Wednesday, September 28, 2016

IS EUGENICS BEHIND DONALD TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN?


Via Huffington Post, we get what may be "the most dangerous part of Donald Trump's campaign" ...



- Mark

HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE WE CREATED OUT OF THIN AIR? ENOUGH TO KNOW WE'RE SITTING ON ANOTHER FINANCIAL BUBBLE

Over the past few years I've explained what a mess our economy has become since we learned how to create more and more money out of virtually nothing. In many ways, we're living in Rumplestiltskin's make believe world, where straw can be turned into gold, to the tune of $1.2 quadrillion. Check this out ...



Rumplestiltskin, as we know, is a child's fairy tale. What many of us don't know is that Rumplestiltskin is an exaggerated caricature of the ancient alchemists, who searched over the centuries for the Philosopher's Stone, a mysterious substance which the ancients believed had the power to turn base metals into gold. 

Creating money out of virtually nothing was a slow process in America during the 20th century, and started almost immediately after World War II (a story for another day). Unfortunately, it's clear the vast majority of America (humanity?) has no idea how we've been able to create more and more money (hint: we're printing it, in cyberspace). 

This is why over the years, and in my book, I tried to show how our modern economy creates money out of thin air. Specifically, over three years ago I tried to explain how simple 'futures markets' for goods like cattle and wheat morphed into highly unstable futures markets for financial services, like interest rates and insurance (which I posted on here, here, and here).  

The incredible part is how financial markets have exploded so that the value of the underlying goods - like cattle and wheat - is now dwarfed by the wealth affiliated with the financial contracts that "derive" their actual value from goods created. 

Why is this development important to understand? Because our financial system has exploded to the point that the goal is no longer to create things - like cattle and wheat - as much as it is to extract profits and wealth from the financial contracts that fund real commerce. 

In real simple terms, think about what Wells Fargo did. It's wealth extraction through fee and service contracts, but at a whole new level. 

In fact, the size of the world's overgrown financial services markets - about $1.2 quadrillion - dwarfs the size of America's actual economy - about $18 trillion - as this YouTube clip makes clear ... 



Here's the point you should understand if you watched the entire YouTube clip: We're sitting on a financial bubble.

- Mark

DEBATE FALLOUT, COURTESY OF SETH MEYERS

Seth Meyers takes a look at at the first presidential debate ...


- Mark

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"ALL HE HAD TO DO WAS WALK UPRIGHT, AND NOT DRAG HIS KNUCKLES, AND HE FAILED" ... KGET 17 NEWS PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE ANALYSIS

Republican Cathy Abernathy and I got together for a post-debate analysis on KGET 17 News Sunrise program this morning. Since I got the opening question, I went with the obvious point about Donald Trump: "All he had to do was walk upright, and not drag his knuckles, and he failed" (video clip here).


The first question - did Donald Trump stick to the script and look presidential? - was a follow up to my on-air comments from the previous day, where I said that if Donald Trump simply acted civil he would dispel a lot of the concern that he doesn't have the temperament to be president. He simply needed to be calm and act like an adult during last night's debate.

Unfortunately for Trump, while he did well the first 20 minutes, or so - which I acknowledged - he ended up going off the rails, big time.

In fact, by the end of the debate it was obvious that Trump didn't have the "stamina" (as it were) to finish the program. Apart from his very audible snorts and interesting face contortions, he was all over the place when it came to foreign affairs, and seemed completely lost on cyber security (what's up with the 400 lb. hacker?).


For her part, Hillary Clinton looked prepared and, yes, presidential.

To be sure, Hillary seemed a bit frustrated (bemused?) a few times because of Trump's incoherence but it was clear that this wasn't her first rodeo. More importantly, it was obvious that she alone understands the serious of the presidential stage, and the moment.

While Hillary Clinton might get a small bump in the polls from the debate it's also true that Trump's supporters live in another reality, and think he did a great job. This means a presidential race that should be over is a long way from being done.

- Mark

On a side note, we'll be back on KGET tonight (Sept. 27, 2016) at 5 pm, for another post-debate wrap up. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

DONALD TRUMP'S EXTREMELY LOW BAR TONIGHT ... KGET 17 NEWS SUNRISE ANALYSIS


I was on KGET 17 News Sunrise program this morning with Republican Cathy Abernathy. During our discussion - which you can access here - we went over what the candidates need to do in tonight's presidential debate. My primary point was a simple one. Pretty much all Donald Trump needs to do is show he can walk and chew gum without getting snarky and he probably wins the debate.

Yeah, the bar is that low for Donald Trump.

Hillary, however, needs to hit it out of the park.

Yeah, there's a double standard here.

This, folks, is democracy in America ...

Sigh.

- Mark

On another note, we'll be on KGET 17 News again tonight (Sept. 26) at 5 pm, right before the presidential debates at 6 pm. It should be fun.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

READING FOR THE WEEK (Sept. 25, 2016



What exactly is a microaggression? Let these examples from Hollywood movies explain (Quartz).

When baseball's best player refused to play (Ozy).

Giant holes are bursting open in Siberia, and you can hear the explosions from 60 miles away (Business Insider).

2016's most & least federally dependent states (Wallet Hub).


THINGS WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT
The true cost ... Why the private prison industry is about so much more than prisons (TPM).

Where productivity is sizzling hot (Ozy).

What Ken Ham isn't telling you about Ark Encounter funding ... Hint: It's a tax scam (Patheos)

The truth about undocumented immigrants and taxes (The Atlantic).

America's rivers and streams are overflowing with microplastic pollution (Quartz).


RAPE CHARGES AND THE CHARLATAN NAMED DONALD TRUMP
Why new child rape case filed against Donald Trump should not be ignored (Huffington Post).

How to cover a charlatan like Trump (NY Times).


THE 'IRISH SLAVES' LIE
How the myth of the "Irish slaves" became a favorite of racists online (Southern Poverty Law Center).

'Irish slaves': Historian destroys racist myth conservatives love to share on Facebook (Raw Story).


POLICING IN AMERICA
New ACLU cellphone app automatically preserves video of police encounters (The Nation).

Cops caught pepper spraying handcuffed 15-year-old girl after she was hit by a car (Raw Story).

How one of the deadliest police forces in America stopped shooting people (Quartz).

Carrying while black? Be careful, community leaders warn (Houston Chronicle).

Are black or white offenders more likely to kill police (Washington Post)?

King: White men killed most cops in 2016, conservatives silent (Daily News).

Once again: There is no 'war on cops.'  And those who claim otherwise are playing dangerous games (Washington Post).


IT'S THE WHITE EXTREMISTS WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT
Why have we forgotten the FBI's warning that white supremacy had infiltrated law enforcement (Urban Intellectual)?

Study says white extremists have killed more Americans in the U.S. than jihadists since 9/11 (Time).

White Americans are the biggest terror threat in the United States (PRI).

Right-wing extremists are a bigger threat to America than ISIS (Newsweek).

Here are 10 of the worst domestic terror attacks by extreme Christians and right-wing white men (Raw Story).


MORE IDIOTS BEING IDIOTS
Kentucky governor suggests patriots may have to "shed blood" if Clinton is elected (Mother Jones).

NRA fights to preserve gun rights for convicted stalkers, and domestic abusers (Raw Story).

Ohio Trump campaign chair Kathy Miller says there was 'no racism' before Obama (The Guardian).


MISCELLANEOUS
[She redeems herself, kind of] Ohio Trump campaign chair Kathy Miller resigns after saying there was 'no racism' before Obama (Jezebel).

The U.S. map redrawn as 50 states with equal population (Mental Floss).

Ketchup sandwiches and other things stupid poor people eat (Think Progress).

U.S. Household income grew 5.2 percent in 2015, breaking pattern of stagnation (NY Times).

- Mark

DONALD TRUMP'S A LOSER ... SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN EXPLAINS WHY



Senator Elizabeth Warren explains why Donald Trump is such a loser ...


- Mark 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

THE KAEPERNICK CONUNDRUM FOR THE FAKE PATRIOTS AND REAL LIFE BIGOTS


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- Mark

Update Meme: No comment necessary ...



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WELLS FARGO MAKES IT CLEAR FINANCIAL SECTOR STILL MANAGED BY CON MEN AND CROOKS (+ Senator Elizabeth Warren's Epic Smackdown of Wells Fargo's CEO)


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The Mike Luckovich cartoon above reflects how banking giant Wells Fargo fired 5,300 low level employees who opened bogus accounts on behalf of clients, all because they were pressured and then threatened with dismissal if they did not meet account quotas. Because new accounts generated new fees, top level executives were able to pay themselves big bonuses, while demanding higher salaries, as "new accounts" began piling up across the company.

The problem, as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) points out, is that many (most?) clients had no idea new accounts were being opened in their name, or how much in fees they were actually paying. They were being scammed, under the guise of "deepening customer relations" at Wells Fargo.

It apparently doesn't matter to Wells Fargo's CEO, John G. Stumpf, that thousands of low level employees, who were just following orders, got fired for running the scam. As long as senior executives got their bonuses from "producing" so many new accounts, there seems to be no sense of guilt or remorse at Wells Fargo, as Senator Warren helps us see in the epic smack down she issues to CEO Stumpf below.




There's more, but you get the point. Many of America's financial executives learned nothing from 2008 and, quite frankly, operate as if the "logic of the market" gives them the right to operate like con men and crooks.

- Mark

Addendum: For the record, opening new accounts (cross selling) simply because it generates new fees and revenue - and not because the clients want or need the accounts - is a classic example of wealth extraction.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

READING FOR THE WEEK (Sept. 20, 2016)


Video released in Terence Crutcher's killing by Tulsa police (NY Times).

Dakota Access Pipeline company attacks native Americans with dogs and pepper spray (Truth Out).

The most sexist and anti gay places in America, according to Twitter (Takepart).

This temperature timeline of earth shows exactly how nonsensical climate-change deniers really are (IFL Science).


IDIOTS BEING IDIOTS
Virginia Republicans' essentially racist project (Washington Post).

North Korea bans sarcasm because Kim Jong-un fears people only agree with him 'ironically' (Independent).

Latinos for Trump founder: Hispanics "are a primitive and underdeveloped culture" (Vox).


1ST & 4th AMENDMENT / PRIVACY
Police accidentally record themselves conspiring to fabricate criminal charges against protester (ACLU).

A sex toy lawsuit highlights privacy concerns around 'smart' dildos (Motherboard).


TRUMP
Donald Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems (Washington Post).

"The making of Donald Trump": David Cay Johnston on Trump's ties to the mob and drug traffickers (Truth Out).

Trump's history of corruption  is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one (Washington Post)?

A neuroscientist explains what may be wrong with Trump supporters' brains (Raw Story).

Mark Cuban offers to give $10 million to charity if Trump can explain his own policies (Huffington Post).

State attorneys general who dropped Trump University fraud inquiries subsequently got Trump donations (Vox).

Paul Krugman destroys the media myth that Trump voters have economic anxiety: It's about race (Raw Story).


THE WELLS FARGO RIP OFF
Pervasive sham deals at Wells Fargo, and no one noticed (NY Times)?

Wells Fargo exec who headed phony accounts unit collected $125 million (Fortune).

'You should resign': Watch Sen. Elizabeth Warren grill Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf (NPR).

And now, a case of really bad Republican timing (Washington Post).


MISCELLANEOUS
Half-million Iraqis died in the war, new study says (NatGeo).

The geography of U.S. inequality (NY Times).

Settle into 10 of the most beautiful libraries on earth (Wired)

Funny ... News anchors lose it after painful interview with Ryan Lochte (YouTubeSunnyskyz).

- Mark

THE WAR IN SYRIA EXPLAINED IN 5 MINUTES


The conflict in Syria is not as simple as good versus evil, as this Ezra Klein clip makes abundantly clear ...


- Mark 

Monday, September 19, 2016

THINKING ABOUT VOTING FOR TRUMP? WATCH THIS ...

Not that I expect it, but if you are thinking about voting for Donald Trump you should take the time out to watch this video clip from Ezra Klein ...


- Mark

Thursday, September 15, 2016

HAPPY 2008 MARKET CRASH ANNIVERSARY (I think) ... IS IT TIME TO START JAILING THOSE RESPONSIBLE?


Today is September 15th. It was 8 years ago today that our country went into a national economic tailspin that we're still experiencing, and paying for, on many levels.

As a reminder, I had been following our slow motion market collapse (which I discussed throughout 2008 herehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehereherehere ... well, you get the point) and suspected that the impending market collapse was upon us. It was. So, 8 years ago today, I blogged about what was happening in the market in real time, and on a Sunday no less. 

I haven't blogged that many times on a Sunday since. But one thing was clear. Ordinary Americans weren't happy with what had happened, and were ready to go after Wall Street ...



In the days after the market collapse, I discussed the possibility of Golden Parachutes for those who caused the collapse (which turned out to be a serious understatement), how global markets were responding (not well), and other market ugliness.

To be sure, I didn't think that the collapse would be so big that it would put the U.S. taxpayer on the hook for at least $12-14 trillion in bailout cash, and other market guarantees. I didn't want to believe that our government would fill up the tank and turn the keys over the people who ran our nation's economic car into the ditch. But this is exactly what happened (while there are few, this market handout is my great disappointment in the Obama administration).

Today, banks are flush with bailout cash and corporate America is sitting on trillions in cash as a result of government's decision to make them whole. 

I bring all of this up because it appears Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) wants Wall Street to finally pay for the collapse and financial bailout that followed. Senator Warren is using the market collapse anniversary as a platform to suggest that the next presidential administration "investigate and jail" those responsible for the market collapse. While I would like to see this happen too, I'm not holding my breath. Barry Ritholtz has a nice discussion on the proposal, which you can access here

 In all cases, Happy Anniversary (I think).

- Mark

CLOSE A LIBRARY, MORE POLICE? YOU MAKE THE CALL ...


Below is a Community Voices opinion piece from one of our Political Science majors, Randy Villegas.

Apart from being an exceptionally gifted student, Randy Villegas is currently participating as an intern through the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. Located on the California State University Monterey Bay campus, the Panetta Institute was created by former Secretary of Defense and CIA director Leon Panetta. The Panetta Institute selects and prepares one student each from every CSU campus to participate in their semester long program, with most interns finishing up working in the Washington DC area for a member of the U.S. Congress.

Enjoy the article ...

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COMMUNITY VOICES

Lisa Green, closing libraries won’t make us safer

Picture
RANDY VILLEGAS
During a recent Board of Supervisors meeting, Kern County District Attorney Lisa Green declared that public safety must remain the top priority. “If that means closing every library in the county so you can put deputies on the street,” she said at the meeting on Sept. 6, “you need to do that.”
Wrong.
If you really want to prioritize public safety, you need to attack the real threat: lack of education and lack of opportunity. Numerous studies show the link between education and crime rates, and the overwhelming consensus is that the more educational opportunity communities have the lower the crime rate.
Why do people turn to a life of crime in the first place? Oftentimes it’s because they feel as though they have no other opportunity. When a person doesn’t have a high school diploma, a degree, or the basic literacy or skills to pursue a career, their options become extremely limited. For many, crime becomes the only option left.
This is exactly why we need to invest in our libraries and other programs that help keep people on the right track. When youth in Kern County are greeted by a locked door at a local library branch that is only open 2-3 days a week, and for limited hours, what does that say about our priorities?
Who is there to help that student learn how to conduct proper research, or find that specific book for a paper? These things might seem trivial, but for many young people in our community libraries are the only place they can connect to the internet, find a quiet place to study and do the basic things that are expected of all students.
And it isn’t only young people who benefit. When a homeless person needs help building a resume and looking for a job, who is there to help them find their way out of poverty? It’s not the District Attorney’s office. It’s the Kern County Libraries and the dedicated staff that work under already limited resources.
Green’s comments also fly in the face of public opinion, as seen in the over 50 percent of residents who supported a measure that would have imposed an eighth of a penny sales tax that would go directly toward funding our public libraries. Although the proposal didn’t get the two thirds vote it needed, it was a step in the right direction and clearly showed that our community support its libraries.
With Bakersfield ranked the #1 most illiterate city in the nation, it’s clear we can’t afford to allow this cycle of illiteracy — which fuels the poverty and crime — to continue. If we truly want to save money and make our public safer, we need to educate our community and provide the proper resources for people to pull themselves out of poverty.
And if we shift our focus to education and resources like our libraries, perhaps in the future we won’t have to make such drastic cuts to our departments, because those who earn more ultimately contribute more to the local economy.
Lisa Green, I bet you read at least a few books growing up. If any of those books ever came from a public library, then maybe you can consider the 864,124+ people living in Kern County whose only access to the internet, books and basic resources is the local library. I sincerely hope that you apologize to the people of Kern for your statement last week.
Randy Villegas is a student at Cal State Bakersfield and a youth reporter for South Kern Sol.
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- Mark

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A NEW STAGE FOR THE VILLAGE IDIOT ... CABLE TV


In the "good old days" people like the founder of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, would be pilloried and put on a stage so people could hurl insults (or eggs) at them. Public humiliation for fools and trolls was a regular part of medieval Europe's social contract. In part because public humiliation is now seen as cruel and - you know it's coming - medieval, we've abandoned public shaming as a matter of policy.

Unfortunately, we have different venue for peeking into the lives of the village idiots of our world. It's called cable TV.

The incredible part is how our targets are now getting on stage on their own. While many of you might be thinking about The Jerry Springer Show, this Samantha Bee Full Frontal clip makes it clear that our political world has also become infected with the fools and trolls that we once simply referred to as the village idiot ...




The real sad part, at least when it comes to democracy in America, is how we give air time to people who are turning our democracy into a vaudeville act. The fact that many Americans are getting their jollies from watching it - instead of turning our backs on it - tells us that Donald Trump may simply be the first of many vaudevillian con men coming down our political pike.

So, yeah, we want our MTV ... splashed with Kardashians.

What this means is that our politics, as I've pointed out elsewhere, has become little more than a perpetual round of entertainments, where informed commentary is replaced by idiot-speak.


And, yes, as we are now experiencing in real time, our democracy is the worse for it.

- Mark 

Monday, September 12, 2016

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY HEARING ON THE STATUS OF BOYS AND MEN OF COLOR HELD AT CSU BAKERSFIELD

Tomorrow (September 13, 2016) at CSU, Bakersfield the California State Assembly Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color will hold a legislative hearing between 1 - 3 pm at the Walter S. Stiern library (pictured below).
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The rationale for the hearing is pretty simple. With California fast becoming a “minority” dominant state, the California state legislature determined they need to take a look at some of the challenges that we see with Latinos and Blacks in California, especially since they are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate in California. The Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color (BMOC) has been tasked with looking at these challenges.

The committee has held hearings across the state over the past 6 years and, as I understand it, this is the first hearing on the status of BMOC they are holding in California's Central Valley. Assemblymember Rob Bonta (18th AD) is co-chairing the committee this year with Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (59th AD). Assemblymember Rudy Salas is scheduled to be in attendance as well.

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Assembly co-chairs of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color, Rob Bonta (D - 18 AD) and Reginald B. Jones-Sawyer, Sr (D - 59 AD).
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If you're in Bakersfield and interested in watching your state government at work - and especially if you're interested in the challenges confronting California as they relate to Boys and Men of Color - you might want to attend tomorrows legislative hearing at CSU Bakersfield. Scheduled speakers include Dr. Carlos Alvarez, Joey Williams, Camila Chavez, Dr. Rob Arias, Juan Avila, Sal Arias, James White, and Aldo Garcia.

A 30 minute Q & A will follow the 1 1/2 hour hearing. Light refreshments will be served.

The map below should help you find your way ...

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- Mark 

IT WAS A GOOD SUNDAY ... RAIDERS 35, SAINTS 34

I know it's only Week 1, but yesterday's victory was awesome ...


- Mark

Addendum: While the meme below gives you an idea of what fans are saying, you can access the best comments and memes about Jack del Rio's gut check call in the last minute to go for 2 points instead of settling for a tie by clicking here ...



ALEPPO, SYRIA ... BEFORE AND AFTER WAR


David Wolfe presents before and after photos of war torn Aleppo, Syria ...


- Mark 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

THIS IS WHAT'S WRONG WITH AMERICA'S PRIORITIES



- Mark

WHY I NEVER FORGET ... WHAT I THINK ABOUT EVERY 9/11

Some of you know this story already, but since it's been 15 years I'm going to share it again ...


It was September 2001 and I was in Washington DC at an academic conference. I was scheduled to leave on September 9th. I unexpectedly ran into a friend from graduate school, Lorenzo, who I hadn't seen in years. Lorenzo is also the godparent of my son, Sebastian.

We had a lot of catching up to do so I made arrangements to stay. My new itinerary had me leaving the morning of September 11.

After dinner, I thought to myself, "I need to get back and help with the kids" since they were 2 and 3 years at the time, and a real handful. I called the airlines to ask if I could leave earlier. They made the switch. 

If I had stayed in DC to visit the flight I would have been on was American Airlines Flight 77. As many of you know, this was the plane that slammed into the Pentagon.



I think about this every September 11th, and try to remember it whenever I think I'm having a bad day.

- Mark

Friday, September 9, 2016

THE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA AND THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF FORUM

If you missed NBC's widely criticized Commander-in-Chief forum, by now you probably know that moderator Matt Lauer has been getting hammered for his incredibly inept and Trump-boot licking interview style. If you didn't catch the forum, and don't want to pull it up on YouTube, you're in luck. The memes below pretty much provide all you need to know about what transpired during the forum ...
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So, yeah, last night's NBC forum pretty much confirmed that the dumbing down of America is a trend that's infected many parts of our news media (Fox is not alone), and is not just a Donald Trump inspired moment.

- Mark

Thursday, September 8, 2016

FIXING OUR STUDENT DEBT MESS



Robert Reich has a few simple ideas on how to solve our student debt problem. I agree with all of them.



- Mark 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

YES, SMART INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT WORKS

Check out this Bloomberg piece describing the impact Denver's international airport has had on the local and state economy. While it was originally called a "boondoggle" by critics - which included the chairman of American Airlines and future Fox News head Roger Ailes, then a Republican media consultant - the voters of Denver approved a bond measure to fund the construction of the airport in 1989.


Not only has the airport become "the linchpin of Colorado's transition to a global 21st-century economy flush with high-paying jobs" but dependence on extractive industries like materials and energy (including mining) is a thing of the past.

Denver's experience is a lesson our GOP led Congress should have learned from a long time ago. Unfortunately, as I've pointed out before (herehere, here, and here), our "Just Say No" Republican dominated Congress would rather see President Obama fail, and watch our nation suffer, than see their failed ideology proven wrong (again) by the regenerative powers of job producing infrastructure investments.

- Mark

Monday, September 5, 2016

READING ON LABOR DAY (Sept. 5, 2016)


Clinton campaign releases video blasting Trump's Mexico trip (The Hill).

Obama and Putin still can't agree on Syria and, boy, do they hate each other (BuzzFeed).

Why poor people stay poor (Slate).

How much will the war on unions cost you this Labor Day (Truth Out)?


LABOR & WAGES (in California)
Fruits of labor: Sunny California is no paradise for farm workers (The Guardian).

California's rich-poor gap: The reality may surprise you (Cal Matters).


JUST CALIFORNIA NEWS
Solar-powered pipe desalinizes 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water for California (Inhabitat).

California bans ITT tech from accepting new students (LA Times).


DONALD TRUMP
Donald Trump's bet: We are all chumps (Washington Post).

Trump's problem isn't that he's going 'off script.' His problem is the script itself (Washington Post).

American Nazi chair: Trump win would be "a real opportunity" for white nationalists (BuzzFeed).

Donald Trump jacked up his campaign's Trump Tower rent once somebody else was paying it (Huffington Post).

Reporter's tweets from within crowd at Trump rally are raw, powerful and shocking (Good Men Project).

Trump backer Mark Burns's painfully bad attempts to defend his inflated resume (Washington Post).

Twitter users hilariously troll Donald Trump's kids over 'outsider' tweet (Huffington Post).

I'm a doctor. Here's what I find most concerning about Trump's medical letter (Huffington Post).


JUST INTERESTING
Chivalry isn't dead, you just don't know what the f*#k it is (Better Myths).

Private space firm demands restitution from Musk after Space X rocket explosion (Ozy).

The secrets of Medieval castles: Stairs are built in a clockwise fashion for a VERY good reason (Vintage News).

The FBI says it can't find hackers to hire because they all smoke pot (Motherboard).

#Meme of the Week: Taco trucks on every corner (NPR).


RELIGION & SOCIETY
She beat her son with a hanger - and said Indiana's religious freedom law gave her the right (Washington Post).

Copeland says Christians who vote against Trump will be cursed with poverty, gay children (Business Standard News).

'Drinking the Orange Kool-Aid': Cult expert says Trump is like Rev. Jim Jones - but far more dangerous (Raw Story).

Texas clerk gets the bill for her 'religious freedom' claim (The New Civil Rights Movement).


SERIOUSLY?
Nearly one-third of Louisiana Republicans blame President Obama for slow Hurricane Katrina response (The Intellectualist).

Cops threaten not to protect Kaepernick while providing extra security for rapist Brock Turner (U.S. Uncut).

More parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids - but not for the reasons you think (Mother Jones).


THE TRUTH ABOUT LATINOS & IMMIGRATION
A look behind the claims on immigration (Five Thirty Eight).

How Latinos are saving this former Pennsylvania mining town (Enterparse).

Trump and the truth: Immigration and crime (The New Yorker).


CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENT
Scary proof that we have seriously screwed up the planet's oceans (Take Part).

Oklahoma now as much an earthquake risk as California (The Intellectualist).

Flooding of coast, caused by global warming, has already begun (NY Times).


MISCELLANEOUS
New Trump hire proves Hillary Clinton's vast right wing conspiracy is real (Politics USA).

Memo to GOP: Forget your obstructionist policies. They backfired (Washington Post).

7 charts on how the world views President Obama (Pew Research Center).

In case you missed it ... Paul Ryan snapped this photo, can you tell what is wrong with it (Addicting Info)?

- Mark

ENJOY LABOR DAY ... THEN REMEMBER WHY WE HAVE IT






- Mark

Saturday, September 3, 2016

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND

I've written about Ronald Reagan establishing the Social Security tax before. Still, the meme below is a good reminder for those who depend on Social Security for the bulk of their retirement income ...


- Mark

Friday, September 2, 2016

TRUMP'S AMERICA ... THE GOOD OL' DAYS

How many conservatives do you believe will change their minds about Trump after watching the clip below? How many will understand the reference? Via Mother Jones, here's a clip of the good ol' days that Donald Trump believes will make America great again ...


- Mark

Thursday, September 1, 2016

KGET 17 NEWS ANALYSIS ... DONALD TRUMP'S VISIT TO MEXICO AND HIS ARIZONA SPEECH


I appeared on KGET 17 News tonight with Cathy Abernathy. We discussed what Donald Trump's Mexican trip and his Arizona speech (when he returned to the U.S.) meant for his presidential campaign. I made two points clear: (1) Donald Trump was invited by a desperate Mexican president who's not very well liked and who needed a distraction, and (2) if Donald Trump were truly serious about immigration reform he would discuss what a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) worker visa might look like.

Cathy Abernathy wasn't really interested in talking NAFTA policy, and stuck to the Trump-Republican talking points on immigration. Unfortunately, Cathy also decided to kick it up a notch, and embellished a few of the points she was trying to make. Specifically, Cathy lied about a few things, so I called her on what she said (which you'll see at 4:17 in this clip). At the end of our segment Cathy tried to appear indignant, and said, "If you want to say something I said was a lie you better be specific about it."

I have a better idea. Let's a take look at the clip, which you can access by clicking here.


If the link doesn't work, allow me to "be specific" about the lies below.

At about 3:58 into our segment Cathy starts off on a rant that begins with her claiming Democrats "constantly campaign for no rules" and want to "let anybody in" because "Democrats don't want enforce these laws" [sic].

Apart from the fact that no Democrat has ever advocated or campaigned for "no rules" or cheered letting "anybody in" this country, there's the issue of President Obama enforcing our laws. Check this out.

If there's anything President Obama's been criticized for by progressive Democrats, and especially by Latinos, it's how he's been so heavy handed in using the system we have to deport undocumented immigrants. As one source put it, "When it comes to getting tough on immigration, Republicans talk the talk, but Obama walks the walk." Specifically, President Obama has used the system we have to deport more undocumented immigrants from this country than any other United States president.

Since coming to office in 2009, Obama’s government has deported more than 2.5 million people—up 23% from the George W. Bush years. More shockingly, Obama is now on pace to deport more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000, according to government data.

How's that for our laws not being enforced by Democrats?

The reality is if Donald Trump wanted to score points with his base - while getting Latino Democrats upset with President Obama - he should be touting President Obama's record setting deportation numbers, and then say that he plans to deport even more undocumented immigrants.

But that would only call attention to the fact that President Obama's use of our Homeland Security system - which includes ICE and the Border Patrol, among others - has been more effective than under any other U.S. president, as many Latinos have been complaining about for years.

At this point one has to wonder where Cathy gets her information (and, for the record, no researcher or analyst worth their salt takes the Center for Immigration Studies, FAIR, or Fox seriously). The kind of Republican talking points Cathy (and Trump) use are built around questionable sources and depend on a political straw man logic. They don't have a place in serious public discussions about immigration.

But wait, it gets better.

Later, Cathy actually says "we have no system right now" (see above) and that "if you break into this country you can get welfare benefits, you can get everything."

This is where I had to call Cathy out, and told her, "That's a lie, that's a flat out lie."

To begin, Cathy must think that ICE, the Border Patrol, and Homeland Security are part of a "big government" virtual reality game that doesn't really exist. The 2.5 million people deported by our system must be imaginary too.

Look, you might be able to claim that our "system" is broken, or that it might be inefficient. But to say "we have no system" is simply nonsense.

As for Cathy's comment that "if you break into this country you can get welfare benefits, you can get everything" all I have to say is that this is delusional thinking, on so many levels.

Look, no undocumented immigrant is eligible for welfare, period. And, no, they certainly aren't getting everything (whatever that means).

There's more (watch how Cathy tries to get in yet another story about spooky killer immigrants at the end) but let's just finish with this. Attempting to paint a culture and society as enemies of the state simply because it fits an alarmist worldview is not analysis. It's propaganda.

The sooner Republicans learn this the sooner we'll be on our way to discussing real solutions to the challenges that exist between Mexico and the United States.

- Mark

TRUMP'S MEXICO TRIP IN A NUTSHELL

I just appeared on KGET 17 News' 5 pm program with Cathy Abernathy. I'll be posting on this as soon as the segment is posted on KGET's website. In the meantime, below are a few "things you should know" about Donald Trump's visit to Mexico.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto is not very popular in his country. Neither is Donald Trump. To give you an idea of what people in Mexico were thinking before Donald Trump's arrived to meet President Pena Nieto, here's a Tweet from an actress in Mexico with the comment, "A preview of what we're going to see tomorrow" ...



Un adelanto de lo que veremos mañana

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After Trump left Mexico, much has been written about what he might have accomplished, with many more in Mexico wondering why President Pena Nieto even invited Trump to his country. In spite of what the Trump camp is trying to spin, the commentary hasn't been pretty. 


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If we want to understand President Pena Nieto's motive, we want to remember that he's got so many political problems at home that he determined inviting Donald Trump to Mexico would give him a chance to take the light off of him, while looking "presidential" (being part of the U.S. presidential race story line helps elevate his position, even if just a little). The fact that President Pena Nieto felt compelled to invite Donald Trump illustrates how difficult things are for him. Still, he knew that "the wall" issue would come up and that he would be able to tell everyone after their talks that he told Trump "Mexico's not paying for the wall." 

False bravado plays well - at least in your own mind - when you're desperate.

Think of it as President Pena Nieto's "Bush landing on the carrier/Mission Accomplished" moment. If you recall, the aircraft carrier President Bush landed on (the USS Lincoln) was only 30 miles off the coast of San Diego. Nevertheless the landing and speech provided Bush's political team with the "War President" moment they wanted. 

As pathetic as it seems, Donald Trump gave President Pena Nieto his "We're Not Paying for the Wall" moment. 

Unfortunately, with so few Republican-like voters in Mexico, Pena Nieto's "no pago" moment is not paying him any political dividends at home.

I'll post our KGET clip from tonight, with comments, as soon as I see it on their website.

- Mark