Wednesday, November 30, 2016


From Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader we learn about poor voters in Owsley County who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump and Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin. It turns out that while 66 percent of Owsley County get their health coverage through Medicaid they now have a governor-elect who's going to cut the state's Medicaid program.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Governor-elect Matt Bevin is also going to close the state-run Kynect health insurance exchange.

The real fun (confusing?) part is that 70 percent of Owsley County voted for Republican Governor-elect Matt Bevin after he promised to cut the state's Medicaid program during the campaign.

Here's what one voter - who voted for the Republican governor-elect - sees happening, as explained by the Lexington Herald-Leader:

"If anything changed with our insurance to make it more expensive for us, that would be a big problem" ... a community college student, said Friday at the Owsley County Public Library, where she works. "Just with the blood tests, you're talking maybe $1,000 a year without insurance." 
Yet two weeks earlier, despite [Bevin's] much-discussed plans to repeal Kynect and toughen eligibility requirements for Medicaid, she voted for Bevin. 
"I'm just a die-hard Republican," she said.

Huh?  "I'm just a die-hard Republican" is the rationale for supporting a candidate who promises to cut programs that keep you healthy and alive? This is akin to saying, "I don't like the cancer, but I gotta have my Marlboro smokes ... it makes me feel like a cowboy."

Unfortunately, Owsley County isn't alone when it comes to voting against their economic and health interests, as this Kentucky map dotted with Bevin supporting counties illustrates.

Read more here:
The Lexington Herald-Leader describes what happened in Kentucky's Pulaski County, where the Republican Governor-elect received 72 percent of the vote:

... people back home denounce[d] "Obamacare" while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect. They didn't seem to realize that Kynect, Kentucky's response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same thing as Obamacare, she said. 
"There's either voter disconnect here, where the people weren't thinking about or weren't aware of Bevin's stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues,"

So, yeah, ill-informed people disconnected from reality is what we're dealing with. 

But Kentucky is not alone when dealing with this kind of disconnect. As Paul Krugman points out, there are probably between 3-4 million people around the country who voted Republican and "just shot themselves in the face" because they will now lose their health insurance.  

Why do people "shoot themselves in the face"? The issue is really quite simple. As my former colleague David Berri put it:
These stories should always be remembered every time someone says: "If only the candidate made this argument, they would have won!" 
Voters are simply not rational. And they are not sitting at home evaluating the merits of the arguments each candidate makes. Elections are not Harvard debating classes. The majority of voters are not that educated and many do stupid stuff like vote for a candidate that promises to take away their health care.

This helps to explain why we see poor people voting Republican. It may not be a smart move, but at least they get to finger wag. They get to condemn the gays. They can claim they're saving the nation from the colored hoards. And they can feel good about how much safer they are because they've been able to stay out of FEMA camps and keep their guns. 

These same people might die from some malignant health disease or tumor. But at least they can say they voted Republican, and didn't aid and abet a Muslim invasion, or support any brown-skinned homos coming across our border. National security, you know. 

Sigh ...

One more thing. Yes, Kentucky is home to the Creationist Museum, where we learn how Jesus roamed the earth with the dinosaurs. It's also the same state that gave us Kim Davis; that confused Bible-thumping Christian warrior who's been divorced three times and cheated on her husbands mulitple times, but nonetheless was convinced she was upholding traditional institutions in America by keeping "the gays" from ruining the sanctity of marriage ...

So, America, this is what we're dealing with. And, yeah, you can't make this stuff up.

- Mark

Read more here:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


"Alex, I'll take 'Putin's Evil and Stupid American Twin' for $200 please."

From The New Yorker ...

Being ignorant and loud. This is American Jeopardy, in the age of Trump.

Sigh ...

- Mark

Monday, November 28, 2016


This winter break my plan is to put the finishing touches on the book I've been working on over the past three years. Tentatively titled "Is History Whispering in Our Ear?", I'm drawing on lectures and presentations I started giving after my first book was published in 2009. My primary argument is that we are seeing many of the same ugly characteristics and patterns that we saw in the 1920s and 1930s, and are either too historically illiterate or too politically warped to see the parallels. I've been blogging about these developments over the past few years, which you can access by clicking here.

As you can imagine, I have felt an extra sense of urgency to finish ever since Donald Trump danced his way into America's dark conservative heart, and won the electoral college two weeks ago.

This article from Chris Hedges speaks to several of the themes I'm discussing in my book. His opening paragraphs helps drive home the broader political implications of what's happening in the United States, and across the globe:

We await the crisis. It could be economic. It could be a terrorist attack within the United States. It could be widespread devastation caused by global warming. It could be nationwide unrest as the death spiral of the American empire intensifies. It could be another defeat in our endless and futile wars. The crisis is coming. And when it arrives it will be seized upon by the corporate state, nominally led by a clueless real estate developer, to impose martial law and formalize the end of American democracy. 
When we look back on this sad, pathetic period in American history we will ask the questions all who have slid into despotism ask. Why were we asleep? How did we allow this to happen? Why didn’t we see it coming? Why didn’t we resist?

I'll be posting more about my book in the coming weeks. You can access the rest of Hedges' article by clicking here.

- Mark 

Monday, November 21, 2016


Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) explains on the House floor that Donald Trump is "preparing to install foxes to watch the people's henhouse." He gets called out a few times by the presiding Speaker for "engaging in personalities towards the president-elect," but his points are made ...

Given the team Donald Trump is proposing to surround himself with, I think Rep. Gallego is on to something.

- Mark


The GOP is preparing to take Obamacare apart, and have nothing to replace it (big surprise there). This op-ed from the LA Times - "I had a health care crisis in France. I'm here to tell you that 'socialized medicine' is terrific" - should be a part of any discussion on the topic.
On Sunday, March 29, 2015, two days after my 54th birthday, I came very close to dying. I was sitting in an armchair in my Paris apartment, reading a newspaper, when I became dizzy. The next thing I knew, my heart was beating violently. When the paramedics arrived, it was racing at 240 beats per minute.
I was taken to Lariboisière, a major hospital in the north of Paris. In the intensive care unit, I learned that I had been born with a defective aortic valve. Basically, I’d been walking around my entire life with a ticking time bomb in my chest. How could I not have known? In high school, I ran track and played football; every summer, my wife and I took long hikes in the Swiss Alps. But an experienced nurse was not surprised. “With your condition,” she said, “the first symptom is often sudden death.” OK, I replied, what’s the second symptom?
So began my sojourn in the French healthcare system. In the United States, opponents of the Affordable Care Act often raise the nightmarish specter of European “socialized medicine.” For what it’s worth, here is a brief account of my experience with a single-payer system in the face of a life-threatening crisis.
On March 31 of last year, the morning of my second full day in the ICU, I was chatting with my wife, Dorli, when I became dizzy again. This time, my chest was plastered with electrodes and the heart monitors unleashed a screaming electronic alarm. Dorli was hustled out. 
Someone tore open my hospital gown. A doctor stood over me, the defibrillator raised in his hands. I felt like I was in one of those hospital shows I almost never watch. I thought the doctor was about to yell “Clear!” or whatever one yells in French when, suddenly, my heart, of its own accord, calmed down. The roomful of cardiologists stared at me with a mix of empathy and professional curiosity.
I spent a total of 15 nights in intensive care units while a team of cardiologists put me through a battery of tests and tried to determine how best to treat my case. In addition to the tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) and the leaky aortic valve, the aorta itself was overgrown. I would need open-heart surgery.
On May 11, 2015, Dr. Emmanuel Lansac of the Montsouris Institute performed the six-hour operation, sewing my valve into shape and replacing a chunk of my aorta with a synthetic tube. The day after, I asked Dr. Lansac how weird my problem had been, on a scale of one to ten. He replied: “About a nine.”
After eleven days, I was transferred to a clinic for patients recovering from open-heart surgery. The grounds looked like a Monet painting. At any given time, there are about 65 patients at the clinic undergoing tests, monitoring and gentle exercise. Among my fellow cardiac cases, I met an arts administrator, two taxi drivers, the British former CEO of an airline and patients from France’s former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, including a Vietnamese history teacher who became my regular chess partner. And then there was me, an African American writer who is not even a French citizen but a long-term official resident. All of us, regardless of class, religion, national or ethnic origin, received the same top-notch treatment.
Let's get to the bottom line. In addition to my surgery, I underwent an MRI, had a probe inserted in my upper thigh and extended into my heart, twice had a camera shoved down my throat to take photos of my valve, and more blood tests, electrocardiograms and sonograms than I can count. For all this, I was charged nothing.
I did have to pay for my hospital beds, TV, telephone, WiFi and meals. I spent a total of 47 nights in hospitals and rehab. During the second half of my stay at the Grands Prs, I switched from a double room to a single so that I would have more privacy to write. Naturally, that was a bit more expensive. In the end, this entire ordeal set me back about 1,300 euros, or $1,455.
Granted, it’s taxes that make such low out-of-pocket costs possible. My individual burden, however, is far more reasonable than an American might assume. I pay an annual income tax of about 23%. All things considered, that’s fine by me.
I sometimes wonder how my health crisis would have played out had I returned to America instead of deciding to stay in Paris more than 20 years ago. Me, a journeyman writer with no university or corporate insurance coverage. Would I have been kept under observation in intensive care for two weeks? Before Obamacare, my valve problem could have been considered a “pre-existing condition,” allowing insurers to deny me support for the surgery.
Of course, I will never know what would have happened had I chosen to settle in my native country instead of in France. But the choice I made might well have saved my life.
Jake Lamar is the author, most recently, of the play “Brothers in Exile” and the novel “Postrit.”

If you're in the mood for more, especially when it comes to learning more about health care spending trends and national health preparedness, click here for a 2016 report on the "Lessons in healthcare from around the world."

- Mark

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Alec Baldwin killed it last night as Donald Trump on SNL ...

As usual, Donald Trump has another Twitter tantrump, which you can read about here and here. Read Alec Baldwin's response here.

- Mark


With Donald Trump throwing yet another child-like Twitter tantrum over an SNL skit about him, we're watching the dawn of a new era in American politics. A weak thin-skinned man is about to occupy the White House. And he doesn't like it when people mock or disagree with him. It hurts his feelings. His temperament tells us there will come a time when he lashes out, especially after he takes the oath of office.

With the powers of state at his disposal, we need to be better informed about what's coming down the pike. This TED presentation "How did Hitler rise of power" is good place to start ...

Just in case you have some friends who don't get it, the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism below, from Lawerence Britt, is something of a classic now, and a nice place to start. I'm listing the primary points below without commentary because, as you probably recognize by now, the script is writing itself.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

With reference to #8 "Religion and Government Intertwined" keep in mind that while Italy's Benito Mussolini began as a militant atheist he took the Catholics under his wing once "the bishops ... blessed the fascist Pennants."

We also need to recognize that while Donald Trump seems to have no problem quoting fascists like Mussolini, the fascist trends we are seeing now didn't start with Donald Trump. The 14 characteristics listed above have been evolving for some time now, albeit with softer overtones. Crony capitalism under the guise of deregulation, the militarization of nationalism, the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, voter ID laws, and fewer voting places didn't happen overnight.

I don't like being the bearer of bad news, but what's left is the coming economic collapse (and it's coming), which will turn all of this into something really ugly.

If we don't stand up and call Trump on his tantrums and choices now, make that "really really" ugly.

- Mark

Friday, November 18, 2016


Seth Meyer's helps us see that Donald Trump's transition into the Oval Office is going about as well as could be expected. Seriously, this is about what most of us expected ...

The section where British politician Neil Farage jokes about having to act as a chaperon when Trump visits with British Prime Minister Theresa May (begins at 2:31) says all we need to know about how many around the world see Trump. While it's funny, we all know why it shouldn't be.

The Daily Mirror's report on Donald Trump's initial phone conversation with Britain's prime minister ("bizarrely un-presidential") makes it clear Seth Meyers will have plenty to work with as long as Donald Trump is president.

Sigh ...

- Mark



This "Open Letter to the Faculty, Staff and Students of the California State University" is from Chancellor Timothy P. White. While the letter is much longer, the following is for my students who have expressed concern over our post-election environment, and their place on our CSU campus: 

"... CSU policy directs, unless contravened by California Government Code or required by law, that:

• The CSU will not enter into agreements with state or local law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security or any other federal department for the enforcement of federal immigration law;  
• Our university police departments will not honor immigration hold requests; and  
• Our university police do not contact, detain, question or arrest individuals solely on the basis of being – or suspected of being – a person that lacks documentation. 

We are also partnering with elected officials at the state and national level to inform and work to prevent negative developments regarding immigration for our undocumented students, including those with DACA status."

I'd like to add one simple point: The fact that letters like this are necessary make it clear that Donald Trump's impending electoral college victory is changing our nation in a way that doesn't bring out our better angels.

- Mark

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The evidence that Vladimir Putin and the Russians had a direct hand in the outcome of our 2016 presidential elections is building. Specifically, the Russians are being accused of first hacking and then revealing select information, but only about Hillary Clinton. They did this, the story line goes, because they wanted Donald Trump to win (as I wrote about here in July). Here's what we already know.


From International Business Times ...

US intelligence chief [NSA] Michael Rogers ... said during a Wall Street Journal conference on 15 November that Hillary Clinton's presidential bid was hampered by state-sponsored hackers who worked to influence the outcome of the 2016 election"There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's mind – this was not something that was done casually," he said when asked about WikiLeaks' publications. "This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily."

From Time Magazine ...

The U.S. intelligence community has publicly accused the Russian government of being behind the hacking and leaking of emails involving Hillary Clinton’s election campaign by cyber espionage groups Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear on WikiLeaks and other sites this summer. James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, issued a joint statement with Department of Homeland Security on October 7 declaring that they were “confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of emails” and that “these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

From the LA Times ...

[U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey] Graham, who has sparred openly with Trump, his former rival in the presidential primary, is proposing that Congress hold a series of hearings on "Russia's misadventures throughout the world" – including whether they were involved in "hacking into the DNC" ... "Here's what I would tell Republicans: We cannot sit on the sidelines as a party and let allegations against a foreign government interfering in our election process go unanswered because it may have been beneficial to our cause."

From Esquire ...

The [Russian] hackers, hiding behind ominous aliases like Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, claimed their first victim in July, in the person of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair, whose private emails were published by WikiLeaks in the days leading up to the Democratic convention. By August, the hackers had learned to use the language of Americans frustrated with Washington to create doubt about the integrity of the electoral system: "As you see the U. S. presidential elections are becoming a farce," they wrote from Russia ... 

... Sitting comfortably in front of a giant banner that said russia calling! [Putin] answered an audience question about the hacks. "Everyone is talking about who did it," Putin said. "Is it so important?" The former KGB officer, proving his full command of U. S. political intrigue, suggested that the Democrats had "supported one intraparty candidate at the expense of the other." Any talk of the hacks being in Russia's interest, he said, was "hysteria" intended to distract Americans from what the hackers discovered: "the manipulation of public opinion." When the audience applauded, a smirk returned to Putin's face. "I think I answered your question," he said.


There are many ways to interpret these developments. In my international relations class today, as part of our discussion on the evolving nature of warfare, I brought up the issue of cyber warfare, and the hacking of our presidential elections.

I reminded my students that we began the semester with the goal of learning how to be objective analysts in the field of international relations. This is a methods and theory class after all. I reminded them of the dangers of being partisan hacks when it comes to national security, and asked them to take off their nationalist, religious, ideological, and party hats. We need to look at what's being presented as analysts. For the moment, and for the purpose of our thought exercise, we were not Americans, Republicans, Democrats, or anything else.

This is where it got fun.

Our foreign students, and those who lived in other countries, were the most annoyed with the suggestion that Vladimir Putin and the Russians interfered in America's presidential election. America is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, right?

After a nice fluid discussion, this became the working consensus: If the Russians did hack the vote, we shouldn't concern ourselves. In many ways, it's the roosters coming home to roost. The United States has meddled in, and manipulated with, elections in so many other countries we are now getting a dose of our own medicine. So, why should we care? 

But we have another problem: What does all of this do to America's leadership and prestige around the world? And what does mean for the future of global order?

There was another concern we had as "analysts": What happens now, especially knowing that Trump "owes" Putin.

This is an especially thorny consideration since it's clear that, when it comes to playing the international game, Putin is heads and shoulders above Donald Trump. Think chess player versus a checkers player. Then what happens when Trump realizes he's getting played the fool? And, believe me, he will.


There are additional questions involved, especially when we put our nationalist hats back on. But I had to start the lecture at some point, so we left that issue for another day.

I guess my question to you is: Let's say Russia did hack the vote, and helped Donald Trump get elected. Does it really matter? Most of us know the answer to this. Unfortunately, with the exception of Senator Lindsey Graham, there doesn't seem to be too many Republicans who care about the issue.

Let me be more blunt. For a political party that was once consumed 24/7 with national security being "potentially" compromised by email servers, the Republicans seem uncomfortably cavalier about all of this.

A disturbing turn of events, wouldn't you say?

- Mark

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Barry Ritholtz shares with us an interesting chart that shows the history of share prices since 1500 ...
Share Prices

For a huge pdf chart that you can blow up click here.

- Mark

Tuesday, November 15, 2016




For more global headlines click here.

- Mark 

Monday, November 14, 2016


I've written or posted numerous times about how the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to strike down the heart of the 1965 Voting Rights Act was a disaster for democracy in America. In our post-2016 environment, we are starting to see in real time how much of a disaster it's become. 


The Center for American Progress explains how voter ID and other voter suppression laws cost many Americans their voice across the country, and especially in states like Wisconson ...

In 2014, Wisconsin passed a strict photo ID law requiring voters to show specific, restrictive forms of identification at the polls. It is significant that only 27,000 votes currently separate President-elect Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton when 300,000 registered voters in the state lacked the strict forms of voter ID required. Wisconsin’s voter turnout was at its lowest level in two decades. Voter turnout in Milwaukee, where 70 percent of the state’s African American population lives, decreased by 13 percent; this meant 41,000 fewer votes ... 

In addition to stricter voter ID laws we saw 868 fewer polling places on Election Day, which disproportionately affected the poor and people of color.



You can read about the the Supreme Court's 2013 Voting Rights Act decision, voter ID laws, and other voter suppression issues, herehere, and here.

- Mark

Addendum: As a reminder ...


Another quote from Mencken ...

“It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”

That's all, for the moment.

- Mark

Saturday, November 12, 2016


There have been several post-election step programs published. They're presented with the idea that many are still stunned, and living in disbelief, over the election of Donald Trump as president. With that in mind (and drawing inspiration from the articles), I am copying and putting together the following 10-step program for dealing with politics in our post-election Donald Trump-filled horror show.

Some of the steps below are serious, others not so much. I'll let you be the judge on this.

In all cases, here's my prescription for those of you who want to make it through our national electoral horror show. These are the 10 steps we need to embrace ...

1. DRINK: I agree with the NY Times' Gail Collins here because it's real simple. Some of you did this election night, and got it out of your system already. Good for you. You're now ready for the remaining 9 steps. For those of you who don't drink, you're in luck. Proposition 64 passed in California - and in a few other states - so you just might be able to spend the next 4 years in a smoke filled bubble.

2. CHANNEL YOUR INNER MICHELLE OBAMA: Remember, we live in a democracy. More importantly, while we can point to the FBI director putting his thumb on the election scale (and he did), or to the fact that Donald Trump sold Americans on promises he can not deliver on, the reality is we need to keep our chins up. We need to go high, in spite of how low this election cycle went.

3. OUR PRESIDENT?: Stay with me on this one. While my conservative friends are saying we need to unite behind President-elect Trump, the reality is I can't sign off on his rhetoric for stigmatizing and banning Muslims, scapegoating Mexicans, creating a hostile environment for the LGBT community, or the misogynistic and "locker room" language that he used during the campaign. So, is he our president? Yes. Was he my choice? No. Do I have to support his position, or his rhetoric if it continues? No. Trump has to earn my support. While he may be our president, I can't support a man whose rhetoric creates division and hate. If he wants my support, and to become "my" president, Trump needs to earn it.

4. TRUMP'S ACTUALLY A SMART GUY: You might not agree, but we have to start recognizing that Donald Trump might be smarter than we gave him credit for in the past. Sure he's used the tax and bankruptcy laws in ways many of us find repulsive. But it was legal. Ergo, we need to acknowledge that Donald Trump has used and abused the GOP, and our electoral system, in the same way that he does our tax laws. We might not like the outcome, but there might actually be something to Donald Trump's ability to read a mob while conning an entire party into believing in him. This takes some kind of smarts.

5. SECRETARY OF STATE: How does Donald Trump begin to win my trust? Let's start by making good choices when it comes to his cabinet. The big one for me is Secretary of State. If he picks someone like Newt Gingrich or John Bolton we're pretty much done.

6. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Another trust builder for me is who he picks for Attorney General. Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani (or others like them) are two additional "trust busters" for me.

7. DOMESTIC POLICY: How Donald Trump approaches issues like Obamacare, the LGBT community, social security, our national parks, and energy. It's one thing to run a clown show during the campaign, but if he's as crazy and incoherent as his campaign rhetoric sounded then it's almost impossible for me to embrace Trump as "my president" over the next 4 years. On the positive side, we know that Donald Trump has already walked back his language and tone on 9 issues that got his base riled up, and helped get him elected.

8. EVERY TRUMP SUPPORTER'S NOT A RACIST OR A MISOGYNIST: This one might be tough for many to handle, especially when you heard the rhetoric, saw the rallies, and know that his supporters STILL voted for him. Here we need to recognize that many of Trump's supporters are simply hurting from economic insecurity and the sense that the Democratic Party (and Hillary Clinton) was not their path forward. Keep in mind that President Clinton pushed NAFTA across the finish line (which lost blue collar jobs in places like Michigan), signed the FSMA in 1999, which gave Wall Street the keys to the bank, and that President Obama did a great job saving Wall Street while pretty much stiffing Main Street after 2008. Trump knew how to fan the flames here. Once we recognize this we can understand what happened in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

9. THERE WERE POSITIVE RESULTS LOCALLY: In California Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate while several initiatives (including Prop. 64) were passed. Locally, here in Kern County Andrae Gonzales took on and beat a Republican incumbent for city council, while 23-year old Jose Gurrola became mayor in the city of Arvin.

10. STILL DEPRESSED?: If all of this is too soon, or asking a bit too much, revert back to #1. Rinse and repeat ... until you feel better.

- Mark

Friday, November 11, 2016


Regular reader will recognize this Veteran's Day post ... a musical presentation of another thing our men and women in uniform get right.

- Mark

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Below is the opening to an analysis of the presidential election penned by Naomi Klein. Printed in The Guardian, Klein's "It was the Democrats' embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump" tells us that market oriented policies since the 1980s (neoliberalism) - which were supported by Democrats like the Clinton's - helped wreck middle America. This has created economic insecurity, crushing debt loads, and fear within America's middle class.

This economic insecurity and fear, unfortunately, has come about at the same time that the lifestyles of our new class of high tech and Wall Street billionaires simply rub in the economic misery.

Whether or not you agree that market insecurity is the primary force behind Trump's electoral college victory, you can't dismiss Klein's argument


They will blame James Comey and the FBI. They will blame voter suppression and racism. They will blame Bernie or bust and misogyny. They will blame third parties and independent candidates. They will blame the corporate media for giving him the platform, social media for being a bullhorn, and WikiLeaks for airing the laundry.

But this leaves out the force most responsible for creating the nightmare in which we now find ourselves wide awake: neoliberalism. That worldview – fully embodied by Hillary Clinton and her machine – is no match for Trump-style extremism. The decision to run one against the other is what sealed our fate. If we learn nothing else, can we please learn from that mistake?
Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present ...
You can read the rest by clicking here.

- Mark

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I was at the KGET  studio most of last night and this morning, and couldn't post on last night's events. I have to run to class this morning, but here's my two cents, for the moment.

* There is a bigger relationship to Europe's BREXIT than we should be comfortable with this morning. It's not good.

* Trump's victory is the product of a larger set of economic patterns (growing inequality, debt loads, wealth gaps, etc.) that, in many ways, we saw between the world wars. I've been writing about it for my next book. More on this later.

* I can assure you that President Obama's handling of the post-2008 market meltdown, especially catering to Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, didn't help Hillary. Unfortunately, Trump's not going to help here either.

* The Democratic base that supported Bernie Sanders, as it turns out, was correct. The blue-collar issues they embraced on trade (TPP/NAFTA and protectionism) were the issues that sank Hillary in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

* Hillary and the Democratic leadership, in many ways, were too smart for their own good. Those of you who followed the Super Delegate debacle and the DCCC mess know what I mean. Bernie would have beaten Trump.

* Finally (for now), what happened with the women who voted for Trump? TRUMP ... seriously? Insert Colonel Sanders/Chicken reference here _________________.

And what the heck happened with the polling industry, especially Nate Silver?

There's more, but I've got to run to class.

- Mark

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


It's election day in America. Republican Cathy Abernathy and I took a look  at the local and national scene in this morning's KGET 17 News Sunrise program, which you can access here. In a few words, I make it clear if we're looking at what the math geeks (the quants), the market (the gamblers), and the political scientists are seeing Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States.

I even ventured a guess as to how many electoral college votes Hillary might get, and touched on why Rep. David Valado (R-Hanford / CA 21) has run so many misleading "chainsaw" ads in the last week of this election.

We'll be back on KGET later tonight, at 5 pm, 6 pm, and from 11pm through midnight tonight ...

- Mark


While Barack Obama is not on the ballot, progress and democracy are ... Democrats and progressives across the country need to get out and vote today.

- Mark

Monday, November 7, 2016


It's 10:23 am Monday, on Nov. 7 - the day before the presidential election - and this is what election map projections, and trends, are looking like from Nate Silver at ...



Then we have the electoral road map from the UK's Independent, which lays out what needs to happen for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to win the presidency ... 

Long story short, if the trends hold, Hillary's 82.7% chance of winning in Virginia (13 electoral college votes), coupled with her 74.5% chance of winning Colorado (9 ECV) and 53.6% chance of winning Nevada (6 ECV) give her 285 electoral college votes (270 needed to win), and the presidency ... and this is without winning Ohio (18 ECV) or Florida (29 ECV). 

One more thing. According to Nate Silver's site, Hillary's projected to win Florida (29 ECV)  and North Carolina (15 ECV).

- Mark

Addendum: One other thing, "the market" (i.e. assorted online gambling sites) has increased Hillary's chances of winning since last week, and is now giving her 2/9 odds of winning (81.8%), which leaves Trump with 9/2 odds, or a little over an 18% of winning the election.


Sponsored by Red Bull, this "Danny MacAskill's Wee Day Out" is pretty awesome ...

- Mark 

Sunday, November 6, 2016


After beating the Denver Broncos, the Raiders are 7-2 and in first place in the AFC West ...

- Mark

Addendum: And, yes, I know, it's not nice to rub it in. But the meme was too good to pass up. Payback at some point, is expected :-) .


- Mark

Addendum: I think we all hope we're wrong about this. But Trump's early considerations for cabinet and other positions point to a future administration of partisan hacks who reject both science and the spirit of democracy. Seriously. You can't lose the popular vote and think you have a mandate.

Thursday, November 3, 2016


My sister-in-law's grandmother, Lillian Delpero, was born before the 19th amendment was ratified, and before women had the right to vote. She's 96 now and filled out her ballot to cast her vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Lillian's life journey is the American experience. 

My wife Wendy, Lillian Delpero, and yours truly enjoying breakfast.

As a side note, I'm happy to report that my daughter, who is 19 years old, is casting her first vote for Hillary as well. A nice bookend in the progress of the human condition.

As a reminder of why this election is so important, this is what it looked like when women tried to win the right to vote about the time Lillian Delpero was born ...

Unfortunately, there are many women who (sadly) will vote for Hillary's opponent. They're doing this for many reasons, but mostly because they don't understand how we live in an environment where a woman who is as experienced and qualified as Hillary still has to fight against a damaged man who's not her equal and, quite frankly, doesn't deserve to be on her stage.

- Mark


- Mark

Hat tip to Leonel. The entirely appropriate caption that goes along with the gif is a product of Leonel Martinez' genius (no relation; though, somewhere down the line, it does help explain the genius   ).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


From College Humor we get "How America is Like a Bad Boyfriend" ...

- Mark 


With FBI director James Comey's unprecedented, and irresponsible, releasing of news of unverified emails tied to Hillary Clinton, Americans think they are staring at an October Surprise of epoch proportions. The not entirely unexpected result is that many progressives, and Democrats in general, are worried more than ever about Hillary's prospects.

Let me help: She's still winning.

Correction. If the election were held today, even with Comey's mess, Hillary wins.

While I could do all the policy and political analysis necessary to make my case it's much easier to look at sites used by the markets, the quants, and the political geeks. I've used all of these in the past (there's actually a good story tied to this; another post for another day).

With that, here's what the markets, the quants, and the geeks are saying.

These are the money betting sites, and they represent "the market."

There are a lot of these out there. The best one I've seen, Intrade, is no longer around. But there are others. Oddschecker has Hillary at 4/1 odds and Trump at 8/1 this morning. Other sites are saying pretty much the same thing.

So, according to the market, Hillary wins the election.

Then we have the quants, which for many means Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight site.

As of this morning Hillary is given a 74.3% of winning the presidential election. Whether you like Nate Silver or not, he's got a pretty good track record here.

So, according to the quant guy, Hillary wins the election.

Finally, we have the political science experts.

Larry Sabato is generally considered the #1 political science guru when it comes to presidential elections, so I'm sticking with him. While acknowledging that polls were narrowing before Comey's ugly mess, Larry Sabato still sees Hillary winning comfortably next week (which means you can ignore Nate Silver on this).

So, according to the political geek, Hillary wins the election.


At the end of the day, if there were a split between the market players, the quants, and the political geeks you might be correct in assuming Hillary might not pull this out. But there's no divergence.

There's one more thing. Once more information starts coming out about FBI director Comey's double standard - specifically, not releasing what the FBI and the intelligence community know about Russia's interference, especially with their courting of Trump - Hillary's lead should stabilize and/or even grow by the end of the weekend.

So, yeah, calm down Democrats. It's still Hillary.

- Mark