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Republicans Can’t Devise a Health Care Plan because they DON’T WANT a plan
Jul 10th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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Two weeks ago, everyone was expecting the GOP to vote to repeal “ObamaCare” before the July 4th break (with no replacement) just so they could return home to “cheering crowds” to whom they could announce, “We did it! We got rid of ObamaCare!”

Everyone… except Me that is.

I don’t know what kind of fantasy world these people live in, but their efforts to repeal the ACA with no replacement was NOT received warmly… unless you count “torches” as a “warm” reception.

Instead, in town halls across the country, angry voters ridiculed “heartless” GOP efforts to take away their existing healthcare and replace it “later”… “someday soon”… with something really peachy keen. Something “better” than “ObamaCare”, cover “more people” and provide “more choices”. Oh, and it’ll be “cheaper” too!

“Just don’t ask us how.”

The reason why Republicans have yet to devise a health care plan that meets all those criteria (besides the fact it has no basis in reality) is because the very thing they are trying to do… create an entire system of government regulations over health care… is an anathema to everything they believe in. A blind man might be able to paint, and hell, even Beethoven was almost totally deaf when he wrote his last symphony, but there’s a reason you don’t hire a Creationist to teach Science Class, or someone who hates children to babysit your kids. Their heart just isn’t in it. It would be like asking an arsonist to think up ways to put out fires (and once they do, would it shock you to find half their “solutions” require gasoline?)

And there’s a reason you don’t ask Republicans to write bills to regulate an entire life & death industry like health care: Because their first instinct is to burn it to the ground, not find ways to put the fire out.

So in the end, you have Republicans divided between those who WANT to ensure every American has health care, and those who don’t want the government involved in ANY way, shape or form. So is it any wonder Republicans can’t agree on a way to “fix” healthcare?

And they never will, because there just is no middle ground between those two extremes. In the end, if Republicans in Congress DO finally vote on a “solution”, it will be to pawn the whole mess off on the states and let each one come up with their own solution… without ANY assistance from the Federal government. Not in the form of Regulations and (doubtfully) not in the form of financial assistance. In short, the only answer Republicans will be able to agree upon is to do nothing and dump the problem off on someone else (the states.)

And states with Republican governors and/or legislatures won’t want to get involved either, so they will abdicate THEIR power… in this case their state insurance regulatory boards… and just let their residents buy insurance from whatever state with the most lax insurance laws allows them to buy the cheapest, most worthless policies imaginable.

If your goal is to improve the health of every American and improve outcomes, then this plan will fail miserably. But if your plan is for every American to be able to afford a worthless policy (or go completely without if they so choose) that gives everyone a false sense of security at a very low rate, then the GOP plan will be a triumphant success!

A week ago on “Meet the Press”, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said he wanted Republicans to devise a healthcare plan that moved “upper level” people off Medicare and onto “Private Insurance” because it would allow them to advance in their careers “without fear of losing their insurance” [because they’d make too much money to qualify for Medicare.] In Cassidy’s myopic Conservative view, he simply wants everyone off Medicare and sees it as a hindrance to occupational advancement. Meanwhile, Democrats like me wonder why EVERYONE isn’t guaranteed at least minimum basic coverage through Medicare? You can’t be “kicked off” just for making too much, so Cassidy’s odd concern for people worried about “making too much that may cost them their Medicare”, would no longer be a concern. Medicare is already an in-place and working health insurance program covering millions of Americans. No “new” government system would have to be devised if we just opened it up to everyone.

Think how much every American pays per year for Private Insurance? $5,000? $10,000 per family member? What if you didn’t have to buy private insurance at all (unless you want “Premium” care?) Would you be willing to pay an extra $99/month in taxes for guaranteed basic minimum coverage under Medicare if it meant eliminating those costly private insurance premiums? See any doctor you like (yes, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”) How much would you save? $400/month? $800? A $1,000?

And if you want “Premium” care, like “a private room” when you’re in the hospital, or “Specialists” to treat you when you get sick, you can buy a “supplemental” policy, keeping the insurance companies, medical billing agencies, etc all in business without destroying an entire industry and putting hundreds of thousands out of work?

If Senator Cassidy REALLY wants people to have something “guaranteed” that isn’t taken away just because they make too much money, maybe he needs to talk to some Democrats?

Another option: The Public Option. This is the simplest solution, where Medicare is allowed to compete with Private Insurance. Republicans complain of (Red) states where the people “only have ONE choice” of insurance provider. And without any competition, their rates skyrocket. Let Medicare compete with private insurance. Consumers are instantly given a second choice and private insurance must lower rates to compete. Problem solved.

Except for the fact Republicans DON’T WANT more people on a program they’ve been trying to kill since it’s inception. And private insurance would ALSO still have to accept people with “preexisting conditions” to ensure every person with PXC’s weren’t simply dumped off on Medicare. That’s a “regulation”, and Republicans HATE those! Ronald Reagan called Medicare “a foot in the door to Socialism”, and more recently, Ben “Sleepy” Carson and Sen. Rand Paul both equated guaranteed healthcare with “slavery [for physicians]” (yeah, don’t ask me to explain that.) Sarah Palin… who (shocker) had no clue what she was talking about… terrified the stupid by claiming that a public option would lead to “[government] death panels” (Medicare has been around since 1965. No “Death Panels”… unlike the PRIVATE insurance system we have now that denies thousands of claims daily.) A “Public Option” was part of the Democrats original healthcare plan in 2009. Democrats had exactly 60 senators (briefly. Just 24 working days), just enough to pass any legislation they wanted, except one “Democrat”… a disturbingly Conservative Democrat named Joe Liebermann (best remembered for being part of the Liebermann/McCain/Graham trio that pushed for war in Iraq and then continued to insist victory was always just around the corner for the remainder of the Bush presidency) declared that if The ACA included a “Public Option”, he’d vote with the Republicans to kill it. So the Public Option was stripped out (without a fight), rates went up for many poor Americans (because they could no longer get cheap worthless policies that covered nothing) and many Red state citizens were left with only one choice in their healthcare exchange. Republicans have been using every negative consequence of that decision as an excuse to kill off “ObamaCare” as a “failed” system.

But with the changes to health care Republicans are proposing, you will once again be able to get those cheap worthless policies whose greatest value is in the false sense of security they give you. And to keep rates low, insurance companies will once again be allowed to deny you coverage for a preexisting condition… because in Republican Land, survival of the insurance companies is more important than the survival of its citizens.

In 1994, during President Bill Clinton’s second State of the Union address, he announced his desire for Congress to create a National Healthcare System where every citizen was issued a government insurance card… similar to your Social Security card… that would entitle you to free (“taxpayer financed”) care in any hospital in the country. And Hillary Clinton would be in charge of developing this program. Democrats cheered. Republicans were horrified. A massive new taxpayer funded entitlement? But how to scare people into fearing “free” healthcare? The part about the magnetic strip on the back giving doctors access to all of your medical records was touted as an enormous security risk and/or privacy violation. “Just imagine what someone could DO with all that private information!” they cried. Of course, the technology in 1993 wasn’t advanced enough to fit all of your medical records on a tiny magnet strip that holds at most 256 characters worth of information. But critics started talking about “X-Rays and detailed medical records” all being stored on that tiny card. And “What if you lost it!” Gasp! All of your medical records GONE!

The hysteria reached epic proportions, and you just can’t reason with millions of hysterical irrational people who were being encouraged to be hysterical & irrational by Republicans in Congress. By the end of 1994, the hysteria helped bring about “The Gingrich Revolution” where Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives for the first time in over 40 years.) And with that, healthcare reform was dead.

Until a Democratic majority in the House and Democratic Super Majority in the Senate in 2009, unencumbered by Right Wing hysteria, made tackling it a very real possibility once again.

And now Republicans are in charge. But they don’t have a Super Majority in the Senate, so the only way they can change healthcare is if they do it through “Budget Reconciliation”… changing the existing law in such a way that it doesn’t cost any more money. And THAT only requires 50+1 votes. Yet so far, they can’t even do THAT because (as I pointed out), you can’t ask chronic Deregulators to write a host of new Regulations. Their natural instinct is to kill it.

…Or pass the buck off on the states and let them handle it… which is EXACTLY what I predict they will do (but not anytime soon.) To quote DNC Leader Tom Perez on “Meet the Press” yesterday, “You don’t fight a fire with only 5 gallons of gas.” [sic]
 


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GOP Healthcare Plan Would Be Largest Shift in Income From Poor to Rich in History
May 8th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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Last Tuesday night in his “Late Show” monologue, Stephen Colbert responded to Trump’s insulting treatment of fellow CBS reporter John Dickerson with an insulting rant of his own that… while censored… still has the Right in near hysterics, calling for Colbert to be fired over his “disgusting” treatment of the disabled-reporter-mocking pussy-grabber-in-chief. How disrespectful! And they call US “snowflakes”? Please.

So if I may go on a little rant of my own…

Last week, the House passed H.R.1628 – The American Health Care Act of 2017. It was the GOP’s third attempt to repeal The Affordable Care Act since Trump took office, and passed with only Republican votes (remember when passing a heath care bill with votes from only one Party was a “bad” thing?) It passed by only four votes (217-213 despite 20 Republicans voting against it.) Republicans cheered! Finally! They completed the first of five hurdles in their 7+ year crusade to repeal something THAT DOESN’T EXIST: “ObamaCare”… the pejorative euphemism for The Affordable Care Act that has convinced millions of gullible Republican voters that they are being forced to purchase an insurance policy from the government to enroll in some misfit insurance program run by the IRS. And that’s not by accident. The GOP has been drumming that very misconception into people’s minds since before the ACA became law. It’s why there are people who say they “hate ObamaCare” but “like The Affordable Care Act“.

But Republicans don’t DARE call it by its true name because “The Affordable Care Act” is actually quite popular (61% now say keep it vs 37% who say scrap it.) Under Trump, “ObamaCare” is actually more popular than TRUMP. And why? Because the more they hear about the GOP’s alternative plan, the less they like it. Most notably, the likely loss of coverage for tens of millions and the very real possibility of the return of denials over “preexisting conditions”.

But perhaps the most heinous and indefensible policies in the “American Health Care Act” passed by the House is that it CUTS $880,000,000,000 ($880 Billion) in Medicaid subsidies the ACA offered the states to help them pay for expanding the state-run program, and using it to offset the cost of a massive honking tax cut for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Part of the reason why “ObamaCare” failed to help as many Americans as it could have was because a huge swath of Republican governors refused to accept those Medicaid dollars “out of spite… er ‘principle'”, to help cover millions of the poorest Americans (Ironically, most of whom live in deep Red states in the South.)

The justification for cutting nearly $900 Billion in Medicaid subsides, according to Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday was that they are simply eliminating “redundancy”… duplication of services covered by other agencies (which is nonsense.) When asked about concerns with the House bill, Priebus assured Andrea Mitchell that “the Senate bill will be better.” Which raises an interesting question: “If the House bill was inadequate, why was there such a rush to pass it… even before many House members even had a chance to read it? (another Republican complaint regarding passage of the ACA in 2009.) Wouldn’t it have made more sense to take your time and draft a single bill that was likely to pass BOTH houses without major changes ensuring easy passage? Instead, now, we have millions of Americans learning about this mess of a bill… NOT liking what they are hearing… waiting perhaps months before the Senate votes on a bill of their own (the earliest they could possibly vote is in a few weeks, but most say the Senate wants to write their own bill, which could take a while. Then wait for it to be scored by the CBO and debated. And Texas Senator Cornyn says they won’t vote for the bill until they can be sure they have “at least 51 votes”. Then add all the vacation days between now and then and I’m thinking… September by the earliest to complete “Step 2”?) Then comes the merging of the two bills into one (Step 3) where it is voted on again by both the House and Senate (Step 4) and then signed by Trump (Step 5). I figure it is possible “TrumpCare” could come up for a vote right in the middle of the 2018 midterm elections. We’ll see.
 

Seniors may pay more under AHCA

 
Fewer covered under AHCA

 

You KNOW a Republican bill is bad when even Fox isn’t buying it.

“Health & Human Services” Secretary Tom Price tried to argue during “Meet the Press” yesterday that a change that could result in pre-retirement seniors paying as much as FIVE TIMES more for health care, was actually a GOOD thing because the change would result in them having “more choices” than they do now (I’m assuming by adding DEATH to their list of options.)

As Salon Magazine pointed out last March, two taxes on the richest Americans to pay for the Medicare expansion in the ACA that TrumpCare eliminates is a $275 Billion dollar tax break for the richest 2% of Americans. If you earn less than $200,000/year, you will not see a single penny in tax cuts resulting in the elimination of those ACA tax increases. People who make between $500K & $1mil per year will see “a modest cut of about $4,700”, modest millionaires would get back around $54K/year, while the top 1/10th of 1% (those earning over $300 million/year) will get back around $7 Million dollars/year.

Republican Congressman Raul Labrador became the poster-boy for GOP cluelessness/heartlessness last week when he was caught on camera arguing to his constituents: “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care”. And it makes sense that he’d say this because it’s a Republican Talking Point that has been drummed into their heads for eight years. The argument is that “Emergency Rooms are required by law to provide care even if you can’t afford to pay. Ergo, no one dies due to an inability to afford health care.”

As the cook said to waitress Kelly Bundy, “You are one whopping moron!”

Let’s set aside for the moment that Emergency Room care is the most costly form of care there is and when patients can’t pay either the government pays or they swallow the cost. Forget that for now. Here are just a few scenarios off the top of my head where you could die from not having access to healthcare:

Scenario #1: Imagine a guy develops an infection (infected cut, steps on a nail, whatever) but he doesn’t have insurance, so he tries to treat it himself at home. But as time goes on, the infection gets worse & worse and eventually he has no choice but to be rushed to the hospital (assuming he hasn’t died in his sleep before then.) But he waited too long, the infection doesn’t respond to antibiotics, and he dies.

Scenario #2: You develop cancer. But you can’t afford treatment (chemo, radiation or both) so you never get treated. By the time you are so sick you are taken to the ER, the cancer has spread throughout your body and you die.

Scenario #3: You have diabetes and your kidney’s start to shutdown. You need dialysis but don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket. You never get treated and you die.

Scenario #4: You develop the flu. You can’t afford to go to the doctor so you try to treat it yourself at home using over-the-counter medicine. But it’s not the flu. It’s something worse. And by the time you get to the ER, there is nothing they can do.

Scenario #5: You develop the flu and try to treat it yourself. But you have small children. The baby catches your flu, develops a high fever and dies before you can get her to the hospital.

That’s just five scenarios off the top of my head where not having access to routine care could be deadly. Are you telling me no Republican is capable of envisioning a scenario where a person could get so sick even the ER can’t save them? Apparently, NO ONE WHO GOES TO THE E.R. EVER DIES IN GOP LAND (or Congressman Labradoodle’s world.) These people make me want to vomit.

When President Carter ran for reelection against Reagan in 1980, Reagan criticized Carter for allowing the National Debt to “balloon” to an ungodly “$800 Billion dollars” (Reagan then proceeded to more than TRIPLE 204 years worth of Debt to $2.5Trillion in just eight years.) The entire National Debt in 1980 was less than the size of the GOP’s proposed cut to Medicare over ten years or Trump’s proposed annual tax cut for the wealthy.

The GOP’s Health care bill would be the largest shift in income from the Poor up to the Richest Americans in U.S. history. Tell us again Trump voters how President Pussy-Grabber or lapdogs like Labrador are looking out for people like you?
 


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Trump Failures Demonstrating Why You Can’t Run Government Like a Business
May 1st, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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It was touted as his biggest selling point & greatest asset: Successful businessman. And if you think back to the Bush/Cheney Administration, they too referred to themselves as “the CEO presidency”… a failed Texas oilman with a string of failed business behind him that required repeated bailouts by his well-connected Daddy, and a running mate who struck it rich running one of the largest government contractors in the country (Halliburton)… to explain why they were the most qualified to run this country. And we all know how THAT turned out.

“Governments” are not “businesses”. They are not run for profit. They exist solely to provide their citizens with services. Services necessary to maintain a healthy stable society.

For example, to survive in a modern society, people need to work. That means building schools and hiring teachers to educate our children so they can do those jobs. It means building roads to get to work, and get to the stores to purchase the products people produce. If you don’t drive, it means providing buses, bus stops, bus drivers and bus stations. If you DO drive, it means providing places to obtain a drivers license, providing highway patrol officers to ensure public safety. It means traffic lights & road signs. It means providing police, and courts to prosecute criminals and settle disputes. It’s a Service, not a “business.” Meanwhile, if a private enterprise builds a road, that’s a huge expense they would have to charge you for to make their money back. If private industry built all of our infrastructure, every road would be a toll road, every bridge would be a toll bridge. The government owns every airport because we can’t have every airline building its own, and the air traffic controllers are all government employees because we can’t have controllers working for one particular airline giving takeoff/landing preference to whatever airline they happen to work for. And do we REALLY want a corporation… desperate to save money… cutting corners on police, fire fighters and Air Traffic Control… overworking already stressed out controllers using outdated equipment to land passenger jets filled with as many as 200, 300, even 400 passengers? (In many instances, this is ALREADY taking place as Republicans in Congress see no connection between defunding this vital service only to then fly home later that evening and then drive the rest of the way home on public roads.)

Trump is presently promising “The largest tax cut in history”… something EVERY Republican president since (and including) Reagan has promised. And when asked how the country can afford such massive tax cuts without exploding the Debt/Deficit, Trump’s answer is the same answer all of his Republican predecessors gave: “growth” would offset the cost. George HW Bush… while running for president against Reagan in 1980… called Reagan’s scheme: “Voodoo economics.” And he was right. Massive tax cuts do not create enough growth to offset their cost.

When Reagan slashed taxes in 1981, the Deficit exploded, unemployment continued to soar to 10.8% twenty-one months later, and he was finally forced to raise taxes eleven times to stop the bleeding. Bush-41 did the same thing (despite his own warnings) and he too ended up with rising unemployment and having to raise taxes to stop the exploding Deficit.

After him, Bill Clinton RAISED taxes on the wealthy in what Newt Gingrich called “the largest tax increase in history” that he was CERTAIN would send the country plunging into another Recession. Instead, by the end of his second term, we had balanced the budget (twice) and unemployment had fallen to just 3.9%.

Then Bush-43 told voters on the campaign trail that the fact we were taking in enough tax revenue to pay off the deficit, we were clearly taxing people too much (ergo, we will NEVER pay off the Debt under a Republican president because the moment revenue exceeds our expenses, they will use it to justify another tax cut.) “It’s not their money! It’s YOUR money!” Bush told cheering crowds. And when he became president, he passed another massive tax cut that he promised “would pay for itself with all the growth it would create.” Instead, the Deficit exploded, the global economy tanked, we went from a projected $250 Billion Surplus to a $1.4Trillion dollar Deficit, and sent unemployment soaring that would hit 10% before President Obama was able to pass his “stimulus”.

Like President Clinton, President Obama raised taxes too. The result? The Deficit was cut by 2/3rds, unemployment fell to just 4.6%, and the economy was creating over 200,000 jobs per month by the time he left office last January.

And now Trump is promising to Repeat the mistakes of the last three Republican presidents before him by slashing taxes once again, promising that the inevitable growth will offset the cost.

Republicans are ideologues. History be damned. If something “sounds right”, it MUST be true. Cutting taxes: Good. Raising taxes: Bad. Don’t bother looking back at the last three Republican presidencies where they did the exact same thing to disastrous results. And definitely don’t copy the last two Democratic presidents and their successful results as any kind of guide (Those who don’t learn from history… are Republicans.) If you are the CEO Of a corporation, cutting your tax burden increases your profits, and that’s a GOOD thing. But taxes to a corporation are AN EXPENSE. In government, taxes are your REVENUE. What kind of successful businessman thinks the path to success is to cut their revenue? Trump is thinking from the perspective of a business owner, and that “business success” translates into “economic success for the country.” It’s a bit like a dog worrying about what’s good for his ticks.

Businesses are not Democracies. They are Dictatorships, where one person… the “CEO”… makes all the decisions and does not have to answer to anyone. Trump is not used to having to answer to others before he’s permitted to do something. If they want something done, they just do it… well, maybe not themselves personally. Most CEO’s… like Donald Trump… typically “farm out” individual duties. They hire (as Trump himself put it) “the best people” to do individual jobs for them (such as putting Rick Perry in charge of our nukes, a befuddled former brain surgeon in charge of housing, and a lobbyist paid by Russia advising him on national security). Rarely does the CEO of a company do all the work themselves. In fact, during the campaign, Donald Trump Jr. told a reporter that his father would likely “outsource foreign AND domestic policy” to his VP. When asked the obvious follow-up, WTF will your DAD be doing then? He’d be busy “making America great again” was the reply (whatever in the hell THAT means.)

The problem is, the president can’t just hand off his duties to a subordinate. The VP does not have the authority to sign legislation or set policy. So when Trump said two weeks ago how surprised he was to learn how HARD the job of being president is, saying (quote) “I thought it would be easier” (someone owes Obama an apology then), the rest of us just shook our heads in disbelief. Meet the Press found several clips of Trump on the campaign trail saying how “easy” it would be to do so many of the things he was promising. And he really couldn’t figure out why things appeared to be so difficult for everyone else to do (clearly, those other presidents just didn’t posses his business acumen.) But now that he’s actually IN the job, he’s discovering that it’s actual work. And he can’t just hand off his responsibilities to his VP (or his advisor/son-in-law Jared). He must actually do the work himself (remember all the times Bush whined about how “hard” it was being president and all the “hard work” that goes into it?)

One hundred days in office, Trump has ZERO policy accomplishments. The ONLY campaign promise he can point to as having accomplished since becoming president is getting hard-right Conservative Judge Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court, and even THAT piddling “accomplishment” required breaking the rules (“the Nuclear Option”.) He criticized President Obama for his use of military force, yet in just his first 100 days, he has attacked Syria, dropped “The Mother Of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, and may be pushing the United States to the brink of nuclear war with South Korea.

“Repealing ObamaCare” AND covering “preexisting conditions” without a mandate was going to be easy-peasy-orange-squeezy, and he knew how to make Mexico pay for The Wall. I’m sure he believed the job of president was to be “CEO of the entire country” (aka king) and it was Congresses job to fulfill the president’s every wish (which makes it easier to understand why Conservative voters blame Obama exclusively for everything and leave the most obstructionist Congress in history blameless.) Suddenly, being president is “hard” once again, and running the country isn’t the same as running a corporation.

On the flip side, I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Republicans pronounce “America is a Republic, not a Democracy!” They love saying that because in their diminutive home-schooled brains (as far as I can figure out), “Republics” should be run by “Republicans” while “Democracies” are run by Democrats. And you CAN’T just put Democrats in charge of a REPUBLIC, now can you? That’s when I remind them the former Soviet Union… the U.S.S.R.… the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics… was a “Republic”, as is the “Republic of China”. So what exactly is their point about American being a “Republic”? (I’ve never received a coherent answer to that one.)

So America isn’t a business. And Republics don’t require Republicans to lead them. Is there ANYTHING about government Republicans get right?

Throughout the campaign, Trump complained bitterly of “all of President Obama unconstitutional Executive Orders.” And I have NO doubt that Trump believed at that time that ALL “Executive Orders”, in and of themselves, were “unconstitutional”. Whoever was advising Trump (Twitter?) was likely telling him that President Obama was passing laws… laws that never went through Congress… in violation of the Constitution. And “on Day One” he would “repeal every one of Obama’s unconstitutional Executive Orders”, only to get into office and sign 31 Executive Orders of his own in just his first 100days. And why not? Signing Executive Orders where one person makes all the rules (not laws) without requiring the approval of Congress is the most “CEO-like” power bestowed upon the president. And because of that, expect to see A LOT more of it before Trump leaves office.

To quote Trump himself told The Associated Press two weeks ago: “Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government involves heart, whereas in business most things don’t involve heart. In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.

And 62 million Americans said, “Yes, we want a heartless corporate tycoon in charge of our government and making decisions that affect our lives, because THAT is how we’ll ‘Make America Great Again’.” People without heart… without empathy… are called “Sociopaths” and have no business running a public service. (pardon the pun.)
 


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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Some highlights:

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

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

    Mike Needham:

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

Give it up, Mike.
 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  •  

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

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

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

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

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

And now…

My Predictions for 2017:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     
    Trump in Wrestlemania
     
    Trump wrestles McMahon

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

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

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

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

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

    …to be continued.
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

Among Trump’s appointees:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave like a top.
 


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Will Trump Resolve His Business Conflicts Before His Inauguration? Doubtful.
Nov 28th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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“I don’t care about hotel occupancy” President-elect Trump told Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes” a few weeks ago. “It’s peanuts compared to what we’re doing.” That was the second time Trump tried to dismiss questions about possible conflicts of interest stemming from refusing to sell of his business holdings while president. The first time was during the very first GOP debate hosted by Fox “news”, where he was asked if he would liquidate his business and put his holdings in a blind trust to ensure there would be no conflict of interests. The problem is, despite repeatedly dismissing the importance of his business to him, it is becoming quite clear that he has no interest in liquidating his empire. And that’s because it IS important to him. All the more reason why he must sell it all off… which he’ll never do.

Incredibly, during that debate, Trump clearly didn’t understand what a “blind trust” is, saying:
 

“I’ll turn everything over to Ivanka & my kids. Is that a conflict of interests? I don’t know.”

 

YES! Yes you idiot! Of COURSE that’s a conflict of interests! How does a corporate mogul, worth just over $3-Billion dollars (not ten) who ran on his “business prowess” NOT know what a “conflict of interest” is??? The issue isn’t WHO controls your money (though even if you thought that, how do you conclude that putting your business in the hands of your own family, and profiting off those interests, to be a “blind trust”?), it’s whether you know WHERE your money’s invested! If you still know where the money is, it’s not “blind” at all! As long as there is a danger of you setting national policy according to what personally profits YOU (or your family) OR if there’s a danger someone might try to curry favor with you by appealing to your business interests, THAT (by definition) is a “conflict of interests.”

And regarding his Net Worth: All thru the campaign, Trump insisted he was worth “Ten Billion dollars”, yet repeatedly refused to release his taxes to prove it. And as a Bloomberg investigation revealed [ibid], while Trump has ASSETS in excess of $3-billion, he is actually deep in debt, with roughly $170-Million in liquid assets (cash, stocks, etc), yet owing “over $630-Million” to creditors (nearly double what he owed the year before.) According to “Fox Business” last month, Trump’s credit score (on a scale of 1 to 100) is a whopping NINETEEN (19). Anyone so deep in debt is a ripe target for financial manipulation (and therefore a threat to the interests of the United States.)

The good news (for him) is that he can easily solve BOTH problems by simply selling off his business empire. Eliminate any CoI’s, while simultaneously paying off his massive debt.

For example: the head of the Federal Reserve is not permitted to put his/her money in ANY kind of “interest bearing” bank account. And that is because they set Federal Interest rates, and we can’t have the Chairman of the Federal Reserve setting interest rates according to what might personally benefit them. I’m not even sure they can invest their savings in the stock market because raising/lowering interest rates tends to influence the stock market too. So, because of this, the Chairman of the Fed is well paid to compensate them for not being allowed to invest their money.

The same philosophy applies to members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and all other government officials. But not to the president or vice president.

Just last Wednesday, in an statement eerily reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal” comment, Trump cited a legal loophole exempting the President & Vice President from “conflict of interest laws”, stating “the president can’t have a conflict of interest.” “In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly” without running afoul of the law. This isn’t exactly true.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8 of the Constitution created “The Emoluments Clause” forbidding the president, “without the Consent of the Congress, [to] accept… any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign [head of] State.” And the Founders reasoning for this is clear: they didn’t want the president of the United States feeling obligated towards anyone for fear of him putting his own interests ahead of those of the country. Personally, I think the “foreign” dignitary loophole is a problem too. Is there any question Trump might be willing to push for a government project that benefits his personal friends? That “one trillion dollars” he claims to be willing to spend on “infrastructure”? Who gets those contracts when when you have a president who made his fortune in “construction”? His personal friends in the construction industry? And if a member of Congress doesn’t want a highway redirected past one of Trump’s hotels, who gets a phone call the next day telling him to “rethink” his opposition?

Of course, with a GOP Congress, they’ll never complain about a Republican president accepting anything others might consider a potential conflict of interests. As long as they remain in charge, he can enjoy whatever conflicts he wants. “Myself, my staff, and our entire delegation stayed in your wonderful hotel Mr. President. Now, let’s talk about that golf course you want to build in our country while we discuss that Trade Deal.”

Even SELLING his assets at this point is a potential conflict of interests if he knows WHO he’s selling to, because the buyer may overpay whatever the asset is worth to gain his favor. Trump would need a third party to liquidate every business he owns in every country he has assets in to ensure no one can manipulate him by holding his business interests hostage.

Just over a week ago, the president-elect met with three business partners from India in his office in Trump Tower. He is currently in development to build a luxury hotel in Pune, India with them. What kind of power does this give Trump’s business partners over the Indian government if they know the man in the White House is a personal friend of theirs?

The day after winning the presidency, Turkish President Erdogan called Donald Trump to congratulate him on his victory. During that call, Trump reportedly discussed a Turkish business partner of his that is licensing the Trump name to build a luxury hotel in Istanbul. So now Erdogan knows he can please the President of the United States by doing favors for someone in the president’s debt (literally).

The Donald keeps insisting that members of his family be present during high level meetings. Completely unacceptable, yet understandable once you realize what extraordinary trust issues Trump has, trusting no one but his own children to look after him (and his business interests.) And the one person he trusts most to look out for him most of all is his daughter Ivanka. So when the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the first foreign leader to personally meet with the President-Elect a few weeks ago in New York, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner… neither of whom with any security clearance… were in attendance. The problem is, (besides the whole “security” thing) Ivanka also serves as vice president for development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, and owns her own jewelry line, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, which sells to a global market that includes Japan. This could conceivably give Trump’s business interests and those of his kids an unfair advantage competing in global markets.

When Argentine President Mauricio Macri called to congratulate Trump on his election victory, one Argentinian reporter claims Trump asked for help with permits for an office tower that bears his name being built in that country. Both Macri, Trump, and their mutual staffs all deny the subject ever came up during the call (natch), which would be an extraordinary and unprecedented conflict of interests if he did.

Before he announced he was running for president, Trump was furious over a plan to construct a series of off-shore wind turbines spoiling the view of his golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, taking the Swedish company contracted to construct the turbines to court to stall if not stop the project entirely. But in June, the Swedish company announced its plan to proceed with the project anyway. So four days after winning the election, Trump contacted British MP Nigel Farage… a fellow far-Right xenophobe that campaigned with Trump… and “urged him and his fellow members of the European Parliament” to “oppose [all] off-shore wind farms.” Two other far-Right British corporate executives in attendance vowed to “[campaign] against wind farms in England, Scotland, and Wales.” So now, Trump’s business interests are dictating clean energy policy in other countries because it interferes with his corporate interests.

Not even president yet, Trump is already using the power of his office for personal financial gain. Cenk Uygur, host of “The Young Turks” Progressive Talk Show, was a guest on ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday and made the astute observation, “He [Trump] wasn’t worth ten-billion dollars coming into office, but he’ll be worth ten-billion dollars when he leaves.” What is to come once he’s sworn in and the reigns of power are turned over to him? Donald Trump MUST liquidate his business empire NOW. He minimalized it’s importance throughout the campaign (but only so he might downplay the need to divest himself from it), so there should be no problem giving it up. Right?

Except with that massive ego of his, giving up all those building & casinos bearing his name hoisted high in the skies over major cities around the globe is something he’ll never willingly give up without a fight… which is exactly what he’ll get.
 


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Smart Businessmen don’t Lose a Billion Dollars, Mr Trump
Oct 3rd, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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According to Rudy Giuliani across several Sunday shows yesterday, the possibility Donald Trump may not have paid any income taxes for 18 years because he ran his company into the ground in 1995 makes him “a genius!”. Seriously. I’m not making that up. The former NYC mayor repeatedly defended the possibility that Trump may have paid absolutely nothing in income taxes from 1992 to 2010 as proof that Trump is a brilliant businessman who (quote) “is someone I’d like working for me!” The problem is, the ONLY reason Trump was even eligible to do so was because he reported a nearly ONE BILLION dollar loss on his 1995 income taxes after running his empire into the ground (according to a breaking NYT report Sunday.) Calling someone a “genius” because that same “genius” figured out how to dig themselves out a massive sinkhole of their own creation is like calling your mechanic a “genius” for fixing your car after he totaled it taking it out for a joyride.

Trump’s entire shtick is that he’s a brilliant businessman who should be put in charge of running the country like a business. The problem with that argument (besides the fact the government isn’t a “business” and not run for “profit”) is the assumption Donald Trump is a successful businessman. And someone who bankrupts his empire four times and is forced to declare nearly a Billion dollar loss in a single year can hardly be described as a “successful businessman”.

Indeed, a “successful” businessman… one whom you might want running your company/country… would be someone who “started with nothing” and built a wildly successful Fortune 100 corporation that NEVER had to declare bankruptcy, but instead returned a respectable profit each & every year while treating it’s employees with respect and paying them handsomely.

Donald Trump is NONE of that. Born on second-base to a multi-millionaire father with a world of business connections that in & of themselves were worth a fortune. His father loaned him a fortune (a million dollars back in [IIRC] 1973, which would be worth $5-8million today) to buy up prime real estate in Manhattan (a guaranteed goldmine). And despite that, he swindled suppliers, stiffed contractors, and STILL managed to declare bankruptcy FOUR times.

And that amazing talent that allowed him to recover following a $916 Billion dollar loss of his own doing? Not only did he have to exploit a tax loophole for the ridiculously wealthy like himself just to recover, but what of the investors/creditors that were left high & dry when Trump stiffed them by declaring bankruptcy? The employees who lost their jobs (and pensions… if any… to boot)? What of THEIR loses? Do THEY think Trump is a “genius”?

One problem I’ve always had with Trump’s declaring bankruptcy to save his business (other than the fact it he took advantage of a government bailout) is that the president can’t simply declare the United States “bankrupt” to bail itself out when he gets into trouble (who bails out the bailer?)

There is still the question as to whether Trump went nearly two decades (if not longer) without paying a dime in income taxes. And thanks to last weeks’ debate, I believe we can now say with absolute 100% certainty that he did not. How? Because Trump declared that not paying taxes would be proof he’s “smart”. Ergo, if he DID pay any taxes, he must be dumb, correct? And since Trump would never call himself dumb or admit to doing anything as “dumb” as paying taxes, it’s safe to assume he didn’t. Q.E.D..

The entire argument justifying a Trump presidency was itself built on a foundation of sand… his four bankruptcies. But if the NYT report is correct (and at this point, there’s no reason to believe it isn’t) and Trump did indeed have to declare $915,729,923 in loses in a single year, that’s not exactly the sign of a “great” businessman.

BUT…

He declared that loss for 1995… and that’s significant. Why? because 1995 was the start of “the Clinton Boom Years“, the start of Bill Clinton’s second term in office when the economy started taking off like a rocket. During Bill Clinton’s first term in office, unemployment fell from 7.3% to 5.6% by the end of 1995 (data from BLS) and the Stock Market rose from 3241.95 to 5117.12 during those same three years (nearly 37%), yet somehow Donald Trump… this astoundingly successful businessman… managed to run his companies into the ground and report nearly a *billion* dollars in losses (when he could have nearly doubled his fortune simply investing it in the stock market.)

Tell us again what a “successful businessman” Donald J Trump is? If he’s allowed to do for the country what he did to his corporate empire, we’re doomed.
 

Sad Trump

 


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Is Hillary a Closet Republican? Her record would suggest so.
May 30th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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It’s a case I’ve been making since she ran against Obama in 2008: Hillary has this unfathomable, almost desperate, need to seek the approval of Republicans. Her first instinct on every issue is to align with Conservatives… especially on issues of National Defense… only to reverse course later when disapproval from Democrats proves inconvenient. Honestly, I believe it all started during her husband’s presidency when they hunted him like a dog for nine years (I’m including the year he was running for the nomination in 1992.) Kind of a mild “Stockholm Syndrome” where you begin to sympathize with your captors and see things from their point of view.

Whatever the reasoning may be for her Conservative tendencies, her history of doing so is well documented. These past few months, I’ve referenced repeatedly the notoriously nasty campaign she ran against Barack Obama in 2008. Her attacks on then Senator Obama’s “qualification” to be president (even running a multi-million dollar TV ad… the famed “3AM ad”… questioning his readiness to be Commander-in-Chief) was nothing compared to starting the “secret Muslim” whisper campaign against Obama by being the first to leak a photo of him in ceremonial garb during a visit to Kenya years before. A “scorched Earth”, “take-no-prisoners” style of campaigning more suited to the likes of Lee Atwater or Karl Rove than Democrats have traditionally waged against one another. Hillary’s 2008 campaign makes Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign look incredibly tame by comparison.

The polls weeded out two other admitted Conservative Democratic candidates early: Jim Webb & Lincoln Chafee. Webb likes to brag about his time as “Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan”. Chafee was the last openly “Liberal Republican” in the GOP, turfed out by his own Party, first becoming the “Independent” Governor of Rhode Island, then switching to the Democratic Party to run for president this year only to drop out early because of low poll numbers.

These two men demonstrate the fact that the lines between the Democratic Party & the Republican Party have become blurred. What was once called “the Republican Party” has been moved to the extreme Right by the Tea Party and Conservative Christians. And as they have shifted Right, so has the Center, with Democrats lurching to the Right to fill in the void.

It wasn’t always this way. Richard Nixon… the poster boy for Republican abuse of power… created the EPA and proposed a national health insurance system, and despite being openly/virulently anti-Communist, visited China to open Trade Relations with them for the first time. Nixon would be deemed “too Liberal” by GOP standards today.

Also from the Nixon Administration, former Secretary of State (and war criminal) Henry Kissinger… probably best known for his secret war in Cambodia and famously saying things like: “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” Hillary called Kissinger “a friend” in her 2014 biography, and bragged of his praise on the campaign trail this year, of him telling her she “ran the State Department better — better than anybody had run it in a long time.”

The Clinton’s have been a part of the Democratic Establishment for 25 years, and as the center has moved, so have they. President Bill Clinton was the first as he too desperately tried to win the approval of the Republicans that were dogging him, first with the passage of NAFTA… the grandfather of all disastrous Free-Trade deals to come, followed a few years later by the troublesome (almost cruel) “Welfare Reform Act” of 1996 that was supported by nearly twice as many Republicans than Democrats. Ditto for his repeal of “Glass-Stegall”… the FDR-era bill that made it a crime for banks to gamble with depositors money (and arguably led to the 2008 Crash.)

Hillary has continued her husbands’ bizarre need to seek the approval of Conservatives who hate her (though she has done little… if anything… to court Sanders supporters. Even going so far as to taunt them), uses Republican talking points to attack Sanders (just as she did against Obama in 2008), instinctively siding with Republicans first on issues like “Same Sex Marriage”, “Free Trade” (note at end of that video from four weeks ago, she confirms she only opposes the TPP “in it’s current form”), the Keystone XL Pipeline, but most notably when it comes to using military force, not only voting to give President Bush unilateral authority to declare war on his own (already disqualifying in my book), but also pushed for using American firepower to aide in the overthrow of Kadaffy (Libya) turning it into a new haven for ISIS, currently supports a “No Fly Zone” over Syria that could draw us into WWIII, and (as I’ve pointed out) famously criticized her former boss President Obama, for refusing to arm the Syrian rebels… Conservative positions all. Even her 2008 Health Care Reform Plan was (arguably) written by the Right-Wing “Heritage Foundation”.

And the latest scandal to hit the headlines is that Secretary Clinton did NOT in fact have approval from the State Department to set up a private email server in her home as she repeatedly claimed was not prohibited. She “never asked” for permission, simply assuming she had it. An independent report from the State Debt declared… not only was it not allowed, but her request would have been denied had she of bothered to seek permission first.

But you know the old saying, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”… a mantra that perfectly describes the governing philosophy of The Bush Administration: No proof of WMD’s? Invade first and worry about producing the evidence later (which they couldn’t because it didn’t exist). No permission to indiscriminately secretly wiretap every American citizen? No problem. Just do it anyway and defend the practice later.

And Hillary’s defense for using a private email server? “Republicans did it too!” That’s an excuse I expect from someone like #ToddlerTrump. No wonder they’re the front-runners. Colin Powell & Condi Rice also used insecure email servers (Powell used “AOL” of all things), but there are two problems with that: 1) The rules changed after Powell & Rice, banning the practice, and 2) No one else went through the difficulty and EXPENSE of maintaining a private email server in their HOME… a highly unusual thing to do when the State Department was already providing a secure server FOR FREE.

But once again, the argument, “I only did what Republicans do!” is a troublesome rationalization. If you’re trying to make the case that you’re NOT “a Closet Conservative”, doing the same things Republicans do doesn’t exactly help your case.

Speaking of “Republicans do it too”, shall we talk about “SuperPACs” and money in politics? Hillary Clinton says she is “opposed to Citizens United”… the Supreme Court decision that lifted the cap on Big Money Donors to allow unlimited contributions to flow into a political campaign. “Citizens United” was actually the result of a case levied by the 2008 Clinton Campaign. A movie was released in 2008 attacking Clinton, backed by multimillionaires opposed to her run for president. Clinton argued this was a violation of campaign spending, allowing Big Money to spend unlimited amounts of cash on one giant attack ad.

Despite losing that case and being so badly harmed by it, it gave birth to “SuperPAC’s”, the bane of Democracy, which she now unashamedly takes full advantage of in her race for president, allowing her campaign to raise well over an additional $100 Million for her campaign (even Donald Trump, who claims to be self-funded, has SuperPAC’s and has stated he will reverse his policy of not accepting large corporate donations in the general.)

Hillary began her campaign this time around talking about how she got her start as a “Goldwater Girl”… supporting the Republican opponent of LBJ following the assassination of JFK months before. Martin Luther King Jr. himself wrote a statement that year begging “all good men of conscience to oppose the candidacy of Mr. Goldwater.” So from the very start, her ideology has leaned Conservative. And arguably, she is a “Democrat” today only because today’s Democratic Party is where the GOP was 50 years ago. It’s being dragged to the Right… and NOT because that’s where the public wants it.
 

Clinton/Trump unfavorables over 50%

 


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Stop Trying to Save Your Drug-Addicted Child, because: Math. Responding to Clinton supporters
May 23rd, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Supporters of Hillary Clinton trying to convince supporters of Bernie Sanders to just “give up” because the “math” is not in their favor don’t get it. Never did, and probably never will. It’s like telling the mother of a drug-addicted child to “just give up and stop trying to save them” because “odds are they’re going to die anyway.” No parent would accept that. You fight to the bitter end even when others are telling you it’s “a lost cause”. This isn’t about “numbers”, this is about saving a country (if not an entire planet) from disaster. This country is in serious trouble of becoming a nation that represents the interests of the rich & powerful first and everyone else second (or perhaps third after the Religious Right). And as Donald Trump’s brand of pseudo-fascistic politics drags the GOP to the far FAR Right, they are simultaneously dragging the Democratic Party right along with them as it too lurches to the Right to fill the void (the old “Far Right”). There is only one candidate left in this race espousing the principles of FDR trying to drag this country back to the Progressive left, and it ain’t Hillary Clinton. To the contrary, her supporters are rabidly in opposition to Sanders’ style of Progressivism.

It has already started in Europe. Donald Trump’s brand of Far Right anti-migrant populism is sweeping across Europe as our endless War-for-Profit in the Middle-East, now halfway into its second decade, throws that region of the world into chaos.
 

Trump-style anti-immigrant fascism spreading across Europe (160521)


 
I hear a lot of people… even supporters of Senator Sanders now… criticizing the “Bernie or Bust” movement. I’m not “Bernie or Bust”, but I understand it. Let me explain “Bernie or Bust” to Hillary supporters:
 

  • The Democratic Party has been slowly drifting to the Right for decades now, and the pressure the DNC is putting on Democrats to coronate a multimillionaire Closet Conservative that keeps finding creative new ways to avoid revealing what she told her masters on Wall Street is seen as further proof how far the Democratic Party has strayed from the principles of FDR.
     
    The election of Barack Obama raised hopes among millions of loyal Democrats that maybe we’d finally see a “real” Progressive in the Oval Office. And while he has been a “good Democrat”, true Progressives were dismayed the way he abandoned his call for a “Public Option” to reform health care in favor of the Clinton Plan (written by the uber-Conservative Heritage Foundation btw) that he himself ridiculed during the 2008 campaign, coupled with his failure to prosecute a single Banker, Credit Rating Agency or Hedge Fund Manager following the 2008 crash only further drives home the point that the Democratic Party is becoming “Republican Lite”.
     
    Sanders supporters aren’t about to “surrender” to the 1% just because the “math doesn’t add up”… especially when we’ve seen so much game playing and vote-manipulation going on. Arizona, Brooklyn, Nevada… the Primary process has gotten incredibly ugly this year… and not because of false claims of “violence” & “chair throwing” (never happened) at the NV Convention last week. No, this nonsense has been growing for YEARS and only now are people starting to notice.
     
    The Democratic Party is in serious need of course correction, and when Hillary supporters trash the most Liberal Democratic candidate in 70 years, it only further proves our point.

 

I now hear Clinton supporters adopting the rhetoric of the Right, making snide remarks about Sanders being “a Commie” that thinks he can “buy votes” by giving away “free stuff”. I’m in my forties with no children. Do you think I give a tinkers damn about “free college” for myself? It won’t be that long before I’m eligible for Medicare, so “universal healthcare” only gets me there a little sooner. Personally, I don’t give a rats ass if Bernie is unable to pass a single one of his proposed programs. I trust his consistency, honesty, integrity & judgement more than I do Hillary Clinton… who has a history of being on the wrong side of history.

By contrast, we hear Republicans adopting the rhetoric of Sanders, talking about “income inequality” now. They didn’t get that from Hillary. The person in this race that made that an issue BOTH sides are trying to adopt is Bernie Sanders.

When Hillary “needed time” to decide whether or not she was against the “Keystone XL” pipeline, I already knew there was no way I could possibly support her. That’s like someone telling you they “need time” to decide whether or not to drop a nuclear bomb on Pittsburgh to make way for a new shopping center. “No!” This is not a complicated question! The answer is “No!” What do you need “time” to figure out? Whether or not our need for oil is more important than turning the planet into an Easy Bake Oven??? We’re talking about unleashing an environmental catastrophe in the name of producing a few more years of toxic sludge masquerading as “oil”. That’s a decision only a 1%’er with the interests of Big Oil at heart would have trouble making.

Hillary supporters frequently repeat the false claim that Hillary Clinton “opposes the TPP” (Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement), but listen closely. She only opposes it “in its current form”. A little tweaking, and you can consider yet another disastrous “free trade” agreement as good as passed if she becomes president:
 

“I oppose the TPP… in its current form.” (1:05)

 

Almost snuck that one past you, didn’t she? Another big wet kiss for Corporate America at the expense of the poor & middle-class. Clinton’s natural instinct is always to fall on the Conservative side of every issue, only to flip-flop after being shamed out of it. She likes to have it both ways. “I oppose the war in Iraq! But here, let me give you the authority to do it anyway.” “I oppose Same Sex Marriage!” Hmm, Democratic voters don’t like that position. Okay, “I’ve evolved on the issue.” Ditto for Keystone. The “TPP” is but the latest example.
 

For the math lovers…

For those of you who still think “math” is important, here are some numbers for you:

Three: Number of states decided by LESS than 0.5% of the vote (Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky), and all three were awarded to Clinton. Those states easily could have gone the other way (bad weather, traffic, etc), and if they had, Clinton & Sanders would have won EXACTLY THE SAME number of races: 24.

Twenty-nine: Number of races (to date) that were “Closed” or “Semi-closed” primaries or caucuses. That means Independents were shut out and only registered Democrats were allowed to vote. Sixteen of those races went to Clinton. In November, there will be no “Closed” races to assist the DNC in excluding Independents from voting.

149: The number of Super Delegates that have yet to commit to either Clinton OR Sanders. If we go into the convention with Sanders having won the same number of races (or more) than Clinton, and she continues to lag in the polls behind Donald Trump, those Super Delegates could easily decide to side with Bernie.

930: The number of Delegates (including “Super Delegates”) yet to be awarded.

274: The size of Clinton’s pledged delegate lead (6.7%).

54%: Percentage of Hillary’s wins that were in Deep Red states she’ll never win in November (vs 45% for Bernie.)

51% vs 44% vs 37%: The favorability ratings of Sanders, Hillary & Trump respectively according to the latest ABC News poll. Columnist Matt Dowd described the 2016 race as an “UN-popularity contest”, and George Stephanopoulos stated that this would be “the first time in history the nominees of BOTH parties had higher UN-favorable ratings than favorable.”
 

“It’s a big club… and you ain’t in it!” – George Carlin
Trump's party with Clinton's

 
The first time I saw the above photo, my stomach tightened in a knot. It was like finding a photo of FDR with his arm around Hitler. What a bunch of suckers we must be. Your choices in the next election are either “Kang or Kodos”. If you ever had any doubt that our government is becoming a plaything for the “1-percent”, wonder no more. This election isn’t about “who has the most delegates”. It’s about saving Democracy itself.
 

 


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Why I Support Bernie. A long and consistent record as a Progressive champion
Feb 22nd, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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Over the past seven years, Republicans have made clear everything they oppose. But as Democrats, we repeatedly say, “It’s not enough to say what you’re *against*, tell us what you’re *FOR*. What’s *YOUR* solution?” Two weeks ago, I posted a lengthy list of inconsistencies & concerns that I have about Hillary Clinton. But it’s not enough to give you reasons NOT to vote for Hillary, I need to give you a reason to vote FOR Sanders. That is the focus of this week’s (lengthy) Op/Ed. Unlike many, I didn’t just learn of Bernie Sanders last year after he declared he was running. I’ve been following him for years as a regular guest of Progressive talk radio. Ideologically, Bernie’s doppelganger is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Both have made fighting for social & economic justice the focus of their careers. And when Warren stayed true to her word and declared she absolutely would not run, the next obvious choice for millions was Sanders. I ask Clinton supporters: If Hillary were running against Warren… taking “gender” off the table… would Hillary still be your preferred candidate for president? If the answer is “No” or “not sure”, then you’re not choosing your candidate based on “issues” or “qualifications”. Sanders, co-founder of the “Congressional Progressive Caucus”, has an extensive & documented history of consistently being on the right side of the issues going back decades… fighting for the poor & middle class, economic justice, civil rights, health care, and the judicious use of military force.

But as I said, you need specific reasons to pick one candidate over another. In the week between the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, Chris Christie pounded Marco Rubio mercilessly for his inexperience and canned responses. That criticism was probably most responsible for Rubio’s distant fifth place finish in New Hampshire. But all the attacks didn’t help Christie, who ended up finishing behind Rubio in sixth place and Christie dropping out. He only gave voters a reason not to NOT vote for Rubio not vote FOR him.

I recommend starting off with this List of Bernie’s accomplishments while in Washington.

Here is my own list of reasons to vote FOR Senator Sanders for president (in no particular order):
 

1. Civil Rights

Sanders arrest during civil rights protest, 1960 – Chicago Tribune
Sanders arrested during civil rights protest 1960

Senator Sanders is famous for two things: fighting for “Economic Justice” and his long & documented record of fighting for “Civil Rights” going back to the early 1960’s. If you ask even the most casual voter to tell you something about Bernie, you can bet it’ll fall under one of those two categories.

I found it particularly offensive the other day when famed Civil Rights leader and longtime Clinton friend Representative John Lewis questioned Sanders’ long & documented history of fighting for Civil Rights in order to (falsely) claim the “Congressional Black Caucus” was endorsing Hillary Clinton, saying (quote):
 

“I never saw him. I never met him…. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.” (translation: they were there. You were not.)

 

In 1962, Lewis’ own “CORE: Congress of Racial Equality” appointed the 20-year old Sanders as one of only two people from the University of Chicago to head a commission to investigate on-campus housing discrimination that Sanders had been protesting. (ibid: “documented” above.)

In 1964, 17 year old Hillary Clinton was a “Goldwater Girl”, supporting the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater known today as “The father of American Conservatism“, and while not a racist, called school desegregation “an abuse of power by the Court” when he voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Lewis likewise never met Bill Clinton until 1970, and in Lewis’ own autobiography, every mention of Bill Clinton in his book Walking With The Wind described an instance where Bill OPPOSED some policy that Lewis cherished (source). Tens of thousands of people of all races across the country stood up for Lewis’ civil rights… including Bernie Sanders. Just because they were never in the spotlight does not make their contributions any less important.

While Secretary Clinton is now talking about issues like “economic inequality” that weren’t even on the radar of most Democrats prior to this election, Sanders has been completely consistent on this issue for decades. In this 1988 video, then Burlington Mayor Sanders enthusiastically endorsed Civil Rights icon Jesse Jackson for president, citing Jackson’s work fighting “income inequality.” 28 years (let alone 54) is pretty damn consistent (go back to last week’s column for a review of Clinton’s own inconsistency on a litany of issues.) Last week, Jackson… who marched with Lewis AND Dr. King, returned the favor, coming to the defense of Sanders following Congressman Lewis’ attempt to impugn the Senator Sanders’ record. Bernie has also been endorsed by former head of the NAACP Ben Jealous and another Civil Rights icon, singer Harry Belafonte.

After the 2000 election was stolen (thanks in part to then Florida Governor Jeb Bush), a 2004 investigation by investigative reporter Greg Palast revealed that some 90,000 eligible voters had been knocked off the voting rolls… some 60,000+ of whom were African-American. To draw Media interest in the findings in an election year, Lewis’ own Congressional Black Caucus held a protest inviting ALL members of Congress to attend. “Senator Sanders was the only white person to show up”. Senator Clinton was a no-show.

Congressman Lewis took a lot of heat… not just from Sanders supporters but even from other black leaders and members of the CBC. Rep. Keith Ellison, also of the CBC and a supporter of Sanders, says neither he… nor anyone else in the CBC… was consulted about the “endorsement”, and that it was actually “the CBC SuperPAC that had endorsed Clinton, NOT the CBC itself.

Lewis has (as of this writing) yet to apologize to Senator Sanders after questioning his record of fighting for racial equality, only going so far as to claim “I never meant to imply” that Sanders’ contributions were less important, and that he likewise didn’t mean to suggest the Clintons had a “better” record of fighting for Civil Rights (though that is clearly what he was implying.) His “non-apology apology” smacks of “I’m sorry if you were offended, but…”, except that he didn’t even use the words “I’m sorry.” And in this writer’s opinion, Rep. Lewis does indeed owe the Senator a heartfelt apology.

One of my Facebook followers, a Hillary supporter, also dismissed Sanders’ early work on Civil Rights, basically asking me “Okay, but what has he done for me lately?” Even if Bernie had never done anything else on the issue… and he has… dismissing his incredible bravery & work all those years ago as insufficient to justify ones’ respect today is likewise offensive. I’m not aware of Hillary Clinton being particularly well known as a tireless fighter for Civil Rights. But for those who need something more recent”, here are “19 ways Bernie Sanders has stood up for civil and minority rights.”

I defy anyone to distinguish this clip of Senator Sanders in 2014 decrying “income inequality” and high black youth unemployment from a campaign speech given by him today. The “wisdom, judgement & consistency” of Senator Sanders can’t be ignored. Which brings us (naturally) to…
 

2. Trade, the Economy, Jobs & Economic Justice

As I’ve already noted in links going back to the 1960’s, Bernie Sanders has been raising the issue of social justice literally for decades. But “social justice” and “economic justice” go hand-in-hand. Senator Elizabeth Warren… his near ideological twin… voted the same as Senator Sanders 87% of the time according to OpenCongress.org (Clinton & Warren never served together, so a voting comparison is not possible.)

 

Warren vs Sanders

 

The only reason why everyone… even Republicans… are suddenly talking about “income inequality” is because Sanders & Warren dragged it into the spotlight. Before Warren became a Senator, Bernie was a lone voice in Congress championing the issue, and famously filibustered extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for 8-1/2 hours in 2010 (without a bathroom break). In 2009, Senator Sanders put forth a bill to cap credit card interest rates at 15%. The bill failed. His bill was in response to a 2008 bill to cap interest rates at a whopping 30%. Senators Obama & Sanders voted against it, Senator Clinton voted for it (expressing a desire to see it even lower, but by the time Sanders’ bill made it to the floor in May of 2009 [ibid “cap”], Hillary had already resigned from Congress to serve as Secretary of State.)

Hillary is only now talking about “income inequality” thanks to people like Sanders & Warren bringing up the issue. Before they made this a national issue, did you EVER hear ANYONE talking about “income inequality”? Sanders is driving the conversation. Clinton is talking about these issues only because Sanders has made it an issue.

Bernie famously grilled Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan before Congress in 2003 where he essentially predicted the collapse of the banks 5 years later. If you haven’t watched this 5-minute clip by now, you should. Sanders blasts Greenspan for suggesting “it doesn’t matter where products are made” because our economy is so strong. Five years later following the collapse of Wall Street, Greenspan admitted his “ideology was flawed” [ibid same video] and isn’t sure where he made his mistake.

In 2010, Bernie called for President Obama to appoint Senator Warren head of the new “Consumer Protection Agency” that “she championed”.

In 2013, the Republican Controlled Congress voted to “cap” student loan rates at 8.25%. Sounds like a good idea, no? The bill passed 81-18. Seventeen of the 18 “No” votes were Democrats, among them Senator’s Warren and Sanders. With passage of the bill, “need-based student loan rates doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent.” Senators Warren, Reed and Sanders argued they could not support the bill because it “profits off the backs of students.”

Senator Sanders has since proposed making all public colleges free (again), paid for via a stock market “Speculation Tax” that I cover in more detail below. Hillary has proposed “making college more affordable” but rejects the idea of extending free public education past the 12th Grade.

Then there’s the issue of so-called “Free Trade”.

I don’t hold Secretary Clinton responsible for bills her husband signed as president, and I can fully appreciate the First Lady supporting her husband on any issue, but the first Free Trade Agreement setting the standard for all terrible Free Trade Agreements to follow was NAFTA in 1993. And understandably, Hillary continues to defend it to this day. So when President Obama proposed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” (TPP), as his Secretary of State, she defended that as well, calling it “the gold standard” of how such treaties should be done. She continued to defend the TPP after declaring her candidacy for President last year, and it was only months later when supporting the TPP… unpopular with Democratic voters… became inconvenient did she finally rescind her support for it. Did she secretly oppose the deal all along but didn’t want to be seen as contradicting her boss? Any argument that her support had anything to do with loyalty to Obama flew right out the window the moment (as mentioned last week) she sided with Senator McCain (again) and openly criticized President Obama in 2014 for refusing to arm the Syrian rebels, and blaming that decision for the rise of ISIS (and we now know roughly a quarter of the Syrian rebels were members of ISIS! Wouldn’t THAT have been a great decision for her to have made as president!)

Regardless of WHY she supported/defended these awful Free Trade Agreements, she now has a history of doing so, and there is no reason to assume she wouldn’t support another “Free Trade” agreement in the future.

Meanwhile, Bernie has opposed every “Free Trade” agreement ever proposed. In 1993, as mayor of Burlington, VT, he took the “con” side of an Op/Ed debating the passage of NAFTA:
 

Sanders on NAFTA

 
NAFTA was first proposed during the George HW Bush presidency and became the signature issue of Texas billionaire Ross Perot who ran for president as an Independent in 1992 as the only candidate who opposed it. Perot famously warned that, if passed, we would hear “a giant sucking sound” of corporations (and jobs) moving to Mexico for the cheap labor and low tax rate, importing their finished goods back into the United States without having to pay a tariff or import duties. The boom years of the late 90’s appeared to have contradicted those fears as the economy took off thanks to the dawn of the Internet and panic-tech-hiring over “Y2K”. But the tech bubble burst, “Y2K” was a bust (which I predicted), and more & more companies made good on their threats to move to Mexico. (One man told Senator Sanders recently that every time his union tries to negotiate for higher wages or more benefits, “the company simply threatens to move to Mexico.”)

During the 2012 presidential race, Senator Sanders blasted Mitt Romney for calling for even more “Free Trade” agreements in light of the closing of “56,000 factories and 5.3 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.” (We all remember Romney’s fatal “Marie Antoinette-like” 2008 response to the auto industry: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”.)

The (supposed) idea behind “Free Trade” agreements is that they “open up foreign markets to American made goods.” And at one time, America DID make a lot of goods for export. We don’t any more because countries we’ve entered into “Free Trade” agreements with made the same stuff as us only cheaper, putting American factories (and consumers) out of work. American-made clothing is now rare, and there’s no such thing as an “American-made” TV or electronics anymore. You couldn’t buy one if you wanted to. Even Apple iPhone’s are made in China.

Senator Sanders has consistently & wisely opposed all so-called “Free Trade” agreements, opposed the TPP from the beginning, and will continue to do so in the future.

He has also been a LONG time defender of Union rights. When the GOP starting making noises about wanting to privatize the U.S. Postal Service, Bernie came to their defense, for which the “American Postal Workers Union” recently showed their thanks by endorsing him (as has “National Nurses United”.)

Former Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton Robert Reich (who took unemployment down to a remarkable 3.9%) is a huge Bernie supporter and has been releasing a series of videos on Youtube defending the Senator’s proposals. Of particular interest: his 10-part series on how Bernie’s plan for Wall Street reform will prevent Americans from being “screwed again”:
 

Part 4: Tame Wall Street

 

Another economist, UMass Amherst professor Gerald Friedman performed an analysis (PDF) on the impact of Bernie’s economic policies and came up with some astounding (if accurate) numbers like a 4.5% GDP (where 3.5% is considered extremely good). One columnist from “Mother Jones”, the Progressive magazine & website, believes the numbers may be too good to be true (follow-up: “on second look, maybe not” by same author two days later), and if Republicans retain control of Congress after the election, it would seem even less likely, but even if only a few of Sanders’ policies are instituted, the benefit to the country would be substantial.

One of Bernie’s best ideas (IMHO) is the proposed “1/10th of a penny Speculation tax” on every stock trade. Not only could this generate enough money to provide free public college tuition for every student, but it would also help to bring wild speculation under control. “Speculation” is responsible for the dramatic swings in the stock market we’ve been seeing since the Bush Administration. Baseless speculation in the oil market drove oil prices into the stratosphere, going from $29/barrel in March of 2003 to $147/barrel in July of 2008 resulting in global economic collapse. We saw this again recently with the panic over the collapse of the Chinese stock market. Stock Traders quick to panic-sell over the slightest hint of bad economic news would be less inclined to sell if they knew just doing so would cost them money. A “speculation tax” would calm the Markets and help stabilize the U.S. economy.

While Hillary is now on the bandwagon for breaking up the Big Banks, Bernie has long said any company that is “too big to fail is too big to exist”:
 

Sen. Sanders in 2008

 

He also questioned the Treasury Department in May of 2000 regarding “Predatory Lending Practices” and again seeming to foretell the inevitable banking crisis to follow. Look for videos of Senator Clinton saying these things before 2015. You won’t find it.

Bernie supports raising the Minimum Wage to $15/hour (a “Living Wage”), saying “No one who works full time should be living in poverty.” (Clinton has stated she is only willing to go as far as $12.) Large corporations like Wal*Mart are able to underpay their employees to where they make so little, they still qualify for Federal Assistance (like Food Stamps), making taxpayers make up the shortfall in their income. For all the fear-mongering Republicans do over “Socialism”, forcing the Federal Government to subsidize the pay of millions of underpaid full-time employees just so that corporations can pocket the savings smacks of Communism and Welfare fraud.

(BREAKING: The SEIU [Service Employees Union], which has endorsed Clinton, distributed fliers ahead of the Nevada caucus falsely suggesting Clinton supports a $15 Minimum Wage.)
 

3. National Security & Foreign Policy

Hillary is a hawk. That is well established. Everyone knows by now that Senator Sanders opposed giving President Bush unilateral power to invade Iraq when she didn’t, and as I’ve noted earlier, unlike Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders opposed arming the Syrian rebels and agrees with President Obama in opposing a “No Fly Zone” over Syria. Consider where we might be today if Hillary had been elected President in 2008? If you recall, Russia invaded neighboring Georgia in August of 2008 right about the same week Clinton finally dropped out of a protracted & contentious race, so she never got to say much on that issue at the time. But in 2009 as Obama’s Secretary of State, despite famously bringing a big red plastic “Reset Button” with her for her meeting with Russia’s foreign minister, Hillary was openly lambasting Russia over Georgia barely a year later and signing an agreement to put a missile defense system in Poland [ibid] that President Obama previously opposed and infuriated Russia. One might defend Clinton by arguing she was only doing the White House’s bidding, but I point out again that the job of “Secretary of State” is “chief diplomat”, and her job is to “talk down” such provocative actions. I direct you to her successor, Secretary John Kerry, who brokered the first peaceful negotiations with Iran & Cuba in over 50 years.

Also in 2014, with rumors of Hillary once again likely to run for president, our former chief diplomat publicly compared Vladamir Putin to “Adolph Hitler” for annexing neighboring Crimea by force. I’m trying to picture now how Clinton expects to negotiate ANYTHING with a man she once compared to “Hitler” should she become president? Senator Sanders commended President Obama for agreeing to deal with Russia through sanctions, not using inflammatory rhetoric.

As president, Bernie agrees with President Obama in opposing a “No Fly Zone” over Syria. Clinton does not. Last week, Russia was caught on film “carpet bombing” Azaz, Syria, destroying two hospitals and a school, killing at least 22 people. If we had a “no fly zone” over Syria and started shooting down Russian planes, we might now be at war with Russia. There are consequences to hawkish rhetoric. Sanders knows this. Clinton clearly does not.

No one has yet explained to me how we prevent ISIS from hiding beneath any “No Fly Zone” (only to be protected by our own U.S. Air Force)… much the same way “Ansar al Islam” (the alQaeda splinter-group seeking to kill Saddam Hussein) hid beneath our no fly zone in Northern Iraq (and George W Bush pointed to as “proof” Saddam was “harboring” alQaeda in Iraq to justify war.)

Sanders opposes arming the Syrian rebels. More guns have never made anyplace more peaceful (keep that in mind when Clinton attacks Sanders’ position on gun control). As I pointed out above, not only did Clinton support arming the rebels but openly criticized President Obama in 2014 [ibid above] for having not done so, leading to President Obama reluctantly agreeing to seek $500 Million “to arm & train” the rebels. But that program turned into a spectacular failure last October, resulting in the Obama Administration deciding to focus on simply “arming the rebels” and forego training. What could possibly go wrong? ISIS was born of frustrated former Iraqi Sunni soldiers (then known as “AQAP” when President Bush was in office) going to Syria to fight for their fellow Sunni’s against President Assad. Imagine where we’d be today if a President Hillary Clinton had inadvertently armed ISIS, sent troops into Georgian territory to defend against Russia, and fired upon Russia fighter jets violating her “no fly zone” last week in Syria?

In December of 2007, Congress voted on the bipartisan “National Defense Authorization Act” (HR-1585) to fund the military for 2008. Sanders voted Yea along with 43 other Democrats. Obama & Hillary abstained. Bush vetoed the bill (if I read it correctly, because it didn’t give military contractors like Blackwater the same government standing as regular military). When Senate Republicans tried to pass a supplementary bill designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as “terrorists” (possibly justifying war with Iran), Sanders voted “No“, Obama abstained and Clinton voted “Yea”.

During the 2008 race, then Senator Obama chastised Clinton for suggesting the United States might “obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel, saying such rhetoric was worthy of the Bush Administration. Clinton now campaigns on her work to “open the door” to reestablish diplomatic relations with Iran that led to Obama’s historic nuclear agreement last year. How does one negotiate with a nation you’ve branded as “terrorists”? What chance do you think such an agreement might of had if she had been elected president in 2008?

Last August, Senator Sanders said he would NOT end the use of drones, but criticized their overuse resulting in too many civilian deaths, declaring the U.S. should be more selective about using them.

On Israel, Senator Sanders would be Netanyahu’s worst nightmare because the Neoconservative president of Israel would not be able to bully the Jewish Sanders by stoking fears of being labeled “antisemitic” if he didn’t comply with his every whim. Bernie has embraced the “two state solution” that would grant Palestine statehood inside Israel and urged negotiations with Iran over Netanyahu’s objections.
 

“We have to negotiate with others, even Iran.” (Sen. Sanders, Aug 2015. Source.)

 

Imagine for a moment what it might mean for world peace if a Jewish president of the United States was seen as an honest-broker negotiating peace in the Middle-East. You want to talk about a “historic” election? You can’t get more historic than THAT!
 

4. Infrastructure, the Environment & Global Warming

Senator Sanders has made “Rebuilding our infrastructure” a cornerstone of his campaign. 13 months ago as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and long before he decided to run for president, Senator Sanders introduced the “Rebuild America Act” to create 13 million jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure similar to FDR’s WPA. His call to break up the big banks? Not unlike the establishment of the SEC or Teddy Roosevelt’s “Trust Busting”. Your protection against another Trillion-dollar bailout.

We have seen the catastrophic consequences of our crumbling infrastructure with the crisis in Flint, MI. Senator Sanders has demanded that Michigan Governor Snyder resign, charging that Snyder knowingly allowed a lead-poisoning crisis in Flint to continue. Hometown hero & filmmaker Michael Moore endorsed Senator Sanders, citing not only his reaction to the Flint crisis, but his storied history of fighting for Civil Rights, Universal Healthcare and Economic justice.

Sanders has been ridiculed on the right for saying “Climate Change is the greatest threat facing America”, sticking to his guns when later asked if he believed it was an even greater threat “than ISIS and alQaeda”. He pointed out that “in the sort term”, ISIS may be a grave threat, but they don’t pose the same global cataclysmic danger posed by “rising oceans”, runaway “heatwaves & drought”, larger & more deadly storms that kills tens of thousands and cause billions in property damage, wars over natural resources, all at a cost of Trillions to try & fix after it’s too late. ISIS is a flea compared to that.

He opposed the Keystone XL pipeline where as Hillary needed time to “study the issue” until she finally concluded she was against it. (Huffington Post: Bernie Sanders Will Ban Fracking. Hillary Clinton ‘Sold Fracking to the World’.)

In 2013, Bernie co-sponsored the “Climate Protection Act” along with Sen. Barbara Boxer. His long legislative work on fighting Global Warming earned him the ranking of “Best Candidate on Climate Change” by Mother Jones magazine. Sanders has a 95% rating with The League of Conservation Voters (that’s “Conservation”, not “Conservative”).
 

5. Supreme Court

With the recent passing of Conservative Justice Scalia, the question of just who the candidates might appoint to the Supreme Court has become a major issue. If the GOP Congress gets its way and stalls the appointment of Scalia’s successor until the next president takes office, the next president could conceivably take office with a Supreme Court nomination waiting for them.

Sanders has said his “litmus test” for his first judicial appointment is whether they’d “overturn Citizens United”, which we all want to see done away with. Probably one of the most destructive political rulings by the Supreme Court in the last 50 years was the 5/4 decision to allow the mega-wealthy to make unlimited contributions to political campaigns via “SuperPAC’s” (also known as legalized bribery.) The Conservative majority declared that “money = speech” and therefore restricting money was a violation of “free speech”. The result: the more money you have, the more free speech you get, flying right in the face of the tenets “one man, one vote” and “all men are created equal”. Conservatives on the court just decided wealthy businessman’s voices deserved to be heard more than yours or mine. This is why Senator Sanders is the ONLY candidate without a SuperPAC (even Donald Trump has a SuperPAC. He’s not even the largest contributor to his own campaign!) In one of her victory/concession speeches (either Iowa or NH, I can’t recall), Clinton suggested there was “no one more interested in seeing Citizens United overturned” because… “if you recall”… it was in response to a movie attacking Clinton in the middle of the 2008 race. But if I may point out, it is that very law that now makes SuperPAC’s like hers legal, and she seems to be taking full advantage of it to defeat her rival.

Supporters of SuperPAC’s believe that as long as the candidate does not receive the funds “directly”, they won’t feel beholden/obligated to any one group or individual. In the crime world, this is known as “money laundering”. Does anyone REALLY believe the candidates don’t know just who is making these large donations to their campaigns? And what happens once the candidate is in office with plans to someday run for reelection? Do you think maybe… just maybe… that elected official might feel reluctant to offend their large corporate donors by advocating and/or signing a law that might affect that industry? THAT is why SuperPAC’s are bad.

While Sanders has nearly kept pace with Clinton in individual contributions, Clinton has six (6) SuperPAC’s raising money for her (seven others that have raised $0), the largest of which… “Priorities USA”… has raised $41 Million of her $163.6 Million total, allowing her to dramatically outspend Sanders in this campaign. (Compare to Sanders’ OpenSecrets.org Corporate contributors page. I’ve never seen a politicians page so devoid of Special Interests.)

Sanders was an outspoken supporter of gay rights when Senator Clinton was still saying she believed “Marriage is between a man and a woman”. In 1995, then Representative Sanders opposed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, defending the rights of gay soldiers to serve openly. The bill, signed into law by Bill Clinton, would not be repealed for another 16 years under President Obama. In 1983 two years before being elected as mayor of Burlington, Sanders backed the state’s first ever “Gay Pride Parade”.

With a 100% Pro-choice rating by NARAL, Sanders has denounced Republicans seeking to overturn Roe v. Wade, and there is no question he would continue to do so in any Supreme Court nomination he makes.

Once again, Bernie’s track record of being right the FIRST time around and not needing to “evolve” on an issue is what we need in a president who may very likely have to replace the three oldest Liberal Justices remaining on the Supreme Court.
 

6. Health care & drugs

Secretary Clinton has decided to accuse Senator Sanders of wanting to “repeal ObamaCare” as he attempts to replace it with “Universal Single Payer Health Care”… a program she supportsno, she opposesno, she supports. Whatever her position on the issue, it’s unfathomably dishonest and unworthy of someone claiming to be a Progressive Democrat. (In 2008, when the Obama campaign sent out mailers warning voters that Hillary’s health care plan “would force every person to buy health care”… yes, he did that… an angry Hillary Clinton responded by suggesting that no Democrat should ever attack another Democrat on health care.) As the Sanders campaign is pointing out in this photograph, the former First Lady personally thanked then-Representative Sanders in 1993 for his “work to make health care affordable.”

As Sanders himself has repeatedly stated, he is not about to “repeal” the Affordable Care Act before passing anything that might potentially replace it. It is true he was not a fan of the eventual bill that stripped out a Public Option and left the private insurance industry in charge, but it HAS provided more people with health care coverage than ever before… even if it does still leave more than 20 Million Americans without insurance. In all due honesty, Secretary Clinton may be right when she says “Single Payer will never ever happen” [ibid: opposes], but I’m not impressed by someone not even willing to TRY, and misrepresenting Bernie’s position on this issue is something I’d expect from a Conservative, but (once again) not from someone claiming to be a Progressive Democrat.

In 2011, Senator Sanders introduced two medical innovation prize bills in the Senate to de-link R&D costs from drug prices. This was an innovative solution to help control soaring drug prices due to a loophole in the Affordable Care Act, put there by Republicans to protect drug company profits. This is not a man looking to recklessly “undo” the ACA, but someone looking for better solutions within the existing system.

As Bernie repeatedly points out, in Europe, their health care systems cover everyone, cost less, and provide better outcomes. These are the programs Sanders hopes we will learn from. Michael Moore’s 2008 movie “SiCKO” was all about learning from the universal health care programs in other countries. It drove the 2008 presidential debate and perhaps was most responsible for Congress focusing on Healthcare Reform during the first year of the Obama presidency. And despite his reservations, Sanders voted “FOR” the ACA. He’s not about to repeal it without something better to replace it. (Here is video of what Bernie had to say about soaring Prescription Drug prices in May, 2012.)

Speaking of drug prices, “Medical Marijuana” is now legal in 27 states (plus DC) and “recreational” use is now legal in four. Personally, I do not use Marijuana (can’t stand the smell and don’t use intoxicants of any kind), but keeping it illegal while far worse products like alcohol and legal prescription opiates can be found almost anywhere makes absolutely no sense. It’s a way to fill up prisons with people denying the drug & alcohol industry sales of their higher-priced alternatives. Senator Sanders is also the only candidate to suggest the legalization of marijuana as part of ending the failed “War on Drugs” that has led to the disproportionate filling of our jails by the poor & minorities. Hillary has only been willing to go as far as to suggest “further research” into possible use as a medical “ingredient” in someone else’s expensive prescription drug… doing nothing to curtail rampant drug crime connected to the growing, sale & distribution of one of the most harmless drugs in existence.
 

7. Debunking “The Country Will Never Elect a 74 year old Socialist Jew” meme

Just before the New Hampshire Primary, Chris Christie during a campaign stop before a small group of supporters said:
 

“Let’s face it. Hillary is going to be the Democratic nominee. The Republicans could never be so lucky as to have the Democrats pick a 74 year old  Socialist Jew as their nominee.”

 

The next day, this brilliant prognosticator was out of the race because he also predicted he’d make the Top 5 (no one ever called him out for including “Jew” in that comment BTW.) This very meme mentioned by Christie is also one of the driving forces behind Hillary Clinton’s support. It’s the “She has a better chance of getting elected” meme. But that is NOT what the polls say. “RealClearPolitics.org” maintains an up-to-date list of the largest national polls pitting the Democratic nominees against the Republican nominees. Winners are shown in Red or Blue based on party with the amount they win by. Clinton’s poll results are awash in red, loosing to Rubio in every poll, loosing to Kasich in every poll, losing to Cruz in 4 of 5 polls, with NO matchup in which she wins every poll. Even in her best matchup, Hillary beats Trump by only 7-points in one poll and Carson by just 3.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s poll results are awash in blue, leading Trump by as many as 15-points in TWO polls, and beating Ted Cruz in EVERY poll (by as many as 10-points in the Quinnipiac as of this writing.) The idea that Clinton has “a better chance of winning” is based on nothing.

To those who think the “Democratic Socialist” label will hurt Sanders, consider this: After they call him a “Socialist”, then what? How long do they sell that as the best reason to vote for them over their opponent? Who doesn’t know by now Bernie is a “Democratic Socialist” that has been in elective office for 35 years? They can’t run on that one point for four months. They’ll have to move on to other issues. And that’s when we win. Assuming all those Hillary supporters who demand Sanders Supporters pledge fealty to Clinton should she be the nominee do the same if the roles are reversed, Bernie has a FAR better chance to draw Republican & Moderate votes to his side. He is a registered “Independent” (aka: non-establishment), a champion of the Middle Class, staunch critic of Wall Street and… like it or not… his record on protecting the rights of gun owners will be far more appealing to Conservative voters that may see their own Party candidate as too extreme.

Americans forget that we’ve elected a “Socialist” president before: FDR. And he was so popular, Republicans had to pass a law limiting how many times we can reelect a president (the 22nd Amendment.) I view Sanders very much in that same mold. Roosevelt, following the collapse of Wall Street in 1929, instituted a long list of “socialist” government programs. There were work programs like the WPA (“Work Projects Administration”), the “Rural Electrification Project” and the TVA (“Tennessee Valley Authority”) to finally bring electricity to rural towns & farms (not unlike Green Energy programs being proposed today). He ordered the creation of government consumer protection agencies like the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) to regulate Wall Street and the FDIC/FSLIC to insure bank deposits so that if your bank fails, you don’t lose all your money (there is no question those programs are the only thing that prevented the 2008 crash from being worse than it was.)

But the crash of 1929 didn’t only impact America and leave the rest of the world untouched. Just as with Bush’s crash in 2008, “The Great Depression” destroyed economies the world over. In America, we elected a man who relied on “socialist” government programs to rebuild the country. Germany took the opposite route, electing a ranting/raving Corporate Fascist who told people to blame all their problems on “inferiors” like blacks, Jews & gays. They were required to carry special identification, barred entry into the country, denied their rights and treated as enemies of the state. The nation went to war and began invading countries they perceived as a threat. Is any of this starting to sound familiar? That could be the choice Americans are facing this election. Which road would you rather we go down? (Pardon me for dancing right up to the edge of Godwin’s Law.) It’s mind-numbing when I hear uneducated Conservative voters fear Sanders because they think “Socialist” means he’s a Nazi, and instead turn to someone like Cruz or Trump. #SMH

The ROI (“return on investment”) when we invest in infrastructure is enormous. Millions of children still attend schools that were built in the ’30’s during the Depression. Many still drive across bridges built in the ’30’s. In towns & cities across the country, many government buildings like “City Hall” were erected in the 1930’s. Court houses, post offices… even some roads… were built during the Depression as part of FDR’s investment in infrastructure. Any money those cities haven’t had to spend since then has been a savings of Billions (if not more). Eisenhower’s “Interstate Highway Project” is still paying dividends today, and the Hoover Dam is still generating electricity.
 

Alternatively, Republicans despise Hillary. Viscerally. Living in the South, I can tell you this from personal experience. They absolutely loath her. They consider her “a liar” and “an opportunist”. When they hear her name, they think “BenghaziTM and “Emails!” If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, it will be the greatest GOTV effort the Republican Party dare dream of. And a lot of women voters still will never forgive her for the way she trashed her husbands’ accusers regarding his philandering back in the ’90s. I don’t like saying any of that because I don’t think you should choose your candidate based on fear. But when supporters of Clinton use fear to suggest she’s “more electable” than Sanders, all the evidence proves otherwise.

Towards the end of the last debate prior to the New Hampshire primary (and again during last weeks’ Nevada Town Hall), Clinton had the gall to appoint herself the defender of President Obama’s legacy in the middle of a question about foreign policy after she herself in 2014 openly criticized President Obama for “failing to arm the Syrian Rebels” (1/4 of whom turned out to be ISIS) taking the side of Senator McCain (the man whom she said in 2008 was “more prepared” to be president than her opponent) against President Obama.

As I mentioned above in section #2, Clinton also (supposedly) disagrees with Obama on the TPP and wants a “No Fly Zone” over Syria opposed by both Obama & Sanders. Now she’s the defender of his presidency and chastising Sanders for daring to disagree with him on some issues??? That’s chutzpah.
 

I know I’ve spent a lot of time talking about Hillary here. It couldn’t be helped. I’ve long been bothered by her Conservative tendencies, first taking the Conservative position on issues like war & trade, and any time I see Bill & Hillary (and now Chelsea too) “gang up” to attack a fellow Democrat (like they did to Obama in 2008), I get that same queezy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Do you remember Michelle Obama ever going after Hillary Clinton? And not only has Jane Sanders not attacked Hillary, but she actually DEFENDED her when Trump called her “evil”. So if the issue is “character”, the Sanders’ & Obama’s have it. I’m not so sure the Clinton’s do.
 

The one issue where the Clinton campaign believes it has an advantage is on “guns”. They point out that Bernie “voted against the Brady Bill” (“waiting period”) and voted “to allow guns on Amtrak” (which I debunked in my “Hillary” column two weeks ago.) Sanders has a “D- rating” with the NRA. Sanders, coming from a rural state, believed each state should be allowed to establish its OWN waiting periods. States with lots of hunters and low gun crime might want shorter waiting periods, others might want to establish LONGER waiting periods than those mandated by a Republican controlled Congress. (And as I explained in my other column, the Amtrak vote was about baggage.) In 2013 though, Sanders voted FOR background checks and for banning “Assault Weapons”. Like it or not, Sanders’ past votes on protecting gun rights makes him MORE electable in the general election than Clinton.

Another popular criticism of Sanders is “how is he going to pay for everything he’s promising? Free college? Free healthcare? Jobs program?” I even seem to recall Hillary using the term “free stuff” to criticize Sanders’ plan in a recent speech (still looking for link). That was stunning to me considering Clinton herself recently attacked Jeb Bush for claiming her own proposals were promises of “free stuff”. Why is it Conservatives never call it “Free stuff” or “Welfare” when the money is going in the opposite direction: UP from the wages they DON’T pay their employees to the pockets of corporate CEO’s and/or the Rich? Giving away public land for oil companies to drill on only to sell the oil back to us at a premium? Public Universities doing R&D for the drug companies? And when those wells start to leak, those tankers run aground, or their drugs poison/kill people, at most they pay a fine roughly the equivalent of a few months profits. Corporations get huge tax breaks because they promise to “create jobs”, but when they end up CUTTING jobs and/or move to Mexico, do they give that money back? Hell no. Not only do we not penalize them for moving to Mexico, WE ENCOURAGE IT with still more tax breaks!
 

Bernie's Budget

As I’ve been telling people, “I don’t care if NONE of Sanders’ proposals actually pass. It’s his JUDGEMENT that I prefer & trust.” Look how much even President Obama achieved with the most insanely obstructionist Congress in history. Don’t automatically assume a President Sanders would never be able to enact any of his Progressive priorities.

President Obama has been immensely successful, rescuing the economy following Bush’s near economic collapse, but he has still been obstructed from doing many needed serious reforms, and has disappointed many Liberals (myself included) for not having taken more action on Climate Change (dramatically increasing domestic drilling, even in the fragile Arctic), supporting the TPP, and failing to imprison even ONE banker following the collapse of Wall Street. The Big Banks are bigger today than they were eight years ago (and there are fewer of them, meaning more consolidation/power). These systemic problems still exist. Electing Hillary to “continue the Obama legacy” means continuing the status quo. What law is there against striving for better than the status quo?

Fox “news” Sunday blasted Clinton for the second week in a row: “Not only is she the only candidate left who has refused to appear on our program, but her staff won’t even return our calls”, noting that during the pre-Iowa debate she said she was willing to “go anywhere anytime to find common ground.” The fact is Clinton HAS appeared on Fox… TWICEto bash Barack Obama, once as a candidate and once as president. If you deplore the “gridlock” of the last seven years, this is not a person who will be able to bring the Parties together and unite the country. As a long-time Independent with no baggage, Bernie can.
 

“Scandal-free”, not beholden to ANY “special interest”, a historic election of potentially GLOBAL consequence, and rated the “most trustworthy” of any candidate of either party:
 

YouGov Feb. 15 poll: Bernie most “honest & trustworthy” of ANY candidate. Hillary, the least:
Bernie most honest. Hillary least.

 

(An ABC/WaPo poll shows Sanders with a double-digit lead over Clinton in “honesty & trustworthiness”. Even Clinton herself acknowledges she has a problem on this issue.) Who do you think “Occupy Wall Street” supporters are behind? Hillary or Sanders? If Sanders were not on the right side of history, the Hillary campaign could just ignore him and claim the coveted “Middle Ground”. Bernie has made Hillary a better candidate. He has pulled her to the Left. She is not pulling him to the Right. Instead, both are arguing over who’s the bigger Liberal. Think about that.
 

Madison, WI
10K show up for Sanders in Madison

Birmingham, AL
7K in Birmingham

Los Angeles, CA
Sanders, LA, August 2015

Portland, OR
Bernie crowd in Portland, OR


 


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Amid Record Low Oil and Gas, Trump Says Keystone XL Needed ‘Desperately’. Then threatens to reject it
Jan 25th, 2016 by Admin Mugsy

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During another one of his “phone it in” TV interviews yesterday, Donald Trump told Meet the Press host Chuck Todd we “need the Keystone XL pipeline desperately“. However, at some other point in the day (before or after?), he told reporters that if we weren’t promised “a big chunk” of the profits, he’d reject it (link). Did I mention this was *yesterday* in the space of a few minutes? The price of oil “rallied” Friday to close up just over $32/barrel… $4 below where it was the day before we invaded Iraq. It had fallen as low as $26.55 last Wednesday. In 2012, the KXL was part of Newt Gingrich’s plan to get gas prices down to just $2.50/gallon by 2017. As I type this, the national average price for a gallon of gas is $1.83. The process of converting “tarsand” into oil is so expensive, oil needs to be over $65/barrel just to be cost effective. Not only would the KXL have NOT been a “job creator”, but the economy created a stunning 292,000 jobs last monthNEARLY SEVEN TIMES the number of (temp) jobs the KXL promised to create over TWO YEARS (and even that is doubtful.) So how exactly is it that we “desperately” need the Keystone XL pipeline? I really want to know. Every single one of the GOP presidential candidates supports the building of the KXL… the perfect symbol for today’s GOP: the very epitome of a white elephant.
 

Trump: “Keystone XL needed desperately (:08 seconds)

 

As I noted less than three weeks ago, the Republican congress made good on it’s threat to try to pass the “Keystone XL pipeline” one more time, in a juvenile move to pander to their childlike constituency. Not ONE Republican was willing to step up as the adult in the room (or perhaps too dumb to even know themselves) and point out that the price of oil is too low for the KXL to be economically feasible… not just due to current oil prices, but as OPEC has now proven, they can easily undercut the price of oil any time they like to make the KXL too costly to operate.

So if it’s not because “we need the jobs” and it’s not because “gas prices are too high” (oil producing states in the South and Alaska are actually being hit hard by job layoffs due to a lack of need for more oil), then what is it? A Google News search turns up no other mention of Trump explaining why we “desperately” need the KXL. More to the point, if NOT building it has hurt us, how do you then defend threatening to NOT build it yourself? If we need it so badly, wouldn’t “some” gain be better than none?

Clearly, “The Donald” is not talking about the loss of jobs, because those meager few jobs would have been created whether we got most of the profits or not. Nor is it about getting gas prices down for the same reason. Is it about “Energy independence” after he “bombs the Middle-East back to the Stone Age”? I bet’cha that’s what he’s thinking.

Except it wouldn’t.

I’ve already explained in great detail (see Keystone link in titlebar) how the Alberta tarsands would not get us anywhere CLOSE to “energy independence”. And OPEC would ensure it was ALWAYS too costly to operate.

As I just pointed out above, the price of oil is SO low now, the pipeline would operate at a loss for months/years to come (likely never turn a profit). TransCanada is suing the Obama Administration… not for the right to complete the pipeline, but for “damages”. This is a tacit admission that THEY DON’T WANT IT BUILT ANYMORE. The Obama Administration rejecting the pipeline likely saved their butts from incurring catastrophic losses that could have bankrupted the company, and suing for damages is a way to recover part of their losses for the portion they’ve already built. They could have suffered a loss of over $30 for every barrel of oil produced, and TransCanada predicted the KXL would transport/produce “1.1 million barrels of oil per day“… which translates to a loss of $31 Million/DAY (or roughly $11 Billion dollars a year). Just how long do you think they could have kept THAT up? (And this is AFTER the expense of completing the construction.) They should be thanking their lucky stars the pipeline was rejected.

I’m of the personal belief that the reason Trump thinks we “desperately” need the KXL is because of his plan to “bomb the $#!+” out of the Middle East. Like so many other clueless Republicans that have bought the hype, he clearly believes the KXL would make the United States “energy independent”, allowing us to not need to import a drop of foreign oil. Not only is that beyond ridiculous, but unless he also plans to take over the entire U.S. oil industry, NATIONALIZE it and ban all exports, oil prices will ALWAYS be set by the world market, still subjecting American consumers and TransCanada to the whims of the Middle East.

It’s also one more reminder why Republicans should NEVER be trusted with running our economy ever again if they STILL think we need the Keystone XL and rejecting it has been devastating to (or otherwise endangers) the U.S.. Ask the Southern states with all their oilfield job layoffs if they think now is the time for MORE oil glutting the market and driving prices down even further?

An aside: During an interview on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Marco Rubio vowed to “turn the country around.” Turn it around? Record job growth. Unemployment down. The deficit is down. Military deaths are down. Gas prices are WAY down. The stock market is up… explain to me why ANYONE would want the country to do an about-face and return us to the economic & national security disaster of just seven short years ago???

These ideologues are so clueless, they’re dangerous.

(Note: Iowa caucus is one week from tonight [Feb 1st], so expect a brief delay in next week’s column. – Mugsy)
 


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Dr Carson Revives Dangerous “Health Savings Account” Zombie from 2012
Oct 26th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy

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I have a long standing rule not to criticize truly awful GOP Primary candidates when they are winning. “When your opponent(s) are digging themselves into a hole, the only thing you should hand them is a shovel.” I’m going to break that rule this week because Dr. Ben Carson has decided to bring back a dangerous (and arguably deadly) idea from the 2012 election that a disturbing number of Conservative voters think is a good idea: doing away with Medicare/Obamacare (remember “Keep your government hands off my Medicare“?) and replacing them with “Health Savings Accounts”, only this time with a convoluted scheme that would impress even Rube Goldberg.

The GOP version went something like this: instead of everyone paying into Medicaid (an astoundingly safe & successful single-payer health insurance program run by the government), let people choose to “opt out” of Medicaid and put their money into a tax-free “Health Savings Account”, similar to an IRA, from which you pay your medical bills should you ever get sick. The “advantage” of such a scheme Conservatives argue is that the money remains in your possession should you ever need it for something else. Now, if you have a brain larger than a walnut, you can probably already see the (multitude of) problems with that. THAT is the GOP plan from 2012 (pdf). Carson’s new version supposedly “fixes” those flaws. Try to follow along as he “explains” his version of HSA’s to NBC’s Chuck Todd yesterday:
 

Carson explain his “Health Savings Account” scheme (2:18)

 

(Quite honestly, I could have dedicated this week’s entire post to Carson’s insane interview, but that could take weeks. This segment was following an equally disturbing ten minutes defending his prolific use of Nazi analogies to justify his positions on just about everything. From arguing that the Second Amendment exists to protect us from our our own government (it doesn’t), questioning the value of a mother’s life over that of her unborn child, to saying rape/incest victims should be forced-by-law to carry their unborn babies to term. (Whom exactly he’d prosecute if she didn’t was never asked and remains unclear.)

Todd never asks Carson the most obvious question about Medicare, “What’s wrong with the existing system?”, because HE KNOWS the answer he’d get: to a Conservative ANYTHING connected to the government is bad regardless of how successful it is, because in their mind, a government that “provides for the general welfare” is tantamount to “slavery” (a position he shares with the OTHER Right-Wing nut doctor in the race, Rand Paul.)

So let’s see if we can’t diagram Carson’s “alternative to Medicare”:

Step 1) Make everyone independently wealthy thanks to a roaring economy under his leadership. (You think I’m exaggerating? Watch the video.) That way, we “negate the need for Medicare”. So right off the bat, his plan relies on everyone suddenly striking it rich such that they will be able to pay cash for their health care needs. And just how do we accomplish that? Tax-free “Health Savings Accounts” that can be passed down from Generation to generation. And we KNOW this works because look at all the people who became stinking rich inheriting IRA’s from their parents (that’s snark by the way.) Somehow, I just don’t see a lot of people living paycheck-to-paycheck suddenly being able to sock away enough spare cash to pay for unregulated… because he does away with “ObamaCare” AND the buying power of Medicare… rising medical costs out-of-pocket with enough left over to leave to their children (a plan that doesn’t seem to take into account the prolonged medical costs of aging, people pilfering those accounts like a tax-free piggy bank, or unforeseen economic crisis’ that always seem to pop up during Republican administrations.)

In fact, Carson actually advocates allowing family members to raid their own HSA in order to help another family member pay their medical bills. Carson is a big believer in the Power of Prayer, and you’d better be too if you pilfer your trust fund in hopes you won’t need it. What was it Rep. Grayson said? The Republican Plan: Don’t get sick. But hey, everyone suddenly becoming wealthy enough to pay cash for all their medical expenses could happen, so let’s give him the benefit of the delusion… er, doubt, for a moment.

BTW: Carson acknowledged the “Liberal” meme that “we pay twice as much for our health care than the rest of the world”, but offers no explanation on how to counter it. In fact, quite the opposite. He wants to kill off the two government programs keeping those costs under control. If I had to guess, Carson appears to blame insurance companies for those outrageous healthcare costs. Yet the solution… “single payer” programs like Medicare… would wither & die under his “divert money from Medicare” scheme. Moving on…

Step 2) Insurance companies still have a role though: covering “catastrophic illness” that would decimate most HSA’s. Get them out of the business of covering more lucrative “basic health care” and instead limit them to covering only the mega-costly health care bills. Carson argues that by not having to cover “basic” heath care needs, it’ll save the insurance companies tons of money and drive down premiums. You buy that? No? You’d better because you’re going to have to (literally). Okay, so now you’re now pouring money into TWO forms of medical insurance: your personal HSA AND “catastrophic illness” insurance.

Those “basic” health care policies are where insurance companies make their biggest profits. Carson actually believes that insurance companies will make MORE money… AND charge you less for catastrophic care insurance… if you eliminate all that rarely-used coverage customers pay into and limit them to covering just the most costly long-term procedures. What do you think THOSE premiums will look like? There is nothing more expensive than “end-of-life” care… a cost 90%-95% of us will incur. “Wow” doesn’t begin the capture the mind-numbing stupidity of that Palinesque plan. If we’re all going to strike it rich under President (cough) Carson, it’d better happen damned quick.

Step 3) We don’t actually eliminate Medicare, we just allow people to “opt out”… which underfunds the program, which bankrupts it. It’s not Carson’s fault if underfunding Medicare kills it off. That just proves it wasn’t fit to survive in the first place (“survival of the fittest” seems like an odd defense for someone who doesn’t believe in evolution.) In the Jewish & Muslim faiths, it is a sin to take a life… any life… (“Thou shalt not kill”), so to kill an animal for the meat, they slit it’s throat so they can rationalize that the moment of death does not occur at their hand. It’s the same thing here. Carson doesn’t “kill” Medicare, he just slits its throat, and if it (and the people who depend upon it) dies, well that must have been God’s Will.

The Carson Plan: 1) Everyone becomes fabulously rich. 2) Puts their “spare” cash, once wasted on Medicare, into a Christmas Club. 3) Prays like hell they don’t need it. 4) Buys insurance anyway to cover “catastrophic care” which will be dirt cheap thanks to benevolent insurance companies saving a bundle on checkups and passing the savings onto you. 5) What you don’t spend, you leave to your children. 6) Repeat.

Remember “Let him die!” from the 2012 debate? If a person doesn’t pay into Medicare and refuses (or simply can’t afford) to put money in an HSA or buy insurance and suddenly gets sick, what do we do? Let them die? Conservatives like Carson think Medicare will just take care of people that never paid into the system. Ron Paul believed the burden should fall upon the churches. Who would put money in an HSA or buy insurance if you could be guaranteed care that way?

The raging stupidity of Carson’s plan should come as no surprise. It’s just one more drop of water in the Bucket-o-Crazy that is Ben Carson. Quite honestly, I can’t be entirely certain he wasn’t making it up as he went along. It really sounds like he hadn’t given it a lot of thought.

And you were wondering what it would take to dethrone Donald Trump.
 

Iowa GOP just as crazy as Carson
Iowa GOP poll 151023


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