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Reconciling Trump’s Incompetency With Economic Success
May 7th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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During the 1980 presidential race, GOP candidate Ronald Reagan attacked President Carter for allowing the National Debt to “skyrocket” from just $700 Billion to $900 Billion, a nearly 25% increase in the National Debt in just four years, implying “stunning fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. of course, what Reagan innocently forgot to mention was that all those loans to pay for the Vietnam War started to come due in 1976 (the year before Carter took office) and drove up the Debt, not because of any “fiscal irresponsibility” on Carter’s behalf. Then Reagan went on to become president, slashed taxes on the wealthy, and TRIPLED the National Debt in just eight years. But Republicans adored Reagan… and still do to this day… for producing a “fantastic” economy (actually, the Reagan economy was less successful Bill Clinton’s. And Carter did FAR better in his four years than Reagan did in his first four.) Reagan traded the short-term gain of tax cuts to rescue a struggling economy in the 80’s for a 300% increase in the National Debt that we’ll be paying off for generations. Short-term gain in exchange for delayed long-term pain. Republicans have a well-documented history (something I document here weekly) of ignoring the future consequences of decisions they make today in exchange for short-term gain.

I remember a few years back listening to a debate over whether or not “nuclear energy” should be included in any discussion of “Green Energy”. The short-term gainers argued that “anything that helps us get off fossil fuels that doesn’t produce CO2” should be considered “Green Energy”. One man pointed out that “If the ancient Egyptians had nuclear reactors and used them to power their cities 5-10 thousand years ago, we would STILL be stuck having to store their nuclear waste today.” That’s an amazing thought. Short-term gain in exchange for long-term pain.

We see this repeatedly among Republicans. “Damn the consequences! Full speed ahead… into Iraq… or exploding the Deficit with tax cuts that aren’t paid for… or rolling back regulations of coal mining (and not just “pollution” regulations either. West Virginia’s GOP Senate primary is being led by none other than Bill Blankenship, owner of the “Massey Energy Coal Mine” who went to prison after ordering supervisors to ignore coal mine safety regulations, resulting in the deaths of 29 coal miners in 2010. (But hey, they all had jobs!). Cutting taxes without regard for the Debt (until a Democrat becomes president)? That’s GOP-101.

Republicans hate “government regulations” the way children hate being told to eat their peas. Those “regulations”… like those mine safety regulations Blankenship ignored… were put in place for a reason. Rolling back regulations might help a few companies save a few bucks today and perhaps create a few more jobs… until one of the reasons those regulations were enacted in the first place comes back to bite them in the ass and ends up costing people a lot of money (or worse.) The consequences of many decisions might not be felt for years, but they always come. How many people predicted we’d still be at war in the Middle-East FIFTEEN YEARS after the invasion of Iraq (which was sold on the promise of an “Arab Spring” where the successful Democratization of Iraq would spread throughout the Middle-East as “dictatorships fall like dominoes?”)

So last week, unemployment fell to an amazing 3.9%… technically “full employment” (ie: if you don’t have a job, you probably don’t need one)… a low not seen since Bill Clinton’s second term. Add to that, the “meteoric” rise in the Stock Market after Trump was elected (the DOW closed at a record high of 26,616.71 on January 26th of this year… an increase of 25.5% since Obama left office. All very good news for the economy, and both are indexes I used to judge the strength/weakness of the economy under both Obama & Bush. And this far into Trump’s second year, he does deserve the majority of the credit for these good numbers (as much as it pains me to say it) because a year of unpopular economic decisions would just as easily have driven those numbers back up.
 

Unemployment rate since Bush's final year

 

Trump nearly derailed his own economy when he threatened to impose blanket indiscriminate tariffs on imported steel & aluminum without regard for country of origin, which threatened to spark a global trade war, first resulting in the DOW losing over a thousand points in one week, then losing a thousand points in one day the following Monday. So current numbers ARE a reflection of current policies.

Under Obama during the 2016 campaign, when unemployment fell from 4.9% to 4.6% on November 1st… three points in just one month… Trump called the numbers “fake” and an attempt by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to help Hillary Clinton. Now the numbers are totally accurate and proof his economic policies are working.

At the risk of sounding like a partisan pessimist unwilling to admit “success” under a Republican president, I’m seeing the same trends we saw under George W. Bush when he slashed interest rates NINE TIMES in 2001 (and don’t blame 9/11. Only TWO of those cuts came after 9/11) to get the economy moving again in his first term (if you have been paying attention this week, the last time unemployment fell to 3.9% was December of 2000JUST as the Republican candidates started talking down the economy as they started their run for president (again, trading short-term gain without regard for the consequences.) Interest rates near zero have left the Federal Reserve with no place to go but up… which we have been putting off ever since. When exploding gasoline prices (thanks to deregulated Commodity Traders) sucked TRILLIONS out of the economy by 2008, “cutting interest rates to kickstart the economy” was no longer an option. Global economic disaster ensued, forcing newly elected President Obama to borrow hundreds of Billions for his “Stimulus”.

Trump’s MASSIVE corporate tax cuts… permanent for the rich but temporary for everyone else… spurred enormous investment in the stock market (almost without regard for profits) because it meant corporations were going to be able to keep more of their profits. Many stocks are likely over-inflated, not justified by their sales figures, which makes them ripe for a crash. Trump is creating a bubble that will make The Crash of 2008 look like “The Good Old Days”. We can’t cut taxes to zero and still fund the government, so the days of goosing investment in the Stock Market with the promise of additional tax cuts are over. Once again, there’s no place for them to go but up. The flood of investors pouring money into stocks to take advantage of larger profit margins seemed to push the DOW to new record highs week-after-week for months. Those record highs stopped with that January 26th record close mentioned above. The DOW has not hit another record high since. By last Wednesday, the DOW was down more than 10% off that record high just three months earlier (though gaining a nice 300+ point bounce Friday thanks to the good jobs numbers for April.) And much of this has to do with an increase in Consumer spending thanks to those (temporary) tax cuts (that will blow a hole in the Deficit for the next guy to worry about.) Yes, those tax cuts for the Poor & Middle Class will come to an end over the next few years, but the Republican philosophy is that in a few years, with the economy growing, consumers won’t need those tax cuts anymore (but then watch how hard Republicans fight a few years from now to keep those tax cuts on the grounds ending them will hurt the economy. This is EXACTLY what Republicans did regarding “The Bush Tax Cuts” that were set to end under Obama.)

Okay, we’ve spurred the economy with tax cuts and deregulation. Now what? How do we keep the momentum going? Trust me. They got nothin’.

Tax cuts alone don’t drive economic growth. And thanks to Trump’s massive tax cut blowing a hole in the Deficit, they are going to HAVE TO raise interest rates (already a growing concern) to fund the government. That will suck Billions out of the economy, slow growth, and cause another Recession. Then Trump’s low-end tax cuts will expire, making the problem even worse (which as I note above, will be the excuse for extending those tax cuts even longer) and make an already bad problem even worse.

Gas prices are also on the rise. Republicans LOVE “Big Oil” and want unrestricted drilling EVERYWHERE. “Wanna drill for oil in the middle of a National Park? Go for it! So with all this additional drilling, why are oil/gas prices going up? The national average price of gasoline is now $0.55/gal higher today than when Obama left office. Oil… $52.42/barrel when Obama left office… is racing towards $70/barrel today. Why? Because the GOP’s love of “Big Oil” isn’t out of a desire to see cheap gas, it’s out of a desire to make oil company executives rich. Enjoy the “good times” while you can, folks!

There are plenty of movie & TV examples of “good intentions gone wrong”. But one of my favorites was a 2002 episode of “The Outer Limits” called “The New Breed” (44 minutes) about a brilliant scientist with a massive ego who invented microscopic “nanobots” that could repair damaged cells on a molecular level to cure everything. At first, the nanobots are a huge success. But then they start misinterpreting normal flaws as “mistakes” that need to be “fixed” (one example: giving the doctor “gills” because he kept testing to see how long he could hold his breath under water.) By the end, the brilliant scientist was begging for death.

And that’s how I feel every time I hear Republicans promising the moon today if we just jeopardize our future. “Too many regulations!” “Fighting Climate Change is costing us jobs!” “Corporations will regulate themselves if they wish to stay in business!” “Ice Cream & candy for dinner! We’ll worry about the tummy ache and cavities tomorrow!” They’ve done it time & time again.

A month ago, I wrote about my concern regarding a possible increasing willingness to overlook Trump’s crimes & disastrous policies should his economic policies turn out to be successful. How much is your soul worth? In exchange for short term economic growth, Reagan’s policies exploded the Debt, made “deregulation” a GOP mantra, and unleashed the Military Industrial Complex. Trump whined bitterly of the Mueller/Russia investigation last week, saying, “The country is running so smoothly”, suggesting the investigation into his campaign’s frequent and unresolved contacts with a hostile foreign power… (“meddling” that even Trump himself now concedes happened)… is just sour grapes by “losers” trying to derail his presidency before his “success” costs them the next election.

The cause for alarm here is that Trump is implementing every economic “trick” in the book… (tax cuts, “deregulation”, low interest rates) usually reserved for emergencies… all at once to goose the economy. The danger is that if things go bad, you’re left with no way to counter the damage and rescue the economy.

It drives me crazy that people can’t see that he’s a conman. PT Barnum in a cheap suit. Trump is (or was before the election) broke, pretending to be a billionaire. His entire shtick has been coning people into believing he must know what he’s talking about because he’s a billionaire. “Trump University”, “Trump Airways”, “Trump Vodka” (not wine but Russian vodka), “Trump Mail-Order Steaks” (I always wondered just how much money someone who made million dollar real estate deals thought he’d make selling steaks by mail?), presidential candidate, and now he’s selling the snake oil of “Trickle-Down” voodoo economics all over again.

And (for now), people are buying it. Lord help us all.
 


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FAKE NEWS. Republicans mastered it ages ago
Apr 23rd, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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The earliest example of genuine “Fake News” I can recall is (of course) the invasion of Iraq… which of course was predicated on lies about Saddam Hussein’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Lies spread with the assistance of willing Right-Wing news outlets (*cough*Fox*cough*) who abdicated their journalistic duty to only report claims they could verify, and instead choosing to advance the agenda of a Republican controlled White House and Congress. Worse: If you dared question the official line from the White House the way Ambassador Joe Wilson did in the New York Times, the White House made it their mission to destroy you (see Dick Cheney’s personal notes in the margins (ibid). It angers me today when people try to use claims of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” by the Media in 2002 as an excuse to mistrust News organizations today and trust the totally untrustworthy Trump White House. If anything, those claims of “WMD’s” proves the LEAST trustworthy creature on the planet is a Republican White House with a disturbingly close relationship with Fox “news” (*cough*Hannity*cough*.) But it’s one thing when the Media stops asking questions. It’s quite another when they are USED to disseminate propaganda completely written, packaged and distributed by Conservatives, and Republicans are old hands at that.

Five months after Bush gave his famous “We have prevailed [in Iraq]” speech before a giant banner reading “Mission Accomplished” WHILE we still had soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq, people started souring on the war. Those who didn’t ask questions going in were starting to ask after the fact: “Where are those Weapons of Mass Destruction they assured us were there in huge quantities?” “Where’s Saddam?” (If you recall, he had escaped and was not found until December.) “Mission Accomplished? Then why are we still there five months later?” Christmas was nearing and our troops were still dying at a rate of more than 100/week. “For what?” The presidential pre-election race was already in full swing and the 2004 Primaries were about to begin. The Bush White House was desperate for some good news… emphasis on the word “desperate”.

Suddenly, letters from soldiers serving in Iraq started showing up in local papers across the country. Positive upbeat letters from Home Town Heroes talking about the rewards they were seeing on a daily basis of Iraqis thanking them for “liberating” them from the oppressive Saddam regime. Those “flowers & chocolates” Cheney once quipped the Iraqis would shower our troops with seemed to be coming true. We may not have found those WMD’s, but we rescued an entire nation from a tyrant. “Relax! The invasion of Iraq was not all for naught.” America loves its heroes and cash-strapped small-town local papers were more than happy to reprint these “good news” stories that people loved reading at a time when Bush supporters were desperate for an excuse to continue supporting their president.

But even though “The Internet” wasn’t even a decade old yet at the time, it wasn’t long before tens of thousands of people sharing “local soldier’s letters home” printed in their hometown paper with their family & friends that people started to notice: “Huh. All these letters sound exactly the same except for a few minor details and the signature at the bottom.” News organizations picked up on the story only to discover the letters were being written by the White Housea form letter they were distributing to troops in combat for them to rewrite in their own hand, sign, and send home to give “their mission” (ie: the White House) some badly needed PR. Most troops were sour on the war too, yet there were always a few who found their own reasons to send their form letter home without revealing whose idea it was they write or why.

That was the first example I can recall of a White House actively manufacturing “fake news”… but it wasn’t the last.

During the election of 2004, with so many people down on the Iraq War and the nightly news reporting the death of dozens of troops each & every day in a war it was now clear we shouldn’t be fighting, the White House was desperate for TV stations across the country to report on something other than the continuing Iraq war. “Why aren’t they reporting all the GOOD news? Unemployment is still low (around 5.4%… up about a point & a half from the Clinton low of 3.9%.) Saddam has been captured and the Iraqi people are free!” The list of “positive Bush accomplishments” was short (and weak), but they were desperate,

So they started filming their own news reports using actors pretending to be reporters, reading scripted “good news’ reports, and distributing them to “small market” TV stations across the country who were thrilled to receive free content to pad their newscasts each night. They were caught here too… just not until after Bush’s reelection.

I was reminded of all this two weeks ago when “Sinclair Broadcasting”… another extremely conservative Media conglomerate more insidious than Fox (because at least Fox viewers KNOW they are listening to a Conservative media outlet) were caught asking anchors of dozens of stations across the country to “criticize fake news”, promising that THEY will NEVER report something they themselves haven’t thoroughly checked out first. Unfortunately for them, none of them bothered to question the efficacy of reading a scripted message on the news promising to never simply repeat scripted “fake news”. Oopsie!

The chairman of one of the largest media conglomerates in the country… “American Media Industries” (AMI) is a man named David Pecker… a close personal friend of Donald Trump. AMI owns “The National Enquirer”… the granddaddy of the tabloid industry. People once made fun of anyone who believed anything they read in it. But no more. Not in an age where real news is “fake news” and “fake news” is “real news”. Pecker’s Enquirer now runs headlines every week defending Donald Trump by attacking his accusers. Accusing Hillary, Mueller… anyone Trump supporters hate… of being guilty of crimes themselves. You’ll note they never challenge legitimate news stories of the latest criminal investigation or scandal to befall Trump. Instead, they employ the ever effective “Squirrel!” method of “Look over there!” distraction techniques.

Fortunately for them, the Trump Voter Demographic is precisely the same people who think “The National Enquirer” is legitimate news and “pro-wrestling” is real.

The lone example Conservatives have of genuine “fake news” (and possible bias) that they hold up as an example of why “The Media can’t be trusted”, was a quickly redacted mistaken claim on CNN right after Trump took office that he had removed the bust of “Martin Luther King Jr.” from the Oval Office (at the same time Trump was falsely accusing Obama of having a bust of Winston Churchill removed.) A clear case of hypocrisy, right? Unfortunately for this reporter, the bust of King was simply briefly obstructed by some curtains. The bust had not been removed, and the CNN story was quickly retracted.

But that’s all it took for Trump supporters to start dismissing EVERY damaging news report about the Trump Administration as “Fake News” by a “Liberal Media” that’s out to get him. They reported for over a year that Hillary had a huge lead in the polls and Trump had no chance of winning. Yet… “Trump won.” And it couldn’t possibly be because of election interference by a hostile foreign nation. That’s “fake news” too! The American people actually LOVE Donald Trump. Just look at the size of his inauguration crowd! What? Photos show a dismal turnout for Trump’s inauguration? That must be “fake news” too!

And now, EVERYTHING “the Media” reports that is critical of Trump is “a lie” too. “Just look at what they said about WMD’s!”
 


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From Bush to Trump, Republicans don’t think about consequences
Mar 26th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Way back in June of 2015, right after Trump declared his candidacy, I created the following graphic:
 

Trump's car chase

 

Even back then, it was already clear to me that Donald Trump was making a game out of running for president. He doesn’t really WANT to do the job… the tedious planning, making calls and hammering out “details”. He just wanted to prove he could win… if not the presidency, at least the GOP nomination. Some might point to the grueling campaigning and exhausting schedule as evidence he doesn’t mind hard work, but that’s all part of being a celebrity. You go on tour, cheering adoring fans flock to see you, they know your songs word-for-word, and lavish you with praise. Trump LOVES that part. It’s why within weeks of taking office, he was already back on the “campaign trail”. But like all Republicans, sitting behind a desk working out the details away from the cameras, exploring options and questioning the consequences of their actions is just too much work. I believe Trump once described himself as “a big picture guy“. During the campaign, Don Jr was asked… after describing all the jobs his father was delegating to others (particularly Kushner)… what would his father’s job be (with nothing else left?). Junior’s response? “[Dad will be] in charge of Making America Great again” (that sound you just heard were my eyes rolling out of my head.)

When Bush & Cheney made the decision to invade Iraq, they had NO plan for what to do next once Saddam was out of power. Fourteen years later, I still remember this 2004 interview with Lt. Paul Reikhoff on The Randi Rhodes Show, founder of IAVAW (“Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans Against the War”) describing the day they rolled into Baghdad after Saddam fled for his life:
 

We arrived in Baghdad and asked, “Okay, now what?”
and were told, “We’ll get back to you.”
(2:56)

 

Their one & only plan was to replace Saddam with Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalibi whom convinced a willing Bush & Cheney that Iraq had massive stockpiles of WMD’s. But when those stockpiles weren’t turning up, THEN they started asking questions. Realizing they had been duped, suddenly their one & only plan had fallen through. The mad scramble to come up with a “Plan B” is what turned the Middle East into the chaotic mess it is today.

Republicans just don’t like worrying about the details. Act first, “manage” the fallout later. When the Clinton Tax Rate resulted in a booming economy and a Surplus that was actually paying off the National Debt, George W Bush campaigned on cutting taxes on the rich on the grounds “a Surplus proves you’re paying too much!” (and THAT, dear reader, is why NO Republican president will EVER balance the budget.) The result? The Deficit exploded, from negative $200Billion/year to $1.2TRILLION/year. He couldn’t beat Clinton/Gore on the economy, so Bush & Cheney talked the economy into a Recession (confirming links have expired after 17 years) at every campaign stop claiming “the economy isn’t really as good as they say it is!” It became a self-fulfilling prophecy, the economy tanked (BEFORE 9/11), and once Bush was in the Oval Office, he was strapped with a sinking economy and exploding deficit.

They just didn’t think things through.

And now it is Trump’s turn.

Reports are Trump was as stunned as anyone when he won on Election night (“Fire & Fury” pg.24), making no plans for his transition and even promising Melania (whom told him she didn’t want to move to DC or live in the White House) “not to worry” because “he wasn’t going to win”, leading to “tears… and not of joy” from the new First Lady that “historic” night.

Trump’s White House is being fitted with a revolving door following all the departures. Trump promised to “Drain the swamp” in Washington if elected, and a reason to vote for him was that (as a CEO), he would “hire the best people”, then proceeded to staff his cabinet with incompetent sycophants. The only people being “drained” from Washington are people HE appointed. Interviewing qualified candidates to fill every position was just too much work (especially when after weeks of interviewing Secretary of State candidates, The Kremlin is simply going to put the kibosh on your decision. They hated Romney ever since that “Russia is the greatest threat” comment in 2012.)

And the latest rumor is that now Trump may fire his second Chief of Staff (Gen. John Kelly) and replace him with… nobody! Lord only knows who put that idea into his head (*cough*Fox news*cough*), but I have NO doubt with Trump’s massive ego, he thinks he doesn’t need one. Someone obviously told him, “JFK didn’t have a Chief of Staff! You don’t need one either!” Trump (of course) hasn’t thought this through. He doesn’t want to do his OWN job. Now he’s going to do his CoS’s job too?

Clearly, Fox “news” does all of Trump’s thinking for him. We have concrete proof Trump has changed his position on issues after watching “Fox & Friends” each morning. And he did so again last week after the Republican congress passed their massive $1.3-TRILLION omnibus spending bill (without reading it), “F&F” panned it, complaining that (among other things) the budget did not include any money for Trump’s ridiculous border wall (that Mexico was supposed to pay for.) Trump immediately then criticized the bill too and threatened to veto it. But w/o a budget by last Friday, we would of had a government shutdown, and there’d be no one to blame but Trump. He (obviously) didn’t think through his threat to veto (natch) and ended up having to eat his words. Bill Maher summed things up perfectly last Friday night: “In Russia, Putin controls the media and tells them what to say. Here it’s The Media that controls Trump and tells him what to say & do.

I find it interesting the GOP passed a 2,200 page deficit-exploding budget (Trump’s first, and three months late) without reading it first considering their chief complaints about the vote for The Affordable Care Act were it’s massive size (“Over 2,100 pages!”) and having “No time to read it before voting on it!” But the last thing they wanted was to be working the week of Easter Vacation to scrutinize and pass a budget before the March 23rd deadline, so suddenly, reading & voting on a massive spending bill… the budget for the entire United States… before leaving for vacation, just wasn’t that important. Consequences/Schmonsequences.

When Trump blurted out his idea for a blanket across-the-board tariff on ALL steel & aluminum coming into the U.S. without regard for country of origin, he clearly had not thought it through and was quickly forced to walk it back. Imposing tariff’s on countries with whom we have a Trade Surplus risked starting a Trade War. What he SHOULD have done was take the time to devise “targeted” tariffs against nations engaging in unfair trade practices against us. But actually taking the time to analyze the consequences of your actions before blurting out your plan without a moment’s consideration is simply lazy. And “lazy” is what Republicans do best.

One of the great fears of Trump appointing (yet another Fox news pundit, insane “mustache of Truth”) John Bolton to be his new National Security Advisor (Lord help us) just days after Bolton wrote an Op/Ed making the “legal” case for a “First Strike” against North Korea (and possibly Iran), is that Bolton has a history of preferring the use of force over diplomacy… which also takes work. Bolton believes… to this day… that invading Iraq was the right thing to do (something candidate Trump called “a tremendous disservice.”) “Bombing everyone” is simply… lazy… a means of solving every problem without the hard work of diplomacy… which is right up Trump’s alley. President Bush recess-appointed John Bolton… a man openly hostile to the United Nations… to be his Ambassador to the UN (which Congress promptly undid upon their return.) Tell me Bush thought that one thru. And now Trump has picked him to be his chief advisor on the use of military force with just as little forethought. If Trump believes Bolton knows more about North Korea (or Iran) than he does, he’s going to be loath to contradict him.

And it’s not just that Bolton is an insane warhawk with nothing but open contempt for the rest of the world, but the fact Lazy Trump (desperate to be liked) tends to always agree with the last person he talks to, afraid of offending them. So when Bolton starts telling Trump, “You’re wasting your time trying to talk to North Korea (something Trump said about Tillerson before firing him, then deciding to talk to them himself) and should instead simply “bomb them”, Trump might very well do it.

Consequences/Schmonsequences.
 


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March Madness: CONSERVATIVE Media lied to you about Iraq (and now Trump)
Mar 19th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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The term “Mad as a March Hare” goes back nearly 500 years. It of course refers to the breeding frenzy rabbits go into in the Spring, where they behave so mindlessly as to be described as “harebrained” (not “hairbrained”.) And indeed, March seems to be the month of “harebrained” schemes.

It was 15 years ago today that George W. Bush invaded Iraq under false pretenses. And it bugs the hell out of me when Trump supporters (or anti-“everything government” children… many of whom are old enough to know better but only started paying attention to politics in 2016) use the excuse “the ‘Media’ [that is accusing Trump of collusion] is the SAME ‘Media’ that claimed there were ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’,” as an excuse to justify their own refusal to believe the legitimacy of the Mueller Investigation.

Sorry folks, that crap won’t fly here. “Recording History for those Who Seek to rewrite it”, remember?

“The Media” as a whole did NOT insist Iraq had WMD’s and push us into war. Oh sure, FOX believed it and pushed the narrative, but that’s Fox. They’ve always sided with Conservatives on every issue. But they did NOT represent the vast majority of the ‘Media’. Most of the media was HIGHLY skeptical of the White House’s claims of “stockpiles of chemical weapons”, “mobile weapons labs” and “an active nuclear weapons program.” Millions marched in the streets the world over unconvinced of the “imminent threat of Iraq”. The Bush Administration started making its claims about Iraq in mid-2002 (just months after 9/11), but public skepticism (both here & abroad) was SO high that Secretary of State Colin Powell had to be dispatched to the UN to deliver his infamous Iraq Slideshow (ibid next link). It wasn’t until that point that the media/public finally began to believe they had been shown what appeared to be the “incontrovertible evidence” Saddam Hussein really was doing everything Bush/Cheney had been claiming all along. But it took a LOT of convincing to get them to that point.

Of course, we now know the entire slideshow was total bullpucky (which I detailed here on the 10th Anniversary), using old pre-1991 Gulf War footage, “drawings” when they had no actual evidence, an intercepted audio conversation between two supposed Iraqi generals that Arabic speakers at the UN openly laughed at because the two men on the tape didn’t even have Iraqi accents, and Powell waving around a vile of Baby Powder as a prop to represent the amount of Sarin it would take to kill 10,000 people using highly modified (2001-era) drones with ridiculously long range.

Before that presentation, not a lot of people were buying it… myself among them. “The Media”… which had been asking for “proof” for nearly a year… were suddenly less sure about their position. But even then, FEW (outside the Conservative media) actually encouraged the invasion of Iraq. Many argued “we need to finish the war in Afghanistan and get Osama bin Laden before expanding the (Afghanistan) war into Iraq” to prevent something that seemed avoidable by peaceful means (UN weapons inspectors were IN Iraq, dismantling missiles, performing inspections, and finding NO evidence of WMD’s.)

After the invasion, with everyone now asking, “Where are the WMD’s? You said ‘stockpiles’. ‘20,000 tons of yellowcake’. Where is it?”, I started hearing from people who HADN’T been paying attention, thinking we DID find the WMD’s as well as proof “Saddam was involved in 9/11”, and I found myself spending an awful lot of time “setting the record straight” among friends & family about what was said before the invasion of Iraq (even LONG before 9/11) and what was (or wasn’t) found after the invasion. And so began this blog on the Fourth of July, 2004. (In 2007, during the 2008 Republican Presidential debates, SO many Republican candidates were rewriting the story of how we ended up in Iraq that I felt it necessary to produce the following video of news clips documenting what we knew in the lead-up to war, and how the Bush Administration already had their mind made up to invade:
 


 
Don’t blame “the Media” for pushing to invade Iraq, just to justify your own unwillingness to trust them now regarding Trump/Russia (one of Trump’s own talking points.) The irony is that the only “Media” that actively supported the invasion of Iraq is the SAME Conservative media that dismisses the accusations against Trump today. So if there is ONE Media outlet that got it wrong back then and undeserving of your trust today, it’s the same Conservative Media trying to convince you Trump is the innocent victim of a “witch hunt.”

And the March Madness continues. So far, this past month alone (which is barely half over), Trump has fired (or pushed to resign) SIX people: FBI Director McCabe, Deputy CoS Rick Dearborn, Communications Director Hope Hicks, Economics Advisor Gary Cohn, SoS Rex Tillerson, and Trump’s “Body Man” John McEntee…. in less than three weeks. Trump set a record for White House turnover long ago:
 

Trump Admin Departures
(March 13th. Already out of date.)

 
On October 1st last year, Trump declared that Tillerson was “wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man [North Korea]”, to which Tillerson responded by calling Trump “a f*****g moron” four days later. Trump let it slide (and recently agreed himself to a no-concessions meeting with Kim Jong Un). But it wasn’t until Tillerson openly sided with the UK on whether of not Russia was behind the poisoning/attempted-murder of a former Russian spy, did Trump decide (in a tweet natch) that it was time for Tillerson to go (because he no longer represented Trump’s views.) Trump has yet to give an “official” reason for why he abruptly fired his Secretary of State. The “Trump fired him because he called him a moron [SIX MONTHS AGO]” excuse isn’t playing. The “he allowed the State Department go unstaffed for too long” excuse doesn’t pass the laugh test either since that is EXACTLY what Trump WANTED his SoS to do… to decimate the very department Hillary once ran and Putin despises.

If you want to blame something for Republican insanity this time of year, blame “March Madness”. That’s a better excuse than believing Trump is rational and ‘The Media’ is not.
 


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Survival Instinct. Trump to evade impeachment by befriending Democrats. How much would you Sell Out for?
Mar 5th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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It’s something I’ve feared from the very beginning: With Republicans in control, Trump appears exclusively to Republicans. Should Democrats seize control of Congress, Trump will appeal almost exclusively to Democrats. It’s part of his survival instinct. He is the very epitome of: “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” Trump has no core beliefs. All he wants is to be adored (something he clearly never got from Mommy & Daddy.) His denial Obama got more votes than he did and had a bigger inaugural crowd, the cold fact Hillary got more votes, the entire Mueller investigation suggesting he needed help to win, and now the very real likelihood Democrats are going to retake one or both houses of Congress this year… all are tiny daggers to Trump’s massive ego that maybe, just maybe, he just isn’t as beloved as he thinks he is. And Trump desperately needs to be adored (not “loved”. There’s a difference. He doesn’t understand that.)

What concerns me most is that whomever Trump is “pleasing” at that particular moment, they apparently will sell out an awful lot of what they claim to believe in if they think it’ll get them what they want on another issue. “Gonna build that wall, and MEXICO is gonna pay for it! What? No? WE are going to pay for it? That’s okay! As long as he still agrees with us on keeping the Mex’cuns out.” Meanwhile, how much will Democrats overlook to get something done on “gun control”? Would they stop supporting the Mueller investigation? I honestly believe that is exactly what Trump is hoping when he publicly agrees with Democrats on guns, even going further than any Democrat has ever proposed: saying he actually supported “taking the guns away first, immediately, prior to Due Process,” if someone is suspected of being a threat. I’m not totally in favor with such a move but sure wouldn’t hate it if he did it (the entire subject would be a lot simpler if they just took my advice and “focused on the ammunition, not the guns.”) How many of your principles would you sellout to get what you wanted from this president? This isn’t just some hypothetical where you can answer knowing it’ll never happen. We now have a president with no core principles whom you really could talk into almost anything if it meant he’d be adored by one side or the other for doing it. And the big danger of that is how it affects the presidency from here on out. Do rules even matter any more? Do we set a precedent that the Chief Executive can get away with practically anything if he gives the Party in control of Congress whatever they want?

Remember what a “security risk” Hillary’s private email server was? Her “reckless behavior” was grounds for “locking her up” as far as Trump’s supporters are concerned. Meanwhile, Trump has had over 100 staffers in the Trump White House operating with “temporary” security clearances for over a year. At least three were discovered to have a history of “domestic abuse”, and Kushner was cashing-in on his plumb WH position by conducting personal business INSIDE the WH, securing over a half billion dollars in loans for his personal real estate business, making all of these men HUGE blackmail risks. But do you think his clueless minions care? No, they are STILL chanting “Lock Her Up!” at every Trump rally (and why is he still holding rallies? It’s that need for adoration.)

Trump complains about Media criticism of him, but he still watches it. All of it. Negative tweets from critics? He reads them. Even “bad” attention is still attention. He doesn’t care if one side vilifies him so long as the other “adores” him. And if that means pleasing Democrats one minute then pleasuring the NRA the next, that’s what he’ll do. I believe it was Senator Chuck Schumer who described negotiating with Trump “like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.” Even Republicans have criticized him for always “agreeing with the last person he talks to”. Trump loved to sound defiant on the campaign trail: “You’re fired! Drain the swamp! Tell China they’re Currency Manipulators! I’ll stand up to the NRA!” But get him in private, face-to-face, and his desperate need for approval takes over: “Putin tells me they didn’t meddle, and I believe him.” “China isn’t a currency-manipulator, they are just doing what they think is best for their country”, after speaking with President Xi face-to-face. Then he talks to his Justice Dept and agrees Russia meddled. What Trump says to a faceless crowd isn’t always what he ends up saying in private. If you disagree with Trump on something, get him alone in a room to discuss it. It you have a solid grasp of your subject, he’ll agree with you (half out of wanting to please you and half out of not wanting to appear stupid if he doesn’t totally understand you.) But if the next person to talk to him is your opponent, he’ll flip-flop like an unwanted fish on the deck of a tuna boat. Consider, have you EVER heard Trump stick to his guns “on principle”? (“I hear what you’re saying, but I truly believe my position is the right one?”)

At Trump’s Media-laden roundtable on gun control surrounded by Democrats, Sen. Chris Murphy (CT) noted: “97% of the population supports background checks, but we just can’t get it done!” Trump responded, “That was before me! You’ve never had someone like ME president, before”, suggesting HE’LL stand up to the NRA and members of his own Party to finally get something done on gun control. The next day he he meets with the NRA and he immediately he starts walking it back. “That was before ME!” he told Senator Murphy. “No one else could get it done, but *I* will”. Now it looks like he too will get “nothing done”… just like all those presidents before him.

So now the issue is “tariffs”. After one of the most chaotic weeks of an administration that has been wall-to-wall chaos, Trump is going back to his bottomless well of campaign promises looking for something to please his supporters and regain their love. Republicans LOVE “Free Trade” and despise tariffs. Because the only way to keep prices low without cheapening out on the cost of materials or underpaying your employees is to cut corporate profits and exorbitant CEO salaries… the two groups Republicans are totally beholden to. Democrats have LONG made their hatred of “Free Trade” known. When President Obama proposed the “Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)“, Democratic voters were SO vocally opposed to it, they actually forced him to back down from pushing it thru before he left office. Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State, called the TPP “the Gold-Standard of trade agreements”, but reversed her support for it (as she did on most issues where she took the Conservative position first until it proved unpopular) a few weeks into her campaign. Opposition to “Free Trade” is something both Liberal & Conservative voters alike oppose (briefly propelling Ross Perot into the lead in ’92 with his opposition to NAFTA.)

So now members of Trump’s Administration… Conservatives all… are filling the airwaves forced to defend AND support their bosses position on tariffs an opposition to “Free Trade”. Actually making the case that something Republicans in Washington have fought for for over 30 years is not necessarily a “good” thing.

But what if he flips yet again (as per his history?) All these people putting their reputations on the line, making the case that tariffs would actually be a “good” thing and “help” create jobs. What if Congressional Republicans get him alone in a room and convince him that “maybe tariffs aren’t such a good idea.” Then what? How do all these staffers who just made the case Trump’s idea for tariffs on imported steel & aluminum would be beneficial, then go back out there and say “tariffs might actually be bad” and come away with any credibility at all?

“To sleep, perchance to dream! Aye, there’s the rub!” said Hamlet. The “rub” was the gamble that in death, you’d have pleasant dreams for all eternity, not an eternity of nightmares from which you can’t awake.

Trump, after angering his own Party on tariffs and assault weapons, desperate to be adored, might very well become Democrats best friend just to avoid prosecution. The question is, do Democratic principles have a price?
 


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Trumpocrisy: a State of the Union Preview
Jan 29th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Only a few brief observations ahead of Tuesday’s “State of the Union Address”, but be sure to follow me on Facebook & Twitter Tuesday night as I live blog the event.

During Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Karl Rove said: “Donald Trump needs to avoid looking too self congratulatory” during his first SotU address. How he said it with a straight face, I’ll never know. Trump? Praise himself and take credit where little-to-no credit is due? Peshawar! Trump is the very picture of humility. Be it ever so humble, there’s no man like Trump.

I’m kidding, of course.

Trump is going to take credit for low 4.1% unemployment… even though it has been falling steadily since late 2009. The rate of decline has not risen or fallen any faster since Trump’s inauguration 12 months ago. And until Congress passes a budget, we are STILL operating under Obama’s final budget passed in December 2016. And until January first of this year, we were still operating under Obama’s tax rates and Obama’s “job-killing” healthcare regulations (aka: “ObamaCare”). None of that sure seemed to hurt job growth or GDP (till now.) But Trump is taking credit for it all while we wait to see what impact his policies have once they went into effect on January 1st of this year.

The only thing Trump can truly take credit for is the massive increase in the Stock Market… due almost entirely to corporations buying back their own stock to pump up the share price ahead of his massive tax cut for the Corporations (something that was once illegal before Reagan.) Companies of dubious health with wildly inflated stock prices is a prescription for another massive Stock Market crash… one that is poised to make the 2008 Crash look like a trial run should the economy suddenly start to turn South.

And turn it must as The Fed will be left with no choice but to raise interest rates to make up for the budget shortfall due to the loss of revenue from those massive corporate tax cuts.

Trump promised “We will provide massive tax relief for the Middle Class“, but almost his entire cut went to the wealthy. In fact, anyone earning less than $75k/year will eventually be paying MORE in taxes. But Trump will of course take bows for signing “the largest middle-class tax cut in history”… and Republicans will stand & cheer uproariously for more than a minute.

There will be no mention of Russia or the Mueller investigation… and if you don’t drink, you can safely choose “fake news” as your drinking word because… despite being his favorite phrase… he’ll never say it. This is a SCRIPTED speech, folks. And it there is one thing we’ve learned in the past two years, there is “scripted Trump” (aka: “Teleprompter Trump”) where he is praised as “sounding presidential” reading someone else’s words, and “Twitter Trump” who poop-tweets between 6am-8am while watching “Fox & Friends” where they look right into the camera because they KNOW he’s watching, and then instruct #ToddlerTrump on how he should feel & respond to different events as if he were a small child.

For someone who repeatedly denies he has done anything wrong regarding Russia, Trump sure seems to spend an awful lot of time behind the scenes trying to shutdown, derail & misdirect the Russia investigation. And Republican voters don’t care if Trump is corrupt or if Russia subverted our Democracy as long as the economy appears to be doing fine and Trump is doing everything they want. So what if a hostile foreign power interfered in our election and subverted our democracy, also long as they get what they want. And yes, I’m angry about that… NOT because I wanted Hillary to win (I didn’t), but because they called people like ME “traitors” who “hated America” for the last 18 years. Yet here they are now, taking sides against America, praising Putin while ridiculing our OWN intelligence agencies. The supposed “Law & Order Party” has been cheering as Trump trashes the FBI & DoJ while defending Russia.

So listen closely to this State of the Union speech. I can assure you Trump wrote little-to-none of it. How to know for sure? Count the polysyllabic words. If it exceeds eight, Trump didn’t write it.

See you on Facebook Tuesday evening.
 


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Why a Shutdown? Here is what it would be like if Trump got everything he wanted
Jan 22nd, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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“The only reason the government is shutdown today is because Trump made dozens of ridiculous promises that were impossible to keep.” – overheard in Congress.

A shutdown falls on the President’s lack of leadership. He can’t even control his party and get people together in a room. A shutdown means the President is weak.” – Donald Trump in 2013 during the last government shutdown.

Donald Trump made a LOT of unkeepable promises to his angry low-information devotees during the 2016 campaign, chief among them, his ridiculous promise not just to Wall-off the entire United States Southern border with Mexico, but that he would (“easily”) get Mexico to pay for it so it would not cost the American taxpayers one thin dime. He was also one of the few Republican candidates who felt is WAS indeed possible to round-up & deport over ten million undocumented Mexican immigrants. But then, once in the Oval Office, things got complicated.

While Trump never put his plan on paper, I’m quite sure in his simplistic child mind, he thought “all we need to do it block all Mexican goods from entering the United States” and they would then BEG to meet any insane demand Trump was making… including paying for his ludicrous 2,000 mile long border wall (I’m sure he pictured razor-wire across the top and guard towers every 1,000 yards, too.)

Then reality sunk in. That would also mean no Mexican/South American farm-produce crossing the border, and no immigrant farm workers, meaning food prices in the U.S. would skyrocket (not a big deal for a wealthy man like Trump, but a much bigger deal for his lower-middle class base. Add to that, WE trade with Mexico too! They would block all American goods from flowing South (including American crude/gasoline.) American plants in Mexico looking to ship their products back to the U.S.? They could stop that too. His corporate backers would NOT be happy with THAT.

So “Mexico isn’t going to pay for any F—-ing wall” as former Mexican President Vicente’ Fox put it. They aren’t powerless to stop it the way Trump imagined, and the only one “begging” right now is Trump… begging Democrats and the American taxpayers to furnish the first $20 Billion just to start building his moronic wall while he figures out a way to get Mexico to pay for it… which he never will.

Reality bites.

And you know how it is once America starts paying for some ridiculously expensive project? They convince Congress that we must continue to fund the project just “so all the money spent so far doesn’t go to waste” and “it wasn’t all for nothing” (that’s partly why it took so long to end the war in Iraq… regardless of how many “advisors” have been sent back since.)

In addition, I’m still quite astonished that no one ever seems to bring up the “unfeasibility” of building a wall across the entire Southern border: “Where would you PUT it?” You can’t build it on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande because that is THEIR land (as is half that river.) Do we build it on OUR side of the Rio Grand and forfeit the entire river to Mexico? Do we build the wall right down the middle of the river (rendering it unusable?) Less than half of all immigrants here illegally came across the border on foot. Most came here on worker/student/tourist visas and simply never went home. An enormous wall would have done nothing to stop those people from getting in. Walls don’t stop airplanes.

They also don’t stop tunnels. Our Southern border looks like Swiss cheese deep underground with tunnels dug to smuggle both drugs and immigrants into the country. You can’t bury a wall deep enough to stop someone from tunneling beneath it.

But Trump promised his base, so now he’s stuck. Democrats actually said they’d agree to funding that first $20 Billion IN EXCHANGE for Trump renewing the #DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program and not turning the “Dreamers” into hunted animals. And according to Senate Minority Leader Schumer, Trump actually agreed to that deal. Then he walked out of the room. About two hours later, members of Trump’s racist (I call ’em as I see ’em) Party got to him and convinced him it was a terrible deal (Reverend Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation yesterday said Schumer’s mistake was leaving Trump alone because “he always agrees with the last person he talks to.”) But not only did Trump back out of the deal, he couldn’t help but poison the well, tweeting: “The Dems just want illegal immigrants to pour into our nation unchecked. If stalemate continues, Republicans should go to 51% (Nuclear Option) and vote on real, long term budget, no C.R.’s!” accusing Democrats of siding with illegal immigrants over the American People. Republicans had to change the rules to get Gorsuch appointed to the Supreme Court, now Trump wants them to do it again… because the only way The Great Deal-Maker can get anything done is by One-Party rule.
 

Trump the Deal-Maker (:32)

Some Republicans truly believe tens of thousands of children… even infants… should have refused to allow their parents to bring them to this country. “If they are here illegally, they are criminals and must go back” they say. And of course, their “illegal” parents would have to be deported too. But many of these “Dreamers” are adults now with families… children… of their own. American Citizens born in this country. So you deport Mom and/or Dad and leave the kids here? Do we start deporting American Citizens in order to keep families together? I have NO doubt plenty of Trump’s followers fully support that idea. “Send them home. Send them ALL home… back to Africa… er, I mean Mexico!”

Unless the Trumptonions want to repeal the 14th Amendment that declares anyone born here a U.S. citizen… a move that would never get past Congress let alone be ratified by 33 states… the U.S. is just NOT going to start deporting American Citizens just because their parents were brought here illegally when they were just children themselves (but if they DO repeal the 14th, might I suggest they make it retroactive and deport Trump, born to an Irish immigrant mother who was not yet a citizen at the time?)

And once again, reality much teach Toddler Trump another lesson. Oh, but there’s more dear reader!

Most of these undocumented workers are TAXPAYERS. While many pay federal income taxes (particularly Dreamers, many of whom didn’t even know they were undocumented), nearly all pay Sales tax (Just five states have no state-wide sales tax: Delaware, Montana, Oregon, New Hampshire and Alaska), registration & licensing fees, etc. The loss of tax revenue would be enormous, vastly adding to the Deficit (another shortfall the Middle-class taxpayer would have to pick up for the corporations in Trump’s America.) And what about our investment in their education? Did we spend all that money to educate them to become productive workers just to ship them back to Mexico? How is it we’ll continue to pay for a useless military plane, a “bridge-to-nowhere” or even an unwinable war just so that all the money we’ve put into it so far wasn’t for nothing, but we’ll educate the scientists & inventors of tomorrow just to deport them to make some other country rich? That’s crazy.

And so, because of these ridiculous unkeepable promises, we’ve shutdown the government until the angry hoards start assigning blame, at which point, the losing side will come begging the other for mercy.

And isn’t that how we got into this mess?
 


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Soon-to-be-Fired & Furious: Trump’s History of Childish Behavior
Jan 8th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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To paraphrase most magicians, “Pick a tweet. Any tweet.”

Happy New Year. If someone were looking for evidence of Trump’s incessant childish behavior and immaturity, one need look no further than his Twitter feed. Last week, author Michael Wolff released his new book, “Fire and Fury”, that left millions nodding their heads in agreement as Wolff revealed the dysfunction he witnessed while chronicling the Trump campaign and the first weeks of the Trump White House… which (not surprisingly) was met with “Fire and Fury” BY the Trump White House. And likewise, also to no ones surprise, Trump’s response(s) only seemed to confirm exactly what Wolff reportedly witnessed: that the White House is being run by a thin-skinned temperamental man-child who lacks the maturity and intelligence to run the most powerful nation on Earth.

Trump… in his usual reserved, mature Trumpian style… denied Wolff’s claims by calling him (and his own former Chief strategist, Bannon) names, and himself a “genius”:
 

Trump calls himself a genius

 

Anyone who has been paying attention since Trump declared his presidency in mid-2015 KNOWS what a ridiculous thin-skinned egomaniac Trump is. My (In)Complete (and Growing) List of Ridiculous Trump Superlatives records at least 79 such instances of absurd Trump self-aggrandizement (I’m certain I’ve missed a few.) And like any “toddler” (which I’ve been calling Trump for over a year now), he continually behaves in ways indicative of a 5 year old child.

Trump lies like a small child. Habitually. He not only insists he’s the only one telling the truth and everyone else are the liars, he does so even when he’s caught on tape or photographic proof exists to contradict him (I’m reminded of the TV commercial of the father recording video of his two young boys, covered in paint, denying they got into the paint.) One of the clearest signs someone is lying: their story continually changes as evidence emerges to contradict them. A mature adult will reach a point where they can no longer deny the truth without looking ridiculous and losing all credibility. Children don’t have that maturity. The more the evidence mounts against them, the more they dig in their heels and deny reality. They may even try to redirect your attention to someone else. Last week, Special prosecutor Robert Muller announced that he had obtained confirmation via hand-written notes taken by then Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus, that the reason Trump summoned then FBI Director James Comey to the Oval Office was to urge him to publicly declare that he was not under investigation by the FBI as part of the Russia investigation… just as Comey claimed and Trump denied. Caught in yet another lie.

After some Conservative pundit visiting Trump’s favorite TV show, “Fox & Friends”, speculated that the voice on the infamous “Access Hollywood tape” was not in fact Trump, but “faked” by someone trying to frame Trump, Trump himself… who already ADMITTED it was him on the tape and the words were his but he didn’t mean it… floated the idea that it quite possibly WASN’T him on that tape and it’s possible he was indeed framed. Does he no longer KNOW whether or not he spoke those words? Did he forget he already admitted he said it? Did he forget he was talking to someone else (Billy Bush) at the time who confirmed the conversation took place? Did he REALLY think he could now convince people he didn’t say it after already admitting he did? That’s something a child might try to do.

For nearly a year, Trump insisted he “didn’t collude” with the Russians. But when some Conservatives tried arguing “collusion is okay” and that there’s nothing “illegal” about a “president-elect contacting foreign governments, Trump too started arguing that there was “nothing illegal” about the many contacts between his campaign and Russian officials. Someone then clearly had to remind him that the investigation was regarding contacts between his campaign prior to his election, and that admitting to “established relationships” by the time he won might raise questions as to when those relationships began, and suddenly… child that he is… he was back to denying any “collusion” ever took place between his campaign and Russia. (Speaking of which, according to Trump’s new buddy Lindsey Graham, Trump now concedes that it was Russia… not “China or some 600lb person from their bed”… who hacked the DNC and stole emails off their servers. That means Trump now concedes Russian “meddling” DID take place in the election, and clearly with the intent of helping him and hurting Hillary Clinton. There can be no other purpose/explanation. Yet STILL Trump refuses to admit the Russians helped him win, and has asked for no consequences/penalty against Russia for their crime of attempting to interfere/undermine the American election.)

This coming year will be Trump’s first year where we finally see the consequences of decisions belonging to Trump and Trump alone. Last year, he was still operating under Obama’s final budget, Obama’s tax rates and “job-killing” ObamaCare (under which unemployment fell to just 4.1% and the economy continued its streak of huge monthly jobs gains)… which he simultaneously took credit for AND ridiculed to justify the most massive corporate tax cut in history on the grounds they would “promote job growth”…

…That’s the kind of Cognitive Dissonance once could only come to expect from a child.
 


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Predictions for 2018: Fasten Your Seatbelts
Jan 1st, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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In the cinematic classic “All About Eve”, Betty Davis tells a room full of partiers to “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Meaning they should prepare for trouble as she comes to realize she’s been played the fool. I stopped wondering early on when Trump supporters would come around and realize they’d been “played” by this irrational, egomaniacal blowhard braggart who’ll say absolutely anything just to win, when they continued to make excuses for him over & over again no matter how easily disproven his assertions were (starting day-one with actual photographs of the crowd size attending his inauguration), continuing to believe this side-show carnival barker as long as he continues to put a “respectable” face on “bigotry”, “hate” and (as with George W. Bush) being “dumb” as something to be proud of. While Mugsy’s Rap Sheet began in 2003 shortly after Bush’s invasion of Iraq and people were just starting to realize they had been duped and there were no “Weapons of Mass Destruction”… just as I predicted, I didn’t start my annual “Predictions” tradition until December 2007 on the old “BI30 Archive” blog (which no longer exists) making predictions for 2008. Ten years later, I have wracked up quite the track record. My success rate over 10 years averages out to 59.5%. Personally, I think anyone who’s predictions are right nearly 60% of the time should be taken seriously (big smile.)

2017 was a challenge having nothing but Trump’s performance on the campaign trail to judge how he might perform once in the Oval Office. But one character-trait was already obvious and has only cemented over time: Trump is a giant toddler, impulsive, easily offended, asserts things as “true” simply because he believes them to be true (whether they are or not), and can’t resist touching the hot stove no matter how many times you tell him “No”. And like any spoiled rich kid (or child of a powerful monarch) whom no one dares say “No” to, he stumbles his way through any endeavor, takes credit for the achievements of others (2017 economy under Obama’s final budget/tax-rates, and Iraqi soldiers achievement in pushing back ISIS), blames his failures on whomever he deems is “out to get him” that particular day (repeated failure to pass ANY major policy initiative promised on the campaign trail… from the “repeal & replace of ObamaCare” that he said would be incredibly easy, only to eventually concede reforming health care was “Harder than ‘anybody’ thought”, to his promise to get Mexico to pay for a massive Border Wall), and then declares himself to be the greatest to do whatever it is he thinks he’s done (even when he’s dead last). I worry my head will fall off my shoulders in 2018 from all the shaking in disbelief.

As usual, we begin by looking back at the predictions of others for comparison sake. You can’t be impressed by my success rate if you don’t know how bad everyone else seems to be at it. And as usual, I remind you that I’m no psychic. I make no claim of amazing mental powers other than my ability to spot political trends and understanding of human behavior.

I’m not going to bother reviewing any famous “psychics” this year. Their act is to simply make dozens (sometimes hundreds) of vague predictions, and when one appears to have come true, they crow like roosters at sunrise until people “praise” them for their “amazing psychic ability.” It has become quite old and a waste of time. Looking back at past years reviews, their track record is somewhere between zero & 1 percent.

No, I enjoy reviewing & critiquing my fellow political pundits… especially self-righteous Conservatives whose predictions always seem to align with their own agenda. “Democrats bad! Conservatives good! Argh!” (wave outstretched arms for effect.) It can really get quite absurd. Why anyone listens to these people is beyond me. Like the saying goes, “Always certain. Rarely right.” Remind you of anyone?
 

The Competition

Fortune Magazine does predictions every year, mostly economic, but will also predict political actions that might affect the economy. If it’s any indication, their Predictions for 2017 included “AOL Will Get Cool Again” (spoiler alert: It didn’t.) So now that you have some idea just how unrealistic their predicting can be…

Fortune’s first political prediction right off the bat: “The U.S. Gets a Giant New Infrastructure Bill”. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Republicans LOVE to promise “infrastructure”… as long as they don’t have to pay for it. Despite controlling BOTH houses of Congress and the White House, Republicans didn’t even mention “infrastructure” in the massive budget they passed last week with enormous tax cuts for corporations and the Top 1%… which will make paying for that “infrastructure” Trump promised next to impossible.

Fortune made only four “political” predictions, and the remaining three were (arguably) all correct… though predicting a GOP-controlled congress with Republican president will cut taxes is a bit like predicting Trump will poop-tweet something stupid at 6am. Ditto for predicting a roll-back of many Climate-Change regulations, continued anti-immigrant rhetoric, and “tax-reform” where they give corporations a huge tax cut (that “will pay for itself with all the corporate revenue it encourages to return from overseas”… dream on.) Barrel of fish? Meet “shotgun”.

Our next contestant is CNN, pitting thirteen in-house advisors against each other to answer the same eight questions… only three of which are political in nature: “location of Trump’s first overseas visit”, “status of the DOW”, and “Trump’s approval rating.” Trump waited until May to make his first overseas trip, visiting nine cities (in five countries) in nine days:
 

Trump's 1st overseas trip.

 

Four (of the 13) analysts get partial credit for saying “Israel” (though technically the first stop was… oddly enough… Saudi Arabia) which was stop #2 on day two of his first ever overseas trip. Honorable Mention to the last pundit (Jeff Yang) for the most honest prediction: “Depends on where he wants to build his next hotel.” Maybe he was the only one to get that question right?

While only two pundits predicted the DOW to lose ground, no one predicted the DOW to close up over 24,000 as corporations poured Billions into buying back their own stock (something that used to be illegal before Reagan) to artificially pump up the price ahead of the massive GOP tax cut for those same corporations and their wealthy owners/investors (allowing them to pocket more of those dividends.) The reason this was once illegal is because stock price used to reflect the health of a company. If a company was successful, it was a safe investment. But now that stock value no longer has anything to do with their success as a company, buying stock is quite-literally legalized gambling. Watch the 2015 movie “The Big Short” for a primer on how over-inflated stock & real-estate values created the 2008 Wall Street bubble that resulted in global economic devastation. (Again, props to Yang for wondering if the DOW will be measured in rubles.)

Trump’s approval rating by the end of the year? Six of the 13 were reasonably close to predict the mid-30’s to 40%. Five said it would be over 50% (one thinking 60%), and radio host Dean Obeidallah being the only one to correctly guess Trump would end his first year with “the lowest approval rating in history.” Such polls only started with Eisenhower in 1953, but Trump did end the year with the all-time lowest approval rating at just 39.3% (the second lowest was Ronald Reagan ten points higher at 49%.) Trump himself believes (of course) that he ends his first year with nearly the exact same approval rating President Obama had at the end of his first year (Trump: 46%, Obama: 47%). Problem is, Trump is citing a single very pro-Republican Rasmussen poll for his figures. Obama’s 12-poll average by December 2009 was 49.9%… more than 10-1/2 points higher than Trump’s… which I’m certain Trump consoles himself by believing that’s “Fake News!”

And again, props to Yang for wondering if Trump’s poll numbers could be negative.

ABC’s “ThisWeek” asked its Roundtable to make some predictions for 2017:
 


Some Predictions for 2017 (1:20)

 

Question: Biggest promise Trump delivers on and biggest promise broken? They did fairly well. While “ObamaCare” wasn’t repealed, it was kneecapped. No Wall. No “Muslim Ban”. Trump tried repeatedly at the latter, and while the Supreme Court eventually ruled a “watered down” version was legal, the appeals courts are still challenging it. So the year ends with no absurd “Muslim Ban”.

And last but not least, my favorite each year, the folks over at Fox “news” Sunday.

This is my favorite part of the prediction game, looking back at how absurdly wrong Conservative pundits get it year after year. The more Conservative they are, the more smug they are when making their predictions. Fortunately for them, #FnS spends no time whatsoever to look back at how they did the previous year, for if they did, several might think twice before daring to make any on-camera predictions year-after-year.
 


Fox “news” Sunday pundits predictions for 2017 (8:49)

 

Laura Ingraham predicts Trump nominates “a judicial Conservative well-liked by the rank & file GOP and is approved by Congress”, but doesn’t cite Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch is eventually approved… but ONLY after the GOP changes the rules, passes “The Nuclear Option”, and approves him with a simple majority (final vote 54-45 thanks to two Democratic defectors.)

Julie Pace only predicts “2017 will be unpredictable.” There, she was right.

NRO’s Mike Needham, a man working had to inherit the mantle of “Worst predictor since Bill Kristol”, said matter of factly, “Obamacare WILL be repealed; HHS Sec Tom Price will do a great job” (he was forced to resign); and the result will be “better, more affordable healthcare.” GOP never came up with a replacement. Their only change was to abolish the “tax mandate” which will result in higher premiums and 18 Million low-income Americans losing coverage.

Juan Williams predicted President Obama to stay heavily in the public eye and become a DC “powerbroker”. Instead, Obama totally eschewed public life altogether, coming out only to partake in a BBC interview last week where he was asked questions by Prince Harry. Obama urging “people in leadership positions not to use social media in a way that fosters division” is probably his strongest rebuke of Trump his entire first year… and even here, never mentions Trump by name.

I’ll let you watch the rest of the video and judge for yourselves the accuracy of their predictions (note: Needham then goes on to describe Obama’s final year… with monthly job gains pushing 200K, unemployment down to 4.6% and GDP of 3.5%… as “anemic” and expected continued job growth under Trump and a GDP of “3%” as “roaring back.”
 

Now, a look back. How did I do predicting 2017? Pretty damn good if I do say so myself. Though if I had stopped after 10, I would have scored a personal best. Oh, well. My first four predictions were so spot-on, you’d be forgiven for thinking I cheated and wrote them last week (I assure you, I didn’t.)

  1. Right: “President Obama’s final budget will still be in effect until October (Republicans actually didn’t pass a new budget until December), so it is unlikely the economy will turn South in Trump’s first year.” – Trump of course is not only taking full credit for his first year economy, but it ALL happened under Obama’s final budget, Obama’s tax rates, and with “job-killingObamaCare in full effect. Trump not only took credit for the economy, he simultaneously criticized Obama’s policies as “hurting job growth” (despite unemployment now down to 4.1%), justifying his massive tax cut for corporations and the Top 1% at the expense of anyone earning less than $75K/year.
  2.  

  3. Right: Trump’s Russian ties will continue to haunt him in 2017, but with a GOP controlled Congress, nothing will ever come of it. – The Mueller investigation continues. Startling revelations emerged of Don Jr, Jared Kushner (Trump’s wunderkind go-to guy for every boring job) and Trump’s own campaign manager Paul Manafort, actually meeting with a Russian lawyer promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, IN Trump Tower… two floors below Trump’s office, and still he insists (16 times in his last interview of the year) that no collusion ever took place between his campaign and the Russians. Four people working for the Trump campaign have been indicted. Two have plead guilty (Papadopoulos and Mike Flynn), and just the other day we learned Papadopoulos bragged to an Australian diplomat that the Russians “had thousands of emails on Hillary Clinton”… before news broke that the DNC has been hacked.
  4.  

  5. Right: 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. – Enter Mike Flynn, who was fired after serving a mere 24 days as National Security Advisor. The excuse given was that he “lied to the FBI” (about his overseas business interests)… EIGHTEEN DAYS AFTER acting Attorney General Sally Yates TOLD the Trump Administration Flynn had lied to the FBI and was therefore a blackmail/security risk.
     
    Here is the final list of Trump Administration staffers who either were fired, forced to resign, or were “reassigned” (grab your magnifying glass.)
     
    Trump Admin 2017 Departures

     
    Trump promised to “Drain the swamp”, but so far, the only people leaving are people HE hired.
  6.  

  7. Right: Trump will hold a record low number of Press Conferences, preferring instead to use Twitter. No huge surprise here. Trump held exactly ONE Press Conference his entire first year in office.
  8.  

  9. Wrong: Trump will deploy between 100,000 and 300,000 troops back into Iraq & Afghanistan. – Happily, this didn’t turn out to be the case (at least, as far as we know.) Instead, he deployed an additional 3,900 “advisors” into Iraq, Afghanistan & Syria to push back against ISIS. Growing anger against ISIS in those countries for targeting their fellow Muslims (something I had predicted for 2016) has made them quite unpopular, and huge defeats at the hands of the Iraqi army has hurt ISIS recruiting, decimating their numbers (unlike 2015 & 2016, I did not attempt to predict the size of ISIS by the end of 2017, but I did not see the Muslim backlash against ISIS growing so intense in just one year, so I probably would have gotten it wrong if I had.)
  10.  
    Right: – I predict at least five such deadly mass casualty [ISIS inspired] attacks across the world. 2017 was a busy year for ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks around the world:
     

    • New Years day: Istanbul nightclub – 39 killed.
    • March: Car runs over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in London. – 4 killed.
    • May: Ariana Grande concert in Manchester – 22 killed
    • June: Eight people are killed when a van strikes pedestrians on London Bridge.
    • April: St. Petersburg underground is the target of a suicide bomber – 15 killed
    • April: Uzbek asylum seeker kills seven people when he rams a lorry into a crowded shopping street in Stockholm
    • April: At least 27 people die in an explosion inside a church in the city of Tanta, Egypt. Another blast kills at least 16 in front of a church in the coastal city of Alexandria, Egypt.
    • August: a van rams into crowds on the Ramblas in Barcelona killing 15.
    • October: eight people are killed when a terrorist in a rental truck speeds down a popular cycle lane in lower Manhattan on October 31.
    • November 24: more than 300 are killed by gunmen in a mosque during prayer in the city of Bir al-Abed, the main city in northern Sinai.

     
    In all, there were 1,128 terrorist attacks (mostly in Muslim countries) in 2017. Is it any wonder Muslim refugees were desperate to come here seeking to escape the rampaging warzone their countries have become?
     

  11. Right: The election of an openly bigoted xenophobe like Trump will worsen [acts of open racism] three-fold. – “Three-fold” is a rather arbitrary figure, but the open protesting of neo-Nazis protesting the removal of Confederate monuments earlier in the year (even resulting in one death as one neo-Nazi plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters) was seen in numbers not seen since the 1930’s. And Trump, afraid to offend his white supremacist followers, declared (just minutes after that young girl was run down & killed) that there were “very good people on both sides” of the protest, and that “both sides” shared in the blame for what happened.
  12.  

  13. Right: There will be NO significant border wall construction in 2017. – Shocker, I know. Anyone who actually believed construction would begin on Trump’s ridiculous pointless border wall (and that Mexico would pay for it) are what Turnip-Trucks were invented for. In fact, two weeks before his inauguration, Trump was already walking back the “Mexico will pay for it” claim, and proposed asking Congress to pay for it now with the promise he’ll find a way to get Mexico for it later. Seriously.
  14.  

  15. Right: At least one nation will say Trump is not welcome in their country. – The mayor of London said Trump is not welcome there after retweeting a video by a Far Right British anti-Muslim hate-group falsely claiming to be that of Muslims attacking a disabled Dutch boy, and the British Parliament demanded PM Theresa May dis-invite Trump from a scheduled state visit. Trump is as welcome in Europe as a skunk at a garden party. Trump was also met with protests in Germany during his visit to Hamburg, And during the G7 Economic Summit, the “most fit president in history” who ridiculed Hillary Clinton’s stamina, ended up following the other world leaders in a golf cart as they strolled the streets of Taormina, Sicily, and protests in France against Trump erupted when he snubbed the Paris Climate Accords… a treaty that was signed by EVERY other nation in the world… even Syria & Iran who both failed to initially sign but later came back to sign the treaty. Even China… the country Trump claimed made up the “Global Warming ‘Hoax'” to gain economic advantage as everyone but them agreed to the restrictions… agreed to the restrictions. Russia too signed the accord. Only Trump/U.S. did not.
  16.  

  17. Wrong: We will gradually see less & less of Trump over time [as he comes to hate the job he won but never actually wanted.] – In at least one way, I could have rated this True, with Trump holding a record low ONE Press Conference and spending a full THIRD of his entire presidency on vacation… which I’m certain is likely a record… even after ridiculing Obama on the campaign trail for all the time he spent golfing. But Trump, a total narcissist, lives to be in front of the cameras. Instead of press conferences and giving interviews, Trump hit the “campaign trail” and gave speeches to his throngs of adoring fans.
  18.  

  19. Wrong: Calls for investigations into all of Trump’s conflicts of interest will grow. – I believe the only reason this didn’t gain more traction is because the subject was overwhelmed by the non-stop controversies that seem to emanate from this White House day after day.
  20.  

  21. Wrong: 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. Again, also wrong, and again, for the same reason. Just too much other breaking news sucking all the oxygen out of the room. Many have expressed concern over the cost of defending Trump’s multitude of properties, but surprisingly, there have been no reports of attempts to attack Trump hotels/offices around the world. (Note: There HAS been concern relating to the cost of securing all of Trump’s properties while he visits them on “vacation”.)
  22.  

  23. Wrong: Expect at least one American company to file an “unfair trade practices” lawsuit against Trump. I expected businesses and foreign governments seeking to curry favor with Trump by choosing to do business with Trump (booking stays in his hotels vs a competitor, etc) would result in many of his competitors crying foul. But Trump’s global unpopularity has made that less of an issue than expected.
  24.  

  25. Wrong: The promise to “greatly expand the use of coal” and “completion of the Keystone XL Pipeline” will be met with a resounding thud as both projects prove to no longer be cost effective. – I’m going to rate this one wrong, even though the demand for coal did not rise significantly (7.8% in 2017) and is expected to rise only an additional 1% in 2018. Keystone XL output has likewise been slightly depressed as oil prices remained too low to make it economically viable. But oil prices closed at just under $67/barrel… up from $52.42/barrel when Obama left office. (National avg price/gal of gas also up 44cents since Obama left office.)
  26.  

  27. Wrong: I expect Trump’s relationship with Russia to become strained as he grows increasingly erratic. Generally, Trump’s relationship with Putin/Russia is about the same as it was when he took office. In fact, Russia & Israel are the only two places where Trump’s approval rating is higher than Obama’s (see: “skunk” above.)
  28.  

  29. Right: Trump will not be able to amass enough Republican votes (and zero Democratic votes) to repeal “ObamaCare”. Regardless of what they say now, Trump absolutely did NOT “repeal ‘ObamaCare’.” The GOP tax bill did severely harm it and threatens to undermine the program (which will cost taxpayers Billions as 18 Million lose their healthcare), but the program itself, with its requirement insurance companies accept people with preexisting conditions and limit rate increases… are all still there.
  30.  

  31. Wrong: Russia will test their new found relationship with the new administration to see just how much they can get away with. – I really thought Putin would thumb his nose at Trump and ramp up their support of Assad given the opportunity, and possibly become more aggressive annexing neighboring (former Soviet block) countries now that Trump was in office, but they already seem to have everything they want.
  32.  

  33. Right: Don’t be surprised if focus on many of Trump’s campaign promises are overshadowed by catastrophes that develop in his first year. – And by “catastrophes”, I mean problems of his own making. The daily scandals flowing out of this White House (Trump promised to “Drain the swamp”, but so far, just about everyone “drained” from Washington are Trump appointees. Fully ONE-THIRD of Trump’s original staff resigned, fired, or was reassigned) became almost daily news. No one is asking “Where’s the wall” because just about everyone knew it was total bullshit the day he promised it.
  34.  

  35. Right: Trump’s proposed “ten-fold” expansion of our nuclear arsenal? I see just enough Republicans to side with Democrats to stop any such proposed increase in our nuclear stockpiles. No expansion. – Just dumb to begin with. Completely unnecessary and a total waste of money. Plus no one saw it as “a pressing need” that demanded we follow through on it.
  36.  

  37. Wrong: 2017 will be declared “the hottest year on record”. – Damn! This was supposed to be a “gimme”! But 2017 “only” scored in the Top 5.

 
Ten right, nine wrong for an average of 53%. I can live with that, considering how little I had to go on for what to expect what life would be like under Donald Trump.
 

So how about my predictions for 2018? Predicting Trump is like predicting a toddler’s next move. If I could do that, I’d be making a fortune writing books on child rearing. But if you want to know what Trump will do in any situation, you’ll probably do best guessing what an undisciplined child that no one says “No” to, would do in that same situation.
 

  1. We’ve already seen the price of oil (as noted above) rise 20% in just Trump’s first year in office. Completion on the “Keystone XL” and increased coal production were supposed to reduce energy costs as we made ourselves more self sufficient, but the market had other ideas. Investors in the KXL need oil prices close to $75/barrel again to make the project cost efficient, and angering OPEC with his “anti-Muslim” rhetoric certainly doesn’t help matters any. So expect the price of oil to continue to rise in 2018 and the resulting increase in gas prices to start depressing the economy (as well as a number of other factors I will go into below.)
  2.  

  3. The Mueller investigation will continue to cause trouble for the Trump Administration as more & more revelations emerge. And as the controversy deepens and Trump becomes more worried, expect to see him spending more time trying to befriend Democrats as he grows concerned of a GOP rout come the November mid-terms that could lead to impeachment hearings by mid-2019.
  4.  

  5. And as I just hinted at above, rising trouble for Trump at home (more on that below) will make a Democratic rout in November seem inevitable. Expect Democrats to retake the Senate and possibly even the House come November. We already saw major election upsets in Virginia & Alabama. Expect that trend to continue into the 2018 mid-terms.
  6.  

  7. As the price of oil continues to rise (and the price of gas with it), sucking more and more money out of the economy, expect an economic slowdown by years end. Not only will rising gas prices suck billions out of the economy just as it did leading up to the 2008 crash, but expect interest rates to continue to rise (already raised three times in 2017) as the Fed finds it must lure investors to pay for the $1.5 Trillion dollar deficit Trump’s budget will create thanks to his irresponsible tax cuts (“deficits” only matter to Republicans when a Democrat is in office), the cost of doing business will also rise. Rising prices and less money in the system (because of more people putting their money in the bank to take advantage of rising rates), means a slowing economy. Trump took credit for the economy under Obama’s final budget & tax rates, but 2018 belongs to Trump. The economy, the unemployment rate, the deficit, wherever it goes from here, there’ll be no one to blame but himself.
  8.  
    (Note: Kind of a prediction for 2019, but I can already see Republicans are setting Democrats up for a fall. As the economy slows and controversy sweeps Democrats into power, the slowdown will continue into 2019, and many of the causes… like Trump’s massive tax cut for corporations… they just can’t be undone with a massive 19.5% corporate tax hike during a slumping economy headed for Recession. Republicans will be sure to point to Democrats and blame them for the economic timebomb they left them. But that’s a prediction for 2019.)
     

  9. And when the deficit starts to explode, Republicans will use it as an excuse to cut entitlements and programs for the poor.
  10.  

  11. And as such, unemployment will be up by years end. It is currently 4.1%. I would not be surprised to see unemployment close to 6% by years end if the economic slowdown I predict comes to pass.
  12.  

  13. The Wall? Yeah, that’s still going nowhere. Congress isn’t going to pay for it… especially in light of the rapidly increasing deficit thanks to the massive irresponsible tax cut Republican’s passed. There will be no significant progress on any “border wall” in 2018. There will be too much other stuff for Republicans to worry about in the coming year.
  14.  

  15. Trump’s approval rating? Already in the toilet (as noted earlier), with a slowing economy, major promises that continue to go unkept, increased “scandal” stemming from the Mueller investigation, I would not be surprised if Trump’s approval rating is below 30% by years end. Presidential approval ratings tracks with the Economy, and Trump is already in the low 30’s in a good economy.
  16.  

  17. And on that note, I question whether Mueller acts in time for the mid-terms. Much in the way former FBI Director James Comey was paranoid about possibly being accused of “shielding” Hillary Clinton if he hadn’t disclosed they were reopening the investigation into her missing emails after it was discovered disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner had been sharing emails with his wife, Huma Abadeen. I have some concern Mueller might consider waiting until after the 2018 mid-terms to announce anything significant regarding the case against Trump. I’m going to predict that does NOT happen, Mueller releases some controversial findings before the mid-term election, but will wait so long he will be criticized for “waiting too long” to have a greater impact on the election.
  18.  

  19. Republican Party also used info obtained from Russian hackers to target down-ballot races. As controversy over GOP misconduct grows, Dem chances in the mid-terms improve.
  20.  

  21. And Trump, Master of Distraction that he is, will find ways to distract the public from the growing controversy swirling around his Russia ties during the campaign. “Russia-Gate” will continue to dog Trump throughout 2018, but I have my concerns over just how desperate he’ll become to distract from the controversy. A year ago (before he took office), I might have worried he might start a war with North Korea just to escape scrutiny over his Russia ties or business dealings, but he didn’t send hundreds of thousands of troops into Afghanistan like I expected, so maybe he’s more adverse to military conflict than I first suspected. There’s always a chance his incompetent bungling could provoke an attack, but I don’t see him initiating one just to distract from his problems at home.
  22.  

  23. And speaking of Trump’s “business dealings”, I would be surprised if one of the revelations to come out of the Mueller investigation is Trump’s business ties to the Russian Mob. We already have significant (if not incontrovertible) proof Trump did business with the Russian Mob in his real estate dealings, and Russian money launders permeate his campaign like stench on a cowpie, but Mueller will make it official in 2018 as it is revealed they uncovered evidence of Russian Mob money finding its way into the “Trump 2016” campaign.
  24.  

  25. And as Mueller’s reports grow more & more damning of the Trump Campaign’s links to Russia, Republicans will grow increasingly desperate to discredit him. Possibly with Republicans launching an investigation of their own… into Mueller to accuse him of being on a “partisan witch hunt”. Republican will continue to try to discredit Mueller and the FBI in much the same way they try to discredit legitimate investigative news as “fake news” so that no matter the findings, they can simply dismiss them as coming from an unreliable source no matter how airtight the evidence (ala “The OJ Trial”.)
  26.  

  27. Will Bernie declare he’s running for prez again after mid-terms? I suspect he will. He is already (in 2017) traveling the country, giving speeches, and energizing crowds in key election states like Iowa.
  28.  

  29. North Korea. Despite a flurry of activity in mid/late 2017, I think Toddler Trump grew weary of his new toy and stopped paying as much attention to Kim Jong Un… who in turn is talking less about Trump. While I do worry that growing provocative rhetoric between these two powerful spoiled children that no one says “No” to could lead to one one of them doing something stupid, I’m going to predict cooler heads prevail and we see no significant conflict between the U.S. and North Korea in 2018.
  30.  

  31. I predict Michael Flynn will testify in open court about what Trump knew about Russian involvement/support of his campaign.
  32.  

  33. Trump’s history of incessant Tweeting will come back to haunt him as past tweeted statements will be used to contradict assertions he makes to defend himself in Russia investigation (and trying to discredit witnesses.)
  34.  

  35. Democratic leaders (but maybe not Congressional candidates themselves) will (stupidly) do their best to downplay the possibility of “impeachment” in the lead up to the 2018 mid-term election. This is exactly what they did in 2004, and despite American’s realizing they were lied to about “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as a pretext for launching an unnecessary war of aggression against Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, and that war still raging more than a year later, Democrats were afraid that if voters thought they’d spend all their time impeaching the president, they wouldn’t be focused on their jobs. The result? Republicans retained control of both the House and Senate, leading up to the economic downturn that led to the crash of 2008.
  36.  

  37. Puerto Rico will still be far from recovered from the devastation of the 2017 hurricane season before suffering additional damage in the 2018 season.
  38.  

  39. The war in Afghanistan will still be going on by years end. The first recruits who weren’t even born yet on 9/11 will be signing up to join the military and preparing to be sent overseas to fight a war older than they are.

 

And that’s my list of predictions for 2018. Sorry for all the doom & gloom. But at least I don’t foresee a war with North Korea. That’s something, right?
 


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Merry Christmas (hiatus)
Dec 25th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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M.R.S. is off for Christmas, but check back soon for our big annual
 
“Predictions for Next Year” edition.

Till then, go back and review my predictions for 2017. How did I do?

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Is Trump White House Trying to Create an Excuse to Fire Mueller? Hypocritical claims of private email being private
Dec 18th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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It was 1992. The presidential race was already in full-swing and accusations Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton having had multiple extramarital affairs were already common in Republican circles. They even found a former lounge singer named Gennifer Flowers to claim she had had an affair with Clinton while he was governor. But despite those claims, Bill Clinton was still elected the 42nd President of the United States. Clinton had Democratic majorities in both the House & Senate to shield him from a congressional investigation, but years of accusing the president of criminal wrongdoing (“Whitewater”) and “extramarital affairs” while he was governor of Arkansas helped flip control of BOTH houses of Congress to the Republicans in 1994, leading to the appointment of a Special prosecutor named “Ken Starr” who… on the taxpayers dime, investigated Bill Clinton for everything from “Whitewater” (a failed land deal where the Clinton’s actually lost money) to the “White House Christmas Card List”. And there was (essentially) nothing President Clinton could do about it. The most he could have done is ordered his Attorney General Janet Reno to fire Starr, but it was understood that that would only make him look even more guilty. So he never did. And it was only when they managed to get President Clinton to agree to testify under oath, that they were finally able to prosecute/impeach him… not for any actual crime committed while governor, nor of committing any crime relating to an extramarital affair while in the White House, but for the crime of “lying under oath” about even having an affair. And for that, they impeached him (note, an “impeachment” is an indictment, NOT a conviction.)

Flash forward to 2016. Another Clinton is running for president and her Republican opponent was already accusing her of criminal wrongdoing. “She used a private email server while she was Secretary of State to hide evidence of currying political favors in exchange for contributions to her charitable foundation”… or something along those lines. It actually was never entirely clear what “crime” they were accusing Hillary of attempting to conceal (reports of the nonsensical “Uranium One” deal came much later) by setting up a private email server in her home, suggesting only that it looked mighty suspicious. And when news broke she deleted some “30,000 private messages” (using professional deletion software called “Bleach” that overwrites old data so it can’t be recovered) that she herself deemed unrelated to her tenure as Secretary of State and not pertinent to any investigation, chants of “Lock her up (for obstruction of justice)” started to be repeated at every campaign event through the rest of the election (and in many cases, continue to this day as Trump attends partisan events.) Trump himself… alluding to the Russian hacking of the DNC in an attempt to meddle in our election… half-jokingly encouraged the Russians to “find the 30,000 missing emails”… ostensibly by committing further acts of cyber-crime against the United States… encouraged by the GOP front-runner for President of the United States.

Outgoing President Obama learned that December that we had solid evidence Russia meddled in the 2016 Presidential Election and may have even received assistance from members of the Trump campaign. A Special Prosecutor admired by Republicans and Democrats alike… a hold-over from the Bush Administration… Robert Mueller, was tasked with finding out whether or not members of the Trump Campaign may have “colluded” with the Russian Government to help them win the election. Like Janet Reno in 1993, only the Attorney General… the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the nation… has the power to fire a special prosecutor. Trump bestowed that position to Jeff Sessions, an early supporter and member of his campaign, who ended up having to recuse himself from anything related to that investigation (including the ability to fire Mueller, which made Trump furious.)

And here we are now at the end of Trump’s first year in office, characterized by lurching from one self-inflicted controversy to the next and a criminal investigation of a sitting president that just won’t go away. Like Bill Clinton before him, Trump entered office with his own party in charge of both houses of Congress, essentially shielding him from impeachment hearings of a Congressional investigation. But if past is prologue, and the recent upset with Alabama electing its first Democratic senator in 25 years are signs of what’s yet to come, Trump very well could be looking at a Democratic takeover of congress 13 months from now and impeachment hearings by mid 2019.

The GOP’s best hope of avoiding this fate is to start laying the groundwork for painting the Mueller investigation as a “partisan witch hunt” to justify the dismissal of Robert Mueller and quashing the case against Donald Trump before it’s too late. And that effort appears to have already begun, first (updated 12/19/17), the scandal (“evidence of bias”) was Mueller NOT investigating the “unmasking of names by the Obama Administration of just “who leaked the fact Flynn was meeting with Russians?”, then it was the “controversy” that Mueller was NOT investigating Hillary Clinton over the “Uranium One” deal. Then it was his not investigating “the DNC paying British Agent Christopher Steele to continue his dossier on Trump by contacting Russian (among other) agents, and now the news Mueller himself fired two members of his investigative team last Summer (“Peter Strzok” & “Lisa Page”) when it was discovered they had exchanged text messages criticizing candidate Trump (as well as Hillary Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley, Richard Clarke, Eric Holder and even Chelsea) in July of 2016… right around the time Trump was criticizing FBI Director James Comey for refusing to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her handling of her emails from when she was Secretary of State. So it should hardly come as a surprise to no one (no one sane) that members of the Justice Department might have been a wee bit unhappy with Donald Trump. It’s not like Washington (aka: “The Swamp” according to him) was “Trump Country” to begin with (Hillary won DC with 92.8% of the vote.) I’d be astonished if MORE people working for the Justice Department hadn’t sent “unkind” emails ridiculing Trump and favoring Clinton.

Revelations of partisan bias expressed in emails during the campaign already had Republicans accusing the Mueller investigation of being “filled” with “thousands” of biased Justice Department officials (keep in mind, only TWO people were found to have exchanged biased emails more than a year & a half ago) and therefore the investigation is nothing more than a partisan witch hunt (which, I assumed wasn’t until AFTER they investigate Trump’s Christmas Card List.) But last Saturday, Trump’s lawyers accused Mueller of “illegally” obtaining the transition team’s “private emails” from a source other than them. Mueller asked the Trump Transition Team to turn over all of their private emails, to which Team Trump said, “Sure, just as soon as we… uh… move (read: delete) thousands of private messages we don’t believe have anything to do with your investigation.” Sound familiar? Mueller, rightfully concerned Team Trump could be… wittingly or unwittingly… destroying evidence, circumvented them and obtained the emails from a different source (presumably their ISP’s servers.) This has Trump’s lawyers feigning outrage, calling the confiscation of their private emails “illegal” (Mueller assures them he either had the author’s permission or legal authority granted by a judge to obtain the emails the way he did.)

If there is one thing Trump is good at, it’s the art of “scandal fatigue”. And I believe his objective here… and for the next 10 months… is to repeatedly accuse the Mueller investigation of criminal misconduct… throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him until they find something that sticks… much the way Ken Starr did in the 90’s investigating President Clinton for nearly a dozen different “scandals” (including, as I’ve mentioned before, “Socks the Cat’s Fan Club Mailing list” to find out if taxpayers were footing the bill for all those stamps.) They are hoping that eventually, after hearing (accusations of) “scandal after scandal” day-after-day for months, voters will just come to accept that the Mueller investigation itself is corrupt and should be disbanded, without cries of protest by the American Public.

The problem with THAT theory is that voters already are not on Trump’s side (with an approval rating already below 40% and falling fast) and may welcome an investigation that could lead to his impeachment if it means getting him out of office sooner-rather-than-later. “Help us Obi Mueller, you’re our only hope!” Now deliver that message, R2!
 


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If You Don’t Believe Roy Moore’s Accusers, then believe Roy Moore
Dec 11th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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Just a quick observation this week as we await the results of the Alabama Senate race.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” – Mark 8:36

Good question. Right now, Evangelicals Republicans have chosen to abandon every principle they claim to believe in, in the name of political gain. How else do Evangelicals explain:

1) Supporting a thrice-married serial adulterer billionaire who BRAGGED about committing sexual assault only to defend his disturbing language by claiming he was lying… “It was just ‘Locker Room’ talk’.” (And more recently, even suggesting it might not have even been him on that tape… despite already admitting it was, and the fact there’s a witness… the man who was interviewing him at the time [Billy Bush.])

2) Supporting someone like Roy Moore, suspected of serial sexual abuse of young girls… one as young as fourteen… when he was a 30 year old District Attorney, only to further assault his accusers by calling them all “liars” EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE EVIDENCE they are telling the truth.

3) Supporting Televangelist Joel Osteen even after he refused to open the doors of his massive mega church in Houston to Hurricane flood victims… a “church” BTW that does not have a cross ANYWHERE on it.

Moore is running to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. Alabama is a deep Red state with a lot of Evangelical voters. So red, it very well could elect someone accused of sexually assaulting children over a man who prosecuted two men for the murder of four little girls in the 1960. “Yellow-dog Democrats” of the 1950’s have become the “Yellow-dog Republicans” of today (people who would vote for a yellow dog before voting for the other Party.)

Moore’s supporters deeply mistrust “The Media”… thanks to being told day-after-day by the likes of Donald Trump that The Media can’t be trusted. “They lied”, says Trump, about the chances of him winning the election. “They lied”, says Trump, about his losing the Popular Vote. “They lied”, says Trump, about the number of people who attended his inauguration. And now they are “lying” (says Trump) about Russian meddling in the election. It’s all one giant conspiracy.

So when Roy Moore claims there’s “a conspiracy” out to get him too, it rings true to them. “All these women are lying. I never did what they’re claiming.”

Problem is, we don’t have to take THEIR word for it. Just listen to Moore himself.

In his first interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, he was asked if he ever dated girls that young when he was in his 30s. “Not generally, no” was Moore’s reply. Not a flat-out ‘No’, but “not generally“? Moore added that when he did, he was sure to ask the mothers permission first.” That to me doesn’t sound like a man that didn’t pursue underaged girls when he was in his 30’s.

Then in another interview, Moore recalls the time he met his future wife at a Christmas party… when he was 38 and she was just 23… already a 15 year age difference, but legal. Moore laughingly recalled recognizing her name from a “college dance recital” he attended “eight years earlier”… which would have made him 30 and her just 15. He doesn’t say they met or spoke, but the thought of that 15 year old girl stood out in his memory.

Two things stick out to me in that anecdote of his: 1) Colleges don’t hold “dance recitals”, public schools do. If his future wife was only 15, she was NOT attending a Junior College where Moore claimed to have seen her. Changing the place he saw her from a “High School” to “a Junior College” to me suggests “consciousness of guilt”. He KNOWS how it would sound if he admitted first seeing her while she was still just a high school freshman.

And 2) What was an unmarried 30 year old man with no children doing attending a high school recital? That seems very odd to me. Moore did NOT claim he went with “a friend” or family members to see their own children perform. As far as I’m aware, he has never explained what he was doing there.

I heard an Alabama Moore-supporter on TV Sunday dismiss the idea of a 30 year old man pursuing 14 year old girls by saying “Things were very different 40 years ago. Most parents would have been THRILLED if a 30 year old District Attorney wanted to date their 14 year old daughter.” Seriously. He said that.

Two problems there: 1) Moore categorically denies he did this. So this voter believes Moore is lying and yet intends to vote for him anyway. And 2) “40 years ago” was only the late 1970’s. I’m old enough to remember living in the South in the late 70’s. Older men dating teenage girls was NOT generally approved of. MAYBE in the early 1950’s, but NOT the late 1970’s. That defense is nonsense. (ADDENDUM: Someone mentioned how scandalous it was when Southern Rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year old cousin in 1957.)

So, like I said, YOU DON’T HAVE TO believe Moore’s accusers. Believe Moore himself. It will be interesting to see how this vote turns out. Personally, the way I see it, if Moore loses, Alabama gets its first Democratic senator in decades, splitting the Senate 49/51 (Dem/Rep) and a huge loss for Donald Trump. If Moore wins, either the GOP will be forced to defend Moore for the next 11 months (till the 2018 mid-terms) making them look like the Party where sexual predators go for career advancement and will end up investigating/prosecuting Moore (while their Party leader Trump is also under investigation), or Alabama elects its first Democratic senator since 1992, reducing the GOP margin to just one vote and handing Trump (and Bannon) another huge loss.

I see that as a Win/Win.
 


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