Thursday, December 31, 2015

CLIMATE CHANGE & THE NORTH POLE'S FREAK STORM


For the moment the top story at the Washington Post is about a climate disturbance in the North Pole. Specifically, a "freak storm" has pushed the temperature at the North Pole to 32-33 degrees, or about 50 degrees above normal. While this is the temperature range for the North Pole during the summer it shouldn't be happening during its winter. 

Tying what's happening in the North Pole to other weather developments the WP reports that a:
... powerful winter cyclone — the same storm that led to two tornado outbreaks in the United States and disastrous river flooding — has driven the North Pole to the freezing point this week, 50 degrees above average for this time of year.
To help drive home the severity of what's happening, the WP reported that the area around the North Pole was a "few degrees warmer than much of the Midwest."

As an aside, if you read some of the comments on the WP article it's clear that conservatives still don't get it.


If past is prelude we should be expecting conservatives to respond to this weather phenomena with something like this: "North Pole Weather Patterns Proof that God Hates Obama and Homos."

There's more, but you get the point.

- Mark

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM 101 ... YEAH, IT'S FDR

Earlier I posted a simplified explanation of Democratic Socialism, which you can access by clicking here. To make my simplified version even simpler, just think about the policies pursued and enacted by FDR ...


We often forget that after FDR's policies were put in place America effectively erased "market meltdown" and "depression" from its vocabulary for the better part of 50 years. This would all change with the arrival of Ronald Reagan and his ideologically driven deregulatory and tax-cutting regime (yeah, the 2008 meltdown was no accident).

Finally - and for the record - FDR's policies pissed off the elites of America so much they actually planned to overthrow his administration. You can read about it here.

- Mark

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

WHEN BIG PHARMA SAYS DRUG PRICES ARE HIGH BECAUSE THEY SPEND SO MUCH ON R&D IT'S A LIE


Earlier this year the Washington Post did a nice job of outlining how big pharmaceutical companies actually spend their money. The WP's motivation was two-fold.

First, the biggest pharmaceuticals were arguing that drug prices are high because they spend so much on the research and development (R&D) of drug products. Second, HBO's John Oliver did a great job of  highlighting how the pharmaceutical industry actually spends their money marketing.

I encourage you to read the WP piece, but the results of their report are pretty much summarized in the bubble graph below.


You can check out John Oliver's piece on the pharmaceutical industry's marketing policies by clicking here, or by watching the YouTube video below.


- Mark 

Monday, December 28, 2015

27 AMERICANS KILLED BY GUNS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

In case you were wondering, 27 Americans were shot and killed on Christmas day, while 63 were injured in gun related incidents. The number of people who shot and killed themselves on Christmas - as reported by the Washington Post - is not included in this tally.


- Mark 

READING FOR THE LAST WEEK OF 2015 (12-28-15)


What the "War on Terror" really is, and how to fight it (Truth Out).

President Obama to invade Texas ... with temporary housing, clean water, food, and cash (If You Only News).

Then vs. Now (Guff).

Obamacare enrollment is outpacing last year with 8 million sign-ups (Huffington Post).


REAL MARKET TALK
The next financial crisis is unfolding now (Money Morning).

Capitalism - not China - is to blame for the current global economic decline (Truth Out).

How market players short-term horizons have helped make the market a gambling den ... "Why the SEC really pulled the plug on Stops - and what you can do about it" (Money Morning).


POLICING IN AMERICA
The biggest threat to American public safety is the American police state (The Nation).

Drones and lethal robotics: The future of the police war on black lives (Truth Out).

Nearly half of Georgians killed by police were unarmed and shot in the back (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Kansas cops demolish single mom's home and destroy children's Christmas tree - by mistake (Raw Story).

After Chicago police kill a college student and 55-year-old mother, mayor demands reform (Washington Post).

"None of us belong in this cage": Why hunger strikes are spreading to immigration detention centers across the country (Salon).


THE REAL CULTURE WAR IN AMERICA
Paul Krugman gets it right ... Republicans are panicked, stupid and cruel (Blue Wave).

Donald Trump's birtherism and appeal to white power are a road to fascism (Buzz Flash).

President Obama tells the truth about race and the right explodes (The Nation).

Donald Trump's winning because the GOP trained its base not to care about facts, truth (Salon).


DO WE REALLY NEED MORE GUNS?
27 Americans shot and killed on Christmas day (Washington Post).

"I'll kill you right now": Florida man opens fire at McDonald's restaurant after dispute over order escalates (Raw Story).


MISCELLANEOUS
Lying bastard who made fake Planned Parenthood videos just got his a$$ handed to him in court (Blue Wave).

Corporate charity is corporate power (Salon).

Senators Sanders and Warren introduce SAVE Benefits Act to boost Social Security and other critical benefits for seniors and veterans (Sanders.Senate).

Saudi Arabia reports record high $98 billion budget deficit on low crude prices (RT).

- Mark 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WHERE THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA ENDS


This is not really important, I just found it interesting. The Great Wall of China ends in the sea, about 3 miles north of Shanhai Pass.

- Mark

Sunday, December 20, 2015

CHRISTMAS WITH SNL ... "NPR's DELICIOUS DISH"

An SNL classic for the weekend before Christmas. Many of you might remember NPR's "Delicious Dish" with Alec Baldwin ...


- Mark 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

INCREASED SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS? IF SENATORS SANDERS AND WARREN GET THEIR WAY, YES

In early November I posted this story. It explained how the U.S. Congress stood by and watched (helped?) create an accounting system that effectively cut back on Social Security cost of living increases for our nation's seniors. In a few words, they signed off on an infinitely confused accounting system built around "hedonics" that rob our nation's seniors of inflation adjusted bumps in their Social Security checks.

In my view it's public theft by another name.


The end result is that our nation's seniors runs out of money at the end of the month more often than they might have in the past.

Anyways, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have introduced legislation to help our nation's seniors (and veterans) get the cost of living allowance increases that they have been denied over the past two decades.


I won't spoil it, but you can read about the legislation here. If you want to read how Senators Sanders and Warren plan to pay for the increases, and why our nation's seniors should be ticked off about getting robbed of their cost of living increases, click here.

- Mark

KILLER HOSPITALS?


You can access the story here.

- Mark

HAPPY HOLIDAYS?

- Mark

Friday, December 18, 2015

SOMEONE'S NOT INTERESTED IN STAR WARS ... ME


Not that this matters, but I'm not watching Star Wars. I tried watching it when it first came out. I was in high school and thought it sucked. I was bored stiff. As you can imagine, I haven't watched any of the sequels either.

It's good to know - courtesy of Macleans - that I'm not alone in my sentiments.

Still, about 10 years ago I tried watching it with my son, Sebastian, because he really liked Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear. He wanted to watch Star Wars so I thought I'd give it another shot. It was even more boring the second time around. My son fell asleep before I did.

Since I rented it for a couple of days I asked Sebastian if he wanted to try and watch it again. I was relieved when he said no.

I still don't know any of the characters, except for the princess with the Danish rolls on the side of her head - and Darth Vader. And I only know about Darth Vader because his character is referenced in Toy Story, and there's usually someone at a Raiders game dressed up as Darth Raider.


OK, enough with the space frivolity. The force isn't with me. Now back to work.

- Mark

DOES MORE DEFENSE SPENDING, WAR, AND TAX CUTS MAKE US STRONGER? NO, BUT IT IS BREAKING THE BANK (and turning Eisenhower into a prophet)


The cost of war in perpetuity has been staggering. While the costs in blood are significant, what our war spending binge has done to our annual budgets and our national debt are a disgrace. 

Think about it, as I pointed out several years ago, we had budget surpluses in 2000. Our budget picture was so strong that the CBO said that we were looking at around $5.6 trillion in projected surpluses back in 2001. Here's the real fun part. If we had stayed on that pace we would have paid the national debt off around 2012 (or about three years ago).

So, what happened? 

We flushed trillions in projected surpluses down the toilet, that's what happened. How did we do that? Below I explain how we went from budget surpluses and a $5.3 trillion national debt in 2001 to well over $16 trillion in debt today. 



#1: RECKLESS TAX CUTS = COLLAPSING OUR REVENUE BASE
We were running budget surpluses in 2001. Then we went on a reckless tax cutting binge. This collapsed our national income base, which put revenue and spending on a divergent course that only got worse after the market collapse of 2008.



Simply put, when you don't have the income you can't pay the bills. 


#2: OUR MILITARY BUDGET IS OUT OF CONTROL
When it comes to military budgets we spend far more than any nation on earth. Take a look at what the next six (or the top 15) spend on their military budgets ...




#3: WHAT WE REALLY SPEND ON THE MILITARY ...
Then we have this. In 2013 The Atlantic produced a chart that shows what we actually spend on military and "other" military-related items - which includes the VA, military retirements, etc. When we add up all the contingency costs The Atlantic showed that we actually spend well over $994 billion a year on the military ...



At the end of the day, we do have a spending problem. But not for the reasons you might think. What we really have is a revenue and military-spending problem. 

If this wasn't enough, think about this. After all that spending, Americans are constantly told that we still need to be scared. Apparently all that fighting and spending we do still hasn't made us safe. 

Final thought.

Think it through. Why we fight isn't necessarily because it makes us any safer (we're actually pretty safe). It's to feed a growing military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about more than 50 years ago.



I'll leave it at that for now.

- Mark

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

IS GUN VIOLENCE A PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIC? YES IT IS


Did you know that there's a funding ban that keeps the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence? Well, there is. And right before the San Bernardino shootout a group of medical doctors arrived in Washington.

The group was in Washington to speak about the need to view gun violence as a "public health epidemic" that required more research to solve the problem. This what we do with other maladies and diseases that cause thousands of deaths per year in America.

As you can imagine, Republican lawmakers opposed what the medical doctors were in Washington to discuss. They won't say it in public but they're afraid that, with more information, people might learn more about guns in America, including information in the meme below ...


- Mark

Saturday, December 12, 2015

WEEKEND READING (12-12-15)


Mass incarceration in America: The whole pie 2015 (Prison Policy Initiative).

Military contractors caught on tape bragging about future profits from war on ISIS (Occupy Democrats).

Robert Reich on "The 7 Biggest Economic Lies" (Robert Reich Blog).

Remembering an L.A. priest who gave sanctuary to immigrants during Reagan era (LA Times).


AMERICA'S BIGOTRY CORNER
Enraged woman attacks Muslims praying in California park: 'Allah is Satan and you are all murderers' (Raw Story).

100 years ago, Americans talked about Catholics the way they talk about Muslims today (Vox).

Rep. Loretta Sanchez responds to criticism over comment on Muslims (LA Times).

Trump thanked by top white supremacists - he's the best recruitment tool ever (Reverb Press)!


SCALIA BELONGS IN THE CORNER TOO?
The Donald Trump of the Supreme Court? Antonin Scalia is an affirmative action fool on the Supreme Court (Buzz Feed).

Harry Reid says Scalia endorses racist ideas (Huffington Post).


WE NEED MORE GUNS ... THEN AGAIN, MAYBE NOT
How many people have been shot in your neighborhood this year? A map of shootings in America (Slate).

Texas 'good guy with a gun' shoot carjacking victim in head - then runs away (Raw Story).

Combat veterans shoot down NRA 'fantasy world' of 'good guys with guns' (Raw Story).

Gun zealot chooses son's school for face down over open carry (Reverb Press).


LAUGHING AT THE TERRORISTS
Terrorist plot foiled when White Supremacist blows off his own leg (Addicting Info).

Mexicans mock ISIS terrorist threat with memes and humor (Fusion).


WHEN THE RIGHT GETS IT RIGHT
Bob Dole: Obama is a "good man," Cruz is extreme and Trump is "over the top" (Occupy Democrats).

LDS church issues statement in response to Trump's comments on Muslims (Fox 13 Salt Lake City).


GOP GIFTS TO CORPORATE AMERICA THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON
What the GOP is putting under corporate America's Christmas tree (Truth Out).

Whether it's an "active financing exception" or a "tax extender" the result is the same, corporations like GE end up having to pay their fair share in taxes (Tax Justice).

Wall Street wants to roll back Dodd-Frank reforms and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Nation of Change).


EVENWEL v. ABBOTT ON REDISTRICTING
Dan Walters: Court case could shake up California districts (Fresno Bee).

The threat to representation for children and non-citizens: An analysis of the potential impact of Evenwel v. Abbott on Redistricting (Social Explorer).

District Interactive: The threat to representation for Children and non-citizens (Social Explorer).


MISCELLANEOUS
I'm not sure I would agree, but OK ... "6 signs the NRA is losing its stranglehold on gun policy" (Mother Jones).

The 10 most controversial (or is that "clueless"?) Ben Carson quotes (Money Morning).

If unchecked, the growing mob mentality in the United States will lead to our destruction (BillMoyers.com).

NY Daily News and Philly Daily News turn Trump into ISIS and Hitler in latest covers (Raw Story).

'Disgraceful' Donald Trump in Twitter brawl with 'dopey' Saudi prince over Muslim comments (RT).

- Mark

TEXAS RETHINKS THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS


Click here for background.

- Mark 

Friday, December 11, 2015

RADICAL ISLAM AND DOMINO THEORY IN THE MIDDLE EAST ... IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK, OR WHAT THE "I'M SCARED" LOBBY WANTS YOU TO BELIEVE


Are you getting tired of people telling you to be scared all the time? Me too. Check this out ...

Recently I responded to a Facebook (FB) post promoting Donald Trump's "let's keep out all the Muslims" idea. The FB poster made the standard, "I'm scared ... but The Super Donald has a plan to make me feel safe" argument. I explained why there is no real threat of you actually being involved in a terrorist attack - let alone a Muslim sponsored attack - and presented the numbers.

The response to my post was pretty much a rambling set of non sequiturs that ended with them effectively saying, "I'm still scared, and I'm really pissed that you're not scared too."

The point of the FB post (I'm guessing) was two-fold. First, it's designed to promote the idea that Donald Trump is a savior (or sorts). Scared people need their Superman. Second, since the meme in the FB post mentions our policy towards the Japanese in WWII it suggests that keeping Muslims out really isn't that bad since, like the Japanese during WWII, they're really scary people too.

While the post alone is somewhat pathetic because of the culture of fear it wants you to buy into, it masks a larger issue that many Americans don't see (or simply want to ignore).

Simply put, stories and posts that promote the "I'm so Scared" story line work to distract Americans from the reality that we were the ones who created the mess in the Middle East.

Specifically, beginning in the 1950s we embarked on a series of political missteps, and not very well thought out policy blunders, that created a domino-like effect in the region. Let's take a look ...

* 1953: The CIA overthrew a democratically elected government in Iran in 1953, and installed the Shah of Iran as our puppet dictator. The domino effect begins here.

The Shah of Iran and President Eisenhower.

* 1979: The dictatorship and abuses carried out by the Shah led frustrated clerics and radicalized students to overthrow the Iranian government in 1979. Because the United States was the Shah's primary supporter radicals also overran the U.S. Embassy and took U.S. citizens as hostages. Radical clerics became the power base in Iran.



* 1980s: To keep the radical mullahs in Iran in check the U.S. threw its support behind the very secular Saddam Hussein. We sold him weapons and provided political cover. Our support helped underwrite the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and, perhaps just as importantly, kept oil flowing from the region.



* 1980s: Through the CIA the U.S. supported the Taliban in Afghanistan in the 1980s against the Soviet Union (because the enemy of our enemy is our friend, right?). The Taliban in Afghanistan became the incubator and training ground for both al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden (R) in Afghanistan in 1989.

* 1990: Frustrated by a lack of support or sympathy from the Arab community for the debts he accumulated fighting the radicals in Iran, Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait in 1990. This was the genesis of the first Gulf War. This also led to the stationing of western "infidel" troops in Saudi Arabia, which didn't sit well with many in the Taliban and, especially, the elements that are going to make up al Qaeda.



* 1990s: Former Taliban fighters and others - which included Osama bin Laden - form al Qaeda and find a safe haven in Afghanistan. They begin looking for targets to hit in the West, which includes the Twin Towers in New York. A series of attacks, including the events on September 11, 2001, are the result.



* 2003: George W. Bush decides to go into Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein after 9/11 because of two lies built around: (1) Saddam Hussein having WMDs (which, if he ever had them, he purchased from the U.S. during the 1980s) and (2) Saddam Hussein's supposed ties to both Osama bin Laden and 9/11. The serpents of ISIS are released in the region.


The blowback we're dealing with today - and what your grandchildren will be dealing with tomorrow - is the product of these policy missteps, and the domino-like effect they have had on the region.

The "I'm Scared" lobby would like us to ignore how our gung-ho, shoot up the universe, foreign policy from the past created the mess.

They want to ignore all of this because it makes it much easier to focus on how scary Muslims are today, and to push for even more military responses in the region ... because, you know, military action has worked out so well in the past.

The fact that we've intervened numerous times and dropped thousands of bombs on Iraq and the region - killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions in the process - never factors into the thinking of the "I'm Scared" lobby in America. They would rather ignore how we've created an environment for radicalized para-military groups in the region, like ISIS, to thrive. It ruins their narrative.

So, yes, by all means, let's be afraid of scary ISIS-Radical Muslims (if you must). But let's not forget how calling for more war and violence will simply continue the domino-like effect of perpetual war that we're dealing with today.

Oh, it also encourages the war mongering and increasingly bigoted, "I'm Scared" lobby.

- Mark 

OBAMA'S REALITY (and America's too)


- Mark

Hat tip to Robin for the meme.

And, for the record, LBJ understood these dynamics very well.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

THE ANTI-TRUMP ... JFK, ME & ALL MY LIBERAL FRIENDS


- Mark

THIS IS HOW WE DEAL WITH DISLOYAL CORPORATIONS


In my book I make it clear that the United States taxpayer funds and subsidizes a commercial infrastructure that helps make industries throughout the country a success. After pharmaceutical giant Pfizer moved its headquarters to Ireland to avoid paying their fair share of taxes here in the U.S. former Labor Secretary Robert Reich argues they should no longer be eligible to benefit from America's commercial infrastructure, which includes preferential or national treatment when it comes to patent laws, asset protections, commercial treaties, price support (especially with Medicaid), and NIH funded research.

I agree with Reich.

In the article below - via Nation of Change - Reich explains his rationale.

***************

Just like that, Pfizer has decided it’s no longer American. It plans to link up with Ireland’s Allergan and move its corporate headquarters from New York to Ireland.
That way it will pay less tax. Ireland’s tax rate is less than half that of United States. Ian Read, Pfizer’s chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal the higher tax rate in the United States caused Pfizer to compete “with one hand tied behind our back.”
Read said he’d tried to lobby Congress to reduce the corporate tax rate (now 35 percent) but failed, so Pfizer is leaving.
Such corporate desertions from the United States (technically called “tax inversions”) will cost the rest of us taxpayers some $19.5 billion over the next decade, estimates Congress’s joint committee on taxation.
Which is fueling demands from Republicans to lower the corporate tax rate.
Donald Trump wants it to be 15 percent.
Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz want to eliminate the corporate tax altogether. (Why this would save the Treasury more money than further corporate tax inversions is unclear.)
Rather than lower corporate tax rates, an easier fix would be to take away the benefits of corporate citizenship from any company that deserts America.
One big benefit is the U.S. patent system that grants companies like Pfizer longer patent protection and easier ways to extend it than most other advanced economies.
In 2013, Pfizer raked in nearly $4 billion on sales of the Prevnar 13 vaccine, which prevents diseases caused by pneumococcal bacteria, from ear infections to pneumonia – for which Pfizer is the only manufacturer.
Other countries wouldn’t allow their patent systems to justify such huge charges.
Neither should we – especially when Pfizer stops being an American company.
The U.S. government also protects the assets of American corporations all over the world.
In the early 2000s, after a Chinese company replicated Pfizer’s formula for Viagra, the U.S. Trade Representative put China on a “priority watch list” and charged China with “inadequate enforcement” against such piracy.
Soon thereafter the Chinese backed down. Now China is one of Pfizer’s major sources of revenue.
But when Pfizer is no longer American, the United States should stop protecting its foreign assets.
Nor should Pfizer reap the benefits when the United States goes to bat for American corporations in trade deals.
In the Pacific Partnership and the upcoming deal with the European Union, the interests of American pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer – gaining more patent protection abroad, limiting foreign release of drug data, and preventing other governments controlling drug prices – have been central points of contention.
And Pfizer has been one of the biggest beneficiaries. From now on, it shouldn’t be.
U.S. pharmaceutical companies rake in about $12 billion a year because Medicare isn’t allowed to use its huge bargaining power to get lower drug prices.
But a non-American company like Pfizer shouldn’t get any of this windfall. From now on, Medicare should squeeze every penny it can out of Pfizer.
American drug companies also get a free ride off of basic research done by the National Institutes of Health.
Last year the NIH began a collaboration with Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation  – subsidizing Pfizer’s appropriation of early scientific discoveries for new medications.
In the future, Pfizer shouldn’t qualify for this subsidy, either.
Finally, non-American corporations face restrictions on what they can donate to U.S. candidates for public office, and how they can lobby the U.S. government.
Yet Pfizer has been among America’s biggest campaign donors and lobbyists.
In 2014, it ponied up $2,217,066 to candidates (by contrast, its major competitor Johnson & Johnson spent $755,000). And Pfizer spent $9,493,000 on lobbyists.
So far in the 2016 election cycle, it’s been one of the top ten corporate donors.
Pfizer’s political generosity has paid off – preventing Congress from attaching a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, or from making it easier for generics to enter the market, or from using Medicare’s bargaining power to reduce drug prices.
And the company has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the candidacies of state attorneys general in order to get favorable settlements in cases brought against it.
But by deserting America, Pfizer relinquishes its right to influence American politics.
If Pfizer or any other American corporation wants to leave America to avoid U.S. taxes, that’s their business.
But they should no longer get any of the benefits of American citizenship – because they’ve stopped paying for them.


***************

- Mark 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

FOOTBALL TRIVIA ... WHY YOU AND I DON'T PLAY


- Mark

GENIUS DADS

And to think, all that time I wasted coaching, camping, and doing homework. Actually, it was well worth it (and still paying dividends), but this clip is still awesome. I wish I had thought of some of these ...


- Mark

Hat tip to Tove for the clip :-)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

WHY THE ISIS-TERRORIST THREAT IS OVERBLOWN ... AND WHY IT MATTERS



We're told to be afraid almost everyday. Muslim terrorists, you know.

The problem is your odds of dying in a terrorist related attack in the United States is about 1 in 20 million. So, why is it that we're being told to be afraid daily, as if death by terrorism is just around the corner? This is especially the case when you consider the following ...

You stand a far greater chance of winning the lottery, dying in a storm, getting hit by lightening, or falling and dying while getting out of bed than you do of dying in a terrorist related attack in America.

You're actually 2,000 times more likely to commit suicide than to die at the hands of a terrorist.

You're also 55 times more likely to be killed by a police officer in the United States (higher if you're a person of color, or live in Kern County) than dying from the handiwork of a terrorist.

There's something else you want to know and share with all the Chicken Little's who want you to be afraid of Muslim terrorists lurking behind every corner. According to the FBI the vast majority of terrorist acts in America (make that well over 90%) are carried out by non-Muslims.

There's much more, but you get the point. You're cowering friends and whiny colleagues are more paranoid than they need to be.

At the end of the day your chances of dying in a terrorist related act are about as good as Marty and Doc, who escaped death at the hands of Libyan terrorists, in Back to the Future.


Yeah, I know, Back to the Future wasn't real.

Well, guess what? Statistically speaking, neither are your fears of dying at the hands of Muslim terrorists in America.

The paranoia we see among many Americans are the product of several factors that - intentional or not - play on our worst fears and ugly biases.

CABLE TV: We have the insatiable 24 hour news cycle. You are not going to get sucked in to watch a channel unless you you have a reason. Learning more of your imminent death at the hands of a Muslim terrorist is a good reason to watch. Cue the panic music ...


RACISM/FEAR OF OTHERS: Adding to paranoia in America is a fear of people of color that we've always had in America, and a surging fear of Muslims. A fear of others has always been used to rile up the masses. Focusing on Muslims turns our traditional fears into a race-baiting bargain, a twofer of sorts.

Donald Trump understands how this works, and thinks he'll ride these fears into the White House. And, yes, this is the low hanging fruit of the cable news cycle too. It creates an air of suspicion and intolerance, and mixes well with the prospect of imminent death.



THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: There are a good number of industries who benefit financially from a state of perpetual war and a paranoid domestic environment. Both allow these industries to get rich selling more weapons and security products. Indeed, a group of military contractors were recently caught bragging about the profits the war on ISIS will bring - as if they were some kind of capitalist gods. President Eisenhower warned us about this more than 50 years ago when he told us about the military industrial complex. These people have no interest in calming the domestic flames of paranoia in America.


I'm not going to address these issues, for now. But one thing is clear: We are constantly and unnecessarily being told to be afraid, and it's distracting us from larger real problems here and abroad.

So, what's the real problem, you ask? I'll make this as simple as possible, and let you read the links.

Simply put, our global and national economies are in trouble, again. Stock markets are falling, productivity is weak in spite of record borrowing, and there is simply too much debt that can't and will not be serviced when interest rates begin to rise.

BUBBLE ECONOMY: Think about it. The Federal Reserve and central banks around the world learned nothing from 2008 and have created the biggest financial bubble in world history. Yes, it's even bigger than the pre-2008 bubble. You can read about it herehere and here.

DEBT BINGE: Then we have a world economy and global stock markets that are dependent on artificially cheap money. The problem is that while companies have taken out trillions in low interest loans, they have used it for paper profits and not for investments that will spur productivity and growth. Today, U.S. companies have borrowed so much they now owe more than they did before the market crashed in 2008. You can read about it here and here.

GLOBAL STOCK MARKETS FALLING: Finally, in spite of unprecedented amounts of money being pushed into the system, dozens of stock markets from around the world are in a semi free fall from peaks that were set earlier this year. You can read about it here.

The fact that the vast majority of Americans have no clue or understanding about how artificially inflated and weak our economies are is troubling. The fact that we have no clue so soon after the market collapse of 2008 is simply mind numbing.

For this we can thank the cowards and Chicken Little's of our world who simply want to bang the drums of war. And they do this in spite of the fact that the ISIS-Terrorist threat in America is over dramatized and, quite frankly, overblown.

- Mark