced voting hours to keep a whole bunch of the “wrong” people from voting… say the poor and minorities… the very people who would benefit the most from “ObamaCare”?

Are you starting to see how this all fits together?

My prediction? If I’m right, the GOP will have agreed to a one-month extension of the Budget just to move the “Shutdown” vote until AFTER the Debt Ceiling vote, which they will then refuse to pass come mid-October when the Federal Government runs out of money. Then at the stroke of midnight on that day in mid-October when the government runs out of money, President Obama will invoke the 14th Amendment and extend the Debt Ceiling on his own, prompting a feux “Constitutional Crisis” set up by “outraged” Republicans. Impeachment proceedings will begin in the GOP-controlled House in early 2014 and extend thru the year till Election Day. Efforts to disenfranchise typically Democratic voters will go into over-drive in “Red” states next year as efforts to recapture the Senate become the GOP’s top priority.

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Filed in Economy, fake scandals, General, Healthcare, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional October 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | 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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Thinking Outside the GOP Box: Creating New Jobs Without Resorting to Tax Cuts

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013

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

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

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

Sign my petition on the White House website:

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

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



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Filed in Economy, General, Jobs, Money, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes August 5th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Guest Post: The Public And The Strings That Bind Us

By Ebon - Last updated: Monday, July 22, 2013

This week’s guest post is by Ebon (formerly of “Ebon’s Bear Cave”) in the UK. Ebon worked for Beliefnet.com for many years (until Fox fired everyone on the Community team), and openly writes about his own struggles with mental illness to mitigate the stigma associated with it. – Mugsy

 
Rewriting history.
Scene from 1992 HBO film “Fatherland” set in a world in which WWII ended in stalemate

I got into an argument some days ago with a fellow who saw an “Orwellian world order” behind current events in the USA. Naturally, I argued against the motion. Where we differ is that I see many orders (sometimes competing, sometimes complimentary) rather than one. And yes, they are Orwellian and have been since before Orwell wrote his prophecy. Even the Nazis phrased their attack on Poland as self-defense (the oppressor pretending to be the real victim is so common, there’s an internet abbreviation for it: DARVO for Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender). And they’re not conspiracies in the sense that they’re not really hidden. It’s more like a group of people who share the same views and tend to support one another.

I have said before that all politics is, ultimately, about the rich versus the rest (although that’s a shortened version of my original version: the rich bastards with all the power versus the rest). These days, that gets called things like “class warfare” (by the people who have been waging class war on behalf of the rich for decades, they only call it class war when we fight back) and “SOCIALISM!” in much the same tone as people once shouted “WITCH!” (for the record, I’m a Social Democrat which is a related but different thing). Because these aren’t really rebuttals, they’re labels, accusations, words used to shut down a discussion instead of answering it. And the people have been so well programmed that the ones being oppressed parrot the opressor’s arguments. Malcolm X once said “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” and damn if he wasn’t right on that. He understood, without ever being taught, how susceptible the human mind is to repetition. The only thing he got wrong was that he didn’t foresee the all-pervasive power of tv. And how many episodes of Honey Boo-Boo or Jeremy Kyle (think a British, moralistic, judgmental Jerry Springer) does a person have to see before they start thinking that maybe the rich bastards have a point? Maybe the poor aren’t really deserving of any money? And then you’re onto the slippery slope, the race to the bottom, because the only difference between cutting off that annoying mouthy woman and letting people starve in the gutter is the price you’re willing to pay.

The rich versus the rest, always. And the rich want what they’ve always wanted. They want a labor pool desperate enough to work for pennies that they have no obligations to, they want a market for their products and they want to pay as little taxes as possible. And that’s why the tax burden has slowly been shifted from the rich to you, that’s why labor protections are being stripped away, the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in years, why it’s now everyone on minimum wage instead of just teenagers and, by the way, some bastard Republican wants to take away overtime too. The US (and UK if the Tories get their way) are being turned into the ideal labor pool for the rich. Forget about selling their products in the US, they’ll sell to the much bigger markets in Asia and maybe a little to the European economies where people still make decent wages (not the UK, we’re a lot closer to the US culturally than we are to Europe). Fun fact: If the minimum wage had risen with inflation since the Sixties, it would now be around twenty dollars an hour. You want to go back to the Fifties? Support a union, raise wages and top tax rates and buy American.

And that’s why it was possible to raise a family on a single working-class income in the Fifties and Sixties but takes at least two incomes today. Because the rich stopped wearing furs and ermine while they oppressed you and started wearing suits. The traits that make someone a psychopath are the same traits that corporations select for: Ruthlessness, callousness, lack of empathy, remorse or guilt. Capitalism has become sacred writ in both our nations, a creed adhered to more strongly than the Scripture (I’m with Ghandi, who when asked what he thought of “Western Civilization” replied that it “sounded like a good idea”). Say a word against the most egregious excesses of capitalism and you’re a pariah. No-one wants to accept that capitalism inherently creates winners and losers, that it requires a percentage of unemployed to keep wages down (Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan once said that his job was “to create a certain level of income insecurity” so that people were less likely to change jobs, complain about the ones they had, and work for less. – Mugsy). Our culture believes so strongly in free markets’ uber alles that people would rather see the poor as just lazy rather than victims of the system. And I just know that someone is going to trot out a tired “I knew an unemployed person who exploited the system/did XYZ unwise thing”. It’s tired, it’s trite but that’s how powerful, how embedded the programming is. People would rather believe that the (very few) exploiters are the rule than accept that the system doesn’t always work to everyone’s benefit. It’s like a dog-eat-dog version of Candide.

See, it’s child’s play to manipulate the human mind. It’s so easy that psychologists have to be trained in how to avoid doing it unintentionally. Humans are instinctively conformist, Ashe proved that. Humans will instinctively obey perceived authority, Milgram proved that. And all you need to do is combine those traits with how ridiculously malleable the human memory is. People think memory is like a photograph, something the same every time. It’s not. Memory isn’t recalled, it’s reconstructed, incorporating new data as it goes. That’s why, whenever a serial killer is caught, his neighbors always say they knew there was something off about him. They didn’t know at the time (otherwise killers would be a lot easier to catch) but they remember it as if they did. Give me twenty minutes of your life (in person) and I can convince you that you like peanut-butter tuna fish pudding (well, maybe not). And I’m not special. Any psychologist can do that trick and, while I’d like to pretend that every member of the profession was virtuous and above this sort of thing, the rule of human nature means that’s not true. The rich bastards with all the power can afford to employ a lot of people who know exactly how to manipulate the public. Maybe it doesn’t work on you, maybe it doesn’t work on anyone reading this board (although that’s statistically unlikely and I know it’s untrue) but it works on most people.

Because most people are not bad. They’re not evil. But they are self-involved and selfish and shortsighted and easily distracted and very, very short on memory. And if they see a homeless guy, it’s easier to say “get a job” than it is to think about his story and what brought him to this. Most people don’t want to think about things. They want to regurgitate whatever pablum they’ve been fed and get complimented about how deep they are (Objectivists are the worst people in the world for this, sheep who think they’re cooler than the other sheep) but they don’t want to actually think about it. Because that requires real mental effort and might lead to uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. “People will say they want truth and justice for all. But what they really want is an assurance that life will go on, much as it did before, and tomorrow will be very much like today”. Terry Pratchett said that (through his consummate politician, Havelock Vetinari) and it’s one of the truest statements about human nature that’s even been written. People are puppets and most people want to be puppets. They want to be puppets because it’s easier than having to see things as they actually are. It’s easier to be a jerk to the homeless guy than toss him a quid or buy him a burger (or whatever healthy meal you prefer), people don’t want to make the effort because hey, they’re already being driven like a slave at work, working harder than their grandparents did and getting paid worse, why shouldn’t they coast through the rest of life? It’s easier being a puppet.

And I’m a puppet too, in my own way. I use Facebook. I play Minecraft. I love wrestling and still follow it avidly. I trained in law originally because that’s what people said someone like me should do. I was part of the drug crowd in school but never really fitted in there because I preferred booze. I’m a mentally ill psychologist. In my own way, I’m a puppet too. The only difference is that I can see the strings.
 

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Filed in Economy, General, Guest Blogger, Money, Politics July 22nd, 2013 by Ebon | • No comments | Add/View

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You’re DAMN Right I Like ObamaCare. Will critcs change tune as more experience benefits for themselves?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I know. I know. I’m not supposed to call it “ObamaCare”. It’s “The Affordable Care Act”, passed in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court one year ago this month. But to me, “ObamaCare” isn’t a pejorative. I have no problem linking President Obama to the first major health care reform bill in 50 years. And I hope 50 years from now, we see Right-Wing morons standing in front of the Capitol holding up signs saying, “Hands off my ObamaCare!”. And while there’s still six more months until it’s fully implemented, millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits… of which my mother is now one. As mentioned yesterday, my own mother is in the hospital, currently the ICU but being prepared to move to a “regular” room sometime today after 11 days of Intensive Care. Mom is 76, on a fixed income and on Medicare, so she’s among the first to enjoy the benefits of the new law: most notably she won’t go bankrupt trying to pay off an astronomical hospital bill thanks to a CAP on how much this nightmare will cost her. And whataya know? No “Death Panel” showed up to deny her treatment or refuse to pay for a needed procedure (the GOP saves that for women seeking an abortion). No government bureaucrat showed up to say she had to leave the ICU after only a week because it was costing too much. Every other insane nightmare scenario peddled by Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck… sorry you lunatic bastards, but you’re full of $#it and you know it. And right now, I’m pretty damned happy about “ObamaCare”.

About nine weeks ago (the same week as the Boston bombings), my mother was told that she needed chemotherapy to treat a lump in her cheek. (I was opposed to it, but that’s another story.) “Three treatments over six weeks” (one immediate, then two more every three weeks.) After each round, she responded poorly, first losing all her hair almost immediately, then mild pneumonia and a lung infection after the second round (at which point they should have stopped the damn chemo wiping out her immune system, not just put her on antibiotics), and finally, severe diarrhea and a fever of 102′. I rushed her to the Emergency Room where they stabilized her and placed her in the ICU, where she has been ever since.

Having spent more than my share of time in hospital emergency rooms, I can tell you that those visits don’t come cheap. They are (WITHOUT QUESTION) the most expensive form of health care there is… which is of course why Republicans think it’s a perfectly acceptable means of providing health care to the poor (see how that works?) Depending on the severity of your injuries, an ER visit can easily account for half your entire hospital bill (running into the thousands). Add to that a two-week stay in the ICU and we’re talking about some serious money.

The “care” Mom received before this mess… her chemo and doctors visits… were already costing her hundreds of dollars. Naturally, we became concerned about the cost of all this health care quite quickly, so a friend of my mother’s looked it up in her 2013 Medicare Benefits book (which every recipient receives in the mail each year.) This one includes a section on the “Benefits of the New Health Care Reform Legislation”. According to the new law (pdf), depending upon income, no individual will have to pay more than $5,950/year out of pocket ($11,900 for families) for their treatment… and that’s a COMBINED sum for ALL medical expenses in an entire year. That’s it. Period. End of story. That means Mom’s chemo, doctor co-pays, the trip to the 24hour Emergency Clinic two nights before that ended with me driving her back to her apartment at 2am only to have to rush her to the ER 36 hours later, are all included in that cap. And since she is nowhere near the highest income earners, her cap is likely to be closer to just $3,000. Before “ObamaCare”, her ER visit alone would have come close to that.

Now there are still a number of problems I have with “The Affordable Care Act”. It still leaves too much power in the hands of the insurance companies, doing little to control the cost of “premiums” that the insurance companies can charge you, or stop profiteering by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and the people selling those “Rascal Scooters” that you see fat people riding around in at Wal*Mart everyday, that makes health care far more expensive than it needs to be. There are also a number of “loopholes” for employers to exploit to deny employees coverage (like cutting worker hours). And while wildly cheaper than before, even $3,000 is still a hefty “out-of-pocket” expense for someone living on a fixed income, but right now if you ask me, “Do you like ObamaCare?” You’re DAMN Right I Like ObamaCare. And I’m willing to bet that as more & more people begin to experience the benefits for themselves the way I have this past month, the rest of the public will come to appreciate it as well.
 



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Filed in Economy, General, Healthcare, Money, myth busting June 25th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View

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Attention GOP: You can’t dismantle gun reform then go around calling the bill “ineffective”

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013

The REAL problemThis Thursday will be the 20th Anniversary of the end of the raid on the “Branch Davidian” compound in Waco, Texas where religious gun nuts holed up with a messianic cult-leader decided that a BATF raid (following the murder of a BATF Agent that tried to investigate them for illegally transporting and selling guns across state lines) was a fulfillment of End-Times prophecy of the government coming to take their guns away. April 20th, Friday, will be the 14th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, where 12 students and one teacher were murdered and another 21 students were injured. April is a big month for “Deadly Rampage” anniversaries by nuts with guns. Today, following the worst school shooting in history, Republicans are making the rounds telling everyone that currently proposed legislation “would have done nothing to prevent the last four massacres“… those being Newtown, the Aurora/Batman theater shooting, the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI. What kind of legislation might then have actually mitigated those incidents? Two immediately spring to mind: a ban on assault weapons and a ban on high-capacity ammo clips… which WERE a part of the original bill. Who got those provisions removed? The same guys now calling the bill toothless.

The weapons used in the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre
The Columbine Weapons

 

Last week, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe… the eye of every “GOP Crazy-Storm”… decided that enough time had passed since the Newtown Massacre that it was now okay to attack the parents of those murdered children, suggesting they are ignorant dupes, too stupid to realize President Obama is using them to push through gun legislation that would have “done nothing to save their children.”

Utah Senator Mike Lee said on “Meet the Press” yesterday that: “This bill, I believe, would do more to limit the rights of the law-abiding than it would to actually prevent violent crime.

I’m sorry, but if your first reaction to the murder of 20 first-graders and six teachers is to think “Obama/Liberals are going to take our guns away”, your priorities SUCK.

Inhofe, Lee, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Joe McCarthy’s paramour Ted Cruz (R-TX) all vowed to filibuster the gun reform bill if it included an “Assault Weapons” ban… something that WOULD have likely had a direct impact on the number of children murdered that day. But do you think any of them are insisting we put that ban back into the bill so it would actually make the ban more effective at actually addressing those concerns? Of course not! Rubio even went so far as to suggest we need to weaken, not strengthen our gun laws. Because more guns means a safer society (it’s nonsense of course.) Thinking “more guns” is the solution to gun violence is like thinking the to solution to drunk driving is “more alcohol”.

Also on the Sunday talk shows yesterday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) said “only better mental health laws will ensure that the Newtown mass shooting victims did not die in vain … that’s why I’m focused like a laser on the mental health component.” The “Affordable Care Act” (aka: ObamaCare) provides funding to expand coverage of… you guessed it… mental health care. Cornyn’s position on The ACA: “Why ObamaCare Must Go”, by Sen. John Cornyn. The Senator also voted against including assault weapons in the current gun legislation and has no stated position on limiting high capacity clips/magazines… the two things that would most directly would have impacted the deadliness of recent mass shootings.

Why is it that owning a gun is a right but being able to see a doctor when you’re sick is a privilege? Gun nuts say the REAL threat is “the mentally ill”, but when you try to increase funding for mental health care they scream “Marxist!”

Former Congressman turned NRA Spokesman Asa Hutchinson last week called “driving 30 miles into town” to obtain a background check “too burdensome” for rural residents. More children must die because some #@!$% doesn’t want to be “inconvenienced” by having to drive a few miles into town? If your priorities listed in order are: “1) Avoiding two hours of inconvenience; 2) Dead Children… you seriously need to rethink your priorities. Why is it that so many “Pro-LIFE Republican gun nuts seem more concerned with their own “inconvenience” than saving the life of a child?
 

2 seconds before Reagan was shot.

 
Gun regulations “infringe on people’s rights & liberty”, but regulating gay marriage and mandating vaginal ultrasounds are perfectly acceptable limits on our freedom. In America, Birth-Control and Marriage Licenses are harder to get than bullets. They actually say that “kicking God out of our schools” is more to blame for school shootings than the guns. If that’s so, then what’s the excuse for priests molesting children in our churches?
 

GOP priorities

 

Last week, Texas voted to drug-test every welfare applicant because 2.6% of them are drug users, yet these same legislators oppose background-checks before buying a gun despite the fact that at least 2.6% of them are probably on drugs.

Last Wednesday, Rachel Maddow pointed out that the NRA came to the defense of a former convicted felon that was arrested after being caught with a handgun and AK-47 with 30-round extended capacity clip in his possession. The man argued that the law prohibiting him from owning a gun was unconstitutional. They won. Was that REALLY a law that needed overturning to protect YOUR rights? The NRA says, “We don’t need MORE laws, we just need to enforce the ones already on the books!” And then they spend the rest of their time getting those laws overturned, even rushing to the defense of convicted felons. Attention NRA Members: If you think the NRA exists to protect YOU and not The Gun Industry, think again. They just fought for and won the right of convicted felons in Louisiana to own assault rifles, making you less safe thus ensuring you’ll need to buy more guns to protect yourself.

As The Daily Show’s John Oliver recently pointed out:
 

“One failed attempt at a shoe-bomb and now we all take our shoes off at the airport. 31 school shootings since Columbine and no change in the regulation of guns.”

 

These Congresssmen say banning high-capacity magazines only inconveniences “responsible gun owners”. If you need 30+ bullets to hit your target, you probably have no business firing a gun. They say, “Criminals don’t obey gun laws”. So by that logic, why do we have ANY laws at all? We have laws against stealing. People still steal. We have laws against speeding. People still speed. They say the REAL problem is “mental health care”, but then actively oppose allowing the government to do anything about it. They say, “Guns don’t kill people! PEOPLE kill people!” So why then do they need a gun? They say “a gun is no more dangerous than a knife, a hammer, or a car!” Well then, if you have a knife, a hammer, or a car, why do you need a gun? We have Congressmen actively crippling sensible legislation that WOULD of had a DIRECT impact on some of the most tragic mass murders of our time, and then once they’ve kicked the legs out from under those bills, they go around and talk about how toothless the proposed legislation is.

GOP hypocrisy is nothing new, but sadly, the Media’s failure to call them out on it this time around means MANY more people are going to die.
 



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Filed in Crime, Guns & Violence, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional April 15th, 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