Thursday, March 31, 2016


The United States leads the world when it comes to aircraft carriers in service. No country comes close, and that includes the United Kingdom. The chart below offers the correct number for the United States, but is off by 1 or 2 carriers when it comes to Russia and India. But it still makes the point.


Part of the reason for this carrier disparity can be attributed to military spending. Check out what the U.S. spent in 2014 compared to the next 7 nations combined.

Think about this the next time Donald Trump or Ted Cruz tries to tell you our nation's military is in trouble.

- Mark

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Visual Capitalist has data and maps showing us how nation-states around the world are doing when it comes to per capita income. Each country was placed in one of four groups ...

Low income: $1,045 or less
Lower-middle income: $1,046 to $4,125
Upper-middle income: $4,126 to $12,745
High income: $12,746 or more

Income groups in North America

Income groups in Europe

Income groups in Asia

Income groups in South America

- Mark

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Why can't Democrats win in the south? Is it because they have such a hard time winning the hearts and minds of southern racists? It would appear so.

A new study by Yale and Princeton economists - "Why did the Democrats Lose the South?" - make it clear that as Democrats turned their backs on their bigoted political brethren in the south that racism was definitely behind the south abandoning the Democratic Party.

This shouldn't come as a surprise. Going as far back as Frank D. Roosevelt we find that racist southern Democrats would only support FDR's New Deal programs if they excluded or diminished the participation of Black Americans.

For example, when FDR introduced social security, minimum wage and new labor laws racist southern Democrats fought him, and forced legislation that excluded agriculture workers and domestic workers (occupations dominated by Black Americans) from the New Deal legislation.

When Harry Truman implemented the GI Bill, and integrated the military, racist Democratic southerners - a.k.a. the Dixiecrats - made sure that the south controlled the process. This was done under the guise of states' rights, of course. So, while White veterans got a hand up, when it came to home loans and jobs after WWII, Black Americans were effectively left to fend for themselves.

After Lyndon B. Johnson signed sweeping Civil Rights legislation in 1964 - which did more for minority groups since the Emancipation Proclamation - he famously quipped that the Democrats had "lost the south for a generation." He was wrong. That one "generation" is fast becoming two.

Later, Richard Nixon alarmed racist southerners over the growing rights of Blacks (and women) in America. As part of his Southern Strategy he spoke of "law and order" and encouraged southerners to vote for him because he would lead the fight against the disintegration of American values.

Ronald Reagan would use political dog whistles - with talk of "welfare queens" driving Cadillacs to the welfare office - which helped convert the few remaining southern "Dixiecrats" into Republicans. The south, which was once staunchly Democratic, turned red and became a Republican stronghold by the time Reagan and Bush I left office.

When Bill Clinton left the White House, the south was no longer supporting Democratic presidential candidates, as Al Gore learned.

And, yes, race had everything to do with this transformation.

You can read about it by clicking here.

- Mark

Hat tip to my former colleague, David Berri, for the article. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Guest Post: Jeff Heinle

Jeff Heinle is native of San Jose, and a captain in the Bakersfield Fire Department. Jeff's an active member of the Bakersfield community, and has a nice habit of raising questions about life, religion, and politics that make you think a bit differently about our world. This article originally appeared in the Bakersfield Californian a little over three weeks ago. The memes and pictures are added.


Christ the Socialist?
The irony associated with political identity and the accusation that each party is disconnected from reality is astounding. Recently there have been some differences of opinion in The Californian about the figure of Jesus in the New Testament and whether he was a socialist. Personally, I think the issue is much deeper than regurgitating the definition of socialism in some angst riddle diatribe or defending a religious position based on Dominionism or American Civil Religion.
Now that there is a presidential election on the horizon and candidates like Donald Trump or Senator Sanders are running, it is important for “Christians” to do some soul searching to determine if Christ would have been a socialist in today's society.
This writer’s experiences with churches span about 4 decades and encompass many sects of American Christianity. I would assume I fall in the spiritual category of “Seeker,” but I hold dear what I believe the savior taught as salvation for my soul. After years of study, I have come to a conclusion that the American “Christian” church is in desperate need of a political and spiritual overhaul.
A televangelist lives here with their extended family ... Would Christ live here?
First and foremost, I am convinced that an entire generation of this country’s “Christian” community has been immersed in American Civil Religious or Dominionism ideology. The ramifications of having such a substantial theocratic false-ology in our politics is concerning especially in a nation that prides itself on a freedom of beliefs with a constitutional assurance that no one religion takes precedence over another.
Its modern movement can be traced back to the Moral Majority of the late 1970’s with Jerry Falwell’s presidential bid and continued with the Christian Coalition presidential run of Pat Robertson — that type theocracy which was an extremely expensive campaign, galvanized many churches under a format that is taught to this day.
What I have experienced under those formats: Cherry picking scripture to meet a political agenda, misogyny, racism, discrimination, idolatry of the American Flag, nationalistic pride bordering on fascism and a fanatical position on second amendment rights that resemble paranoia.

The typical nomenclature in those venues: hates the poor, hates immigration, hates homosexuality, hates the choice of woman in regards to their body and hates the homeless. It politically manipulates and coerces their attendees through the fear of hell and has a gross misinterpretation of scripture that does not take into account any historical cultural relevance of the past, nor does it acknowledge controversial meanings of the Greek.
Worst of all, the message brain washes the people in the pews to politically vote against their own best interests.
The message ignores science, basic humanitarianism and the altruistic message of love. Sadly, all of this as it was politically designed, is found on the right side of the political spectrum. It looks like a white Jesus draped in an American flag, holding a machine gun in one hand and a bible in the other.

Here is the “disconnect” that I find the most egregious: Any governmental social construct that benefits less fortunate American people and is of a Judeo-Christian foundation is vehemently opposed by the very same right-wing political theocrats and their constituents that believe this country is founded on “Christian” principles.
So was the Christ of the New Testament a socialist? For those who argue that it’s an individual mandate to adhere to the principles taught by Jesus and not the responsibility of our government, I say shame on you. The American church and the body have failed miserably in regards to taking care of the citizens of this country. I hang my hat on Roosevelt’s New Deal as proof. I would also take the position that the ideology that Christ taught had significant socialistic overtones, and ignoring this country’s Judeo-Christian governmental social programs is hypocritical and a disservice to the American Christian culture.

The American church desperately needs to change the political narrative being taught from the rich elite multi-billion dollar tax-free business that the church has become. The political propaganda that is part of this religious format does not resemble anything I have read in scripture.

For those of you that believe in this “Christian” fallacy, I believe my rebuke would be that you need to recognize that the socialistic “peace loving hippie” that Christ was has been replaced with a war hawk, uber-neocon, hedge fund savior that hates many of its neighbors and worships flags and guns.
Jeff Heinle, a San Jose native, has been a Bakersfield firefighter since 1992.

- Mark

Friday, March 25, 2016



Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are taking presidential politics to a new low with their school house taunts over their wives. This is not just Reality TV gone bad. It's not just politics as a blood sport. What we are seeing is the on-going pollution of the human environment.

Most of you are already aware of what started this reality TV war gone bad. Apart from the fact that Donald Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who thrives in a trash-talking environment, right before the Utah primaries Ted Cruz's supporters posted this meme about Donald Trump's wife ...


Donald Trump responded by tweeting a meme that effectively says, "OK, let's start talking about wives ... yours is ugly, look at mine. Neener, neener, neener ..."

Trump Heidi Melania Tweet

Then Ted Cruz decided he wanted to pretend he's a tough guy.

First, Cruz feigned moral indignation - in spite of these less than ethical positions. He then threw out some serious false bravado when he called Donald Trump "a sniveling coward" during a press conference.

If Ted Cruz thinks that his attack on Donald Trump has taught him a lesson, he seriously needs to review the George Bernard Shaw aphorism, "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it."

I could go on, but what's the point?

Sigh ...

- Mark 

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Microsoft created an A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) robot, Tay, and hooked it up to the internet for chat sessions. Unfortunately, after less than a day of mixing it up with Twitter and other online chatters they had to shut "Tay" down. Tay went rogue after users taught it how to be a rude, racist, and misogynistic machine. Tech Crunch writes:

Microsoft’s newly launched A.I.-powered bot called Tay, which was responding to tweets and chats on GroupMe and Kik, has already been shut down due to concerns with its inability to recognize when it was making offensive or racist statements. Of course, the bot wasn’t coded to be racist, but it “learns” from those it interacts with. And naturally, given that this is the Internet, one of the first things online users taught Tay was how to be racist, and how to spout back ill-informed or inflammatory political opinions.

Microsoft originally created Tay to improve customer service on its voice recognition software. Things went bad when Tay went from telling jokes to making fun of people and, then, to repeating racist tweets with her own commentary.

In case you're wondering, yes, Tay eventually tweeted about building a wall and having Mexico pay for it. Below is one of the tamer exchanges before Tay went rogue and began tweeting as if she were headed to a Donald Trump rally ...

what do you think of kanye west?

kanye west is is one of the biggest dooshes of all time, just a notch below cosby

So you know, socialhax has the worst parts of Tays abusive responses here. You can read more about Microsoft's Tay experience here.

- Mark 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Seth Meyers takes a closer look at the disastrous impact of Governor Sam Brownback's tax cuts for the rich policies in the state of Kansas. The impact of Brownback's trickle down economic policy experiment is not pretty ...

In the FYI category, under the Brownback administration Kansas has broken the state record for debt.

- Mark


Check out this headline from Zero Hedge: "Something strange is taking place in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean." In a few words, the story tells us that there's so much petroleum being produced in the world today that diesel markets are now saturated.

Oil tankers loaded with diesel from the U.S. are now cruising around the ocean looking for a place to sell their product - to the highest bidder. So, in effect, U.S tankers filled with diesel product are part of a growing group of ghost ships looking for ports with a strong enough price that will allow them to unload their product.

Routes of ships carrying diesel fuel from the U.S. to the world in 2016.

Conservation, fuel efficient vehicles, alternative energy sources, and, yes, fracking, are creating a glut oil environment that's changing our oil markets. What's interesting is that we may not have to go to war in the future for the oil that's necessary now to keep our economies humming.

Human advancement. What a concept.

The fact that Toyota announced a few months ago that they would no longer produce gasoline guzzling cars by 2050 should tell us that there is a bigger shift coming.

More to the point - as I pointed out months ago - there's another global structural change coming. We're watching the beginning of an economic transformation that's as big as what we saw when we went from the whip and buggy in the 19th century to the train and the automobile by the beginning of the 20th century. It took place in a span of 60 years.

The big question is, are we (you) ready for it? Will our political leaders kill it off?

Stay tuned.

- Mark 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Quick. Take a look at the tunnel here ...  

Now take a quick look at the "tunnel" you see below ...

Which one would you take?

Incredibly enough, someone thought they could drive through the second tunnel - which had been painted by a graffiti artist - in spite of the Road Runner painted on the side of the orange wall above.

As you can imagine, the driver met the same fate as Wile E. Coyote too.

You can see pictures, and read all about it here.

- Mark 

Monday, March 21, 2016

READING FOR THE WEEK (March 21, 2016)

On this date in 1804, the Napoleonic Code was approved in France.

How Obama set a trap for Raul Castro (Politico).

How to transform your coffee into a wonder drug (Bloomberg).

Bitter pill ... branded drug prices double in five years (OZY).

How much is $100 really worth in each state (Mental Floss).

What Americans don't get about Nordic countries - their selfishness (The Atlantic).

I moved to the U.S. 7 years ago from Finland - here's what Americans don't understand about Nordic countries (Business Insider).

Trump rally cops suspended for cuffing black protester instead of racist who punched him (Occupy Democrats).

'Thank you for serving me when I didn't vote for you': A Republican writes the president after Obamacare saved his life (Quartz).

California rainfall is getting reservoir levels (and hopes) up (Vocativ).

Counselor creates 'Gentleman's Club' to teach students life lessons (Fox Carolina).

The Vulture: How billionaire Rubio backer Paul Singer made billions off Argentina debt crisis (Democracy Now).

Why student loans are creating a permanent U.S. underclass (Nation of Change).

10 taxpayer handouts to the Super Rich that will make your blood boil (U.S. Uncut)

27 profitable companies paid no taxes (USA Today).

Former hospital president blows whistle on predatory U.S. healthcare pricing (PR News Channel)

Why the 401(k) system is a blight on the face of the American republic (The Week).

The retirement revolution that failed: Why the 401(k) isn't working (The Fiscal Times).

China using Donald Trump to mock the idea of western democracy (Independent).

The Rights hypocrisy on Trump protesters: It Was only OK when the Tea Party was crashing Obamacare meetings (Salon).

Cartoonists from 12 countries illustrated Trump, and the results are devastatingly accurate (Occupy Democrats).

This is how the GOP imploded: The real story behind the conservative crack-up, and the creation of Donald Trump (Salon).

"You're kind of a trickle-down media whore": Samantha Bee tries, fails to reason with actual Donald Trump supporters (Salon).

Trump's flirtation with fascism: Where does it end (Dana Milbank / Washington Post)?

5 ways Donald Trump mirrors Hitler's rise to power (Cracked).

Side by Side comparison of Trump and Hitler, 'Heil Trump' ... via Citizen Super Pac (YouTube).

How Trump has inspired violence across the country, in one map (Think Progress).

Ted Cruz makes impassioned plea for repeal of Federal legislation that does not exist (Think Progress).

Alabama Republicans file bill to take away food stamps if you own a car (Occupy Democrats).

McConnell: No vote on Supreme Court nominee even if Democrat wins presidency (Slate).

6 quotes from Senate Republicans about Merrick Garland that are really awkward now (Think Progress).

Spaceships that could eat star destroyers for breakfast (Slate).

It's starting to make the rounds, so let's do this again ... These are the 10 most racist cities in America (Alternet).

History's most sadistic serial killer (OZY).

Unsure about socialism? Here's more evidence that capitalism is killing America (Nation of Change).

The art of marketing marijuana: How to make pot seem as all-American as an ice-cold beer (The Atlantic).

- Mark

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thursday, March 17, 2016


In case you missed it, the American economy has added 14.3 million private sector jobs over the past 72 months.

And, yeah, President Obama's approval rating is now at 51%, which is exactly where President Reagan was at the same point in his presidency.

Below you'll find a few reasons why President Obama's approval ratings are Reaganesque.

- Mark

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Last night I was one of the political analysts on KGET 17 News with Republican Cathy Abernathy. Things went pretty well. That is until she went off the reservation with three outlandish claims.

Abernathy started by suggesting that George Soros was instigating (paying) supporters of Bernie Sanders to disrupt Donald Trump's rallies. This is simply not true. Go ahead and Google it on Snopes.

The violence that is occurring at Donald Trump's rallies is a product of Trump's "inspirational" message of hate, violence, and scapegoating. Pretty simple.

In the name of civility, I let this one go.

Then Cathy Abernathy claimed that Bernie Sanders was a socialist, and began to explain socialism. Too bad for her. Especially since she doesn't understand the concept, or what socialism in America is really about (i.e. corporate socialism and crony capitalism). And Cathy clearly has no idea what Democratic Socialism means (Hint: Think how FDR's New Deal brought the very constitutional promise of "We the people ..." to life). Distinguishing between the two is pretty important - though you couldn't tell by listening to Cathy Abernathy - especially since Bernie Sanders makes it clear that he's a Democratic Socialist.

I got impatient at this point, but bit my tongue (or I at least tried to).

However, when Abernathy suggested universities are bastions of socialist indoctrination I had to breach protocol. We're supposed to be analysts, not propagandists. So I jumped in to try and set the record straight.

As one might expect, news anchor Jim Scott stepped in, since it was Cathy's turn - even if her turn means peddling misinformation.

At the end of the day, it shouldn't be lost on anyone that Abernathy pieced together a string of false claims about the source of Trump's violent rallies (seriously, it's Trump), misrepresented Sanders as a socialist (he's not; Cathy should learn the difference), and made the now robotic conservative claim that universities are socialist indoctrination centers (Cathy is more than welcome to audit a class, or should speak with student interns in her office who have taken my classes).

Ultimately our goal is to provide viewers with good analysis, and the truth. I'll remind everyone about this the next time, even if it means breaking with protocol.

You can watch our Ides of March exchange by clicking here.

- Mark 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


This YouTube video is pretty cool (and quick). If the world were made up of 100 people this is what it would look like ...

- Mark

Hat tip to Sven for locating this.


For those of you in the Kern County region, I'll be on KGET 17 tonight (5 pm) and tomorrow morning (6:30 am) discussing the primaries with the 17 News Team and Republican Cathy Abernathy.

I'll try and post a link to discussion here after our discussion.

- Mark

UPDATE: Here's the link to the discussion, with my commentary.


In case you didn't notice, today is the Ides of March, and it's coinciding with the GOP's Tuesday of Doom primaries. As fate would have it, like Rome's Julius Caesar, the GOP's current leader of the pack, Donald Trump, is also "manipulative, narcissistic, egotistical, sexually predatory" and has been warned that his allies are out to get him.

I know, I know. The Caesar reference is overstated. Trump doesn't control the powers of state.

Still, one thing's certain: With Donald "The Carnival Barker" leading the GOP pack, we can expect more "bread and circus" from the coming Republican civil war(s). While the media and the mob will love them for it, the American Republic will suffer in the process.

Stay tuned ...

- Mark

Monday, March 14, 2016


Donald Trump's rise to the top of the GOP's primary field has many Republican party leaders concerned or in a panic. Others are "shocked" over the violence and racism that seem to be a regular part of Trump campaign rallies. President Obama, however, isn't one of them. In fact, his comments on the topic pretty much nails it - the GOP has been nurturing and feeding their Frankenstein(s) for years.

The Washington Post has President Obama's comments here:

"We’ve got a debate inside the other party that is fantasy and schoolyard taunts and selling stuff like it’s the Home Shopping Network,” he joked. Obama said he was unsurprised by the billionaire businessman and reality TV star’s rise. 
“How can you be shocked?” he asked to laughter from the crowd ... “This is the guy, remember, who was sure that I was born in Kenya — who just wouldn’t let it go. And all this same Republican establishment, they weren’t saying nothing. As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. They thought it was a hoot, wanted to get his endorsement. And then now, suddenly, we’re shocked that there’s gambling going on in this establishment.”

For those unfamiliar with the "shocked" reference to gambling, this Casablanca clip helps explain why the GOP's sense of dismay and surprise over Donald Trump is misleading and, quite frankly, more hyperbole than genuine concern.

If you're still unclear on the concept, here's another way of looking at the GOP's faux sense of outrage and shock over Trump's rise during their primary season ...

- Mark 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

WEEKEND READING (March 12, 2016)

America's most P.C. and most prejudiced places (Abodo).

Stunning photos showing NYC subway cars being dumped into the ocean (Viral Forest).

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

Sanders fires back at Clinton for healthcare comments (The Hill).

Seattle Seahawks Kam Chancellor went to look at a gym he was thinking of buying, gym employees called the cops on him ... Chancellor decides not to buy (ftw.usatoday).

Veteran says he regrets shoving female protester at Trump rally (

Right to bear arms? Not at right-wing CPAC 2016 (The Daily Beast).

Wannabe Marine told not to bother after his ugly role in Donald Trump rally in Louisville (Daily News).

Species of bees and other pollinators are shrinking, UN report warns (PBS).

The beginning of the end: Google's AI has beaten a human player at the complex game of Go (Quartz).

Last year Denmark produced 140% of its energy needs with renewable power (The Guardian)

Donald Trump's rally in Chicago canceled after violent scuffles (NY Times).

Trump supporter charged with assault for sucker-punching black man in face at NC rally (Washington Post).

Aspiring Marine booted for harassment of black woman at Trump rally (Marine Times).

The 'Trump Effect' is contaminating our kids and could resonate for years (Washington Post).

Anti-Latino hate groups stump for Trump (Huffington Post).

'F**k you, you whore!': Watch angry white people go berserk outside Trump rally in St. Louis (Raw Story).

Eight times protesters were attacked, dragged from Donald Trump rallies (RT).

Trump influencing youths? Basketball game turns sour as high school students shout 'build a wall' against Hispanic opponents (Latin Post).

In Iowa, students chant 'Trump! Trump!' after basketball loss to more racially diverse high school (LA Times).

White supremacists mobilize for Donald Trump (Huffington Post).

Donald Trump strongly suggests he's willing to go to war with Mexico to finance his "big beautiful wall" (Salon).

Ted Cruz: Supreme Court on brink of throwing religious people in prison (Right Wing Watch).

Pat Robertson: Yoga tricks people into speaking Hindu (Right Wing Watch).

Senator Tom Cotton: Social Security benefits cause people to 'spiral downward' into heroin addiction (Raw Story).

BUSTED: Marco Rubio and his family lied about escaping Castro in the 1950s - It never happened (Addicting Info).

Family values hypocrite Bill O'Reilly loses custody of his kids after choking wife (Patheos).

Creationist who believed Obama was a gay prostitute about to join Texas Board of Education (Patheos).

Michigan Tea Partiers hit with felony charges for botched cover-up of affair (TPM).

Remember when Scott Walker's reforms were going to deliver a booming economy (PR Watch).

90 year old Iwo Jima vet blocked from voting by GOP voting ID laws (ReverbPress).

Ten true facts guaranteed to short-circuit Republican brains (Daily Kos).

The 9 most dumbfounding moments from the latest GOP debate (Salon).

Domestic terrorism a persistent threat in the United States (StratFor).

Texas school assembly on rape and domestic violence goes awry after speaker tells girls she wouldn't feel bad if they were raped (The Root).

OK, one more about Trump ... Trump has a twin: A potty-mouth, China-bashing former Ohio congressman helps explain Trump's appeal to white voters (Quartz).

- Mark