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GOP Desperately Needs You to Forget How the Iraq War Started. Woodward: I found no lies.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 25, 2015

First it was “Benghazi!”, and the unmitigated OUTRAGE on the Right over the deaths of four Americans on 9/11/12 on the watch of a Democratic president (9/11/01? Four THOUSAND dead under a Republican President and Republican Congress? That’s not an “outrage”, that’s something to campaign on!) Next was Jeb Bush last week desperately hoping to convince everyone that “everybody” thought Saddam had WMD’s and war was unavoidable (this lie is still being pandered but mercifully, appears to be dying on the vine.) And now, the History-Revisionists are at it again, out to convince you “Iraq was… if not peaceful… on the road to recovery when George Bush left and President Obama screwed it up.” I’ve already compared this to an arsonist blaming the firemen for not doing a better job of putting out the fire he started.) And, naturally, Republican history-revisionists have a very good reason for this sudden spate of attempts to rewrite the history of Iraq: the coming elections and the Right-Wing’s desperate hope that enough time has passed that voters have either forgotten, or were too young to remember, how they got us into this mess.

Fox “news” Sunday invited on The Mustache of Fear, former “Ambassador” John Bolton (the very idea anyone picked this paranoid delusional war-monger, openly hostile to the U.N., to be our Ambassador to the U.N., is still beyond belief.) Astoundingly devoid of self-awareness (check out that link BTW), Bolton declared his belief that “ISIS is winning” and “President Obama is losing the war in Iraq”… a statement echoed by GOP candidate Mike Huckabee later in the show. Fox host Chris Wallace helpfully provided the following graphic to help “support” the Huckster’s point:
 

Territory now under ISIS control:
ISIS mostly in Syria not Iraq

 

But look closely at that map. More than half of the territory controlled by ISIS is in SYRIA, not Iraq. And that’s significant for two reasons: 1) One, we have the support of the Iraqi government to fight ISIS in Iraq and provide Iraqi soldiers with arms & training, and 2) We don’t have that authority (nor do we want it) in Syria. Worse, by fighting ISIS in Syria, we’re actually HELPING Assad, the brutal dictator in charge of Syria. In fact, it was Assad’s attacks on the Syrian rebels in the East that gave rise to ISIS in the first place (drawing disenfranchised former Iraqi solders across the border to fight on their behalf.) I have yet to hear a Conservative pundit explain how to defeat ISIS in Syria without helping Assad. They’re REAL GOOD at pointing out problems they created (once they’ve been handed off to Democrats), but never very forthcoming with solutions (as a general rule, that goes far beyond Iraq, applying equally well to economic issues, usually beginning & ending with “tax cuts”.)

So let’s recap how we got here:

Yes, Saddam was a bad guy. But the world is FULL of bad guys (this one just had the misfortune of sitting atop a lot of oil.) Not only is it clear now his Strong-Man tactics probably kept a Civil War at bay for decades, but the very arguments at the time for why he was a global threat were being knocked down one-by-one. Bob Woodward, a frequent guest of Fox “news” Sunday declared yesterday that in all his investigations of how the Iraq War was started, “while you can make a strong case that mistakes were made that shouldn’t have been”, he “never found any evidence that anyone [knowingly] lied us into war. Seriously. Either Bob doesn’t know how to use The Google Machine, or he’s being deliberately obtuse. Let’s see if we can’t help Bob out, shall we? (This is an extremely annotated list):
 

First, President Bush KNEW the famed “sixteen words” claiming Iraq sought to purchase “uranium from Africa” (presumably to build a nuclear bomb) were not true when he said them during his 2003 State of the Union address. He was told the claim wasn’t true, yet he made the claim anyway during a national address carried by all three networks where it was sure to have maximum impact, to help stoke the public fears into supporting his war.

Second, those “mobile labs” Saddam was supposedly using to produce chemical & biological weapons? Those too had already been found to be nothing of the sort when President Bush told the world that we had found those same mobile WMD labs (though to be fair to Woodward, their discovery and subsequent lie took place AFTER the invasion.)

Third, remember those “aluminum tubes” with “anodized coating” found by U.N. inspectors that the Bush Administration claimed were intended for use in a “nuclear centrifuge” to breed Plutonium? Well, not only were the tubes totally inappropriate for use in a nuclear centrifuge (poor quality, cracks, etc) but that damning “anodized coating” they made sure to cite, would actually have to be milled off before anyone could even think of using them for such a purpose. Despite that, they knowingly pandered that lie frequently & easily (the small tubes were actually for building conventional short-range rockets).

Which brings us to #4, VP Cheney’s “leak” to “reporter” Judith Miller. While technically not a “lie”, it was unquestionably evidence of willful deception when VP Cheney cited the NYT investigative journalist’s reporting that Saddam had acquired the aluminum tubes for use in a nuclear centrifuge. What Cheney did not reveal was that HE was Miller’s source for the claim. Despite unquestionably knowing the VP was disingenuously quoting her quoting him, Miller continued to defend her reporting and chose to go to jail rather than reveal that Cheney was her source once the excrement impacted the rotary ventilator.

Fifth, how about Dick Cheney’s “Pretty well confirmed” lie about 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta “meeting with Iraqi Intelligence in Prague”? While Cheney now hedges on the assertion, it’s a claim he refuses to admit was total BS even to this day (saying now that the once “pretty well confirmed” claim, though never proven, has never been “disproven” either.) That’s the level of intellectual dishonesty we’re dealing with here. My finger one inch from your nose technically isn’t “touching you.” Mom!

Sixth, the Bush Administration’s key source for intel on Iraq’s WMD program was a man they dubbed “Curveball“… a mid-level Iraqi intelligence advisor with an ax to grind, who German Intelligence had already labeled “highly unreliable”. But they chose… not only heavily rely on his unsubstantiated claims of WMD production… but publicly cite those unreliable & unsubstantiated claims whenever making their case for war.

Seventh, if accurate, investigative journalist Ron Suskind revealed that the Bush Administration knowingly & purposefully directed the CIA to fake a link between Iraq and 9/11 in order to drum up support for an invasion:
 


 

The GOP needs you to forget all of this. “War with Iraq? President Bush is the REAL victim here! Blame all the bad intel the CIA was feeding him!” (Google the phrases “stove-piping” & “cherry-picking” for a refresher. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Seriously Mr. Woodward? You couldn’t find ANY evidence that the Bush Administration knowingly lied us into war? Here are seven (six?) good leads for your next book. I’m seriously beginning to doubt you ever broke Watergate.
 



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Filed in Election, Middle East, myth busting, National Security, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, War May 25th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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GOP Candidates All Adopting Language of Democrats to Remain Relevant

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 18, 2015

Last week, Jeb Bush found himself in Damage Control mode after telling a Fox “news” anchor that he’d still have gone into Iraq in 2003 despite “knowing what we know now”. His GOP opponents pounced, denouncing the very idea that anything good came out of the invasion of Iraq that mitigated the mind-numbing disaster to follow. In another Through-the-looking glass moment, Mike Huckabee again tweeted that, as president, he would stand for “all of us, not Wall Street”, two weeks after Jeb denounced the rise in “income inequality”. On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Marco Rubio defended supporting President Obama negotiating with Iran (“I don’t know WHO wouldn’t be in favor of a deal” he tells Chris Wallace (he should have asked Netanyahu when his Party invited him to DC). This came minutes after he blamed “the last election” (the GOP’s big 2014 victory) for why Congress “can’t muster the votes to pass comprehensive immigration reform”. Huckabee is also running ads that use the words “Maximum Wage” in big letters… echoing a Progressive idea to cap the wealth of the absurdly rich (but look closely, he’s not calling to cap “extreme wealth”, he’s suggesting there’s a “Maximum wage” for ALL of us, in ads intended to APPEAR deceptively Progressive.) ThinkProgress also noticed the sudden rise in the number of Republican candidates adopting Progressive positions on the issues. Even Hillary Clinton hit the campaign trail sounding a lot like Warren on the subject of “income inequality”. It is clear, if you want the voters to take you seriously, you’d better adopt adopt the language of Democrats on the big issues… and not just ANY Democrat, but Elizabeth Warren (and Bernie Sanders too BTW).

The Republican candidates are disavowing the policies of the last Republican candidate (though Jeb insists he isn’t), and while they love to invoke St. Reagan, there really isn’t a single specific policy of his they can cite that they’d like to revive should they win the nomination. No, the only policies that resonate with voters in this election are those of our side: the Democratic Left.

Watching the Republican candidates tie themselves up in knots trying to avoid denouncing their own Party’s failures while still trying to take credit for not supporting them, has been a wonder to behold. Fox “news” Sunday’s host Chris Wallace asked Marco Rubio the exact same question Jeb was asked: “Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?” Hilarity ensues:
 

Rubio refuses to admit invading Iraq was a colossal mistake (1:54)

 

You “don’t understand the question”, Marco? Puhleez. The invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam has left the Middle East in chaos. Iran is FAR more powerful as a result; ISIS (the remnants of Saddam’s Mahdi Army) only exist today because of it; we took our eye off the ball in Iraq rather than focus on wiping out alQaeda; and we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of helping Syria fight ISIS. Rubio tells one interviewer that “the world is a safer place without Saddam in it” (clearly it isn’t), while telling Charlie Rose that… “knowing what we know now”… invading Iraq was “a mistake” (how can it be a mistake if we’re “better off”?)

When Jeb suggested he’d still have invaded Iraq despite “knowing what we know now”, the GOP cringed. Even a majority of Republicans now admit invading Iraq was a mistake. Jeb tried to suggest he “misunderstood the question”. Five days later, he was in full take-back mode, telling reporters that “mistakes were made”. Now Rubio is too-cute-by-half pretending he “doesn’t understand the question” when asked if invading Iraq has made the world less safe (Funny, because many of these SAME people question the wisdom of Obama “taking out” Gaddafi and destabilizing Libya, with no sense of irony.)

So we have Huckabee, Bush-3, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Chris Christie (ad infinitum) all talking about “income inequality” (let’s not forget Mitt Romney too), all adopting the language of Warren & Sanders, and trying to pass themselves off as the Champion of the Little Guy.

Rubio says negotiating with Iran is a good thing. All the GOP candidates are suddenly against the Iraq war too.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader (cough) Mitch McConnell praised President Obama for bucking his own Party as Republicans joined with him in supporting the disastrous “Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty” (TPP). (As an aside, there’s a part of me that wonders if President Obama didn’t actually pull a fast-one, outsmarting the GOP, noting last year that the moment he agrees with Republicans on something, suddenly they oppose it. So he publicly announces his support for the TPP, even calling Warren “wrong” on the issue, and watches the bill tank while earning some good will among Republicans in his final two years. If he really supported the idea, he’d be telling Congress to renegotiate to find something both sides can support. He isn’t because he’s glad it failed. But is he really that damned smart? We may never know.)

The GOP isn’t adopting the rhetoric of the Tea Party cranks as the path to victory in 2016. No, they’re all adopting the populist language of Democrats, and THAT, dear reader, more than anything else, should tell you where this election is going.
 



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Filed in Election, General, Middle East, myth busting, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Seems Obvious to Me May 18th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Fox Tries to Pin Baltimore Poverty On Electing Democratic Mayors

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, May 4, 2015

As Bill Maher explained it last July, a “Zombie Lie” is a lie told by Republicans that is proven false & widely discredited, yet they keep telling them“, telling their idiot followers that the lie is in fact true. “Zombie Lies” include “ObamaCare will/has cost jobs” (ditto for “raising the minimum wage”), “no consensus on Climate Change” (a claim two Right-wingers advanced in the WSJ last year but couldn’t do more than claim the number wasn’t as high as 97%, and whose OWN conclusions were challenged by Scientific American), Keystone XL will create “a million jobs” and make us “energy independent”, “we need Voter ID laws to protect us from Voter Fraud“, ad infinitum. A year and a half ago, I wrote about Newt Gingrich informing former Labor Secretary Robert Reich that “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats.” A majority perhaps, but the people in these cities aren’t poor because they vote Democrat, they vote Democrats because they are poor… typically minorities unwelcome by the GOP. But, as I pointed out, it’s a BS statistic because nearly every single desperately chronically poor STATE in the country is a Red State. So it should come as no surprise to anyone when 18 months later, Chris Wallace, host of Fox “news” Sunday, tried to suggest to Congresswoman Donna Edwards that Baltimore electing only Democratic mayors for the past 50 years might be proof Democratic polices don’t work:
 

Fox Tries to Blame Democratic Mayors for Black Poverty (2:08)

 

Since I already debunked this nonsense 18 months ago, there’s no need for me to kill the zombie again. But when Wallace asks if “Democratic” policies have failed because the lives of the people voting for them have not substantially improved, he’s suggesting that if they had just tried voting Republican, maybe they wouldn’t be so poor. Conversely, poor cities run by Republican mayors should show more signs of improvement than those run by Democrats. Let’s challenge this theory, shall we?

Earlier this year, CBS News listed The 11 Poorest Cities in America (slightly changed from 18 months ago):

1. Detroit, Michigan – Percentage of incomes under $25,000: 48%
2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4. Memphis, Tennessee
5. Tucson, Arizona – New
6. Baltimore, Maryland
7. Fresno, California
8. El Paso, Texas
9. Indianapolis, Indiana
10. Boston, Massachusetts – While #6 in wealthy residents, also has 29% of its population with incomes below $25,000.
11. Louisville, Kentucky – Percentage of incomes under $25,000: 29%

And as I pointed out 18 months ago, yes, most do indeed have Democratic mayors. Not all, but most. Not surprising when the poorest cities are also majority minority. Though Detroit’s entire city government was stripped of all power by its Far-Right Republican governor Rick Snyder. But what about those towns that elected Republican mayors, did it make a difference? Did their lives improve? And did stripping Detroit’s local government of all power turn the city around? Detroit is still #1 on that list two years running, so clearly the answer to the latter is No.

Tucson, Arizona… a purple city in a red state… is new to the list, electing a Democratic Mayor in December 2011 to replace a Republican one. Ouch, that looks bad, and if I were a Republican, I might stop there to suggest that is proof of something. But in fact, unemployment there has FALLEN from 7.9% to 4.9% (lower than the national average) since their Democratic mayor was elected. But wages aren’t rising to keep up with inflation, so poverty grows. And local mayors don’t control the Federal Minimum Wage (raising the Minimum Wage doesn’t just help the poor, IT RAISES THE FLOOR, raising wages across the board. Republicans don’t get this and continue to fight raising it.)

Miami fell off the list. A Republican mayor in a state with Republican governor. Like Tuscon, Miami’s unemployment rate has fallen 3 percentage points from 8.5 to 5.5. Another ouch for Democrats. Or is it? Miami made the list last September when, under its current Republican mayor, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the median income for a household in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area was just $46,946 in 2013… the second lowest level in the nation’s top 25 metro areas. That’s “median”, not “average”. Because between Bill Gates and I, we have a combined average net worth of $30 Billion dollars. Trust me, I don’t have $30 Billion dollars. I’m as broke as a $2 watch. In 2013, the percentage of Miami residents living in poverty was 31.7%. Last March, the Dade County government reported that that percentage hasn’t changed (roughly 30% earning below $24,250.) So why was Miami removed from the list seeing as how the poverty rate has not changed? The explanation is that it didn’t. It’s a different list. The 2013 list from Wikipedia counted all cities with a population of “over 200,000″. The CBS report cites a study of “the 33 Poorest US cities with a population over 500,000“. The population of Miami: 417,000. Miami isn’t off the list because life substantially improved under a Republican mayor. It didn’t make the list because it was too small.

Indianapolis is new to the list. Their Republican mayor has been serving since January of 2008. Unemployment there did skyrocket following The Great Recession of 2008, piquing at 10.6% in March of 2010 (more than a year after piquing at 10.0% nationally), briefly came down as low as 7.4% in Sept. 2012 before rapidly climbing back up to 9.0% just four months later, but has slowly climbed back down as the U.S. economy improved as a whole, to 5.5%. The graph of Indianapolis’ unemployment rate (you’ll have to build it yourself) follows the same trajectory as the U.S. Unemployment Rate as a whole… though with a much “bouncier” ride… but indicates no benefit to electing a Republican mayor vs a Democrat.

What all these numbers demonstrate is that mayors of small poor, mostly minority cities have very little political power to affect the economic fortunes of their city. THAT power comes from the economic power of the citizens within these cities themselves. “Money” = “Power”. And poor people, whether they elect a Republican or a Democrat, don’t have a lot of political power to improve their lives. When your citizenry is mostly minority, you’re poor to begin with. And in a country where Republicans have decided that the wealthy can spend as much as they want influencing politicians, the only politicians with any REAL power to change the lives of the poor at the ones with at the higher levels of government. That’s not your local mayor.
 

Bill Maher: Zombie Lies (2014)

 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, myth busting, Politics, Racism, rewriting history May 4th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Note to “9/11 Truthers”: GermanWings Air Disaster Destroys Your Last Good Argument

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 30, 2015

I hate “Conspiracy Theorists”, not that I think every Conspiracy Theory is false, but nothing seems to turn more delusional paranoids into Armchair Physicists than a good Conspiracy Theory. From “The Magic Bullet Theory” to questions about “the melting point of steel” in the WTC, suddenly every idiot with a High School understanding of basic physics is Steven “freakin'” Hawking. I first posted a “debunking” of The Four Key 9/11 Conspiracy Myths (see “Most Popular” links on left) nearly EIGHT YEARS AGO (with minor updates in the years that followed). One of the hardest things to “explain away” regarding the crashes into The Pentagon and the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania was the lack of any recognizable “debris”, suggesting something other than a passenger plane crashed into those places (but there WAS visible plane wreckage in the streets of Manhattan, so why wreck planes in NYC but not DC or PA? “Logic” is never the Conspiracy Theorists’ friend.) Towards the end of my post, I had this to say on the lack of a quantity of debris in DC & PA that one might associate with a jumbo jet:

Where is the debris field we so often see in other plane crashes? We see no debris because in an *accident*, the pilots are trying NOT to crash. The plane is traveling at a reduced rate of speed and breaks up on impact. As we see both here here AND IN THE PENNSYLVANIA CRASH, there is no debris field because the hijackers were traveling at maximum speed with the intent of destroying the vehicle.

 

Damage to The Pentagon… a building built to withstand a nuclear bomb… after 9/11
Pentagon 9/11 damage
“Where is the plane?” asked conspiracy theorists.

 

But, in all honesty, that was more a theory on my part, and readers were left with just having to “take my word for it”… until now that is.

One of the first things I noticed about the “debris field” left behind by GermanWings Flight 9525 in the French Alps was how tiny the pieces were. The plane quite literally was obliterated on impact. Numerous reports all claim the plane struck the mountain at “full speed”, which for an Airbus A320 would be about 530 MPH, or Mach 0.80. The Boeing 757’s/767’s used on 9/11 have roughly the same top speed, which they too were being flown at at the time of their destruction.

No longer theory, we now have physical proof of what the wreckage of a jumbo jet deliberately crashed at full speed looks like, and precisely as I stated in that column eight long years ago, the lack of debris is consistent with the fact the plane was traveling at such a high rate of speed.

And THAT, Dear Reader, puts to rest the final idiotic “9/11 Conspiracy Factoid” supposedly proving that what we were told happened that fateful day did NOT in fact happen (not that I expect die hard 9/11 Conspiracy buffs to finally accept reality and abandon their tinfoil hats once & for all.)

BTW: Can someone PLEASE tell ABC News to stop repeating the name of the co-pilot that murdered all those people? Reports are that he was a hypochondriac that was taking prescription meds for a “psychosomatic illness”, believing he was about to die, and decided to kill himself in a manner that he believed would assure he was “remembered”. For this reason alone, the co-pilot should die “in obscurity”, his name forgotten to the ages, taking incentive away from the next nut who seeks to commit mass murder in hopes of getting their name in the papers.

I lost count in just the opening THREE MINUTES of ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday of how many times they mentioned him by name… with a repeat performance on the Evening News. Please stop. – Mugsy
 



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Filed in General, mystery, myth busting March 30th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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STUNNING VIDEO: Kristol claims “Iraq was safe and peaceful when George Bush left.” Seriously.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 23, 2015

My eyebrows hit the ceiling: “OMG! Did he really just say that???” Resident Right-Wing Chief Revisionist Historian and iconic Chicken-hawk Bill Kristol actually said during yesterday’s episode of ABC’s ThisWeek that “George Bush left Iraq safe & peaceful when he left office in 2008.” You think I’m kidding? Watch:

Kristol: “Bush left Iraq safe & peaceful” (14 seconds)

Are you freakin’ kidding me? Are. You. Freakin’. Kidding. Me??? Bush left Iraq “safe & peaceful”??? Wow. Just wow. There are no words. On what planet does this guy live? That has to be THE most completely disconnected from reality statement I’ve heard in a while from the GOP (and that’s saying something.)
 

“Recording History for those Who Seek to Rewrite it.”  Mugsy’s Rap Sheet exists because of people like this asshat. It’s why we’re here, to spotlight this nonsense and crush it before they can convince millions of their simple-minded followers that their rewrite of history is the truth.
 

“We’ve always been at war with East Asia.”
 

“The high of 1,550 attacks a week fell below 800 — nearly a 50 percent reduction.”Bob Woodward praising the reduction of violence in Iraq to “JUST 800 attacks per week” on September 8, 2008

Now granted, violence dropped significantly after the so-called “SurgeTM” in 2007. Violence in Iraq exploded in 2006 as Bush and DefSec Rumsfeld refused to admit their “small footprint” strategy in Iraq was a failure. Bush repeatedly reassured voters that Rummy’s job was safe prior to the mid-term elections, but when Democrats retook both the House AND Senate greatly out of anger over the Iraq War, Rummy was gone quicker than you can say “nu-cu-lar”. New SecDef Gates sent in 20,000 additional troops (that’s not a “surge” BTW, that’s “reinforcements”) to try and stabilize things. The word “Greenzone” became part of the American lexicon in 2008, referring to the supposed “safe zone” inside Baghdad where American Command was stationed, and the move to “stop calling it a ‘green’ zone arose because it implied ‘safety’ when it was routinely being shelled by insurgents (that’s a January 2009 link BTW). To stem the violence, U.S. forces built a wall around “Sadr City” rather than address WHY it was a source of so much violence, and “ethnic cleansing” of neighborhoods took care of the rest. (Watch/listen to this video from May of 2008 and tell me just how “peaceful” Iraq looks/sounds to you as Bush prepares to leave office):

As NBC reporter Tom Aspell points out in this 2007 video, “violence is down in Iraq” because “much of it has been ethnically cleaned.”

ISIS EXISTS BECAUSE OF THE INVASION OF IRAQ. Many of the ISIS commanders are former Iraqi military. When Bush & Rumsfeld decided to simply disband Saddam’s Sunni army… “go away and take and take your guns with you”… most of them became the “insurgency” that turned Iraq into the mess we see today. When the new Shia Iraqi government decided not to integrate former Sunni’s into the new government and deny them employment, they responded by forming ISIS and proceeded to conquer one Iraqi city after another in an attempt to recapture the entire region into one giant Islamic “caliphate” (I hate that word.) ISIS may not have existed when George Bush left office, but he planted the seed.

Saying “Iraq was peaceful when Bush left” and then blaming President Obama for the violence there today is like blaming the raging fire you set on the firemen, declaring: “It was only a spark when I called you!”

I just have to type it one more time: “Iraq was safe and peaceful when George Bush left.”

Nope. Still the stupidest thing I’ve heard any Republican say in the last… oh… what time is it now?
 



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Filed in Middle East, myth busting, National Security, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, War February 23rd, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Cruz & Carson Latest Republicans to Complain About Income Inequality

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 9, 2015

Now don’t get me wrong, while I applaud the GOP’s new found concern over “income inequality” and the stagnation of the middle-class, I’m reminded of the old joke when The Menendez Brothers were on trial for murdering their parents and the possibility of them asking the judge for leniency because they were orphans. Last month, Democrats understandably rolled their eyes in disbelief when Mitt “Not Concerned About the bottom 47%” Romney complained bitterly about the rise in “income inequality since Barack Obama was elected President”… as if the Republican Party hadn’t been praying at the altar of “trickle-down economics” for the last 35 years. Whether “Mitt” (a man who made his millions closing factories & raiding pension funds as a corporate raider) planned on running on a platform of “I (heart) poor people” we’ll never know because the GOP… led by that champion of the Middle Class Donald Trump… quickly nixed the idea of a third Romney run while attending a “Meet-the-Candidates” rally hosted by the Mega-Billionaire Koch brothers. And now during yesterday’s Sunday Poli-talk Shows, two leading GOP candidates tried to claim the mantle of “income inequality”: Ted “List of Communists” Cruz and BenProgressives are Nazi’sCarson. Cue the clown music.
 

Ted Cruz & Ben Carson on “Income Inequality” (3.25)

I don’t know what’s funnier: the idea that these guys think voters will buy them as “champions of the Middle Class” or the fact even Steph-O & Wallace clearly aren’t buying it either?

The two greatest problems facing the World today are religious zealots and unchecked corporate power. And which Political Party just happens to represents both?
 

So why the sudden feigned concern by the GOP over “income inequality”? Because the ONLY person making inroads in the inevitability of a “President Hillary Clinton” is Elizabeth Warren… a woman for whom battling “income inequality” has been her stock & trade for over two decades and has risen to prominence as a champion of the Middle-Class. It was Warren who first proposed the idea of a federal “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” before being elected to public office, and when President Obama announced not only was he going to create The CFPB but put Warren in charge of it, Republicans behaved like they always do… threw a hissy fit, screamed bloody murder and stonewalled creation of the new agency until Warren’s name was withdrawn from contention.

Elizabeth Warren didn’t just suddenly discover the plight of the Poor & Middle Class last month as a convenient political tool, here she was talking to Bill Moyers about the plight of the Middle-Class in September, 2004 (whom I saw a frequently on his PBS program “Now”) Ignore the dopy YouTube title. She’s talking about bankruptcy:
 


 

For a long time, Republicans were proud to describe “The Tea Party” as the Conservative equivalent of “Occupy Wall Street”… an organization that identified more with The Left than The Right, born out of outrage over the Bush Administrations’ bailout of the Big Banks, Wall Street and the Top 1% (not one of whom went to jail BTW), while millions of middle-class Americans went bankrupt, lost their homes, and even threatened with arrest through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, T.E.A.: The “Taxed Enough Already” crowd sprouted wings. But these middle-class teanuts… their taxes weren’t going up. In fact, just the opposite. No, they were protesting increasing taxes on the Mega-Wealthy (the political term for this is “useful idiots”.)

So what are the solutions of these newly converted champions of the Middle Class? Just how do they intend to close that widening gap between the rich & poor (a gap they created with a crowbar in one hand and the tax-code in the other)? Well, they pretty much don’t say. They don’t DARE say… even if they did have a plan (which we know they don’t) because they know it would be ripped to shreds in seconds as the same old “trickle-down” economics that they’ve been selling us for the last 35 years and got us into this mess in the first place. And if it weren’t for my jaded sense of the media, I’d be amazed by how all these miraculous Keynesian-converts (I’m assuming) have gotten away with not being asked EVEN ONCE just how they plan to close that gap.

Seriously now. (Serious? Look who I’m talking about.)

PS: Which Party has fought against revoking tax cuts for corporations that ship jobs overseas? Which Party has made busting Unions a plank in their Party Platform (front-runner WI gov Scott Walker rose to fame by surviving a recall effort as he threatened to push through a law that would have destroyed the labor unions… NOT by changing minds but by convincing protesters to wait until the general election.) Which Party fights to GIVE wealthy corporations all sorts of perks like tax cuts & subsidies, then calls the bottom 47% “Takers” for wanting Healthcare & Food Stamps? Which Party has made vilifying blacks & Hispanics synonymous with the word: Republican? And, most obviously, which Party just flocked to Kansas at the behest of the billionaire Koch Brothers?

And which Party would accuse me of “Class Warfare” for calling them out for their hypocrisy?
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, Greed, Money, myth busting, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Taxes February 9th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Are Oil Prices Returning To Their Pre-Bush Trajectory?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 19, 2015

A number of “concern trolls” on the Right and on Wall Street have been desperate to find ways to paint the recent plunge in oil prices as a BAD thing worthy of “serious concern” (remember when they WANTED to bring down the price of oil with their 2008 “Drill here. Drill now!” campaign rhetoric and Newt’s promise of $2.50/gal gas by approving Keystone?) A lot of amateur-economists talked about the “popping of the tech bubble” in 2000 as some sort of devastating aberration. Something “no one saw coming” and could have been sustained if only it had been handled properly. Poppycock. I was there. What happened to the tech boom of the late ’90’s was not a “popping of the tech bubble” but a CORRECTION (prepping for “Y2K” was the biggest contributor, which we knew would be over by 2000.) The tech bubble didn’t devastate the U.S. economy in 2000 the way it was following the Market Crash of 2008. Likewise, this recent drop in oil prices should not be seen as a “crash” but a “correction”. Before George W. Bush became president in 2001… and on til the invasion of Iraq in 2003… the per-barrel price of oil remained pretty much where it had been for the past two decades… below $30/barrel. It took the invasion of Iraq to drive it into the stratosphere. And now that the economy is finally starting to shake off the last vestiges of the Bush years, oil prices should be seen as simply returning to that slow-rise to $30 trajectory it started in the early 80’s.
 

Oil price per balled, 1981-Present

 

The above graph is a chart of the annual price of oil since 1981. That yellow line shows roughly the trajectory upon which oil prices were rising in that time (going back to 1977 prior to the Iran/Hostage Crisis, see teaser-graph at start of post for more detail), bouncing around the mid-$20’s during most of that time. 1990 & 2000 fall right on that line, and if oil prices had continued on this same trajectory unabated by the Bush-II years, the natural price of oil would be closer to $35/barrel today.

As I pointed out recently (and frequently in the past), the price of gasoline was WELL below $2/gal prior to the invasion of Iraq. In 2000, long-haul truckers threatened to go on strike when the price of diesel hit a crushing $1.89/gal, demanding that the White House do something to stop the sudden rise in gas prices. Candidate George Bush declared that if he were elected president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” [ibid] to get prices down (gas prices were never lower during the entire Bush presidency than they were that day.) Two weeks before the invasion of Iraq, the price oil was $29/barrel and Dick Cheney suggested that one of the consequences of invading Iraq and “removing Saddam Hussein” might be oil “as low as $15/barrel”.
 

Percentage change in oil prices, 1981 to Present
Percentage change in oil prices, 1981 to Present

 

As you can see from the above graph, this recent plunge in the price of oil is certainly not the first nor the largest. That honor goes to the Reagan Administration, whom I believe Republicans give high marks to. The decline in 1998 was also not the forebearer of economic catastrophe. Only the plunge of 2008… which took place AFTER the economic crash that year… was a sign that something was wrong. And NOT ONCE in any of those cases did the steep decline in the price of oil provoke a severe economic downturn. In fact, the opposite is true. Ronald Reagan’s second term saw economic growth. The plunge of 1998 saw the start of explosive growth in the tech sector that fueled the Clinton Jobs Machine. And now in 2015, the economy is on the rebound, creating more than 200,000 jobs a month for the past three months (with 12 of the last 36 months seeing >200K jobs created.)

Oil companies were incredibly successful for decades with oil prices around $30/barrel, and are hardly “struggling” today because oil prices recently (momentarily) fell to $45/barrel last week. Before the Bush presidency, I remember being upset when gas hit $1.49/gal in the Summer of 2000. Today, locally, I can find gasoline for $1.89/gal, getting very close to that $1.50/gal price I fretted over in 2000, and right on par where I’d expect it to be today if prices had continued to rise at the same rate. The idea that sub-$50 oil would be some sort of economic disaster for the oil companies is nonsense. They became addicted to the outrageous profits of the last decade that made companies like Exxon/Mobil “the most profitable corporation on the face of the Earth”, and now they want to convince you that $3/gal gas should be the norm.

It’s nonsense of course. The current decline in gasoline prices is NOT a harbinger of economic devastation to come. Oil companies did just fine with oil close to $25/barrel for decades, and will do so again if necessary.



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Filed in Economy, myth busting, Seems Obvious to Me, War January 19th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Republicans Vow First Order of Business Will Be A Pointless Exercise in Showing Who’s Boss by Approving KXL

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 5, 2015

As I noted a few weeks ago, I’m still surprised by the number of people that just don’t remember that gas was WELL below $2/gallon before… not just before George W. Bush… but two years into the Bush presidency before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They just couldn’t fathom gas prices ever being as low as we’re seeing it today (close to $2/gallon.) In fact, in 2003, oil hit just $35/barrel the week before the invasion of Iraq after hovering around $29/barrel for years. (I’ve linked to this video of mine numerous times of how one economist predicted what the invasion of Iraq might bring… if not UNDER-ESTIMATING the costs, two weeks before the invasion. In the background you can see gas prices were still around $1.79/gallon in the North-East.) It took a second war and a President/Congress completely unwilling to regulate oil speculators to drive oil prices up to nearly $150/barrel and gas over $4/gallon, laying the groundwork for the ensuing global economic collapse. During the 2012 Presidential race, Newt Gingrich… struggling for a coherent message (“moonbases” just wasn’t packing them in)… settled on promising “$2.50/gallon gasoline by the end of his first term in office” (2016) by “approving the Keystone XL Pipeline” and drilling for oil in every backyard in America (interesting side-note: Mitt Romney vowed to bring Unemployment “below 6.5% by the end of [his] first term”). Yet in two years… not four… the price of gasoline is well below $2.50/gal nationally and can even be found for under $2/gal in many states (one local Exxon station near me here in Houston is selling Regular Unleaded for $1.89/gal.) And it all happened without approving the freaking pipeline. Fantastical promises of “1 million new jobs” were quickly/easily debunked. Most of the construction is already complete. The pipe itself has already been made/purchased. The company benefiting isn’t even American and the vast majority of the “oil” is already earmarked for export overseas, having little to no impact on domestic gas prices. And the process of converting greasy Canadian sludge into “oil” requires a per-barrel price-point nearly $20/barrel higher than it is now, making the entire project a money LOSER. Even if approved, “Trans-Canada” would likely not pursue it for years til the next Republican president drives oil prices back into the stratosphere. But as OPEC has now proven, all they have to do to eliminate the competition is to make the pipeline too costly to operate by simply pumping more oil. One might think that all this might convince even Republicans that completing the Keystone XL pipeline is an exercise in futility, but you’d be wrong. Undeterred, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared that “the FIRST vote of the new Congress will be to approve the Keystone XL pipeline” (with WY Senator John Barrasso on “Meet the Press” yesterday citing those “42,000 jobs” as to why it is needed.) Whether either senator knows that that’s “42,000 low paying temp jobs stretched out over two years“, I couldn’t say. Nor do I think it would make a difference. No, Senate Republicans have already admitted that their true reason for making passage of the Keystone XL such a high priority is that it is “a test” [ibid] of political will in Washington. They’ve convinced enough brainless Right-wingers that approving the KXL is “a no-brainer” and that an Obama veto would be nothing more than a challenge to their authority… nay… “the will of the American people” that voted them into office this past year. And THAT is what this vote is all about. It’s not about “creating (imaginary) jobs” or “reducing gas prices”, it’s just more childish gamesmanship by the GOP in a pointless flexing of political muscle.

You might remember that just this past November, just days after the election, in a desperate/futile/pointless/asinine attempt to save DINO Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) Senate seat in a runoff election, Congress voted on whether or not to approve the KXL. The bill failed to reach the 60-vote super-majority threshold necessary to overcome a Democratic filibuster. Landrieu did so poorly in the runoff election that it is doubtful passage of the bill would have affected the outcome of the election anyway. With the added seats in the Senate this year, Republican’s probably have the support of enough brain-dead Democrats to overcome a Democratic filibuster should it come up for a vote again, but NOWHERE NEAR the 67-vote Super-majority they’d need to override a presidential veto, making the entire exercise pointless & futile… IF passing the now irrelevant pipeline were indeed the point (which it isn’t.) It’s all about petty power-starved Republicans trying to show Americans “who’s boss”. They’ve built up this insane reality that exists only in their fevered imaginations where Americans hate President Obama and disagree with him on ever major issue. It’s a world in which Keystone means “jobs, jobs, jobs” and gas under $2.50 a gallon. It’s a world in which Sen. Ted Cruz can declare with a straight face that “Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare” and that “Benghazi” is the greatest political scandal since “Monica Lewinski”.

Republicans see no downside to creating “jobs” regardless of cost… so long as it is a Conservative-friendly industry (be it oil or bombs). They’ll give away Billions in tax incentives to oil companies and spend yet billions more in environmental cleanup in exchange for just 42,000 low-wage jobs (roughly $600K for every $20K/year job.) But tell them how investing in green technology produced a a $5-BILLION ROI, and all you’ll hear is snarky jokes about “Solyndra” (a $300 million loss).

Of course, all this political gamesmanship has nothing to do with “jobs” (last year, unemployment fell at its fastest rate in 30 years) or “bringing down oil prices” (oil now below $54/barrel with gas at $2.20/gallon, a full 1/3rd lower than it was one year ago) and everything to do with Republicans trying to show Obama “who’s boss”.
 



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Filed in Election, Energy Independence, General, Greed, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity January 5th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Dear Torture Advocates: Not only does it not work, it makes things worse.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 15, 2014

On March 23, 2003… three days into the invasion of Iraq, Private Jessica Lynch was captured by Iraqi forces following an ambush of her convoy. Publicists in the Bush Administration spun an elaborate tail of how “Blood & Guts” Lynch fired her weapon “til she emptied her clip” of ammo (Lynch had actually done no such thing, having been too badly injured to fight back) before she was captured by an enemy the Bush Administration feared was doing “Lord knows what” to her. An elaborate Commando-raid to rescue Lynch was devised, and on April 1st, a nighttime rescue raid on “Saddam (Public) Hospital” was conducted by Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos that probably could have just walked in the front door in broad daylight. No Iraqi troops or weapons were used to “hold Lynch captive” and by ALL accounts… including Lynch herself… her wounds were cared for, and she was treated humanely by the staff, whom, according the Lynch, one nurse “sang her to sleep” so she wouldn’t be scared.

At it’s peak, the infamous “Abu Ghraib” prison in Iraq, where American troops sadistically tortured Iraqi prisoners, held as many as 3,800 detainees.
 

Former President Bush (41) shedding tears over the humane treatment
of Iraqi prisoners by US forces during the ’91 Gulf War
(2007)

 

It was rather disturbing to hear former Vice President Dick Cheney on “Meet the Press” yesterday cite “9/11″ four (possibly five) times in defending the use of torture, arguing in essence that what WE did “was nothing in comparison to what was done to us on 9/11″… the classic, “yeah, but you…” defense. But shame on Chuck Todd for never pointing out that the vast majority of these tortured prisoners were Iraqi… who had NOTHING to do with 9/11. (BTW: when Todd pointed out that bad intelligence also led to “claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn’t exist”, Cheney did NOT attempt to correct him or even challenge him on the claim like he has in the past. To me, that’s evidence that even Dick Cheney now concedes Iraq never had any WMD’s.)

“It wasn’t torture!” Dr. Karl Rove (yes, I’m being facetious) insisted to host Chris Wallace during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday. “In fact, the techniques were designed specifically NOT to be torture!” The example Rove gave… which I’m certain he thought up all on his own without consulting anyone… was the fact waterboarded prisoners legs “were elevated” (presumably, in Rove’s mind, to allow water to drain from their lungs) to keep them from drowning. In Rove’s fevered imagination, this is PROOF that we were behaving “humanely” and taking strides to NOT torture prisoners by showing concern for their lives. Of course, Rove is an idiot. Someone really should explain BREATHING to him and how difficult it is to do with a nose/mouth full of water. “Elevating the legs” of a waterboarding victim is designed to PROLONG the torture so that they don’t die on you before you’ve extracted the information you think they know. To suggest a technique devised to extend a victims suffering is humane because it prevents them from dying too quickly, is like arguing in favor of dying from Ebola vs a gunshot wound because a gunshot kills you too quick.

When the Iraqi’s denied they were hiding any “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, the Bush Administration called them liars and demanded they allow in UN Weapons Inspectors. When the inspectors failed to confirm what they were certain was true, they took the position that the Inspectors were too dumb to know they were being hoodwinked by Saddam, ordering all allied personnel out of Iraq and invaded anyway. Similarly, when detainees didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear… most notably regarding connections between Iraq and al Qaeda, they tortured them till they told them what they wanted to hear.

Cheney repeatedly argued that “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (an aside: if you have to use an euphemism to avoid calling something what it really is, it’s as good as an admission of guilt. – Mugsy) DID “provide good intel that lead to the capture” of a number of terrorists including OBL (which is a lie) and/or foiling plots. Even if true, the amount of time & money WASTED chasing down thousands of bad/false leads for every one “good” lead is incalculable. Some torture-defenders, when you ask them if torture was “the ONLY way” to obtain this information, most will hem & haw before admitting, “There’s no way to know that”. But we DO know that because, according to the CIA report summary (pdf), all of the high-profile intel successes were obtained BEFORE prisoners were tortured, and in many cases, detainees that were “singing like a tweety-birdsuddenly stopped talking after their minds were destroyed by torture (another valuable asset lost.)

Other torture advocates like to cite the “ticking time bomb” scenario, where there’s no time to wait for “traditional” interrogation techniques to work. But in the VAST majority of (arguably ALL) cases, there was no “time is of the essence” situation that was thwarted by way of information gleaned from torture. Of the TWENTY-SIX innocent detainees who were tortured, one was placed in solitary confinement for 19 months before he was asked a single question.

Not only does torture not work, but it is COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE, producing fewer results in more time at much greater expense. If you truly wished to see America fail, you couldn’t do much worse than to root for the continued use of torture. In 1988/89, the CIA produced two reports on the use of torture on prisoners, stating that “[p]ysical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected not only because it was wrong, but because it has historically proven to be ineffective.

Downsides of Torture Program:

  1. False leads waste an enormous amount of time & money. How many bad leads did we obtain via torture for every good lead? There’s no way to know if a lead is no good until you investigate it. What better way to harm your captors than to waste their time chasing down false leads that you know they desperately want to believe are true? Very quickly, your enemies will learn the quickest route to ending their suffering is to feed you a really good pile of crap that you’ve been begging for. David Axelrod noted during “Meet the Press” yesterday that, according to the CIA report, “torture produced the intel that Iraq was supposedly connected to 9/11.”
  2.  

  3. Using torture prolongs war as your enemies dig in their heels and refuse to surrender 1) for fear of what might happen to them if they are captured and 2) it gives them the moral high-ground, with physical proof of their enemy’s barbarism. Ask yourself: “Might we still be at war 13+ years later because of those very reasons?” How many American soldiers died needlessly because they kept encountering enemies that would rather “fight to the death” than risk capture & torture?
  4.  

  5. Which naturally, creates more terrorists. No better recruiting poster than to point to the barbarism of your enemy. And to those (like Cheney) who’ll cite “beheadings” by our enemies, THERE WERE NO BEHEADINGS IN IRAQ PRIOR TO THE INVASION. Darth Cheney even had the gall to cite the barbarism of ISIS in defense of torture, but ISIS WOULDN’T EXIST IF HE HADN’T INVADED IRAQ.
  6.  

  7. The more barbaric your tactics, the more barbaric your enemy becomes in response. As noted above, no one was “beheading” Americans before Abu Ghraib.
  8.  

  9. Arguing that your techniques aren’t torture just helps ensure that your own troops are more likely to be tortured should they be captured, only to have your enemies use YOUR OWN DEFINITION of what is or isn’t “torture” against you.
  10.  

  11. As noted above, some prisoners that were cooperative PRIOR to being tortured may suddenly become useless AFTER being tortured… either out of spite or… in some circumstances, due to psychological or physical damage… even death.

 
If torture worked, you wouldn’t have to do it TWICE… let alone 187 times like they did to 9/11 “Mastermind” KSM. Seriously, if the goal of torture is to extract information from your prisoner and they are still able to withhold information from you that requires being tortured AGAIN to extract… and they KNOW they will be tortured again if they don’t reveal everything they know yet don’t reveal it anyway, then it clearly didn’t work.

So, if you’re all in favor of America wasting precious time chasing down false leads, destroying our image as a just & noble society, losing valuable intelligence assets as a direct result of abuse, giving our enemies the moral high-ground, putting our own troops in greater danger should they be captured (and then be left with no leg to stand on when you protest), extending wars so they last for decades fighting an enemy that would rather die than surrender, and aiding the enemy’s ability to recruit additional fighters to their side… then by all means defend the use of torture.

POSTSCRIPT: “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]… I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775



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Filed in Crime, myth busting, National Security, Party of Life, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals, Terrorism, War December 15th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Ferguson Police Chief vs Prosecutor: Who’s Lying (video)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 1, 2014

A week ago Monday, St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced (with a disturbing grin on his face) that the Grand Jury had decided NOT to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown. After a lengthy (and strikingly rare & questionable) ridiculing of the veracity of witnesses for the prosecution (something normally done during a TRIAL not a Grand Jury), McCulloch finally revealed that the Grand Jury had decided not to indict Officer Wilson, upon which he began to lay out the “facts” of the case, in which he clearly was implying that Officer Wilson was aware Brown was a robbery suspect and had received a description of him, stopping him only because he fit the description of said robbery suspect.

However, this is NOT what Ferguson police Chief Thomas Jackson repeatedly told reporters last August, following the questionable release of a highly prejudicial video of Brown stealing “cigarellos” from a nearby convenience store just minutes before.

Reporters asked Chief Jackson to explain the release of the video, wondering what… if anything… it had to do with the confrontation between Brown and Officer Wilson. Chief Jackson told the reporters that Wilson was “not aware that Brown was a suspect” and only stopped him because “he was walking down the middle of the street”, corroborated by both Officer Wilson and Brown’s friend who was with him at the time.

The reason for McCulloch implying Wilson stopped Brown because he matched the description of a robbery suspect is clear: to imply Wilson had reason to fear for his life from the moment he confronted Brown and was therefore justified in shooting him in self-defense.
 

Prosecutor McCulloch (11/24/2014) vs Chief Jackson (8/15/2014) – 4:17

 



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Filed in Crime, General, Guns & Violence, myth busting, Racism, rewriting history, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me December 1st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Keystone XL: Not Just a Potential Environmental Disaster But An Economic One Too.

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

Did you know about 1/2 of the Keystone XL Pipeline has ALREADY BEEN BUILT? The KXL project is a 1,200 mile long pipeline extending from Hardisty, Alberta to refineries in Houston, Texas near The Houston Ship Channel. The southern legs of the pipeline, one branch from Steele City, KS to the pipeline hub of Cushing, Okla., and the other to two refineries near Springfield, Ill, were constructed between 2011 and earlier this year. in The state of Kansas… which just reelected Governor Sam Brownback despite a record of extraordinary economic malpractice thanks to massive unpaid-for tax cuts strapping the state with a whopping $279 Million dollar budget deficit… gave the Canadian oil company “TransCanada”$15 Million dollar ANNUAL tax cut (ibid first link) to entice them into building the pipeline through their state. That’s like bribing a highway construction crew already knocking on your front door to reroute the freeway through your living room. The tax revenue lost to Brownback’s idiotic tax cut was NOT recovered in tax revenue from new employment. Worse, when that pipeline starts leaking… and it will… the state of Kansas can TRY to get TransCanada to pay for the cleanup, but the imposed fine (if there’s even one at all) won’t cover the actual cost of cleanup or damages. It never does. Who picks up that tab? But “health” and “cleanup” costs are just two of the half-dozen or so economic pitfalls from allowing this pipeline to continue. I already noted the loss of tax revenue in Kansas. Consider that land and the immediate area around it a dead zone for the next 100 years as people decide they don’t want to live near a pipeline (noisy, smelly, dangerous). And the list goes on.

Businesses near the pipeline will soon be forced to relocate as the local population moves away. That translates to fewer jobs and less tax revenue. At the destinations of these pipelines, not only will residents/businesses flee the pipeline itself, but the massive lakes of toxic waste (called: “tailing ponds”) will chase away new residents better than being told their house was the site of a brutal murder/suicide.

Ask anyone from South-East Texas about a place called “Texas City”, and the first thing they’ll mention is how bad it smells. “Texas City” is home to three major oil refineries, only a short hop away from “Port Arthur”… one of Keystone’s three destinations… with its three additional refineries. Trust me, no one lives there unless they have to (employed at the refineries). Not only does the air stink of rotten eggs (sulfur) for miles around, but the air actually burns your eyes and throat after just a few minutes (it is common local knowledge to “roll up your windows” when driving past this section of East Texas.)

I keep hearing supporters of the pipeline say, “It will create jobs!” like it’s a universally accepted statement of fact, and to doubt “that one simple fact” makes you irrational. During last Friday’s episode of “Real Time With Bill Maher”, CNN “Political Contributor” Margret Hoover stated as a fact: “The reality is that the Keystone XL Pipeline will create jobs. Who could be against that?” And MSNBC’s Chris Matthews also repeated the mythical “it will create jobs” claim during “Meet the Press” yesterday. In both cases, NO ONE challenged those assertions. JUST ONCE I’d like to hear someone ask the obvious (bleeping) follow-up: “DOING WHAT?” Seriously. Certainly not in the actual construction of the pipeline itself. As I’ve already pointed out, nearly HALF of the pipeline has already been built. And most of the steel pipe used to construct the pipeline has already been purchased from India. And if you think that Indian steel is stronger than American-made steel with less risk of rupture as 1million barrels a day of liquified dirt SANDBLASTS the walls of that pipe 24/7/365, I have a bird estuary to sell you. No surprise by the lack of pushback on MtP, but one would think that at least on a Left-leaning show like Maher’s, he’d challenge the notion. But he didn’t. Yesterday, ABC’s “ThisWeek” had on the CEO of TransCanda who conceded an AP report that the pipeline would create “just 50 permanent jobs in the U.S.”, but countered that it was still a “job creator” because it would also create “9,000 (low-paying temporary) construction jobs” and “42,000 indirect” jobs (over 2 years)“:
 

CEO of TransCanada, Bill Girling, concedes that the costly pipeline may create only FIFTY permanent jobs in the US and perhaps only 50,000 “temporary” and “indirect” jobs along the construction route over TWO years.

 

Seriously? These are the “jobs, jobs, jobs” Republicans have been promising? We’re risking certain environmental disaster to produce less than half as many jobs as the U.S. economy needs EACH MONTH just to keep up with population growth, over the span of TWO YEARS? Tell me we’re not being ruled by people THAT dumb!

UPDATE: Doing the math, best case scenario of 51,000 temp jobs (9,000 + 42,000) spread out over two years has the same impact as adding just 490 jobs a week for the next two years, or roughly a 0.45% increase in monthly job growth.

While live Facebooking/Tweeting the Sunday News Shows yesterday (click here to follow us on Twitter or here to follow us on Facebook), I found myself in a Twitter “debate” with a “Proud Truther” that thought I wasn’t very bright if I couldn’t figure out all the jobs that could be created from “Construction and maintenance” of the pipeline. Long story short, after I advocated promoting “Green jobs” over the pipeline, he responded with the familiar Republican claim that “government does not create jobs”. This is a common (and painfully stupid) response by Republicans whenever talking about using the government to promote job creation. The “logic” (if you can call it that) goes this way: “If the government creates the job, it costs tax dollars, for a net gain of zero.” And if government were the employer, he might have a point (he’d still be wrong, but at least a defensible argument.)

So I respond back, “Government doesn’t create jobs? That’s demonstrably false. The government creates jobs ALL THE TIME.” May I just point out that this mental midget was arguing with me OVER THE INTERNET… which was a government project and now responsible for hundreds of millions of jobs. Before that, we are STILL reaping the benefits of President Eisenhower’s “Interstate Highway Project” today. And the next time you drive over an eighty year old bridge built under FDR’s WPA (Work Projects Administration), ask yourself how much each of these things has contributed to Commerce in this country?

Remember that “failed” government program that lost millions on “Solyndra“… a GOP punchline for the past six years that Republicans pointed to as an example of “money wasted trying to promote green jobs”? Well, it’s slated to turn a $5 to 6 BILLION dollar profit next year as the majority of companies backed by the program more than out-performed the losses.

Some “reluctant” supporters of constructing the pipeline (and many Republicans, like Sen. John Thune, trying to straddle the fence on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday) like to say, “Construction of the pipeline is inevitable. They are going to sell that oil whether we build the pipeline or not, so we might as well just build it.” Few arguments in favor of the pipeline anger me more than this one. It’s the, “we’re all going to die someday so why not just put a bullet in our brains now?” argument. Former Talk Radio host Ed Schultz made this asinine argument on his radio show last year creating a firestorm. People like myself quickly set him straight and eventually he recanted, but the damage had been done and his show was off the air a few months later.

No. Construction of the pipeline is NOT “inevitable”. Turning tarsand into “oil” is an extremely expensive process, and it is only cost effective with oil between $65-$75/barrel (add this to the mess with ISIS and it’s just one more way the Bush Administration royally screwed this country.) Get the price of oil below $70/barrel and it is no longer cost effective to try to turn that sludge into “oil”. Last week, the price of oil fell below $75/barrel for the first time since 2006. The price of oil the week before the invasion of Iraq? $32/barrel. 

I heard numerous Conservative Commentators yesterday repeat the “common sense” logic that “increasing the supply of oil” (by tapping the Tarsands reserves) will bring down the price of oil. I’ve already detailed in my “Truth About the KXL” report how there isn’t enough oil in the Alberta tarsands (even when added to our our own Bakken shale reserves) to “glut the market”, and that even if there were, OPEC would simply cut production to drive the price back up. So any idea that the tarsands oil will mean lower gas prices is based on nonsense.

For FAR less money… with the side benefits of creating FAR more PERMANENT high-tech green jobs and without the double costs of environmental and economic disaster… we can REDUCE our dependence on oil… the ONLY thing that would actually have an impact on oil prices. I pointed out a couple of years ago that roughly 8% of our electricity is generated by oil-powered turbines. Replace them with windfarms and you DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of oil this country consumes each year (FAR more than “8 percent”), which in turn would bring oil prices down… quickly. OPEC can’t simply drive prices up by cutting production of a product for which there is already less of a demand. They’ll just drive away customers.

There is no economic future in continuing our dependence on fossil fuels. Green jobs pay better and have an actual future, but our government is about to be dominated by people desperate to protect the Blacksmithing Industry from the invention of the Automobile. Senate Democrats are suddenly willing to hold a vote on Keystone because they think helping Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu agree with her opponent on the pipeline will save her job (bang head on wall repeatedly). Have they learned NOTHING from the beating they took just one week ago? Conceding your opponents position doesn’t win you elections. I can think of no better/safer time to kick Landrieu to the curb as a warning to other Democrats. Keeping this notorious DINO in office doesn’t change the balance of power. She’s about to vote with the Republicans (again) in opposition to President Obama (again), so tell me again why I should waste ONE DIME trying to save her seat in Washington? Keystone is a White Elephant for Democrats. Add to that the economic costs of cleanup and the decimation of local economies from “blight flight” (you like that? I just made it up) and Republican “tax cuts” to attract something any sane group would pay to keep away, and you have a project that is SO bad on SO many levels, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone is taking this idea seriously.
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Environment, Global Warming, Greed, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Right-Wing Insanity November 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Electorate Votes Big for Progressive Policies (and the people least likely to implement them)

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

What conclusions can be drawn from an electorate that voted overwhelmingly for Progressive policies in last Tuesday’s election only to also vote for the people LEAST likely to implement them? In EVERY state where raising the Minimum Wage was on the ballot, all Deep-RED states, it won. In EVERY state where marijuana legalization was on the ballot, it won. In EVERY state where increased gun control was on the ballot, it won. And in EVERY state where “personhood” for fertilized eggs was on the ballot, it lost. Yet in many of these same states, Republicans… who are the least likely to support these measures… won big. How does one account for that?

On The Rachel Maddow Show the night after the election, she provided an itemized list of Progressive victories the night before:
 

Howard Dean, who ran the DNC before Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and whose “50 State Strategy” played a huge role in 2006 Democratic sweep of Congress, said the most brilliant thing on “Meet the Press” yesterday:

“The Republican strategy was simply to say, We’re not Obama. And the Democratic strategy was to say, We’re not Obama either. What in the Hell kind of strategy is that?”

In recent weeks, I too have lambasted Democrats for buying into the Republican meme that “President Obama is wildly unpopular” and running away from him and his policies when they should have been defending them. When given the choice between a Party that does nothing but criticize the president vs a Party that concedes their opponents criticism, why on Earth would anyone vote for the same Party as the president? It was beyond stupid. So it was only natural that the GOP candidates would defeat their wishy-washy opponents.

Yet, when it came to ballot issues, the voters STILL expressed a CLEAR preference for Progressive positions. People WANT Progressive government, but they also want stuff to get done. Republicans went out on the campaign trail and told voters that if they want to END GRIDLOCK, they need control of both Houses of Congress. With a metaphorical gun to the electorates’ head, Republicans told voters to, “Elect me before I obstruct again!” NOT ONCE did I hear a Democrat argue the opposite: that giving THEM control of both houses would also end the gridlock in Washington (I find it curious that, despite a 16% approval rating, Control of the House was never in question thanks to Gerrymandering). Republicans already blame President Obama for their own unprecedented obstruction of Congress, but even with control of both houses, President Obama still has his Veto Pen, so if Republicans think they can “repeal ObamaCare” or include the “deportation of 12 Million undocumented workers” in their border-security bill, we’re STILL going to see gridlock in Washington. And if the Tea Party extremists get their way and begin impeachment proceedings, just how much do you expect this Congress to get done?

So what’s going on here? Did voters just not draw a connection between the policies they were voting for and the people they were electing to implement them (FACT: The more educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democrat), or something more sinister?

I despise Conspiracy Theories, and I think the moment you start arguing “election theft” when you lose, you lose all credibility when you win. “Voter Suppression” efforts were rampant across the country this election, but they account for the record low turnout (just 36.6%) not for the inconsistent way in which people voted. Yes, there were reports of “vote flipping” on “touch screen” based voting machines (built more than a decade before modern touch screen tablet technology and thus painfully due for an update), but machines were found to be flipping votes in both directions, an indication the problem is more a em>calibration issue than one of nefarious intent.

However…

If one WERE to rig voting machines so that GOP candidates in close races ended up winning big, and Democrats with huge leads ended up winning in squeakers, it is conceivable that the people rigging the machines didn’t think to rig the “ballot issues” as well to keep the results looking consistent. If I were the conspiracy-type, such a result would definitely be ringing alarm bells in my mind. But instead, I think the problem had more to do with an electorate that just didn’t link the candidates they were voting for to the issues they supported.

In Colorado, where “Personhood” was on the ballot, that measure lost by a whopping THIRTY-POINTS, and yet they elected an Evangelical senator that ran in support of personhood during the primaries only to flip-flop on the issue come the General Election. It was a reversal no Coloradoan could claim not to know about since his opponent, Tom Udall, ran so many ads on the subject he was branded: “Tom Uterus”. But like so many other Democrats, Udall ran away from President Obama’s record of success in spite of unprecedented GOP obstruction, suggesting there was some validity to the GOP’s claims of Obama being a failure, so when faced with the choice between the Party that has been saying for six years that Obama was a failure vs a Democrat that suddenly appears to be conceding his opponents argument, who are the voters going to vote for?

So what can we expect from the next two years? While I do expect to see a LOT of fighting, I predict most of it will be in-fighting amongst Republicans… the “old guard” Republicans that learned some lessons from the past, and brash Tea Party hotheads like Ted Cruz that will make “the repeal of ObamaCare” amongst his highest priorities (NOTE: Thanks to ObamaCare health insurance premiums are slated to rise at just 7.5% next year), as he openly ridicules his fellow Republicans for an unwillingness to consider impeaching Obama (while I still consider the possibility as quite high, I think there are enough Republicans old enough to remember the brusing 1999 impeachment of President Clinton, how it was widely viewed as “petty & vindictive”, and know that if they tried it again, the Press would crucify them.)

2014 was a case study in how NOT to run an election. This was NOT, repeat NOT, a “wave” election for Republicans. Record low turnout is not a “wave”. Did more people show up to vote Republican because they oppose the President, or did more people opposed to the president simply show up to vote? Clearly from all the Progressive ballot issues that won, voters don’t disapprove of the Democratic agenda. But don’t tell that to all the Republicans they just voted for to enact that agenda. 36.6% is not a “mandate”.
 



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Filed in Election, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Rants, Seems Obvious to Me, voting November 10th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View