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Putin Response to Snowden on Domestic Spying Sounds Awfully Familiar

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 21, 2014

(Just a quick observation as I type this up Easter Evening.)

Pseudo-patriot Edward Snowden made an appearance on Russian TV last Thursday and given the opportunity to ask President Putin what I’m certain he believed was an uncomfortable question about domestic spying. He flopped, of course. But all I could think about was how Putin’s response sounded so eerily familiar.

The exchange seemed to highlight everything I, as a proud Liberal, dislike about Edward Snowden. The “self-importance”. The obvious pride in having an opportunity most American journalists would have given their eye-teeth for, to put Putin on-the-spot before a live television audience to possibly embarrass him. A chance to see him squirm.

Instead, Putin got to ridicule Snowden, criticize the United States, and claim a nonexistent moral high ground, all while eliciting approving laughter & applause from his hand-picked audience. It was uncomfortable all right… for Snowden and his ego.

Exchange begins around the 1:30 mark:

Transcript:

Snowden: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?

Putin: Dear Mr. Snowden, you are a former agent. I used to be part of the secret service [sic] myself [laughter/applause]. Let us speak in a professional manner. There is no such widespread surveillance. There is no uncontrolled surveillance. We do not allow ourselves to do that. We hope… *I* hope… we never do it. We do not have the technical means [n]or the money to do that like the U.S.. Most importantly, our Secret Services, thank God, are under strict control of the government and the people, and their activities are regulated by the law.

Nothing remarkable about his predicable (to apparently everyone but Snowden) response to a softball question. The only part I found interesting was Putin’s statement that he “hopes” his government isn’t doing it. Does the Russian government do anything without Putin’s approval? That’s an interesting thought, especially in light of events in Ukraine.

Putin’s response sounded eerily familiar to me. Exactly ten years ago to the day as I type this (April 20th.)

President Bush in an April 20, 2004 public event on “Domestic Security”, responds to a question about Domestic Spying under the “Patriot Act”:

President Bush: Secondly, uh… there is [sic] such things as “roving wiretaps”. Now, by the way, anytime you hear the United States government talking about “wiretap”, it requires… a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think “Patriot Act”, Constitutional guarantees are in place… when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland because we value the Constitution.
 

Of course, he was lying his ass off too. You could practically swap each mans’ response for the others without changing a word.

I’m not sure whether this shows how much President Bush was like power-mad crazed Russian lunatic with machinations of recreating the old Soviet Union, or how much Putin learned from President Bush about how to lie to the Press, stage your response before a friendly audience, and get away with Domestic Spying.

Personally, I think BOTH are true.
 



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Filed in National Security, Politics, Rants, Right-wing Facism, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional April 21st, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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An Unintended Stroll Down Memory Lane

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

Last week, the company that hosts M.R.S. wouldn’t let me in to update the blog. at first, I thought the problem might lie on my end because my computer had recently started acting funny. As a computer-tech by trade, my first thought was that I had a virus, but several thorough scans pronounced my PC as safe & clean. The next morning when I switched on my PC, one entire hard drive (I have three) was gone. And not just any drive, my primary 1.0-Terabyebyte data drive that was nearly full, containing most of my data. All my photos (family & otherwise), all my documents, hundreds of videos, artwork, program configurations… POOF! All gone. No virus, the reason the computer was acting funny was because my hard drive was dying. Now, for the average user, this is where panic would set in. 850 GIGABYTES of unbacked up data, gone! Holy crap! But I was “reasonably” confident that I could recover most if not all my data. Long story short, one brute-force utility was able to “recover” about 60% of my data. 310-Thousand files with NO FILENAMES (assigning names like “f873625.bmp” or “f123456.doc”). So now I’ve begun the laborious task of opening nearly every file one at a time, seeing what it is, assigning a name to it, and moving it someplace safe. I figure at the rate I’m going, I should have relabled all of my recovered files by Easter… of 2020.

Among the media stored on that drive, about eleven years worth of political news video clips going back to May of 2003 (and a couple of audio clips going back to 2002) when I first started recording stories about the Iraq War and phantom WMD’s. I had been very outspoken around the people I knew in the lead-up to the war, but I didn’t start writing about politics for about another year when those “stockpiles” of “chemical & biological weapons” that President Bush so adamantly insisted were in Iraq being readied to use against us failed to materialize. Well… you know the story from there.

So, anyway, here I am, going through literally hundreds of old videos, repeatedly amazed by how much I had forgotten and just how bad things were in this country under the Bush Administration, and in the light of current GOP “outrage” over everything-Obama, how ridiculous Republicans look actually threatening impeachment of president Obama over delaying… yes, delaying… implementing the health care mandate that they so despise. Here is just an oh-so-brief list of some of the clips that caught my attention:

Yeah, it was a miserable eight years. I had almost forgotten just how miserable it was until I started rewatching all these old news clips I forgot I even had. And when I live-blogged the Sunday shows on Facebook yesterday, the sheer chutzpah of Republicans accusing President Obama of “abuse of power” even “unconstitutional criminality” because he is using the powers given to him by the Founding Fathers to raise the Minimum Wage for federal contract workers on his own, or threaten impeachment because he delays implementing a law those same Republicans openly despise, all I can do is shake my head.

If you’ve ever moved out of a home you’ve lived in for years, you may remember how amazed you were by all the old things you found that you either forgot about or thought you lost forever? That’s what sifting through these hundreds of thousands of old files was like for me this past week. Maybe everyone’s computer should crash once a decade to force us to go through and rediscover all those things we forgot about?

On second thought…
 



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Filed in General, National Security, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Scandals, War February 17th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Guest Op/Ed: The Hunting Of Yet Another President

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

They’re going to impeach President Obama.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Republicans Seem Eager to Invade Syria Over WMDs On Ten Year Anniversary of “Mission Accomplished”

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 29, 2013

Iraq 1 year later (2004 cartoon)In 2006, three years after “Mission Accomplished”, the GOP controlled Congress set aside $20 million dollars in the 2007 Defense Budget for “a victory party” to celebrate the end of the Iraq & Afghanistan wars. (note: the linked story is dated “2009″ because it was updated, but I’ve had it bookmarked since October 2006, as the date in the URL confirms.) It seems that the only people that didn’t know that Iraq had turned into the very “quagmire” Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismissed as even a possibility before the war began, were the people that cheerleaded us into that war. The invasion of Iraq was a horrendous mistake, and the voters let them know it in a big way in the mid-term election that year, switching control of BOTH houses of Congress over to the Democrats. Rumsfeld was fired and a Republican critic of possibly invading Iraq in 1991 (Robert Gates) was nominated to take his place. That anger over being mislead into a costly and totally unnecessary war of choice with no exit-strategy after 5-1/2 years played a significant part in Barack Obama’s decisive victory over John McCain in 2008. In December 2011, President Obama successfully pulled the last American combat troop out of Iraq, a move supported by 75 percent of all Americans. And now, almost ten years to the day (May 1st) of President Bush’s “Top Gun” moment off the coast of San Diego to announce the end of a war that would continue for NINE more years, with recent news that traces of “Sarin nerve gas” have been found in tissue samples of victims in Syria’s civil war, the same chicken-hawks that couldn’t wait for us to invade Iraq are now suggesting this phantom “red line” that President Obama understandably drew in the sand on Syria, has been crossed and demands military intervention.

Except that that was NOT the “red line” President Obama drew in the sand:
 

President Obama (8/21/2012): “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around and being utilized.”

 
Clearly the red line has been crossed” announced both Fox’s Chris Wallace and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos during yesterday’s Sunday Talk Shows. John McCain was out there as well last week, once again eager to embroil the U.S. military against yet another Middle-Eastern nation, declaring that it was “clear” that “a red line has been crossed.”

NO! It is NOT “clear” AT ALL! What was reported last week was NOT “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons, as NBC’s roving warzone reporter Richard Engel pointed out on The Rachel Maddow Show Friday night:

Engel: “There are some holes [in the case against Syria having used Sarin].”

Engel: “What doesn’t make sense however is: Why? and How?, you don’t use Weapons of Mass Destruction to do minimal killing [less than two dozen people].”

“Imagine: A nuclear weapon… we’re gonna make just an acorn-sized one and see what the world does. That seems strange.”

 
While there is little reason to doubt that Syria does indeed have “stockpiles” of chemical weapons, it has never been confirmed. Syria began pursuing chemical weapons in the 80′s to counter Israel’s development of nuclear weapons, but has never actually used them in combat [ibid]. No inspectors have been allowed in to document Syria’s stockpile of WMD’s. It all sounds a tad too familiar:
 

Saddam: “I lied about Weapons to scare off Iran.”

 
So a brutal dictator with a “stockpile” of chemical weapons used just enough of his Weapon of MASS Destruction to murder only a handful of people that were nowhere near the capitol? Why? Was it just a test? Could someone… a member of the resistance or maybe even a rival nation… have been trying to draw the U.S. into a war with Syria? Might a member of the opposition have been trying to develop their own homemade Sarin gas in an experiment gone horribly awry? We just don’t know. These scenarios might be unlikely, but we DID just arrest a man Saturday that sent homemade Ricin nerve toxin through the mail, so the possibility that the Syrian government didn’t in fact actually “cross that red line” must be considered before using military force against yet another Middle-Eastern nation. But as Bill Kristol said on yesterday’s Fox “news” Sunday: “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do” (invade Syria for “crossing the red line”.)

There are a LOT of unanswered questions before we do something like use military force against another country. It’s heartening to see that the lessons of Iraq were not lost on our current Commander-in-Chief even if his opposition has the memory of a goldfish.
 

Editors’ aside: My departure from “Crooks & Liars”:

First some background…

If you are a regular visitor to Mugsy’s Rap Sheet, you probably know that last year I was asked if I’d like to be a volunteer contributing editor to the popular video blog “Crooks & Liars”. The offer was made out of appreciation for my weekly contribution to their “Sunday Morning Bobbleheads” thread for the last six-and-a-half years, live-blogging highlights from the major network Sunday talkshows for 3-4 hours nearly every Sunday morning since 2006. However, that wasn’t the first time I was asked if I’d like to be an Administrator. Back in 2008, I turned down the same offer because I wanted to focus on getting my own blog better established first… a move I later regretted because M.R.S. was not achieving the numbers I had hoped. So when the offer was made again during the 2012 Election Season, I said yes. I was given low-level Admin access, shown how to create posts of my own, and added to the “Team” mailing list. This is useful for people seeking “help” researching a particular topic or needing help finding a photo/video (of which I was able to provide several times). I was pleased to help in any way I could.

I continued to live-blog the Sunday Morning thread each week, and during the busy election season, I even found time to write several posts. When the Sandy Hook massacre occurred last December, I volunteered to live-blog a one hour “discussion” on “gun control”, citing my unique position of living in Texas, having been raised around guns and gun-owners that are extremely protective of their “Right to Bear Arms”.

But as an unpaid volunteer, I was not a frequent contributor to the site. Who exactly can afford to spend hours upon hours during the work week monitoring the Conservative News Outlets and scrounging the web for choice comments from random insane Right-Wingers when they’re not being paid to do so? Hell, I only update THIS site once a week, and I do that on Sunday evening (which it now is as I write this). C&L has a lot of “editors”, but most of them do not post every day (I dare say I’d be surprised if some contributors post even once a month.) One of the reasons I finally agreed to join the team was that I often heard my favorite Liberal talk-radio hosts quote stories they had read on “Crooks & Liars” on their radio shows, reaching tens of thousands. My hope then was to have something I wrote quoted on the radio and perhaps translate into traffic to my own site. But unfortunately, I quickly discovered that if your story isn’t Breaking News, the chances something I wrote would appear on C&L during the daytime hours was close to nil. Timing the appearance of ones post was a lesson in futility. Even posting the night before provided no increased likelihood that my posts would appear early the next day. Being a bit of an historian, I sometimes wrote on a subject a day in advance of the anniversary of such & such, then having to carefully monitor the site to make sure my post did not go up too soon. A posts that announces: “Today is the anniversary of…” looks kind of stupid if it appears a day too early or around 7pm when the day is nearly through and the fact “Today is the anniversary of…” is already old news. The long delay between submitting a story and it actually appearing on the site long after the height of the talk radio day was over negated any benefit I had hoped to gain from my writings, providing me with less & less incentive to contribute.

Anyway, two weeks ago following the Boston Bombings, I did not post anything or provide any research on any of the stories being covered that week. The bombing took place on a Monday and an arrest was made by Friday. It was, as you know, a frenetic news week, and while I wasn’t able to provide any “scoops” from my home in Texas, I was still the recipient of a growing flood of “Team” email every day… something I can understand and fully appreciate… when it is people seeking legitimate help.

I was already directing my “Team” mail to a separate Inbox, but that didn’t alleve me of the burden of going through every message looking for ones of people seeking help. At first the amount of mail was manageable, but despite checking my mail just before bedtime (10pm), I awoke last Wednesday morning to find an astounding TWO-HUNDRED & TWENTY-SIX messages waiting for me. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but after reading my 12th “Thankyou” and “Your Welcome”, I sent a brief note to the Team asking them: “if a message does not need to go out to everyone, to please take a moment to change the “Reply-To” address to the person you are responding to, and don’t just click ‘Reply’. There is no reason to send a ‘Thankyou’ intended for ONE person to everybody on the Team mailing list.”

Am I wrong?

I quickly received a terse response from “Nicole Belle”, one of the higher-ups at C&L (and incidentally the Moderator of the Sunday Bobbleheads thread) telling me that I “had not contributed enough during last weeks’ Boston Bombing” to start telling “us” how to run “our” business. The response seemed a might over-the-top for such a mild (and polite I might add) request. And the “us” really irked me since the clear implication was that I was still considered an “outsider”.

Not being a hypocrite, I sent Nicole a polite reply to her personal address rather than the Team Account explaining that I was only requesting that team members show a little consideration before replying, and I didn’t feel that was deserving of such a hostile response. I also noted that her “you” vs “us” characterization of me in response was disturbing, and that if she felt the amount of time I was “volunteering” was “inadequate”, to please let me know and I’d “do what I could to rectify the situation” (meaning, relieve her of the burden of having me as an unpaid contributor.) Telling a volunteer that they didn’t “volunteer enough” was particularly galling. For all she knew, that was the week I started driving my mother to Chemo each morning and was stuck at the hospital waiting for hours. (It’s not my job to provide you with content each day, Ms. Belle.) She responded with a nasty reply, telling me she was “done with me” and would be removing my name from the group email account. Oh, and did I mention that she changed the Reply-To address of her response back to the “Team” mailing list just so she could have an audience while she told me how difficult and time-consuming it is to change the Reply-To address?

Again, I replied privately to Nicole and again she changed the Reply-To address so she could attack me publicly, saying I had been removed from the Team mailing list. She told me of how she herself regularly receives “something like 400 emails every day and [C&L founder] John Amato regularly receives over 5,000 [ListServe messages a day].” Well, that’s not MY problem. I didn’t make Nicole sign up for all those mailing lists, and if she has a problem with them, then she can always unsubscribe. I was only trying to control my tiny corner of the world. (I found it curious though that she would complain to me about the amount of mail she receives each day after attacking me for doing the same thing.) I mentioned to her that it seemed my suggestion would not only benefit me, but apparently her as well.

Fortunately, there were other members of the team that showed deference towards me, and The Big Cheese himself, John Amato, asked if I wanted to be removed from the Mailing List. I told him, “No,” only that it would be nice if people didn’t address messages to Everyone that were intended for just one person, to help cut down on the amount of unnecessary mail we all receive each day. Again, I didn’t (and still don’t) feel I was asking too much of anyone. I assume John had my email added back to the mailing list because I continued to receive “Team” email.

Last Thursday, one of the messages I received mentioned something I felt I could help with, so I replied and my Server quickly responded that I “didn’t have the right to send messages to this account.” I was still receiving “Team” email, but couldn’t respond to them. So what was the point? I quickly concluded that the sole purpose of sending me messages I could not respond to could be for no other purpose than to “annoy me”. Unable to send a “Team” email, I sent an email to the personal address of all the primary members of C&L telling them to “discontinue my relationship with them” if the sole purpose of sending me email I could not respond to was “simply to annoy me”. A short while later, I received a friendly reply from a supporter telling me an “error” had been made by adding the wrong one of my email addresses to the mailing list (which confirmed to me that Nicole had indeed deleted me from the mailing list and was ordered to add me back), which is why my replies were being rejected, but, I was told, “the problem was now fixed and I should be able to contribute again.” I tried again about an hour later but my message was still being rejected. I visited the C&L website to find all my Administrator privileges had been revoked.

A few weeks before being asked aboard last year, I noticed one Sunday that I seemed to be the only one posting to the “BobbleHeads” thread for several weeks in a row. So I wrote John to express my concern that I seemed to be “monopolizing” the Sunday Thread and would be willing to back off for awhile until traffic resumed if they’d like. I quickly received a reply telling me that it was perfectly fine to keep live-blogging my weekly highlights. It wasn’t until I was asked to join the Team a few weeks later that I discovered that the Sunday Show highlights I had been reporting each week were being sent to everyone on the Team mailing list that same morning to provide others with post-ideas throughout the week… as I had hoped. I was told around that same time how everybody there “freaked out” when I had offered to take a sabbatical weeks before because they had all come to depend upon my weekly contributions.

“If C&L does not want my input, they certainly don’t need my continued contributions to the Sunday Morning Bobblehead thread”, I decided Friday. (A simple demonstration of Nicole’s pettiness can be seen in the fact that… I was later told… she had deleted my post to the Sunday Morning thread yesterday where I let everyone know I would not be doing my weekly highlights anymore. I used no profanity and even noted that it would be inappropriate for me go into detail of my dispute with her on their site. And despite receiving a number of replies from friends telling me I would be missed, I was told she posted yet another nasty and dismissive response before deleting my post.)

So following my “excommunication” by Nicole, I knew that there was absolutely no reason for me to continue providing assistance to someone that didn’t appreciate my contributions to the team. Crooks & Liars financially profited from my assistance each week, for which I received nothing in return other than hostility and called an outsider that wasn’t volunteering enough to be considered part of the team.

And that is why I am no longer contributing to their site. – Mugsy



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Filed in Middle East, Politics, rewriting history, Right-wing Facism, Terrorism, War April 29th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 12 comments | Add/View

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Defenders of 2nd Amendment Quick To Throw 1st to the Wolves

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, April 22, 2013

Free Speech only when I sayWho could have seen last week coming? Certainly not my Sunday Night post, which was quickly upstaged by a deadly bombing in Boston and a fertilizer manufacturing plant explosion here in my home state. Also last week, even the pathetic watered-down gun-control bill with over 90-percent support couldn’t get past a Wingnut minority in the U.S. Senate… well, correction, technically it DID pass, winning “54 to 46″… which in any NORMAL government would have been enough to become law. But not in our now-dysfunctional government where it now takes a SUPER MAJORITY to pass ANYTHING the minority objects to. Bill Maher had it right last Friday when he said, “Senate Republicans sent a clear message to the terrorists last week. If you want to kill a lot of Americans, use a gun.” Gun advocates call the defeat “a victory for the 2nd Amendment!” But then ask them what we should do instead and the answer is invariably: “Censor/ban violent videogames and movies! Block dangerous websites! Don’t allow Muz’lims to build that Mosque!” Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s declare (our particular brand of) Christianity the official religion. “Free Speech”? There’s a zone for that! Isn’t that interesting?

You’ve probably heard this “battlecry” before:
 

The Gun Nut Battlecry

 

“The second amendment is there to protect the first!” Yeah, but who’s going to protect it from YOU, the gun-wielding nuts that seem ready, willing and able to sellout the first amendment if it means they get to keep their toys? President Bush violated The Bill of Rights left & right for seven years all in the name of “security”… which reminds us of another once-popular Right-Wing battlecry: “Those who would give up essential liberty in the name of security deserve neither!” Yet, that’s EXACTLY what they did under George Bush because he let them keep their guns (well, actually, he didn’t, but IOKIYAR.)

Jon Stewart also rightly pointed out last week that when it comes to “terrorism”… a FAR less frequent crime… Republicans are prepared to move heaven & earth, trample every constitutional right from “Habeus Corpus” or “Miranda”, to “indefinite detention of American citizens without trial”, all to prevent the next attack. But when it comes to far more prevalent (and lethal) acts of gun crime, we can’t even agree to make it harder for convicted felons (or even an alQaeda terrorist) from going to a gun show and buying a semi-automatic assault rifle no-questions-asked.

Last week I Tweeted (are you following M.R.S. yet?):


If there’s one person to blame for the inability of our government to pass even the most rudimentary and publicly popular piece of gun control legislation just four months after the slaughter of twenty 7 year olds and six teachers, look no further than Senate Majority Leader (for now) Harry Reid (D-NV) for refusing once again to reform the grossly abused filibuster. Senator Reid said recently that he “didn’t even have 40 votes” for an earlier form of the gun control bill to justify bringing it to a vote. Reid does not seem to understand that the “60 vote threshold” enables more people to vote “No”. If a Senator knows a bill is likely to fail because it won’t meet the olympian “60 vote threshold”, it’s a lot easier to vote No on a bill no one expected to pass anyway. Visa vie, few people want to be on the losing side having to explain why they didn’t vote for a popular bill. So arguing that you “didn’t have enough votes to reach SIXTY” is a canard because the ability to win over the 5 or so extra votes needed to pass is a LOT easier when they know you only need FIFTY (plus the VP) for something to pass.

But now, following their inability to pass even this “toothless” attempt at gun control, we hear Democrats adopting the rhetoric of the minority that obstructed them, saying “Yeah! Maybe we DO need to look at violent movies and videogames“… despite the fact these same violent movies and videogames are available in nearly every other country on Earth without the same bloody carnage seen in America day after day.

Republicans are now asking: “What is it about our culture that breeds such violence?” It couldn’t POSSIBLY be our balls-to-the-wall mega-macho gun culture where every idiot with a gun thinks he’s Wyatt Earp. Lord no! It must be those darned movies and videogames!
 

Postscript: Another popular battlecry during the gun-debate:

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” – Thomas Jefferson.

 

is a fraud. He never said it. The closest he came was:

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements]“

 

…making NO mention of “government tyranny”. Just thought you’d like to know.

 



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Filed in Crime, Guns & Violence, Partisanship, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Right-Wing Insanity April 22nd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | 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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10th Anniversary of the Iraq War, the Price of Gas, and the Mess We’re In Today

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013

Iraqi alSamoud missiles on way to being destroyed. (Feb 2003)Tuesday marks the tenth anniversary of the saddest chapter of the George W. Bush presidency. Every disaster to follow… to this day… can be traced back to that decision to invade a relatively unarmed nation that had not attacked us, under the false pretense of “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. Our exploding National Debt, our decimated economy (from gas prices that led to the mortgage crisis that led to the Wall Street bailout), to even our muted response to North Korea’s latest reckless provocation. It all goes back to the decision to invade Iraq. So on this inauspicious anniversary, we should pause for a moment to reflect on how it all ties in.

It all began, incredibly enough, back in April of 1993 when Former President George H.W. Bush (“Bush-41″), fresh off his reelection defeat to Bill Clinton, traveled to Kuwait to bask in his “greatest achievement” as president: Winning the “Gulf War” and kicking Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait (after we basically gave him the green light to do so). While in Kuwait, a plot to assassinate the former president by Saddam’s military was uncovered and thwarted. Newly sworn-in President Clinton responded by launching a missile strike on the HQ of Iraqi Intelligence, but that wasn’t enough for Bush’s son, “George W”, who never forgave… nor forgot… the attempt on his father’s life.

A group of Right Wing pro-military extremists… few of which had actually ever served in the military… calling themselves “Neo-Conservatives” (“neocons” for short) formed a group called “Project for a New American Century” (“PNAC”) and repeatedly urged President Clinton to overthrow Saddam Hussein… a dictator that was in charge of the world’s fourth largest oil reserves, on the grounds he was developing “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (most notably Sarin nerve gas.) President Clinton did in fact take the bait several times, first launching a missile strike against what was believed to be an Iraqi “chemical weapons plant” in Sudan in August of 1998 that turned out to be nothing more than a pharmaceutical company making generic Tylenol for export to Iraq (in a program approved by the U.N.) and then again in December 1998 in response to Saddam’s continued refusal to comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott called the timing of the strike on Iraq “suspect” and “cursory”… “an effort by President Clinton to distract Americans from his pending impeachment.” After both strikes failed to turn up any evidence of WMD’s, the Clinton Administration never again claimed Saddam Hussein currently possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (sans one remark by Sec. Albright in 1999 noting that UN monitors “had yet to verify” Saddam had been disarmed, and another mention in September of 2000 of not wanting Iraq to “reconstitute” its [defunct] WMD program.)

Why was Saddam refusing to cooperate with weapons inspectors when he had no weapons?

Shortly after his execution, Saddam’s closest American confidant while in captivity revealed that the Iraqi dictator admitted, “I lied about WMD’s to scare off Iran”… the country he had been at war with for eight years. If Iran knew that following the 1991 Gulf War he had been left defenseless, Iran would invade. If the U.S. believed he had WMD’s, so would the Iranians. Little did he realize he had more to fear from gullible American Neo-cons than he did from Iran.

It wasn’t until Texas Governor George W. Bush entered the Presidential race in February of 2000 that anyone started claiming Iraq “still possessed” and might be actively pursuing WMD’s.

Two Texas oilmen, George Bush & Dick Cheney, took office planning the invasion of Iraq & overthrow of Saddam Hussein “from Day One”. So single-minded focused on Iraq was he, Bush “ignored” the threat of alQaeda, despite multiple recent bombings including the attack on the USS Cole less than one month before the election.

Rather than go into the weeds regarding all the warnings President Bush ignored prior to 9/11, I’ll simply refer you to this NYT article. Worthy of note:
 

“[N]eoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled [re: warnings of a stateside attack by alQaeda]; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat.”

 
Moving on…

The Bush Administration started cooking up a reason to invade Iraq from day one, but “9/11″ helped seal the deal, praying on the fears of a panic-stricken populace with daily warnings of another looming attack on the “homeland”. It didn’t matter that prior to “9/11″, President Bush’s own Secretary of State and National Security Adviser (Colin “Slideshow” Powell and Condi “Mushroom Cloud” Rice respectively) had already spent the preceding year reassuring people that Saddam had been “disarmed” and “no longer a threat”:
 


 
Barely two years in office, with the war in Afghanistan still going on and the economy in the toilet, people were asking if we could even afford to start a second war. The Bush Administration worked overtime to allay fears that the invasion of Iraq would not only “pay for itself” but possibly even turn a profit as the price of oil plunged from the heady highs of $30+ dollars a barrel to a more reasonable $18 dollars/barrel once Saddam was no longer in control of all that luscious oil (reminder, five years later, oil was hitting a then unimaginable high of $145/barrel, and still hovers close to $100 to this day.) “No blood for oil!” the people cried. “Blood for oil?”, asked the Bushies perplexed. Why on Earth would anyone think Operation Iraqi Liberation” had anything to do with “oil”?

Current TV’s John Fugelsang recalled last week how much the war that was promised “to pay for itself in Iraqi oil revenues” actually ended up costing us (roughly $1-TRILLION dollars… not counting the economic catastrophe, the loss of over 4,000 American troops, or the future cost of caring for our wounded warriors:
 

Fugelsang on Iraq War cost:

 
Finally on the evening on March 19th, 2003 (just after midnight, March 20th Baghdad time), despite months of unimpeded UN weapons inspections, Bush gave the order to invade Iraq. Between 9/11/01 and 3/20/03, the price of oil barely fluctuated from its close of $28.03/barrel on September 8, 2001 to $29.88/barrel on March 20, 2003. Yet one year after “Mission Accomplished”, oil closed at $40/barrel after the Energy Department warned in April of 2004 that oil was likely to hit the lofty height of $51/barrel by 2025. Oil broke that “distant future 2025″ price by September. And you thought “Mission Accomplished” had something to do with the end of the war. Silly you.
 

 
As I described in detail about a year ago, the rising price of gasoline meant people had less money to spend elsewhere. And when people aren’t buying, companies need fewer employees, causing the economy to contract even more. To make matters worse, a deregulated banking industry took advantage of interest rates being cut to the bone after 9/11, and continued to rate “mortgaged backed securities” as “AAA” even after newly unemployed Americans were defaulting on their Adjustable Rate Mortgages left & right as rates started to spike. Suddenly, the Bush Administration was faced with having to bailout Wall Street to the tune of $700 BILLION dollars… or about 40 percent MORE than the ENTIRE 2008 Federal Deficit. As a result, the Deficit exploded from just $459 Billion in 2008 to over $1.4 Trillion in 2009 (both budgets written by the Bush Administration as a “fiscal year” stretches from October 1st to September 30th.)

So the Obama Administration took office after being handed a $1.4T Deficit. With the Bailout behind them, the next Deficit would only be around $500-Billion, but in May, “The Stimulus” added back $787-Billion to the Deficit for 2010. The following year, it was revealed that for the past seven years, the Bush Administration had been running two wars “off the books” funded entirely with “Emergency Supplementals” (PDF). In late 2010, despite the 2008 Wall Street bailout being behind us and the 2009 “Stimulus” over & done with, the wars were put on the books and the Deficit remained at the “over $1 Trillion” level until just this year with the latest budget coming in just under the $1T mark. And just as the Market was trained to accept $100 oil as “the new normal”, so will military spending in the hundreds of billions become commonplace even after the war in Afghanistan is over.

And here we are. Happy 10th Anniversary Everybody!
 

The Neocons that brought us Iraq

Now go put some air in your tires and cheat the oil companies out of a few bucks.
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, Middle East, Money, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Terrorism, War March 18th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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“Voter ID” Supporters: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The In August of 1965, President Johnson signed “The Voting Rights Act” into law. It was considered a continuation of his landmark “Civil Rights Act” signed the year before because it was obvious that simply “declaring” that minorities as “equal” to whites was meaningless so long as they could be discriminated against at the ballot box. Among the things made “illegal” by the Act were “poll taxes”, which were intended specifically to discourage poor… disproportionately black… people from voting. And now, 47 years later, Republicans claiming a need to “protect the integrity of the voting process”, have placed a series of obstacles and ID Requirements in the way that for all intents & purposes amount to an illegal “poll tax”… just what the 1965 law sought to end.

I actually read a Tweet from one angry Conservative months ago that exclaimed:

“If someone is too lazy to get to the DMV [for a free photo-ID], they don’t deserve to vote!”

I felt it necessary to point out that it is MUCH easier to “get to the DMV” IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DRIVERS LICENSE and a car. If you’re working for Minimum Wage, take public transportation to get to work, and can’t afford to take a day off to get to your “local” DMV and wait in line all day for a “free” Voter-ID just to do what you’ve already done for years without incident, suddenly it’s not quite so effortless (of course, with a 140-character Twitter limit, my actual response was closer to: “Dumbass!”)

One Pennsylvania blogger conducted a little experiment to see just how much it would cost the 18% of Philadelphia’s registered black voters that currently do not posses an “acceptable” Photo-ID to obtain one:

(And may I point out, you don’t need “a birth certificate” or prove citizenship to purchase a drivers license that allows you to vote, yet you need one to get a “free” Voter ID. You don’t even have to be a citizen to get a “drivers license”, so why do you need to prove “citizenship” for an equivalent government-issued photo ID?)

Minimum cost to obtain an ID if you are unemployed, have all necessary documentation and take public transportation: $4.00.
Cost if you need to obtain paperwork (in PA), take time off from work, and take public transportation: $49.12.
Cost for an unemployed/homeless person to vote: Priceless… literally. No bills? No W2? No ID. Number of homeless vets in this country: Approximately 75,000.

Of course, that upper-end cost could be MUCH higher if it takes you more than two hours away from work, make more than minimum wage, and/or need to take a cab because there is no bus stop near your home or the DMV (and double all that if you’re told you’re missing documentation and must make a second trip another day). But for some people, “time off from work” is not an option. I’ve worked temporary jobs where if you missed a day, you needent bother coming in tomorrow.

The solution to this nonsense is really quite simple: If the “Secure the Vote” crowd REALLY believes we need “Voter ID” and REALLY believe it’s not a burden to expect voters to jump through dozens of hoops just to get a “free” ID, then how about we pass a law promising “110% reimbursement” for any costs incurred obtaining a Voter ID? Cab/bus fare, time off from work, documentation, etc. They don’t want to pay people to go door-to-door distributing ID’s or send ID’s through the mail to people who apply by phone or online… which would be the ONLY ways to provide voters with an ID in a way that isn’t a burden (and not every person has a door to knock on, a mailbox to fill, or a phone to call from.) If they balk, it can ONLY be because they don’t want to reimburse anyone… an implicit acknowledgement that obtaining an ID isn’t “free” and may cost many people a lot of money… which makes it an illegal poll tax.

And just for fun…

Batman 1966: The Penguin sings his campaign song

…continuing from the earlier video found at this post: “Am I Supposed to be Impressed Both Ryan and Romney Paid Less Than 20% in Taxes?”

(As you may have noticed, M.R.S. is stepping up it’s reporting as we near election day, so be sure to check back often… or better yet, Register for instant email notification of updates! – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, Politics, Racism, Right-wing Facism, Taxes, voting September 26th, 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.

(Note: Be sure to visit our new pages: “GOP Nonsense” and “Must See Videos” linked on the toolbar above.) And for more humor, observations and breaking news throughout the week, be sure to subscribe to our Twitter Feed.)
 



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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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Pennsylvania: Ground Zero in Voter ID Nightmare. The numbers are chilling. (Updated)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, July 30, 2012

ID: Inhibit DemocratsIn the 2000 election, the “must-win” swing state was Florida. In 2004, it was Ohio. In 2008, that do-or-die must-win swing state was Pennsylvania. On election night 2008, even though the night was only half over, I already knew it was over the moment it was announced Barack Obama had won Pennsylvania’s 21 electoral votes, because by that point, there was no longer any clear path to victory for McCain (Obama was so far ahead, he could have lost Florida and still won the election). And because of that, since then, the GOP has been pushing the most Draconian “Voter I.D.” legislation in the country in Pennsylvania. Republicans have been able to do so since taking control of the Pennsylvania State Legislature in 2010, coupled with their existing control of the governorship by the incredibly offensive Gov. John Corbett and his appointment of Republican “Secretary of State” (they call it a “Commonwealth”) Carol Aichele.

If you aren’t aware of what’s going on in Pennsylvania right now regarding their “Voter ID” efforts, you’re easily forgiven since the story is not being carried on your evening news, and has thus far enjoyed a total media blackout on the Sunday politi-talk shows.

In every state, it is the duty of the “Secretary of State” to manage the elections process. SoS’s are not elected, they’re appointed by the Governor, and just as in 2000 with Florida’s “Katherine Harris” (who slobbered over Governor Bush like a dog in heat), and Ohio’s “Ken Blackwell” in 2004 (honorary co-chair of the Ohio Committee to re-elect George Bush), this year, Pennsylvania’s SoS is a hard Right Republican named Carol Aichele. This is what Aichele had to say to protesters last week protesting the number of people that would be disenfranchised by the new “Voter ID” program called “PennDoT”, which requires registered voters without a valid government issued photo ID to travel to their local DMV to get one:

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele had a message for the hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to rally against voter ID laws: “Go home” and find ways to make their fellow citizens comply with the state’s controversial law.

Approximately half of the counties in Pennsylvania either do not have PennDoT photo and licensing centers or such centers are open only one or two days each week.

Estimated number of people without a “valid” form of government-issued photo ID in Pennsylvania: “1.3 Million” (or 14.4% of the population [ibid: Aichele to protesters]). Estimated number of those 1.3-Million that are currently Registered Voters? Over 758,000. EVEN the PA-SoS’s office estimated “only 1%” of ALL Registered Voters in PA do not have a valid government issued photo ID. That’s 88 THOUSAND registered voters. I remind you that 2004 was decided by 118,000 votes (2%) in Ohio, and a mere 363 votes in Florida in 2000.

Yes, “Go home” and start giving rides to 758,000 registered voters (or 88-thousand if you prefer Aichele’s own estimate). You’ve got a bus handy, right? And just who are these people without a valid ID? Seniors that no longer travel on their own, college students that don’t drive, poor people that take public transportation, even recently married/divorced women in the midst of changing their last name. And even if you HAVE one of the generally accepted forms of ID, they STILL may not accept it.

Last month, Pennsylvania GOP House Leader Mike Turzai made headlines when he openly admitted what we all knew: the reason they want the new Pennsylvania Voter ID law so badly is because it’s “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

Turzai: “Voter ID will deliver PA to Romney.

I don’t think you can get any more blatant than that.

The Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s office has a “helpful” page on their website all about the new “PennDoT” voter ID program:
 

PennDoT's Espanol link doesn't work
(Click to enlarge)

Just one problem: That “Espanol” link at the top for information about PA’s new “Voter ID” law… HASN’T WORKED IN MONTHS (ever?), and as of this writing, still does absolutely nothing when you click it. Hmmm.

Of course, Aichele’s office assures you (in the English version at least) that “no Registered voter will be denied the right to vote on election day if they don’t have an acceptable ID with them. Those people will be given “a provisional ballot” (the kind that only get counted if the race is close or contested).

The English language pdf on obtaining a DoS issued “Voter ID Card” states that they won’t be available until “the last week of August”. Not sure when Early Voting begins in PA, but a mere 8 weeks for 3/4 of a Million Registered voters to make arrangement to get to their nearest DMV (on a day it’s open) just so they can obtain a state-issued photo ID to guard against nonexistent “voter fraud”, seems a tad unreasonable. Some stats:

Number of persons convicted of voter fraud in Pennsylvania since the year 2004: 4

Number of persons convicted of attempting to vote pretending to be someone he or she was not since 2004: ZERO.

Approximate number of Pennsylvania voters who do not have a valid PA driver’s license yet are otherwise eligible to vote: 700,000.

This is a solution in search of a problem where none is to be found. Keep in mind that the people LEAST likely to be able to take time off from work to spend all morning at the DMV just to get a free Voter ID (though there are reports of some people being charged for their ID) just so they can do what they’ve already been doing for decades without incident, are going to be The Poor, mostly black or Hispanic, who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. In order to qualify for a free “PennDoT” Voter ID, you must provide proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. And even that is no guarantee. The state just decertified the birth certificates of 120,000 Puerto Ricans living in Pennsylvania. I’m not kidding. This is not an accident. The only “Voter fraud” going on here is the attempted wholesale disenfranchisement of more than 5 million poor & minority voters across the country.

Recently, the PA governors’ office released “a list” that “wildly overstates” the number of “ineligible” voters on the voting roles. The Philli Enquirer newspaper found a number of problems with that Pennsylvania list:

Former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode is on the list as not having PennDot ID. He has had a Pennsylvania driver’s license for 50 years.

Goode’s son City Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. is also on the list. So are four of his Council colleagues – Dennis O’Brien, Brian O’Neill, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, and Marian Tasco. All have licenses.

In addition to the stated problem with people who use different first names on different documents, it appears the state’s computers had problems distinguishing names containing spaces, like Mary Ellen, or Van Dyke; names with hyphens, like Olivia Newton-John; and names that computers sometimes spell with spaces, like Mc Dougall.

In Philadelphia alone, more than 10,000 people whose names begin with “Mc” were listed as not having PennDot ID. They included state Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, a driver whose name is spelled Mc Caffery on the city’s voter rolls.

Names with apostrophes, like O’Brien and O’Neill, were especially troublesome because PennDot’s computer system doesn’t use apostrophes, according to David Burgess, a Department of State deputy secretary in charge of computer operations.

The Inquirer tested the state’s list by making random calls to registered voters in Philadelphia who were at least 80 years old. The demographic was chosen to gauge the impact of the law on would-be voters who might have the most difficulty getting to PennDot license centers to obtain photo ID.

A team of Inquirer reporters placed calls to 325 of those older voters listed as lacking PennDot ID. Out of 101 people interviewed, 76 said they already had PennDot identification, despite being on the state’s list. That’s 75 percent.

This is appalling. Unlike in Florida and Texas where their “Voter ID” bills could legally be challenged/blocked by the Federal Government, they have no such power over PA. Why? Because Southern states like Texas & Florida with a history of racial voter discrimination are subject to the 1964 Voting Rights Act. Pennsylvania is not, making it a ripe target for the GOP.

Since the Federal government does not have jurisdiction, it has fallen to The ACLU to challenge the new law in court on behalf of Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old great-great grandmother who marched with Martin Luther King Jr.. Ms.Applewhite, a housekeeper that never had a drivers license, recently had her purse stolen with her Social Security card in it. Adopted and twice married, proving Ms. Applewhite’s identity sufficiently to obtain a Voter ID card would be complicated and expensive… and totally unnecessary since the state has conceded in her case that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania” (ibid ACLU). Nor will they “offer any evidence that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania and elsewhere” or even argue that “in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November.”

For a Party so big on “The Constitution”, citizen rights, and fearing an obtrusive “Big Government” that “can’t do anything right”, they sure seem awfully quick to trust the government here… at least when that government is run by Republicans and the payoff is theft of the White House.
 


Postscript: If you missed the “Opening Ceremonies” of the 2012 London Olympics Friday night, you missed an eleven-minute tribute to the NHS (“National Health Service”)… the British Socialized health care system… as one of their proudest accomplishments:

Brit tribute to NHS

So the next time some wingnut tries to tell you how much the British hate their Marxists/Socialists/Commie government-run health care system, you now have photographic proof that they’re full of $#it.

(ADDENDUM: ThinkProgress reports, “Why Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Will Create Chaos On Election Day”. As they point out, the state is dumping the burden of providing all these ID’s in just two months time on the state’s DMV ["PennDoT"] at the same time they’ve slashed the number of Public employees to the lowest percentage in the nation.)

(ADDENDUM 2: The August 2nd Rachel Maddow Show provided a thorough examination of looming election chaos in Ohio this year, as the GOP’s “solution” to the long lines in 2004/2008 was to CUT the number of Early Voting days by three and exact severe “Voter ID” restrictions of their own:)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

(UPDATE 8/16/2012 – Judge Upholds Pennsylvania Voter ID Law; Opponents To Appeal. – Judge says he considered partisan motivations and deemed it irrelevant.)
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, Healthcare, myth busting, Politics, Right-wing Facism, voting July 30th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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My Two Cents on the Trayvon Martin Case: The law that legalizes murder.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Florida's Stand Your Ground Law(EDITOR’S NOTE: See my analysis of the “enhanced Zimmerman arrest video” here.)

One month ago (February 27th), a Florida man named George Zimmerman called 911 for the 47th time in 58 days to report “a suspicious character” inside the gated community where he lived. That “suspicious character” was the 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who had gone out that night to buy his brother a bag of “Skittles” (and himself an iced tea). Zimmerman clearly enjoyed playing “cop”, volunteering for the Neighborhood Watch, calling the police almost daily, even lying about his father being a retired municipal court judge (Correction: George’s father is a retired Virginia Supreme Court magistrate) and falsely claiming to have applied to the Police Academy (Correction2: Unconfirmed, Zimmerman did apply and was rejected for having a criminal record.) With a gun strapped to his hip like in the Wild West, the armed Zimmerman pursued Trayvon even after the 911 operator told him not to. Eventually, Zimmerman confronted Martin, and at some point pulled his gun and shot & killed the unarmed young man. It is almost impossible to believe there is even a question of Zimmerman’s guilt. And there would be none if it weren’t for a Florida law (pushed by the NRA with the help of a compliant Republican legislature) called “Stand Your Ground” that allows anyone to use “deadly force if they feel their life is being threatened.

I want you to consider that the moment Zimmerman left his home to pursue Trayvon, he was putting himself in harms way and no longer “standing his ground”. Despite the fact the 911 operator told him not to do that, yet he did anyway, THAT made Zimmerman the aggressor, and if Martin of had been carrying a gun, MARTIN would of been well within HIS right to shoot and kill the armed man that had been following him that dark & rainy night.

But defenders of the Florida law are claiming Zimmerman was justified in firing in “self defense” once a confrontation between the two (supposedly) broke out.

Think about that for a moment. Forget about the absurdity that an unarmed 17 year old kid that had just called his girlfriend because he was afraid someone was following him, suddenly turning and attacking an armed 250 lb man. Think about the law that allowed Zimmerman… the aggressor… to claim “self defense”.
 

If a man tried to hold up a liquor store, and the man behind the counter pulled out a baseball bat to hit the robber with, would the robber then be allowed to “stand his ground” and shoot & kill the clerk in the name of “self defense”?
 

Most people would say “of course not”, but that’s exactly what this Florida “Stand your ground” law allowed Zimmerman to do. The moment he ignored the 911 operator, Zimmerman became the aggressor. The moment he confronted Trayvon, he became “the attacker”.

The Right is going nuts over the injection of “race” into this issue because once again, Republicans find themselves defending a law of their own creation that automatically assumes any minority to be suspect (see: “Voter ID”, “Welfare Reform”, “AZ’s Papers Please” law, etc). But to me, while “race” is the reason behind why someone can shoot & kill a young black man and not even be detained by police out of the assumption the teen was “up to no good”… even drug testing the victim and not the shooter (whose sounds to me on the 911 tape like a man who had been drinking)… the REAL issue is a Florida law that legalizes murder.

Before “Stand Your Ground”, a person had a duty to try and AVOID a confrontation if they could, and if deadly force IS used, there is an investigation as to whether it is justified. But with this new law, the officer on the scene is forced to make a snap decision as to whether or not a crime had occurred, potentially allowing a murderer… not just go free… but go free WITH HIS GUN. For all the officer on the scene knew, Zimmerman and Martin could of been in a fight earlier that day (afterall, he IS claiming an injured nose and head) and perhaps told Martin that “if he ever saw him again, he’d shoot him.” Maybe Trayvon was dating Zimmerman’s daughter and he didn’t like that. The officer fresh on the scene would have no way of knowing, and yet, this law puts officers in the position of possibly allowing someone with an ulterior motive go free.

“Stand Your Ground” is not just a law that needs to be repealed, it’s a law that never should of passed in the first place. I wish I could say I was surprised that a Republican-led legislature in a Southern state, eager to please the NRA, would push through such a flawed law without fully considering its repercussions.

(REMINDER: Be sure to add M.R.S. to your Twitter feed for the latest updates & observations.)



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Filed in Guns & Violence, Right-wing Facism, Seems Obvious to Me March 28th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Iranian Banking Scandal currently threatening leadership. War would be gift from GOP to Tehran. (UPDATED)

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 20, 2012

[PopUpFad=GROUP=widget:RANDOM=NO:SESSION=NO]

Change will come to IranDid you know that there is currently a HUGE banking scandal taking place in Iran? I actually had to watch the local English-language Chinese news network to learn this little tidbit (I watch British “BBC World News” every weekday and the Network News every evening, and yet this is the first I’ve heard of it. Perhaps it’s the first you’ve heard of it too?) The same chicken-hawks that hurried us into a war with Iraq nine years ago are now rushing us to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” because they think they are on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. And the only thing holding back Israeli President Netanyahu from launching a unilateral airstike on the nation is President Obama telling him to “give sanctions a chance”. In a scandal that sounds all-too familiar here in the U.S., Israeli newspaper Haaretz.com is reporting:

“Thirty-two people suspected of involvement in a multi-billion dollar banking fraud with alleged links to the government of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have gone on trial in Tehran, the Iranian state news agency reported.

The record embezzlement case revolves around forged documents allegedly used by the directors of the Amir Mansour Arya Investment Company to secure loans totaling $2.6 billion dollars to buy state-owned companies under the government’s privatization scheme.

Misappropriation of government funds by some well-connected political insiders to purchase government owned businesses/land/property that were being “privatized” and sold off in no-bid contracts? Replace every reference to “Iran” and “Ahmadinejad” with “Wall Street” and “Bush”, and you’ve got yourself a headline ripped right from of the 2008 New York Times.

The Iranian government… particularly President Ahmadinejad himself… is in the middle of a HUGE financial scandal right now that could topple the current Iranian regime. This story… though current… isn’t new, breaking last September (ibid first link), and apparently has been consuming the airwaves over there ever since. Yet our own media has been completely mum. The people there are STILL furious over the apparent stolen election in 2009 that had THOUSANDS protesting in the streets. The LAST thing anyone should be thinking about right now is bombing Tehran and sending patriotic Iranians fleeing back into the waiting arms of the Ayatollah’s. Yet, if the GOP had its way, that’s exactly what they’d have us do, launching airstrikes tomorrow. In response to any military build-up in the region, Iranian ships would likely then start mining the Straights of Hormuz so that no oil gets in or out, causing oil prices to skyrocket and the world economy to crash.

The very fact that we even KNOW about this scandal is an incredible sign of the change (and political in-fighting) going on in Iran right now. In the past, any news story critical of the government would of been quickly & quietly swept under the rug. A media blackout would of been issued and no one would be the wiser.

Just think of the opportunity that now lies before us. The people are in open revolt of their leadership as unemployment in Iran tops 13.2%, and economic sanctions threaten to push that to 14.1% later this year. The Iranian people are STILL fuming over their stolen election in 2009, and the guy they tried to vote out two years ago has now been tied to: a massive banking scandal, embezzlement, a privatization scheme, and crony Capitalism. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the “Occupy” movement reach Tehran sometime this year.

Between sanctions already in place due to their leaders’ needless nuclear profligating, compounded by a financial scandal that has reached the heights of the Iranian government, we could see an “Arab Spring” reach Tehran by this Summer. OR we could bomb Iran into the stoneage the way these Conservative hawks want us to and see the coming change in Iran reverse course, with the people rallying around their corrupt leadership, urging them to develop nuclear weapons at an even faster pace to protect them from Israel and the U.S., while Ahmadinejad and The Ayatollahs get to say, “See! We told ya so! Trust us to protect you!” I couldn’t imagine a greater disaster than squandering such an incredible opportunity simply to appease the same impatient chicken-hawks that gave us Iraq and $4 a gallon gas four short years ago.

My learned “mistrust of Republicans” can’t help but wonder if the reason the Hawks are in such a hurry to bomb Iran is BECAUSE they see an Iranian “Arab Spring” on the horizon, so we need to bomb now before any spontaneous revolution gives Obama another foreign-policy coup, if we’re going to jack up the price of oil and cause an economic meltdown, transforming Obama’s presidency into “Jimmy Carter Redux” in time for the November election. Or is that being too cynical?
 
PS: It bears mentioning that Saudi Arabia and the surrounding Middle Eastern nations ALSO have a vested interest in Iran NOT obtaining a nuclear weapon and swinging the balance of power in the region. Add to that, Iranian parliamentary elections are due in March, with their presidential election next year, so expect more revelations by Ahmadinejad’s opponents as their election grows near. This isn’t Checkers, folks; it’s 3D Chess. Patients.

(UPDATE: Iranians went to the polls on March 1st. These comments in a CBS News report on the subject caught my eye:

Iran’s supreme leader urged Iranians to vote in large numbers as the country held parliamentary elections Friday, saying a high turnout would send a strong message to the enemies of the nation amid the nuclear standoff with the West.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that more than 3,000 candidates are running in the current elections – but all of them are conservatives. The liberal opposition that blossomed so dramatically in 2009 has since been crushed. Its activists are deep underground – and its leaders under house arrest.



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Filed in Economy, Election, Middle East, Politics, Right-wing Facism, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, War February 20th, 2012 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View