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Beginning of the End for Religious Bigotry Laws

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 29, 2015

Last weeks’ historic Supreme Court ruling declaring no legal basis to justify discrimination against Same-Sex couples was condemned by every single GOP presidential hopeful (sans Rand Paul who has a history of waiting to test the political mood before commenting on controversial issues) as being in violation of “religious liberty” laws protecting the right of bigots to be bigots. But in fact, the Supreme Court did NOT rule on so-called “Religious Freedom” laws passed in individual states. They only ruled on the rights of the targets of those laws… and even then… only a very specific subsection. However it is clear that they will have to (sooner rather than later) rule on the Constitutionality of such laws. It’s not just the baker that refuses to bake a “gay” wedding cake, or the caterer who refuses to cater a gay wedding, it’s also the County Clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples (Huckabee asserted this right yesterday on ABC’s ThisWeek), or the pharmacist who refuses to fill your prescription for Birth Control pills because it offends his/her religious sensibilities. If an employee cites “religious grounds” as the reason they can’t fulfill the duties of their job, then can their employer then fire them for not doing the job for which they were hired? What about refusing to hire someone if you think their religion might prevent them from doing their job? (that “pharmacist” link includes a response from CVS declaring their right to do just that.) Then, does the employer get sued for religious discrimination or violating their former employees’ Religious Freedom?

These attempts by individual states to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court WILL eventually be challenged in the courts and They. Will. Lose. This nation fought a Civil War over whether or not Federal law superseded “states rights” (“The South” lost BTW, and Federal Law reigns supreme.) The Federal government passed a law banning Slavery, and the South would have to abide by it. (How ironic that we also saw a fight over the Confederate flag this past week as the EXACT SAME anti-federal government Southern bigots talk of “secession”, “armed revolt” and “states rights” by morons oblivious to the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War that just came to pass last April.)

We’ve had “equal housing” laws in this country since President Lyndon Johnson signed the “Fair Housing” Act into law in 1968. It was intended to protect African-Americans from being discriminated against when seeking housing, but over the years it has been expanded to prohibit discrimination against ANYONE for almost any reason. The Reagan Administration added the “Disabled” to the Act in 1988. So what happens now if someone tries to deny housing to a gay couple citing their “religious freedom” as their justification? How would that be any different than denying an inter-racial couple for the same reason? (Note: Justice Thomas, who voted in favor of allowing people to discriminate against marriages they object to on religious grounds, himself has an interracial marriage.)

The High Court will be *forced* to step in, and I can’t see how they could side against an employers right to fire someone who refuses do the job for which they were hired. An employee could cite “religious reasons” for everything from showing up late to work to drinking on the job, then what? The days of these nonsense “religious freedom” laws are now numbered. It’s inevitable. That case will go to the Supreme Court and those laws will be struck down. You have a right to worship as you wish in your personal life, but NOT “on the job”.

Such a case will pit “Big Business Conservatives” against “Religious Right Conservatives.” Get the popcorn.
 

BONUS:

Sen. Sanders discusses his record on Civil Rights (1:40)

 
Bernie responds to Hillary Clinton’s reported 91% to 3% lead among minority voters. Hillary comes in with a built-in advantage of minority support for her husband, while Sanders is still a relative unknown. Bernie talks about a life dedicated to Civil Rights, getting arrested in the 60’s protesting Segregation and marching with Martin Luther King Jr. (but left out the fact he witnessed King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in-person.)

 



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Filed in Civil Rights, Partisanship, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional June 29th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Mugsy’s Annual Predictions for 2015

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 29, 2014

This is arguably my favorite posting duty of the year, where I get to ridicule the so-called “psychics”, blast Conservative prognosticators, a look back at my own routinely successful record of predicting (averaging around 60%), followed by my own predictions for the coming year. Sure, I’ve had my good years (75% in 2008) and my bad (20% for 2007), but even on my worst day, I don’t suck at predicting as much as most (all?) Republicans. They say, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”, which explains why Republicans are just so Godawful at predicting. They lack ANY ability to learn from history and can’t see beyond their immediate goals (eg: invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam without an exit strategy, wildly unrealistic expectations of the result, and zero preparation for the aftermath.) I can understand why the predictors keep predicting as long as there’s money to be made and people continue to trust their predictions despite a track-record of failure, but what I can’t understand is why people keep asking these notoriously bad pundits FOR their predictions. I swear I’ve owned hamsters that were better at predicting what happens next than some of the most famous Republican pundits. Case in point:

Bill Kristol (former Chief of Staff to Dan Quayle… which tells you all you need to know) is so routinely horribly bad at predicting, The Rachel Maddow Show actually did an entire segment on it last January (though they omitted his most famous wrong prediction:

“And on this issue of the Shia in Iraq, I think there’s been a certain amount of, frankly, Terry, a kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can’t get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There’s almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq’s always been very secular.” – Bill Kristol defending the decision to invade Iraq to ABC’s Terry Moran, April 1, 2003.

…”almost no evidence of that”… except maybe A THOUSAND YEARS of civil war. Iraq was only “secular” because Saddam knew it was the only way to control religious infighting. What did I say about Republicans and their knowledge of history? (Iraq was currently secular, ergo it has always been secular.)

The so-called “professional psychics” are so routinely bad, it’s almost no fun beating up on them anymore. This list of predictions for 2014 by some of the most famous in their field was so abysmally wrong that it’s easier just to read it than dissect it. Among my favorites: Vladimir Putin wins Nobel prize for his part in Syria and “A tornado destroys most of Kansas City” (KC Kansas or KC Missouri? …like it matters.)

Last year, I made a point of recording “Fox news Sunday’s” Predictions for 2014 on their year-end show. Host Chris Wallace joked that the segment comes under the heading “Often in Error but Never in Doubt”… which sums up Conservatism perfectly. Have you ever seen a group so sure of themselves despite being so consistently wrong about everything? Republicans are SO sure their beliefs are right that their predictions are “predictably” pro Right wing with absolutely no foothold in reality. (I skipped their predictions on “entertainment” and “sports”… which were just as wrong… focusing instead on their political & economic predictions:

2013 Fox’s “Power Panel” makes their predictions for 2014: (4:10)

To summarize:

It’s no surprise Fox chose not to (nor do they ever) replay their previous years’ predictions yesterday heading into this years’ segment.

The only one bullish on the economy was DINO Joe Liebermann, correctly predicting a strong economy for 2014, “over 3% GDP growth”, “the DOW will break 18,000″ (it did) “and the S&P will break 2,000″ (it did). But even he predicted “unemployment will [only] go down to 6.5%”. Last month, unemployment fell to just 5.8% following ten consecutive months of 200,000+ job growth… the first time that’s happened since the LAST time a Democrat occupied the White House.

Last week, this was the news on the economy (Dec 23, 2014):
 

ABC News: 2014 Ends With Record Economic Growth (1:56)

 

Remember that date because I promise you Republicans will be taking credit for the improved economy next year despite the fact it was a huge success BEFORE they ever took control of Congress.

On “Meet the Press” yesterday, Chuck Todd summed up the Obama economic record for 2014 with these figures:
 

2014: Year of the Economic Comeback (1:10)

By contrast, here is a compilation of news reports on the economy after six years of President Bush and Conservative control of Congress (5:54):
 

My first attempt at predicting the coming year was 2006 when I went a paltry 2 for 10 (20%) predicting 2007. Learning from my mistakes, in 2007 I went 9 for 12 (75%). 2008 went 11 for 15 (73%). 2009: just 45%, 2010: 68%, 2011: 66%, 2012: 50%. If you’re doing the math, that’s an average accuracy of just under 57%. So, how did I do in 2013 predicting the coming year? I can’t say if tending to my mother in her final days clouded my judgement, but you be the judge:

  1. Wrong: GOP to agree to a “compromise extension” of Unemployment benefits. – It’s easy to forget that just one year ago, the economy was still soft and unemployment was still nearly 7-percenct (finally falling to 6.7% by years end) Senate Republicans knew they could vote “Yes” on an extension because they knew it would never pass the GOP controlled House. House Leader Boehner hemmed & hawed for five months, finally rejecting an extension in mid-May. But by then, it was moot. Three straight months of job growth well over 100K and then two months of job growth over 200K, by then no one was decrying the need to extend unemployment benefits now that the jobs were coming back.
  2.  

  3. Wrong: expect the DOW to close just over the “19,200” mark come years end. – The market grew like gang-busters once again in 2014, but slightly slower than it did in 2013. Breaking 18,000 last week was still a record.
  4.  

  5. Wrong: Supreme Court to rule that states must recognize marriages performed in another state. – While the Supreme Court did overturn bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma, Utah & Kansas as unconstitutional, they did not go so far as to rule on any “interstate” recognition of marriage. But that’s primarily because no such case was ever brought before the high court. Based on three rulings of declaring state bans “unconstitutional”, there would be no excuse for defending a ban had such a case come before the court. So while I got this one wrong, I still feel vindicated.
  6.  

  7. Wrong: don’t expect control of either House to change hands – Well… half-wrong anyway, but no points for half credit. I never expected Democrats to just roll over and play dead like they did this year, eschewing the president and his robust economy with record job growth like he was an Ebola victim that crossed the border illegally. Never under-estimate a Democrats ability to not take credit for their success as well as Republicans ability to convince you that’s just warm yellow rain they’ve been showering you with.
  8.  

  9. Wrong: Hillary WILL announce her intention to run for President, as will Chris Christie – The years’ not over with yet as I type this, but I really thought the candidates would declare immediately after the mid-terms. But Hillary is waiting before pasting that target on her back, and enthusiasm for Christie just never grew as Democrats followed “Bridge-Gate” and Republicans still never forgave him for embracing President Obama after Hurricane Sandy.
  10.  

  11. Wrong: expect a reasonably smooth, growing economy in 2014. Expect GDP growth in the 4.0+ range next year. – First half right, but second half just missed the mark. I remember as I wrote that, that 4.0+% growth was probably a tad overly optimistic, but growth of over 3.5% wasn’t that far off the mark. Still not good enough for me to grade my prediction as correct.
  12.  

  13. Wrong: Snowden to move to South America. – As far as anyone is aware, he’s still in Russia, even agreeing to an interview with American television while in Moscow.
  14.  

  15. Right: Regarding Congress raising the Minimum Wage, with a number of states deciding no wait for Congress to act and raise it on their own, but nationally, if the economy continues to improve, forget it. – Ah, finally, a win! I was getting worried there. In his State of the Union Address, President Obama asked Congress to raise the Minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10/hour. Republicans in Congress have vowed to block any vote on raising the Minimum Wage, but as predicted, 21 states voted this year to raise their Minimum Wage on January 1st of 2015.
  16.  

  17. Wrong: The Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia is going to be a mess. – While I could make a case that I got this right (#SochiProblems was a trending hashtag on Twitter during the games following reports of “unfinished hotels” and a hiccup during the opening ceremonies as one of the Olympic rings failed to expand), but nothing like my expectation of events either being relocated or canceled, and threats of violence against the games that I expected. I’m no hack, so mark this one wrong as well.
  18.  

  19. Wrong: Janet Napolitano, hand-picked by Obama to lead a delegation of openly gay athletes to Sochi, was specifically chosen because she herself will come out as gay upon her arrival. – No idea if she is or not, but she certainly didn’t make any such announcement while she was there… not even during an interview with “The Advocate” magazine.
  20.  

  21. Right: I don’t think an unemployment rate of 6.1% (give or take 3/10th of a point) is out of the realm of possibility. – Not only was unemployment of just 6.1% obtainable, but the eventual 5.8% is indeed withing 3/10th of that figure as predicted.
  22.  

  23. Wrong, but with some caveats: a nuclear disarmament deal WILL be struck with Iran. – While Iran never did agree to give up its right to pursue nuclear weapons, I also noted an increase in the global supply of oil resulting in a plunge in the per barrel price (but guessing only around $80/$75, never dreaming we’d see sub-$60 numbers again. Iran is indeed trading its oil through OPEC.
  24.  

  25. Wrong: Ted Cruz announces his intention to run for President. – Sometimes reality wins out over ego. With just 2% support for a presidential run among Conservatives (a number that is likely falling following his end-of-year stunt that has the GOP faithful spitting nails in his direction) support for a Cruz candidacy just never materialized.
  26.  

  27. Right: Supreme Court will rule in-favor of Hobby Lobby. – There was no way on God’s Green Earth that this Conservative-leaning Court was going to rule against the Religious Wrong Right in this country. Had the company arguing its religious rights were being violated been Muslims, Hindu’s or Satanists, you can be damned sure the vote would have gone the other way. But the American Taliban wields great power in this country.
  28.  

  29. Right: no “Election Reform” bill will be taken up in an election year. – Admittedly, this one was pretty easy. Lots of talk about the need for “Election Reform” following the 2012 Election, but rampant voter disenfranchisement laws swept the country (in Red states) this past year, sweeping the GOP back to control both houses of Congress due in part to just 39% voter turnout (which is actually just slightly above average for a mid-term.)
  30.  

  31. Right: a really big hurricane will hit someplace somewhere. – I’ll admit I was half-joking on this one, but monster storms are becoming more & more common as Global Warming becomes a growing problem. Typhoon Nuri, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the North Pacific (smashing a 37 year old record), brushed the East coast of Japan before breaking up in the Bering Sea.
  32.  

  33. Right, with caveats: another “Lone-wolf” gun nut will go on a shooting spree. – In the wake of Sandy Hook and the Colorado shooting sprees, it seemed most likely that another mass shooting would take place again. On May 23 in Isla Vista, CA, another disturbed young man went on a shooting spree killing six people and wounding thirteen others (I actually expected more deaths) before killing himself. Notably though, 2014 was more the “year of cops killing unarmed black men” (and one black child) than it was noted as a year of mass murders by a single gunman.
  34.  

  35. Right… though I’m almost tempted to mark this one wrong: the Syrian conflict will still be raging a year from now. After incorrectly predicting military action against Assad/Syria in 2012 AND 2013, I played things a bit closer to the vest for 2014 to predict only that the conflict would still be ongoing in 2014. And indeed it is. But ironically, Assad’s war on his own people has been disrupted by… of all things… the terrorist group ISIS seeking to take control of the entire region. In an odd and totally bizarre way, ISIS has managed to do what America (nor any coalition nation) has dared attempt: disrupt Syria’s war on its own people by drawing its fire against an even greater threat to their monarchy.

Totaling the damage, 7 of 18 for just 39%. Not my worst but pretty far off the mark. Let’s see if I can’t do better this year.
 

My predictions for 2015:

  1. Early in 2015, in a sweeping and feigned show of “bi-partisanship”, Republicans will quickly approve at least two of President Obama’s cabinet appointees (most notably the new Secretary of Defense) in an attempt to show just “how willing” they are “to work with the president”. They will then quickly return to their obstructionist ways though, passing bill after bill they know President Obama would never sign (additional tax cuts for the highest tax brackets, repealing ObamaCare, etc) and point to the president as “the obstructionist” standing in the way of “what the people want.”
    (Update 1/7/15: Republicans Move To Gut Social Security Benefits on Their First Day in Power)
    (Update 1/9/15: House votes to pass Keystone XL pipeline)
    (Update 4/23/15: After record-setting 9 week delay, U.S. Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as Attorney General.)
  2.  

  3. Tensions between NYC Mayor DiBlasio and the Right-Wing head of the NY “Policemans Benevolent Association” will reach a boiling point with the Mayor finally chastising Pat Lynch by name for breeding discord between him and the NYPD over his own personal political differences. I’m not sure how much longer New Yorkers will tolerate this nonsense. Mayor DiBlasio won with a majority of the vote. Where are they now and why aren’t they rushing to his defense?
    (Update 1/31/15: New York Mayor Bill De Blasio Says Back-Turning By Police Was ‘Really Inappropriate’ but doesn’t cite Lynch by name.)
  4.  

  5. Hillary will remain the Democratic front-runner all year as her few Democratic challengers fail to ever pose a serious threat to her candidacy. Bernie Sanders will get into the race (as a Democrat so he can take part in the debates) but Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren will not. She said no; she means no. “Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces” is not her style. Expect an endorsement from her late in the year (most likely for Hillary, but Hillary has a nasty habit of throwing her Democratic colleges under the bus, so it is difficult to say for sure.) Support for Bernie may swell after one or two good debate showings and may even help push Hillary to the Left some, but the chances of an admitted “European Socialist”… which translates in the dullard Teabagger ear as “Nazi”… becoming the nominee is about zero.
    (Update 4/30/15: Sen. Sanders Announces his candidacy for the Democratic Presidential nomination.)
  6.  

  7. Fans of Ron Paul in 2012 will find Rand Paul a poor substitute and fail to flock to his candidacy as passionately as they did his father.
  8.  

  9. I’m not sure I’m ready to pick the Republican front-runner at this time (my gut says Jeb Bush but I also never expected him to run), but I can tell you that not even Mitt Romney’s ego is big enough to convince him to run again against the likes of Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. There isn’t enough oxygen in the rarefied air that is the GOP-nomination for three egos that big. I’m not even confident there will be a clear GOP front-runner by years end. And remember folks: #Jeb4President, because two Iraq Wars and three Recessions just weren’t enough.
    (Update 1/30/15: Romney Announces He Won’t Run for President in 2016.)
  10.  

  11. ISIS will continue to grow, but not at nearly the same rate. Recent barbaric domestic attacks like the massacre of 145 school children in Pakistan by the Pakistani Taliban in response to the rise of ISIS there will anger weary neighbors tired of all the in-fighting. As fewer people flock to join ISIS, their growth will slow and less territory will be taken/held. I don’t expect ISIS to be significantly larger a year from now than it is today (roughly 31,500 members).
  12.  

  13. We haven’t seen the last of Putin’s trouble-making. Global insecurity raises oil prices. The recent plunge in oil prices has thrown the Russian economy into chaos, yet Putin still enjoys an 80% approval rating among Republicans er Russians because they suffer from the same classic inferiority complex as Conservatives (them against the world). So they rally around their dear leader as he makes mischief in the world trying to drive up oil prices by soughing unrest in Ukraine and the Middle East (and my money is on teenage Russian hackers being behind the hack of Sony Pictures that was blamed on North Korea.)
  14.  

  15. Which leads to North Korea. I suspect evidence will grow that North Korea was not directly responsible for the computer hacking of Sony Pictures late this year, but instead were only approached for “backing” or “support” just prior to the attack by third parties. Any early “sympathy” that might grow for North Korea as evidence suggests the hacking did not originate there will quickly dissolve as evidence suggests they had prior knowledge of… and were complicit in… the hacking attack.
    (Update 1/19/15: NSA confirms NK behind hack attack because they hacked NK’s computers back in 2010.)
  16.  

  17. The GOP will NOT attempt to impeach President Obama in 2015 (no bets on 2016 though). They know the voting public just has no appetite for two attempted impeachments of two Democratic presidencies in just the last eight years and would rightly crucify them for such crass political gamesmanship once again if they tried. An attempt to “sue” president Obama over “Executive Action” is still possible, but if they do (likely) it will be incredibly low-key.
  18.  

  19. Gitmo will still be in operation by years end. Republicans will raise a ruckus as more (already cleared) detainees are released, but for the most part, not much will have changed by years end. President Obama has tried to close it for six years, but with a Republican controlled Congress for his last two, forghedaboudit.
  20.  

  21. And that brings us to Cuba (where Gitmo is located.) I never dared predict a thaw in relations with Cuba this past year, but now that it has happened, expect interest in Cuba as a tourist destination to explode, much to the chagrin of Conservatives, torn between their hatred for the Castros/Communism and their love for the economic opportunities including corporations expanding cruise lines, building hotels and reviving the struggling cruiseline industry.
  22.  

  23. With no elections this year, don’t expect any more states to pass marijuana legalization laws. But as the year comes to a close, expect a push to get it on the 2016 ballot in more states start to take shape. No, Democrats will not make it part of their 2016 platform and no, president Obama will not take any Executive Action… neither pro nor con… regarding the issue.
  24.  

  25. As noted above, Republicans will try to take credit for record economy that we’ve already started to see take shape before they’ve even taken control of Congress. When Republicans held control of both houses during President Clinton’s final six years, even they didn’t try to repeal the tax hike that Democrats passed in 1994 that led to a Balanced Budget and unprecedented economic growth. Nor will they try in 2015 because they know what it would do to the economy.
    (Update 1/7/15: Sen. Mitch McConnell says the economy is improving because Republicans are in charge)
     
  26. I’m stunned oil prices have plummeted so precipitously this past year, and while the decline may continue for a few months more, it has a floor. I’d be stunned if oil fell below $40/barrel in 2015 and if it does, it won’t stay down there for long. Even with Putin out there trying to stir up trouble to get oil prices back up to rescue the Russian economy, expect the price of oil to settle in around $58/barrel give or take around $5… roughly just about where it is right now ($55/barrel).
    (Update 4/30/15: Price per Barrel of Crude Oil: $59.21.)
  27.  

  28. The DOW will continue to rise but not at the same rate, as oil prices stagnate and Republican obstructionism leaves Washington in the doldrums. The DOW should flirt with the 20,000 mark by years end, another record but at a slower rate than 2013 or 2014.

And that’s my predictions for 2015. No big moves on the Environment or Renewable Energy. 2015 just won’t be a “shake things up” kind of year. With Hillary’s “inevitability”, even the Presidential Debates won’t draw a lot of interest. Other than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and “Medicare” in 1965, can you name anything of significance happening in a year ending in “5” in the last 50 years? My batting average has fallen every year since 2008, so I’m due for some improvement. We’ll see.

Follow-up: In my Predictions for 2014, I predicted the Supreme Court would rule that same-sex marriages performed in one state must be recognized in other states and that it would eventually lead to National recognition of same-sex marriage since same-sex couples could then legally exist in all 50 states. I was wrong in 2014, but the same conclusion was reached by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015, declaring bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

 



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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Money, Predictions December 29th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Plunge in Oil Prices Foretells Looming Economic Disaster. Aribrary pricing can go up easier than it came down.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 8, 2014

During the 2000 presidential campaign, after oil climbed a whopping 72cents in one day (yes, that’s sarcasm) to $33.05/barrel, causing gasoline prices to hit an “unthinkable” $1.68/gallon nationally, Interstate “long-haul” truckers across the country threatened to go on strike saying that the soaring price of fuel was putting them out of business. Naturally, the leading candidates, Bush & Gore, were both forced to respond. On June 22nd of that year, George W Bush openly criticized the Clinton Administration for rising gas prices, saying (famously) that if HE were president, he’d tell OPEC to “open up the spigots” to bring down gas [sic] prices. Over the prior two decades, the price of gasoline had not fluctuated by more than a few cents a year until the “dime a gallon” spikes we saw in early 2000. But that stability vanished following G.W.Bush’s ascent to the presidency:

DoE graph of weekly oil prices from 1991 to Present (link)
Weekly gas prices 1991 to present

The range circled in yellow is the relatively flat/stable gasoline prices we had become accustomed to for decades, with a slight dip following 9/11. Gas prices rarely rose more than a couple of pennies per gallon in a month let alone a single day. After becoming president, the price of gasoline under George W Bush remained in the “strike zone”… and by that, I mean quite literally the “over $1.50/gal” price point at which truckers had threatened to strike… for the next three years. The day AFTER 9/11… and for the next two years… oil was still (roughly) only $29/barrel. It took the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and tossing the Middle East into chaos to drive the price of oil into the stratosphere (I’ll let you decide if that was the goal all along.)

The range circled in red is the dramatic plunge in gasoline prices after peaking at just over $4.10/gallon in July of 2008 (reportedly, one journalist asked President Bush at the time what he thought about the price of gas breaking $4/gallon, to which a startled president Bush… who last saw gas prices around $1.68/gal during the 2000 campaign… supposedly said in surprise, “How much???”) Breaking the $4.00 barrier was probably the final straw in the looming collapse of the economy, the bankrupting of the banking industry and the implosion of Wall Street, with the price of gas falling to a national average of just $1.89/per gallon in just seven months. The election of President Obama and the promise of getting out of Iraq was seen as likely to bring some stability to the Middle East (don’t laugh), which in turn would reduce the threat to our oil supply, allowing prices to quickly “rebound” back to the “new normal” of over $2.50/gallon in less than a few months (and over $3.50/gal in the year to follow). Again, as you can see from the graph, gas prices began to flatten out (relatively) until this most recent plunge (circled in green.)

I’ve been writing about the skyrocketing price of oil under Bush for many years now, so one might think I’d be thrilled to death to see the price of oil (and gas) plunge back to Earth… and under a Democratic president no less to really rub it in Republican’s faces. Low gas prices are like a shot of nitrous in the economic gas tank. What Republicans think “tax cuts” do for the economy, falling gas prices actually DO (because the benefits hit the Poor & Middle-Class FAR more directly/substantially.) But sadly, this current plunge has only highlighted a big flashing neon-sign at just how arbitrary oil pricing was to begin with, and how likely this rubberband is poised to snap back in our faces. Not to sound like a “Debbie Downer”, but there is a reason oil prices have been falling so precipitously in recent months and the chance they could shoot back up at almost any time is very real (if not likely)… the consequences of which could get very ugly.

The reason oil prices are falling are manifold. First, the United States, under President Obama, has dramatically increased oil production to a 38 year high. The “Drill here! Drill now!” crowd that vilified Obama during the 2008 & 2012 presidential races has an unexpected ally in President Obama. While touting the need to cut our dependence on fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy, President Obama has disappointingly been very supportive of increased drilling across the country (mercifully, he stood up against the “Keystone XL pipeline”, but have you noticed since the vote failed in the Senate, Republicans aren’t exactly banging the drum on how they’ll hold another vote after they take control of Congress?)

Increased U.S. production has triggered a price-war with OPEC… which represents about 1/3 of all the oil produced in the world… increasing their own production to compete with America. So right now, it’s a fight to see “who blinks first”. Two weeks ago, OPEC voted on whether they should CUT production in an attempt to drive prices back up. In the end, they voted “No” because they knew they would lose Billions in sales as more people purchased American oil. OPEC’s response was that they could withstand the price of oil falling to as low as $50/barrel again… a price not seen since right after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

But American oil companies are likely to blink first before allowing oil prices to fall that low again, and would cut their own production to drive prices back up. OPEC would happily cut their own production in turn, the price of oil would skyrocket overnight and the U.S. economy could crash.

And American oil companies have ample incentive to drive prices up. First, when you sell a product billions of people literally can’t do without, you can almost charge whatever you want. And if they want $75 oil again, they wouldn’t break a sweat getting it back up there. And if you’re “TransCanada” and have millions of acres of oily sludge just begging to be turned into a pile of cash if only it were cost-effective to do so (presently, oil needs to be over $75/barrel to make converting tarsands sludge into oil profitable), nothing would make them (or their investors) happier than to see the price of oil shoot back up.

Of course, U.S. oil production can’t remain at this pace forever. Eventually (very soon I believe), production is going to start falling off (either from actual shortages or artificial ones), thus prices will start inching back up and the U.S. economy will falter. Desperate to eschew blame, Republicans… having missed the lesson entirely… will cry, “If only Democrats hadn’t blocked the Keystone pipeline in 2014, it would be built by now (actually, most of it is already built) and the price of oil wouldn’t be so high!”

No, the lesson to be learned here is that now more than ever, while oil prices are low and the economy is growing, we need to be investing in Green Energy now more than ever. Think of it as a “rainy day fund”. You don’t put money in the fund when you’re struggling and need it most, you fill it when times are good and need it least. We shouldn’t allow our… nay The World’s economy to be subject to the whims of the Oil Cartels. They’ve already subjected us to ONE global economic disaster. Do we REALLY wanna try for TWO… especially with so much warning?

POSTSCRIPT: I decided not to report on the recent protests regarding the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and whomever is next because the subject is already being covered thoroughly by others. Rush Limbaugh went on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday to blame “high taxes on cigarettes” for the death of Eric Garner (the “logic” being that the only reason there was a market for him to sell lose cigarettes was because of the high taxes on them, and the city’s dependence on that tax revenue is why “so many” cops descended upon him to the point of taking his life.) Yes Rush, blame the government; blame the victim; just don’t blame the guy with his arm around Garner’s neck… which “wasn’t a choke hold” because the cops told him so.

Limbaugh… the man who sang “Barack the Magic Negro” on his radio show to the same Teanut listeners who carried signs of Obama dressed like a witch doctor while protesting “ObamaCare”… complained bitterly that “people thought electing a black president would move the country past racism” (an irony lost on Limbaugh), but instead President Obama is to blame for an even greater racial divide in this country. He went on to lament that “you can’t criticize Obama without being accused of being a racist.” No Rush, before Obama, closet racists like yourself kept their racism in check. Once they were able to openly use racial code to criticize a black politician under the protective guise of simply “criticizing the president”, that’s when you and your ilk were exposed as the racists asshats we always knew you to be.

 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Greed, Money, Predictions, Seems Obvious to Me December 8th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However…

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

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

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

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



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

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Is Anyone Surprised Republicans Are Talking Impeachment?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 28, 2014

I had been thinking it for years before I tweeted last January: “Reminder on importance of 2014 mid-terms: GOP impeached Clinton his final two years. #MtP”. And like swallows returning to Capistrano, the GOP seems to think that “impeachment” is a perfectly acceptable response to circumventing every Democratic presidency in its sixth year. They’ve been looking for an excuse since November 7th, 2012 (the day after Obama’s re-election.) Back in May when President Obama unilaterally agreed to a prisoner exchange to bring home ailing American POW Bowe Bergdahl, demon-spawn Liz Cheney was already citing it as an impeachable offense. Bush’s last Attorney General Michael Mukaseythe highest law  enforcement officer in the land… who should know the law better than anyone, actually said on Fox “news” Sunday last June that, “the president can legally do something and still be impeached [for it].” NO. No he can’t. The Constitution specifically states “high crimes and misdemeanors” as the only things a president can be impeached for. But that just goes to show you just how flippantly Republicans take something as serious as impeaching a president. For a group of people that seems to cite “The Constitution” so much, they sure seem to know damn little about it. I could start a list of things President Bush should have been impeached for… and we’re not talking the rinky-dink nonsense they impeached Clinton over or now want to impeach Obama over (when they finally settle on something, I’ll let you know). During the Bush presidency, the GOP lie silent (except to call you & me “unpatriotic” if we dare question our “Commander-in-Chief” in “a time of war!”) in response to a multitude of some VERY SERIOUS and clearly unconstitutional abuses of power. Shocking, I know. So what’s their latest reason for pondering “impeachment”? The (feux) “immigration crisis”. And what exactly has Obama done to warrant impeachment? Nothing. Literally. This latest round of impeachment talk is what to do IF the president unilaterally grants all these child refugees “amnesty” (yes, this is the same Obama currently deporting those same refugees faster than President Bush did.) And lest we forget St. Ronnie granting amnesty to TEN MILLION undocumented immigrants?

Exactly eleven years ago yesterday (July 27, 2003), four months after the invasion of Iraq and still no “WMD’s” to be found, Florida Senator Bob Gramm went of Fox “news” Sunday to suggest that perhaps President Bush should be impeached over invading Iraq on false pretenses. Please note Brit Hume’s high bar for whether or not President Bush did anything “impeachable”. He literally bristles with contempt towards Gramm (whose name they misspell, natch) at the very idea, unwilling to even let columnist Mara Liason (sitting next to Hume) to get a word in edgewise to ask a question (old video. I apologize for the quality):
 

Sen. Gramm: If what Clinton’s did was impeachable, Bush knowingly
lying us into war was far worse.
(July 27, 2003)
(4:04)

 

And now Republicans are openly talking of impeachment over something President Obama *might* do? You gotta be kidding me.

Of course, as noted above, this is just their latest excuse to try and derail Obama’s presidency and permanently blemish his otherwise impressive legacy. He got us out of Iraq, he’s getting us out of Afghanistan, is getting the economy back on track (the 1.4 million new jobs created in the first six months of this year is the most since late 1999)… five of those months surpassing the 200,000 jobs mark… the DOW hit a new record high four or five times already this month, and it’s driving the GOP nuts!

Noted bow-tie enthusiast George Will showed an uncharacteristic (albeit brief) flash of sanity on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, commenting on the immigration “crisis”:

“This country has seen and absorbed far more immigrants coming into our country than we are seeing today.” – George F. Will on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday

Whether it’s “Ben-GAH-zeee!” (Obama’s inability to foresee the deaths of four people on 9/11… 2012), extending the “ObamaCare” deadline for small businesses (which Republicans actually wanted), his use of “Executive Orders” to actually get something done (in this case, to force Federal Contractors to pay a higher minimum wage and prevent them from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation) when our (literally) “do-nothing Congress” can’t organize a two-car parade, and now the basesless fear over what he might do over immigration… Republicans have been desperately looking for an excuse to impeach the president for years.

When polls showed the American public has no appetite for seeing yet another wildly partisan Republican Congress attempting to impeach yet another Democratic president, Speaker Boehner quickly shifted gears to suggest merely suing President Obama rather than impeaching him. “Sue him? For what?”, I hear you ask. Well, they haven’t quite worked that little detail out just yet. But consider this: If the president did something that he could be sued for in a Criminal court, then he must have broken the law… which is (by definition) an impeachable offense. So are they telling us President Obama committed a CRIME he can be SUED for, but it’s not anything for him to be impeached over.

Over the weekend, more violence erupted in Libya, forcing the Obama Administration to order the evacuation of our embassy in Tripoli. On FnS, the famed “Power Panel” discussed whether or not it was a mistake for President Obama to have “taken out Qadaffi.”

I kid you not. Hand-to-God. Really???

One has to wonder just how detached from reality these people must be to openly wonder if removing the brutal & violent dictator of a relatively peaceful Middle-Eastern nation was a good idea in light of the resulting violence, and not worry about being seen as raging hypocrites.

Of course, the big difference between 9/11/2012 and 9/11/2001, or the ousting of Saddam vs the ousting of Qadaffi is that the later “impeachable offenses” were both committed by a Democrat… which in itself is an impeachable offense in GOP-Land.
 



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Filed in Election, fake scandals, Middle East, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional July 28th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Ukraine in Chaos. Could Syria Become a Proxy War?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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Let’s Not Be So Quick to Vilify the Flight 370 Pilots Before the Facts Are In

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

I‘ve been quite bothered these past few weeks over the way everyone… both on the Right AND the Left… seems to be leaping to conclusions about what exactly happened to Malaysia Flight370 that disappeared without a trace nearly two weeks ago (as I write this, ships & spotter planes are racing to the Indian Ocean to examine what appears to be large pieces of debris floating in the ocean 1,500 miles off the Southwest coast of Australia.) Fox and Conservative talk radio seems certain this was an act of terrorism likely perpetrated by the Mus’lim pilots or onboard hijackers, while Progressive radio’s Randi Rhodes has been entertaining the idea that the plane was electronically hijacked by people using cellphones. And CNN? When the “legitimate news” network isn’t bringing on psychics as if they were legitimate sources of information, they wonder aloud if God Almighty or possibly UFO’s didn’t snatch the plane out of the sky like the “Prize Claw” in a Chuck-E-Cheese.

I pointed out more than a week ago that the Boeing 777 is the first “fly-by-wire” aircraft with no mechanical link between the flight-yoke and the actual steering of the plane. This makes the electrical system one giant weak-spot. Most of the plane’s electrical system, including the bright orange “black boxes”, is housed in the tail of the aircraft. An electrical fire could have slowly compromised the plane a bit at a time. First knocking out the radio/communications, triggering the plane to automatically execute the secondary (Emergency) flight plan programmed in hours before.

My personal belief is that this will be “Payne Stewart” all over again, but on a massive scale, with a fire in the tail-section slowly disabling the plane’s electrical system, knocking out the radio, transponders, and eventually the steering (fly-by-wire) while the passengers & crew were overcome by smoke/co2. At the first sign of problems, the plane’s onboard computer would likely have automatically executed the Secondary (Emergency) flight plan, turning back towards Kuala Lumpur and reducing altitude, before failing entirely. If the radio went first, there would have been no way for the pilots to send a distress call. While autopilot can steer/turn the plane, pilots are still required for takeoff and landing. So the radio goes out, the plane starts to turn around, the transponders go out (which is why we know the plane turned without the pilots radioing it in), then the electronic steering goes out so the pilots can’t correct course or land the plane. Struggling to regain control of the aircraft in any way possible, they might have even coaxed the plane into changing altitude. The plane then flies in a straight line out towards the Indian Ocean until it runs out of fuel approximately 6.5 hours later (based on the estimated amount of fuel onboard after departure) and glides into the water, leaving the plane mostly intact and limiting the debris field. Consider this, if the plane were “hijacked”, the passengers had almost 7 hours to break down the door and regain control of the aircraft. Early on, while still near/over land, passengers could have used their cell phones or “air-phones” on the plane unless overcome by smoke or knocked unconscious by “explosive decompression” due to a hole in the aircraft. The flight attendants, who’ve made this trip dozens of times, would have immediately known something was up the moment the plane made unscheduled a U-Turn and/or was out over open water for more than an hour. Yet in all that time, no one was able to regain control of the aircraft? You can’t land a plane that size on an aircraft carrier. As soon as they were near land, cell phones would have started working again (no, terrorists could not have confiscated and disabled/destroyed them all that fast, and dumping them would have made for one giant “homing beacon”), so the plane never landed. And think about this: Why has Boeing been so mum on this disaster? They are always on TV following an air disaster involving one of their planes. So where are they now? They are still reeling from the botched 787 rollout and don’t need buyers now panicking over the 777 suffering catastrophic electrical failure.

I’m also bugged by the “suspicion” surrounding the fact the Captain had an elaborate “flight simulator” in his home and posted YouTube videos using it. This is simply a man that loved his job. I work on computers for a living, yet here I am spending hours every week online, reading political websites, researching news material and writing this blog. They say, “If you do what you love for a living, you’ll never work a day in your life.” We are supposed to believe that after logging more than EIGHTEEN THOUSAND HOURS of flight experience, this was the day he suddenly decided to lure hundreds to their death in an elaborate suicide that didn’t involve almost immediately crashing the plane into the ground but instead waiting hours to fly out to sea? And he had a flight simulator in his home, yet never “practice flew” his “act of terrorism” before leaving? Yeah, right. I knew a guy who dreamed of becoming a pilot when he was a kid. He carried around toy planes and read books about flying. No, the fact the Captain had a flight simulator in his home is significant of nothing other than the fact he loved his job. I don’t know too much about the co-pilot other than the fact that he too had racked up several thousand hours of flying time, again raising the question: “why now?” Why crash a plane now when the opportunity presented itself literally hundreds of times over the past dozen years.

So now the search is on. Once the Black Boxes are found, we may very well likely learn that the pilots that so many have been quick to suspect of terrorism, may have in fact have actually been heroes, fighting heroically/futilely to regain control of a crippled aircraft. Can we PLEASE wait until all the facts are in before we slander these men?

Postscript: Apparently, I’m not the only one postulating the simple “electrical fire” theory.
 



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Filed in fake scandals, Predictions, Rants March 24th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Browne

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

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

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

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychic Twins

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

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

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

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

Political Prognosticators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Did.

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

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

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

So now my Predictions for 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, voting, War December 30th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Guest Op/Ed: The Hunting Of Yet Another President

By Ebon - Last updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

They’re going to impeach President Obama.

I don’t know what their justification will be yet. The right is still obsessed with Benghazi so it might be that (wanna have some fun, ask a winger exactly what happened at Benghazi that they’re pissed about). It might be something to do with the budget. Maybe they’ll find some minor breach of protocol that they can use as an excuse like they did with Bill Clinton. But they’re going to impeach President Obama, it’s just a matter of time and if they have the votes in the House.

During the Nineties, David Brock, now founder of the Liberal media watchdog site “Media Matters for America”, was one of the worst Conservative mudslingers of his time. He “broke” a lot of the scandals that plagued the Clinton administration (most notoriously, “Troopergate”). Brock never outright fabricated anything but he didn’t bother to distinguish between rumour, hearsay, unfounded accusation and responsible reportage. Simply making an accusation became something the Clinton’s had to defend themselves against. It was the attitude of the Inquisitions, accusation is itself proof. Brock did a lot of damage in his day, something he now regrets. Over time, Brock gained a conscience and did an about-face. Since then, he’s written a fair biography of Hillary Clinton and several books in conjunction with Media Matters.

Brock also wrote his account of being at the centre of the right-wing effort to smear the Clinton’s in Blinded By The Right. The book is enlightening for it’s account of the organized effort to destroy the Clinton’s (Hillary wasn’t entirely wrong when she talked of a “vast right-wing conspiracy”) but there’s also a fascinating explanation of the right-wing mentality. The power players of the far-right felt that they were entitled to the Presidency, that any Democratic President was, by definition, illegitimate and therefore, it was not just their right but their duty to destroy him by any means necessary. Elections were meaningless. To some extent, so were policies. It was entirely about whether the President had a (D) or an (R) after his name.

In Brock’s day, that mentality was largely confined to the far-right. It’s difficult to understand now but there was a time when there was a divide, a firewall, between the craziness of the far-right and the governance of the centre-right. But during the Clinton years, several things erased that divide. Firstly, the rise of conservative talk radio which was dedicated to attacking Clinton 24/7. It’s no coincidence that Rush Limbaugh hit the big time during the Clinton administration. Secondly, the religious right completed it’s takeover of the Republican party at the state level. One has to understand, the religious right was never simply a case of pushing for Christian values. In fact, a lot of positions currently put forward by the religious right are directly counter to Jesus’ teachings. The objective from the start was to turn politics into holy war, to give divine backing to Republican policies. Thirdly, Fox News launched in 1996. I’m not going to bother enumerating examples of Fox’s bias here because it goes without saying but suffice to say that Fox brought the 24/7 ceaseless antagonism of conservative talk radio into the TV studio.

Those three factors meant that the divide between the crazy right and the respectable right was gradually erased, first to attack Clinton and later to cheerlead Bush. It became unremarkable to say any crazy thing about the President. Accusations of socialism, communism, fascism (all mutually exclusive) and a quite staggering level of racism, all of this would once have been confined to the crazies on the far-right but with that divide erased, all of this became mainstream. Even elected officials said it. That mentality, that any Democratic president was illegitimate by definition, moved from the far-right to the mainstream right. Accusations started on some far-right blog, got picked up by Drudge, then repeated by Limbaugh and would then be reported on by Fox (who would then attack responsible media outlets for not reporting on them).

During the recent shutdown of the government, Louie Gohmert (R-Crazytown) said that the debt ceiling being broken would be an impeachable offense by the President. Remember, it was Republicans who shut down the government by refusing to bring up a clean CR (“Continuing Resolution”). It was always up to Republicans when the government was going to come back and whether the debt ceiling was breached. So what Gohmert was actually saying was that if Republicans breached the debt ceiling, it would be grounds to impeach a Democratic president (elected twice by large margins) for not appeasing Republicans enough.

These people are not interested in governing. They have proven this time and again through an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster to block virtually everything. It’s that same mentality that the President is illegitimate and therefore by definition must be destroyed by any means necessary. They’re not worried about getting re-elected in their exquisitely gerrymandered districts and the crazies that were once confined to the fringes are now running the party. They obstructed everything. That didn’t work. They’ve shut down the government. That didn’t work. They’ve threatened a debt default. That didn’t work. They feel that their only remaining option is impeachment. So they’re going to impeach Obama on the first excuse they can find (or outright invent) and they’re probably going to try doing it in the run-up to the 2014 midterms.

Now, this approach didn’t work too well for them during the Clinton administration but hell, if Republicans had any sense of history, they’d be Democrats.



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Filed in Guest Blogger, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Right-wing Facism October 23rd, 2013 by Ebon | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Time to Liberate the Debt Ceiling Hostage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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What the Debt Ceiling Fight is REALLY About: Impeachment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you starting to see how this all fits together?

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

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Filed in Economy, fake scandals, General, Healthcare, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional October 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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What Happens in Syria on Day Two?

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

It’s the one question, yet arguably the most important, that few people seem to be asking: “What happens on Day Two following a U.S. bombing of Syria?” As I noted last week, the desire to “do something” to stop Assad is visceral. The mere thought of anyone using chemical weapons is SO abhorrent to us that it is only natural for us to want to punish those who do. So let’s say we do. Let’s say we use what remains of our already-stretched thin military might against the Assad Regime and targets unknown. We can’t bomb the weapons themselves for fear they’d “aerosol” and poison the nearby civilian population. So our exact targets are a bit of a mystery. Day One: We carpet-bomb Assad. Then what? Recall our ships and bombers after Assad throws up his hands in surrender, begging for mercy? You know, the way the Bushies expected Saddam to in response to “Shock & Awe”. Is THAT the plan? So far, no one seems to know just what is supposed to happen AFTER we attack Syria. And what is “Plan B” if everything doesn’t go according to plan (and when does the use of force ever go according to plan?)

Believe it or not, the Bush Administration actually DID have a plan for the invasion of Iraq. ONE plan. The plan was to force Saddam out of power and replace him with Ahmed Chalibi of the “Iraqi National Congress”… a made up group of Iraqi dissidents living in exile, seeking the overthrow of Saddam by convincing the Bush Administration Saddam was stockpiling massive amounts of chemical & biological weapons as well as secretly developing nukes. But once we went in and found there WERE NO Weapons of Mass Destruction and Chalibi had tricked his willing dupes into taking out Saddam for him, suddenly the Bushies found themselves with no Plan B. They couldn’t reward Chalibi by putting him in charge of Iraq (they instead ended up accusing him of being “an Iranian spy”), so they found themselves winging-it for the next 5+ years, desperately trying to control chaos until an interim government and “free” elections could be held (which were a disastrous failure.) David Gregory of “Meet the Press” said yesterday: “Part of the failure of Iraq was a failure to anticipate what could go wrong.” Good for Gregory. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

One of the first signs you’re making a huge mistake: you start quoting former Bush Administration officials to sway Republican support for attacking Syria. The former Bushies LOVE the idea of President Obama seemingly vindicating Bush’s use of force against Iraq over WMD’s (Yes, Saddam used them… WHILE he was our ally. We looked the other way when Saddam used WMD’s against his own people as well as Iran in the early 80’s, and conveniently ignored that little hypocrisy when Bush used those same attacks to justify war 20 years later.

So here we are one decade later being told by another president that we must wage war against another Middle Eastern nation over “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. And just as no one knew the Bush Administration’s “Plan-A” in 2003, no one quite seems to know the Obama Administration’s “Plan-A” in 2013. And do they even have a “Plan-B”? When the guy in charge of “strategic planning” for the Iraq War starts endorsing your plan, maybe you need a new plan.

They say we must act because “America’s credibility is at risk. If we don’t act now, it’s like giving Iran, North Korea, etc a green light” that they can do whatever they want without fear of the United States using force to stop them!” Nonsense. Anyone else buy that… that our enemies will now think they have nothing to fear from us? America’s credibility is NOT at risk. The day after Congress votes “No” on using force against Syria, the FIRST reaction from the Assad Regime (out of view of the cameras) will be a huge sigh of relief. Trust me. They might claim victory on TV, but no one’s going to poke the bear the next morning. NOT attacking Syria might actually improve America’s image in the Middle East as they come to realize that the American People don’t necessarily agree with everything our government does, that the government abides by what its people say, and that we’re not a nation of warmongers eager to topple every Middle Eastern country. Even Assad won’t dare use chemical weapons again because he’ll know that while he got away with it once, the world would never stand by and let him do it again. And if you believe that just because we don’t bomb Assad this time, Iran will think it can start developing nukes without fear of reprisal… you’re living in a dream world.

The Obama Administration seems certain that we can simply bomb Syria, dust off our hands and it’ll all be over in just a few hours. Supporters of military action mention Bosnia & Rawanda as examples of genocide where hundreds of thousands were murdered before we finally intervened. The problem with those examples: both those wars went on for YEARS. How do we intervene without becoming DEEPLY involved in Syria’s civil war? Once we begin using military force to aid one side over another, their war becomes OUR war. There’s no way to extricate ourselves from that. President Obama answered questions of “why it always seems to be OUR job to play the part of ‘the World’s Policeman?'”, saying in effect that the rest of the world looks to us to lead.

I’m reminded of the story of how a man saw a butterfly struggling to emerge from its cocoon. The shell seemed a little tight so the man decided to assist the butterfly by cracking open the cocoon to free it. But once he did, the butterfly was unable to fly away. It was too heavy. Unbeknownst to the man, the butterfly needed to squeeze it’s way out of its cocoon to drain its water weight, making it light enough to fly. By helping the butterfly, he had actually done it harm. I am NOT referring to the Syrian people here by suggesting they need to work this out for themselves. No I’m referring to the International Community, which sits back and says to themselves, “Don’t worry. America will handle it”, incurring the wrath of the Middle East, while the rest of the world spends their money on education & infrastructure. As Randi Rhodes said on the radio Friday, “We’ve become hitmen for hire.” We just don’t get paid.

The four nations bordering Syria, three of them our allies… Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan & Iraq, all oppose military action. No one is more deeply affected by what’s going on in Syria than they are. MILLIONS of refugees are spilling over their borders, and if anyone should be concerned about a madman living next door using chemical weapons, it’s them. Yet, even they don’t want us getting involved. And the next two largest military’s on the face of the Earth… Russia & China… both allies of Assad, oppose an attack by the United States. This country has already endured (at least) three major “proxy-wars” with Russia/China (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan in the 1980’s and about a dozen micro-wars under Reagan in South America). Do we really want to risk starting another one?

What’s probably most maddening as a Democrat is that some of the same arguments being used by Republican opponents of using force against Syria (like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz) were the SAME arguments DEMOCRATS used against going into Iraq in 2002. Sen. Ted Cruz on ABC’s “ThisWeek” actually said:
 

Sen. Cruz: I think a military attack is a mistake.

George Stephanopoulos: Why?

Cruz: For two reasons. One, because I think the Administration’s proceeding with the wrong objective, and Two, because they have no viable plan for success.

 
Always the cautious ones, those Republicans.

Don’t doubt for one moment that if Romney had become president (I’ll never use the phrase “Pr——- Romney” in these pages even in the abstract), we’d have put boots on the ground in Syria over a year ago with the full support of the GOP, with no one like Cruz calling it “a mistake”. The typically great Gretta Van Sustren mentioned the “bad optics” of President Obama “playing golf” and failing to “recall Congress from its August recess” as sending mixed messages over the urgency of attacking Syria. Agreed, but how do you mention Obama “playing golf” and not mention: “Now watch this drive!”. When the Bush Administration was asked about failing to recall Congress for a vote on Iraq during that year’s Summer recess, their response was that “You don’t roll out a new product in August.”

So what happens in Syria on Day Two if we bomb the Syrian government? While you MAY cripple Assad’s ability to attack his own people (temporarily), what’s to stop Iran from smuggling weapons to Hezbollah in a retaliatory strike against Israel? How would Russia react? And you can forget about China’s cooperation the next time North Korea’s boy king gets bored and starts firing rockets into South Korea or the Sea of Japan again.

Or maybe you think of “non-military” ways of bringing about a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict, earn the respect of world, and give the international community incentive to act on their own the next time there’s a crisis, and not just sit back and wait for America to police the world for them?

Postscript: Wednesday will also be the 12th anniversary of “911”. Will we commemorate it with yet another war that is certain to be misinterpreted as having something to do with that day, or shall we honor that anniversary with a vote of peace?
 



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