Friday, August 26, 2016

CLINTON FOUNDATION "SCANDAL" IS YET ANOTHER GOP BIRTHER-BENGHAZI-MUSLIM DISTRACTION

Calm down conservatives.

The Clinton Foundation "scandal" is yet another "silver spoon" distraction, courtesy of right wing talk radio and Fox News. So, yeah, while even the Associated Press got duped, the reality is the GOP and their noise machine need another Benghazi-like distraction because their presidential candidate is perpetual clown show who appears to be running a political Ponzi scheme of epic proportions.

Here's a couple of memes that helps to put things in perspective.
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The most disturbing part of all this ginned up background noise is that conservatives who buy into these distracting "look at the shiny spoon" stunts are only showing that they hate the Clinton's more than they love America. The fact that the press doesn't call them out on any of this is the real shame of America today.

Fortunately, CNN's Paul Begala points out the hypocrisy, and vigorously goes after what the media is (or is not) doing when it comes to the Clinton Foundation. His claim that President Clinton deserves a Nobel Prize for what he's doing might be over the top for some, but it's a legitimate topic to bring up.


- Mark

THE LONG ROOTS OF THE TRUMP MOVEMENT

In many ways, this Dilbert cartoon captures the the birth and logic of right-wing talk radio and the typical Trump supporter ... 


- Mark

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SENTINELS OF SILENCE and THE PYRAMIDS OF MEXICO


The documentary below is an 18-minute helicopter tour of Mexico's pyramids. It's narrated by Orson Welles and won two Academy Awards. I use this in class to introduce students to pre-conquest Mexico. It's titled "Sentinels of Silence" and is one of the best and most dramatic clips you'll ever see of ancient Mexico. Enjoy ...


- Mark

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP ... MOSTLY BECAUSE THE GOP DOES THIS STUFF ON THEIR OWN

You can't make this stuff up. Then again, you don't have to with our current crop of Republican ideologues who have no sense of compassion, nor seem to understand how federalism works.

It turns out that the same Louisiana congressmen, who voted against federal relief for Hurricane Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey - under the banner of being fiscally conservative - now want federal relief for their flood impacted Louisiana residents. Here's two of the Louisiana congressman who suddenly found "Federal Relief" Jesus, Rep. John Fleming and Rep. Steve Scalise ...


You can read about the GOP's sudden embrace of federalism, and how it's supposed to work, in this Los Angeles Times article - "These Louisiana politicians are demanding flood aid, but voted against Sandy relief" - by Michael Hiltzik.

- Mark 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

WHY YOU SHOULD IGNORE YOUR DELUSIONAL CONSERVATIVE FRIENDS WHO WANT TO DEBATE YOU

I wrote about this issue last year, but it needs to be repeated. It especially needs to be repeated because supporters of Donald Trump and the GOP need to be slapped in the face with this reality: Trump and his Republican inspired policies will take us back to a place that Will Not Make America Great Again.



As a reminder, this is where we were 7 years ago ...
* The stock market had crashed, and was heading towards Great Depression territory. 
* Wall Street was begging for protection, and were black mailing the nation for trillions in bailouts (which they eventually got).  
* The real estate market had crashed, and millions of people ended up losing their homes.  
* The banking system was in disarray, and on the verge of collapse. 
* The Federal Reserve and all the market experts were naively "shocked" by market events (as if reckless deregulation, lax oversight, and cheap money weren't a clue). 
* Unemployment was above 7% and heading higher. 
* Our multi-trillion dollar war debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan were going strong.  
* President Bush, who had inherited multi-billion dollar budget surpluses, was leaving President Obama built-in $1.4 trillion budget deficits. 
Now throw in the fact that the Republican party has done everything they can to block and stonewall virtually every major piece of legislation that President Obama has pushed or embraced; as if what they did the last time they were in control was a good thing.

Here's the point I'm trying to make. According to virtually every economic indicator, things are better today than they were when President Bush left office. Take a look ...


In spite of this, Donald Trump and his supporters speak as if President Obama did absolutely nothing to clean up his predecessors mess. Worse, they speak as if America is worse off than it was 7 years ago. 

Watching adults embrace this kind of delusion is not healthy. More to the point, embracing this kind of thinking, as Donald Trump's supporters do, tells us they may be mental.

So, no, you should not engage Trump's supporters in a political debate, as if what they have to tell you is of any value. You can't argue with people who won't accept facts. Indulging delusional thinking adds nothing to your life, or the value of America. It's simply not worth it.



The fact that millions of Republicans don't understand any of this says much about the GOP, and the state of our nation.

- Mark

Friday, August 19, 2016

GLOBAL COMMUNITY, JUST A BUNCH OF LOSERS? LOOK FOR IT IN TRUMP'S FUTURE COMMENTS ...

The Pew Research Center just finished a survey of the global community. They asked people around the world how much confidence they have in global leaders and U.S. presidential candidates "to do the right thing". It would appear that our friends from other nations have little to no confidence in Donald Trump, or Vladimir Putin. But they have a great deal of confidence in Hillary Clinton, and President Obama, to do the right thing.


I'm not sure about you, but if forced to place a bet I would put my money on Donald Trump calling the global community a bunch of losers - or something to that effect - when asked about this poll. Just saying.

- Mark

Thursday, August 18, 2016

OUR FINANCIAL SECTOR IS A DRAIN ON OUR ECONOMY? YEAH IT IS, BIG TIME

Researchers at the Roosevelt Institute decided to look at how dysfunctional our markets are by determining how much our financial sector actually costs the American economy. They begin by reminding us all that a healthy financial system is supposed to facilitate savings, funnel savings and finance to productive investment, reduce risk with viable insurance programs, and should act as a dependable medium of exchange. 


The Roosevelt Institute's report "Overcharged: The high cost of finance" nonetheless makes it clear that our financial system is no longer providing these services in a way that helps build an economy with a stable or secure market environment. 

Our problem today, as the report points out, is that after decades of deregulation the U.S. financial system has slowly been degraded into "a highly speculative system" that is failing spectacularly at facilitating efficiency or providing market stability. Today, American taxpayers, families, and businesses are being forced to pay for this failure in the form of higher fees, growing debt loads, and perpetual bailouts. 

Rather than helping the American economy create viable wealth structures for the long-term, America's financial sector is now siphoning off trillions of dollars - a process I've referred to as wealth extraction. As Joseph Schumpeter might have put it, it's the difference between playing monopoly and building them.



Overall, the Roosevelt Institute estimates that the financial sector costs the American economy - and you and me in the form of higher fees and bailouts - between $12.9 trillion and $22.7 trillion



If this stuff seems interesting - and it should since it's going to help bring down the economy again - you can read all about it here and here.

- Mark 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CONCORDE


With the ability to fly across the Atlantic in 3.5 hours, the Concorde was an engineering marvel but a commercial failure. What happened? Why don't we see these planes around today?

The video clip below explains what happened to the Concorde. As an added bonus, the clip from Vox also helps explain how markets actually function in the modern world, and international political economy. Enjoy ...


- Mark

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

REPUBLICANS REGRET GETTING IN BED WITH TRUMP?

By the end of June more than 50% of Republican voters said they would have preferred someone else other than Donald Trump as their party's nominee. Since then 50 foreign policy Republican officials made the case that Donald Trump is a national security threat, and should not become president.


For those of you keeping score, The National Memo and The Atlantic have an up to date list of high profile Republicans who will not be voting for Donald Trump in November, which you can access here and here.

- Mark

HOW TO RESPOND TO THE "HILLARY STOLE THE PRIMARY ELECTIONS" CRAZIES FROM THE RIGHT


A friend sent me this Alex Jones hit piece on Hillary Clinton (yeah, another one), which claimed she stole the primary election from Bernie Sanders. My friend wanted to know what I thought of Alex "The Aliens Are Coming ..." Jones' piece. My response was simple and short, and follows below:

1. THE SOURCE: You want to first consider the source. Alex Jones, seriously?

2. SUDDEN ELECTORAL PURITY: When Republicans start complaining about how George W. Bush stole the 2000 election from Al Gore, with the same indignation and energy they exert now, I might take what they have to say about stolen elections a little more seriously.
3. HILLARY STILL WON: While there were numerous late Bernie Ballots counted after the June 7 elections, Hillary still won California (for example) by over 375,000 votes.


In all cases, it's best to remember that anyone backing the GOP this election cycle can't live without conspiracy or fear. They need the drama, or else there's no way for them to understand the world they live in.

They can't explain the election and popularity of the nation's first Black president without conspiracy or fear ...
They can't explain how the economy is better today than it was 7 1/2 years ago without conspiracy or fear ...
They can't explain why Benghazi is more important than the more than 20 embassies and consulates that were attacked during the Bush administration - which left 66 dead - without conspiracy or fear ...


In a few words, the GOP needs the drama that comes with conspiracy and fear to help their world make sense. Applying logic and common sense turns their world upside down which, in many ways, helps explain the popularity of Donald Trump.

- Mark