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Which Was Worse? Snowden’s Revelations or Cheney’s?

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

The latest big-reveal by self-proclaimed “whistle-blower” Edward Snowden over the weekend was the fact that the U.S. government has been using/abusing its electronic surveillance capabilities… intended to protect Americans from terrorism… for “industrial espionage” purposes, providing Corporate America with high-tech secrets from foreign corporations. Set aside for a moment the distasteful notion that we are abusing a massive government anti-terrorism program to profit mega-corporations, because I have a feeling we’re not the only ones. Instead, consider this: Which was more harmful to National Security? Revelations by Snowden about the misuse of the NSA for corporate profit, or members of the Bush White House endangering national security (and likely the lives of numerous agents & informants) just to punish their political enemies? I’m serious. In any sane world, which should be more deserving of outrage? It’s a thought that struck me while listening to the Sunday talk shows yesterday, wondering, “Is Snowden a foreign spy?”, “Did he get help from the Russians?” “Should he be given clemency in exchange for stopping the leaks? Talking heads breathlessly covered Snowden’s latest interview from Russia with a German reporter, where he revealed… with a smile on his face no less… that the American government has been using the NSA to spy on some of the world’s biggest corporations.

Anyone who read my piece three weeks ago questioning the legitimacy of Snowden’s labeling himself as a “whistle-blower” knows I’m no fan of his. Hey, I’m as glad as anyone that this information about abuses of government power is getting out, and hopefully positive changes will come from it. But Snowden’s a glory-hound that decided to take it upon himself to expose rumored government spying on American citizens (remember, we ALREADY KNEW about warrantless wiretapping since the Bush Administration) and who sought out a high-security job with the specific intent of stealing top secret information without actually knowing if abuses he suspected were taking place were in fact taking place. On top of all that, he is deciding for himself what we do or do not deserve to know. He’s unwilling to face justice the way any legitimate reporter or true “whistle-blower” would because he knows he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. So let’s be clear that what I write today should in no way be misconstrued as in defense of Edward Snowden. My point is that, compared to what The Bush White House… and Dick Cheney in particular… revealed about our National Security apparatus in the name of partisan politics was FAR worse with FAR greater National Security implications, resulting in little-to-no outrage on the right (in fact, ranging from indifference to outright support.)

I first detailed the Valery Plame case following the conviction of Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, “Scooter” Libby, in 2007. Libby was convicted of “Obstruction of Justice” for not only refusing to reveal who instructed him to leak the true identity of “Ambassador Wilson’s wife”, but for deliberately misleading investigators attempting to figure it out on their own. Libby should have gone to jail, but President Bush commuted Libby’s sentence because he felt losing his law license and paying a stiff fine were punishment enough for destroying a high-value intelligence asset whose job it was was to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, obliterating any future value of the secret CIA front-company she worked for (“Brewster/Jennings”) that took decades to establish, and endangering not only her life but the lives of every employee that ever worked for the CIA front and any foreign asset known to have associated with them. All of it, gone (and placed in grave danger) in the blink of an eye.

And why did they do it? To undermine the credibility of the guy that exposed their lie about an “Iraqi nuclear program” as justification for war. (And whether or not the Bush Administration also leaked the name of alQaeda informant “Noor Khan” three months before the November election just to score some cheap political points with the voters, we may never know.)

Now compare that to Edward’s Snowden’s yawn-inducing revelation that the government is (still) spying on American citizens and abusing its power to benefit Big Business (that STILL contributed heavily to the Romney campaign.) Now you tell me, which revelation was more damaging to National Security and deserving of more outrage?

 



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Filed in Crime, National Security, Politics, Scandals January 27th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Guest Blogger: A Degree Of Civilization; The American Prison System

By Ebon - Last updated: Monday, January 20, 2014

The degree of civilization in a society may be judged by entering it’s prisons” ~ Dostoevsky

Pop quiz, kids: Which nation has more of it’s populace imprisoned than any other country on earth?

Nope, it’s not China. It’s not Russia either. Cuba? Good guess but they’re number five. According to Wikipedia (which has it’s problems but is generally fairly reliable), the number one prison population on earth is the USA, both per capita and in sheer numbers. In per capita terms, the US locks up around 743 people per 100k. In absolute terms, the BBC tells me that there are 2,193,798 people in prison in the USA. Obviously, that number rises and falls slightly each day as people get imprisoned and released but still, over 2 million people. Red China, where the government is outright oppressive and dictatorial, has around 1.5 million under lock and key but free and democratic America has two million and change locked down.

Of those, around a quarter are there for drug offenses of various kinds. That’s the population of San Bernadino locked up for drug offenses. According to the Department of Justice, 17% of state and 18% of federal prisoners committed their crimes to obtain money for drugs (Bureau of Justice). According to DrugWarFacts.org, around fifty thousand total are held purely for offenses relating to cannabis. Full disclosure: I haven’t smoked pot in about twenty years but I did when I was a teenager and I’m sure a fair few of you did as well. Were we dumb to smoke pot as teenagers? Yeah, probably. But we were teenagers, making dumb decisions is what teenagers do. Another piece of full disclosure: I think pot should be legalized. Age-restricted but otherwise legal, just like alcohol. I still wouldn’t smoke it because taking any form of mind-altering substance is a very bad idea but it makes no difference to me if my neighbour chooses to smoke a joint rather than have a drink. I also don’t want to turn this into a rant about the virtues of legalising weed (although, if you’ve a mind, Salon has a chilling piece about pot sentences) so let’s move on.

Around 40% of the US prison population are black. According to the Census, black people comprise about 14% of the US population but around 40% of prisoners. What explains that? Well, partly, it’s because black people are more likely to live in poverty and poverty is the most reliable indicator of criminal acts during life but it’s mostly because the average prison sentence handed down to a black guy is 20% longer than the sentence for the same crime committed by a white guy (Wall Street Journal). The 100-1 ratio of crack to cocaine sentences has led to the incarceration of thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Even though that difference has been reduced to 18-1, those prisoners remain in the system. The US prison population was mostly static from 1925 onwards. It started to rise in the late Seventies (as crime always rises during recessions) but then it exploded during the Eighties and onwards (Wikimedia). Why is that?

Two reasons. Firstly, the drug war. Let’s be honest here, the drug war has been lost. It is no more difficult to buy a hit of heroin now than it was in 1975. It hasn’t been a success and it can’t be a success. It can’t be a success due to a basic fact of human nature: Where a demand exists, people will appear to meet that demand. That’s just how things work, a basic law of humanity. So the laws against drugs are commonly broken and, by that breaking, a massive number of people are classified as criminals. Now, proponents of the drug war would argue that the laws against murder are commonly broken so should we abandon them too? That’s a fair question. The difference is that murder harms someone else whereas taking drugs, in and of themselves, harms only the taker. What about the crimes committed to support a drug habit, like theft? What about them? We already have laws against theft and I’m not proposing the legalization of all drugs anyway, just of certain soft drugs like pot.

The other thing that changed was the rise of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This is one of the stupidest movements in human history. The whole reason we have a judge deciding sentencing is so that the sentence can reflect the circumstances of the crime and the perp. Mandatory minimums throw out all that human wisdom in favour of flat sentencing that pays no attention to circumstances. In New York, for example, possessing (note that’s possession, not supply) more than four ounces of any hard drug will get you a minimum of fifteen to life. There are easily found stories of people locked up for life under three-strikes laws for offenses as minor as stealing a slice of pizza or a loaf of bread.

And the US does a lousy job of rehabilitating prisoners as well. We’ve all been shown on tv that prisoners get to complete their education. There are good reasons to educate prisoners. A prisoner who earns their GED inside is half as likely to re-offend. A prisoner who earns their college degree will almost certainly never see the inside of a prison again. You might say it’s unfair that people get sent to prison and get a free education. I would respond that firstly, I’d like to make everyone’s education free and secondly, look at the facts. According to a study conducted by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, every dollar spent on inmate education saves twelve dollars in future crimes (ABC News). Another study by UCLA found that a million dollar investment in incarceration produced 350 jobs while that same million invested in education, produced 600 jobs (ibid.). Prisoners used to be able to apply for Pell grants to cover the cost of their courses but that was eliminated in the mid-Nineties. The result is that there isn’t funding for prisoners to get educated. Prison budgets are constantly being cut and the first thing to go, after the gyms that tv thinks are in every prison, are education programs.

Oh, and your prisons are over capacity as well.

So what happens when the average prisoner gets released? He probably hasn’t had a chance to finish his education. Because of the prejudice against ex-cons (in fairness, not entirely undeserved prejudice), he’s probably not going to be able to get a job. Ex-cons are routinely discriminated against in housing, public assistance and education (Guardian). So what does he do simply to get by? Chances are pretty good he goes back to crime. That’s why the recidivism rate in 2004 was about 67% (Bureau of Justice). In countries that take rehabilitation seriously, like Sweden or Canada, it’s about 35% (Released & Restored).

Some would say that we send people to prison to be punished. But we don’t. The prison is the punishment. With the exception of lifers, we send people to prison in the hopes that prison will, in some rough and ready fashion, turn them into honest people. The lifers, we’re just warehousing them until they die (or, in some cases, executing them) but for the rest, we have to acknowledge that they will eventually be released and, if we want them to become productive members of society, we have to equip them to be productive members of society. That means educating them. It means drug rehab facilities, preferably at the end of their prison stay (works better that way). It means making an effort to ensure that ex-cons can find work. Look, I’m not saying that we can just open the gates and let all prisoners free. That would be stupid and, more importantly, unjust. But it’s also unjust that people whose only offense was puffing a joint years ago should be rotting in jail twenty years later. It’s unjust to impose a life as a member of the underclass on someone who has paid their debt to society.

And that’s not even touching on the subject of private prisons. This is another incredibly stupid idea brought to you by the worship of private enterprise. The states and the Fed already do prisons about as cheaply as it’s possible to do them so the only way private prisons can do it cheaper is to cut corners. Less guards, less nutritious food, less education. And the corporations that run private prisons are going to behave like any other corporation, they’re going to try to maximize their profits. That means they’re going to lobby for more and longer prison sentences. That means that your government, which is already thoroughly corrupted by campaign contributions and lobbying, have every incentive to create more crimes with longer sentences. That means your prison population will continue to grow. And those prisoners are increasingly being used as a profit centre for big businesses too (Global Research). Workers who work for pennies an hour, can’t unionize, can’t refuse to work or quit, who have very few rights and to whom their employers owe nothing. The corporate dream. The rich against the rest, as always.
 



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Filed in Crime, Greed, Guest Blogger, Money, Taxes January 20th, 2014 by Ebon | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Why the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Matters

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Whether NJ Governor Chris Christie actually ordered the closure of three out of the four outgoing lanes of the busiest bridge in the world is almost besides the point now. I’ll assume you already know the story rather than rehash it here. Last Thursday, Christie held a two hour Mea Culpa where he basically told everyone how betrayed he felt by his staff, all of whom assured him there was nothing to the story of how the 4-day closure of the GW Bridge was supposedly an act of political retribution (against whom? Rachel Maddow seems to have come up with a FAR more plausible target than the mayor of Fort Lee). But here’s the big problem with the governor’s “they lied to me” defense: Christie is a former U.S. Attorney. He earned a reputation as a tenacious prosecutor, a reputation he campaigned on when running for governor in 2009. So how is it that a (supposedly) dogged former U.S. attorney was so easily deceived by his own staff. Christie never asked any follow-up questions? “Who decided we needed a ’traffic study’ of the George Washington Bridge and why now? Just what did they expect to find?” “Why did they keep it going for FOUR DAYS even after Fort Lee’s Mayor Sokolich contacted them about how emergency vehicles were being delayed?” And most basic of all: “Where is this ‘traffic study’? Can I see it?” Christie’s defense that he had no idea what his own staffers were doing right under his nose hardly lends to his credibility if he plans on running for president in 2016. Not only did he not ask his staffers any follow-up questions, he is PROUD of his disinterest, declaring during his press conference that he “didn’t know and didn’t care why [they] did it.” But trust me, a prosecutor will be asking that question even if former prosecutor Christie does not.

Maybe Christie didn’t know what members of his own staff were doing right out of his own office. I don’t know. But the “political punishment” behavior does fit a pattern, playing right into his reputation as a vindictive “bully”, so if he wasn’t involved, it definitely rubbed off on his staff, who appear to have taken great pleasure in making the lives of Fort Lee commuters miserable for nearly a week.

In June of 2011, NJ gov Chris Christie went on “Caucus NJ”, a local public broadcast radio show (simulcast on TV for the big event) and took questions for nearly an hour. One questioner named “Gail” asked Christie if his willingness to cut funding for public schools might have something to do with the fact that he himself is wealthy enough to send his children to private school and is therefore unaffected by those cuts. Christie, clearly not listening to the woman, viciously attacked her for asking “where” he sends his kids to school, which any parent in his position could reasonably perceive as a threat. But “Gail” never asked Christie “where” he sends his kids to school, only asking if he felt it fair of him to do to her children something that clearly would not affect his own. He continued lambasting her for questioning the extravagance of sending his kids to private school… again, something she never brought up. His supporters cheered Christie’s defense of his children (whom, as I note, were never criticized nor threatened), and to this day I don’t think anyone has ever pointed out to him that he clearly misheard her, attacking her for things she never said, never did answer her very legitimate question, nor did he apologize for attacking someone for his own mistake.

During his two-hour round of damage control last week, the governor denied any involvement in the closure of the bridge, stating that doing something so vindictive for political purposes was not in his nature, actually telling reporters, “I’m not a bully”. The Daily Show had a bit of fun with that one:
 

The “tone” of the Christie administration (1:11)

“I’m not a bully.” If you’re thinking of Richard Nixon right about now, you’re not alone. Not just for his, “I’m not a crook” moment, but also in the way the circle seems to be closing in on Christie as investigations into top staffers bring us ever closer to the man himself. But the fact is, Nixon was a crook. And Christie also has his share of “shady” backroom deals: “deferred prosecution agreements” with major corporations made while he was still a prosecutor that dogged him while running for office. And last month, Firedog Lake reported on Christie’s stint as a Washington lobbyist, forging connections with some very deep pockets that became major contributors to his gubernatorial campaign a decade later.

The George Washington Bridge Scandal matters because it shines a white hot spotlight on Christie’s two biggest traits: 1) that he’s a bipartisan Republican that knows how to work with political opponents, and 2) that he’s a ”schoolyard bully” that likes to (forgive the pun) throw his weight around. Republicans hated #1 and loved him for #2. Democrats, just the reverse. How will this play out in the days/weeks/months to come? Stay tuned.
 



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Filed in Crime, Election, General, Politics, Scandals January 13th, 2014 by Admin Mugsy | • 5 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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Mugsy’s Annual Predictions for 2014: No more predictions for Syria (kinda)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sylvia Browne

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

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

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

Psychic-to-the-Stars: “Nikki”

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

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

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

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

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

The Psychic Twins

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

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

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

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

Political Prognosticators

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Did.

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

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

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

So now my Predictions for 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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Filed in Economy, Election, General, Guns & Violence, Healthcare, Jobs, Middle East, Partisanship, Politics, Predictions, Religion, Seems Obvious to Me, Taxes, voting, War December 30th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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

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

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

“Candles!”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

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

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

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

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

Mark Fiore: Jesus Rebranded
Jesus Rebranded

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 


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

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Pinging the Bullshit Meter: Gingrich Says Poorest Big Cities All Have Dem Mayors

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 16, 2013

“Sorry Newt, that’s a Bullshit statistic.” That was my immediate reaction to Newt Gingrich’s claim that, “Every major city which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats. Every major city!” He said it as a rebuke to Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s suggestion that the GOP was responsible for the inability of so many people to move out of poverty. Having lived in the South almost my entire life, and in a very tiny town for much of that, if there’s one thing I know: Most dirt-poor rural residents vote Republican. The poorest states in the Union are deep red states like Mississippi and Louisiana, where some of the richest are deep blue like Massachusetts and California. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that “statistic” about “Democrats running the poorest cities” (and “Detroit” always tops their list), but it’s a bit like arguing that ALL Republicans are soulless turds because all of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates were soulless turds. It’s a highly selective feux-”statistic” that is representative of nothing. If nothing else, Gingrich is guilty of wildly over-simplifying the matter.

Wiki (for what it’s worth) lists the top 10 poorest major cities in the United States (w/percentage living in poverty):

  1. Detroit, Michigan – 42.3% – Democratic Mayor
  2. Cleveland, Ohio – 36.1% – Democratic Mayor
  3. Cincinnati, Ohio – 34.1% – Democratic Mayor
  4. Miami, Florida – 31.7% – Republican Mayor
  5. Fresno, California – 31.5% – Republican Mayor
  6. Buffalo, New York – 30.9% – Democratic Mayor
  7. Newark, New Jersey – 30.4% – Democratic Mayor
  8. Toledo, Ohio – 30.1% – Independent Mayor
  9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 29.9% – Democratic Mayor
  10. St. Louis, Missouri – 29.2% – Democratic Mayor

(I would like to point out that Michigan’s Republican governor stripped Detroit’s mayor and City Council of ANY power, declared bankruptcy, and is about to liquidate the city’s assets, treasure-for-treasure, with NO plan to grow the local economy. Of the seven Democratically run cities on that list, FIVE are in states with Republican governors.)

Is the list top-heavy with Democrats? Yes. Is it exclusively Democrats? No. So what does this prove? Nothing. Inner-cities typically have larger minority populations that tend to vote Democratic. So are they poor because they vote Democratic or do they vote Democratic because they’re poor? That same Wiki page lists the Top-100 poorest cities in America regardless of size. By my count, EIGHTY-FOUR of the top-100 poorest cities in America are in Red states (with Texas accounting for more than 1/4 of the 100.) Of the Top TWENTY states with the highest per capita income, only TWO are Red states (Alaska at #8 and Wyoming at #17). The rest are all Blue. of the Top-20 Poorest states, just two are blue states (Michigan, the least poor at #30 and New Mexico at #45.) The rest are all Red.

(I feel I could do a far more in-depth analysis of this nonsense pseudo-”statistic”, looking back at whether previous mayors were Republican or Democrat and which Party’s policies were more responsible for the poor economic conditions in these cities, but that would only lend credibility to this particular bit of nonsense.)

In the 60′s many large cities fell victim to “White Flight”, a phenomena where many affluent whites fled to the suburbs, leaving behind large minority populations in the inner city. Poverty and unemployment are higher among Blacks and Latinos than whites. So it just goes to follow that poverty and unemployment are higher in the city than in the suburbs. They also tend to vote Democrat. Newt and the GOP would have you believe that the poverty-stricken people in these big cities are either too dumb to figure out that voting for Democrats is why they are still poor, or that they’re just lazy and like all the “free stuff” Democrats promise them.

Gingrich has had a problem with viewing Blacks as a different breed of human being altogether. “Poor work ethics” are responsible for their chronic poverty that can be cured if we just gave all their kids janitorial jobs at school, and the only “work” Black kids are interested in is crime where they can make a lot of money with very little effort. They vote Democratic because they’re clearly too stupid to figure out that Republican policies will lift them out of poverty… the way it did under the last two Republican presidents (Bush-I and Bush-II) but not under Clinton (yes, that’s snark.)

Newt Gingrich is just one of those Republicans that bugs the crap out of me. Like Rush Limbaugh. They are race-baiting pseudo-intellectuals that make ridiculous claims with all the authority of Stephen Hawking, pass morality judgements upon others when they themselves are guilty of the same or far worse, and the Media showers them with undeserving praise & respect as authority figures even though they are ALWAYS wrong. And I do mean ALWAYS.
 


 

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Filed in Economy, General, Jobs, Money, myth busting, Politics, Seems Obvious to Me December 16th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Good Economic News Despite Shutdown? Thank low gas prices

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 9, 2013

It’s a point I’ve been making for years: Gas Prices have THE MOST direct impact on the economy than any other factor. When gas prices go up, consumers have less money to spend elsewhere. In addition, the costs of production go up, as does the price of shipping those goods to market. So not only do you have less money to spend, but you’re buying fewer products because the prices have all gone up as well. And when companies sell fewer products, they need fewer employees to MAKE those products… starting a vicious cycle. It would be bad enough if the cost of fuel was the only negative impact, but unlike higher prices for DOMESTIC products where at least the money stays in the United States, most “petro dollars” go overseas and stay there rather than be recycled back into the American economy. The Economic Collapse of 2008 (under two Texas oilmen Bush & Cheney who pined for the days of $50/barrel oil during the 70′s ”energy crisis”) can be traced straight back to the invasion of Iraq and the resulting skyrocketing price of oil & gas (and you thought “Mission Accomplished” was about the end of war in Iraq. Silly you.) This past week brought a bevy of sorely needed good economic news to the Obama Administration. Unemployment fell to just 7.0 percenta full 1.3 points in just the past 16 months (and NOT because of people dropping out the workforce.) Jobless claims plunged to 298,000 and the number of layoffs declined. Even before these positive jobs numbers, the Stock Market also hit a new record high last month as well. And it all happened at a time when everyone expected BAD economic consequences following the Government Shutdown last October and Republican catcalls over the “job-killing” implementation of “Obamacare”. What’s the reason for all this positive economic news in spite of everything Republicans did to derail the economy? Lower gas prices thanks to positive news on the diplomatic front in the Middle East… first with avoiding war with Syria and then the nuclear deal with Iran. So while everyone else is running around scratching their heads trying to figure out “just what went right” for the economy to improve despite all the attempts to sabotage it by the GOP these last two months, know this: Nothing demonstrates better how closely tied our economy is to Energy, and how developing a Green Energy Industry would promote economic growth.

Remember all the Wingnuts complaining about Obama bowing?

On ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, the chronically incredulous Mary Matalin (wife of James Carville) dismissed the good economic news by saying, “This is the worst economic recovery in seven decades!” I responded on Facebook (where I live-blog the network Sunday Shows each week):

Mary Matalin on #ThisWeek says this is “the worst recovery in 7 decades”. It’s also the most partisan obstructive GOP in 7 decades. Coincidence?

Please note that even President Obama’s worst critics must admit that the economy is in “recovery” and not getting worse. In the third quarter on this year, the economy grew at a rate of 3.6%, well above estimates. The Bush Administration used to “brag” incessantly about “52 months of consecutive private sector job growth” just prior to The Great Recession (a streak the Obama Administration will surpass next May). But the economy was astoundingly weak that entire time (and if this chart is to be believed, the growth rate never broke 0.7% during the entire Bush presidency.) They can’t claim President Obama’s economic policies are making the economy “worse”, and lord knows if it were, they’d be blaming yet-to-have-gone-into-effect “Obamacare”. You KNOW that if this latest jobs report had been bad, Republicans would NOT have blamed their Shutdown of the Federal government in October, no, they would have claimed “Corporations and Small businesses aren’t hiring out of concern over ‘Obamacare’ being implemented on January 1st!” You KNOW they would have said that.

But instead all they can do is scratch their heads and wonder, “Just what do we have to do to stop this guy?”

So now we know the secret on how to grow an economy. And the irony is, it’s not too different from the Republican dogma on how “tax cuts” are supposed to be a panacea for economic growth. Conservatives believe that “cutting taxes leaves more money in people’s pockets so they can go out and buy stuff, sparking the economy.” That’s their entire ideology in a nutshell. The problem with that is that the people paying the most in taxes don’t need more money just to buy stuff. Tax cuts help only a very small percentage of the population. If you’re extremely poor, you’re not paying any taxes anyway. The Wealthy don’t “buy more stuff”, and business expenses like “equipment” and “hiring more employees” are ALREADY tax deductible, so “tax cuts” are a horrible way to promote economic growth. Republicans love to say, “poor people don’t create jobs.” My response has always been, “Really? Ask Wal*Mart if poor people create jobs.” The Walton Family is the wealthiest family in the nation, with SIX family members on the Forbes-400 list of wealthiest people in the world. Trust me, that money didn’t come from selling cheap crap to The Rich. Another sad irony is the fact that plenty of clueless low-income Teanuts probably voted for these Cretins, creating THEIR jobs. But government jobs apparently don’t count.

But lower gas prices affect EVERYBODY, and benefits The Working Class FAR more than “tax cuts” for a fraction of a fraction of the population. Cheap energy is like a ”tax cut” for the poor, and a FAR more direct stimulus for the economy. Sen. Rand Paul (Wingnut-KY) was on Fox “news” Sunday yesterday where he proposed “Economic Freedom Zones” (don’tcha just love the Orwellian Double-speak?) in economically depressed cities like Detroit where everybody would pay a FIVE PERCENT FLAT TAX. This is the height of Conservative arrogance and the epitome of Libertarian cluelessness. The idea that wildly plunging the tax rate on corporations and the very wealthy will be offset by raising taxes on the extremely poor. Because what rich person wouldn’t want to move to a slum where the tax rate is just 5-percent? Of course, we know Paul’s thinking is that if the tax rate were just 5-percent, businesses will use that savings to “hire more people”. But as I already pointed out, hiring people is already taxed at ZERO, so this would INCREASE the cost of hiring new employees. And for some inexplicable reason, Republicans just can’t seem to figure out that DEMAND drives hiring. It doesn’t matter how low you cut a company’s taxes, if there’s no demand, they are not going to hire more employees. They just can’t get this simple fact through their thick skulls.

Locally, gas is still selling for under $3.00/gallon. It’s the holiday season, so people are already out spending more money now than any other time of year. And this year, because of lower gas prices, more of that money is being spent here at home. And it’s having a direct stimulative effect on the economy. There’s no denying it. One can only wonder how the economy might have done last month had it not been for GOP obstructionism, the Shutdown and yet another round of manufactured fiscal crisis.

Oh, and just a reminder, the 90-day budget deal to end the Shutdown and reopen the government expires in January. Do you think the GOP has learned their lesson? Is The Pope Jewish?
 



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Filed in Economy, Energy Independence, General, Jobs December 9th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 1 comment | Add/View

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Unprepared for Misinformation on Turkey-Day

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, December 2, 2013

Did you know that British police have started carrying guns? I was told that chestnut, among many others, during Thanksgiving dinner at my father’s last week. My father and Step-Mother are Republicans, as are most of their friends, and I’ve come to notice over the years that they believe an absurd amount of misinformation. Where does that misinformation come from? Surprisingly, rarely does it come from watching Fox ”news” themselves. I’ve found that most of the faulty “facts” that shape their politics comes from their friends… likewise misinformed Republicans… who either “embellished” on some grain of truth in an otherwise legitimate news story they half-heard incorrectly (“UK police resist calls to give cops guns despite double murder“) or your usual laundry list of RW Talk Radio offenders (Rush, Beck, etc.) Now, like you, I consider myself better informed than most others with regards to politics. And when asked for my opinion on something, I can support my position with the facts. But EVERY time I  stray into “Right-Wing World”, I always, always, ALWAYS am confronted by someone suggesting something that sounds completely ludicrous, but I can’t just call “bulls#!t” because unlike them, I don’t claim to know otherwise unless I can back it up with facts. So rather than anger people that I otherwise am friends with, I keep my mouth shut or provide an unconvincing rationalization that only reinforces my friends’ mistaken beliefs… which is an opportunity lost. For nearly a decade, I’ve been correcting Conservative misinformation on this blog, yet when surprised by the outrageous, I frequently find myself ill-prepared. And it haunts me.

Besides the “Bobbies carrying guns” myth, there was the oft-heard repeated myth of how “states with the toughest gun laws have the highest rate of crime” (“Chicago” and “D.C.” mentioned by name), arguing against strict gun laws. The grain of truth? A WaPo report last September announced that Chicago surpassed New York as the murder capital of the U.S.. Why? While Chicago saw an uptick in the number of murders (500 up from 431), NYC’s murder-rate plunged (from 515 to 419). NYC has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. And while I already knew that most of the guns used in crimes in Chicago come from outside of Chicago where the laws are more lax, I didn’t already know the above fact. Instead, I simply pointed out that “guns are not the problem, unemployment is the problem” because “poverty breeds crime” (and in fact, crime in Chicago is actually going down, which gun advocates attribute to a lifting of gun laws and not the sinking unemployment rate). As for D.C., I had forgotten at the time that just before Bush left office, the Supreme Court rolled back DC’s strict gun-control laws. But I’d just as soon not open that “Second Amendment” can of worms.

Also on the hit parade, “Obamacare”, insurance rates going up, people losing coverage, and that disastrous website (a subject I was better suited to deal with as a former web developer). Did you know “Facebook and Google offered to help fix the Healthcare.gov website and Obama turned them down?” No, that’s because it’s not true. I too had heard mention of “Facebook and Google” in reference to fixing “healthcare.gov”, but forgot the context, so I could not muster much of a response. A quick Google search reveals that Facebook NEVER offered to fix the Federal Health Exchange website (which is probably for the best considering all the “privacy” landmines they’ve been setting off all year, and Google actually IS among five tech companies working to fix the healthcare.gov website. Damn that Obama!

My best response of the evening, “They should have just let anyone that wanted to buy into Medicare just buy into it”, to which the response was, “That would have been easier, wouldn’t it!”

Do you think I was about to point out that “Medicare for All” was the basis for Sarah Palin’s “government takeover of healthcare!” (the argument being private companies would go out of business, unable to compete with terrible, awful government healthcare and it’s “Death Panels” full of “government bureaucrats deciding who lives or dies?” No.

A win’s a win.

Guess I know what I need for Christmas.
 



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Filed in myth busting December 2nd, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 comments | Add/View

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Iran Deal Underscores Need to Abandon Nuclear Energy as a Power Source

By Admin Mugsy - Last updated: Monday, November 25, 2013

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the GOP presidential candidates were saber-rattling over “Iran’s nuclear program”, completely devoid of any self awareness as they simultaneously complained about rising gas prices without connecting the two events… not now, not in the eight years it was happening under President Bush (side note: gas prices have been steadily falling for months, dropping to a national average of just $3.19/gal last week and for me locally as low as $2.75/gal. You have to go back to November of 2010 when we were still shaking off the last vestiges of The Great Recession to find the last time gas prices were that low). The first treaty between the U.S. and Iran in nearly 35 years is both amazing and historic. And if it were not for our continued/pointless war in Afghanistan and recent reports that we might still be there for another decade, I’d be first in line to nominate President Obama for a second Nobel Peace Prize. He ended the war in Iraq, ousted Kadaffi without sending in a single troop, got Syria to (first admit and then) give up their chemical weapons without resorting to force, and now the first treaty of ANY kind with Iran in over a third of a century let alone one to start the ball rolling on nuclear disarmament. Criticism from The Right on whether or not this is a good deal sounds remarkably similar to their arguments against ObamaCare: “It doesn’t solve the problem 100 percent” to everyone’s satisfaction, and therefore anything short of “perfection” means the entire thing must be scrapped. But my problem with the Iranian deal isn’t that it doesn’t stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. My problem is that we don’t have a leg to stand on to stop Iran from developing so-called “peaceful” nuclear power (that the hawks believe could be misused in the future) so long as we continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear power. I’ve said this many times before: NUCLEAR POWER ISN’T GREEN. We should be PHASING OUT our use of nuclear energy. And it would be infinitely easier to tell Iran “no nuclear development of ANY kind. Period” if we ourselves didn’t continue to believe there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy.

The nuclear energy industry has been quite successful at convincing the world that nuclear power is “green”. “No smokestacks! No carbon! Doesn’t promote Global Warming! See! It’s great for the environment!” There is an enormous (and dangerous) misconception that nuclear energy is “clean” simply because it does not emit greenhouse gasses.

“Air” pollution is but one of many types of pollution we should concern ourselves with. And while nuclear power plants don’t pollute the air like coal-fired plants do, they (as you know) produce tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste-water in their lifetime (typically a mere 20-30 years), and “cooling” of the reactors requires Millions of gallons of cold water. The heat they produce is then pumped back into rivers & streams where it kills the fish and aquatic plant-life. In essence, you are trading off a power plant that emits one form of pollution for a plant that emits TWO. Add to that the mining of uranium… a finite energy source not unlike the coal or oil used in fossil-fuel powered power plants. Nuclear power is not “renewable”… the hallmark of “green” energy.

Consider that if the ancient Egyptians had used nuclear power 5,000 years ago, we would STILL be dealing with their nuclear waste today and for another 10,000 years, all so they could enjoy 30 years worth of electricity five millennia ago.

Wind, Solar, Tidal & Geothermal are ALL 100% POLLUTION FREE ways of generating enormous amounts of power upon which we should be concentrating all our resources.

$11 Billion to build one plant. 20-40 years of useful life at a cost of $1.5-3 Billion per year just to operate. 150 YEARS to decommission one plant at a cost of another $3-6 billion/yr. Best case costs for one plant (20 years+150 years to decommission): $491 Billion dollars. Worst case costs (40 years+150 years to decommission): $1.3 TRILLION dollars (or over $84 per kWh). Check your electric bill. Does eighty-four bucks an hour sound like a bargain to you? And neither of those price tags take into account the cost of another nuclear disaster like Fukashima.

It takes ELEVEN YEARS of nuclear power generation to counter the air pollution created in the construction of the plant and the mining of the ore used in it. And nuclear power plants are also a prime terrorist target. We should be getting RID of the ones we have, not building more… let alone encouraging countries like Iran to get into the business.

And ask the fishermen off the coast of New Orleans following the BP disaster if they’d rather be fishermen off the coast of Fukashima.

Nuclear War & Peace

Then there are other concerns. Saudi Arabia is likewise terrified of a nuclear armed Iran tipping the balance of power in the region. Might this provoke Saudi Arabia into starting a nuclear program of their own? How do we tell an ally that they can’t go nuclear after allowing Iran to? Could this be the start of a nuclear arms race in the very heart THE most unstable region of the world today?

As long as we continue this absurd belief that there is such a thing as “good” nuclear energy, how do we tell Iran that’s it’s not okay to pursue nuclear energy without the concern that that technology might be misused? It would be SO MUCH easier if we could simply say to Iran, “No nuclear power of ANY kind. Period. We’re are in the process of getting RID of our OWN nuclear power-plants, not building more.” If, after Fukashima, the Iran Treaty doesn’t underscore how much easier our lives would be without nukes, nothing will.

 

THANKSGIVING ASIDE DISH

Over the past few weeks, we’ve learned that a number of major retail outlets will be open Thanksgiving Day, forcing their employees to work rather than spend the holiday with their families. The silence from the “War on Christmas” crowd has been deafening. No protests of greedy corporations having no respect for “families” or the holiday season. And if you don’t think “Thanksgiving” is a religious holiday, ask yourself just WHO are you supposed to be “thanking”?

The Rachel Maddow Show last week reported on all the employees that are being forced to work on Thanksgiving, including the story of an Ohio Wal*Mart putting donation bins out for co-workers to donate food to fellow employees… people that work for a living and yet might otherwise go hungry this holiday:
 


If you had any question just how disingenuous the whole Right-Wing “War on Christmas” outrage is, look no further.

 


 


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Filed in Energy Independence, Environment, fake scandals, General, Middle East November 25th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • No comments | Add/View

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Where Would We Be Today Had JFK Not Been Assassinated? (UPDATED)

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

There’s an old parlor-game in which a person is asked: “If you had a time machine, would you go back and kill Hitler even if it meant changing history so you were never born?” (One stipulation is that you don’t worry about the obvious paradox of how you kill Hitler if you were never born.) It’s mostly a morality game but also one designed to test one’s selfishness, but the REAL fun comes in questioning how history might have changed. The war brought technological advancements. Everything from rocket-power to M&M’s to America’s rise as an industrial power were birthed by The War. No more arguments where you can compare your opponent to “Hitler” (now synonymous with “Evil”). Certain global alliances/partnerships might not exist today. The nation of Israel might not exist either. And what would The History Channel show all day? If you killed Hitler, the world would be a very different place today. The same game could be played in reverse if you prevented President Kennedy from ever being assassinated. Would we be where we are today had that terrible event 50 years ago this Friday had not come to pass?

The Space Race

Just four months into his presidency and one month after Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space (the fact his name is in my browser’s dictionary only emphasizes the significance of that event), President Kennedy delivered his famous “land a man on the moon by the end of the decade” speech before a joint session of Congress at Rice University in Houston. Less than four years earlier, Russia leapfrogged the rest of the world in Space Technology by putting the first man-made satellite, Sputnik, into orbit, and now they had put a man in space. The Cold War had already begun and now America feared “going to bed at night by the light of a Communist moon.” The two biggest space-achievements had already been claimed by the Soviet Union. Kennedy raised the bar by targeting The Moon as the next big achievement. And consider the goal: NASA was still in diapers, not even three years old yet, and had JUST put it’s first man in space not three weeks before.

The goal to land a man on the moon “by the end of the century” was seen as fulfilling Kennedy’s challenge when Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. The mission carried with it the added weight of getting in just under the wire to meet that goal. But consider that this costly endeavor took place in the midst of the Vietnam War and the battle over Civil Rights. Had President Kennedy not been assassinated in 1963, the odds are the race to the moon probably would have petered out as “more pressing priorities” took over. We probably would not have the world-class space program that we have today. Russia could very well be the country the rest of the world turned to today to put their satellites into orbit (okay, with the Shuttle retired, this is indeed now the case). There likely would never have been a Space Shuttle, “International Space Station”, “GPS” or cell-phones , not even “Star Trek” had America not become obsessed with the “Space Race” and getting to the moon before December 31, 1969. If you don’t believe it, consider how quickly our interest in the Space Race waned after 1970. The TV networks didn’t even carry the launch of the third mission (Apollo-13) and the final mission, “Apollo-18” was scrapped due to lack of interest/support (and ultimately fodder for a really bad horror flick.)

Vietnam

One of Kennedy’s first acts as President of the United States was “The Bay of Pigs” fiasco, a botched plan to overthrow the new dictator Fidel Castro. A year later, the world was taken to the brink of nuclear war with The Cuban Missile Crisis as Kennedy ordered the U.S. Navy to blockade Russian attempts to put nuclear warheads in Cuba. The Space Race was our tamest “war” with the Soviet Union that decade.

Less than two months before he was assassinated, President Kennedy spoke out against America becoming even more involved in Vietnam, a war in which the Soviet-backed Communist North invaded the Democratic South, but added that “to withdraw” would be “a great mistake.” The fear was that Vietnam might become a ”proxy war” similar to Korea where “Fighting Communism” was an euphemism for “Fighting the Russians”.

When it was learned that Kennedy’s assassin, Oswald, was an avowed Communist that once defected to the Soviet Union and trained by their military only to return to the U.S. to kill the president of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, now president, was rumored to have been absolutely convinced that the Soviets were behind the assassination of President Kennedy.
 

Recording one week after assassination shows LBJ immediately suspected Russia
(or some other country with nuclear missiles [ie: none].)

 
Johnson greatly increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War (but waited until just days after the election to act because he needed the support of anti-war Kennedy voters) in retribution for what I believe Johnson believed was retaliation for the assassination of President Kennedy. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, the likelihood is the U.S. never would have become so embroiled in the Vietnam War. The anti-war turmoil of the 1960′s might never have happened and we might very well still have a ”military draft” today. No “Hippies”, no peace-movement, a decade of some of amazing music and protest songs. No “Kent State” Massacre, tens of thousands of American & Vietnamese soldiers would never have died. Nixon would of had no “secret war in Cambodia” and Liz Cheney might never have been born as Daddy conceived her to evade the Draft.

Civil Rights

As senator, Kennedy voted against Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights Act to stay in the good graces of the (then) very racist Democratic Party, but by the 1960 presidential campaign, Kennedy backed off his 1957 vote (in a move cynics view as a way to draw black support away from Nixon and “The Party of Lincoln”). The significance of being president 100 years after Abraham Lincoln was not lost on Kennedy. As president, Kennedy appointed 40 African-Americans to senior federal positions including five federal judgeships (ibid), and tasked his brother, Robert, appointed as the new Attorney General, to pursue cases of illegal discrimination in the South (57 cases in all) including enforcing new school desegregation laws. Kennedy’s poll numbers in the South plummeted over 15-points in just a matter of months and that morning in Dallas, flyers accusing Kennedy of being a “race traitor deserving of “impeachment” (or worse) were passed out among the crowds.

Following the assassination of Kennedy, pushing through Civil Rights legislation was seen as advancing Kennedy’s will, and Johnson, who already blamed Russian involvement in his predecessors’ death, couldn’t discount the hatred of racist as wanting Kennedy dead as well (Russia has always been notoriously anti-Semitic… attracting many American racists to their folds). A Liberal Texan like Johnson pushing through “Civil Rights” after Kennedy’s assassination was one giant “screw you” to the racist South that had turned on Kennedy in his final days.

Despite advancing the rights of blacks, as president, Kennedy never called for a re-vote on the 1957 Civil Rights Act, instead using his brother to ensure that federal funds for “separate-but-equal” facilities were fully spent. He courted the black vote in 1960, but actually gave them very little in return to justify voting for him again. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, it is quite possible there never would have been a 1964 Civil Rights Act, nor a ”Voting Rights Act” the following year. “Separate-but-equal” might still have been the law of the land for another decade or two. The Democratic Party might still be the Party of white Southern racists, and “The Party of Lincoln” might still actually be “The Party of Lincoln” today instead of the Modern Neo-Confederate Party of Teaagging asshats.

America would look very different today had JFK of not been assassinated 50 years ago this week. That’s the lesson boys & girls. Hitler had to live and Kennedy had to die. What a screwed up world we live in.
 



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Filed in General, rewriting history, Seems Obvious to Me November 18th, 2013 by Admin Mugsy | • 3 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