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Beginning of the End for Religious Bigotry Laws

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

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

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 This nation fought a Civil War over whether or not Federal law superseded “states rights” (“The South” lost BTW, and Federal Law reigns supreme.)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

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

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

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

BONUS:

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

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

 



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

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GOP Responds to Complaints of Obama Acting Unilaterally By Demanding He Have Unilateral Power to Declare War

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, February 16, 2015

Oh Republicans, you poor inconsistent clueless gnats. Yesterday, on no less than three network poli-talk shows (and probably more but I only watch three), Republicans… in the SAME rants mind you… defended refusing to budge on tying the “Homeland Security” budget to rescinding President Obama’s “illegal and unconstitutional” Executive Order not to prosecute the “Dreamers” (which IS Constitutional and completely within his powers)… only seconds later to decry President Obama asking that the power of the president to unilaterally declare war be stripped from him and returned to Congress like the Constitution requires. People (and I use that term lightly), either you want the president to adhere to the Constitution or you don’t. Make up your minds.

The “War Powers” Clause, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the United States Constitution reads:

The Congress shall have the power…

(11) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water.

Only Congress has the power to Declare War and arm fighters (I’d love to go off on a tangent here on how this might relate to the Second Amendment, but some other day). The Constitution gives the president the power to “enact” (ie: administer or carry out) that war once it has been declared, but it’s pretty clear the power to commit the nation to war was never supposed to reside in the hands of one person.

One week after 9/11, Congress passed the AUMF, Authorization to Use Military Force, giving President Bush the “[authority to] use [the] United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States. (emphasis mine). It was strictly concerning 9/11, that’s it.

In 2002, President Bush could not cite the 2001 AUMF against “those who attacked us on 9/11″ as giving him power to threaten Saddam Hussein into giving up weapons he didn’t have, so Congress instead passed a separate AUMF:Iraq, specifically citing the actions of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, arguing that it would give President Bush the leverage he needed to avoid war with Iraq. Democrats foolishly voted with Republicans to give him that power, which he quickly used to Declare War against Iraq even after Iraq started to comply with his demands.

13+ years later, President Obama continues to exercise the military authority granted to him by the 2001 & 2002 AUMF’s… not exactly willingly BTW, but the result of Congress refusing to reclaim the authority granted only to them by the Constitution, leaving the president with no choice but to rely on the AUMF’s in order to go after new threats like ISIS (which didn’t exist in 2001/2002). ISIS didn’t “attack us on 9/11″ as per AUMF2001, and didn’t even exist to be in “non-compliance” with us as per AUMF2003. President Obama believes it’s time for Congress to take responsibility and stop dumping the choice off on him.

Republican after Republican (Chris Wallace & The Power Panel on Fox “news” Sunday and John McCain on “Meet the Press”) were aghast that President Obama would dare “strip the power” of the president to use military force on his/her say so alone (a power the president is not supposed to have in the first place) and dump it back in Congress’ lap (I remember telling Republicans in 2007/2008 not to “give Bush any power they didn’t want a President Hillary Clinton to have.”)

Meanwhile, in the SAME breath, they also defended possibly refusing to renew funding for the Department of Homeland Security until Democrats caved on “President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional Executive Order” placing a moratorium on the prosecution of “Dreamers” (undocumented immigrant children that have lived in the U.S. for at least five years.)

That’s right. Without a hint of irony, Republicans are demanding President Obama retain the unconstitutional powers they abdicated to the Presidency while simultaneously blasting him for exercising his Constitutional power as the Chief Executive on the grounds that such power is “unconstitutional”.

Can you hear me now, Mr. Speaker?

BTW: the second half of Clause 11… “make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”… if Congressional Republicans are so eager to bestow A1S8C11 powers upon the president, I’d demand they transfer ALL the powers stated in that clause over to him and then promptly shutdown Gitmo. Then just watch how quickly they take that power back.
 



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Filed in fake scandals, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Unconstitutional February 16th, 2015 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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If Republicans Sue Obama, Democrats MUST Impeach Bush for Commiting Same Crime

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, August 11, 2014

In 1867, two years after the assassination of President Lincoln, the Republican Party was in open revolt against a Republican president, threatening him with impeachment. In an attempt to reach out to the Southern states, President Lincoln replaced his 1st term vice president Hannibal Hamlin with Andrew Johnson… a Republican, but from the Southern state of Tennessee. Lincoln, who had just defeated the South, was barely a month into his second term (inaugurations were held in March back then) when he was assassinated and succeeded by the Southerner Johnson, who was quick to veto a series of bills he thought unfairly punished the Rebel states (okay, I admit, this is a bit of an over-simplification). Ironically, had Lincoln of lived, he probably would have done the same thing. But in the current climate, Johnson was branded a “traitor” that needed to be impeached. And they did. And for 222 years of this nations history, that was the one & only time Congress had ever attempted to impeach a president. (on this 40th anniversary of Nixon’s resignation, bear in mind he only did so to avoid an impeachment he was sure to lose.) Then came Bill Clinton, for whom Republicans went on a six year binge of dirt-digging to try and… first defeat, and when that failed, impeach him… NOT for any crime he committed as president, but for lying to a Grand Jury during one of those dirt-digging investigations that they had no business holding in the first place. And now, just one term removed since the last Democratic president, the GOP is at it again, threatening to “sue” President Obama (while others openly talk of impeachment) for refusing to “uphold the law” (in this case, delaying the ObamaCare mandate, something they actually wanted.) One has to wonder if this is going to be the GOP’s S.O.P. from now on every time a Democrat wins a second term?

The problem is, the “crime” President Obama is supposedly guilty of, just about every prior president is also guilty of (and far worse). So if President Obama is guilty of a crime, so is his predecessor, George W Bush.

First Republicans thought they had something with “Fast & Furious”… the FBI Code Name for an operation to track the legal “straw-man” sale of guns in this country only to be transported across the border into Mexico. But that went nowhere fast (which made Republicans furious).

Then came “Benghazi”. But that’s really more about derailing Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations than it is about President Obama. And now that a NINTH investigation… this one actually chaired by Republicans… has cleared the White House of any wrong-doing any chance of using it to impeach Obama are as remote as Sarah Palin’s chances of becoming president.

Any dreamt-of attempt to link the imaginary Cincinnati IRS “scandal” to President Obama was a desperate long-shot at best. Oh they tried. Mightily. But even the most rabid partisan Republican Congressman knew they were grasping at straws at the off chance that the White House might have actually been micromanaging tiny individual IRS offices. That’s why you probably heard occasional claims of other IRS offices in other states supposedly guilty of the same thing, in hopes of bolstering the idea that what happened in Cincinnati was just part of a nation-wide effort by the White House to instruct IRS offices across the nation to target “Tea Party” groups for extra scrutiny. But no “nationwide effort” was ever uncovered, and so went that as a possible route towards impeachment.

More recently, it was the possibility that President Obama might unilaterally bestow “amnesty” upon the tens of thousands of Central American refugee children flooding across the Mexican border. But you can’t impeach someone for something they haven’t done yet. Threatening to impeach him might keep him from doing something, but Republicans don’t want to simply keep President Obama “in check”, they want him GONE… like yesterday.

That just leaves “ObamaCare”… which to their dismay, withstood a Supreme Court challenge as Constitutional, making it “the law of the land”. When the law passed in 2009, Republicans demanded that it not take effect until AFTER the next election (in hopes that a newly elected Republican president would repeal it before it ever went into effect. Democrats agreed and put it in the bill. Despite this accommodation, not a single Republican voted for it anyway.) But when President Obama won re-election handily, their next big concern was that rapidly approaching “March 2013″ deadline for the “mandate” that everyone must have insurance. “Too fast!” “Not enough time!” “We’re totally unprepared because we were positive we’d win in November and the law would never take effect!” So now, Republicans and Republican-friendly corporations started begging President Obama for “more time!” to comply with the mandate. Seeing as how such a task might require more time for the largest corporations, President Obama agreed and instructed the IRS to delay any noncompliance penalties for large corporations.

And despite doing exactly what Republicans and big businesses wanted, Republicans took the President’s gesture as PROOF that the entire law is bad and will hurt big business. And by “not enforcing [this portion of] the law”, he is guilty of “a crime”… which is an impeachable offense. But since an impeachment would be a pointless waste of time without control of the Senate (and be hugely unpopular with voters tired of their partisan nonsense), they have instead opted for just “suing” him for “not enforcing the law”… a law mind you THEY DON’T WANT ENFORCED.

So, what’s the logic here (as if there actually is any)? Sue the president for delaying the mandate, and if you win, screw over all those (once Republican-friendly) corporations into having to comply with the mandate… now with even LESS time to comply since they thought Obama had given them some breathing room.
 

Have you REALLY thought this out guys? (Look who I’m asking. The same people that rushed us into Iraq without an exit strategy.)
 

The problem is, if President Obama is guilty of a “crime” by unilaterally not enforcing part of his own health care law, then former President Bush is also guilty of the exact same “crime” when he delayed implementation of “MediCare Part-D” in 2006. So, if what President Obama did was “a crime”, then President Bush is every bit as guilty and should be impeached.

Now, a lot of people don’t fully understand that term: “impeached”. It doesn’t mean “removal from office” and it doesn’t just apply to sitting presidents. An “impeachment” is a “criminal prosecution” that takes place in the House of Representatives. That’s all. You don’t have to even still be in office to be “impeached”. So “yes”, we can still hold impeachment hearings in the House for President Bush (and Vice President Cheney too if we were so inclined) retroactively. Hell, we could even go back and impeach Andrew Johnson again… not that it would do any good.

The media has wasted a lot of energy the past two weeks breathlessly reporting President Obama’s “low approval rating of just 41%”. (It’s a nonsense figure of course, dragged down by absurdly unrealistic Republican disapproval of Obama.) “That’s George W Bush territory” they proclaim! Something odd about any group that believes the the surest route to victory is to acknowledge just how bad the former head of your own Party was.

Let us all hope the GOP does actually attempt to sue Obama before the mid-term elections. Probably the shortest route to Democratic control of The House in November.
 



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Filed in fake scandals, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Unconstitutional August 11th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Is Anyone Surprised Republicans Are Talking Impeachment?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Putin Response to Snowden on Domestic Spying Sounds Awfully Familiar

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

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

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

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

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

Exchange begins around the 1:30 mark:

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personally, I think BOTH are true.
 



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

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A Liberal Look: Snowden No Hero

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 6, 2014

In 1992, the short-lived ABC investigative news program “Primetime Live”, following up on reports by former employees, revealed that national grocery chain “Food Lion” was engaging in “cost cutting measures” that included cleaning old food that had already been tossed in the dumpster (eg: cutting off the discolored spots on broccoli), washing expired meat with bleach and then repackaging it as fresh, and changing the expiration date on meat that had already been on the shelves past their original expiration date. The grocery chain sued ABC News… not for false reporting (though they claimed such) or defamation, but the fact that reporters “lied on their job applications” to gain access behind the scenes. And in 1997, a jury ruled that two of ABC’s journalists had gone “too far”, ruling in favor of “Food Lion”. I remember how incredulous many of us were to learn that jury deliberations took so long (5 days) because one juror, an elderly woman, stubbornly argued that “Food Lion” had done “nothing wrong” and believed the $5.5 million dollar judgement against ABC News wasn’t harsh enough. There was outrage among many in the public… myself included… that ABC should have to pay anything while the grocery chain got off scot-free. They had done us all a great service by exposing “Food Lion’s” practices, and deserved our praise, not slapped with a huge fine that might discourage similar investigations in the future. With that in mind, I now find myself on the opposite side of many of my fellow Liberals because I don’t consider NSA Leaker Edward Snowden to be “a hero” nor a “Whistle Blower”. With a twinge of false modesty, Snowden himself declared, “I’m neither a traitor nor a hero. I’m an American.” No Mr. Snowden, you’re another Wannabee-cop not unlike George Zimmerman. And now there’s a movement to grant Mr. Snowden “clemency” that would allow him to return to the U.S. if he promises to turn over all the data he took and not leak any further information. And I find myself asking, “How is it I can defend ABC for exposing Food Lion’s criminal practices 21 years ago, but not support Edward Snowden today?” Does that make me a hypocrite? It’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for weeks now because my #1 Pet Peeve in this world are hypocrites, and the last thing I want to be accused of is being a hypocrite (synonymous with “Republican” in my book.)

Clemency for Snowden?

That’s the big question. Why promise Snowden that you won’t prosecute him (“clemency” and “pardon” mean the same thing, requiring an admission of guilt, unlike “amnesty” which is protection from prosecution) in exchange for his cooperation? I’m reminded… fairly or unfairly… of promising a kidnapper or thief that you won’t prosecute them so long as they return your belongings safe & sound. Does Snowden deserve to be compared to a kidnapper? Well, he IS threatening further harm to his “hostage” (National Security) if we don’t meet his demands. So there’s that.

One of my favorite movies ever is 2005’s “V for Vendetta” about a man, once tortured by a brutal fascist regime that had taken over the government by staging a fake terrorist attack, who exacts revenge by murdering each of the government officials that brutalized him, murdered hundreds of thousands, and assisted their takeover of England. He is branded a “terrorist” by the government, and then executes a terrorist attack to bring down the brutal and criminal dictatorship that was repressing its citizenry. The movie has become an “anti-hero anthem” among critics of the government, often donning “Guy Fawkes” masks identical to the one worn in the movie, to hide their identity (though the movie character did so partly because he had been disfigured in a fire, not because he was seeking anonymity). Again, I find myself asking, “How is what Snowden doing any different?” (Listen to the linked clip above in the context of Snowden and it does seem to make a convincing case.)

First off, let’s get a few facts straight. Snowden sought out jobs that would give him access to Top Secret information with the intent of revealing it. He wasn’t an investigative reporter sent on assignment by his Editor. He’s not “Woodward & Bernstein”, he’s James O’Keefe. He decided he wanted to play rent-a-cop to expose the extent of NSA wiretapping that was already in the news. He’s not “V”, he’s George Zimmerman. He hadn’t been personally victimized as far as he knew or suffered any detriment by the government misdeeds (not crimes) that he suspected them of doing. He didn’t act on any specific information. He’s not Daniel Ellsberg, he’s Edward Snowden. Neither Hero nor Traitor, but definitely not a “Whistle Blower”. He sought out a job with the intent to “expose something” but knew not what. He took FAR more Top Secret info than he could possibly have read (over 20,000 documents by some estimates), has threatened to trade on that information for personal gain (seeking asylum), and is now deciding for himself what we do or do not deserve to know.

Even if you disagree with our government’s wholesale warrantless domestic spying program (that began under Bush’s “Patriot Act” and has only grown under Obama), we’re not a brutal fascist dictatorship that rules by fear. That’s the GOP:

Convention of Fear

The 2004 Republican National Convention

Snowden isn’t “exacting revenge” upon the people who “harmed him” personally. And, unlike “V”, in the end (spoiler alert), “V” was willing to die for what he believed in.

Snowden has been described by some on the Right as a “Liberal Hero”. That bugs the crap out of me. Because this is one Liberal that does not consider him a “hero”. And judging by the replies to radio-host Randi Rhodes’ question whether Snowden is a “hero or a traitor?”, many of my fellow Lefties feel the same way.

Before Edward Snowden, there was Private Bradley (turned Chelsey) Manning who leaked to the public the largest collection of Top Secret Intelligence documents in history. Manning didn’t go looking for material to steal. He actually SAW evidence of crimes while on the job that he knew needed to be exposed (most notably the “Baghdad airstrike” video), released the information, accepted responsibility and then stood trial. Snowden’s case is the exact opposite in every instance.

On Fox “news” Sunday yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul cited former Director of National Intelligence “James Clapper” who lied to Congress last March when he testified that the government does not collect “any type of data on hundreds of millions of Americans.” Turns out that was a total lie, and it is only because of Snowden’s leaks that we now know this not to be true. Unsurprisingly, Paul says he does not defend Snowden’s actions and believes he needs to stand trial. This is another of those rare times where Paul & I agree. Snowden’s revelations HAVE exposed some great misdeeds by our government. I shall not deny that. But do the ends justify the means? The 1st Amendment doesn’t protect “Whistle Blowers” from prosecution and being held responsible for their actions. I think that was the lesson we all tried to explain to “Duck Dynasty” fans two weeks ago defending cast member Phil Robertson who was (as it turned out, temporarily) fired after being caught on a viral video going on a jaw-dropping homophobic rant that offended hundreds of thousands (if not millions). Fans of the show protested that Robertson’s “Right to Free Speech” had been “violated” by the network, and it took Liberals like myself to point out that “free speech” is not “freedom from consequences”. Even Fox “news” Sunday shocked me when the entire panel took the side of “A&E” over defenders of Mr. Robertson (a leading Fox demographic), pointing out that “the government” isn’t suppressing Robertson’s ability to speak, he can still go out and say whatever he wants, just not on his employers TV show (at least not then, but in an amazing show of spinelessness, A&E rehired Robertson following a torrent of redneck outrage.)

So does the fact that some good has come from Snowden’s revelations negate the way in which he came by that information? As in the “Food Lion” case I spoke of earlier, exposing Food Lion didn’t aid those who wish to harm us. Unlike Snowden’s revelations, lives were not put at risk by ABC’s revelations. ABC’s reporters weren’t vigilantes operating on their own seeking personal glory, and when the s#it hit the fan, they accepted responsibility as their network went to trial. So, No, I don’t consider myself a hypocrite for defending REAL “whistle blowers” like ABC News or Private Manning while condemning the actions of Edward Snowden. I hope you agree.
 

Snowden trading on secrets

Note: I added a new video to our “FREE MOVIES” section: “Freedom Fries: And Other Stupidity We’ll Have to Explain to Our Grandchildren”; a look at the linking of “Patriotism” to “Consumerism”. Enjoy!

 


 


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Filed in Crime, Rants, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me, Unconstitutional January 6th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Why Don’t We Question Close Races AFTER We Win to See Why They Were So Close?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013

I don’t know why, but before every election in recent memory, we hear lots of reports of Republican attempts to disenfranchise tens of thousands (millions?) of legitimate legal voters all in the name of “protecting elections from (non-existent) voter fraud”. So they pass laws, new restrictions, and implement despicable practices like “voter caging” to stop LEGAL voters… uncoincidentally typically the young, poor, minorities, or any combination thereof, that just happen to vote Democrat… from voting. These attempts to stop tens of thousands of registered voters from exercising their Constitutional rights rarely make the news and gets a lot of Democrats very upset prior to the election. But then AFTER the election, once the Democrat wins ANYWAY (often by a razor-thin margin), no one ever seems to go back and wonder WHY the election was “so close” in the first place. We seem happy just to have won, so why poke the bear? Last week we saw this in action in Virginia, where polling showed the Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe leading the scandal-ridden, homophobic, Rightwing social-extremist Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli by as much as 15 points in one poll (and an average of nearly 7 points, and growing, the day before the election) only to win by just 2.5% once all the votes were in. And no one seems to be asking, “How did that happen?”

The loser in this particular race, Cuccinelli, actually seemed to concede what an awful candidate he was in his own concession speech, arguing that the final result was so close “because of (a public rejection of) Obamacare”. Translation: “I was a terrible candidate and the race wouldn’t have even been close had it not been for people voting in protest of ObamaCare!” Which is an awful argument on two fronts. Besides admitting that if it weren’t for “ObamaCare”, you probably would have lost even worse, but the fact is the “PRO-ObamaCare” candidate WON, meaning that more people apparently like the program than don’t.

So why was the Virginia race WAY closer than any of the polls predicted? Maybe the fact that three weeks before the election, the GOP-controlled board of elections purged 38 THOUSAND registered voters from the elections rolls, most of whom by no coincidence fell into the Democratic demographic of young, poor & minorities. McAuliffe’s margin of victory was just 55,000 votes in a state with nearly 2 million votes cast.

The danger here of allowing Republicans to believe that the election was actually closer than it actually was while disregarding the tens of thousands they likely disenfranchised, is that it allows them to believe falsehoods like “ObamaCare is wildly unpopular”, “the Shutdown is the only reason Cuccinelli lost” or “if they had just spent more money on the Cuccinelli campaign, he would have won”, and therefore allow them to continue to their obstructionist ways and continue to push far-right legislation in the false belief that that’s what the people actually want. They then push the idea that the public is “evenly divided” and that there’s more support out there for the GOP Platform than there actually is, and the public… not knowing any better… believes it.

In 2008, Obama’s margin of victory over John McCain was SEVEN percent with 66.8 Million votes. Four years later, the margin of victory was cut to just 3.9 percent with Obama receiving nearly one million fewer votes than he did four years earlier despite an overall increase of 1.6 million more voters. Romney received 2.6 million more votes in 2012 than McCain did in 2008. Translation: You must believe either ONE MILLION Obama voters switched to Romney and despite population growth not a single new voter voted for Obama, OR that millions of Democratic votes were not counted because they were prevented from voting (ie: long lines, fewer voting days/hours, voter ID, being forced to vote absentee and then not have those ballots counted, etc.) I report, you decide.

The damage done by not questioning these “mysterious” razor-thin victories after all the polls predicted a comfortable lead prior to Election Day is immense. Democrats scratch their head, wonder what they did wrong, and decide that what the people want is for them to incorporate more Republican ideas into their policies. Meanwhile, Republican spin-meisters get to go around claiming that the election was “so close” because voters are “evenly divided” and don’t necessarily support the policies of the Democratic Party. And, having gotten away with it once, by the next election they push the envelop just a little bit farther. And then farther. And then farther, until election results like Bush/Gore in 2000 become common-place.
 



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Filed in Election, Politics, Unconstitutional, voting November 11th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 2 comments | Add/View

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Time to Liberate the Debt Ceiling Hostage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



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

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What the Debt Ceiling Fight is REALLY About: Impeachment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you starting to see how this all fits together?

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

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

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A Market Plunge/Rally, Trayvon, DOMA, Voting Rights and Paula Deen. The Heat is On.

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

So much has happened these past couple of weeks, I could have spent hours discussing each one: We saw a series of triple-digit plunges in the DOW in just a few days caused by what? GOOD news on the economy. (WTF?) The “Zimmerman Trial” finally got underway… with a Knock-Knock Joke. The Supreme Court declared Same-Sex Marriage legal in states where it is already legal, but left the door open for state-bans where it isn’t… essentially GUARANTEEING an inevitable return to the Supreme Court when a married couple from one state moves to a state where their marriage is not recognized. And while the Supreme Court was extending marriage rights to gay couples, it was taking Voting Rights away from millions of minorities, essentially declaring that racism in the South was dead the same week people excused famed Southern TV Chef Paula Deen for using “The N-Word” because… “she’s from The South and that’s just how they are.” (I wish I could say I was surprised Justice Thomas would vote against the Voting Rights Act, but he’s always been an OREO… and yes, that is meant to be as offensive as it sounds.) And to cap it all off, the nation closed out the first week of Summer with a record-breaking heatwave, with my hometown of Houston hitting a stifling 107′ at 5:00 in the freaking evening (most years the temperature here peaks around 101′ the first week of August.)

Let’s take them one at a time:

First, the Stock Market: I used to write about The DJIA (“DOW Jones Industrial Average”) frequently  during  the  Bush  Presidency. Plunges of 250 points or more became commonplace, culminating with a total collapse of Wall Street and the financial industry Bush’s final year in office. There were no extraordinary one-day gains to balance out the declines, and just about every plunge could be tied to a stupid decision made by The GOP and/or The Bush Administration (the skyrocketing price of oil as a result of invading Iraq; deregulating the financial ratings industry that led to Trillions in bad investments being labeled: “AAA”; and cutting deregulated mortgage interest rates to zero resulting in a wildly over-valued market bubble balanced on the point of a pin).

But during the Obama Administration, I’ve written very little regarding the Stock Market. Primarily, because fluctuations in the DOW of less than 200 points have very little to do with the health of the general economy, and because every series of declines over the past four years have been brief, followed soon after by upswings that more than made up for the losses.

The DOW, at its lowest point following the Bush Presidency and the Financial Collapse, barely a month after Obama took office, bottomed out at 6,443.27 on March 6, 2009. Last month, the DOW closed at a record high of just over 15,400… that’s an increase of almost 240 percent in just four years. If President Obama is a “Socialist”, he’s a piss-poor one.

So what caused last week’s momentary 800-point drop in the DJIA over 3 days a few weeks ago? Believe it or not, “good” news from the Federal Reserve that the economy is recovering so well that it may be able to halt “quantitative easing” (IE: “Stimulus”)… pumping $85 Billion dollars a month into the economy. On that news, the price of Gold and Treasury Bonds plunged because Gold & Bonds are where you put your money when the economy is bad. Fears that the Fed would stop pumping money into the economy brought about fears that they might also raise interest rates to keep the economy from growing too fast. But quickly, cooler heads prevailed as news of a healthy economy might actually be a good thing, and the DOW is already back up near the 15K mark.

Oh, and the S&P 500 saw its best six months since the heights of the Clinton Bull Rally in 1998.

Next is the “Zimmerman” trial over the murder of Travon Martin. As you already know, Zimmerman’s lawyer opened with a Knock-Knock joke, but that’s probably not the most damaging thing he did to his clients’ case last week. He is NOT using the “Stand Your Ground” law as the basis of his client’s defense, and with good reason. As Zimmerman’s lawyer himself pointed out, “Travon Martin was not unarmed that night”, pointing out that Martin “didn’t have a gun or a knife that night”; his weapon was “the concrete sidewalk”. So basically, he just admitted Trayvon was “standing his ground using the sidewalk as his only weapon”. Had he of used a gun, he might have shot & killed his stalker… who was armed with a gun himself and confronted Martin with it in the middle of the night… at which point Martin would have been arrested and thrown in jail for murdering Zimmerman. Trial not included.

The moment Zimmerman… who is not a police officer… left his mother’s basement with a gun to play “rent-a-cop” in the middle of the night the moment he saw a black kid walk past his window, he himself was responsible for anything that happened. And we know WHY he left his home to pursue Martin: Because “they always get away”, he is heard saying on the 911 tape after the operator asked him if he was following Martin and told him “We don’t need you to do that.” But a young black guy… for whom there was NO reason to suspect had done anything other than walk through the neighborhood at night… was “about to get away”. After doing what? There were no alarms going off. No one shouting, “I’ve just been robbed!” I find it hard to believe even Zimmerman could mistake a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles for handfuls of stolen property. So why exactly was Zimmerman following him? Why did he think it necessary to “call the police” and detain Martin himself until they arrived?

Think about it? Why was Zimmerman following Martin?

Zimmerman… armed with a gun and was stalking Martin in the dead of night, then confronted Martin. Probably even pulled his gun on him and ordered him to stop. At some point, they came in close enough contact to grab one another and fight. Unarmed, Martin used the only weapon within reach: the concrete… as Zimmerman’s own lawyer pointed out. Now in a struggle he himself provoked without regard for the consequences (what if Martin HAD been an armed robber? Was it wise for Zimmerman to put himself in harms way?), he pulled out his gun and killed the man he himslf provoked a confrontation with.

The fact that anyone in this insane country even thinks Zimmerman has a leg to stand on here, justifying the need for a trial, highlights just how screwed up our gun-crazy culture has become in this country.

Next, we saw the Supreme Court rule of Marriage Equality. While the High Court’s narrow 5/4 ruling is seen as a victory for the Gay Rights movement, the ruling basically threw the decision back to the states.

Now here is where it gets clear as mud: The Supreme Court basically ruled that a state law establishing Marriage Equality is just as valid as a state law BANNING Marriage Equality. So basically, the highest court in the land that rules on the National efficacy of a law, has declared that something can be both legal AND illegal at the same time depending upon where you live. Why do I get the feeling this isn’t over?

The Supreme Court also decided to strike down key parts of the 1965 “Voting Rights Act”, calling it “outdated” because “times have changed”. No word on their updated ruling on The Second Amendment.

And finally, a record heatwave was parked over most of the Southern United States last week, tying & breaking records across the U.S.. But don’t worry, Global Warming is still a hoax and we’ll be seeing snow in July any minute now.

Any minute now.

I said, “any minute now.”

Hello? Snow? Where are you? Hey, I’d settle for a cool breeze right about now.

(Oh, and an update on Mom. If you read last weeks post, things are not going well and my mother had had a bit of a setback, unconscious in the ICU, I’ve been visiting her hospital bed every day now and hoping for things to improve. As such, I haven’t been as on top of the news as much as I might otherwise have been, and posting may become a bit erratic in the common weeks. Hopefully, Mom’s recovery will be swift and full. – Mugsy)
 



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Filed in Crime, Economy, Global Warming, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Politics, Racism, Rants, Unconstitutional July 1st, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 7 comments | Add/View

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Revealing Surveillance Methods Just Result In More Complex Surveillance

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 10, 2013

Back in the 1980’s/90’s, the National Security Agency (NSA) was so top secret, the joke around Washington was that “NSA” stood for “No Such Agency”, because no one would even confirm its existence. I can remember when saying that you believe such a super-secret agency even exists made you sound like a conspiracy nut. But in January of 2000 (under President Clinton), the existence of the NSA was finally confirmed. Not only was it real, but had been around since 1951 (or 1948 under a different name). The reason for the sudden big reveal? Republican investigations into the anti-terrorism surveillance activities of the Clinton Administration had made its existence all but common knowledge. The endless GOP investigations into the Clinton Administration had found that the NSA had been instructed to monitor all electronic communications for terrorist threats. Cellphones were exceedingly rare, and the Internet was still in its infancy, so the bulk of surveillance was electronic monitoring of phone calls for word combinations like “bomb” & “target”. AlQaeda was already a huge and growing threat with a series of bombings and terrorist attacks across the Middle East (see the Khobar Towers bombing and the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Kenya & Tanzania). Thanks to the GOP’s obsession with bringing down President Clinton, the terrorists now knew that we were monitoring them, driving terrorist activities further underground. There was no longer any point in denying the existence of The National Security Agency, thus the big reveal. And so it continues. Republicans scream about violations of privacy when a Democrat is in the White House even if it jeopardizes public safety, and dismisses the president’s critics when a Republican is in office. The more they reveal, the more they “tip our hand” to the terrorists, forcing the NSA to become more intrusive trying to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. (I won’t be arguing the merits of the surveillance program here, only how it is being made worse by revealing its practices.)

It has been odd this past week listening to Progressives who feel upset & critical of President Obama (expressing everything from dismay to an outright feeling of betrayal), while many Republicans (like Bill Kristol) defend him. But there are also Republicans who… without a hint of shame or irony… are attacking Obama for doing the same thing as President Bush as just “one more example” of him using the government to trample our Civil Liberties (along with the IRS “scandal” and “Fast & Furious”)… unlike the guy who gave us The PATRIOT Act.

I am decidedly torn on the surveillance program. Personally, I was more bothered by the Bush Administration eschewing the FISA Court and Congress for permission than by the surveillance itself:
 

Bush 2004: Wiretapping only with a (FISA) court order.
Bush 2006: FISA was written in 1978
(explaining why they didn’t bother seeking a court order.)

 
Flash forward to yesterday (June 9, 2013):

Former NSA Director Gen. Michael Hayden on Fox “news” Sunday says
Obama has added “incredible oversight mechanisms” to surveillance program:


 
So the idea that what Bush did and President Obama is doing are “the same thing” is horse-pucky. In fact, the more we learn about the surveillance program under Obama, the more the argument against it falls apart. Where the Bush Administration flat out lied about seeking permission to do something clearly illegal, the Obama Administration has gone out of its way to keep the program “above board”.

But can’t such monitoring also be a good thing? In England, “CCTV” (Closed Circuit Television) cameras are everywhere as a crime-fighting tool. The 7/7/2005 London Bombings suspects were captured & convicted thanks to being spotted on surveillance cameras positioned throughout the city. And knowing that the cameras are there has likely proved as a deterrent against future attacks.

Others see such invasive surveillance as a “Big Brother” government invasion of privacy. ThinkProgress stated on Saturday that the tangible harm of these programs is that it “changes your behavior” so that even people who never do anything wrong feel they must act/behave a certain way for fear of reprisal.

Well, I’ve got news for you: You just defined RELIGION… the belief that an omnipotent being with the power to punish you is watching your every move to ensure that you’re being a good little boy or girl.

This also defines Santa Claus.

Americans are perfectly fine with the idea of “being constantly watched” as a means of “protection” and “behavior modification”. So anyone that whines about “Big Brother” on their way to church on Sunday… clearly you have no problem with the concept, so what’s your beef?

Conservative columnist Matt Dowd on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday pointed out that “the same Conservatives supporting NSA snooping as an acceptable violation of their Civil Liberties in exchange for a little safety are the very same people unwilling to accept even the most modest gun control laws. I love when someone points out glaring Conservative hypocrisy.

But I digress.

As the presidents’ (whomever he may be) critics publicly reveal more & more about the types of information that is gathered, the MORE information they’ll have to collect as a result of our enemies now knowing what devices/words we are monitoring. If the president’s critics reveal we are checking Hotmail accounts for word like “bomb” and “embassy” in close proximity (the way I just did meaning this Op/Ed has been flagged as you have been too for reading it), they’ll just start using Yahoo mail instead and substituting words like “comb” or “qwoq” for what they really mean, making it tougher to catch them.

Some argue that there’s an upside to all this: Tell them that we’re monitoring cell phones and they’ll go back to using land lines. Tell them that we’re reading their emails and they’ll switch to snail-mail, greatly slowing down and hindering their efforts.

Problem is, our enemies are tech savvy now too. They’re not going to rely on “Smoke Signals” or “the Pony Express” (as suggested by Mary Matalin on ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday) to avoid having their communications intercepted, they’re going to get MORE sophisticated, not “less”. Hell, alQaeda publishes its own online magazine on its own website. Does anyone REALLY believe they’re going to get LESS sophisticated to avoid detection? Of course not. All these “revelations” do are push our enemies into using more complex methods to avoid detection, forcing US in turn to become ever more invasive. By that logic then, all we need to do is simply lie about how powerful we are and our enemies will just give up trying to attack us. (Hey, it worked for Saddam, right?)

We are sweeping up more data now because we’ve revealed the existence of these programs, putting our enemies on alert. We had all the information needed to prevent 9/11 before the attack without the extensive invasion of our privacy that we see today, we just didn’t analyze that data in time to prevent the attack. We didn’t have to collect the MASSIVE amount of data we do today from an infinite number of sources. Now we do because the existence and methods of these agencies have been revealed. These very revelations are driving the ever growing invasions of privacy the critics are screaming about. These leaks aren’t making us safer, and they DEFINITELY aren’t resulting in greater privacy.

Note: M.R.S. will be off next week for Father’s Day but will return to our regular schedule on June 24th.
 



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Filed in Crime, fake scandals, Politics, Terrorism, Unconstitutional June 10th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View

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Why Aren’t Obama’s Scandals Gaining Traction? Because the public knows the messengers have no credibility.

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, June 3, 2013

Bachmann's retirement means a lot of fact-checkers will be laid off.Godwin’s Law states that the longer any political argument goes on, the greater the likelihood is someone will compare the other side to Hitler. It’s a sound law that has withstood the test of time. But not only is it reliable, it points out a very important point when arguing politics: eventually one side… clearly seeing that it is losing… will try to minimize the misdeeds of their side by comparing them to the most objectionable thing everyone can agree upon: The Nazi’s. “What your side did/doing is just like what the Nazi’s did” or “What my side did is nothing compared to what the Nazi’s did”. “Mugsy’s Corollary” to Godwin’s Law is that Republicans will compare “fake scandals” invented by the GOP to very real scandals that took place under a Republican Administration (Nixon/Reagan/Bush-II) to suggest: “both sides do it”, “both sides are equally guilty” and lately, “Bush’s scandals were nothing compared to Obama’s.” We saw it during the Clinton Administration. It seemed like every week there was a new “scandal”. Rachel Maddow reminded everyone on her show last Thursday of how the GOP spent weeks (and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars) to investigate “the White House Christmas Card List”. I’d add to that “infinite playlist” of imaginary scandals: the investigation into “Socks”… the White House cat’s… fanclub letters (“who paid for the postage?”) GOP scandal-mongering in the late 90’s didn’t just border on the ridiculous, it sailed over that cliff like Thelma & Louise. The initial unspoken intent of the scandal-mongering back then was to limit Bill Clinton to a single term. But following Clinton’s re-election, the GOP scandal-machine went into overdrive to try and ensure he didn’t finish out his second term. And now we are seeing it again. In Obama’s first term, with no real scandals to pursue, Conservatives prattled on about “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” and the “Secret Muslim” nonsense to try and paint the president as an “other”. But by 2012, with desperation creeping in, we started hearing about “Fast and Furious” and (late in the game): “Benghazi”. And now, just months into Obama’s second term, we have no fewer than THREE almost legitimate “scandals” (“Benghazi”, “IRS scrutinizing Tea Party groups applying for tax-free status”, and the subpoena of reporter’s phone records to track a WH leak) with (almost certainly) more on the way, Republicans are crowing about a recent poll that shows President Obama Job Approval falling three whole points (polls are a fickle thing) the same month The Stock Market hits another record high, new home sales are up 10.3% in just one year, and Consumer Confidence hits “a five year high”. A 3-point decline is cause for celebration? (Fox “news” Sunday spent a good portion of their show yesterday making hay of it.) I guess they have to take their victories where they can find them. Maybe these “scandals” aren’t gaining any traction because they’re not scandals?

If I hadn’t heard it with my own ears, I’d of of thought it was a joke or taken out of context. Two notorious Right-wing bomb-throwers… RW radio host Laura Ingraham and WaPo’s columnist Jeniffer Rubin both tried to compare the made-up “IRS scandal” to the outing of undercover CIA Agent Valery Plame:
 

On subject of AG Holder investigating a Fox reporter to track down a WH leak:

Ingraham: …just like that: “We [the AG’s office] never thought we would prosecute him [Fox reporter James Rosen].” Well, what were you really after here? I think… there’s so many questions.” … “for people to just blow this off [as] overreach by the Republicans. How many times did we hear about overreach in the Valery Plame prosecution? I don’t remember one time.

Rubin: “But he [Obama] has not sent out an order as George Bush did in the Valery Plame decision, “I do not want anyone in this Administration to refuse to cooperate.

 
“Mugsy’s Corollary” in action. These two pundits are ACTUALLY claiming the Bush Administration was “cooperative” in the Plame investigation. Is that how you remember it? Because I sure as hell don’t. The person all of us are quite certain gave the order to leak the identity of Ambassador Wilson’s wife, Vice President Dick Cheney, never testified under oath before the Special Prosecutor. Oh, he (and Bush together) agreed to testify, but only until assurances they would not have to do so “under oath”. Rove had to be subpoenaed FOUR times because new evidence kept coming to light that he “conveniently” left out of his prior testimonies. Libby was actually prosecuted/convicted for “obstruction of justice” for refusing to admit who gave him permission to leak the fact “Ambassador Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.” To hear these two tell it, President Bush had no tolerance for anyone wishing to obstruct justice. Yet, not only do we STILL not know (for a fact) who gave the order to leak Ms. Plame’s identity, but Bush commuted Libby’s prison sentence. Absolute models of integrity that Bush Administration was.

Ingram ends by noting that she can’t remember one time anyone… not just the White House, but “people” in general… accused the Plame Investigation of “overreach”. REALLY? The White House itself never accused Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald of “overreach” primarily because Fitzgerald didn’t “overreach”. In fact, quite the opposite. To the consternation of most Democrats, Fitzgerald “limited the scope of his investigation” from the get-go:
 

Fitzgerald: “The Special Counsel is limited by the specific scope of the investigation he was directed to conduct. Accordingly, the Special Counsel cannot make any decisions that extend beyond his express jurisdiction. The Court further concluded that the Special Counsel had no authority to disregard Department of Justice policies promulgated by the Attorney General [Gonzales].”

 
The Bush White House might not have accused the Special Prosecutor of “overreach” itself, but accusations that Fitzgerald was going “beyond his assignment” was the mating call of the injured RW Loon for nine months. Another reason the Bush White House didn’t cry “prosecutorial misconduct” is because there was no question a crime had been committed… unlike these made-up scandals under Obama. What is the “crime” of Benghazi? “Failing to provide additional security”? I’m pretty sure you’re not going to find that law on the books. The “IRS scandal”? NOT ONE SINGLE RIGHT-WING APPLICANT WAS DENIED their application (which is a scandal unto itself). If the IRS was abusing it’s authority, it did a really lousy job of it (and as TV’s Stephen Colbert pointed out, you don’t need to “wait for approval” to declare yourself a 501(c)4 and start accepting anonymous tax-free contributions.) And the AP/Leak investigation? As the HuffPo reported a few weeks ago:
 

Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has ruled that information recorded by third parties like cellphone carriers is not protected by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment safeguards against unreasonable searches. So law enforcement need not obtain a warrant from a judge to gain access to records of who we call and when.

 
The AP is (rightly) concerned that if the government can see the phone records of everyone that called a particular reporter, and potential informants know that, they’ll stop talking. The problem here is that The AP is accepting NONE of the responsibility for publicly revealing sensitive national security information (regarding what we knew of North Korea’s missile program.) Someone in the White House revealed Top Secret information to the Press. And rather than ask, “Should you be telling us this?” and/or “Is the public’s right-to-know on this matter more important than National Security?”, they just printed it anyway without regard for the consequences. Maybe if The AP had shown just a little discretion, there would be no reason for “legitimate” sources to be concerned for their privacy. If there was a “crime” here, it was committed by whomever leaked that information to The Press. And the White House needs to know so it can prosecute that person. Compare that to the leaking of the identity of Valery Plame, where the goal of the White House was to PROTECT the leaker, not seek them out for prosecution.

Last week also brought the announced retirement of Michele Bachmann: Self-proclaimed leader of the Teanuts and Conspiracy Theorist-in-Chief. I don’t think there’s an “Oh-BHA-MA” conspiracy she didn’t buy into whole-hog. And like all Obama-hating Conspiracy Theorists, she never bothered to verify anything she was (supposedly) told (see: seven-foot doctor” or “mother who told her HPV vaccine caused mental retardation in children”) before repeating it on national TV claiming it was “the God’s honest truth”. If it confirms your own worst fears, why would you want to debunk it?

That just leaves us with Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Darryl Issa, Jim Inhoffe… ah, the Hell with it. The whole damn GOP. As Bob Dole so accurately pointed out last week, neither he, nor Reagan nor “certainly not Nixon” could get elected by today’s FAR FAR Right GOP. And that’s why the Public isn’t running for the pitchforks & torches over any of these made-up “worse than Watergate” imaginary “scandals”: they are well acquainted with the Messengers.

UPDATE 6/4/13: DailyKOS charts how President Obama’s approval rating has barely budged over the past three months because the primary concern of voters isn’t the IRS or Benghazi, “it’s the economy, Stupid”, and that seems to be improving.
 



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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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Filed in fake scandals, Jobs, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Insanity, Taxes, Unconstitutional June 3rd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 4 comments | Add/View