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

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

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

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

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

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

Unemployment rate since Bush's final year

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Path to Hell: Trump Proposes Right Ideas in Worst Possible Way Making Things Worse
Mar 12th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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Trump hosted a rally over the weekend for a Republican candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania, where he bragged about himself (natch) more than the candidate. Trump bragged that “Obama, Bush and [Bill] Clinton all talked about sitting down with North Korea, but only *I* got it done!” Yes, because those other presidents demanded concessions from North Korea first, and when they didn’t get them, THEY had the good sense to say “No”. And Clinton/Bush/Obama didn’t say No following a year of breakneck nuclear testing and the appalling death of an American hostage (Otto Warmbier) like Trump had. I keep thinking about the message Trump is sending other rogue nations like Syria & Iran by agreeing to meet with Kim Jong Un after such behavior? “Develop your nuclear capabilities, kill an American hostage, and threaten Washington DC, and Trump will meet with you too… without preconditions.” Good intentions. Worse outcome. I’m all for talking with your enemies, but you get CONCESSIONS first. And you send envoys first. Not the President himself. North Korea isn’t suddenly agreeing to talks because they fear Trump’s “bluster” (as Trump himself claimed over the weekend), they are agreeing because they want the SANCTIONS lifted (and seeing life in South Korea during the Olympics probably made them think a lot about their own miserable lives.)

Trump also declared… with no apparent forethought… to impose a blanket tariff of “25% on all steel and 10% on all aluminum imported into the United States” without regard for country of origin. Tariffs can be a GOOD thing… when applied on a case-by-case basis to deny impoverished nations an excuse to underpay their workers. But applying the same 25% tariff on German imports where workers are paid more than most American workers, as you impose on China where workers earn pennies a day, is wildly unfair. You’re punishing trading partners whom do us no harm. In fact, you punish some nations which we have a trade-SURPLUS with. And they WILL retaliate.

After an outraged Canada (our largest steel exporter) pointed out this was in violation of NAFTA, Trump amended his impulsive blanket tariff to “exclude Mexico & Canada”. Great! Now he just created a MASSIVE incentive for foreign steel exporters to move to Mexico. I’m sure Mexico is happy about that. American steel-workers? Not so much. So in the end, cheap foreign steel will continue to flow into the United states, but instead of by boat, now it’ll come in by truck/rail across our Southern border, lowering their export costs even more. Excellent work, President Dumbass. You may have just made things worse.

Following the (latest) school massacre in Florida, in a highly-staged meeting with both Republicans & Democrats on the subject of “gun control”, Trump bragged about how HE would “stand up to the NRA”, that HE wasn’t “afraid of them” and that HE would succeed where all his predecessors failed. Then he impulsively proposed “if someone is believed to be a danger, he’d even support taking the guns away first and “worry about Due Process later” (right sentiment. Wrong policy. If a Democrat had said that… OMG! Republicans would be rioting in the streets!), pretty much ensuring nothing gets done on gun control as Trump is forced to walk back his impetuous remark. So then he talks to a VERY upset NRA and they convince him the “solution” is MORE guns and to arm every teacher. Once again, right idea delivered in the worst possible way, resulting in a “compromise” that may actually end up making things worse. What did THE NRA concede? Nothing… though they did “lose” the fight to protect “Bump Stocks”… though they didn’t really put up much of a fight. I’m sure they are delighted that’s ALL they lost. They gladly soldout “bump stocks” (giving Trump his faux “victory”) to save the AR15.

Trump also declared recently that we need to invest in “infrastructure”. Democrats said this for a decade but Republicans repeatedly obstructed them (If you recall, just three days before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minnesota, a bridge collapsed in MN killing four and injuring dozens more, yet STILL Republicans refused to support the Democratic call to invest in infrastructure. Then Trump starts making ridiculous promises of how we can get all of our infrastructure rebuilt on the cheap and Republicans swoon. Never mind the details. So then Trump announce his big plan on how to rebuild our infrastructure for very little money. We basically SELL-OFF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE TO CORPORATE AMERICA, who then turn our roads & bridges into TOLL roads & bridges, public schools into private schools. If you live in rural America where it would be harder for corporations to make their money back, tough luck. Your infrastructure is just going to have to wait. Once again, the right intentions implemented in the worst possible way, only ensuring to make matters worse.

He never actually “repealed” ObamaCare BTW. His followers think he did, but all he did was undermine it in a way that ensures MILLIONS of Americans will find themselves with no insurance (or inadequate policies where every claim is denied.) People were complaining that “costs had gone up too much” and (despite Obama’s assurances), if their doctor was not on their new plan, they could NOT keep their doctor. Well, policy prices went up because insurance companies could no longer sell you worthless “junk” policies where every claim is denied. And you COULD have kept your doctor if Conservatives hadn’t stripped out The Public Option. But now, thanks to “TrumpCare”, insurance companies can sell you worthless policies once again. You can even go totally without insurance if you so desire (driving rates up for everyone else.) But at least you’ll save a few bucks (until you get sick or injured.) And just like that, once again, Best Intentions resulting in a “solution” that makes matters far worse.

Trump rolled out his 2020 Campaign Slogan yesterday. Maybe he should consider “Trump 2020: Best Intentions Going Lousy Yesterday”… BIGLY.
 


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Listening to Gun-Rights Advocates Reveals Why They Oppose Denying Guns from the Mentally Ill
Feb 26th, 2018 by Admin Mugsy

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I was confronted on Facebook by a terrified Right-Wing gun owner whom took issue with my calling Assault Weapons “Weapons of War” because they are not actually issued by the government to soldiers for use on the battlefield, and just couldn’t resist (right off the bat) calling me a “pussy” for not wanting MORE guns in our classrooms as an answer to protecting our children (he also called me a “Nazi” presumably b/c he believes the Nazi’s took the guns away from their own citizens… which they did not (Hitler was adored and had nothing to fear of an armed uprising against him.) But clearly, my Facebook friend is terrified that if we take away his assault weapons, he’ll be defenseless when the jack-booted government comes knocking on his door to… to… I really have no idea. Make him eat tofu?

And that’s pretty much the problem in a “nutshell” (intentional metaphor). The most fearful, paranoid, irrational, DANGEROUS people are the ones setting our nation’s policy on guns.

Donald Trump thinks the solution to stopping gun violence in schools is to arm the teachers. (“Some are ex-military!” he declared. I’ve been a teacher and not a lot of ex-military go into the profession.) An NRA “solution” to be sure. Any “solution” that results in INCREASING gun sales is their goal as lobbyists for the gun industry. We won’t give just ANY teacher a gun of course. Just a select few who are willing to undergo “training” and WANT to bear the responsibility of engaging in a firefight in an enclosed classroom (“Shootout at the OK Classroom”, teacher and gunman firing at each other from behind overturned desks) full of kids with a crazed gunman wielding an assault weapon… possibly even wearing body armor… with multiple 30-round magazines and is NOT concerned where he fires. Quite honestly, any person who thinks they are capable of handling a nightmare scenario like that is exactly the kind of person I believe should not be allowed to own a firearm.

One Republican congressman, Rep. Masse of Kentucky, went on “Meet the Press” yesterday to repeat his belief that instead of raising the age to buy an AR15 from 18 to 21 like handguns (I still can’t fathom who thought that made sense), the age to buy a handgun should instead be LOWERED to 18 (why not 16?). The NRA of course also opposes raising the age at which you can buy an assault weapon because it will cut into gun sales… and that is, after all, what the NRA is all about. Forget the nonsense about “protecting the Second Amendment” or “the right of people to protect themselves”. If a gun restriction made the gun companies more money, they’d be all for it (during the debate over the ’94 Assault Weapons Ban, one of the items included was a requirement for “trigger locks”. Most gun owners opposed them, but the NRA didn’t fight them very hard because it was another accessory for gun manufacturers to sell. As a result, “trigger locks” successfully made it into the bill.) Just about every rational gun owner supports a ban on “bump stocks” like the one used in Vegas that basically turned a semi-automatic weapon into a FULLY automatic assault weapon that mowed down over NINE-HUNDRED concert-goers, yet the NRA opposes such a ban. They also oppose and a ban on “silencers” too (a ban Don Jr publicly opposed online last week and stared in a promo video for last October… as if you needed another example of the link between mental illness and a love of guns.) According to the NRA’s own poll:
 

Over three quarters of Americans support a ban on assault-style weapons (79%), a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds (78%), and a ban on firearm attachments like bump stocks (82%).

 
The Second Amendment does not protect your right to own “bump stocks” or a silencer (nor high capacity magazines.) They are not “arms.” But they ARE money-making accessories for the gun industry.

Trump and the GOP will make sure such restrictions never reach the floor of Congress.

I first wrote about my idea for “bullet control” (Taxing Gunpowder) about a year ago, and noted back then how ludicrous some of these gun rights advocates are, believing that if THEY were in that darkened movie theater in Aurora, CO when an insane man wearing body-armor, armed with multiple assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, whom had tossed in canisters of tear-gas prior to opening fire, THEY would of been able to “save the day” and take the guy out with their trusty side-arm with one… maybe two… shots to save the day. That kind of delusion is an excellent example of the kind of mentally ill people whom should not be allowed to own a firearm.

And that is EXACTLY why they are so fearful of denying guns to the mentally ill. Repealing that ban was (after all) one of the very first Executive Orders signed by Trump upon taking office. Just WHO though THAT was a good idea? Just WHO pushed for him to do that?

And now Trump is bemoaning “metal illness” as the cause of mass murder involving assault weapons. Way to go, Dickhead.

The NRA of course waited their requisite one week (as per their pattern) following the latest horrific mass-shooting before they started attacking the victims. NRA President (and Vietnam draft-dodger) Wayne LaPierre began by accusing people whom have had enough of the unnecessarily bloody aftermath of mass shootings that result from the availability of assault weapons, of “politicizing” the issue. His toady, Spokesperson Dana Loesch has been making the rounds accusing anyone who argues in favor of restricting guns as the REAL threat to the safety of our children. On ABC’s ThisWeek yesterday, Loesch had the gall to blame lax gun laws and the police for failing to do their jobs (from “heeding warnings” to the armed security officer at the school who failed to enter the school to confront the shooter.) Steph-O challenged her on her hypocrisy of complaining about lax/unenforced gun laws and political inaction, and the expectation that an armed teacher will respond more effectively than a trained officer. As if we don’t already expect too much from our teachers. Now they expect them to be Rambo too? But you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. (I’ve worked as a Substitute teacher, a teacher’s aid, and a Lab Proctor, and I’ve seen plenty of situations where I’m glad no teacher had easy access to a gun. And teachers can go nuts too BTW.)

“Politicizing” the issue indeed. Demanding lawmakers take action against rapid-fire weaponry isn’t “politicizing” an issue. Claiming the Second Amendment protects your “right” to own an assault-weapon (it doesn’t) so that they can continue to make their blood money… THAT is “politicizing” an issue. I tweeted after the Parkland school shooting:

 

Guns over Kids

 

At least one person took issue with that statement, trying to claim the people defending gun rights only do so out of a desire to protect their children… from guns. I find it a bit like telling someone to get over their fear of handling snakes by telling them to drink more poison… not simply say, “Hey idiot! Stop handling snakes!” Actually, I find little evidence that the people who want assault weapons to remain legal are actually worried about an erratic gunman attacking their family with an assault weapon. More often, they are like my “You’re a Nazi” friend who thinks the government is out to get them.

Now, as I wrote in that Op/Ed last year (ibid: “Taxing Gunpowder”), I am NOT advocating “gun confiscation”. Few people are (and they too are not totally rational on this issue.) But I DO support reinstating the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Given enough time (which Dubya did not by refusing to renew it in 2004), the production and availability of these weapons will decline over time. Republicans (natch) lobbied HARD for years to repeal/end the ban arguing that the April 1999 Columbine massacre using assault weapons… a mere 4-1/2 years into the ban… PROVED an assault weapons ban does not work. It takes years… perhaps even decades… for those weapons to eventually fade from society. We didn’t ban fully automatic machine guns until 1986. “Tommy Guns”… those machine guns seen in old 1930’s gangster films with the circular magazine… were legal until 1986. Where are they now? Museums mostly. Eventually, “fully automatic” machine guns faded from our streets (and the government never came busting down any innocent civilian’s door knowing they’d be unable to protect themselves without their trusty machine gun.)

In 1986, Reagan signed the ban on “fully automatic machine guns” and Armor-piercing “Cop killer” bullets (which he championed) that could rip through Kevlar vests (Damn those Democratic gun-grabbers!) One of just 21 members of Congress to vote against that ban was then-Representative Dick Cheney. Cheney was also one of only four members of Congress to vote against “plastic guns” that could slip past metal detectors, and voted to end the 7-day waiting period to buy a handgun in 1988. (If you ever needed more evidence of the connection between dangerous people and an irrational need to protect guns at any cost, I can think of none better.) The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expanded Reagan’s restriction on “armor piecing” bullets to include not just “metal” bullets, but “polymer” rounds that were invented to evade that very ban. When Bush-43 allowed the ’94 Ban to lapse, that included that ban on polymer “Cop Killer” bullets. But Reagan’s ban on fully automatic machine guns and fragmenting metal rounds is still in effect… because, as you know, IOKWARDI (“It’s OK when a Republican does it.”)

Most people don’t remember anymore that back in 2004 when people were arguing over whether or not the ’94 Ban should be renewed, there were a LOT of Right-Wing gun nuts rights advocates (mostly online) defending “so-called cop killer bullets”, arguing “there is no such thing as a ‘cop killer’ bullet“… that it was just a term made up by Ted Kennedy to give good bullets a bad name (just Google: “cop killer” bullets 2004.) They distracted from the point so successfully that people stopped asking “Why” such ammunition was even necessary, and instead wasted time debating the definition of what constituted “a ‘cop killer’ bullet“, allowing the ’94 Ban on them to lapse.

Someone made the point last week (I forget who) that: “The moment you start arming teachers is the day you legalize teachers killing black students.” Because there WILL come an instance where some teacher claims they felt “threatened”, and justified in shooting & killing young Jamal because he appeared to be “reaching into his waistband” for “something”. We already don’t prosecute COPS for shooting & killing unarmed black kids. You think a teacher is ever going to be convicted when their defense is: “I was worried about the safety of my students!”

Now let me be clear: I am NOT claiming everyone whom owns a gun is mentally ill. By now, you have undoubtedly seen on the news footage of a mother & daughter operating a liquor store in Oklahoma when a masked gunman attempts to rob them. Instead, both mother & daughter pull out guns of their own and fire upon the would-be robber, striking him numerous times and thwarting the attack. The tearful duo appearing everywhere on the news this weekend crediting each other with saving each other’s lives. The video is being shopped everywhere as PROOF of the necessity of guns in the wake of the Parkland school shooting. I’d like to point out a few observations of my own:

1) The gunman had a handgun. Not an assault rifle. If the two women had attempted to take on a maniac with an assault rifle who entered firing, the outcome likely would have been very different.

2) I’m willing to bet this was not the robber’s first offense (no confirmation yet.) How does a repeat offender get his hands on a handgun? Answer: He buys one. Legally. That needs to change.

3) Screen-grab of the robbery:
 

Daughter fires at robber... AND her mother.
Daughter fires at robber… AND her mother.

Mom decided to take on the robber herself and a struggle ensued as she attempted to wrench the gun away from the robber. The daughter then points her gun at the two of them and fires, striking the robber in the back, narrowly missing her own mother. In fact, the bullet COULD have passed though the robber and struck her mother. And a spit second after being hit, the robber twists, tossing the mother directly between him and the armed daughter. Had she of fired twice in a row, Mom might be dead right now by her daughter’s hand, not the robber’s.

Now, of course, a gun-rights advocate would look at this and say, “Yeah, but none of that DID happen and both women are alive today because they knew how to handle themselves.” No. I’m sorry, nothing about that footage cries out: “Good Judgement”. Firing in the direction of the gunman with the person or persons you are trying to protect directly in the line of fire? This is EXACTLY the kind of reckless bad decision making you’d almost certainly see if we started arming teachers who THINK they know how to protect themselves. Things could just as easily turned out very bad for our heroes.

These same gun nuts will also “do the math” and argue “the mistaken death of ONE child is acceptable if it saves 20 others.” Are you willing to take that gamble with the life of YOUR child? And once again, anyone who thinks the accidental/preventable death of one (or maybe more) students is “acceptable” if it saves the lives of even more children is just the kind of person I don’t want to have access to a gun in school.

Listening to the gun nuts on Facebook & Twitter, one gets a sense they are terrified children whom without their guns would likely be huddled in a dark corner of their home, terrified of the outside world. That’s why they want Trump to build that idiotic Wall… even if WE end up paying for it despite telling them over & over again he could provide them with security from Mexicans at no charge. And they want Trump to protect them from “Muslims”… even that bloodied 3 year old boy photographed in the back of an ambulance that touched so many hearts last year. And now they want to arm the teachers because the surest way to protect children trapped in a classroom with a crazed gunman with an assault rife is, of course, crossfire. And any attempt to take away their blankie guns will be seen as the first step towards a government that comes knocking on their door to… to… again, I have no idea. The people most supportive of gun rights are clearly the most fearful, the most irrational, and know that if they were evaluated by a psychiatrist, their overwhelming fear of the outside world would be the very basis for which they would be labeled “mentally unstable” and prohibited from buying a gun.

And THAT, dear reader, is the REAL reason they oppose any gun ban.
 


Writers Wanted Got something to say? Mugsy’s Rap Sheet is always looking for article submissions to focus on the stories we may miss each week. To volunteer your own Op/Ed for inclusion here, send us an email with an example of your writing skills & choice of topic, and maybe we’ll put you online!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reality bites.

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

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

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

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

Trump the Deal-Maker (:32)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Trump calls himself a genius

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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How to Avoid Another War with North Korea: Declare an end to the LAST one
Nov 13th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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Trump couldn’t help but poke the bear (not Putin, though he may have done that too) during his Asia trip, getting into yet another Twitter fight with North Korea’s own irrational, undisciplined BabyMan leader, Kim Jong Un. Much of the reason for North Korea’s belligerence towards the U.S. is because they fear invasion by the U.S. ever since George W. Bush included them in his “Axis of Evil” (“Iraq, Iran & North Korea“) shortly before invading the first of those three nations in 2003. As isolated and paranoid as North Korea is, it doesn’t help that The Korean War never officially ended. Only an “armistice” was declared, the war was ruled “a draw”, the Korean peninsula was split in two, and everyone just assumed it was “over.”

Everyone except for the North Korean’s, that is.

As far as they are concerned, the war is still going on, and a militaristic United States is just champing at the bit to invade and retake the North. And rhetoric from Donald Trump suggesting wiping them off the face of the Earth doesn’t help.

On Veterans Day last Saturday, ABC News asked Korean War Vets what they thought about the possibility Trump might restart the Korean War? To-a-man, each and every one of them said that would be a terrible mistake. They all agree that if we were to restart the war with the massive military might we wield today, there is no question we would win (not a sure bet. China would likely intercede on behalf of North Korea today just as they did in 1952.) The question then is who will be the adult in the room and AVOID war with North Korea? The very idea we might go back into NK all these years later and pick up where those Veterans left off… trying to win an unwinnable war… is insanity.

Speaking of “insanity”, I remind you North Korea endorsed Donald Trump in May 2016, after Trump criticized South Korea for not paying enough for its own defense… even threatening to pull support for South Korea till they do:
 

“It turns out that Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate.” – Unnamed North Korean scholar in a NK newspaper column.

 

If you want to prevent the next Korean War, you can start by officially ending the last one.
 

Most (if not all) nations on the planet now recognize “North Korea” as a separate sovereign nation. It has been nearly 65 years since the “unofficial” end of the Korean War. It is time we finally accepted the fact there are now TWO Korea’s and whether or not the two nations ever become one again is entirely up to the people of those two nations.

Trump could take the wind out of Kim Jong Un’s sails by formally declaring an end to the Korean War, having representatives from both sides sitting down for a dramatic “Signing Ceremony” in Geneva, declaring that the United States now recognizes North Korea as a separate and independent nation and formally declare The Korean War over.

North Korean TV would happily show “Dear Leader” on the world stage, sitting across from Donald Trump as an equal, “forcing” the United States to “accept defeat” as they sign an agreement officially declaring an end to the Korean War. And after showing such an event nationwide on state-run TV, it would be difficult for them to then make the case the U.S. still wants to invade their country, justifying the need for further provocative action.

And for Trump (and his ego), he can proudly declare that HE finally brought the Korean War to an end after more than 60 years and how he is actually “a man of peace”, not the belligerent war-happy third-world Dictator his critics make him out to be.

The problem is we have two irrational, childish, trigger-happy lunatics in charge of each country. We desperately need someone to step up and be the adult in the room. Show of hands how many of you think Trump is up to the task?
 

Yeah, me either.
 


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Self-Proclaimed Protectors of America Hold Everything it Stands for in Contempt.
Oct 16th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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I think I’m running out of ways to say “The Far Right hates America.” Which is ironic because it’s the Far Right who continually accuses “The Left” of “hating America” for complaining about the direction it’s heading (headlong into Fascism.) I’ve been writing this blog since the end of Dubya Bush’s first term in office, and one thing I’ve noticed is that people have disturbingly short memories. I actually heard a progressive radio host last week say that he “didn’t remember the Bush Administration having as much contempt for the Freedom of Speech as the Trump Administration.” “SERIOUSLY?” I barked out loud. You don’t remember “Free Speech Zones”, “Loyalty oaths”, and “fake newscasts with actors pretending to be reporters using fake names” being produced in-house by the Bush Administration and distributed to small market low-budget TV stations across the nation who then played those fake newscasts without ever revealing their source and clearly unaware the reporters were actors? You telling me you don’t remember ANY of that? None of this is new. Trump’s contempt for “Freedom of the Press”, “Freedom of Speech“, “Freedom of Assembly” and a “Freedom of Religion” that only applies if you are Christian, are only the latest depths of Conservative anti-Americanism. Trump’s supporters openly spoke of “secession” when Obama was president, and hate immigrants (ironically, in a nation of immigrants… of which their forebearers almost certainly were) to a xenophobic level. Not only did Trump launch his campaign calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers and rapists” (which his supporters cheered), and not only has he called for a ban on all immigration from the Middle East (to which he later tried to amend with exceptions based on religion), but they even tried to rewrite the story of the “Statue of Liberty” to claim the Lady with the Lamp guiding “the wretched refuse to our shores” was NOT intended to “welcome” immigrants, but instead was merely a monument to our greatness, adding that the famed poem describing the purpose of the statue “was added later.” If your hatred of the outside world is SO extreme you feel you must even rewrite Lady Liberty’s legacy, that’s beyond living in denial. They wave Confederate flags (the flag of rebels who broke apart from America and declared war upon it), hate half of the people who live here (blacks, minorities, non-Christians, Democrats) and think the purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect them from their own government. And the biggest problem is that the people who support all this anti-American activity ALSO claim to be America’s most fervent defenders/supporters.

As I’ve noted many times before, our Constitution mentions the word “TREASON” seven times and says the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is for its citizens to PROTECT AMERICA from those who seek to attack it. If you live here, it’s the FIRST Amendment that grants you the power to speak out against the government, petition it to redress your grievances, a free press to air those grievances and speak out against it, and a right to freely assemble/protest to bring about change. NO WHERE does it say “If you don’t like it, you can shoot your Congressman.” It’s there to guard against fascism (the merger of corporations, church & state). Guard against people who might seek to deny you your right of free speech. Guard against people who might do this country harm… by militarizing the police, polluting our air & streams, or keeping the nation in a perpetual state of war. The most fervent Second Amendment supporters are typically the same people who most live in fear of their own government, are the greatest supporters of those very same policies I just listed, and the quickest to threaten the use of force against it if the government strays from those very policies or endangers their right to own as much firepower as they can possibly amass over several lifetimes. The great irony in this country is that today’s Second Amendment supporters are the very people the Second Amendment was intended to protect us from.

These self-proclaimed “Protectors of America” hold everything this nation stands for in contempt: Immigrants, free speech, tolerance and a separation of Church & State.

With Trump’s new call for “Compulsory Patriotism” (demanding NFL team owners “suspend” any player who refuses to stand for the National Anthem in protest), we join the ranks of reviled dictatorships like Iran, North Korea, Nazi Germany and (of course) Soviet Russia. It should come as a surprise to no one that Trump admires dictators… fascists who don’t have to answer to anyone… and bemoans the fact he can’t just run the country the way a corporate tycoon runs his company… the lone decision maker where his word is law and everything is done by decree. (We all remember how bitterly Republicans accused President Obama of “acting like a dictator” by issuing “Executive Orders” to circumvent an obstructionist Congress. They declared that “Executive Orders” in and of themselves were “unconstitutional” for that very reason. So imagine my shock (sarcasm) when Trump did EXACTLY THAT, issuing an unconstitutional “Executive Order” of his own last week (for fun, type “Trump executive order” in a Google News search and see how many options come up) “decertifying” a key provision in “ObamaCare” to provide subsidies to help the working poor afford their insurance. And imagine my further surprise (read: none) when Conservative pundit Michael Needham on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday dared claim “Nobody ever said Conservatives oppose ALL “Executive Orders”, just the “unconstitutional” ones.” It’s not THEIR fault every single one of Obama’s “Executive Orders” just happened to be “unconstitutional” (because they were used to circumvent an obstructionist Congress, while Trump’s EO was done because… ah… oh… uh…)

Now, if you are a Conservative, you’re probably calling me a hypocrite for not yet mentioning recent college protests seeking to shutdown guest speakers who wish to perform/talk at their school. Typically, the object of their fury are Conservative hate-speech bomb-throwers like Ann Coulter or Steve Bannon, but they’ve also protested Left-Wing stand-up comics like Bill Maher whom they criticize for his criticism of Muslims as followers of “a hateful ideology”, though to be fair, he says the same thing about the religious Right (as do I.) So, “the Left” has its intolerant anti-free speech zealots as well. But while “the Left” has a few intolerant young college kids who should know better but don’t, the Right has ENTIRE ORGANIZATIONS (like The Family Research Council who just hosted Bannon’s latest little fascist-fest, the “AEI: American Enterprise Institute“, and most famously “The Heritage Foundation“) with multi-billionaire backers funding them dedicated to undermining the very principles of Democracy. A few intolerant kids at a select few colleges just doesn’t compare.

If you claim to “love America”, then you must also love everything it stands for. If only those who claim to be ready to fight to the death to protect the Second Amendment were as fanatical about protecting the First.
 


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Can’t ban guns? Try taxing gunpowder.
Oct 9th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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In 1999, comedian Chris Rock had a brilliant comedy routine called the “The $5,000 bullet”:
 


 
I don’t know how serious he was, and I’m not sure Rock appreciated how brilliant his idea was at the time, but every time there’s a mass shooting in this country (the murder of four or more people by a single gunman takes place in the United States more than once a day), people are directed to Rock’s routine by others equally impressed, looking to spread this brilliant idea, and viewers wonder why no one has thought of it before.

“We don’t need gun-control. We need bullet control. If a bullet costs $5,000, there’ll be no more innocent bystanders”, Rock declares. Random indiscriminate rapid fire weapons would be incredibly costly to use and ammunition difficult to come by.

Rock’s brilliant solution has one minor flaw: A large number of gun enthusiasts make their own ammunition (my father being one of them.) If you fire lots of bullets target shooting, buying commercial ammunition can already get quite expensive, so many will pack their own bullets for pennies on the dollar. Simply making pre-made bullets more expensive will only drive more people to make their own ammunition, even foster an underground market for homemade bullets. That’s the last thing we want or need. We should instead focus on the propellant. And I’m not sure “$5,000/bullet” is realistic either. But that’s a minor detail people can work out later.

When I first suggested “taxing gunpowder” about then years ago (and still, few have heard of the idea), I was informed that most bullets don’t use “gunpowder” any more. They use a more powerful powdered propellant called “Cordite”, so since then, I’ve always made sure to include “Cordite” in any proposed ban. You can’t just focus on one and not the other because all you’ll do is make the untaxed propellant more popular. Ideally, ANY explosive or propellant that can be used to make bullets should be heavily taxed, including liquids (like nitroglycerine) and clays (like C4.) If it goes “Boom” when ignited, it shouldn’t be cheap or easily available. Seems pretty obvious if you ask me.

Last week’s mass shooting in Vegas was just the latest to leave us all scratching our heads asking “How do we fix this?” As a result, I sent the following request to Senator Bernie Sanders:
 

Subject: Can’t ban guns? Try taxing gunpowder.
 

All attempts to “ban” any type of weapon always runs into “2nd Amendment” issues of violating the “Right to bear arms”. But no such right extends to “unlimited ammunition.”

PLEASE propose a steep tax on gunpowder/cordite to make bullets too expensive to be fired indiscriminately and/or in high quantity as an alternative to a prolonged & ultimately futile debate over a “gun ban”.

Placing such a tax on the propellant and not just the bullets themselves serves two purposes: One, many gun enthusiasts pack/make their own ammunition, and two, it would also impact “bomb creation”. And if someone purchases a large quantity of gunpowder/cordite, it will raise flags at the FBI whereas ammunition purchases typically do not.

People can own as many weapons as they like. But there is nothing in the Constitution guaranteeing a right to a cheap/endless supply of ammunition. I think this is an alternative way around the always contentious fight to ban a particular weapon (which is always followed by the minutia of deciding what weapons specifically qualify for the ban and which don’t.)

Thank you.

 

In 1994, Democrats passed the “Assault Weapons Ban” that made many (but not all) rapid-fire rifles (but not handguns) illegal. Included in the ban was a provision to make “high capacity magazines” that held more than 12-rounds illegal. No one needs a clip that holds more than 12 rounds and allows them to fire indiscriminately just to hunt deer. And if there are so many bad guys on your doorstep that you need more than 12 rounds of uninterrupted firepower to protect yourself, you aren’t going to win that fight without help anyway. Not only was it a brilliant move (focusing on the ammunition instead of the guns), but it also turned out to be quite effective. A 2016 investigation by the Washington Post found that the number of “Assault Weapons” recovered by police at crime scenes fell from a high of 16 percent in 1997/98, to a low of just 9 percent (and falling) when the Bush-43 Administration repealed the ban in 2004, calling it “a failure” (we heard this lie repeated again yesterday on “Meet the Press” as representatives of the Trump Administration claimed the ’94 ban “failed”… using the same logic that if a medicine doesn’t cure 100% of the patients who take it, the drug is clearly “a failure” and therefore needs to be prohibited.
 

Effectiveness of 1994 AW Ban

 

The only way Democrats were able to pass the ban in 1994 over GOP opposition was to insert a ten year sunset-clause into the bill, so when the bill came up for renewal during a Republican presidency in an Election year, its fate was sealed. It didn’t matter if it was a success or not, it’s mere existence was more offensive to Republicans than the lives lost without it. So the ban was dropped and the criminal use of assault weapons took off like a bullet.

If you do a Google search on the effectiveness of banning “high capacity” magazines, the results look like a search on whether or not Global Warming is real. Nine results supporting the claim for every one opposed. And by no coincidence, Republicans make up the minority on both. Yet, despite majority support, the minority opinion rules the day… much the way an exhausted parent gives in to their screaming toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket: sometimes it’s just easier to let them have their way if you are to ever get anything else done.

Almost immediately following the Vegas massacre, Republicans started looking for ways to deflect public outrage long enough to ride out the storm so that once again we do nothing. One incredibly offensive popular Conservative meme repeated after every mass shooting (including this one) is, “It’s just too soon to start talking about gun legislation.” Really? As Rep. Jim Hines (D-CT) pointed out last week, “No one said after 9/11: ‘It’s too soon to ask what happened and talk about how to prevent it from happening again.” (When IS the right time to talk about gun restrictions in this country? When Trump is busy threatening to nuke North Korea?) As others have pointed out, the day we allowed 20 First Graders and 6 teachers to be brutally gunned down in cold blood by a nut with an assault rifle and did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to prevent it from happening again is the day we decided the rights of gun owners was more important than the lives of children.

In January of 2013, one month after the Newtown massacre, Democrats tried to bring back the ’94 Assault Weapons Ban. It failed despite having majority support, blocked by 41 Republicans and five Conservo-Dems:
 

46 voted to do nothing after Sandy Hook

 

One of the things included in the failed 2013 Ban were those “Bump/Slide-fire stocks” like the ones used by the Vegas shooter last week.

Earlier this year, another mentally deranged lone gunman opened fire on politicians (of both parties) playing softball in a friendly annual inter-Party game, nearly killing Tea Party Republican Congressman Steve Scalise. I wondered following the Vegas shooting if Scalise would emerge “a hero” and kick the NRA to the curb by finally conceding that something needs to be done about the easy availability of guns, or would “blind partisan ideology” reign and continue to defend the practice? Guess which path he chose? Scalise: “Why doesn’t the Media report the Good News on guns?” If you ever needed proof the love of guns is a mental disorder, now you have it.

On one Sunday show yesterday, one Right-Winger hailed Scalise’s inability to see the consequences of making guns as ubiquitous as Tic Tacs as “a triumph of not allowing his emotions cloud his political judgement.” Seriously. I’m certain if this man’s son jumped off the roof with a towel tied around his neck thinking it would give him the ability to fly, this pundit would praise his son’s persistence for trying again the moment the cast was removed from his fractured skull. Failing to recognize the consequences of your actions isn’t an act of courage. It’s an act of stupidity. It’s ideology over common-sense and DEFINITELY not worthy of praise.

Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” was inspired last weekend, pointing out that anyone owning 47 of anything is the sign of an unwell person. “If you had 47 cats, they’d call you ‘Crazy Cat Lady’, take the cats away from you and have you treated by a court-appointed psychiatrist.” Also pointed out, “38 of his 47 weapons were purchased in just the past year, yet it raised no red flags?” That’s because the NRA (and gun nuts) are absolutely paranoid of a “national gun registry”, because they don’t want the gub’mint knowing how many guns they got. Ask them “Why?” sometime and prepare to dive down the rabbit-hole of government conspiracy theories of how the government plans on rounding everyone up, taking away their guns, and locking them up in “FEMA Camps” where they’ll be forced to eat Tofu and drink soymilk with every meal. Or maybe the government simply wants to “take their land” (because the use of “eminent-domain” laws have been so unsuccessful?) Never look for logic among illogical people. Remember, these are the same people who thought “Jade Helm” was an Obama plot to “invade Texas”… a U.S. state… via underground passages beneath vacant Wal*Marts (with a governor who sent National Guard troops to the Texas/Oklahoma border to keep an eye on them.)

And these are the people we allow to dictate our gun policy.

If you buy 38 guns in one year… or even one DAY… there are no “red flags” to be raised because the Gun Rights advocates won’t let gun retailers record who buys what & when. So while buying 38 guns in one big purchase might lead a concerned retailer to contact the authorities, buying 38 guns over the course of a few hours from multiple retailers wouldn’t raise any red flags. NO ONE… not even the Federal agency running the background checks… is allowed to keep a record of who bought what, when & where. There would be no way to know all those weapons were being purchased by the same person because of the NRA paranoia over a “gun registry”.

Master of Distraction Trump used the old racist GOP chestnut of pointing to “Chicago, with it’s tight restrictions on gun ownership yet having the highest gun murder rate in the country” as “proof” that “gun control laws don’t work.” NRA Executive Director Chris Cox repeated the half-truth as well during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday.

If Chicago has such tight restrictions on gun sales, then where are they getting all those guns? Ever look at a map? The distance from Chicago’s “East Side” to deep Red state Indiana can be measured in Raisinettes. Neighboring Indiana… the state where Mike Pense just left as governor to be Trump’s VP… has some of the most lax gun laws in the nation. You could literally walk out your back door on Chicago’s South-Side and make a strawman purchase of a dozen guns from someone living in Indiana, and there’s be no way for the authorities to know. Or one could drive ten minutes down the road and across the border to any of several gun retailers (or several Wal*Marts) to buy your guns legally. Is it any wonder Chicago continues to have such a problem with gun violence despite tight restrictions on gun purchases when circumventing the law is as easy as crossing the street?

Off course, ALL of the Sunday shows yesterday bemoaned the rise in gun violence, talking about our apparent inability to “come together as a nation” regardless the tragedy to agree upon “common-sense gun legislation.” “What,” they ask, “can we do? As long as the gun nuts will fight to the death to protect the Second Amendment, then all hope is lost!”

Well, there ARE things we can do, and we should start by focusing less on the guns and more on the ammunition.

The 1994 ban on high capacity clips was a step in the right direction, thinking outside of the box. The Constitution (arguably) protects your right to own a firearm. It does NOT guarantee you the right not to be inconvenienced by having to stop & reload after firing more than a few rounds. The Republicans only defense against the ban on high-capacity clips was to lie and claim the ban “didn’t work” after just a few years. They couldn’t argue the ban was “unconstitutional” or that people had an inalienable right to not to be inconvenienced (if that was a right, all those Conservative voter suppression laws would be toast), so all they were left with was to lie.

We’ve tried banning certain “types” of guns and all it did was make gun makers more creative in finding ways to circumvent the law. We banned “fully automatic weapons”, so someone invented “the Bump Stock” that allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire like a fully automatic one. They say “Guns don’t kill people!” Well a gun with no ammunition doesn’t kill anyone (unless they use it like a club to beat you to death.)

Background checks… while crucial… have a high failure rate. The Vegas shooter passed his background checks with flying colors. No criminal history, and despite (reportedly) being a pro-Second Amendment zealot who believed anyone who did NOT own a gun was a danger to society (mull that irony over for a moment), there were no warning signs to give anyone reason not to sell him his arsenal in the first place. And there’s no “waiting period” or “background check” to buy tons of ammunition or aftermarket modifications like a “bump stock”.

The kid who murdered nine parishioners in Charleston, SC two years ago would have failed a background check, but was still allowed to legally buy his guns because the background check process “took too long” (over 36 hours) and by law, you can’t force anyone to wait more than 36 hours to buy a gun.

The Newtown murderer got his gun from his Mom… another gun nut. She trained her socially awkward son how to shoot because she feared Obama was coming to take her guns and wanted to give him confidence… which he apparently found as he used her own Bushmaster to murder her in her sleep before trotting off to his old Elementary school where he had been teased as a child nearly a decade before.

The “2nd Amendment is there to protect you from your government” myth is probably THE most pervasive/destructive misconception about guns that the NRA & Gun Rights Advocates have been working overtime to convince the already paranoid anti-government low-education demographic for decades is why they need an arsenal in their home. They truly believe that the only thing keeping the government from coming into their home (for no clear reason) is the fact they own 47 guns. The military may have tanks and Hellfire-armed drones, but Bubba with his AR15 and a cooler full of Coors is going to turn them away if they come knockin’.

Pro-gun rights groups love to claim “the Nazi’s banned the Jews from owning guns” to suggest that the only thing standing between Fascism & Freedom are gun-loving ‘mercuns like themselves (who then vote for rich corporate fascists who show nothing but contempt for The First Amendment & Voting Rights and call actual Nazi’s “very good people”.) While it is true Hitler denied the Jews the right to own guns in 1938, the idea that it was responsible for what happened to them is a stretch. Much like these same gun-nuts here who think they could fend off the entire United States military if they showed up on their doorstep, Jewish people armed with a few handguns and rifles would have been no match for a military that came close to conquering the world… much of which DID have weapons… fully armed militaries with tanks & planes. In 1943, the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” took place where thousands of Polish Jews who were walled off from the rest of Germany attacked the German army from behind their walled off neighborhood. They lost. 13,000 Jews died while only a few Germans were killed. The uprising was the subject of the Academy Award winning 2002 film “The Pianist”

As I’ve cited on this blog several times, the Constitution uses the word “treason” SEVEN TIMES. Not once does it say you have the right to shoot your congressman if you disagree with them. Instead, they gave us the FIRST Amendment, which grants us the right to free speech to redress our grievances, and the ballot box to vote out anyone we don’t like. It even says the purpose of the Second Amendment is to “secure a free state“. Protect the country from those who seek to attack it. Yet amazingly, Second Amendment zealots are quick to ridicule the Right to Free Speech (“How dare those people disrespect the flag by kneeling during the anthem!”), find new & creative ways to deny people their right to vote, and threaten to attack the government if they feel threatened by it (“Yeehaw! The South shall rise again!”)… arguably, today’s Second Amendment zealots are the very people the Second Amendment was intended to protect us from! If only supporters of the Second Amendment were as fanatical about protecting The First.

Never look for logic where none exists.
 

RedRidingHood banned for bottle of wine on cover

 

Stricter background checks by themselves are not the answer. “Mental health checks” & “background checks” only catch people who ALREADY have problems and personally purchase their weapons through a licensed dealer. Roughly 45% of all gun sales do not go through a commercial dealer in a gun store. We’ve all heard of the “Gunshow Loophole”, then there’s the “gifting” of weapons, the sale of “used” weapons person-to-person, and most Internet sales. None of which are subject to a background check.

Banning certain “types” of weapons doesn’t work because gun manufacturers and “after-market” equipment makers simply find legal ways to circumvent the law.

But all guns need ammunition. It’s not a protected right that is not immune to regulation or restriction.

When Justice Roberts infuriated Conservatives by declaring the “ObamaCare mandate” to be legal, he justified it by saying the government can legally tax you for ANY reason. “If it wants to, the government can tax you for breathing”, he said in his decision. And such is the case with “ammunition”. The Second Amendment does not guarantee you a right to a cheap, unlimited & uninterrupted supply of ammunition. If the government wants to tax the hell out of bullets to make them too expensive to be fired indiscriminately and making mass murder by rapid fire weapon too costly, then there is no law against it. Conservative Justice Roberts says so.

Focusing on devices/mods like “Bump stocks” is a distraction. It’s a sacrificial lamb the Right will willingly toss to the wolves to protect unfettered gun ownership overall. Not only are “bump stocks” a small and obscure market, they’re actually only ONE OF SEVERAL aftermarket modifications you can attach to any semiautomatic weapon to make it perform like a fully automatic. There is also a device called a “Gat Crank” that basically turns any semi into a Gatling Gun (I wonder how readily the guy in the video would have cranked off between $3,000 and $30,000 worth of ammunition for the 5 seconds of fun he had showing off his new toy?). Another device is called the “Hellfire Trigger”, a simple spring that makes pulling the trigger easier so you can fire faster. And that’s just the two I personally know of (and I know next to nothing about guns.) So restricting/banning just one particular gun mod isn’t enough either. It’s time to think outside the box on this one.

I’ve always found it slightly ironic that the “Party of Life” is full of gun zealots who think Jesus was born a Republican with a gun in one hand and a guide to Capitalism in the other. But then I remember that “Conservatism is a Death Cult” and I remember once again why things are the way they are.
 

GOP is a Death Cult

 


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Who Is Helping North Korea’s Lightning-Fast Evolving Nuclear Missile Program?
Sep 4th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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On New Years Eve, just before Trump took office, Kim Jong Un promised they were preparing to conduct their first test of an ICBM. Sounding an awful lot like that “Red Line” Trump blasted Obama for, Trump tweeted the next day, “It won’t happen!” It did. Just three weeks after Trump’s inauguration, North Korea test-fired a “Ballistic missile”… a modified version of their existing “Musudan” intermediate range missile, that landed unspectacularly 310 miles away into the Sea of Japan between the two countries.

Three weeks later, North Korea launched four more missiles all at once, again into the Sea of Japan. A fifth test two few weeks after that the rocket exploded seconds after launch. They were trying, but not making a lot of progress. Three more launches in April, the first flying a mere 37 miles before falling back to Earth, and the next two exploding shortly after launch.

Then suddenly, something changed.

Three more tests in May, the first, a rocket that reached an altitude of 1,312 miles… a distance great enough to potentially reach Eastern Alaska… was fired almost straight up, coming almost straight down… again into the Sea of Japan. Bear in mind that the month before, their only “successful” launch traveled a mere 37 miles, and all tests landed or crashed in the Sea of Japan between the two countries. Now suddenly they have an ICBM (promised on December 31st but were never able to deliver on.)

One test in June, two more successful tests in July, and two more in August. Of the August tests, the second flying over Japan… the first time since 2009. The big difference this time was that they did not warn Japan in advance before firing a rocket over their heads. Fortunately, this rocket broke up just over halfway into it’s 4,000KM flight, raining debris in the Pacific just off the East coast of Japan.

But in all of this, it was understood that an “Atomic” warhead… the pinnacle of their nuclear weapons development after over 20 years… would be just too big & too heavy to mount atop one of their notoriously unreliable missiles (who would put an atomic bomb atop a missile that might only travel 37 miles?) Even once they developed their first ICBM (the one Trump said would “never happen”… until it did five months later), it was understood they could not be armed with nuclear warheads due to size & weight… at least “not for another year” they were claiming barely a month ago.

And now, early Sunday morning, just four days since their test launch of an ICBM and their first test East of Japan since 2009, Japan detects the test of a Hydrogen bomb in Northern North Korea… which is significantly smaller/lighter… yet 10 times more powerful… than the old technology Atomic bombs they were previously capable of building. So now, in less than seven months time, North Korea has gone from short-range missiles that frequently exploded after launch, to ICBM’s capable of reaching the U.S., and from bulky/undeliverable “atomic” bombs to compact, massively more powerful hydrogen bombs that can be used as a nuclear warhead. No offense, but North Korea isn’t exactly known for their technical prowess. Someone HAS to be helping them. And who might that be?

There are only three “possible” candidates, all allies of North Korea and antagonistic towards the United States, and two of those can easily be scratched off the list. The three candidates are China, Iran and Russia.

Why would China wish to encourage nuclear war right on their doorstep between the United States and their ally North Korea? The United States’ firepower is so vastly superior to NK, they wouldn’t stand a chance even in a Conventional war let alone a nuclear one. America is also perhaps China’s biggest trading partner. An attack on the United States would almost certainly disrupt trade with China. Not to mention the fact that as an ally of North Korea, China would be drawn into a disastrous war with the United States. The very idea that China would want to provoke all that in their own backyard is nonsensical.

Iran is possibility #2. But to guide someone else on how to develop ICBM’s and hydrogen bombs, you first need to have already developed YOUR OWN “ICBM’s and hydrogen bombs”. Iran has neither. Scratch them off the list.

That leaves Russia. Now why would Russia want to see America… the lone remaining Super Power… in chaos? America is all over the Middle-East controlling much of the world’s oil. We lead NATO, a collection of European nations whose sole purpose for existence is to keep Russia in check. Installing a loose-canon, friendly to Russia and antagonistic towards NATO, as president of the United States has created chaos in this country. Expansion of the war(s) in the Middle-East into Syria provided “Distraction #2” (Trump being the first), and the rapid progression of North Korea’s missile & nuclear programs is providing “Distraction #3.”

Russia does almost NO trade with the United States, so chaos in America would not disrupt their economy (to the contrary, fewer U.S. oil exports would expand Russia’s market), and military action against North Korea only further weakens our military by stretching it too thin, making it less able to respond to further acts of aggression by Russia (like Crimea, Ukraine and Georgia.)

North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons program is accelerating at an astonishing rate… so fast it’s almost impossible to believe they are doing it all on their own. And if you want to know just who that is, one need only think of a country with the know-how, is friends with North Korea, and has the most to gain (and least to lose) from an America in chaos. And suddenly the answer is quite clear.

Having an unstable man-child, susceptible to blackmail and deep in debt to them, yet constantly speaks fondly of them, only makes such gamesmanship less risky for them and easier to pursue.
 


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#TeleprompterTrump vs #UnscriptedTrump
Aug 21st, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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It occurred to me yesterday listening to both Trump defenders and Trump critics that there are in fact two Donald Trump’s: #TeleprompterTrump & #UnscriptedTrump. Trump’s friends/defenders… like Jerry Falwell Jr on “Meet the Press” yesterday… only see “#TeleprompterTrump”… the Trump that has his comments carefully written out for him by a professional speech-writer that tends to say the right thing (most of the time) and earns kudos like “He sounded presidential today” (he’s president! Shouldn’t he sound “presidential” EVERY day?), and “#UnscriptedTrump”, caught in a candid moment by the Press anyplace other than the WH Press Briefing Room, who goes off script and says what he TRULY thinks/feels.

Last Monday, three days after neo-Nazi protests in Charlottesville left a female protester dead, Trump gave a speech… clearly read off a teleprompter… condemning “hate & violence” (though failing to even mention the words “White Supremacists” or “neo-Nazis”.) Trump explained he waited so long because he had to make sure he had all his facts straight before accussing neo-Nazi’s of being neo-Nazi’s (I can’t think of another time Trump waited “until he had all the facts” before rushing to Twitter to make a blanket condemnation.) In response to that criticism, Trump “went rogue” the very next day, condemning the violence “on both sides” and defending imaginary hoards of “very good people” who apparently didn’t realize the people they were marching with carrying Swastika flags and shouting, “Jews will not replace us!” were actually Nazi’s and White Supremacists. “Who knew?”

Every time I hear someone defending Trump, (unless they are a Nazi or White Supremacists) they ALWAYS cite “#TeleprompterTrump”. “He said the right thing!” said Charles Hurt of the “Washington Times” on Fox (natch), quoting #TeleprompterTrump (and his lesser known twin: #GhostTweeterTrump, where one of his speech writers is clearly tweeting “presidential” sounding messages from Trump’s twitter account) almost verbatim to suggest Trump is being unfairly criticized. Falwell praised Trump for “condemning Nazi’s and White Supremacists by name” when in fact Trump failed to even mention either group in his first comments three days after the riots, and then seemingly defending those same Nazi’s and White Supremacists the very next day. But all Falwell heard was the Trump he wanted to hear: #TeleprompterTrump. While the other side has critics citing #UnscriptedTrump, the Trump who attempts to answer questions on his own and ends up revealing EXACTLY what he thinks and how he truly feels (repeating talking points he read on Twitter by his his Alt-Right supporters the night before.)

I first noticed this effect right after Trump’s “State of the Union” address in February (not a true SotU because newly incoming prez’s don’t get one), when Trump read an hour long speech almost verbatim and the Media praised him as suddenly “sounding presidential” after 15 months of non-stop hate-mongering and childish remarks. But I became painfully aware of it last May when Bob Scheiffer (now on CNN) gushed how Trump “sounded presidential” when he stopped demonizing Muslims long enough to ask them for their help in rooting out terrorists.

Then there’s “#UnscriptedTrump”, the guy who is caught off guard, easily angered/offended by questions that he feels are critical of him, prompting him to lash out, spouting comebacks posted on twitter by his defenders (many of whom are the very people he gets in trouble for defending), or lame comebacks he thinks up himself on the spot (“Alt-Right? What about the Alt-Left???“) And it’s #UnscriptedTrump that is deserving of all the condemnation he is now receiving… on both the Left AND the Right. Long time Republican columnist and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan was asked yesterday by MtP’s Chuck Todd how Trump “regains his moral authority” after saying what he did this past week. Noonan rightly responded (to my surprise), “You can’t regain that which you never had.” I was in the process of muttering that EXACT sentiment under my breath when she said that. Even Mitt Romney peeked out of his son’s basement (the address he gave in 2012 so he could vote for himself in MA) long enough to condemn Trump’s “false equivalency” for assigning equal blame to both Nazi’s and those who protested them.

And THAT is why it is so hard for the two sides to see eye-to-eye. Trump’s supporters SO desperately want to believe in “Trump’s promise“… the fictitious “brilliant not-a-politician businessman who’ll save our country by making dispassionate decisions on what’s best for the nation, devoid of politics or personal gain.” But what they got instead was this boorish four-time bankrupt manchild who is nothing but an easily bruised ego in a bright red tie who tweets like a 14 year old girl, grousing about every slight, calling his critics “fake news”, making up ridiculous lies about “crowd size” at his inauguration, and insisting “millions of illegal aliens MUST have voted illegally” because it is unfathomable to him that more people actually liked Hillary or Obama.

#ToddlerTrump has done everything but stick his tongue out at the cameras… and I expect that very soon.
 


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All the circumstantial evidence points to one thing: Trump is broke
Aug 7th, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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(UPDATED: 9/20/17)

The key selling point of a “Donald Trump presidency” was that a “successful businessman” such as himself would know how to run the U.S. government efficiently. “I know all the best people”, he told adoring fans. “I’m worth $10 Billion dollars” he told the masses. And because of his success as a businessman, he supposedly would be able to run this massive “corporation” we now call The Federal Government (never mind the fact a government isn’t a corporation.) Trump claimed at the very start of his campaign that… because of his fantastic wealth… he “couldn’t be bought” and would only work in YOUR best interests, not those of the “Special Interests”. He would “take no money” from those same “Special Interests” and run a “self funded campaign using his own money to run for president. But in fact Trump did NOT self-finance his campaign. When he DID spend his own money on his campaign, it was only a loan where he charged his own campaign to pay him back. Even then, Trump wasn’t even the biggest donor to his own campaign. No “Special Interests”? He had multiple “SuperPACs” pouring money into his campaign as well, and as I posited two weeks ago, there is a trail of laundered Russian money leading to Trump’s back pocket like a trail of breadcrumbs. And despite all of Trump’s innuendo regarding money pouring into “The Clinton Foundation” and whether or not some of it was making its way to the Clinton campaign, Trump repeatedly refused/refuses to release his tax returns (no, this is not about Trump’s taxes) on the grounds he was “under audit” (which was NOT preventing him from from doing so) yet promising “as soon as the audit is over, I’ll release them.” But even after the election was over, Trump continued to refuse to release his taxes. And once he was sworn in and no longer under audit, he argued his taxes “no longer mattered”… “nobody cares except the sore losers”. Trump’s tax return for 2016… the year AFTER the one that was audited… the year he was running for president… was NEVER under audit, yet he never released that year either (nor were his tax returns for ANY other prior year.) To this day, we have never seen Donald Trump’s tax returns. Why? What doesn’t he want us to see? Then there is the question of “Emoluments” and whether Trump is using the presidency to make himself rich. Any time the subject of “money” comes up regarding Trump, it suggests he’s desperately trying to prevent his “true wealth” from becoming public knowledge. And the braggart & raging egomaniac that Trump is, does anyone think if he was even more fantastically rich than he has publicly claimed, that he wouldn’t be tweeting it from the rooftops? Of course he would! Trump’s entire shtick is that he is qualified purely due to being a business & financial success. So, what if it turns out he isn’t? After filing four bankruptcies, two divorces, being sued multiple times (settling his “Trump University” fraud case for $20 Million dollars rather than continue fighting), closing failed casinos, and a list of failed businesses longer than my arm, how does one suffer SO much failure and expense, and still be worth over $10 Billion dollars? Simple… he isn’t. He’s deep in debt and owes some very powerful people a lot of money.

…But he can’t admit it without being exposed as the lying Snake Oil salesman he is and disappointing his legions of “poorly educated” fans.

As I stated above, there is a troubling record of Russian money finding it’s way into Trump’s campaign coffers to the point I no longer have ANY doubt the Russian government… by way of well-connected Russian oligarchs… bankrolled the bulk of Donald Trump’s political campaign. From the Russian fertilizer magnate who paid 2-1/2 times the value for a Florida mansion belonging to Trump… sight unseen… just as Trump was being forced to pay a multi-million dollar judgement against him… only to have the property demolished without the new owner having ever visited it even once, and sold for a $60 million dollar loss… to the private computer server in the Trump Tower campaign headquarters with a dedicated hotline connection to a Russian bank, to millions in laundered Russian Mafia crime money poured into Manhattan real estate purchased from Trump (no questions asked)… Trump owes much of his wealth to (criminal) Russian investment.

But that’s just half the story.

Immediately after his inauguration, Trump doubled the membership fee to his “Mar-a-lago” Resort from $100,000/yr to $200,000/yr. The rich & powerful… those “Special Interests” Trump bemoaned… were buying up memberships hoping to hob-knob with The President himself. But Trump wasn’t about to divest himself of his prized resort in which the wealthy could rub elbows with the Commander-in-Chief himself if the price is right, nor did Trump set any rules against “unsolicited fraternization”. If you’ve got the bucks, you might just luck into a private meeting with The President of the United States. What percentage of Trump’s “regular Americans” do you think he’ll run into down there at that price?

Trump’s hotels around the world, in New York and in DC, the profits from those hotels still feed into Trump’s pocket. When wealthy Saudi’s came to DC, rather than stay in the same posh hotel they normally booked, this year they chose to stay in a Trump-owned hotel (I’ll give you three guesses why, and the second two don’t count.) Overseas, the paperwork and court cases holding up development of Trump hotels and golf courses are suddenly fast-tracked and shown preferential treatment over Trump’s competitors. The Founding Fathers called such gifts & favoritism “emoluments”, and they are illegal. Yet Trump has refused to sell off his holdings and divest himself from these conflicts of interest (and No, turning the “running” of the business over to his sons does NOT resolve those conflicts of interest or shield him from violating the Emoluments clause.)

We know that as a real estate mogul in NY, Trump had a history of not paying his workers/suppliers/vendors, and he suggested during the campaign that only dumb people pay taxes, so much of Trump’s wealth came from being a deadbeat… something he can no longer get away with as president of the United States.

I mentioned above that Trump only LOANED his own campaign money to finance it, but we also learned just last week that Trump blatantly overcharged the Secret Service to rent space in Trump Tower to provide security for his wife & son Barron while they lived in New York. To charge them anything at all to stay in a hotel HE OWNS when they are there purely to protect him & his family when in New York is bad enough, but to scam the American taxpayers to pay double the normal rent to do it? Does he REALLY need the money THAT bad?

Also breaking news last week, not only did Independent Council Bob Mueller impanel a Grand Jury to hear evidence connecting Trump to Russia, we also learned Mueller is “investigating Trump’s personal & business finances”… not just campaign finances as they may relate to the Russia investigation. Trump is reportedly very angry about this. Why would Mueller be investigating Trump’s “private” finances as part of his Russia investigation? Because, like me, Mueller also believes Trump’s businesses were used to launder Russian crime money into his presidential campaign.

Republicans have pined for a “CEO president” for 20 years. It was part of their sales pitch for Bush & Cheney in 2000 (touting their “CEO” credentials.) Bush had a string of disastrous business failures behind him (requiring bailouts from Daddy’s friends) while Cheney bilked the government for Billions as a government contractor. THAT was their record as “businessmen”. And one might think that the disastrous Bush/Cheney presidency would have soured Republicans on the idea of electing another “CEO President” promising to run the country “like a business”, but they did it again with Donald Trump. And once again we find another failed businessman who’s really good at scamming people, declaring bankruptcy and asking Uncle Sam for a bailout.

So look at the list of financial matters connected to the Trump campaign: He refused/refuses to release his taxes… the first to do so since Nixon. He charged his own campaign to reimburse him for all the money he loaned it, he over-charged the Secret Service rent to protect his own family in his own hotel, he also doubled the Mar-a-Lago Membership Fee, there is all the Emoluments/profiteering off his business interests that he refuses to divest himself from, there’s his four bankruptcies, two divorces and failed casinos, has bragged about paying no taxes (not just the wealthy, but people deep in debt also pay no taxes), legal judgements totaling MILLIONS against him, a string of failed business ventures including “Trump University”, which turned out to be one giant scam, and a Russian-cash expressway between the Kremlin and Trump’s real-estate holdings around the world. That blue “TRUMP” 707 he flew around in during the campaign is all that’s left of “Trump Airlines” that was born & died in the late 1990’s.

For a man supposedly worth $10 Billion dollars, he sure seems to be nickle & diming the Federal government while spending very little of his own money (as I write this, I’m noticing how Trump nor his Wife & son, have ever vacationed any place Trump didn’t already own (either Trump Tower in NYC or Mar-a-Lago in Florida).

Every time a Republican calls for “Running government like a business”, point out to them that businesses are NOT Democracies. They are “Dictatorships” or “Monarchies” run to turn a profit. Governments are services that SPEND money to provide those services. THAT is what we pay taxes for! Trump himself once said: “In government, every decision requires you to have a heart. In business, it’s the opposite. In fact, it may be better if you have no heart at all.” And this is whom they elected to run the largest public service on the planet.

Businesses are run to make a profit for the CEO and pay off shareholders. Who know who Donald thinks the CEO is. One wonders whom he thinks his “shareholders” are? Whom does he owe? Who OWNS HIM?

ADDENDUM: The day after I wrote this, “The Rachel Maddow Show” actually explored the question of all the money Trump is making off the presidency and its legality. RECOMMENDED VIEWING.

UPDATE 9/20/17: Reuters is reporting that the RNC is paying Don Jr’s personal legal bills, and Trump is using his Election & Re-election Campaign funds to pay for his own (and his family’s) legal bills in the Russia investigation. This helps explain why he launched his “reelection campaign” THE DAY HE TOOK OFFICE [ibid].

Trump raised $107 MILLION for his “pre-inaugural concert” (more than TWICE the $53M Obama raised for his 2009 star-studded even) and promised to donate the unused portion to charity. The Trump campaign wildly overpaid $25M on a handful of low budget events including one cover band, highschool marching bands and baton twirlers, then and kept the rest.

Trump DID keep his promise to *personally* donate $1 Million to victims of hurricane Harvey (which was split 12 ways), though it bears pointing out that for a man who claimed during the campaign to be worth over $10 Billion dollars, a donation of a mere $1 Milion amounts to 1/10,000th of his claimed total net worth… roughly equivalent to a person worth $550K (including home) and $50K salary) donating just $55.
 


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Is the firing of Priebus a backdoor attempt to fire Special Prosecutor Mueller?
Jul 31st, 2017 by Admin Mugsy

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Last week was described as… not just the most chaotic of the young Trump Administration… but as capping off “the worst first six months of ANY administration” in the 241 year history of the United States (which, according to Trump, has been “the most successful first six months of any administration in history”… despite not having one single legislative accomplishment and Trump having gone back on nearly every major campaign promise.) “Worst six months” may be a bit of an exaggeration considering Abraham Lincoln’s first days were met with the entire Southern delegation seceding from the Union, but it’s gotta be right up there (Lincoln was a Republican by the way. Did you know that? Trump apparently didn’t until just last March.) For weeks, Trump has been publicly lambasting his “good friend” Attorney General Jeff Sessions for agreeing to accept the job of AG back in February only to recuse himself from having anything to do with the Russia investigation by March. Sessions was the first (and for a very long time only) Senator to endorse Donald Trump. He traveled around the country with him and repeated Trump’s slogan that Trump would “Make America Great Again.” His reward was to be appointed Attorney General (the first appointment of the Trump administration), an appointment Trump praised. But when a Special Prosecutor was appointed to investigate possible links between the Trump campaign & Russia, Sessions was forced to recuse himself 1) because he was part of the campaign, and 2) Had failed to reveal his OWN contacts with Russian officials during the campaign.

That confirmation was in February (with Sessions formally recusing himself on March 2nd.)

Now suddenly… 4-1/2 months later… Trump is grousing about Sessions accepting the job only to recuse himself just days later? Why now? As singer Glenn Fry once sang, “The heat is on.”

A flurry of very public criticisms (both on TV and on Twitter) of his “good friend” Sessions (Trump frequently whines about “loyalty”. He denies he asked Comey for it and demands it of his staff, but for Trump, “loyalty” is clearly a one-way street), it seemed pretty obvious Trump wanted Sessions to resign so he could replace him with someone who would fire Bob Mueller and quash the Russia investigation, but he couldn’t just fire Sessions without a better reason than “refusing to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.” Nothing improper about following the law. ANYONE Trump may have picked to be Attorney General… if they were connected to his campaign, they too would of had to recuse themselves (if you recall, both Chris Christie & Rudy Giuliani were also supposedly up for consideration for the job, and they too were part of the campaign and would of had to recuse themselves.)

Unable to fire Sessions, Trump tried to make Sessions quit, but Sessions (publicly) laughed it off (privately, Gingrich says Sessions is “very mad” at Trump.) So Trump is stuck with Sessions (and by extension, Mueller.)

In just the first six months, five SIX of Trump’s top level staffers have been fired (or forced to “quit”)…
 

Trump staff departures

 

(UPDATE 7/31/17: After just ten days, Spicer’s replacement, Anthony Scaramucci is out following a profanity laced tirade criticizing Priebus & Bannon.)
 

…with the latest being his Chief-of-Staff Reince Priebus last week just-appointed Communications Director Scaramucci. Priebus has always been in over his head in every job he’s had since he was still head of the RNC. He appeared on the Sunday talk shows regularly, embarrassing himself as he repeatedly tried (and failed) to sound clever and/or witty, with snarky responses about Democrats that always fell embarrassingly flat. But because of the Tea Party movement and a united Conservative front against Obama, the GOP Congress kept winning races in spite of him (though losing the presidency in 2012, and likely would have lost in 2016 as well had it not been for the last minute election chaos.) So it was probably only a matter of time before he was out as CoS, but the new Director of Communications, Tony Scaramucci, replacing Spicer, torpedoed Priebus, creating a vacancy.
 

And the wheels started to turn.
 

Trump picked acting NSA Director General John Kelly last week to be his new Chief of Staff (arguably a demotion), and suddenly, there’s a new “law enforcement” job opening in the Trump Administration. “Who do we get to fill it? Hmmmm. Ah! I know! How about the acting Attorney General who is preventing us from firing Mueller and shutting down the Russia investigation?”

Trump hasn’t done it yet, but you KNOW that’s what his puppet masters have in mind.

Members of Congress on BOTH sides of the aisle say that if Trump tries to replace Sessions with someone who might try to shutdown the Russia investigation, they say they’ll make him (pinky) swear that he won’t fire Mueller. Of course, you can always find an excuse after the fact. Accuse Mueller of being on a “Partisan Witch hunt”, accuse him of exceeding his authority, even claim “ethics violations”. Or just change the scope of his investigation, rendering him toothless. If they want Mueller gone, he’s gone.

So the red flag isn’t who gets picked to fill Sessions’ shoes, it’s whether or not Trump tries to appoint Sessions head of the NSA. After weeks of criticizing Sessions for “not being forthright” for failing to reveal in advance he’d recuse himself from anything relating to the Russia investigation, suddenly he may be just perfect to head up the most secretive security agency on the planet? (Before Bush-43, the joke was “NSA” stood for “No Such Agency” before Dubya confirmed their existence to rescue his butt from accusations of wiretapping Americans without a FISA warrant.)

If Trump even hints he may move Sessions to the NSA, know that there’s only ONE reason for doing so, and that’s so he can replace Sessions with someone not recused from intervening in the Russia investigation. Personally, I doubt Trump is THAT dumb, but his handlers (whomever they may be) might insist upon it. I’m certain Trump (and several members of his family) are huge blackmail risks and could be exposed as needed if Trump doesn’t do what they want. But with Trump’s massive ego and arrogant nature, he’s just as likely to do what he wants and dare his blackmailers to play their hand (and they will.)

The GOP Congress might let Trump get away with moving Sessions, and even approve a replacement who “swears to God, hope to die, Stick a needle in my eye” not to fire Mueller. But if he does, even a Republican-controlled Congress would not be able to ignore this gross obstruction of justice, and 6 to 8 months later (despite the midterms), Trump would be impeached, and depending on the mood of the electorate, out of office by the end of 2018.

But I doubt that will happen… not that quickly/obviously. I expect Trump will continue to grouse about Sessions, appoint someone else to the NSA, and wait for Sessions to quit (because despite his catch-phrase, reports are Trump really doesn’t like to fire people. Due to his desperate need to be adored… see: “I won the popular vote”… he prefers to bully people into quitting so he doesn’t look like the bad guy (yeah, I know that makes no sense.) By then, who knows where the Russia investigation will be? (In my not-so-humble opinion, Trump and those in his orbit are morons, too stupid to realize the Russians have been using & manipulating him for decades. There is ZERO doubt in my mind now that the Russian government and the Russian Mob (which are one & the same) literally bankrolled Trump’s presidential campaign (and much of his real estate empire via the buying & selling properties in Manhattan & Florida to Russian criminals/oligarchs/officials looking to launder millions in dirty money (see last week’s Op/Ed on the following the laundered money.) Or… just as likely… they knew and didn’t care as long as they got what they wanted out of it without concern for the consequence.)

And THAT is why Mueller is suddenly looking into Trump’s business dealings going back DECADES, and why only now Trump is complaining about Sessions’ inability to shutdown Mueller and the Russia investigations. The heat is on. Watch this space/vacancy.
 


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