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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 one for 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 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 crewel 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 | • 1 comment | 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

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Mugsy’s Predictions for 2013. Fight, fight, fight.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 31, 2012

Ominous 2013Well, as the cliche’ goes: “It’s that time of year again” for my annual “Predictions” edition of Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, when we look back at how well I did last year, a little schadenfreude examining just how badly the so-called “psychics” did, and ending with my own predictions for the coming year. My own record (with all humility) is incredibly good, averaging well above 50%. But I think my call on the Constitutionality of “ObamaCare” (see more below) will stand out for years to come. Off-election-year political predicting is more difficult because there are no races to call, and politicians are far more predictable in an election year. Conservatives pick fights over things they might otherwise have ignored, attempting to rile their base to score cheap political points. Democrats trade their spines in for Jell-O as they try to look like “the reasonable ones” by compromising on everything they way voters claim to want (but really don’t because Republicans have no respect for people that don’t stand up for their principles, while Liberals become infuriated by Democrats repeatedly caving-in to GOP blackmail.) 2012 was one wild ride with the election & all. And despite my confidence in my predicting ability, there were plenty of times when I thought I’d be lucky if I got even one prediction right. And while I missed my share this past year, I think my hits outweigh my misses. So without further ado:

My 2012 Scorecard (17 predictions):

  1. Correct!“President Obama will win reelection. Handily. I’d say by roughly the same margin he beat John McCain (around 5% of the popular vote).” President Obama’s Electoral Vote victory was 332 to Romney’s 206, with a popular vote margin of nearly 4-percent (even with widespread attempts at voter disenfranchisement.)
  2. Correct!Romney will be the GOP nominee. As noted, other candidates came and went during the 2011 Debates as Republicans desperately searched for “anyone but Romney”, but Romney always hovered in the top-3 while his competitors imploded around him. (Gingrich did give me a fright there momentarily when he came back a second time to win South Carolina. But thankfully, his enormous ego did him in again.)
  3. Correct! – A lack of enthusiasm for Romney will have an effect “down ballot”, with Democrats making big gains in the House and holding onto at least five seats in the Senate. My final “pick-up” totals might have been off, but that “enthusiasm gap” did indeed crash the GOP. Appalling “gerrymandering” of voting districts ensured the GOP lost only 6 seats in the House despite receiving 1.2-million fewer votes. In the Senate, Democrats won all but 1 out of 22 incumbent races and picked up two more for a 54/46 majority (including two independents.)
  4. inconclusiveThe “Arab Spring” uprisings will finally reach Iraq. A string of “Arab Spring” uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya all leading to the ouster of their corrupt leaders and historic political reform, followed by a series of protests in Iraq led me to believe that Iraq would likely follow. And while weary Iraqi’s did not overthrow their corrupt government over the continued violence and lack of services in 2012, hints of such protests did indeed surface on Friday (in just under the wire), so I’ve upgraded this miss to “inconclusive” because if it is the dawn of an “Arab Spring” in Iraq, it will have definitely started in 2012 as predicted. Only time will tell.
  5. WrongGas prices will hit a new record high momentarily next Summer. Mercifully, this is one prediction I don’t mind getting wrong. While gas prices did indeed hit record highs in parts of the country or for “that particular time of year”, the “National Average” peaked at $3.92 last March, never breaking the $4.10/gal record set under President Bush in July of 2008.
  6. WrongSyria’s King Assad won’t still be in power by the end of 2012. While I could rate this “Correct” on a technicality, I never expected him to hang on this long. The revolution in Syria had already begun in mid-2011, and by the end of 2011, the Arab League had already sent 60 Monitors into Syria to witness/prevent the reported slaughter of civilians. Other “Arab Spring” nations fell in only a matter of months. But shocking support from Russia & China, even vetoing the use of force against Assad in July as part of the UN Security Council, allowed him to cling to power all year. And Arab League observers were forced to retreat barely a month later after incidents of violence against some of their own people by Syrian troops. Recent appalling acts of genocide could pressure Russia and China into reconsidering their longtime support for Syria sometime in the coming year. We’ll see.
  7. WrongCharges of “racism” surrounding Ron Paul will hurt him badly in early primary states. – While Paul’s notorious racist history always lingered just beneath the surface, he never drew enough “mainstream” support to make it an issue. Nothing could shake Ron’s loyal “Revolution” devotees’ fawning adoration of him, and “racism” doesn’t make the Top-10 List of Concerns in Republican primaries searching for the old white guy that will rescue them from the nation’s first black president whose very place of birth they question. So it came as no surprise that Paul’s racist past had little to no impact on his campaign.
  8. Correct!With Gingrich & Perry failing to get on the ballot in the Virginia primary, Romney will win Virginia easily (but with low voter turnout); Gingrich will take the state to court while Perry simply drops out. The headline after the VA Primary: “Mitt Romney Wins Virginia Primary With Lethargic Voter Turnout”. I was right on the legal challenge but got the names reversed. Perry was the one to go to court, dropped out after losing and endorsed Newt Gingrich.
  9. WrongThe “99%” Movement gains strength. Obama hosts a “99%” rally while the GOP candidates host “Tea Party” rallies. While the “Occupy Wall Street” movement did indeed have a substantial impact on the election… most notably in response to Romney’s devastating “47%” video… the President did not host/attend any OWS rallies, nor did the GOP candidates host any “Tea Party” counter rallies.
  10. Correct! Correct! Correct!The Supreme Court will declare “ObamaCare” Constitutional, citing the government’s power to tax, in a 5-4 split decision. On June 28th, the Supreme court ruled “The Affordable Care Act” constitutional. The deciding vote in a 5-4 split decision was cast by none other than Conservative Chief Justice Roberts (now THAT I didn’t predict!) who specifically cited the government’s power to “tax” as what made the “mandate” portion of the law legal. I’d call that prediction a slam dunk! I’m counting it as three.
  11. Correct!Someone will FINALLY get around to asking the GOP candidates that “if they repeal ObamaCare, what would they replace it with?” The idea of simply “just going back to the way things were” before Health Care Reform was finally recognized as unacceptable. Many sources did indeed start asking about the “replace” portion of the GOP’s call to “repeal & replace”, but this exchange on “Fox news Sunday” on June 30th particularly stood out.
  12. Correct!The return of soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan won’t strain the job market as much as expected, but in fact have a mini stimulative effect with the increase in consumer demand. The return of all troops from Iraq in December of 2011 and 33,000 troops from Afghanistan last September did not push the unemployment rate up as soldiers returned home looking for work. Economic growth continued to rise slowly but did not in fact contract.
  13. Correct!Unemployment will be under 8% in time for the election. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8% at the end of September, ticking up to 7.9% by the end of October, but indeed below 8.0% as predicted.
  14. Correct!Gitmo will still be in service by the time of the November election. Probably not the most difficult of predictions. Such issues have a way of falling onto the back burner when attentions are drawn elsewhere.
  15. Wrong.The planned removal of  23,000  33,000 additional troops from Afghanistan by September 2012 will hit a snag. Not much to say here. I expected protests in Iraq that never materialized, coupled with civil war in Syria to derail the withdrawal of “Surge” troops from Afghanistan. I should of had more confidence in President Obama.
  16. Correct!The London Olympic Summer Games will go off without a hitch. No violence, terror threats, or major disruptions of any kind.
  17.  
    And the “Should have quit while I was ahead” award goes to:
     

  18. Wrong.If Mitt Romney does win his Party’s nomination as predicted, Virgina Governor Bob McDonnell will be his running mate. A last minute prediction I tossed in just before midnight on December 31st. McDonnell was campaigning hard for the job, and probably would have been the pick if he hadn’t gone off the rails and pushed a “mandatory vaginal ultrasound” law for rape victims seeking an abortion. I suppose he thought it would endear him to the whacked-out Evangelical Right, but instead made him the poster-boy for the GOP “War on Women”. Not even I could have seen that coming.

The final tally: 12 of 18 (I’m counting #10 as three) correct, 6 wrong and one “inconclusive”. 66%. That’s a heck of a lot better than I thought I’d do after Newt won South Carolina and McDonnell imploded. Even if you count #10 as just one prediction, I still scored an impressive 62.5%.

So let’s look at how the so-called “psychics” and Political Pundits did:

Psychic Blair Robertson, who claims to have predicted the 2011 Japanese earthquake (which is a bit like predicting snow in Winter), the plane crash that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski (no link to original prediction provided, so no way to verify the claim), along with some unnamed Soccer and Oscar predictions, was touted as a psychic whose track record of “successful forecasts” demonstrates he has the ability to “see into the future”. Let’s see:

Mr. Robertson predicted:

…a GOP Presidential victory, major volcanic activity in the Northwest and a “good chance” of a large eruption (none of which occurred), the “bombing of a cruise ship” (which I expect Robertson will point to the “Costa Concordia” being run aground by its captain as fulfilling his prophecy of a “cruise ship disaster”), North Carolina heavily damaged by storms in April, Jennifer Aniston will marry (nope), major riots in Miami and London, a train crash in Southern Europe caused by sabotage (nada)… okay, by this point, I’m just rubbing it in. Of Mr. Robertson’s 26 “psychic” predictions, only one came to pass (arguably): “a baby for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge” (pregnancy but no birth yet). 1 for 26 (0.4% accuracy).

Here is a sample of predictions from Cable TV’s “well known Long Island psychic” Janet Russell for 2012 (excuse me for picking on her for a second year in a row, but how is she “famous”? She truly sucks as predicting. 0-for-20 over the past two years):

…more people will be forgiven for their [home] loans and will be able to forgo foreclosures (I found no such widespread movement).

…one state will be open to “alternative lifestyle” and people will move to that state because they feel more comfortable (actually, same-sex marriage was on the ballot in four states in 2012, and passed in support of gay marriage in all of them. No mass migration into those states was reported.)

…the government will admit that we do have contact with other beings in other dimensions. (Uh… no.)

Several other “psychics to the stars” predictions appear on that same page (ibid: “Janet Russell”). Of the 50 or so predictions listed, I’m not sure a single one came to pass.

But that’s Hollywood. How did our friends over at Fox “news” do?

A Fox list of “5 Medical Advances in 2012″ is interesting:

  1. Medicine gets closer to treating cancer with vaccines. – There was actually plenty of news in 2012 to grant this a bonafide “Correct”. Vaccine treatments for cervical, lung, and breast cancer were all announced in 2012.
  2. An anticipated “Malaria vaccine” did not pan out.
  3. Millions will breathe easier, thanks to new EPA air pollution Regulations. – Gotta give this one a “No”. A minor “Cross-State Pollution Rule” was passed in 2012 (no surprise) that even their own best estimate was that it would improve life for up to 820,000 in the region, not “millions”. I think Fox’s own unfounded belief that Obama is a “regulation-crazy” president, played a part in that prediction.
  4. Many crucial drugs will become cheaper. – While a WSJ report claimed “Name-brand Drug Prices Rise, But Generics Get Cheaper”, with some generics falling as much as 22%, reading the Fox prediction, the basis for their prediction was that the price of many “name brand drugs” would fall as their patents ran out, while insurance companies (under ObamaCare, seeking maximum profit) would push doctors into prescribing cheaper generics. This did not happen, so I rate this prediction a “No” as well.
  5. Legislation will make it easier to choose health insurance. – There really was no “new” legislation specifically to aid in “choosing” a health insurance provider, so this is another swing & a miss.

Five predictions; one right: 20%. The fewer predictions you make, the easier it is to get a high score. Make one prediction and if you’re right, you score 100%. But even with that in their favor, they still tanked.

But medicine really isn’t in Fox’s wheelhouse. How did their “political” predictions go? On the Christmas Day 2011 edition of “Fox news Sunday”:

  1. Steve Hayes of “The Weekly Standard” predicted: “It’s more likely than not that Republicans win the White House in 2012 (later, “Probably Mitt Romney”), win the Senate in 2012, [and] despite some good Democratic recruits, keep the House of Representatives.” – One for three there, Steve. And the other two weren’t even close. Go fish.
  2. Liz Marlantes of the CSM predicted an Obama reelection and Republicans holding onto the House, but Democrats only “narrowly hold onto the Senate” losing “at least three seats”. For the record, Democrats increased their margins in both the House and Senate.
  3. Susan Ferrechio of “The Washington Examiner” disagreed with Marlantes, predicting Republicans regaining control of the Senate for an “all-Republican Congress”, but losing the White House. (Amazing how many Republicans, even back then, were pessimistic about unseating Obama.)
  4. Charles Lane of “The Washington Post” refused to reveal his prediction for the winner of the election, but was willing to predict they would “win the Electoral vote but not the popular vote”. Maybe he should have revealed his pick because it’s clear to me he was expecting Obama to win, so he would of gotten at least ONE thing right. And sorry Chuck, but Obama won both votes handily… just as *I* predicted.
  5. Hayes also predicted “economic growth will be under 2.5 percent every quarter of 2012″, and “unemployment on Election Day of 8.5 percent” (seconded by panelist Liz Marlantes.). – Sorry Steve & Liz. Economic growth was 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, and the unemployment rate was under 8 percent by election day (again, as *I* predicted.)
  6. Lane called a General Motors rebound looking “a little iffy right now”. – To be clear, General Motors saw its second straight year of “robust profits”, earning “$1.48-Billion dollars” in 2012, well above Wall Street expectations. Hang it up now, Chuck.

Okay, enough of that. Conservatives suck at predicting politics because their predictions always follow their own personal biases and ignore reality. It’s a waste of time to guess what Republicans think because they are so damned predictable themselves. Time for my “Predictions for 2013″:

  1. I can’t really make a prediction regarding whether or not we’ll go over the imaginary “Fiscal cliff” because Congress is likely voting on it as you read this on December 31st, so let me split my 1st prediction depending on whether a deal is struck or not:
       o If a deal is made before the clock expires that comes very close to what President Obama already wanted ($250K ceiling with no cuts to Social Security & Medicare), Republicans will have done so only because they intend to hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again to get what they want when they think they’ll have more power… an astoundingly dangerous and irresponsible game, playing Russian Roulette with “the full faith & credit of the United States”. Too many Teanuts in Congress mistakenly believe the Debt Ceiling has something to do with future spending, and refusing to raise it somehow means we’ll be forced to “live within our means”, instead of an agreement to raise money to pay for past obligations already passed by Congress.
       o If a deal is struck with Democrats making wholly unnecessary concessions, President Obama will have fudged on the cutoff figure, possibly agreeing to raise his “$250K” ceiling to “$500K”. But since 20 Republicans in the House already rejected Speaker Boehner’s “Plan B” that set the ceiling at “$1-Million”, the likelihood they’ll agree to a much lower “$500K” ceiling seems unlikely. And no sane Democrat should be willing to accept that deal either. Not only would it be a bad deal that makes the entire point of this fight moot, producing lots of pain for very little gain, but voters have already sided with the president, blaming Republicans for the obstruction. Caving in to GOP Blackmail is pointless because Democrats could obtain almost everything they asked for if they just hold out for a couple of weeks.
       o If no agreement is made before midnight and we “go over the imaginary cliff”, that puts Democrats in the cat-bird seat. The Bush Tax Cuts will expire for everyone, and Democrats will then propose The Obama Tax Cut in the exact form proposed by the President during the 2012 campaign. Until that time, the Stock Market will quake a little for about a week (or wildly roller-coaster for a month or two until the new tax cut is passed). Democrats will dare Republicans to vote against a tax cut for 98% of Americans, and anyone that refuses will only be proving to the entire country just where their loyalty lies: protecting the rich at the expense of the Poor & Middle Class. Since Republicans will have no choice but to vote for The Obama Tax Cut, it’s an absolute certainty that they’ll hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again to get the concessions they lost in the tax fight.

     
    Of the three options, I expect the second to be the most likely. Which brings us to #2:

    (Dec 31, 2012 Update: Senate agrees to a last-minute compromise with the tax-cut threshold pushed up to $450K with spending cuts postponed for two months… so the end result was basically a hybrid of the first two scenarios. We shall see if the inevitable “Debt Ceiling” fight… and now a fight over the “sequester” at roughly the same time… will be a “hybrid” as well.)
     

  2. IF Republicans play chicken with the Debt Ceiling” once again and take us down to the wire once more (and #3 below does not come top pass), President Obama won’t play that game a second time around. The moment it looks like the GOP’s hostage crisis might jeopardize our credit rating again (and cost us BILLIONS in interest on the money we barrow), President Obama will circumvent Congress and raise the Debt Ceiling all on his own, invoking The 14th Amendment. To say the GOP will have a conniption will be an understatement. Had the GOP of won control of the Senate, we would assuredly see another round of “impeachment hearings” as the GOP attempts yet another coup against the second Democratic president in a row (which would not have gone well with the public). Thank your lucky stars the GOP didn’t win control of the Senate in 2012. (Addendum: See #3 below.)
     
    Which leads us to #3:
     
  3. While I despise making predictions that will be proven right or wrong within a day or two, expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold true to his word and pass a rules change on day one of the new Congress to reform the filibuster. I think it unlikely he’ll get all the reforms he wants, with plenty of Senators concerned about “the slippery slope of 1st day rules changes passed with a simple majority”, but passing a simple agreement to force a “standing filibuster” (also known as a “talking filibuster”) is almost certain to pass w/o much of a fight. With Republicans still in control of the House for another two years, and another shot at retaking the Senate in 2014 and changing the rules back, there really isn’t much of a downside for them. The GOP House will ensure Republican Senators don’t have to filibuster anything that draws public fire, and they get to look like the reasonable affable ones by agreeing to “those power-crazed Democrats”. And let’s pray I’m right because should that “Debt Ceiling” fight come to pass, the change in the filibuster may be the only thing standing between us and default. I’m trying to imagine the public response to seeing a single GOP Senator holding the Senate hostage for hours… even days… and it won’t be pretty, making the likelihood of an extended challenge less likely. (Addendum: If I’m right and the Rules Change comes to pass, there will likely be no need for the President to invoke the 14th, negating prediction #2.)

    UPDATE 1: Sen. Reid delayed voting on filibuster reform on the first day of the new (113th) Congress, calling for a “recess” rather than an “adjournment” so that upon their return in three weeks, the Senate will still in its opening session.

    UPDATE 2 (1/24/13): In a move that has shocked Democrats, Reid has agreed to only mild changes to the filibuster rule, but otherwise leaves all of the GOP’s obstructive powers intact. When asked for an explanation, Reid said that he “didn’t feel it was time to get rid of the filibuster. But that argument does not wash since none of the proposed rules changes would have actually “abolished” the filibuster.

  4. Election Reform: Despite what President Obama said in his victory speech last November, since 2013 is not an election year, I wouldn’t expect much in the way of Election Reform this year… which is a shame because NON-election years are the best time to tackle the problem. More time to implement changes, and less paranoia on the Right over what those changes will do (everything from “helping ACORN… which went defunct in 2010… steal the election” to “helping illegal aliens vote”). I’ve finally come around in support of abolishing the Electoral College. I didn’t (and still don’t) like the idea that candidates can ignore less populated areas and simply focus all their efforts on big cities, but baldfaced attempts by the GOP to gerrymander electoral votes by district despite receiving over a million fewer votes in the House nationally, and an insane amount of focus on just one state (Ohio) deciding our election, I’m finally convinced that it is time for it to go. It’s a moot point, but I’m predicting little to no action on Election Reform in 2013. Damn shame too.
  5. The Unemployment Rate: Hmm, that’s a tricky one. Again, it depends on the “Fiscal Cliff” and “Debt Ceiling” votes. If the votes go (arguably) smoothly, I expect unemployment to be very close to 6.9% by the end of the year (give or take 3/10ths of a point). If however these votes become a long and protracted fight that drives the Stock Market nuts, it’s going to be very close to where it was in October (7.8%, give or take 3/10ths of a point.)
  6. Afghanistan: People are already asking, “why are we still there?” and the “Debt Ceiling” debate will thrust the cost of the war into the spotlight. I’m predicting that towards the end of the year, the idea of waiting another full year “until the end of 2014″ to bring our troops home will become increasingly unpopular, with calls to end the war in Afghanistan… if not by the end of 2013… then by early 2014 at the latest.
  7. Gas prices: Unlike during the Bush years where a stream of never-ending chaos kept the Middle East in turmoil for nearly a decade, President Obama has shown his desire not to rock-the-boat in the Middle East. Stability aids recovery. And gas prices go up FAR more easily than they go down. Gasoline over $3.00/gal is the new normal. Assuming nothing insanely stupid takes place like an Israeli attack on Iran sometime next year, expect gas prices to remain close to where they are today, hovering in the $3.50/gal range by years end.
  8. As such, I’ll also predict no U.S. or Israeli missile strike on Iran in 2013. I honestly don’t think Iran is suicidal. They may even be willing to negotiate in response to their devastated economy resulting from current sanctions. (This is a much easier prediction to make after Bill “The Bloody” Kristol predicted yesterday a  U.S. or Israeli airstrike on Iran next year.)
  9. Syria and Assad: Dangerous territory for me, since I (incorrectly) predicted last year that he would no longer still be in power by year’s end, not foreseeing Chinese and Russian support for Assad. So with that in mind, the only thing left is for the Syrian people to overthrow Assad on their own, which would be a Herculean task. However, now that we know the score, expect the Assad regime to be “economically starved out of power”, with opposing countries refusing to do business with him, and commencing all business with a parallel government formed by the Syrian opposition. Seen as irrelevant, Assad will be left with no choice by to step down voluntarily from a meaningless “Presidency in name only”.
  10. The DOW: On December 28th, the last day of trading in 2012, the DOW closed at 12,938.11 (down 158 points on Friday, but was averaging above 13,000), up less than 1,000 points over 2011. But, assuming we avoid a nasty drawn-out debate over the “Debt Ceiling” and no missile strikes on Iran jacking up oil prices, a relatively stable economic situation means better-than-average economic growth in 2013. Expect the DOW to be up over 14,500 by the end of 2013.
  11. They say when the U.S. economy sneezes, the world catches cold. The reverse is also true. Positive economic growth in America will mean the first signs of economic recovery in Europe, particularly the hard-hit countries of Greece & Spain. Of course, a protracted debate over the “Debt Ceiling” would only help destabilize the world economy. With so much at stake, and while there is NO doubt in my mind the GOP is going to threaten to hold the “Debt Ceiling” hostage once again, I don’t think President Obama will let it get that far again. So I repeat my prediction for the first signs of economic recovery in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe (and Conservatives will credit “Austerity” for their recovery.)
  12. Is 2013 the year we’ll see some serious Immigration reform? Don’t bet your Aunt Fanny on it. Will we see some “token” reform(s)? Yes. With the 2012 election still fresh in the GOP’s memory, and a recognition that they need to do damage-control with Hispanic voters, Republicans will agree to one or two minor changes in our immigration laws that poll well with Latino voters, but the Republican’s instincts (and deathly fear of offending their Redneck base) will win the day, making sure little to nothing substantial takes place in this non-election year. The time to gild-the-Lilly is in an election year, when pandering is most likely to help them at the polls. So, no, don’t expect much in the way of Immigration Reform this year.
  13. And finally, do Democrats finally pass an Assault Weapons Ban or pass meaningful restrictions on the amount of damage they can do (like limiting clip size)? This will be an ugly fight, so let’s pray Harry Reid does indeed pass filibuster reform, but yes, I do expect Democrats to pass something similar to the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in 2013. Early on, many Republicans will express “support” for new gun laws, but when they don’t get their way on some “conditions” (eg: an armed guard in every school but with no explanation how to pay for it), the final vote will split almost straight down Party lines, passing with a few (less than 5) Republican votes in the Senate and maybe 20 in the House.

And that’s my list of 13 predictions for 2013. Seems appropriate, doesn’t it? 13 for ’13? Completely coincidental I assure you. This year is going to be a toughy. So much depends upon things that happen in just the first few days, I could be either incredibly accurate or incredibly wrong by this time next year. We’ll see. I encourage you to add your own predictions in the Comments below.

Postscript: How do you like the new look? Not sure I see myself sticking with it for a year or two if I can’t tweak it a bit more. We’ll see. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

 


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Filed in Economy, Environment, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Money, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Taxes, Unconstitutional, War December 31st, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Closing Arguments: Some thoughts on Romney

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 5, 2012

The GOP's idea of NegotiatingOver the past 18 months (since the first Republican debate in May of last year… yes, it has been that long), two things have always been clear: one, Mitt Romney would be the GOP nominee and two, Republicans hate him. This will be the first “post Citizens United” presidential race. And because of that, not only was this the first presidential campaign to cost over a Billion dollars, but BOTH candidates will have spent more than a Billion dollars EACH to win this race. Republicans had to spend like Ronald Reagan after finding Joe Stalin under his bed just to keep this race close, working overtime to convince Republicans to vote for a polished turd like Mitt Romney. Oh sure, they all now claim that they actually LIKE the former pro-choice, health-insurance mandating, French-speaking equivocator from “Taxachusetts”, and insist they are actually voting FOR him rather than just “against Obama”, but their sudden love for Romney rings about as hollow as the guy in Orwell’s “1984″, pitifully joyous over how great it is that they are having pudding for the eighteenth day in a row (sorry, I could find no clip). Romney is Double-plus-good. Over these last few weeks, I’ve made a few observations about the Romney campaign that I think deserve one last review before what is sure to be a VERY long election night.

Hurricane Sandy (IMHO) did almost as much damage to the Romney campaign as it did to the East Coast (no, I’m am NOT belittling the lives lost). While President Obama was (without even trying) showcasing the need & value of an effective government that comes to the rescue of its people in a crisis when no one else can, Governor Romney was a living example of just how inept and inadequate Corporate America is in an emergency. I wrote about this on “Crooks & Liars” at the time. If this race is a battle of ideologies… “Corporate America” vs “Big Government”… and you’re already on the record as advocating the privatization of FEMA, what better opportunity to PROVE your solutions are better than to put them in action during a natural disaster that (conveniently) strikes just days before the election? Think of it as a contest: “Which ideology can provide more relief, faster and more efficiently for less money?” Obama & FEMA vs Romney & Corporate America? The Governor could have responded to the disaster by trying to organize major corporations into donating: money, food & water, resources and heavy machinery, going out to devastated areas, rescue a few thousand people and provided electricity to a few million homes. Is that too much to ask? And all it would of cost them is a paltry $20-Billion dollars or so (assuming the race between Romney & FEMA were neck & neck) C’mon! Let’s see who’s REALLY better in an emergency!

But of course, Romney didn’t do that (assuming he even thought of it, which I can assure you he didn’t) because some problems are so big that only something the size of the Federal Government is big enough to take it on. Do you think that if such an option (a corporate rescue following a natural disaster) were even REMOTELY possible, Romney’s first instinct wouldn’t of been to hold a “donation drive”? That’s how my mother responds to a disaster, not an entire government. Hell, the Romney Campaign didn’t even consider DISTRIBUTING those donations themselves. They were going to dump the entire load off on the Red Cross. One can’t help but think that under a Romney Administration, Republicans might try to do something stupid like “privatize FEMA” when all is calm, only to suddenly realize how much we actually need FEMA come the first disaster? Republicans never consider the consequences of their policies. That’s how you end up in Iraq & Afghanistan with no exit strategy.

This past week, desperate to diffuse the bi-partisan praise of President Obama and his handling of Hurricane Sandy, most notably from Romney’s own keynote speaker Chris Christie, Romney himself has started telling crowds of how HE will do a better job of “working across the aisle”… unlike President Obama who couldn’t convince Republicans to work with him on ANYTHING. Yes, President Obama kept seeking Republican support for his programs, and they instead fought him tooth & nail. What a loser. If you want a guy that knows how to work with the opposing party, you need a president that vetoed 844 bills as governor passed by an “85% ‘Democrat’ Congress” in just four years (MA’s legislature is only in session 150 days a year, so that’s more than one veto a day), who has vowed on “Day One” to undo every piece of legislation they passed under the previous administration and push through every Tea Party wet dream for the next four years. And by all means, keep using the noun “Democrat” as an adjective/pejorative. Democrats just love that.

Republicans are still trying to convince you there’s “an enthusiasm gap” among voters. Yep, but it ain’t on our side.

Last Friday saw the release of the latest Jobs numbers from the Department of Labor. The very good report was a decidedly mixed message, showing 171,000 new jobs were added in October, but coupled with last month’s drop in the Unemployment Rate to 7.8%, about 100,000 of the long-term unemployed rejoined the job-hunt, pushing the UE Rate UP by 1/10th of a point. The President touted the number of jobs created, while the Romney campaign was once again able to claim “unemployment is higher now than when Obama took office”… a debatable claim since UE was indeed 7.8% in JANUARY… Bush’s last month in office with Obama taking over on the 20th. But UE was already 8.3% by February and continued to rise like a bat out of Hell to 10.0% by October. That’s how bad things were when President Obama took over, and unemployment has not been as high since. Pointing to how “low” the unemployment rate was the day Bush left office and then blaming Obama for everything afterwards is like pointing out what “great condition” a house is the moment it catches fire and then blaming the firemen for how it looks 4 hours later.

Another thought crossed my mind in recent weeks: Ever notice how Republicans always stop at “FDR” when saying “Obama is the worst” on something? “No president has won re-election with unemployment this high since FDR.” “The highest spending as a percentage of GDP since FDR.” Ever notice that? Why always since FDR? What happened when FDR was president? Oh yeah, the economy collapsed and the nation found itself fighting two wars simultaneously. NOTHING like President Obama had to face. Maybe President Obama’s Debt & Unemployment haven’t been seen since FDR because we haven’t seen this level of crisis since FDR? Republicans pointing out that we haven’t seen such numbers since FDR is an implicit admission that things have not been THIS BAD since FDR.

Nearly two months after the Embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya, Fox “news” is still hyping a supposed “Intelligence failure” that led to American deaths on “September 11th”, accusing the president of demonstrating a lack of concern for those who had been killed, and even sitting and doing nothing while the attack was being carried out. The irony is palpable. But as we learned last week, the CIA responded to the attack within 25 minutes, while at the same time, Governor Romney was racing to the cameras to accuse the Obama Administration (and unwittingly, the embassy itself) of “sympathizing with the attackers” WHILE the attack was still underway.

Romney also took some heat last week for falsely claiming Chrysler might be shutting down “ALL” of its American factories and moving to China. Clearly desperate to make President Obama look worse for Detroit than his own suggestion of letting them go bankrupt, Romney seized on a report by a Conservative blogger that misinterpreted a Bloomberg News report of Chrysler opening additional factories in China to make cars for sale in China as suggesting the company was “shutting down factories in the U.S. and moving the jobs to China.” So not only did the blogger get the story wrong, but Romney embellished on it even further, falsely claiming Chrysler might be moving ALL production to China. When caught in the lie, rather than admit his mistake, Romney doubled-down, running carefully worded radio and TV ads saying Chrysler was going to “build cars in China”… which is true, but not at the cost of American jobs and not because business is bad for Chrysler. So unless you have a problem with selling cars to the Chinese, what is the point of the commercials?

(And, I might add, that total inability to admit you’re wrong… that’s how “shame on me” becomes “can’t get fooled again.”)

It deserves pointing out that just last June the Romney campaign defended “Offshoring” when Romney was criticized for “outsourcing” jobs to China while at Bain Capital. Romney adviser Andrea Saul quipped back that there is a difference between “outsourcing” and “offshoring… work done overseas to support U.S. exports“. So unless Mitt had a sudden epiphany that doing business overseas is a “bad” thing, he is once again flip-flopping on something he took a stand on not five months ago, for crass political gain.

With less than 48 hours to go as of this writing, Obama leads Romney in EVERY Ohio poll (sans… of course, Rasmussen that shows them merely tied)… a must-win state for Romney (actually there are one or two skin-of-his-teeth paths to victory for Romney w/o winning Ohio, but they both require winning five of eight swing states… not a single one in which he currently leads. Romney has NEVER led in Ohio. If Ohio goes Red Tuesday night, there will be a LOT of people (myself included) suspecting something hinky on election night.

There are FAR more paths to victory for Obama. While Romney has to virtually run the table and pick up almost every swing state just to reach 270, President Obama can lose Nevada, Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Virgina, Vermont AND North Carolina (seven of eight swing states), and STILL reach 272 Electoral Votes by simply winning Florida (along with all other states he currently leads in):
 

272 with JUST Florida

 

Likewise, he can swap Florida for Ohio and Virgina and still reach 274 EV’s:
 

274 without Florida

 

While everyone will be watching Ohio Tuesday night, I’ll be watching Virginia, which is a much closer race than Ohio and has a longer history of going red. If Romney loses Ohio… which looks very likely right now, he can’t win without Virgina. If he loses Virgina, he can’t with without Ohio.

So that’s Mitt. A former Republican governor with daddy issues (his father’s “brainwashed” remark that tanked his nomination “affected Mitt deeply” according the the PBS documentary: “The Choice 2012″) that can’t admit mistakes, believes tax cuts are the solution to every problem, is saber-rattling the threat of war in the Middle-East, and is now running as “a uniter, not a divider.” What could possibly go wrong?

And what in the heck is this? Keep calm?
 

Keep calm?
(click for full image)

Think maybe they’re a little worried over there at Romney headquarters?
 



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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Jobs, Money, Politics, Predictions, Rants, Taxes, voting November 5th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Many Polls Say Romney Close or Leading, But Don’t You Believe It.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, October 29, 2012

Mask sales accurate election predictorA recent Gallup Poll of “Likely Voters” taken after the FIRST debate showed a bounce for Governor Romney to give him a 2-Point Lead over President Obama. That’s to be expected. But after the SECOND debate, despite almost universal agreement that Obama won the second debate… a debate in which Romney was humiliated on the national stage over “when” exactly the president called the Benghazi attack “an act of terror”, showed total disrespect of both the moderator and The President, and his odd “binders full of women” remark where he never did get around to endorsing “pay equity for women”… President Obama enjoyed a strong rebound in the polls. Couple this with the drop in unemployment below 8-percent the week before, and many felt the president recovered everything he lost after the first debate. So the supposed CONTINUED gains by Governor Romney after the second & third debates among “likely voters” (by as much as a stunning SEVEN percent in one poll) is beyond logic. Fortunately, my faith in the American people was tempered slightly with Romney’s “bounce” now petering out in the waning days of the election. Despite this, Romney surrogates were all over the airwaves this weekend to ensure you that the “Romney comeback” is real and that the momentum in this election is his. But don’t you believe it. Most polls now show President Obama still leads among likely voters (49% to 46%), and Obama has never trailed in Ohio. But there are a number of other… let’s call them “factors”… to suggest the momentum still rides with Obama (some serious, others just curious coincidences):

1) Cellphones & “Caller ID” skewing polling:

Many polls still under-sample or otherwise avoid cellphone users, and a LOT of people use “Caller ID” to avoid pollsters. The older the voter, the less likely they are to use “Caller ID”. It’s no surprise that people with “Caller ID”… either in-home units and/or on their cell phones, will simply just not answer their phone when they see it’s a pollster bugging them for the 30th time that week to see if they’ve changed their vote since yesterday. It should also come as no surprise that the majority of these voters are young, who skew heavily for Obama, while voters that tend to shy away from such technology are typically older (Romney’s demographic). So when some polls show a “dead-heat” or even a Romney lead, be aware that they are hearing from a disproportionate number of older voters without “Caller ID” that also tend to vote Republican.

Pollster Gallup says they have upped the number of “cellphones” they poll to 50%, and Obama’s lead is stronger in polls that include cellphones. Republicans are already claiming the polls are “skewed towards Obama” because when they ask people if they are a “Republican” or “Democrat”, more people say they are Democrats, therefore, Republicans claim this as evidence of “bias”, that polling companies are “unfairly polling more Democrats” (uh, guys? Just because more people call themselves Democrats, doesn’t mean pollsters are actively seeking them out). But I’d argue that simply sampling more cellphone users doesn’t give you an accurate picture of the voting public as a whole. Do cellphone users make up 50% the voting populace? If half your sample is cellphone users and half your sample is “land-line, no Caller ID” users, I’d argue your sample is unevenly weighted in Romney’s favor. That would be like walking into a women’s dress shop and polling on the popularity of mustache combs. If you manage to leave with your genitals intact, the responses you receive are probably not going to accurately reflect the popularity of “mustache combs” in general. Increasing the number of women you poll in that same environment isn’t going to do much good.

(UPDATE: MotherJones Magazine this week reports: “Pollster: Undercounted Cellphone Users Hide Obama’s Lead”.)

2) Early Voting is heavily in Obama’s favor

As Reuters pointed out Friday, President Obama leads Governor Romney 54% to 39% among early-voters. This is important for several reasons: First, it lays waste to the Republican claims of an “enthusiasm gap” that voters just aren’t excited about voting for Obama, while enthusiasm for Romney is supposedly growing. Second, if potential Romney voters are still debating whether or not to actually support him this late in the game, or are just not yet ready to check that box for him even in light of the very real possibility that the polls may be closed (or they otherwise can’t get to them) on Election Day because of Hurricane Sandy, then the fact that Early Votes weigh heavily in Obama’s favor matters a great deal.

Some lighter fare: 3) Halloween Mask Sales

Halloween mask sales has been an unusually good predictor of presidential elections. Think about it. Who wants to dress up as somebody no one likes for Halloween? People with enough enthusiasm to lay out $30-$50 for a custom rubber mask typically won’t waste their money buying the mask of the guy they don’t like. And this year, Obama masks are outselling Romney masks. BuyCostumes.com brags it has accurately predicted the winner of every presidential election since 2000, and this year, Obama/Biden mask sales lead Romney/Ryan mask sales by 4-percent.

Consider that for what it’s worth. Maybe nothing, but a fun fact none-the-less.

I might also point out that according to a few costumers, there was a run on BigBird masks following the second debate. Wanna bet people are making fun of Romney with those masks? I’d be comfortable putting “Big Bird mask buyers” in the Obama column as well.

Some other “not-so-serious” yet surprisingly good presidential predictors:

The GOP has alienated just about every minority group there is. Obama leads big among women, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, The Poor, Gay-Americans, and the youth vote. The only group Romney leads big in is “White Men”. Amazingly, the “Kill Medicare” Team has the edge when it comes to seniors. And just as astonishing, the same “get-rid of Planned Parenthood, and make The Pill Unconstitutional” ticket is closing the gap among women… supposedly. Does that make sense to you? Of course not. It defies logic. So don’t you believe it.

Question: In what world does a candidate with this kind of Baggage seem likely to win:

And seriously, when did the GOP become our Fallback position? How does a Party screw up THAT bad, openly announce that their “#1 priority” is to obstruct every thing the President does for the next four years, and when Democrats don’t fix the Republicans’ mess “fast enough”, people are racing to REWARD that obstruction and put the Party that created this mess back in power just four short years later? Sorry, I refuse to believe this country is so easily duped (or has the memory of a goldfish).

Two weeks before the election, the Romney campaign is STILL sending Ryan to red states for fundraising less than two weeks before the election? You don’t do that when you’re winning.

And what about this? The Romney Campaign doctored a photo (badly) of a Nevada campaign event last week to make the crowd look twice as large as it actually was. You don’t do that when you’re winning either.
 

Romney Nevada event

Photoshopping of Romney Nevada event
Click to enlarge


 

The fact that some people are arguing “what is the role of government” as the basis for how they’ll vote this November, THAT’S A WIN! Why? Because we’re not talking about “war” or “losing 800,000 jobs a month”. If your focus this election is on esoteric things like “the proper role of government”, then the president is doing a damn good job. Remember, the last guy failed to prevent the most devastating terrorist attack in American history, quadrupled the price of oil, tripled the price of gas, launched America’s first unprovoked war against what turned out to be an unarmed country in a war based on lies, and crashed the global economy.

So when you hear all the pundits citing polls claiming this race is “neck & neck”, or Conservative pundits predicting a “huge” win for Mitt Romney, don’t you believe it. There’s not an ounce of evidence to support it… not even anecdotal.

PS: Just to let everyone know, I was recently tapped to be the newest contributing editor for “Crooks & Liars”. Despite this, Mugsy’s Rap Sheet will remain my primary focus, providing me with more editorial freedom and the ability to go into issues in much greater detail than I ever could under C&L’s rapid-fire high-turnover format. But I do encourage you to drop by C&L frequently for breaking updates. Look for posts “by Mugsy”, that’s me.



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Filed in Election, myth busting, Politics, Predictions, Seems Obvious to Me October 29th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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10 Things You WON’T Hear Mentioned at the Republican Convention This Week

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 27, 2012

Ask Mitt Anything* (*except...)As you know, the GOP will be holding its Presidential Convention & Cross Burning Clambake all this week in Tampa Bay. Well, not ALL week, because for the second convention in a row, the first day of the RNC Convention will be canceled due to a hurricane lashing the pavilion. In 2008, religious morons “prayed for rain” to disrupt the DNC Convention in Denver. Instead, they saw temps in the low 80′s, and the clouds parting on the night of Obama’s big acceptance speech. God is clearly a Democrat. Meanwhile, the GOP brazenly chose to host their convention at the site of Bush’s SECOND greatest failure (or, if you prefer, “Greatest failure of his SECOND term”), New Orleans during the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005). In response, God sent “Hurricane Gustav”, forcing the GOP to cancel Day-1 of their convention. Clearly, the GOP didn’t get the hint, because God decided in His infinite wisdom to disrupt the 2012 Convention as well with YET ANOTHER hurricane (“Isaac”) on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, once again headed for New Orleans. The Lord Almighty announced he’s “going to keep lobbing hurricanes at GOP Presidential Conventions until [they] admit Global Warming is real.” It’s true, I swear! God told me so himself (or maybe it was just Marcus Bachmann?)

And that’s Item #1 of things you WON’T hear being discussed at the Republican National Committee Convention this week: “Global Warming”. No, if history is any teacher, rather than ponder what effect turning our planet into a giant Easy-Bake Oven has on hurricanes, Asshats-in-cowboy-hats will be chanting, “Drill Baby, drill!” (or “Build the damn pipeline!”) despite the fact that oil production is higher now under President Obama than it EVER was under President Bush. (I have also pointed out that the KXL pipeline would result in HIGHER gas prices because giving up Refinery capacity to refine KXL oil for export means less gas for us, creating an artificial shortage that pushes prices UP.) But don’t confuse a Republican with “facts”. While Oil Billionaires in Tampa will be toasting the fact that hurricane in the Gulf means shutting down dozens of Refineries and Drilling Platforms across the Gulf Coast, pushing gas prices… and by extension… profits much higher (and the economy much lower), it will never occur to a single monsoon-soaked conventioneer that maybe what we should be looking for are ways to get OFF oil as a way to reduce prices, not suck the planet dry like the last Grape Nehi on Planet Diablo.

Number #2 on the list: While Governor Romney and several Convention Speakers will vow to “Repeal ObamaCare”, you will NOT hear ANYONE explain WHAT exactly they plan to replace ObamaCare with. On yesterday’s “Fox news Sunday”, host Chris Wallace interviewing Romney, asked him about “the consequences of repealing ObamaCare”. Romney ACTUALLY said that he would replace “ObamaCare” with “things”. You think I’m kidding?

Romney: (“the things I will replace ObamaCare with will also help hold down the cost of health care”)

Number #3: “Personhood”, or more specifically: “The Personhood Amendment. Oh, you’ll hear tons of lofty talk about the GOP being “The Party of Life” from a bunch of rabid pro-war, pro-gun, pro-death penalty zealots, and how the vile Liberal Left wants every woman to rely on Planned Parenthood for their health care so they can be talked into getting an abortion (especially if they’re black), but in the toxic fog of Rep. Todd Akin, any mention of the ultimate goal of that “pro-life” agenda will be harder to hear than a mouse-fart in church. If the camera catches glimpse of a single “Ban The Pill” or “Pass the Personhood Amendment” sign, you can bet that person will be yanked faster than a 6-inch nose hair.

No one during the entire event will connect the dots between “Personhood” and how it could ban most forms of hormonal contraception. In fact, you might even hear some Speaker claim that “No one is talking about banning contraception!” What a ridiculous thought!

Which of course leads to Number #4: Todd Akin. Last Monday, people were aghast by the Right-Wing nuttery of Republican Congressman Todd Akin for saying that victims of “legitimate rape” (RW code for suggesting there are a number of women who falsely claim rape simply to obtain an abortion) “secrete a substance” that prevents them from becoming pregnant (ergo, if you got pregnant, you must have wanted it.) But lets keep in mind that this is a Party where one of it’s leading presidential candidates… Ron Paulsaid almost the exact same thing last February, and no one on the Right said “Boo”.

As ThinkProgress pointed out, Paul Ryan teamed up with Akin on a slew of “personhood”, “anti-abortion” and “anti-contraception” acts of legislation as recently as THIS YEAR, so naturally the GOP makes him their Vice-Presidential nominee. If anyone brings up Akin or Ryan’s connection to him, it will be reporters, not anyone from the dais.

Number #5 on the list of thing you’ll never hear mentioned at this convention: The rash of recent “gun violence”. From the “Batman” shooting in Colorado, the near-fatal shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the attack on an Indian Seik Temple, or even the “suicide-by-cop” incident in front of The Empire State Building just last week. The GOP might as well change its name to The NRA for all the difference it would make. I’m sorry, but for a group of peacock-strutting macho Rednecks that loves guns & war, they sure talk tough, but I’ve never met a bigger bunch of frightened p@ssies in all my life. They live in constant terror of “Muslims”, “Illegal Immigrants”, “Black people”, “Black helicopters”… heck, the government in general. I couldn’t fathom living in their world. What a dark scary place they live in. It must be horrible living in such constant fear like that. So, if the word “gun” is mentioned at all during this Convention, it will be in the context of “Fast & Furious”… the botched “gun walking” program that never actually allowed a single gun to “walk”.

(UPDATE: On the morning of opening day of the Convention, a student at Perry Hall High School in Maryland was shot & wounded by another student opening fire in the school cafeteria.)

Number #6 on the list of things you’ll never hear at this convention: Mitt Romney’s tax returns or his tax shelters. While I wouldn’t be surprised if some minor league GOP “rising star” or disgruntled “Bachmann-type” in a waaaay off-primetime speaking slot ridicules the idea that anyone needs to see more than the one-years’ worth of tax returns that Mitt has already released, the very subject of Romney’s taxes will be verboten.

Number #7: The words “filibuster” or “obstruction”. It is imperative to the governor’s election chances that everyone forget that the last election wasn’t 2008, it was 2010. On yesterdays’ “ThisWeek” on ABC, Right-Wing putz George Will pointed to how little things have improved over the past year, and how that’s evidence “President Obama’s policies have failed”. Just once, I’d like someone to ask him if he thinks the GOP controlled Congress (yes, that includes the Dem-led Senate that has been held hostage via the filibuster) deserves ANY of the blame for the lack of improvement over the past two years? I mean, they DID come in promising “Jobs, jobs, jobs”, no? Or was I just imagining that? I’d almost bet cash/money that someone will (falsely) claim, “President Obama had a filibuster proof majority” his first two years (in truth, it was a grand total of only 24 working days) to support the idea he accomplished nothing (except pass the most sweeping health care reform law in 50 years.)

Number #8 on our list is “Voter ID” and the millions that are likely to be disenfranchised in order to “safeguard our elections” from a crime that’s rarer than death by lightning strike. The GOP is very excited about the passage of “Voter ID” laws that will require millions of legal Registered voters to unnecessarily jump through all sorts of ridiculous hoops just to exercise their Constitutional Right (“The Constitution”… you remember that Right-Wingers? It’s that thing you wrap yourselves in when it suits your purposes, and you push to “Amend” when it doesn’t?) They’ll ACTUALLY tell you, “It’s about making sure that only Citizens actually vote in our elections”, yet they accept a “Drivers License” (among other things) that doesn’t actually require proof of citizenship to get. In fact, NON-citizens can get a Drivers License, and do so all the time. Tell me again how “Voter ID” has anything to do with “making sure only citizens vote”? No, it’s just about making it more difficult for minorities and The Poor… groups that typically vote Democratic… to vote. I actually had one Right-Winger say to me, “Hey, if you can’t do something as simple as get an ID from the DMV, you shouldn’t be voting anyway!” Yes, it’s SO EASY for people WITHOUT A DRIVERS LICENSE OR A CAR to get to the DMV. It’s SO EASY for someone on Minimum Wage to take time off from work and wait in line all day at the DMV to get an ID they never needed before just to do something they’ve been doing for decades without incident. That taxi cab you might have to take to get to the DMV, or that time off you must take from work, that costs money and is tantamount to an illegal Poll Tax. If by some disaster Romney should “win” this November, you can BET “Voter ID” played a BIG part in making it happen.

Number #9: “The Dream Act”. Republicans are already on the outs with Millions of Hispanic voters for their “shoot first” at anyone that comes near their “1,100 mile long electrified fence” position on Border Security. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed Arizona’s “Papers Please” law that gave local police the ability to stop anyone they deemed “suspicious” on any trumped-up charge they could think-up to give them legal justification to harass brown people, didn’t win them any friends in the Hispanic community. After alienating just about every sane black person in the country with their “Birther” nonsense, the GOP can’t afford to alienate any more minorities. But they’ve already labled President Obama’s “Dream Act”something that was once a GOP idea… “Amnesty”. In an interview on “Meet the Press” yesterday, Jeb Bush (who will be speaking at the convention while his brother will not) criticized his own party for being so anti-immigration, stressing the need for legal immigration. Jeb also acknowledged that President Obama “inherited a very difficult situation”, and will be using his speech to promote the need for “education” to a bunch of Home-Schoolers that want to abolish the Department of Education. So you can relax folks, there’s now ZERO chance we’ll ever see another Bush in the White House.

And last but not least…

Number #10 on the list of Things no one will hear mentioned at the RNC Convention? Osama bin Laden or Kadaffy.

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Filed in Economy, Election, Energy Independence, Environment, General, Global Warming, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Middle East, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Right-wing Facism, Right-Wing Insanity, Taxes, voting, War August 27th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 6 comments | Add/View

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When we find Romney paid no taxes, will we remember last years RW outrage over people paying “No” taxes? (UPDATED)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Friday, July 20, 2012

The Etch-a-Sketch 1040Last Monday, I surmised that one of the likely reasons Romney refuses to release his tax returns is because we would discover that there were times the multi-multi-millionaire paid NOTHING in income taxes. With each passing day, I become more certain that will be the result (in addition to learning he is FAR richer that we already know). Mitt’s wife Ann has been making the rounds lately, and with all the obliviousness of Marie Antoinette, is repeating her husbands’ claim they they have “given all the information you peons people need to know.” We’ll see how long THAT lasts. Once the truth gets out, how does Mitt then continue to make the case The Rich are paying “too much” and need a massive tax CUT to encourage them to create jobs? It’s basically THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CONSERVATISM that “tax cuts spur job growth”. Take that off the table, and what are they left with? Abortion? Immigration?

But then I remembered… just over a year ago, Republicans were aghast by a report from “the non-partisan Tax Policy Center” stating that “47% of Americans households will pay no Federal Income taxes” (the earliest reference to the report I could find was this October 2009 report on “CNN Money”). Outraged, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) took to the floor of Congress in 2011 to decry the fact that More than half of U.S. Households did not pay any income taxes in 2009″, and Teanut Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) also decried, “Fifty-one percent — that is, a majority of American households — paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada.”

“Newsmax”, the Right-wing “outrage-machine” masquerading as “news”, repeated Hatch’s claim, followed by Democrats noting that the Poor DO pay taxes, which Newsmax countered with a quote from Hatch’s Finance Committee co-chair noted DINO Max Baucus-(D MT): “The question shouldn’t be what kind of taxes people pay, but whether every American is paying his or her fair share“.

Fox blowhard-supreme Sean Hannity, who never let the facts get in the way of a good argument, helped stoke the fires of Right-Wing outrage by falsely claiming 50 percent of households “don’t pay taxes”… something the original report never claimed (only “Federal income” taxes).

Following the report, Conservative blogger/blowhard Erick Erickson of “RedState.com” smugly responded to the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd’s claim of “we are the 99%” by creating a website entitled “We Are the 53 Percent”, claiming “the 53% is subsidizing the 47%” that paid “no” taxes.

The 2009 report was such a huge story on the Right that as recently as last February, Fox Nation was still reporting it as “news” (following a 2012 update by Heritage still using figures from their own 2010 report.)

Of course, the fact that ALL of those “freeloaders” living in poverty DO pay some taxes (state/local/FICA, etc) was irrelevant. The very IDEA that so many people (are so poor that they) pay NO Federal Income Taxes was an affront to their idea that you must pay taxes to be a contributing member of society, and those who don’t are leeches.

DailyKOS produced a detailed takedown of the “50% pay no taxes” myth last year, noting only in passing that “4.5% of the tax breaks” that allow some people to get away with paying “NO income taxes” are for the wealthy, and ergo will never be repealed (nor even criticized) by the GOP. The original 2009 report… for which there is no link… reported that “6,000 people (1.5%) of those Americans who paid no Federal Income Taxes, made more than $1-Million dollars” (ibid CNN Money link), with another 17,000 (2%) making over $500,000/year. A small percentage to be sure. But keep in mind that just the 400 Richest Americans earn more than the bottom 50% combined. That’s 1/15th of that 1.5%. Talk about “misdirected outrage”.

It is just accepted as fact by the Right that the wealthy are already carrying the burden of supporting the country thru exorbitant taxation, while tens of millions of lazy Americans on Welfare (including unemployment & Social Security) are getting a free ride. “Is every American paying their fair share”, they asked? If (When) we learn Mitt Romney paid NO income taxes in some years, will all those Right-Wingers that were livid for two years over all those poor people getting a “free-ride” apologize and call Romney a “leech” or a “freeloader”? Not only will they not apologize or criticize Romney in any way, they’ll dig-in their heals and DEFEND him as “a job-creator”.
 

(UPDATE 7/31/2012: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid revealed that a Bain Investor told him Romney “hasn’t paid taxes for 10 years.” Hate to say, “I told ya so”, folks!)



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Filed in Election, Money, Politics, Predictions, Rants, Taxes July 20th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View