Wednesday, December 7, 2016


"Tell me more ... explain that to me" has always been the enemy of the toddler throwing a fit. If the adult is genuine in their desire to listen to what the child has to say, they can get most children to explain what's bothering them. The adult can then help them work out their anger issues by asking the kid how they might fix the problem confronting them.

This is called good parenting.

It's also how, in the clip below, Trevor Noah parents one of America's political adolescents, Tomi Lahren. She's the new poster girl for frustrated conservatives who like throwing tantrums over the dystopian world they want to see created, now, and a world they don't really understand.

Check out how Noah parents Lahren on her political tantrums - as Vox points out - by asking Lahren to explain how a black person is supposed to make their point if protesting, marching, or taking a knee are considered thuggish or inappropriate by people like her.

What Noah did is show how empty and selfish Tomi Lahren's understanding of the world really is. She had no answer for Noah, who repeatedly asked Lahren to explain how a black man is supposed to make their point if protesting, marching, or taking a knee are all considered inappropriate.

At one point Lahren tried to hide behind the flag by saying she was insulted by people like Colin Kaepernick disrespecting what others fought and died for (newsflash: it includes free speech). But Noah was having none of it.


He ignored Lahren's attempt to hide behind the final refuge of scoundrels, and asked what's the appropriate form for black Americans to get their point across if protesting, marching, or taking a knee are not accepted by people like her.

Noah asked:

“What is the right way, I’ve always wanted to know ... for a black person to get attention in America?”

So, rather than confront Lahren about her faux indignation over tactics (protest, march, or kneeling), and her fake teardrop patriotism, Noah focused on what Lahren has to concede constitutionally, free speech.

What Noah did was illustrate how Lahren sure likes to enjoy her free speech, but doesn't want others to enjoy it more than she and her fellow jackbooters do. Like the kid who doesn't want others to enjoy their toys more than them, Noah showed how Lahren is going after the toys of another kid. Noah called her out on her political tantrum by effectively saying to Lahren, "It's OK to cry, but tell me why the other kid can't have or enjoy the toy their parents gave them?"

Lahren had no answer.

Unfortunately, this doesn't matter for most of those who follow Tomi Lahren. They just want the toys of others to be taken away.

Stay tuned. It's only going to get worse.

- Mark

Tuesday, December 6, 2016



The reference above brings back memories of my good friend Duane Moore, who liked to call out Christian hypocrisy when he saw it. Neither Duane nor I were model Catholics, but we had read the Bible, which is why when we were doing our radio program from time to time he would quote Mark 10:25: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

To this I would add Matthew 7:21-23:  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven ... On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

If you're a Christian Trump voter and don't see yourself here, you need to reread Matthew 7: 21-23 until you get it. Seriously.

For the Christian commentators who want to respond to this post, while maintaining the Christian spirit, just be sure to keep in mind what the Bible says about "bridling" the tongue and deception in the heart (James 1: 26).

OK, bible study class dismissed ...

- Mark

Monday, December 5, 2016


Remember how Republicans, including Bakersfield's own Rep. Kevin McCarthy, complained that Obamacare was killing jobs in America? That narrative is not going away. Most recently, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that Team Trump was going to repeal Obamacare because it's a "disastrous policy that's been killing jobs."

Unfortunately, for the GOP, their "job killing" rhetoric just doesn't match what's happening in the real world. In fact, the GOP is living in an alternate universe when it comes to their jobs claim. Check for yourselves ...

In real simple terms, with 178,000 jobs created in November, unemployment has fallen to 4.6 percent. President-elect Trump is inheriting an economy near full employment, or what Politico calls the Obama Boom.

My question is a simple one: What kind of world are we heading into when our politicians have no problem lying about things that are easily fact checked, and easily proven to be flat out lies?

But wait, the lying gets worse.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) went on record during his 60 Minutes interview saying he has no issue with President-elect Donald Trump tweeting the lie that "millions of people voted illegally." He and the rest of the GOP are not only prepared for, but they are quite comfortable with, the prospects of a fact free Trump administration.

All of this suggests that George Orwell's 1984 doublethink and Newspeak language will not only become accepted forms of speech, but - as Alec Baldwin's SNL skits are starting to make clear - telling the truth may even become subversive.

Stay tuned. This is going to get ugly.

- Mark


I did an interview a few weeks back for Agence France-Presse (AFP), the global news agency based in France. AFP was in Bakersfield trying to explain to their audience how a Blue State like California could have a region that supported Donald Trump. I helped AFP set the profile for Bakersfield and Kern County by pointing out (1:03 into the clip) how you could dump both in the middle of Texas and no one would notice the difference.

Below is the French language version of the interview, which included an all too brief clip of my book in the foreground ...

One last note. While I spent about 25 minutes being interviewed - discussing the political and economic reasons for Trump's election - my comments were reduced to the Texas reference, as you can see in the interview. So, yeah, I had a lot more to say beyond what you see in my brief comments, but AFP had another story they wanted to tell.

Still, it was fun chatting with the AFP crew. I hope they come back.

- Mark

Friday, December 2, 2016


While one could quibble over the absolute zero numbers in other countries, and even dispute the 643,000 medical bankruptcies in 2013 by a few thousand (up or down, as Snopes discusses here), one reality remains: Before Obamacare was passed, over 60 percent of all bankruptcies in America had a medical cause.

After Obamacare well over 50 percent of all bankruptcies still have a medical cause. Let's repeat that. Even after Obamacare, health care costs are still the #1 cause of bankruptcy filings in America. What this means is Americans are still adversely affected by an inefficient and wildly expensive health care system.

For the record, the three top causes for bankruptcy in America are divorce, job loss, and the inability to cover health care costs. The real tragedy here is that well over one-half of those who file for bankruptcy because of health related bills have health insurance.

- Mark

Hat tip to Aguila for the meme. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016


We need to understand that Donald Trump is no accident. The environment that created and nurtured his hateful and paranoid brand of politics has been in the making for decades now, as this clip makes clear ...

- Mark


CNN host Alisyn Camerota has her journalistic neutrality crushed by the mindless stupidity of one her panelists. Specifically, one of Alisyn Camerota's panelists stunned her with the thoroughly debunked claim that millions of "illegals" voted in California, which you can see here or here ...

I guess one of the questions we (and especially journalists) need to start asking is, How much blind stupidity do we allow to fly unchallenged in the name of journalistic integrity or neutrality?

Seriously, life should not be a perpetual reality show for the intellectual midgets of our society simply because we want to gauge the temperature of a focus group, or the electorate. We shouldn't let things go unchallenged, and allow people to use our modern forums like medieval stages, just so we can get our jollies laughing or wincing at what the village idiot of the day says.

Let's be clear here. I'm not saying we need to keep these kind of comments out of the public square. Ignorance and blind stupidity should be exposed. What I'm saying is more hosts and interviewers need to do what Alisyn did and stand up for what's factual, while debunking what's not, in real time.

Sure, it will require a good deal of more work and preparation. But this is what journalistic integrity (and professionalism) is built on.

The point is, if the media allows ignorant commentary to go unchallenged - or fails to do what CNN's Alisyn Camerota does in the clip above - others who are equally ill-informed will watch and assume "it must be true" because the host ignored the uninformed reference.

It's real simple. We're better than this.

At least we're supposed to be.

- Mark

Addendum: Apologies for using the same opening headline as yesterday, but it does appear we have a running theme in the making. I'll probably be using it again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


From Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader we learn about poor voters in Owsley County who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump and Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin. It turns out that while 66 percent of Owsley County get their health coverage through Medicaid they now have a governor-elect who's going to cut the state's Medicaid program.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Governor-elect Matt Bevin is also going to close the state-run Kynect health insurance exchange.

The real fun (confusing?) part is that 70 percent of Owsley County voted for Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin after he promised to cut the state's Medicaid program during the campaign.

Here's what one voter - who voted for the Republican governor-elect - sees happening, as explained by the Lexington Herald-Leader:

"If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem" ... a community college student, said Friday at the Owsley County Public Library, where she works. "Just with the blood tests, you're talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance." 
Yet two weeks earlier, despite [Bevin's] much-discussed plans to repeal Kynect and toughen eligibility requirements for Medicaid, she voted for Bevin. 
"I'm just a die-hard Republican," she said.

Huh?  "I'm just a die-hard Republican" is the rationale for supporting a candidate who promises to cut programs that keep you healthy and alive? This is akin to saying, "I don't like the cancer, but I gotta have my Marlboro smokes ... it makes me feel like a cowboy."

Unfortunately, Owsley County isn't alone when it comes to voting against their economic and health interests, as this Kentucky map dotted with Bevin supporting counties illustrates.

Read more here:
The Lexington Herald-Leader describes what happened in Kentucky's Pulaski County, where the Republican Governor-elect received 72 percent of the vote:

... people back home denounce[d] "Obamacare" while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect. They didn't seem to realize that Kynect, Kentucky's response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same thing as Obamacare, she said. 
"There's either voter disconnect here, where the people weren't thinking about or weren't aware of Bevin's stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues,"

So, yeah, ill-informed people disconnected from reality is what we're dealing with. 

But Kentucky is not alone when dealing with this kind of disconnect. As Paul Krugman points out, there are probably between 3-4 million people around the country who voted Republican and "just shot themselves in the face" because they will now lose their health insurance.  

Why do people "shoot themselves in the face"? The issue is really quite simple. As my former colleague David Berri put it:
These stories should always be remembered every time someone says: "If only the candidate made this argument, they would have won!" 
Voters are simply not rational. And they are not sitting at home evaluating the merits of the arguments each candidate makes. Elections are not Harvard debating classes. The majority of voters are not that educated and many do stupid stuff like vote for a candidate that promises to take away their health care.

This helps to explain why we see poor people voting Republican. It may not be a smart move, but at least they get to finger wag. They get to condemn the gays. They can claim they're saving the nation from the colored hoards. And they can feel good about how much safer they are because they've been able to stay out of FEMA camps and keep their guns. 

These same people might die from some malignant health disease or tumor. But at least they can say they voted Republican, and didn't aid and abet a Muslim invasion, or support any brown-skinned homos coming across our border. National security, you know. 

Sigh ...

One more thing. Yes, Kentucky is home to the Creationist Museum, where we learn how Jesus roamed the earth with the dinosaurs. It's also the same state that gave us Kim Davis; that confused Bible-thumping Christian warrior who's been divorced three times and cheated on her husbands mulitple times, but nonetheless was convinced she was upholding traditional institutions in America by keeping "the gays" from ruining the sanctity of marriage ...

So, America, this is what we're dealing with. And, yeah, you can't make this stuff up.

- Mark

Read more here: