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Beginning of the End for Religious Bigotry Laws

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

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

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 This nation fought a Civil War over whether or not Federal law superseded “states rights” (“The South” lost BTW, and Federal Law reigns supreme.)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

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

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

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

BONUS:

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

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

 



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

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Let’s Face Facts: Spike in violence against Blacks tied to Right Wing hostility toward Obama

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 22, 2015

After news broke of the mass murder of nine African-American members of the AME Church of Charleston, SC last Thursday, the “discovery” that the shooter was a Confederate Flag waving racist gun nut, surprised no one. What WAS surprising was the lengths to which Fox “news” went to to suggest that this might have been an attack on Christians by a possibly “liberal” youth driven to hatred of “religion” by The Left rather than a racially motivated crime driven by hatred towards blacks. And the impetus is obvious: the Shooter shares much in common with Fox’s core demographic: White Southern Conservative, loves guns, with some obviously racist views. Yes, the Right was openly suggesting this redneck jackass was not necessarily motivated by racism but by hatred of religion. And we all know why: Because one view makes Conservatives look bad while the other makes “Libruls” look bad. It has become political. And why might that be? We all KNOW why but it seems like no one is willing to admit it: Open hostility towards President Obama is feeding open hostility towards blacks in general. Trying to attach a political ideology to the S.C. shooter wouldn’t be necessary if there wasn’t already a reason to believe politics played a role in this latest mass murder. Think about it.

I mean, seriously. If “politics” played “No” part in shaping the motivations of the S.C. Shooter, then it wouldn’t matter if he were a Conservative, a Liberal, a Communist or an anarchist. The very fact Fox tried to shed doubt on the motivations of the shooter is (frankly) an ADMISSION that politics likely played a part in this crime.

A string of unarmed black people… several of them children for Christ sakes (Tamir Rice, Travon Martin and a bikini-clad black girl in McKinney, Texas) have been assaulted (or worse) by enraged white authority figures (numerous cops and two wannabees) that can’t fathom the idea of relating or even empathizing with blacks as equals that might make them less quick to draw their gun or wrestle a black person to the ground. And I can only attribute this to one thing: a lack of respect for our Commander-in-Chief, often couched in the subtle language of racism.

When a fight between two mostly white rival biker gangs broke out in Waco last month, police sat with the bikers and calmly arrested them. How many in the media called them “thugs” and questioned why “leaders of the biking community” hadn’t come out to “condemn” these rogue elements? “Where are the parents?” A biker jacket on a white guy is apparently less anti-social than a “hoodie” on a black kid.

A Facebook page of the shooter turned up with photos (video?) of him flying “White Power” & “Confederate battle” flags as well as photos of him burning the American flag. The day of the shooting, we already had photos of him in a jacket sporting the “Apartheid-era” flags of South Africa and Rhodesia (modern-day Zimbabwe) with a novelty Confederate flag license plate on the front of his car. If you’ve seen the photos, The Shooter is clearly in the woods, unquestionably nowhere near the downtown area. And yet, Fox “news” would have you believe this poor misguided (by Liberal hated of Christianity) God-fearing youth with a healthy love of guns (which in itself doesn’t gibe with the “Liberal” label) couldn’t find a church closer to his home and apparently had to drive 15-20 miles into the heart of downtown Charleston, where he just happened to choose an almost exclusively black church “by accident” so he may start killing “Christians”.

Seriously. Did Fox really believe the downtown Charleston AME church “just happened” to be the most convenient church to where the shooter lived? There weren’t dozens more churches along the way in which he could have stopped in to carry out his brutal Liberal-influenced attack on Christianity? Anyone that buys that desperate stretch of tortured logic is lying to themselves… and knows it.

I forget who said it yesterday (during the Sunday shows), but “guns make the weak feel powerful”. We now have an entire network dedicated to convincing people they are victims, and that the Federal government is their enemy. They already horde guns like a squirrel hording nuts for Winter, and the NRA makes Bank convincing the paranoid that the government is coming to take their guns away. With a mostly white Southern Conservative demographic that (unquestionably) already tends to lean a bit racist to begin with, linking their dislike of “blacks” to their dislike of “government” has become painfully easy now that the head of that government just happens to be black.

The S.C. Shooter told one black woman in the AME church that “[blacks] are taking over the country“. Now if you believe a 20-year old kid is upset over losing a string of jobs or college admission to “Affirmative Action” candidates, or had one-too-many black bankers turn him down for a loan, you’re sniffing glue. No, there is only ONE “black” in this kid’s mind that epitomizes having “taken over the country”, and that’s President Obama.
 

Nightly Show on Fox whitewashing of Charelston shooting

 

I’ve often said that “if a Conservative accuses you of doing something, it’s only because they’ve either done it themselves or thought of doing it and assume you’re every bit as devious as they are”, be it “election rigging” or “false flag” operations. Trust me.

And that second one, that belief that everything that makes Conservatives look bad is in fact a “false flag” operation meticulously carried out by “The Other Side” is actually a thing. In any other era, these candidates for the rubber room would be holding meetings in basements to discuss the fact the U.S. military is hiding alien bodies in a hangar in “Area-51″. Instead, these delusional paranoids have their own 24 hour cable news network that tells them, “No, you’re not paranoid! The government really is building FEMA interment camps where they plan to hold you prisoner for… well, that’s really not clear. Till you agree to give up your guns and sign up for socialized medicine? I seriously can not come up with a SANE explanation for why the Federal government might suddenly be building (“in total secret” mind you) internment camps to house hundreds/thousands/millions(?) of Americans or planning an invasion of Texas via secret underground passages in vacant Wal*Marts. For how long and what purpose? There’s not enough tinfoil in the world to explain that one.

But one thing is brutally clear, latent Conservative racism is being linked and stoked towards President Obama specifically and that racial animosity is bleeding over into the general population.
 



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Filed in Crime, Guns & Violence, myth busting, Party of Life, Politics, Racism, Rants, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Terrorism June 22nd, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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These “Religious Freedom” laws were the same counter argument to the 1965 Civil Rights Act

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When the Johnson Administration pushed for equal rights for blacks in 1964, the Religious Right opposed the bill on the grounds that it was impinging on their rights. Their “religious” right to be a bigot. They claimed that The Almighty himself segregated the world by putting people of different races on different continents, and that forcing people of faith to mingle with “Negroes” was against “God’s Will”. There was “No need” for “integrated lunch counters” because if “they” didn’t like it, they could just eat someplace else. And if the public didn’t agree, they too could just patronize another shop. If enough people didn’t like it, “The Free Market” would either force that business to conform or go bankrupt. Problem was, in 350 years, NOT ONCE did public sentiment close a business over their treatment of minorities. Private businesses resented being forced to seat blacks at the lunch counter. “If you don’t like it, eat someplace else”, they were told. “There are plenty of other restaurants that are Separate But Equal to ours. Go there!” Does any of this sound familiar? The exact same “Religious rights” arguments made against the 1964 Civil Rights Act are being used again TODAY by the same people to defend pro-discrimination laws in Indiana and Arkansas 51 years later citing “Religious Freedom” as their defense. Only THIS time around, it’s the bigots that are in charge.

When people never spend any time around the “others” they look down upon, they remain alien to them, making it easy for them to discriminate. “Those disease-ridden, sinful, morally ambiguous degenerates!” They didn’t want to be around them or have anything to do with them. “Stay away and don’t corrupt my children!” They were an “offense to God” and treating them badly was “justified in the name of God.”

The genius of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was to spare NO ONE. No individual, no business, public nor private, was exempt. And once people got used to being around those “others”, they discovered that they were not in fact different from themselves. Open bigotry is actually publicly shamed by a majority of Americans today as more than half of America’s population has no memory of growing up in a time when the races were not regarded as equals.

When Indiana governor Mike “Shut it down” Pense trumpeted their new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”… a Conservative law designed to protect the right of bigots to be bigots… he rightly immediately caught flack for it. He tried to argue this was a law designed to “protect” the rights of people claiming their religious freedom was being violated by being forced to serve people they disapproved of, contrary to their faith; not discrimination. The arguments made to defend the right of certain individuals to discriminate against “others” on “religious” grounds are the EXACT SAME arguments made 51 years before. And the “alternative remedies” being proposed are the same as well. “Let the Free Market decide!” They argue the REAL victims of discrimination here are the bigots… er “people of faith“. Victims of “reverse discrimination” (cue Jessie Helms’ “hands” ad here) by people intolerant of their intolerance. It’s the same argument the KKK uses to protest “Affirmative Action” and “Racial quotas”. “THEY are the bullies, not ME! THEY are violating MY right to practice my faith!”

Meanwhile, the scenario The Media has latched onto is the baker that was sued for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. “Could they now legally refuse to serve a gay couple without the fear of being sued?”, repeatedly asks George Stephanopoulos of Pense, who repeatedly dodges the question like a weasel in a minefield.

This drastic over-simplification of the problem with the #RFRA may be doing more harm than good, possibly leading to a “fix” that barely scratches the surface of the harm this law can do.

While not providing a gay couple with Marie Antoinette’s favorite dish might be a travesty, and a pizzeria refusing to cater a gay wedding might go down in history as worse than Watergate, what about the pharmacist that refuses to provide your 16 year old daughter with birth control pills to treat her debilitatingly painful endometriosis… because he thinks she’s using it to have sex, which offends his fragile sensibilities?

What about the private (not public) school teacher that openly “shames” little Bobby, making him a target for bullies, because he has two dads?

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples, but you get the picture. Anyone can now claim “religious freedom” as a defense for things that could cause far more harm to a person than simply denying them baked goods.

BTW: What does a “gay” cake look like anyway? How does a baker know the wedding cake they are making is for a “gay” couple? The rainbow icing?
 



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Filed in Civil Rights, Crime, Politics, Racism, Religion April 7th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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When Your Only Tool for Peace is a Military Hammer…

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 12, 2015

This past week saw the bloody attack on French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and a nearby Jewish deli by three Muslim extremists (trained by ISIS… or was it AQAP? No one seems to be sure) out to “avenge The Prophet!” for being depicted in a cartoon (question: If no one if allowed to draw “The Prophet”, how do you know that’s a cartoon of Him? How do you know what He looks like?). First, may I just point out for the record that if your “Prophet’s” ego is so frickin’ fragile that he demands you murder innocents in cold blood that dare insult him, maybe you need a new prophet. How thin-skinned can you get? Whatever. But I also couldn’t help but notice all the Muslim clerics that then came out and publicly denounced these acts of terror. (I found myself wondering when was the last time American Christian leaders came out en masse and publicly denounced the bombing of a Planned Parenthood or threats against immigrant children?) But the REAL question is WHY is the Muslim Community so outraged? Why is the Middle East still in flames after more than a decade of war? And most importantly, what to do about it? American psychologist Abraham Maslow famously wrote, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” When it comes to fighting Terrorism, the only tool in the American arsenal is apparently the Military Hammer (and remember Pentagon Hammers don’t come cheap.) I was never a fan of Dennis Kucinich (mostly b/c when he wasn’t running for president, he was nowhere to be found), but one idea of his stuck with me: creating a Cabinet-Level position of “Secretary of Peace”. Someone whose job it would be to solve crises via non-military means. Not unlike JFK’s “Peace Corp” concept but on a much larger scale (something with a multi-billion dollar budget… magnitudes cheaper than the Pentagon’s budget, yet more effective.) Clearly, “bombing” our enemies isn’t getting the job done. It’s time for a change in strategy.

So what exactly would a “Secretary of Peace” do? Consider this idea: “Infrastructure”. Pay locals to build schools & hospitals in regions threatened by ISIS or Al Qaeda. Trust me, people will like you a lot more when you build a new electric power-plant in their town that doesn’t leave them without electricity 18 hours a day. They’re going to be protective of it, and if ISIS or Al Qaeda tries to destroy it, who do you think they’re going to side with? And if the enemy DOES destroy it, you build it again. Pretty soon, they’re going to get pretty damned tired of building the same school over and over again. When a single Cruise Missile goes for about a million a pop, you can build infrastructure for a faction the cost of destroying it, with a far greater payoff in return… spending less money on guns, bombs, bullets, missiles, armored vehicles, dead & injured soldiers, fighting generations FOR generations… it all adds up. And money saved abroad can be spent on infrastructure here at home.

“War by the rich is called ‘war’. War by the poor is called ‘terrorism.” – unknown

People who live in a constant state of hopelessness and see no future for themselves are more willing to fight because they believe they have nothing to lose. Right now, we are fighting people that see death as their only route to a better “life”. Their real lives are Hell. Tell me, does war make that better or worse? A man that believes he has nothing to lose will die to protect what little he has. Give them something to live for. Give them reason to NOT want to fight.

In his farewell address, President Eisenhower warned us of “the Military Industrial Complex”, which is shorthand for corporations that have turned War into big business. They have a strong financial incentive to ensure America stays in a perpetual state of war. So how about we give them a strong financial incentive for peace? Use these same military contractors to build infrastructure… both here & abroad? Definitely no shortage of need after decades of war around the globe.

Ike was right. JFK was right. Everyone to come after was wrong. Thomas Jefferson warned of the danger of “standing armies”… a permanent military whose only function is to fight wars and isn’t going to sit around twiddling its thumbs waiting for the next war to start. We’ve made “war” a business in this country. Maybe it’s time to try the same with “peace”?
 



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Filed in Middle East, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, War January 12th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Scientists of convenience: “Life begins at conception”?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 7, 2014

If you’re like me, you probably noticed loooooong ago that “Conservatives” and “Science” go together like horseshit & ice cream. In October of 2012, Congressman Paul Broun (in)famously declared that sciences like “global warming” and “evolution” were “lies straight from the pit of hell.” During the 2004 Presidential Campaign, John Kerry was called an “elitist” because he was fluent in two languages (English & French). President George W Bush compared himself to Moses in a Bible passage referring to him as “slow of tongue” (ie: not very bright). And the less said about Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle, the better. Yes, the GOP has celebrated “stupidity” for decades, calling it “being folksy”. “Elitist college professors” turn students into “Liberals” (no, actually education turns students into Liberals. People who are incurious about the world typically don’t seek higher education.) Yes, Conservatives have had a hate/hate relationship with science for as long as I can remember… except in ONE very specific subject: “conception”… specifically, when “life” begins. Then suddenly, they’re all freaking Doctor Killdare. And they can tell you with 100% scientific certainty that “life begins at the moment of fertilization and will go on to explain in great biological detail why that’s true.

 

“Life begins at conception”? How exactly do they come to that conclusion?
 

Well, because “we can see under a microscope how a cell immediately begins to divide at the moment of fertilization. And at x# of weeks, “we can see” that the “child” responds to pain.

So the basis for their opinion on this ONE, AND ONLY ONE, ISSUE is SCIENCE, NOT The Bible.
 

Is it just me or does that strike you as particularly odd as well?
 

The same people that think the Law of Gravity is up for debate, and that standard light bulbs don’t waste electricity, rely on science… not The Bible… heavily to defend their position on just when life begins. They’ll tell you how the moment the sperm breaks the membrane of a woman’s ova, “cell division”… and the process of creating a fetus… begins. They suddenly know enough about DNA to put OJ away for murder, and declare with great authority that “a child” has been created and to destroy that fertilized egg is therefore an abortion.

Actually, The Bible says life begins “at life’s first breath” (502 passages reference “life” and “breath”), which they are TOTALLY willing to IGNORE when it’s convenient. Yet, when it comes to “homosexuality” (of which the Bible says nothing) or “Climate Change” (ditto), the Bible trumps all science.

As TV/radio-host/comedian/pundit John Fugelsang noted on the radio all last week, “if a fertilized egg is a child, then that makes God the most prolific serial abortionist in history!” Gotta wonder just how much sanctity God puts on human life when he designed the female body so that it could rid itself of “fertilized eggs” so easily (Monty Python anyone?)

And God opposes abortion? Says who? The Bible? If you don’t know already, The Bible actually contains detailed instructions on how to perform an abortion. And all those women The Bible said should be “stoned to death” for committing adultery (or be so reckless as to let herself get pregnant after being raped), what do they think became of those unborn children they were carrying? (and I’d like to point out, if you think the husband knew his wife was pregnant before she was showing, guess again. Can you say “third-trimester abortion” boys & girls?

Since 2010, the GOP House has been OBSESSED with passing anti-abortion legislation that they KNOW doesn’t have a prayer (pun intended) of passing, yet during the first six years of the Bush-II Presidency, when the GOP controlled BOTH Houses AND the White House, they didn’t attempt to pass a single piece of anti-abortion legislation. They don’t REALLY want to overturn Roe because it’s a big cash-cow for them.

So, back to my original point: when it comes to sciences like “paleontology” or “the ozone layer”, science is “evil” and “knowledge” only “clouds your mind from knowing The Truth.” But when it comes to “Conception”, suddenly science is their best friend (until you try to point out that the fertilized egg will soon stop dividing and no longer continue to grow if it doesn’t attach itself to the uterine wall to provide it with nourishment, ergo, an egg that is never implanted will NEVER become a “child”), you’ve just introduced an inconvenient fact that doesn’t jibe with their reality, and suddenly science is no longer their best friend.

If I believed in The Bible the way these people believe in science… oh wait, I do… what do you think they’d say about my claiming to be an authority on The Bible?

POSTSCRIPT: Chuck Lorre, the producer of several thousand CBS sitcoms, likes to insert “vanity cards” at the end of every episode of every show he produces. Some are just for laughs, while some take a humorous look at a serious subject. At the end of a “Two and a Half Men” episode last April, Chuck inserted the following Vanity Card that I just happened to catch:
 

Women's Rights - April 3, 2014

 



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Filed in Abortion rights, myth busting, Party of Life, Politics, Rants, Religion, Right-Wing Insanity July 7th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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You can always find another lunch counter, er, baker, florist

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 3, 2014

I‘m fairly convinced by this point that Conservatives just don’t listen to themselves when they speak. How else do you explain Fox’s George Will or ABC guest pundit Rich Lowrey decrying yesterday the veto of Arizona’s noxious “(bigotry in the name of) Religious Freedom Act”, saying, “Hey, if a baker or florist refuses to cater your gay wedding, there are plenty of other bakers & florists. Just find one who will.” I’m certain there were plenty of other lunch counters those young black men could have patronized in 1960 as well. In fact, no one told those young men in Greensboro they couldn’t eat in that particular Woolworth’s. The establishment was perfectly happy to serve them in a booth, just not up front at the lunch counter where Farmer John might have to rub elbows with some Darkie. And Sen. Rand Paul was abundantly clear when he stated he believed the Federal government had no right to tell private establishments (like Woolworth’s) that they couldn’t discriminate based solely on skin color. And now, 54 years later, we are once again having the same fight with “Social Conservatives” (Democrats back then, Republicans today) that honesty believe that bigots should be allowed to oppress a group of people they hate if they claim it’s “in the name of God.”

I’m about as Done with people using “God” as an excuse to justify every hateful thing imaginable, as one can be. The greatest evil ever inflicted upon the world has to be “organized religion”… with a few notable exceptions like the late Mother Theressa and the current Pope Francis… but then, they are just “individuals”, while the church they represent doesn’t exactly have the best record… from protecting child-molesting priests, to codifying women’s subservience to men, and even this Pope still regards homosexuality a “sin”, so there’s that. When you look at just about every war in the Middle East, Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill (that was walked back to just “lifetime imprisonment”), on through to the Religious Right in this country fomenting hate towards every “Other” you can name: “Illegal Aliens” (that, by no coincidence, just happen to be Mexicans, not Canadians or Europeans), the (lazy, shiftless) Poor (begging for food stamps), “Thugs” (the new “N-word”), Women that use birth control… even their proclaimed “love” of Israel is a façade for their true motivation… ensuring that the “Armageddon” prophecy of an end-of-the-world conflict between Christian’s & Jews takes place… and they all call The Republican Party home.

And now it’s Teh Gays. “Law’s telling me I must treat you like a human being is a violation of my Religious right to be a bigot!”

I believe it all started when God kicked Adam & Eve out of The Garden of Eden because they didn’t comport with God’s idea of morality (the “serpent” that “enticed” Eve was Adam’s penis. The “forbidden fruit of knowledge” was “lust” and the discovery of “sex for pleasure”. That’s the version they don’t teach you in Bible class.)

Unfortunately for them, there wasn’t another “Garden” down the road that they could have patronized instead. So apparently being a judgmental bigot is next to Godliness.

During the Civil Rights struggle, bigots used religion to justify their bigotry back then as well. “The Almighty separated the races by putting them on different continents” they proclaimed in defense of segregation. Except that’s not true. China and Russia are on the same continent, yet those races couldn’t be more different. “Europe” is labeled a “continent” despite being (for the most part) physically connected to the same land mass as “Asia”. And European “Whites” were not native to North America, so arguably, bigots of European decent continuing to live in the United States were in violation of God’s desire to separate the races by continent. Oops!

Long long ago… way back in 2012… I remember Republican idiots having a conniption over “Sharia Law” and their (mistaken) belief that some Federal judges were allowing Muslims to violate Federal Law on the grounds that the Federal law violated their religious rights. This was just another example of “our Muz’lum prez’dent” slowly-but-surely allowing Islam to overtake the American judicial system.

And now, just one short year later, those very same people are rushing to the defense of “Sharia Law” and Muslim’s right to ignore Federal law based on their religious beliefs. I know, right? Whoda’thunkit?

If you’re looking for “consistency” from the Religious Right… what is WRONG with you? Have you been asleep these past two decades? You should know better by now. My advice to them: stop using religion to justify your bigotry. This fight has been fought before. Been there, done that. And when you say stupid things like, “Just find another wedding photographer”, ask your self, “Why should they have to?”
 



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Filed in fake scandals, General, Racism, Religion March 3rd, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Browne

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

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

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

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychic Twins

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

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

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

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

Political Prognosticators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Did.

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

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

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

So now my Predictions for 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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

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The Lesson of Christmas this Year is to Always Look at Things Differently.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 23, 2013

Back when I was in college, I was having lunch with a group of friends, one of which was a girl from Switzerland (one of the great things about college is it’s one of the few times in your life when you’ll frequently come in contact with people from other countries). The topic? What we miss most being away from home on Christmas. I mentioned how I missed all the Christmas lights & decorations. My friend from Switzerland said bluntly, “I hate American Christmas.” This took me by surprise. “What? Why?” What do Americans do different at Christmas that makes it so awful, I wondered? “It’s so tacky. Plastic trees strung with electric wires and colored lights. Houses covered with the same gaudy lights so they look more like used car lots than homes.” Thinking about it, I couldn’t quite disagree. “Geez, when you put it that way, it really does sound awful.” But I had to ask the obvious, “If you don’t use electric lights on your trees, how do you light them?”

“Candles!”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“No. We spray the trees with fire retardant and blow out the candles at night, lighting them only when company comes over.”

Suddenly, the Christmas lights I missed moments ago now embarrassed me.

And I must admit, the mental-picture of a Christmas tree covered in candles does sound awfully nice. Ever since that exchange 25 years ago this month, I’ve never looked at American Christmas quite the same again. There are TV Shows now that pit families against each other to see who can turn their house into the gaudiest electric light show this side of Vegas in hopes of winning $50,000 bucks in Christmas cash… which, of course, is what Christmas is all about. No?

As 2013 grinds to a miserable (for me, your mileage may vary) close, I’m happy to report that our continuing War on ChristmasTM has attracted a big-name supporter: Pope Francis, who is driving the Religious Right batty with his intolerance… dare I say even outright disgust, for the way the Religious Right in America has somehow melded the teachings of Christ with Bigotry, Consumerism, hatred of the Poor, the sick and Immigrants.

Mark Fiore: Jesus Rebranded
Jesus Rebranded

I grew up in a very religious Italian family. My grandparents had a shellacked & framed “Last Supper” jigsaw puzzle hanging just above portraits of Jesus Christ and FDR on the kitchen wall. Holy Ghost salt & pepper shakers rested on the back of the stove beneath a plastic crucifix, and dinner always started with “Giving Thanks”. I knew what it was like to be around “religious” people growing up, which is probably why the people claiming to be the “Family Values” “Religious Right” seem so alien to me. Pope Francis would have fit right in as my long-lost Uncle Frank (though I do have trouble imagining him in a wine-stained “wife-beater” undershirt and Bermuda Shorts with black socks & sandals.)

Rush Limbaugh called the Pope “a Marxist” for criticizing (without specifying, but we all know who he meant) America’s Religious Right’s embrace of Greed & Capitalism and seeming hatred for The Poor. Noted theologian Sarah Palin, while plugging her new book criticizing the commercialization of Christmas, rushed to the defense of commercialism:

“I`m not saying it’s way too commercialized. I love the commercialization of Christmas because it spreads the Christmas cheers [sic],”

When the “Family Values” Party decided that Christmas Time was the perfect time to cut back the Food Stamp program for hungry families, they turned (as they always do) to The Bible to defend their heartlessness as being right in line with the teachings of Jesus:

“Anyone unwilling to work should not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Read in context however, the “work” referred to in that passage includes “prayer” and service to the church. Of course, The Bible is probably the most abused, quoted out-of-context book in existence used to justify whatever hateful position the worst in any society can dream up so they may claim to be “on the side of God”. The most obvious response to the “unwilling to work” justification for starving the poor is to point out the obvious: that not everyone on Food Stamps is “unwilling to work”. Many (most?) HAVE jobs and ARE working, but (thanks to GOP policies) don’t make enough to feed their family. Many more are actively searching for work. Personally, I find the passage immediately preceding more informative:

“Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Which passage do you think The Right should be more worried about? Merry Christmas, and remember to always look at things differently.

Note: Next week will be our annual “Predictions for 2014″. Don’t miss it.
 


 


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Filed in Economy, General, Partisanship, Religion December 23rd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Republicans Desire for Us the Worst of Every Society

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 1, 2013

GOP 'logic'.Just a short hit & run on this holiday weekend folks. Have you ever noticed how Republicans seem to look at some of the most deplorable aspects of any society and say, “Hey! I like that!” I first noticed this after 9/11, when after we were attacked by religious zealots stationed in a middle-Eastern theocracy, Conservatives started “admiring” (for lack of a better word) the strict religious teaching methods of Madrassas, and the “dedication” of the very people they raged against. Don’t believe me? Check out the movie “Jesus Camp” where parents sent their young children to be “God Warriors” for Christ. President Bush famously referred to the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan as “a crusade”. The anachronism of the Pro-“Life” Holy-Roller Party also being the Pro-gun, Pro-war, Pro-Death penalty Party is never lost on me. But lately, it seems to go beyond that.

Here’s something to think about: What do “Austerity” and “The Black Plague” have in common? In the mid 1300’s (yes, I promise to keep this short), a deadly disease swept through Europe killing millions. This was centuries before anyone knew of the existence of bacteria or viruses. “Illness” was either a punishment from God or inflicted by “Evil”. One of the ways people dealt with The Plague was to kill stray cats by the hundreds because cats were considered “minions of the Devil” or Hosts for witches that would then go about making people ill. The irony is that The Plague was actually being spread by fleas on rats, which the cats might have killed and kept the spread of the disease under control.

So, what does that have to do with “Austerity”, you ask? Right now in Europe, The UK is in danger of having their credit-rating downgraded again (last February, The UK’s credit rating was downgraded from “AAA” to “AA1″ because their economy isn’t growing like it should. Why? Austerity! While President Obama passed a “Stimulus Package” of spending to stimulate growth in this country, the Brits went the other way and imposed economic austerity, deep spending cuts and raising taxes on the Poor. Now there is talk of a possible second downgrade barely six weeks after the first one, and the answer from Brittan’s ruling Conservative Party? Stay the course. More austerity. Once again, Europeans have decided that the “cure” for their ills is to do the very thing that… not only didn’t make things better, but in fact are almost guaranteed to make things worse.

And here in this country, Republicans who think “President Obama wants to turn America into Europe”, keep pushing European-style “austerity” in this country, demonizing Stimulus spending and thinking up ways to shift the tax burden from the Rich to the Poor.

Oh, but it gets better my friends.

Ever get the feeling many Republicans would like to see the return of “Jim Crow”? Ron and Rand Paul aren’t the only ones that think including “private businesses” in the 1964 Civil Rights Act” was a mistake. And now, we are… quite literally… hearing the same “separate but equal” arguments being made about “Same Sex Marriage”. “I’m comfortable with giving gay couples all the rights of ‘straight’ couples, from tax breaks to ‘hospital visitation rights’. Everything except the right to marry”, said GOP Spokesperson Ed Gillespi on “Meet the Press” yesterday. Adding that the GOP still supports an “anti-gay marriage amendment” to the Constitution. I’m still waiting for someone on that side to produce a convincing legal argument for why it is in the Federal governments’ interest to go to such lengths to prevent gays from marrying and the catastrophic consequences if they do, of such danger & magnitude that it demands amending the freaking Constitution.

Republicans do this amazing dance where they denounce the most obvious flaws in other societies, and then go right out and start advocating for us to emulate them.

Remember Gov. Romney’s “Razor-wired factory” story from his infamous “47%” video? He talked about how, in his “private-equity days”, he went to China to buy a factory and was stunned to see “razor wire” along the prison-like walls around the factory. When Romney inquired about it, he was told… and believed… that “the razor wire is there to keep people on the outside from getting IN, not the other way around.” He described the horrid sweat-shop conditions, even noting how some workers… once they got out for some national holiday or what have you… never returned, opening up spots for someone new. Now, if the jobs were so desirable, why would workers not return? Such a question clearly never crossed Mitt’s mind. Instead, he relates this anecdote to his $20,000 a plate guests as a GOOD thing, possibly even a model for work-conditions in America.

In China, underage workers are common-place. Children as young as 12 can be found working in factories. In this country, Newt Gingrich thinks they should be janitors. No OSHA in China or the third-world either. That’s just more “job-killing regulations!” No minimum wage. 12 hour workdays. Republican paradise.

There’s the “Free Marketeers” that want Government completely out of the way to let business do its thing. I believe it was radio’s “Sam Seeder” that first pointed out that the only purely “unregulated Free Market” economy on Earth is Somalia. “You want to see what an unregulated Free Market economy looks like? Move to Somalia!”, said Sam.

And of course, (yes, with “Godwin’s Law” in mind) Government run by & for the Corporations… also known as “Corporatism”… better known as “Fascism”… the worst of all possible societies which Republicans claim to despise and use as The Ultimate Parjorative in describing things they hate, is also something they seem quite eager to emulate. Think about it.
 



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Filed in Economy, General, Middle East, Politics, Racism, Religion, Right-wing Facism, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, War April 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Guest Op/Ed: Does passing laws stop abortion?

By discontinued_user - Last updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Special guest-commentary today by user “Tom J.” I met Tom during an OFA Viewing Party of President Obama’s big convention speech last August, where he posed some interesting questions about life in countries with strict anti-abortion laws vs those that keep abortion legal & freely available. Impressed, I asked him to share those thoughts with you today.

Several years ago I invited a public school colleague that I worked with to join the teachers’ union. Very unexpectedly he went off into a passionate discourse about “dead babies.” I didn’t get the connection at first until I later figured out that he associates the Union with Democrats and Democrats with abortion. His reaction was so emotional that I decided to investigate this issue. I have never lived abroad. I did read Jimmy Carter’s book “Our Endangered Values” which prompted the conclusions below, I have also included links to the World Health Organization website with the statistics cited.

Conservatives claim that life begins at the moment of conception and should not be taken once a woman is pregnant. OK, but what is their solution to stop it? All they have ever offered is to make it illegal. Will doing that stop abortions from happening? There is no correlation at all between illegality and abortion rates (PDF).

Let’s look at some other countries where this is being tried. In most South American countries abortion is completely and totally illegal and yet women still seek them out and obtain them illegally at the rate of 32 per thousand child-bearing aged women. The baby is still dead whether abortion is legal or not.

Now stop and examine countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. There abortion is legal under many circumstances and yet women seek out and obtain them only at the rate of just 7 per thousand even though it is legal. Quite a difference. What is happening? Well in those two countries and others like them they have universal health care and comprehensive sex education for young people. Turns out this is what stops abortion, not passing laws.

So, to those people who claim that the sanctity of human life is all important, I say this: If you really care about those unborn babies like you say you do, and this is not really about controlling women, then you have no choice but to support the political party that is promoting universal health care and comprehensive sex education for young people because that and only that is what has been proven to drastically curb abortion. Passing Laws doesn’t stop it!

Source: Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter (page 74 hard cover edition).
 

 
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Filed in Abortion rights, Election, Guest Blogger, Healthcare, myth busting, Politics, Religion October 16th, 2012 by discontinued_user | • No comments | Add/View

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Romney Rehab Week 2: The Full Quayle

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, September 17, 2012

Obama's huge lead over Romney on Foreign PolicyTwenty years ago this past May, while campaigning in California, the Sarah Palin of the 1980’s… Vice President Dan Quayle… publicly humiliated himself once again by criticizing TV’s “Murphy Brown” for “having a child out of wedlock.” The man was already a laughing-stock for his endless list of gaffes (most notably “correcting” a Spelling-Bee champion for “misspelling” the word “potato” by insisting he return to the blackboard and tack on the missing “e” to the end), and now, here he was in a battle of wits with a fictional TV character… and losing. But then something interesting happened. Rather than be humiliated over this latest Quayle blooper in a campaign year, the GOP proudly inserted Quayle’s defense of “Family Values” into the Party Platform at their convention that year and made “traditional marriage” integral to their campaign. That was probably the first example I can think of of the GOP turning a major weakness into an “advantage”. And in fact, twenty years on, Republicans are still defending Quayle’s inability to separate fact from fiction as nothing short of visionary. And now it is Mitt Romney’s turn to receive (what I have proudly dubbed) “The Full Quayle”.

Last week, DURING the siege on the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, Romney rushed to the microphones to criticize President Obama for a statement released by that same American embassy (not Obama) PRIOR to the attack, disavowing the anti-Muslim video released by an anti-Muslim hate group in the U.S.. Romney accused the president of “sympathizing with the people who attacked [the embassy]” and murdered an American Ambassador. Of course, President Obama never “sympathized” with the people that murdered American citizens, nor did he not fail to “defend American principles”. (I’m assuming “freedom of speech”? Does Romney think the president should have defended the video?) Romney himself expressed the same “sympathies” as Obama in his own response to the riots.

Of course, once the facts came out, Governor Romney was roundly criticized by both the Left AND the Right for “jumping the gun” and for failing the “politics stop at the waters’ edge” test. Add this to his gaffe-a-thon world tour during the Olympics where Romney couldn’t help but insult the nations he visited, and is it any wonder President Obama now leads Gov. Romney by double-digits on “Foreign Policy”?

So what do you do when you make a huge gaffe just seven weeks before an election you’ve never led by more than two-points and now trail by almost four? You go to the Rove playbook and try to turn your opponents’ greatest strength into their greatest weakness (ala “War Hero John Kerry” vs. “Draft dodger George Bush”).

Romney surrogates have spent the last few days trying to claim, “Governor Romney was right” about the Obama Administration’s response to the attacks, even though the “response” Romney criticized was not actually released by the White House, nor was it a “response” at all, but a prophylactic message to discourage violence. Fox “news” hit a new low when they posted the following wildly misleading headline on their website:
 

Fox: Obama thanks Libyan president after Americans are murdered

 

The back story: Libyan President Mohamed Magarief publicly condemned the attacks and led a police sweep that has to-date led to the arrest of 50 men connected to the deadly assault on the American Embassy, for which President Obama’s called to express thanks. But if you’re the typical low-information Obama-hating Fox viewer that only reads headlines and doesn’t bother clicking the link to read further because the headline “confirms” everything you already believe about our “Kenyan-Muslim-Terrorists-sympathizing president”, that headline already served its purpose.

Back in college, on a lark, I purchased a copy of the “Weekly World News” (ala “batboy” fame) because a story on the cover claimed “Pit bull Eats Mobile Home” (pitbull attacks were everywhere in the news at the time), only to learn inside that the dog simply chewed through the wall to get to a chihuahua in heat. I note this only because I can no longer tell the difference between Fox “news” and a supermarket tabloid… except maybe that tabloids have higher standards when it comes to the truth. (And is it just me, or does Paul Ryan resemble “Batboy”?)

As NBC’s ubiquitous warzone reporter Richard Engle pointed out several times last week, the violent protests in these cities across the Middle East are surprisingly confined to the area right around the embassies… and not just AMERICAN embassies. Violent mobs have also attacked the British and German embassies as well… who had NOTHING to do with the video and released no such “sympathetic statements” to protesters. They’re just seen as “pro-Western” and therefore “anti-Muslim”. Meanwhile, just a few blocks away from these protests, life continues as normal, with many people in the region just wishing the whole mess would just go away. Believe it our not, ABC’s George Will got this one right yesterday when he said that “the video is being used as a pretext for violence, and if it hadn’t of been the video, it would of been something else.” I think he actually got one right there. And evidence that the deadly embassy attack may of had nothing to with the video continues to grow (it bears pointing out that these anti-video riots are NOT taking place in Afghanistan.)
 

Libyan’s counter protest in support of the U.S., condemning the attacks on U.S. embassies:

Libyan counter protest in support of U.S.

Libyan counter protest in support of U.S.

Libyan counter protest in support of U.S.

Libyan counter protest in support of U.S.
(Note: Yes, the fourth guy is indeed holding the EXACT same piece of paper as the first guy. They are sharing the message.)

But Team Romney and his supporters are starting to see the writing on the wall, and have clearly decided this is Mitt’s “Murphy Brown” moment. To hear them tell it, the Middle East is awash in violence, and President Obama has become “Jimmy Carter redux”. But that’s nothing new. Back during the 2008 campaign, Fox-regular Bill Kristol was ALREADY comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter in a video I uploaded to our YouTube archive years ago.

The reality is (of course) devastating to Republicans. If nothing else, President Bush’s move to “democratize the Middle East” (2005 pdf) and paint Iraq as “the first domino” in what they believed would lead to surrounding Muslim nations copying the success of a democratic Iraq, in fact “uncorked the bottle” of anti-U.S. rage over prolonged war & military occupation by the U.S. in the Middle East. America’s standing in the Middle East had never been lower.

The global economic collapse President Bush unleashed on the planet hit the Middle East especially hard. In Tunisia, a man protesting economic hardship and violence against him by his government doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire in protest. This led to the protests that toppled the Tunisian government, which spread to Egypt protesting similar mistreatment by their own government. As the protests spread, they were dubbed “The Arab Spring”, and neocons quickly tried to give President Bush credit for the “spread of democracy” he predicted would take place as they witnessed the flowering of Iraq (the fact that people were protesting in Iraq (pdf) as well was ignored).

While the Neocons were quick to take credit for “The Arab Spring”, now that those same people are protesting the U.S., suddenly it has become “Obama’s Arab Autumn” (cited during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday). Bush “uncorked the bottle”, but all they found inside were bitter grapes.

They so desperately want this to be Carter/Reagan again. But Obama is not Jimmy Carter, this election is not 1980, and Mitt Romney is definitely not Ronald Reagan. Word to the wise though: All it would take is for Republican governors to go on a Public Sector firing binge in September & October to negate any Private Sector employment gains, and a “hostage situation” in an American embassy, to put the outcome of this election back in the “toss-up” column.

The REAL trick will be stopping the governor from pulling another Quaylism before the election.

(Note: Issues with the videos on our new “Must See Videos” page has been corrected, so if you were experiencing problems before, please try again now. Sorry for any confusion. – Mugsy)

 



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Filed in Election, Middle East, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, War September 17th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 9 comments | Add/View

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Special guest comment: Our Changing Relationship with Gaza

By Grant in Texas - Last updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Special Guest blogger “Grant from Texas” recalls his time working in Israel in the mid-1970’s and how much our relationship with the people in that region has changed since then. Minor edits, a few corrections and some supporting links were added for clarity.

Romney is on TV this morning accusing President Obama of “sympathizing” with the protesters in Libya and Egypt that killed four Americans. How offensive! Now it looks like Lebanon may be next!!!

I lived in Israel in 1975 working as a supervisor on a $23 million U.S. funded project to build military bases from Port Said along the east side of the Suez all the way down to Sharm el-Sheikh. I went to work there 100% behind Israel mostly based upon the propaganda I grew up with in the U.S.A.. I even had to fill out a 10 page extensive questionnaire to be reviewed by the MOSSAD (that took weeks) and ended up with a higher security classification than many in the Israeli Defense Forces. However, I broke some rules like never talking to an Arab, but it was hard not to have contact. The ones I befriended I liked. We Texans on the job called Arabs the “Mexicans” of Israel as they did most of the service work at the time in hotels, restaurants, taxis.

I also drove through Gaza weekly on the way to and from our job in the Sinai as it was the shortest route. The detour through Israel was longer. We 33 American supervisors (had an Israeli work force) lived at the Ramada Intercontinental (now the Renaissance on the beach) four days every other weekend. I was warned that with yellow Jewish license plates on my truck, I would take rocks or worse bullets. However, stopping for gasoline, food and drinks in El Arish, I was always treated with respect, even admiration for being an American (however, this was 1975). I was appalled at the time seeing Israel building a high fence topped with razor wire and gun towers on the Gaza border. Since then, Gaza has become most similar to the Warsaw Ghetto, a cramped prison for Gazans. Gazans used to commute daily to jobs in Israel, but now banned those jobs are now mostly filled by low wage Eastern Europeans.

I would like to go back to visit Israel but maybe with some of the comments I’ve made online now, that might keep me from getting a visa. One never knows the extent of MOSSAD review. I left Israel in the autumn of 1975 with my viewpoints changed nearly 180 degrees. I saw much mistreatment of Arabs, and sadly, some of the Israelis were visiting the same injustices done to them by fascists, now visiting similar upon the Arabs. However, there is a peace-seeking liberal minority in Israel who don’t go along with Likud, and The Jerusalem Post (where Wolf Blitzer once worked) is most right-wing, but there is a liberal voice in Ha-aretz.

Also of note, I am seriously worried about the election this fall. I see that our Texas Republican Secretary of State sent a list of 80,000 supposedly deceased voters to counties saying these voters need to be purged from the voter roles (fortunately, the list was challenged and rejected, but it’s not the first attempt nor is not likely to be the last – Mugsy). The state says they got their list from the Social Security Administration but people who received letters from the state checking to see if they are dead are saying if they are dead, then “why are our Social Security checks coming every month?” So far the undead have one thing in common… most of them voted in the Democratic Primary! You’d think maybe the GOP here is afraid that Obama might take our electoral votes? How absurd with all of the gerrymandering and voter suppression tricks they are trying to pull.
 

 
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Filed in General, Guest Blogger, Middle East, Politics, Rants, Religion, Terrorism, War September 12th, 2012 by Grant in Texas | • 6 comments | Add/View