Thursday, August 31, 2017

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

BAKERSFIELD'S HEAT WAVE REMINDS ME OF ...



Summer 2017 has been brutal in Bakersfield. We already had our share of 110-112°F days a few months back, and the projections for the rest of this week are not good.

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While one might think that we're supposed to get used to the heat, after so many days at or over 100°F, I'm starting to get a really tired of the successive heat waves. What's worse is that we just moved, so we don't have a pool (yet), for the first time in 13 years. This helps to explain why, for me at least, it seems like Bakersfield is in its own episode of the Twilight Zone's The Midnight Sun ...



Today's temperature was projected to be about 110°F, but dropped to 104-105°F (about 41° C) because of an unexpected light summer shower last night. I know it might be an exaggeration (but not by much) but if you're not from the region, this is what it's beginning to feel like in Bakersfield ...

I know, I know ...

In case you don't recognize the pictured references, they're from The Twilight Zone, episode #75, "The Midnight Sun."

- Mark

JOE ARPAIO'S RAP SHEET: JUST DOING HIS JOB? HARDLY


Click here for the FB link to video. For those inclined to say "he was just doing his job," click here for stories and links to Sheriff Arpaio's record as the chief law enforcement officer of Maricopa County, Arizona.

- Mark

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

SECRETARY'S OF STATE AND DEFENSE MAKE IT CLEAR ... PRESIDENT TRUMP DOESN'T SHARE OUR VALUES


Slate has an interesting article, penned by Fred Kaplan, that pretty much explains what we all see and know. President Trump doesn't represent American values. The interesting part is that it's President Trump's Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense who are making the point. Specifically, Kaplan writes ...

On Fox News on Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked about a U.N. committee’s recent warning about racism in America, which criticized Trump’s wavering attitude toward the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tillerson replied, “I don’t think anyone doubts the American people’s values,” including those touting “equal treatment of people the world over.” But when asked whether Trump shared those values, he replied, “The president speaks for himself.” 
Around the same time, a recent video emerged on Facebook of Secretary of Defense James Mattis telling a small group of American troops, “You’re a great example of our country right now.” He went on, “Our country, right now, it’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it.”

You can read the entire Slate article here.

- Mark

SHERIFF ARPAIO, A THUG WITH A BADGE


Pulling over Latinos to check their immigration status - after being told to stop doing so by the courts - is just the tip of the Joe Arpaio's illegal iceberg, as The Daily Show's Trevor Noah points out ...


Let me make this clear. Sheriff Arpaio is a thug with a badge.

- Mark

Monday, August 28, 2017

WHAT HURRICANE HARVEY IS TELLING US: "In the Future Scientists Will Be Vindicated and The Skeptics Will Look Very Stupid ..."


If you want to understand how global warming likely made Hurricane Harvey much worse, according to climatologists, click here. Not that it needs to be restated (actually, it does), but this May 31, 2017 article from the Insurance Journal - you know, the people who write for the guys who have to pay and reject the claims caused by climate change - helps explain what's happening in places like Texas.

Scientific studies have established an acceleration in sea-level rise because of a warming atmosphere. Coal and oil burning and the destruction of tropical forests have increased heat-trapping gases that have warmed the planet by 1.8 degrees since 1880. Earth has been losing 13,500 square miles of ice annually since 1979, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
Sea levels are generally rising faster along the Texas Gulf Coast and the western Gulf than the average globally, according to a January study by NOAA. 
“The western Gulf is experiencing some of the highest rates of relative levels of sea-level rise in the country,” said NOAA oceanographer William Sweet, lead author of the study. “The ocean is not rising like water would in a bathtub.” 
Sea-level rise is making storm surges larger, said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.

Here's the money quote from the Insurance Journal's May 2017 edition: "Apart from sea-level rise, climate change is expected to cause hurricanes to be more intense and produce more rain, according to the NOAA."




The Washington Post helps explain what happened in Houston ...




For the climate change deniers out there, the Vox article cited here, tells us how the science behind climate change also explains why the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was most likely worse because of climate change. Our real problem now, in the words of my former colleague David Berri (now in Utah), is how vindication for the scientists in the climate field will largely be a Pyrrhic-like Victory for humanity ...

... Notice the language [of the scientists]. Scientists don't speak in absolutes. They talk about where the evidence likely leads. 
This makes arguing with climate change skeptics so immensely difficult. 
Unfortunately for us, in the future the scientists will be vindicated and the skeptics will look very stupid. They won't be smart enough to know they look stupid. But they will look stupid.

So, yeah, the scientists win, while we lurch forward unprepared for the inevitable. And the truly stupid will live to see another day.

There's got to be a better way.

Sigh ...

- Mark

54 YEARS AGO TODAY ... I HAVE A DREAM

Today marks the 54th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jrs. "I have a dream" speech. The story below, via Jesse Cooke's Linkedin page, provides insight into the importance of being able to think on your feet, and knowing what you're talking about.



You can access MLK's speech by clicking here, or watching the clip below.


- Mark

Thursday, August 24, 2017

YEAH, THERE ARE LIMITS TO FREE SPEECH ... AND THEY'RE REALLY SIMPLE TO UNDERSTAND


Last week, Donald Trump effectively defended the American Nazis and the KKK by walking back his (two day late) robotic condemnation of the Charlottesville, Virginia white supremacists. Since walking back his condemnation, Trump has effectively reiterated his original comments that there was violence from "both sides" at the Charlottesville march.

Oh, and he's made it clear that he doesn't want to irritate white nationalists in America. 

While many Republicans openly condemned the American Nazis and the KKK, none have found it necessary to split with Trump, nor called for any kind of sanctions against the president. In effect, Donald Trump's embrace of white supremacists has gotten a partisan pass, courtesy of the GOP.

To call attention to Trump's twisted comments and the Republican party's empty condemnation of American Nazis and the KKK, comic artist Lalo Alcaraz came up with "GOP: The Big Tent Party" comic below, which I posted on my FB page.


As you can imagine, several trolls and white nationalist-Nazi sympathizers came out of the wood work, with many asking why American Nazis and the KKK don't have a right to march, and spew their hate, under the guise of free speech.

What these people don't understand is there is no absolute right to free speech in America, period.

I responded to one poster on my FB page - let's call him "Jeff" - by reminding Jeff that while the U.S. Constitution gives anyone the right to pollute the human environment (including white supremacists and Nazis) there is no absolute freedom of speech in America. Jeff didn't get it, in part because Jeff is like most of the conservative trolls who respond to my commentary on Channel 17, or follow my FB page and blog.

Simply put, they don't understand how free speech under the U.S. Constitution actually works.

I told Jeff that "there are limits to speech in America ...", pointed out that you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, and told him to start there. What the "fire in a crowded theater" example tells us is that time, place and manner of speech makes a difference, which the Supreme Court - the interpreters of the U.S. Constitution - have established over the years.

As I make clear in my classes, "fighting words" and offensive speech (towards "ordinary citizens") are not protected speech. Similarly, false statements (though the issue is still cloudy), obscenities and child pornography aren't protected either (for reasons I think we all understand).

To be sure, satire about "public figures" is protected (as Jerry Falwell found out), but there are still limits to speech.
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Then we have commercial and copyrighted speech (which can't be copied), and a host of other types of speech, especially if you work for the government (like national security), that are curtailed.

There's more, but the point here is there's no absolute right to free speech, period.

This is why it's important to note that, apart from their offensive speech, many of the Charlottesville American Nazis and KKK members showed up armed and in paramilitary gear. This made it clear they weren't preparing for a debate club moment.


Let's be clear here. The marchers in Charlottesville were not there to fight for workers rights, equal pay, or any other public policy position. They were thugs looking to take a stand and provoke a fight because they now feel emboldened by President Trump's toxic politics of division to promote white supremacy, and the toxic ideology of Nazism.

One final thought. I ended my discussion with Jeff by telling him that the Framers made it clear that it was OK to chase "repugnant ideas out of the public square." The Federalist Papers - which explain what the Framers really had in mind when they wrote the U.S. Constitution - argue quite forcefully that it is acceptable for society to "pick and choose" what ideas we want to hear publicly. In simpler terms, there is a marketplace of ideas in America.

For the moment, the vast majority of Americans don't want to hear Nazi thugs, the KKK, or any other white supremacists telling the rest of us about their genetic, cultural or racial superiority.


At the end of the day, the Founding Fathers - through documents like the Federalist Papers - did argue that imperfect and divisive speech are protected by the U.S. Constitution (because the causes of "factions" can't be removed). But they made it clear that the government must also work to control the worst elements of human speech because we are "not angels."

The Supreme Court, the arbiter of our Constitution, has held this position in court case after court case for well over 200 years.

There's more to the issue of what's protected and not protected speech - as this Atlantic article makes clear - but time, place and manner of speech makes a difference.

So, yeah, there are limits to free speech in America, and they're really simple to understand.

- Mark

TRUMP'S FINAL ECLIPSE


- Mark

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

THE CULT OF TRUMP: THREE DEVELOPMENTS ARE CLEAR AFTER TRUMP'S PHOENIX SPEECH

There are three very disturbing developments we can all see after Donald Trump's rally in Phoenix yesterday.

If we take a look at a list of the 57 most outrageous quotes from Donald Trump's Phoenix speech, courtesy of CNN, one thing become painfully obvious (again): Trump's supporters don't care if he is a narcissistic buffoon. Like Scientology acolytes, they're blinded by the cult of personality disorder they find themselves wrapped in at the moment.


A second development that's obvious after Trump's Phoenix speech (actually it's been obvious for some time): the man doesn't really care about governing, doesn't really understand it, and only wants to use the White House to bolster his ego with endless platitudes, all made up to honor himself. Check out this abbreviated clip of his Phoenix rally, courtesy of the Washington Post ...



The final obvious development that's clearer after Trump's Phoenix speech is the Cult of Trump is real. This is a disturbing development in America because it tells us that a large segment of America simply can't think for themselves, or hear what they want to hear from Trump. This is a psychological issue, which helps to explain why traditional or even logical political responses don't work with Trump's supporters, or with Trump.

Let that sink in for a moment.


Sigh ...

- Mark

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BOTH SIDES ACTED INAPPROPRIATELY? OK ...



According to Jim Acosta, the White House is issuing a memo urging surrogates to say both sides acted inappropriately in Charlottesville.

Nice


-Mark

Monday, August 14, 2017

THE VIOLENCE DONALD TRUMP NOW CLAIMS TO CONDEMN DIDN'T COME OUT OF NOWHERE ...

From the talented dude at The Daily Don ...


Forgive me for not being impressed with Donald Trump finally deciding to condemn the KKK and white supremacists during their race-hate filled march in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. His previous rhetoric and hate-filled encouragement has helped create the environment for the racist idiots and cultural snowflakes we saw in Charlottesville to feel emboldened.

In fact, Trump has been calling for a return to the good old days, when people of color knew their place, and women made the sandwiches, for some time now ...


The mayor of Charlottesville has more than a few things to say about what happened in his city, which you can access by clicking here.

- Mark

Saturday, August 12, 2017

JONATHAN PIE'S EPIC "OFF THE AIR" SUMMARY OF DONALD TRUMP'S WEEK

Jonathan Pie gives another epic "off the air" performance, outlining Donald Trump's failed week. Fair warning, while it's theatrics at it's finest, the language is strong in spots, and might be offensive for some ...


- Mark

For more on Pie's work, click here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

BAKERSFIELD HEALTH CARE CEO CALLS OUT REP. KEVIN McCARTHY FOR LYING ABOUT OBAMACARE


Via the Bakersfield Californian we get this op-ed from Steve Schilling, CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista, a California based non-profit health care organization that provides health care to low-moderate-fixed income patients in the region.
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McCarthy's words about 'imploding' ACA are literally unbelievable

  • By Steve Schilling

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, seeing an opportunity to score political points with his party’s hard-right base, recently resorted to scare tactics after the announcement that Anthem is pulling out of the Covered California exchange in Kern County. After reading McCarthy’s grave predictions that the Affordable Care Act “is collapsing,” the 5,000 county residents covered through Anthem could be forgiven for panicking.
But don’t panic and certainly don’t listen to McCarthy. He’s just reciting a tired list of talking points.
The only thing changing for the 5,000 Anthem patients in Kern is the name of the company on their insurance cards. They’ll still get the care they need, the care all Californians are entitled to, no matter what fiction he feeds his constituents or his true intended audience: the party brass in Washington (of which he is a part) and President Trump.
The exchange is working wonders in California, giving coverage to millions of people who for too long have used emergency rooms and other urgent care “solutions” as their only access to medical treatment. McCarthy disingenuously blames the Affordable Care Act for instability in the market while creating the very turmoil he condemns: “None of this can be blamed on Republicans because nothing in Obamacare has been changed in the law,” McCarthy told The Californian.
But plenty can be blamed on the Republicans.
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President Trump’s irresponsible comments about allowing the ACA to “implode” plays politics with the lives of millions of Americans, many of whom voted for him. And when Republicans got their turn at bat in the health-care ballgame, they introduced bills that would end coverage for millions, bankrupt those with pre-existing conditions, and allow an opt-out for the young and healthy – a demographic essential to keeping costs down – meaning the very people who need health care the most would have to pay through the nose to get it.
Unbelievable.
That’s the verdict of most Americans, and even most United States senators. When your party owns Congress and the White House and you still can’t pass health-care legislation, that means the legislation isn’t worth passing.
But McCarthy is right about one thing: Anxiety in the insurance markets is real. The source of the anxiety, though, does not stem from the Affordable Care Act but from the “repeal-and-replace” chorus we’ve been hearing from McCarthy and his colleagues for seven years. Anthem Blue Cross President Brian Ternan said as much, in explaining his short-sighted decision:
“The market for these plans has become unstable. And with federal rules and guidance changing, it’s no longer possible for us to offer some of those plans.”
Meanwhile, though they’re pulling out of Fresno, Kern and a few other markets, Anthem – whose profit growth from government business is so robust that it beat recent Wall Street projections - is choosing to remain in 28 of the state’s 58 counties.
Anthem’s competitors in Kern – Health Net, Kaiser and Blue Shield – are more than happy to step in, taking the long view that the Republicans and the Trump administration won’t have the political currency to abandon the Affordable Care Act. And when the market stabilizes after the rhetoric dies down, Anthem will realize it served up its Kern customers to its competitors on a silver platter.
As for McCarthy, he recently told The Californian he hasn’t given up on a health care bill. Really? What are his ideas? Besides voting for the House’s American Health Care Act — a tax break for the wealthy that would strip millions of their health coverage — it isn’t clear what our congressman has in mind.
Perhaps he should spend more time meeting his 100,000-plus constituents benefiting today from the ACA and less time memorizing a list of party talking points.
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Steve Schilling wrote an equally compelling article taking on conservative Obamacare lies, for the Bakersfield Californian, which I posted here.

- Mark

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

COULD YOU IMMIGRATE TO DONALD TRUMP'S AMERICA? Probably Not ... But What's Worse is We May Be Witnessing the Ugly Rebirth of Eugenics in America

Would you qualify to apply to immigrate to the United States under the GOP's, and Donald Trump's, proposed immigration policy? 

Check out the immigration scorecard - put together by the good people at Time Magazine - which scores your eligibility to apply, according to proposed congressional legislation (click on this link if you want Time's interactive to tally your score for you).
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To give you an idea of how unfair and out of touch this type of scoring is check out my score ...

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So, yeah, I might qualify to apply under the proposed new system. But take away my Ph.D. and my 20+ years salary in the California State University system and I'm on the bubble, or out. 

But let's be clear. Qualifying to apply doesn't mean I would get in to America if I applied. It only means I could apply. Other less "desirable" characteristics could disqualify me. My blog alone would probably sink me in Trump's America. 


LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING
Let's be blunt about this. What we're seeing in America, under the cover of a clever but draconian immigration policy, is the reemergence of "the science" of eugenics. It's easy to make this case because the proposed immigration policy, without saying so directly, is designed to stem the flow of "undesirables," which include those with no money, no education, no Nobel prizes, or no Olympic gold medals. 

Heart, drive, family, artistic talent, initiative, a passion for the American Dream, etc. mean little to nothing in the proposed immigration program

For those who need a primer on eugenics, know that it's a pseudo science that believes you can improve a populations stock through controlled breeding. The goal is to produce, over the long term, desirable genetic characteristics within a population that will help make the region, or the nation-state, genetically superior to other regions or populations. 


Winning family of a Fitter Family contest stand outside of the Eugenics Building
(where contestants register) at the Kansas Free Fair, in Topeka, KS (c. 1929).

And, yes, the school of eugenics, which was embraced and practiced in the United States, was disgraced and ignored only after it was perverted by the Nazis. 

If you're interested in the clever but not-so-disguised eugenics policy of the Trump administration, what's presented below provides some background on the ugly history that helped bring eugenics to the United States in the early 20th century, and today.


THE JUNK SCHOLARS OF THE 19th CENTURY
The school of eugenics has a long history and, for my purposes, begins with the charlatans and fake science that gained popularity with the junk scholars of the 19th century.

Among the many intellectuals who helped breathe life into the notion that your position in life was determined by hard work and initiative alone were popular academics, like William Graham Sumner and Herbert Spencer. In fact, while many believe that Charles Darwin coined the term "survival of the fittest" it was actually Herbert Spencer who gave life to the phrase, which perverted Darwin's work. 

Still, it would also help win Spencer praise and monetary support from America's wealthiest tycoons, whose status and position in life were justified by Spencer's work.


For his part, William Graham Sumner helped convince America's richest that they not only deserved their place in society, because of the hard work that they did, but that "a drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things ..." 




These observations were tied to laws of nature, according to Spencer and Sumner, and should not be tampered with with pesky rules and regulations. For them, the natural order of "divine right and privilege" we saw during the Feudal Order had been replaced by the natural order of "success or failure" in America. Drunks in the gutter, like other social misfits, deserved all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them because they were nature's losers. 

Still, benevolence and chivalry were not entirely dead. 


Because women had a "natural" place in the society, the state didn't have to concern itself trying to educate their delicate minds. For William Graham Sumner, the state had only one objective when it came to women: protecting their honor. Joining his contemporary in this thought, Herbert Spencer was so adamant about maintaining the proper place of women he believed society's softer gender should not be allowed to be educated because,
... such brain forcing could lead to nervousness, anaemia, hysteria, stunted growth and excessive thinness.
But this wasn't the worst of it.


THE JUNK SCIENCE OF THE 19th CENTURY
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) made a name for himself building phrenology, a controversial field of study in 19th century (made popular by Leonardo DiCapario in Django).


The experts in the field argued, to an increasingly wide audience, that you could determine the emotional and personal characteristics of an individual by looking at and exploring the contours of the human skull.

According to Gall the mind is composed of multiple and distinct faculties. Each one determines traits and characteristics, from individual benevolence to violence. As a result, the size of each "faculty" in the brain is important because each faculty pushes and shapes the skull in such a way that by measuring skull patterns a good phrenologist could determine whether someone was predisposed towards charity, spirituality, kindness or aggression. 



More simply, with the proper training and tools, the surface of the skull was viewed as a good index for reading individual aptitude and personal tendencies.

Over the course of the 19th century phrenologists were able to determine - scientifically, of course - that certain ethnic groups were predisposed towards violence, while others were geared for success as the shape of their skulls made clear. 

As you can imagine, Western European skulls emerged with the most aptitude and benevolence skull spots (bumps?), while slaves, Eastern/Southern Europeans, Asians, and other groups were deemed to have skull shapes that kept them out of the highest levels of civil society, education, and far away from success.
This pseudo science was embraced by many who were looking for scientific justification for their capabilities and acumen in the business world. Similarly, phrenology was supported by those who wanted to justify slavery (their skulls weren't shaped for creativity and genius), and those simply looking to reaffirm their life of leisure in the country club (skull space for genius and benevolence allowed them to enjoy leisure).
But the distorted teachings of these "junk scientists" didn't end with phrenology. There would be an even uglier spin-off, which helped justify emerging social hierarchies, and the status quo in America. 

This school of thought was eugenics.


THE EUGENICS SPIN-OFF
Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) was one of the first scholars to give scientific racism intellectual heft. Agassiz argued that each race on earth were separate creations that were started in diverse geographic zones (called polygenism). These distinct beginnings, according to Agassiz, endowed each race with different and even unequal attributes. 

For this reason, Agassiz argued, each species can be tied or classified by specific climate zones, just like animals and plants. One of Agassiz's great "discoveries" came when he proved the superiority of European stock over all others.


Agassiz's spectacular findings should not have come as a surprise to anyone. As a European, it was only natural that he (or someone like him) would make this discovery.

As you can imagine, Agassiz's life work was very popular in the American South, where slave owners were looking for reasons to justify slavery and racism (from a Christian perspective, of course; Agassiz was a Christian).




But the eugenics legacy didn't end with simply establishing the superiority of one ethnic groups genetic make-up over another.

The real genius behind eugenics was when policymakers started to buy into the idea that certain genetic groups were predisposed to certain behaviors, and believed that they could purify society by removing or neutralizing these undesirable elements. To do this many states in America began to sterilize habitual criminals, lunatics, schizophrenics, and others who had been officially labeled social misfits.





And, if you're wondering, yes, this is where the Nazis got many of their ideas.





The irony in all of this is that while many of these 19th century "scientists" drew from Charles Darwin (who was a real scientist) most, if not all, of their work would have been rejected by Darwin on scientific grounds.

Unfortunately, though, the damage had been done. It's still being done. 
Only this time it's being done under the color of a draconian immigration policy that pretends to be "merit based" - just as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner would have preferred.

- Mark

* The section on eugenics is drawn from an earlier post, and will appear in next book.

* Hat tip to Leonel for the Time/Immigration link.

IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED INTERNS OF COLOR, OR DOES THE GOP HAVE A DIVERSITY PROBLEM?

The Washington Post has an article on the "overwhelmingly white White House intern class photo, and why it matters" here ...
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This issue is not new for Republicans in Washington, and around the country. Last year Speaker Paul Ryan posted the selfie below of himself with a group of Capitol Hill interns in the background. Does anything stand out? 
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One of the reasons racial diversity matters is that democracy is about voice, and inclusion. According to this Brookings report, 44.2% of today's millenials (18-34) are NOT identified as white. This means Paul Ryan and Donald Trump's intern groups are not representative of modern America.

Now, one could make the argument that there are simply no qualified interns of color, or that the GOP has a diversity problem. You be the judge on that one. 

No wonder Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to turn Affirmative Action on its head, and start pursuing reverse discrimination cases for white applicants who don't get into the college of their choice. The demographic story behind Donald Trump's White House and Paul Ryan's Capitol Hill intern groups makes one thing very clear: white Americans simply can't catch a break. [**cough**cough]

Sigh ...  

- Mark

Monday, August 7, 2017

REPUBLICANS HAVE NO REAL STANDARDS, OR SHAME ... AS "BARACK OBAMA" READING REAL DONALD TRUMP QUOTES MAKES VERY CLEAR

In an effort to expose how much of a double standard the GOP has when it comes to politics, and reality, Bill Maher hired a Barack Obama double (Reggie Brown) to read actual Donald Trump quotes.

While getting people to see what "white privilege" in America looks like, the broader idea is to demonstrate that, when it comes to governing, Republicans have no real standards, or shame ...



- Mark

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MEXICO AND THE "SENTINELS OF SILENCE"

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Narrated by Orson Welles, "Sentinels of Silence" is one of the most impressive and spectacular 15-minute documentaries on Mexico's pyramids you'll see ...



- Mark

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

JARED KUSHNER, AND THE OTHER (more socially acceptable) FORMS OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION


So the Trump administration wants to use the Justice Department to investigate civil rights abuses of white kids who don't get into college. Donald Trump effectively wants to flip affirmative action on its head, because Anglo-Americans are getting a raw deal (I'm guessing) in America when it comes to access to higher education.

Well, OK.

Look, if we're going to take a look at preferential treatment then let's be be fair, and consider all forms of preferential treatment.


This article from Vox, "As Trump takes aim at affirmative action, let's remember how Jared Kushner got into Harvard," starts us down that path.

This clip from the article pretty much sums up the primary point of the Vox article ...
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Jared’s father handed Harvard (a school he did not attend) a big pile of money just as Jared was starting to apply to colleges. Around the same time, Jared’s dad got his US senator to contact another US senator to arrange a chat with Harvard’s dean of admissions.
Happily for the Kushner family, Jared was then admitted. But several officials at Jared’s high school outright told Golden that they found the choice puzzling, since his grades and academic record really didn’t seem to merit it:
In 1998, according to sources familiar with the gift, the New York University alumnus [Charles Kushner] pledged $2.5 million to Harvard, to be paid in annual installments of $250,000. ... At the time of the pledge, Kushner’s older son, Jared, was starting the college admissions process at the Frisch School, a Jewish high school in Paramus, New Jersey. A senior in 1998-99, Jared was not in the school’s highest academic track in all courses, and his test scores were below Ivy League standards. Frisch officials were surprised when he applied to Harvard — and dismayed when he was admitted.
“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former school official told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not” ...
... Margot Krebs, who was director of Frisch’s college preparatory program at the time, said, “Jared was certainly not anywhere near the top of his class ... 
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There's more, much more, from the Vox article, which you can access by clicking here.

Finally, if you're interested in reading more about preferential treatment, "legacy admissions" and access to institutions of higher education, click here ("Jared Kushner Isn't Alone: How Wealthy Families Manipulate Admissions at Elite Universities"), here ("At Elite Colleges, Legacy Status May Count for More Than Was Previously Thought"), and  here ("Legacy Admissions Policies Were Originally Created to Keep Jewish Students Out of Elite Colleges"). You can also find some good data, and discussions, on college admissions by clicking here (Quora).


- Mark

YET ANOTHER FUNNY AND PATHETIC (aren't they all) EPISODE IN MANSPLAININ'


 

The episode below is funny, sadly pathetic and, unfortunately, all too common. Whatever you want to name it ('mansplaining' seems to be the favorite, for the moment), the great tragedy here is that the idiots who do this stuff won't see it when they read it. From the FB page of Lara B. Sharp ...
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Scene: Pool, balding man, maybe 65 or 70 years old, with blue, bloodshot eyes, drinking from a bottle of Ensure, wearing designer swim trunks, which are half hidden under a huge, extremely brown, beer belly.

Him: What's that you're reading, young lady?

Me: It's a book.

H: What's it called?

M: 'Men Explain things to Me', by Rebecca Solnit.

H: What's it about?

M: It's a book about how men explain things to women and...

H: Oh, so it's a book about men mentoring women!

M: No, not exactly. Not at all, actually... It's actually about how men...

H: What do you do, young lady? Do you work, or do you have kids?

M: Umm, I write.

H: Oh, you're a writer?

M: Well, I write...

H: Who do you write for, young lady? Women's magazines?

M: Umm, no. I write for Myself. And, I'm 47.

H: You're freelance?

M: Extremely.

H: What genre, young lady?

M: Memoir, mostly.

H: You write about yourself? I guess most women do! What's your book called, young lady?

M: I'm 47. What's my book called? It's called... umm... Facebook. I mean, I really just write on...

H: Are you looking for a man to mentor you?

M: Whut?

H: I can really help grow your book. I can help you. As your mentor!

M: You can help me grow my... book? As my... man mentor? This book isn't about that. It's a book about...

H: Absolutely! I'd be happy to mentor you! I'm retired. I've got plenty of time to mentor a young lady.

M: Oh, right... Retired? What are you retired from? Publishing?

H: Publishing? No, heavens no. I owned a chain of corner stores.

M: Corner stores, huh? Fascinating. So, how is that... I mean... OK, so... But, publishing is... I mean... Soooo... Did you, like... sell magazines, in your corner store?

H: No, no magazines. We sold cigarettes, potato chips, cola, lotto cards, candy bars... milk... dog food... toilet paper... It was a family business. My dad started it before I was born.

M: Right... Cool... Cola... So... Is that the only career you had? You went directly into the family business?

H: Yeah, started working in there when I was a kid, took over the stores, sold them, and retired. Did pretty well for myself, young lady!

M: I'm 47 years old. So, OK... Because I'm a writer, I'm just gonna take a few notes on my phone, while we talk... I don't want to forget anything important that you might say... Because you're my male publishing mentor... So, you spent your life in the family business, owning corner stores, and you didn't even sell magazines, but you can mentor me in the Publishing industry?


H: Well, young lady,  selling magazines in a corner store has nothing to do with the Publishing industry. Consider that your first lesson!

M: You're absolutely right. (Holds up 'Men Explain things to Me') And, this is extremely relevant to you. You should read it. Mansplaining is...

H: Oh, no... Thanks, young lady, you can keep your book. I've never been much of a reader...

M: OK, right, not a reader... well, I'm going do some writing now. Because you've mentored me, and it has really inspired me.

H: Fantastic! What are you going to write about?

M: I'm going to write out this entire conversation, from my notes, and to the best of my recollection. I do that a lot. Then, I'm going to put it in my... Facebook... Book.

H: OK, great! Let me know if you need any more of my help!

M: You've already been really helpful. Thanks for mentoring me!

H: You write really fast.

M: Yeah, I use both thumbs!

H: Did you go to typing school?

M: Yeah, I went to a special thumb typing School. Because I'm a writer.

H: Yeah, I can see that you're a very good writer. You're also a very attractive, very sweet young lady.

M: Do you really think so?

H: Call me. I'll take you to dinner. I'll get your writing career on track!

M: Yeah, maybe you can get my Facebook in all the local corner stores... Next to the cola.

H: Sure! I can do that! I've got a lot of connections. I can do anything! Call me! You should put a photo of yourself in that bikini on the cover of the book! I bet you didn't even think of that! OK, don't work to hard, young lady. That's your first mentoring lesson from me, young lady! Don't work to hard! And, don't think too hard!

M: Don't worry. I won't. I won't work hard or think hard, at all. I never do... Thankfully, I don't really have too...

H: Call me! Number is in the card... Don't forget! Put that in your notes, young lady!

M: It's already in there. Believe me, I'm not going to forget anything from this conversation. I've written it all down! Thanks again, for mentoring me.

H: You're a good girl! You know, this pool is usually just full of nothing but old ladies. Not young girls, like you.

M: I'm 47 years old.

H: OK, I've got to go... Call me! Oh, what's your name, darling?

M: Gloria Steinem.

H: OK, Gloria, call me, I'll take you to dinner! I'm going to think of a new last name for you. Something less Jewish sounding. It'll be better for your career! We can talk about at dinner! Be a good girl, Gloria!

M: How about Betty Friedan?

H: No... I'll come up with something better than that... You look like a Chrystal or a Lacey to me... A good name is very important... Did you just write that down?

M: Yes, I've just written that down.


H: Good girl! Call me! For dinner! I'm your mentor, so you have to do what I say. Haha! Don't worry, I'll come up with your name. And, don't worry about the photo, because I have a good camera. Have a nice afternoon!

M: Oh, yeah, the bikini photo! OK. You betcha! Umm... John Williams. Great name! I've got your card... Wait, no email?

H: Nope, no email! First rule of business... Never put anything in writing! I do everything by phone. Write it down, young lady! Never put anything in writing! Call me!

M: But, I'm a writer.

H: Yeah, so write it down! We gotta get that photo done right away! Call me!

M: Yeah, the bikini photo... Well, I'm sure you know all about photography... Buh bye, John... Thanks again, for all of this great material. I've written it all down!

H: Good girl... Call me! Don't worry, Gloria, OK?! I know how to take care of everything, young lady!

M: Yeah, I understand... You can explain everything to me... About, everything! I got it... And, I'm totally going to be a good girl... Bye... !!!

(Writes out the entire conversation from the iPhone Notes app, onto her Facebook page, using Both Thumbs. Orders herself some absolutely HUGE 'noise resistant' headphones, from Amazon. Throws herself, head first, into the deep end of the pool.)
______________________________

- Mark

Hat tip to David for the link.