Friday, April 29, 2016


In the past I've explained (herehere and here) how the United States redistributes wealth on a regular basis. Specifically, I provided data showing that for every $1.00 California - or Californians - pay into the federal tax system that the state gets far less than $1.00 back from the feds. Other "Blue States" - like Illinois and New York - also get less than $1.00 for every dollar they pay in to the system.

Poorer states, like Alabama, Mississippi, and New Mexico, however, will get anywhere from $1.25 and well over $2.00 back for every dollar they pay in taxes.

This wealth redistribution game is a pretty sweet deal. That is, if you're one of the poorer states - who, strangely enough, are politically conservative and like to complain about needing to get the federal government out of our lives.

Anyways, the 2016 Tax Foundation report is out and it has some interesting numbers when it comes to understanding which states depend most on "big gubmint" for their - let's be frank - survival. When it comes to Federal Aid as a Percentage of State General Revenue we find:

* For every $100 Alabama spends, $36.15 of that comes from the federal government.

* For every $100 Montana spends, $37.42 of that comes from the federal government.

* For every $100 Louisiana spends, $41.94 of that comes from the federal government.

* For every $100 Mississippi spends, $42.89 of that comes from the federal government. 

Red-State, Blue-State summary election results for 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012. 

Things are much different when it comes to the dreaded "liberal" Blue States, like California and New York.

For every $100 California spends, $24.96 of that comes from the federal government.

For every $100 New York spends, $28.01 of that comes from the federal government.

For every $100 Washington spends, $27.30 of that comes from the federal government. 

There's more, but you get the point.

The real takers in our national redistribution of wealth scheme are not the the liberal Blue States. It's the conservative Red States who talk a good game about rugged individualism, but can't seem to stand on their own two feet without being subsidized with Blue State federal tax dollars.

So, yeah, some of the biggest federal tax takers are the nation's conservative southern states. In one estimate, South Carolina got almost $8.00 from the federal government for every dollar they paid in federal taxes. This suggests that, contrary to the political rhetoric, conservative southern states really have no problem with "big gubmint" - as long as it's taken from the liberal Blue States and redistributed into their state coffers.

What does this all mean for you and me?

For starters, we need to acknowledge that we live in a country that redistributes wealth, big time.

We also need to acknowledge that the states who depend the most on our wealth redistribution policies are mostly conservative and southern states.

Then we have this little nugget to think about: If the state of California had simply received $1.00 for every dollar it paid into the federal tax system between 1990 and 2009 it would have an additional $336.2 billion sitting around. This is more than enough to pay off the state's $250 billion retirement and health care obligations that's now being tossed around politically as evidence of California's immediate debt problem.*

Even after paying California's long-term obligations off - which no sensible economist or financial adviser would advocate - we could use what's left from our $336.2 billion (about $83 billion) and fund the entire California State University budget ($5.1 billion, 2016) for the next 15 years.

Or we could simply eliminate student tuition in the CSU system for the next 40 years.

What all of this really means is that the Red State takers need to rethink what they're talking about when they complain about the role the federal government plays in their lives. They are wards of the state, and need to be a little bit more grateful (and realistic) when it comes to acknowledging how our federal system of government actually works.

- Mark

* These are incremental long-term obligations, rather than what critics like to suggest are immediate debt obligations.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


“I Saw the Crown of
France Laying on the Ground, 
So I Picked It Up With My sword.”

- Napoleon Bonaparte

In my International Relations Theory class we're getting further into the section on international regimes. Here we discuss why cooperation at the international level happens, in spite of the fact that fear and distrust guarantee that aggression and war are always just around the corner. The story of Napoleon, and the quote above, always move our discussions in the right direction. 

Another Napoleon quote - "The more I study the world the more I am convinced of the inability of brute force to create anything durable" - helps most students see that one of history's greatest soldiers understood both the limits and the inefficacy of the military option in the modern world.

- Mark


We have a mid-term tomorrow in my International Political Economy class (PS 404). Below are links to issues I have discussed on my blog, which tie directly into lectures I have given and, not coincidentally, are important for answering the questions that will be asked tomorrow. The focus of tomorrow's exam is on the states historical transformation from Feudalism to Mercantilism and, now, towards the modern Liberal state. These are areas that my students should be familiar with for tomorrow's exam. So, yeah, what's below is a list of ancillary "cliffs" notes for my class. To be sure, my regular readers (and those who have read my book) will understand the broader story. 

Of course, for those who are just interested in knowing about this stuff, you can begin by reading the links below.


From War to Mercantilism: The historical role the Renaissance, Reformation, and the Enlightenment had in paving the intellectual path for Market Capitalism to arrive.

Waves of Imperialism ... War and Markets: Why Great Wealth is not a product of individual initiative alone. Here we learn about the three waves of imperialism, which were driven by successive but distinct eras of mercantilism after 1648, 1815, and 1919,

The Moral Justification of Capitalism is on the Ropes ... Here's Why. This is a review of the transformation from feudalism and mercantilism towards the modern liberal state.

Waves of Imperialism, II ... It's not free markets ... the state creates the conditions under which wealth is created (with an all too brief discussion-mention of John M. Keynes and Friedrich List).

A flood of dollars, new competition, and a crumbling economic framework ... yet we do nothing, still (OK, this one is part of the Bretton Woods lecture, and will be part of the next mid-term).

- Mark

Monday, April 25, 2016


A writer at Wicked Rural Homestead wrote about Boulder Creek, the small town where I grew up.  In "Time May Heal All Wounds - But it Makes Homesickness Worse" the author tells the reader about living in Boulder Creek, which is nestled in the middle of the Santa Cruz mountains (just south of San Jose, CA). It's well written, and makes me wish I was there again.

And, yes, the place looks almost exactly as it did 40 years ago.


- Mark 

Thursday, April 21, 2016


John Maynard Keynes, the man who saved capitalism, died 70 years ago (4-21-1946).

Planned Parenthood gunman opposed abortion and the selling of baby parts ... dreamed of meeting aborted fetuses in heaven, who would thank him (Reuters).

Groupies for hire! (fainting on cue costs extra) (Ozy).

The mental disease of late-stage capitalism (Medium).

Atheist Mom forced into court-ordered Christian counseling (Patheos).


Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's office puts out Spanish voter guide with wrong registration deadline (days after the real deadline). Effectively says, "Oops, my bad" (TPM).

California Counts: Project aims to pair U.S. citizens with immigrants to vote 'together' (SCPR).

Black and Latina girls walk off soccer field after whites chant 'Donald Trump, build that wall' (Raw Story).

The simple truth about Creationists: They're too stupid to understand science (Forward Progressives).

This is why Bakersfield is so great ... Sikh-American teenager who wrote bullying book forced to remove turban at Bakersfield's Meadows Field (Mic).

TEXAS, PLEASE LEAVE ... AND TAKE HIM WITH YOU The time Ted Cruz defended a ban on dildos (Mother Jones).

An open letter to Texas: Please, f**king secede already (The Daily Banter).

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW Disturbing new evidence about what common pesticides can do to brains (Mother Jones).

The really big one: An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when (The New Yorker).

The secret shame of middle-class Americans: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I'm one of them (The Atlantic).

Sponsor of anti-LGBT "Bathroom Bill" caught sexually harassing 34 women, exiled from capitol building (Occupy Democrats).

Republican staffer quit because colleagues were 'giddy' about voter ID laws preventing votes (Daily Kos).

WELL, THIS IS GOOD Here's what happened when a group of scientists went to confront their congressional tormentors (Huffington Post).

Panama Papers: U.S. launches criminal inquiry into tax avoidance claims (The Guardian).

Joe Walsh nixes concert after GOP ties revealed (Rolling Stone).


Elizabeth Báthory: History's most prolific female serial killer (Ozy).
Christians want to start World War III ... to force Second Coming (Washington Blog).
History's most sadistic serial killer (Ozy).

Economist tested 7 welfare programs to see if they made people lazy. They didn't (Vox).

Watch: Terrified 'Tea Party Patriot' realizes he could lose Obamacare if GOP wins in 2016 (Raw Story).

A black man brought three forms of ID to the polls in Wisconsin. He still couldn't vote (The Nation).

Bill Gates on America's secret weapon for creating jobs (Liberals Unite).

- Mark


San Francisco City Hall, in Purple for Prince ...

- Mark

Hat tip to Mike, my cousin, for the link.


When it comes to short-term and year-round particle pollution the city of Bakersfield and Kern County are ranked #1 as the worst places to breathe by the American Lung Association "Most Polluted Cities" 2015 report. We're ranked #2 when it comes to ozone pollution.

Driving  I-5  into Bakersfield, the worst place in America to breathe year-round.

- Mark


"When you hit a wrong note, 
it's the next note that you play 
that determines if it's good or bad."

- Miles Davis

Herbie Hancock explains how he learned how to adapt to life as it happens - the good and the bad - because of Miles Davis ...

- Mark 

Saturday, April 16, 2016


JPMorgan Chase's financial infrastructure represents a potential threat "to the financial stability of the United States." This is the assessment of the Federal Reserve and the FDIC in a 19-page letter they sent to the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon.

After reviewing JPMorgan Chase's "what if" plan should another market meltdown happen (and it will) both the Federal Reserve and the FDIC determined that the bank's emergency response plan wasn't up to snuff. This makes the bank the third of our nation's five largest banks to fail the "what if" standard (Wells Fargo and Bank of America are the other fails).

Let's be clear what the Fed and the FDIC are saying here. JPMorgan Chase doesn't simply pose a risk to it's investors, Wall Street, or even to markets in general. Again, the Fed-FDIC letter is telling us that JPMorgan Chase represents a threat to "the financial stability of the United States."

You can read the details here.

And, for what it's worth, Jamie Dimon's response to being called out by government regulators, has been to effectively smirk and say, "Sure, whatever. Don't you know, I own you ...".

If you need proof of this, take a look at how U.S. senators fell over themselves as they "groveled" and tried to kiss Jamie Dimon's ring when he went in front of Congress in 2012. While he was supposed to be there to explain a $2 billion derivative loss, Jamie Dimon ended up telling sitting U.S. senators who's the boss ...

This is effectively what happened when Dimon went before the U.S. Congress in 2012.

At the end of the day, Jamie Dimon will end up getting another big bonus. And he'll get this bonus, in part, because of his ability to snake charm the U.S. Congress and clueless ass-kissing cable pundits who drool over themselves as Dimon explains that the only thing worrying him is "badly designed public policy" that could hurt his business interests. 

- Mark


Alexandr Magala risks his life on Britain's Got Talent. This is really an incredible performance ...

- Mark 

Friday, April 15, 2016


Los Angeles oil field, 1905.

I'm not sure that this brief history is appropriately named, but "The Dark Side of LA: Oil" offers an interesting look at the Los Angeles area before Hollywood hit it big in the region.

- Mark

Tom gets another hat tip on this one.


This may be a bit simplistic, but this is what our nation's primary campaign season is starting to look like (again). You know who to blame ...

- Mark

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


So Goldman Sachs has finally admitted that it defrauded investors by selling toxic financial products before the financial crisis in 2008. But they only have to pay what amounts to a pittance compared to what they actually hauled in from the fraud ...

To sum up, this is what happened.

Banking giant Goldman Sachs has just admitted that it ripped off both consumers and taxpayers for at least $69 billion dollars.* But rather than doing jail time they only have to pay a $5.1 billion fine.

So, yeah, Goldman Sachs effectively got a time out; and, no doubt, a serious finger wagging.

Now for the double standard.

Imagine that you walk into a bank. You rob it and walk out with $690,000 (you'll need one brief case for that). We all know that you will get some serious time in the Big House if you get caught. When this happens you don't get to stall and negotiate. Blue collar crime, after all, is treated differently.

You also don't get to admit wrongdoing, pay a paltry $50,000 fine, and then walk off into the sunset to enjoy the rest of your ill-gotten gains. You're going to jail. The white collar criminals at Goldman Sachs got bonuses.

But this isn't the end of it.

Goldman Sachs will probably write off a good chunk of the $5.1 billion fine at tax time (as a business expense), which means that the American taxpayer will end up paying part of their fine. Nice. That is, if you're Goldman Sachs.

Query: How many of you would start robbing banks if you knew that if you got caught that you would only have to pay about 7 percent of the ill-gotten gains back? Be honest ...

Is it any wonder that Wall Street is setting us up for another market collapse? While they may be immoral or unethical, they aren't dummies.

- Mark

* $69 billion represents what Goldman Sachs officially borrowed from the government to keep their head above water during and after 2008 (their financial lifeline is actually more than $69 billion; much more). They secured these loans by - wait for it - using the same toxic and worthless financial crap Goldman Sachs created as collateral. It's kind of like burning down a house for the insurance money and then putting up the same house you just burned down as collateral for a loan - a loan that the bank cluelessly approves.

Monday, April 11, 2016


According to Open Secrets, this number is actually 428 (as of today). But the point is made. The idea of representative government is undermined because access and influence are bought and sold every day by people with a very narrow set of interests; their own.

- Mark

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Are you of the opinion that Congress should turn over public lands and resources to private market players because they are better stewards of our nation's resources? Do you believe that only private market players, or private-public partnerships, can efficiently care for our forests and wilderness areas? If so, you're going to love this story.

In 2000 Congress implemented what they thought would be a "free market" inspired plan in the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera Preserve in New Mexico. While still a federally owned Preserve, it was turned over to a "Trust" with the mandate to become "financially self-sufficient" by 2015.

File:Valle Grande dome.jpg

For critics of all things government, this experiment was supposed to show once and for all how the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service could be phased out. The idea was to replace it with a market oriented "board of trustees" who would both supervise staff and make decisions.

Things went wrong from the beginning. The Trust decided that they didn't want the burden of paying for wild land fire operations. It was too expensive. So Congress turned firefighting over to the U.S. Forest Service. Two fires later the U.S. government got stuck with $56 million in fire suppression costs.

As well, because much of the land had been acquired from a private land owner, "the Preserve was in rough shape both ecologically and in terms of infrastructure" and had to be rehabilitated. Because there was no potable water, while years of logging had put much of the infrastructure in serious "disrepair", the Preserve could not access traditional government insurance pools (a "judgment fund"). The "Trust" had to purchase their own liability insurance - in the free market.

And on it went.

In brief, the private market experiment was really a public-private experiment, at best.

After 14 years the market inspired experiment had failed:

Despite the efforts of many trustees and the staff for 14 years, the preserve never managed to earn enough money from hunting, grazing and tourism to pay even a third of its bills. Heavy logging and overgrazing [by private interests] had depleted forests and grasslands well before the preserve became public land. High fees and restrictions on public access kept the income from recreation low, and to a large extent, the public continued to perceive the preserve as private land. Elk hunting paid well, but the preserve broke even on cattle grazing only by charging ranchers more than seven times what other federal agencies are charging.

There was one positive development from the Preserve experiment in New Mexico. The Trust had developed an "adaptive management" approach to the Preserve, which placed a heavy emphasis on paying attention to the science and real time lessons learned. As a result, scientific and university research flourished around the Preserve.

Still, New Mexico's congressional delegation abandoned the experiment at the end of December 2014. One of the lessons learned is that making money is NOT what public lands do best, even if private guidelines are part of the picture. The BLM and U.S. Forest Service are now back in charge of Valles Caldera National Preserve.

For more on this story you can check out this short article or this research paper from the University of New Mexico's Melinda Harm Benson.

- Mark

Friday, April 8, 2016


As advertised in yesterday's post ... 

With the recent revelations of The Panama Papers, it's pretty easy to get wrapped up in moral indignation and frustration over the world's economic elites hiding their money and dodging the tax man. Unfortunately, what's being exposed today may pale in comparison to what members of the financial aristocracy accomplished during World War II (or tried to accomplish). 

In the modern world Switzerland has consistently ranked among the world’s richest nations per capita. But the Swiss didn't get there simply because of its resorts, sales in clocks, or its chocolates. It's a global leader in finance because early on the government made a conscious decision to focus on personal banking. 

In the process the Swiss have demonstrated that markets can operate with little or no moral compass. 

In one of the uglier examples of state policy and wealth creation we can look at the "market activities" of the Swiss during and after World War II. Specifically, the Swiss helped the Nazis launder the looted treasures they stole from occupied territories and, especially, from captured Jews before and during WWII (these activities were famously captured in the George Clooney-Matt Damon movie The Monuments Men).  

Proving that white collar crime pays, the wealth and secretive contacts Swiss bankers gleaned from their activities at the time would yield significant dividends in the post-war period. Specifically, after helping finance the Nazi war machine, Swiss bankers switched gears and catered to post-war despots and tyrants. 

The hubris that gripped Swiss bankers in 1939 has never let go of them. The bank vaults of Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Lugano have become a kind of sewage system into which flow streams of filthy lucre from all over the world … No longer called Hitler or Himmler, Göring or Ribentrop, their clients have names like Mobutu, Ceauşescu, Hassan II, Saddam Hussein, Abu Nidal, Duvalier, Noriega, Traore, Suharto, Eyadéma, Campaore, Marcos and Karadžić. 

Today, in spite of having virtually no natural resources Switzerland ranks as one of the richest nations in the world. Their activities during WWII helped them reach this point.

There's more, but you get the point. The Panama Papers reveal nothing new under the sun. What would make it a real story is if something was actually done to correct this kind of behavior.

Don't hold your breath on this happening any time soon.

- Mark

Thursday, April 7, 2016


One of the biggest stories of the year - if not the biggest so far - was the release of the Panama Papers this past week. How the story came together is almost as interesting as what the story exposes. 

As the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reveals, over a year ago they were contacted by an anonymous source who wanted to share encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama. Mossack Fonseca (MF) specializes in creating sham corporations for the world's rich, powerful, and famous. MF exists to help this elite group, in effect, hide their money from both the tax man and prying eyes who might want to question how, say, a politician like Russian President Vladimir Putin can end up with a billions dollars in an offshore bank account while on a government salary. 

Because of the treasure trove of information SZ decided that they would analyze the data with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Working for over a year with 400 journalists from more than 100 media outlets in 80 countries, the virtual global newsroom met in Washington, Munich, Lillehammer, and London to map out their strategy. Covering over 11 million documents and nearly 40 years of data, the amount of information dwarfs anything uncovered previously. It's not even close.

In fact, the leaks from Wikileaks, HSBC, the Luxembourg tax files, and the Offshore leaks combined don't come close the amount of information contained in the Panama files.

The real important issue here isn't whether the document leak is legal or illegal. What's being exposed - hiding money - will most likely be made legal (if it isn't already) by global elites once the dust settles. It isn't even the fact that shielding wealth for the world's economic and political elites from taxation is happening while they try to promote global trade pacts that promotes their interests even more (as they ignore the challenges faced by labor).

The real issue is how developments like this have been happening for years, and no one seems to care.

Keep in mind that John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, has been writing about a global "corporatocracy" that cheats countries out of trillions of dollars. According to Perkins this corporate group isn't so much part of a larger conspiracy as much as they endorse and promote common values and goals that only a privileged few benefit from over time. Their tools are loans and "highly paid professionals" who help rig elections, file fraudulent financial reports (see especially Goldman Sachs), and engage in "payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder."

Then we have global financial giants, especially in the United States, paying billions in fines for wrongdoing, which they don't have to admit to because of the terms of the agreement. What's worse is how they can then shield employees responsible for these acts from accountability because of these payoffs.

Here's the point when it comes to the Panama Papers story: None of this is new. There's nothing new under the sun.

In fact, the Panama Papers may pale in comparison to what's been attempted in the past (as we'll see in tomorrow's post).

The real story will be if any changes are actually made.

- Mark 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


The irony of spreading American-style democracy around the world ...

And let's not forget our GOP-inspired voter ID laws and computer rigged elections ...

- Mark 

MID-WEEK READING (April 6, 2016)

Cruz crushes Trump as Sanders beats Clinton in Wisconsin (The Guardian).

The research linking autism to vaccines is even more bogus than you think (Vox).

Teaching men to be emotionally honest (NY Times).

5 ways to annoy Republicans: Fact-Checking Ronald Reagan (Samuel-Warde).

Conservative Oildale could be a bellwether of how Trump's message translates in California (LA Times).

Obama: Foreign leaders are worried about what Cruz and Trump are saying (Washington Post).

Trump's Walk of Fame star might be removed because people keep peeing on it (U.S. Uncut).

It's bizarre: CNN and the networks now rely on Trump to stay profitable (Alternet).

Bernie Sanders's New Deal Socialism (The New Yorker).

World's most famous economist says Bernie Sanders could "change the face of the country" (Policy.mic).

Colorado Republican: Fracking can't cause earthquakes because that's God's job (Patheos).

Texas lawmaker billed taxpayers for trip to Oklahoma to get pain-relieving 'Jesus shot' (Raw Story).

You probably missed Sarah Palin's speech in Wisconsin. It was totally bizarre (Washington Post).

5 right-wing lunacies this week: Things get even weirder on Team Trump (Alternet).

Ted Cruz tells Megyn Kelly he would force rape victims to carry rapist's baby (Addicting Info).

Here we go again ... 27 giant profitable companies paid no taxes (USA Today).

GM pays more taxes to China than the U.S. (Fox Business).

What are the Panama Papers? A guide to history's biggest data leak (The Guardian).

Panama Papers: Why aren't there more American names (The New Yorker)?

Iceland's Prime Minister steps aside after protests over Panama Papers revelations (The Guardian).

Panama Papers: Obama, Clinton pushed trade deal amid warnings it would make money laundering, tax evasion worse (IB Times).

President Obama just took a major step in response to The Panama Papers (U.S. Uncut).

Why The Panama Papers could catapult Sanders to the White House (U.S. Uncut).

Someone did a story on the place I grew up ... "Time may heal all wounds - but it makes homesickness worse" (Wicked Rural Homestead).

The making of Skyline Boulevard (Mobile Ranger).

CSU should receive 5 percent raise, fact finder says (Sacramento Bee).

Scott Walker takes $250 million from University of Wisconsin, gives $250 million to billionaire sports team owners (Forbes).

EcoCash: A mobile payment service that's transforming lives in Zimbabwe (Forbes).

The 50 most murderous cities in the world (Zero Hedge).

- Mark

Monday, April 4, 2016


Via Visual Capitalist ...

The Voronoi diagram below shows us the relative size of each country's economy in terms of nominal GDP. The U.S. continues to lead the global pack, and produces about 23.32% of what the entire world produces.


Using another Voronoi diagram, below we see the relative size of each state in the U.S. by economic contribution.


This Simple Visualization Compares the Economies of Every U.S. State

As a side note, we can see from the diagram above that 12 poor(er) conservative states contribute 21.5% of what the U.S. economy produces. Here's a fun fact. They get to send 24 conservative U.S. senators to Washington. On the other hand, California and New York combined contribute 21.4% of what the U.S. economy produces. Now for a real fun fact. California and New York only get to send 4 U.S. senators to Washington. This is one of the reasons why we see a massive redistribution of wealth in the U.S., where America's poorest states end up with more federal tax dollars than richer states - like California and New York.

Finally, below we see how the U.S. would look if we resized each region by the amount a small group of counties contribute to the national economy. The size of the U.S. economy is about $17.4 trillion.

US GDP Cartogram Static

- Mark

Saturday, April 2, 2016


What happens when you depend on an all volunteer military during times of war? You pretty much take the democratic winds out of the sails of our war discussions. People simply don't care because no one's being forced to go, even when we engage in reckless wars of choice.

Without the draft there's no real reason for people, especially America's youth, to be out in the streets.

The desire to hit the streets and protest is especially irrelevant because most Americans are incapable of making the connection between deficit spending, to fund our endless war projects, and the always empty treasury basket that's needed to pay our bills and fix the crumbling bridges and roads we have in America.

When you add hired mercenaries to the this equation it's almost impossible to generate any real excitement over America's involvement in reckless wars of choice.

If the military and war seems far removed from our lives it's because they are, for the vast majority of Americans.

It's no wonder Americans are nonchalant about endless war, or seem ready to go to war in the Middle East every time ISIS says "boo". It's not their kid or family member who's going.

As long as military service is considered voluntary, why protest something that doesn't impact your immediate life, right?

This is not only the tap root of perpetual war in America, but helps explain why an all volunteer military is not cheaper than a draft.

- Mark


Adolf Hitler was born in April (1889), and died in April (1945) ...
I know, I know, but Donald Trump is leading the GOP field in April 2016. 

Early Warnings: How American journalists reported the rise of Hitler (The Atlantic).

What happened when venture capitalists took over the golden state warriors (NY Times).

California is increasing its minimum wage to $15. Here's what that means for workers (Think Progress).

U.S. Army grants long-term exemption allowing Sikh soldier to wear turban, beard (Think Progress).

Why do conservatives keep saying Seattle's minimum wage hike has failed - without data (LA Times)?

Feds release pictures of $6 million in damages Bundy militants caused to Oregon reserve (Raw Story).

In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is in retreat on multiple fronts (WP).

An experiment in privatizing public land fails after 14 years (HCN).

Jury rejects fraud claim against law school (San Diego Union-Tribune).

Unemployed QB Johnny Manziel's wild West Coast party tour continues (CBS Sports).

Donald Trump says his very rich Muslim friends won't be banned from the country (Think Progress).

Chris Christie struggles to defend Donald Trump to Jimmy Fallon (The Daily Beast).

Televangelist Jim Bakker: Christians who pray at graduations will soon be machine-gunned down for public prayer (Patheos).

The Right's stupidity forces Snopes to debunk an article by The Onion (Dead State)

Private prisons fight back (OZY).

GOP House votes to cut GI Bill housing stipend in half for children of military service members (The Intellectualist).

Declassified CIA document reveals Iraq war had zero justification (Mirror Spectrum).

An open letter to Dolores Huerta (Huffington Post).

Rosario Dawson, how dare you lecture Dolores Huerta (The Guardian).

New poll shows half of America thinks Donald Trump is a fascist (U.S. Uncut).

Meet the Archeo-Trump, Wally George [FYI, I listened to Wally George in the early 1980s and thought he was a clown then] (TPM).

Donald Trump embodies how great republics meet their end (Financial Times).

Elizabeth Warren stops being polite and starts getting real: "Let's be honest - Donald Trump is a loser" (Salon).

Muslim vet booted from Trump rally, told to "get a job." Guess what he does for a living ... (Occupy Democrats).

8 things you need to know about the Ted Cruz sex scandal (Conservative Outfitters).

Larry Flynt: Ted Cruz more dangerous than Trump because he actually believes 'the crap' he says (Raw Story).

Texas forced this woman to deliver a still-born baby (The Daily Beast)

"We ain't seen nothing yet," Dutch Party leader rages: "We need to de-Islamize the West" (Zero Hedge).

All hell is breaking loose at Arizona election fraud hearing (U.S. Uncut).

NFL to Georgia: No Super Bowl for you unless governor vetoes anti-LGBT RFRA bill (JMG).

Lost at sea and feared dead, dog found on island after 5 weeks (NPR).

The right's shocking admission: Stunned by Trump's dominance, some GOP pundits concede that Dems have been right about Republicans all along (Salon).

Weather records broken as world faces alarming levels of change (New Scientist).

The Holy Trinity comes to life, and China's involved ... so, yeah, we're all in trouble (Zero Hedge)

Heidi Nelson Cruz, Ted's wife: 5 fast facts you need to know (Heavy).

FYI: 2016 Primary Schedule (USpresidentialelections).

- Mark