Tuesday, September 1, 2015

THIS IS YOUR FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, ON A DRUG WAR

Via Vox we get a look at America's expanding prison population since the war on drugs was declared ...
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Click here for huge expansion of the timeline.

- Mark

Monday, August 31, 2015

READING FOR THE WEEK (8-31-15)


Big oil takes a spill: Russia, Venezuela and the dawn of a new energy epoch (Salon).

The Google search that made the CIA spy on the U.S. Senate (NewsVice).

There is no reason why India should face hunger and farmers should commit suicide (Buzz Flash).

Obama calls out AIPAC: Stop warmongering and lying about the Iran peace deal (Occupy Democrats).


ANOTHER LOOK AT  ...
Gun violence in America, in 17 maps and charts (Vox).

Jimmy Carter and the happening of history (TruthOut).

Manuscript suggesting Jesus was married could be genuine - scientists (RT).


WHEN CONSERVATIVES GO WRONG
In the on-going war on the poor, Maine imposed drug testing for welfare recipients and had only one person flunk (Think Progress).

Michigan Tea Partier has an affair, responds with 1,900-word Bible-thumping excuse, which Facebook trolls trash (Raw Story).


RACE IN AMERICA
Analysis finds higher expulsion rates for black students (NY Times).

Top racists and neo-Nazis back Donald Trump (Buzz Feed News).

10 black women kicked off of train, met by police, after white woman complains they were laughing (Think Progress).

Wine train admits they were '100 percent wrong' for kicking off a group of black women for laughing (Think Progress).

The wine train thing happened to another group of passengers, this time Latino (Slate).


WHAT THE RECENT MARKET SCARE SHOWED US
If social security had been in private accounts the stock market drop could have been a disaster (Think Progress).

China's stock market crash: 11 things you need to know (Vox).


I AGREE WITH LYNDON La ROUCHE? ON THIS, I DO
LaRouche: Wall Street is hopelessly bankrupt, institute Glass-Steagall worldwide immediately (La Rouche PAC).

Restore Glass-Steagall (La Rouche PAC).


RICH MAN, POOR MAN
Billion-Dollar bloodlines: America's richest families (Forbes).

This one cartoon brilliantly summarizes working at Walmart (attn:)


MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, BY THE NUMBERS
Medical malpractices cost as little as $10 billion per year, which adds up to about one-third of 1% of the health care industry's $3 trillion economy (True Cost of Health-Care).

If we throw in defensive practices, Medical malpractice costs about $55 billion per year which adds up to about 2.4% of the nation's total healthcare expenditures (Forbes).

Medical malpractice reform won't do much to reduce health spending (NY Times).


MISCELLANEOUS
Unscrupulous lender that preyed on U.S. soldiers, and then sued them, closing its doors (TruthOut).

This is how students cheat on-line, or MOOC, courses (Chronicle of Higher Education).

The proof that Obamacare is working is getting really hard to ignore (Think Progress).

According to several reports, robots will cut at least 7% - and perhaps as much as 25% - of our jobs in 4 years, while transforming our workforce (RT).

Déjà Vu: Germany Tightens Its Economic Power Over Europe (TruthOut).

- Mark 

DONALD TRUMP'S NEW CAMPAIGN AD

This Jimmy Kimmel piece hits so close to home its funny ...



- Mark 

Friday, August 28, 2015

UNITED AGAINST NUCLEAR IRAN GROUP HIRES JOE LIEBERMAN ... THE REASON WHY IS HILARIOUS


The United Against Nuclear Iran group has just hired former Senator Joe Lieberman as its chairman. This would normally not be a story, especially since it's well known that Joe Lieberman turned against President Obama and the Democrats a long time ago.

The story here is that the UANI group had to hire Lieberman because their chair, Dr. Gary Samore, a scholar from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, decided to step down. Dr. Samore is walking away from the UANI group because - wait for it - he now supports President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran.

Let's reemphasize the point. The bi-partisan lobbying group that was created to oppose any nuclear deal made with Iran has hired another chairman because the former chair believes that President Obama has a good nuclear deal with Iran.

No doubt one of the reasons Dr. Samore walked away from the group is that he understands Iran already possesses the capacity (knowledge) to create nuclear energy and other materials. The reason they have this ability is - wait for it (again) - because we (the U.S.) got Iran started on their nuclear program back in the 1960s, and then really encouraged them to pursue their nuclear ambitions in the 1970s.
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Our real goal today is to find ways to gauge and monitor what Iran is doing with their nuclear program, which the International Atomic Energy Agency can and has done on a regular basis around the world. In President Obama's nuclear deal the IAEA is charged with monitoring Iran's nuclear capacity, which Dr. Samore understands is our best shot at keeping tabs on Iran.

The fact that an acknowledged expert is being replaced with a political hack at the UANI says all we need to know about the their (and the right wing's) opposition to the Iranian nuclear deal.

- Mark

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON WORLD TRADE ... ARE WE PRIMED FOR GROWTH, OR IS IT 2009 (again)?

This is one of those good news, bad news scenarios. You be the judge ...


First, the bad news. According to World Trade Monitor the volume of global trade declined during the first half of 2015, dropping by its largest percentage since 2009. Specifically, in the first quarter of 2015 trade fell by 1.5%, and then slid south another 0.5% in the second quarter.

Now for the good news. World trade actually grew 2 percentage points during the month of June and, according to the International Monetary Fund, is projected to grow by 3.5% for all of 2015.

Taking it all in, one thing becomes clear: After recent market events, no one really knows what's going to happen by the end of the year.


Seriously, the volume of global trade is going to have to take off over the next 6 months if we're going to reach IMF projections.

But then we have to consider what's really happening in China ... and Greece, and Cyprus, and Europe, and whatever "surprise" event no one ever anticipates.

Then there's the reality behind the "successes" in the U.S. stock market over the past 6 years.

So, yeah, stay tuned.

- Mark

Thursday, August 27, 2015

SUPER OBAMA? 14 FUN FACTS TO HELP CONVINCE YOUR CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS OBAMA DESERVES A CAPE



It was 2009. The economy was in free fall and headed for Depression-like conditions. It didn't matter that the GOP's policies caused the economic mess in the first place. The Republicans gathered and pledged to block or say no to every initiative proposed by President Obama. 

It would be generous (and a lie) to say President Obama was opposed by the GOP because of a principled strategy. The reality is he was confronted by a political conspiracy. The even darker reality is that congressional Republicans engaged in a form of political obstructionism that borders on treason. A smiling face of deceit has camouflaged this reality. 

Six years later, with the GOP having made good on their promise to put up roadblocks at every corner, the United States economy has reversed course. And this has happened primarily because of the Superman like efforts of President Obama ...



From Jeff61b we get 14 facts about President Obama's successes, which conservatives conveniently blow off because they disrupt the narrative that guides their miserable political lives.



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1. WE HAVE 65 STRAIGHT MONTHS OF ECONOMIC EXPANSION.
2. LONGEST PERIOD OF PRIVATE SECTOR JOB CREATION (in American history). 
Source: Obama’s Claim That Businesses Are in the "Longest Uninterrupted Stretch of Job Creation": The Washington Post.

3. UNEMPLOYMENT HAS DROPPED FROM 10.1% TO 5.4% IN 2015.

Source: Democratic Presidents Bring It: Obama Shatters Clinton’s Record For Private Sector Job Growth: PoliticusUsa.


It is also worth noting that during the 2012 presidential election, Obama's opponent, Mitt Romney, promised to lower the unemployment rate to 6% by the end of 2016. President Obama succeeded at lowering unemployment to under 6% two full years earlier than Romney had promised.


4. THE STOCK MARKET HAS SET RECORD HIGHS.
5. THE SHRINKING FEDERAL BUDGET (reduced by 2/3 since 2009).
\Source: What is the Deficit?: USGovernmentSpending.com.
6. GOVERNMENT SPENDING'S INCREASED 3.3% ANNUALLY (lowest since 1950s).
7. INCOME TAXES ARE AT LOWEST RATE IN ALMOST 50 YEARS FOR 95% OF AMERICAN TAXPAYERS.
Source: Federal Income Taxes on Middle-Income Families Remain Near Historic Lows, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
8. DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL HAS SHRUNK DUE TO RECORD DOMESTIC OIL PRODUCTION & IMPROVED FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS
Source: IndexMundi.


9. AT LEAST 10 MILLION MORE AMERICANS NOW HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE
10. OBAMACARE HAS ADDED YEARS TO THE LIFE OF MEDICARE
11. HEALTH CARE COSTS HAVE INCREASED AT SLOWEST RATE SINCE 1960.
12. FEWER MILITARY PERSONNEL IN WAR ZONES SINCE 2002.
Source: Common sense.

13. ZERO SUCCESSFUL ATTACKS BY AL QAEDA ON U.S. SOIL UNDER OBAMA.
Source: Timeline of Al Qaeda Attacks

14. WE CATCH AND DEPORT MORE UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS.
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For your conservative friends who want to switch topics and discuss Benghazi, have them take a look at this list of congressional committee investigations - led by Republicans - that came up with nothing on Benghazi.


Then you might want to ask them about this ...





For those of you who are still confused, and want to believe that President Obama is a failure, I'm going to help you.


If you want to know what's really behind the GOP's distrust and constant denigration of President Obama - and what's helping to push Donald Trump to the front of the line within the Republican presidential pack - you can probably start here ...




And, yeah, when you consider what he started with, and has had to fight through, President Obama deserves a cape.


- Mark

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DONALD TRUMP'S TOXIC MIX OF ARROGANCE AND PRIMAL STUPIDITY TELLS US WE'RE ALL IN TROUBLE ... WHAT THE RAMOS-TRUMP EXCHANGE REALLY MEANS


By now many of you have seen or heard about the Donald Trump news conference confrontation with Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos. During the event Trump told Ramos to "go back to Univision," and then ejected Ramos from the room.

What many haven't seen is what happened after Ramos was escorted out of the news conference. Before being asked to return by a staffer, another Donald Trump staffer/supporter - who Trump's people claim has nothing to do with this campaign - became confrontational and told Ramos to "get out of my country" (Ramos is a U.S. citizen).



Whether you agree that Ramos should have waited to be called upon or not - keep in mind that Trump is suing Univision - it's clear that Trump and his supporters have little tolerance or respect for Latinos, or women. If anything, Trump's statements about women make it appear as if he thinks he's living in, or auditioning for, a presidential version of a Mad Men reality show.

Whatever you think of Trump, we shouldn't lose sight of this point. A man who lived a pampered life, inherited millions, and then built a billion dollar business by hiding behind American bankruptcy laws, is now the Republican front runner for president.


Worse, surveys show that Trump is the talk of our political town primarily because he's saying what a lot of people are thinking, as if that's a good thing. Most of us understand that Trump's mix of arrogance and primal stupidity should be an embarrassment to the Republican party. But, unfortunately, it's not, especially for the base.

What's really stunning is that Trump's evolving promise to take America back to a day when people of color knew their place, and women made the sandwiches, has captured the imagination of so many conservatives.

While Trump's popularity may scare establishment politicians in the GOP - like Frank Luntz - the more realistic ones understand that Trump is just verbalizing what used to be coded dog whistles.

In many ways Trump is showing that he understands the Republican propaganda message better than anyone else. And it's ticking them off.

What's so disheartening for establishment conservatives is how the Republican peasants are clamoring for Trump to sit at a table the GOP has been setting for years. They know Trump's eating their lunch.

The fact that congressional Republicans say little about the political Frankenstein they helped build, while our national media clamors for more, makes it clear they can't control the monster. Even Fox News backed off when Trump went after conservative pin up girl, Megyn Kelly.

Arrogance and stupidity should not be a rewarded virtue, no matter how big your megaphone. The fact that a pampered, bankruptcy addicted, misogynist has captured this much attention from the base of one of America's biggest political parties may say much about the current state of the GOP. But it's also a message to America and the world about the state of our union.

The thinkers can fill in the blanks from here ...

- Mark

Late Addition: This helps fill in some of the blanks ...


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

10 PLACES WHERE REPUBLICANS BAN GUNS


When Republicans and the NRA claim that more guns make everyone safer you might want to ask why they're OK when guns are prohibited in the following places:
Gun Shows 
Political Conferences
George W. Bush Presidential Library 
Republican Conventions 
Trump Hotels And Golf Courses 
NRA Events 
Town Halls 
Presidential Campaign Stops 
GOP Debates 
Congress
So, yeah, when Republicans say you should be able to carry guns everywhere, they don't really mean it. It's just them pandering as they try to sound like tough guys with a gun.


If you're interested, Think Progress has the entire discussion, with links, here.

For a comparison of how the U.S. stacks up against other countries when it comes to gun related issues the Council on Foreign Relations has a nice discussion here.

- Mark

Monday, August 24, 2015

MAN WEARING ANTI-GOVERNMENT T-SHIRT THANKS FIREFIGHTERS FOR SAVING HIS HOME

Slate has the story of a Washington man wearing an anti-government Tea Party t-shirt thanking firefighters, who are paid by evil tax dollars, for saving his home.


Now, if we can just get Wall Street to thank the U.S. taxpayer for backstopping the trillion dollar bailout that saved their bacon after they set fire to the economy ...

- Mark

Sunday, August 23, 2015

LET'S CREATE LAW BASED ON THE BIBLE ... WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?




In case you're wondering, the command to kill the non-virgins of the world who want to marry is in there ...




Guess what else is in the Bible? Telling your woman (or any woman in your immediate manly orbit) to STFU and respect your biblically inspired authority ...




While we're at it, we might as well contemplate the pro-life conundrum this biblical tale puts God in ...


So, yeah, let's create law based on the Bible. There's no potential for conflict there, right?

- Mark