Friday, July 28, 2017


Once again, it's necessary to address Donald Trump's Alternative Facts "anything goes, as long as I believe it" universe ... 

Let's start with this. Simply put, there are objective truths in our world, which allow us move forward as a community, as a society, and as a nation. Finding cures for polio and other once ordinary diseases are a product of finding objective truths.

Let me explain how this works, with a reference to education.

As I noted seven months ago, there are objective truths in education. 
* By the time a kid enters Kindergarten they should be able to color between the lines.

* If a 2nd grader is asked to add 2 + 2 and comes up with "leventeen" there's a problem.
* By the time you leave middle school, you should understand that, no, the sun does not revolve around the earth.
If we understand these agreed upon, peer-reviewed, truths, then we can understand that, yes, there are objective truths in our world. What this means is that, just as there are good sources and bad sources - and real universities and fake universities (think Trump University) - we should know there are ways to distinguish between fact and fiction.

If we understand this we can begin to understand why arguments that begin with "Rush Limbaugh or Breitbart reported ..." are not going to be acceptable answers. Simply put, the political equivalent of "leventeen" should not be an acceptable response, or the basis for a belief system.

And, yes, Rush Limbaugh and Breitbart (and Fox News) put out the political equivalent of "leventeen" every day. And the base, unfortunately, eats it up.

Unfortunately, many of Donald Trump's supporters ignore these simple guidelines because it doesn't fit the narrative of the world they want to see. Need an example? OK, check out what's happening with Trump's supporters when it comes to Russia, and the issue of speech in America (which was supposed to have been settled after the American Revolution with the 1st amendment).

If you want to know how deranged and out of touch Trump's supporters are check out the findings of these two polls.

First up, via we learn about a new survey from Public Policy Polling that shows:

  • Even though Donald Trump Jr. admitted it, only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. actually met with the Russians about information that might be harmful to Hillary Clinton ...
  • Worse, 32% say the meeting didn't happen, while 24% say they're not sure.
  • 72% of Trump voters consider the Russia story to be 'fake news,' while only 14% disagree.

Not surprisingly, from the same PPP survey we learn that only 24% of Trump voters think an investigation into the Trump's campaign collusion with Russia is necessary, while 64% oppose having one.

Leventeen, indeed.

But the real indicator that Trump voters are seriously delusional is that 77% of his supporters believe that even if there were an investigation, and it found that the Trump campaign did collude with Russia to aid his campaign, they still believe Trump should stay in office.

Make that leventeen-thousand ...

Then we have these stories from New Yorker Magazine's Daily Intelligencer. No doubt taking their cue from Donald Trump, who called the media the "enemy of the American People," a YouGov/Economist poll found that Trump's supporters don't really care for protecting the constitutional pillars of our society. Specifically, the YouGov/Economist poll found:
* 55% of Republicans believe "the courts" should be allowed to “fine news media outlets for publishing or broadcasting stories that are biased or inaccurate.”
* 45% of Republicans say that the judiciary should have the power to “shut down” biased media organizations.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that Fox, Breitbart, and other right-wing noise outlets are probably not what Republican respondents had in mind for closure, or fines.

The real question is, how do we know what constitutes "biased" or "fake" news? This is where it gets scary. According to a Politico/Morning Consult survey, for many Republicans the line between fact and fiction depends on where Donald Trump tells them it is. Really.

There's more, but let me end with this nugget. Incredibly, 49% of Trump's supporters actually believe he won the popular vote.

(For the Trump supporters who might still be reading this, Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million!)

To sum up. For Trump's supporters, it doesn't matter that the Russians helped him win the White House. For Trump's supporters it's OK to shut down or harass media outlets that write things you don't like. For Trump's supporters, what's real depends on what Trump says it is.

See the problem here?

At the end of day, these are seriously delusional people. Arguing points of logic with them won't work. Presenting facts won't work. Only "leventeen" seems to work ... but it has to be their leventeen. Make that leventeen-thousand.

Sigh ...

- Mark

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


This isn't Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Have you ever wondered what a being "unpresidential" looks liked? I know, I know ... that's too easy. We all know it looks like Donald Trump.

Seriously. What else can you say about a syphilitic-addled mind that blurts out, with the exception of "the late, great Abraham Lincoln," that he could easily act "more presidential than any other president in history."

This is a sick man.

William H. Harrison was far more presidential than Trump, and he died 32 days after his inauguration (even dead, Harrison is more presidential).

But wait, it gets worse.

At his "make America great" [**Bavarian beer hall**] rally Donald Trump compared the United States to a nation under wartime occupation. Feeding the political vultures that thrive on the fear and division Trump so easily dishes out, Trump claimed that illegal immigrant gangs (read: people of color) are now going after young beautiful girls - as if it were a daily occurrence - and cutting them up because the gangs want them to experience more pain.

This was followed up with Trump going back on a campaign promise (surprise there, right). He just announced he was going to reinstate the transgender military ban so that transgender Americans can no longer serve, in any capacity, in the United States military (which brought this transgender Navy SEAL response).

Sigh ...

None of this should be a surprise to anyone. Trump's been on (another) very unpresidential roll this week.

As the LA Times' David Horsey pointed out, when Donald Trump addressed thousands of Boy Scouts at the National Scout Jamboree on Monday, he turned it into a "mean-spirited, boastful, bullying speech that failed to live up to the values to which Boy Scouts aspire."

Apart from mocking President Obama (who was a Boy Scout), and making it clear that he wanted to repeal Obamacare, Trump effectively turned a values reaffirming Jamboree into a mini political rally filled with a spirit of ridicule and division. Closing out his Times article Horsey didn't mince words:
Trump has no idea how to be presidential. He treats the White House like a branch of the family business. In the style of a Mafia don, he expects Cabinet officials and lawmakers to put loyalty to him above respect for the law and the Constitution. His tweets and most of his unscripted public statements are undignified, untutored and frequently unhinged.
So, yeah, rather than appealing to the values of the Boy Scouts Trump dragged the entire event through his dark mind, and into his political gutter. Unfortunately, Trump's Jamboree comments are par for the course since, you know, this is exactly what Trump's been doing with America since he became president.

The real scary part here is that more and more Americans are getting accustomed to the gutter background noise, and the Bavarian Beer Hall-like rallies, that come with Trump.

- Mark

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Via Visual Capitalist we get "The Salary Needed to Buy a Home in 27 Cities in America" ...

- Mark

Monday, July 24, 2017


The Guardian has a nice overview of how the Trump administration - in spite of colossal incompetence when it comes to health care, tax reform, and foreign affairs - is still accomplishing  something. Unfortunately that "something" is the gradual dismantling of safeguards and protections we don't see but nonetheless have made a significant difference in our every day lives.

How do these safeguards and protections work, you ask? Think of the hypothetical below, and you should understand what we're talking about.

Imagine you have the option of being in a skyscraper in Seattle or Thailand. If you knew there was going to be an 8.5 earthquake, and you had the option of being on the 30th floor of a building in Seattle or Thailand, which would you choose? You would choose Seattle, of course. Apart from the building codes and inspections that many contractors and building owners might complain about, standards make a difference. Then we have the tax supported and publicly managed emergency response teams (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) that provide another level of protection and security.

Protocols, rules and regulations are all there for a reason. They provide safeguards and protections we don't think about, but are there to make our lives better, and safer (think vaccines).

President Trump, as this Guardian piece points out, isn't much concerned about these safeguards. The primary reason he's not concerned is because - in spite of his wide use of government bankruptcy courts, his abuse of government tax codes (for the write-offs), and his team of government sanctioned lawyers - he believes government only gets in the way of people like him making money.

Below is a synopsis, with my commentary, of the Guardian's six ways Donald Trump is 'dismantling' the United States.
1. ECONOMY / BUSINESS: Apart from freeing up firms to pollute our rivers and streams, the Trump administration has "scrapped a rule" that prevented companies from receiving federal contracts if they had a history violating worker wage, labor, and safety laws. Worse, almost ten years after the market started its downward spiral into a mega-collapse, the Trump administration is working to dismantle the rules designed to guard against another 2008-like market collapse. 

2. THE ENVIRONMENT: From going after emission standards to dismantling the EPA, to opening public lands to coal mining, to dismissing the scientific consensus on climate change, the Trump administration has made it clear if science and health get in the way of the bottom line they will be questioned, and then ignored when possible. And let's not forget our exit from the Paris Accord. These people are Flat-Earthers.

3. IMMIGRATION: By going after Muslims and undocumented migrant families, Donald Trump is both feeding, and feeding off of, the paranoid and bigoted fears of America. Citing non-existent terrorist fears (you're more likely to win the lottery and get hit by lightening than get wrapped up in a terrorist related activity), Trump is going after the weakest and most vulnerable communities. This might keep his base motivated, but it also pits those who understand the spirit of America against those who are driven by fear and hate. 

4. DIPLOMACY: While Trump hasn't started a war, yet (a definite plus), there's no doubt that the global community think he's either a lunatic, a joke, or both. He embarrasses America daily on the world stage, which undermines our prestige and capacity to lead. Then we have this: The Mother of All Diplomatic Giveaways. Donald Trump is doing Russia's bidding on the global stage, and has become Vladimir Putin's stooge.

5. GENDER: Whether it's ignoring sexual assault on our nation's college campuses, going after Planned Parenthood, eliminating Obamacare's birth control mandate, or defunding the Legal Services Corporation (the main source for women attempting to escape domestic violence) the Trump administration has made it clear issues tied to gender are not a priority; unless rules need to be rolled back.

6. CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Campaigning on a non-existent "rising crime" theme, Donald Trump has commissioned a task force to make policy recommendations about a rising threat that even Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledges doesn't exist. Then we have AG Session's agenda, which includes upping the use of "civil forfeiture" which allows law enforcement to confiscate assets of anyone accused of making money criminally, even if they haven't been convicted of a crime. AG Sessions has also made it clear that he's not really interested in going after, or even investigating, rogue and corrupt law enforcement agencies.

Critical to all of this is how the Republican Party is enabling Trump's slow dismantling of America. For them, it doesn't matter what our nation's intelligence agencies say about Russia meddling in our elections, and what is slowly being leaked about collusion between Trump's inner circle and the Russians. It also doesn't matter that Trump's inciting division and fear, and how he does nothing to appeal to our better angels.

The GOP is putting party above country. Period.

You can read the entire Guardian article by clicking here.

- Mark

Friday, July 21, 2017


So the United States is pulling up its covert (CIA) stakes, and leaving Syria. What this means is that there is no longer "official" U.S. support for the rebels fighting the autocratic Bashar al-Assad, or the radical Islamic State in Eastern Syria, which the U.S. has been doing since 2013.

Russian leaders, as you can imagine, responded immediately, praising the move, and then vowing to cut ties to moderate rebels in Syria.

If this is part of Donald Trump's secret plan to rid the region of ISIS - because he has a secret plan built around the fact that he knows so much more about ISIS than the generals - I'm not impressed. The Free Syrian Army is not only upset, but they're making sure everyone knows they were blindsided by the move.

In their view, the jihadists and al Qaeda just got stronger.

But wait, it gets better (worse?).

On a broader geo-strategic level President Trump is effectively saying, "Let's leave Syria to the Russians ... and the Iranians" (who support al-Bashar). Acknowledging this, one Trump surrogate even went so far as to comment, "Putin won in Syria."

So, yeah, in one move, we just created a vacuum in the Middle East, and made Russia (and Iran) stronger in the region.

If you needed more evidence that Donald Trump is doing Russia's bidding around the world, walking away from Syria, just one week after meeting Putin in Europe, has to be the last piece you need.

It fits with a longer Trump policy train (wreck) that I pointed out would happen at this time last year (more than once too).

Specifically, the United States is now ceding it's foreign policy positions around the world, both tactically and strategically. And all for what? Because Trump got into bed with Russian oligarchs, and owes them money. Throw in the fact that it looks like Vladimir Putin has some incriminating evidence on our president, and it's easier to understand why America's leadership positions around the world are being had for a song and a dance ... an American song, combined with a Russian dance, to be sure.

But, wait, it gets better (worse?). 

The Washington Post's Michael Gerson took a look at President Trump's superpower giveaway today, asked why, and came up with this:

There is nothing normal about an American president’s subservience to Russia’s interests and worldview. It is not the result of some bold, secret, Nixonian foreign policy stratagem — the most laughable possible explanation. Does it come from Trump’s bad case of authoritarianism envy? A fundamental sympathy with European right-wing, anti-democratic populism? An exposure to pressure from his checkered financial history? There are no benign explanations, and the worst ones seem the most plausible.

What we end up with is a Trump "strategery" that weakens NATO, dismisses Europe, abandons the mess in Syria, treads lightly around China, blusters in North Korea, and, quite frankly, hands the keys to the kingdom to Putin.

How we got here is a mystery to many. But make no mistake. Vladimir Putin has been putting his global chess pieces in order for the better part of the last decade. Michael Gerson writes:

Russia has employed a sophisticated mix of conventional operations and cyber-operations to annex territory and destabilize governments. It has systematically encouraged far-right, nationalist leaders and supported pro-Russian, anti-democratic parties across Europe. It is trying to delegitimize democratic processes on the theory that turbulence in the West is good for a rising East. This is a strategy that allows Russia to punch above its strategic weight, especially since Trump has chosen to abdicate the United States’ natural role in opposition.

But wait. It gets better (worse?).

President Trump is now the head of a Republican Party that has decided that they can put their twisted Ayan Rand inspired interests of their party ahead of the long term interests of our nation.

Even after being told by our nation's top intelligence agencies that the Russians intervened in our presidential elections, the GOP have chosen to sit on their hands, and say nothing. Indeed, 49 percent of Republicans now believe Russia is an ally or friend, for no other reason than because they've been told to believe it by their leader, Donald Trump.

To hell with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. They knew nothing about Russia, compared to Trump.

My Republican friends are telling me, "Don't judge Trump today. Only time will tell."

Yeah, he could still hand over Alaska.

That is better, for the Russians.

Sigh ...

- Mark


Trevor Noah points out, once again, why Fox News is pretty much useless when it comes to reporting the news and evaluating President Trump ...

In a few words, Noah takes a look at the Doncathlon "events" that Fox News engages in to promote and protect Donald Trump. The events include the Hillary Leap (diverting attention from Trump to Hillary Clinton), the Giant Leap (inventing conspiracies), and Semantic Judo (using the weight of the truth against itself).


- Mark

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Two days ago I made another appearance with Republican Cathy Abernathy on KGET 17 News' 5:30 pm segment. The topic was the Republican-led effort to kill Obamacare, and replace it with the health care equivalent of, well, nothing.

Out of the gate I made it clear that the GOP's plan really isn't about health care. What they're calling a health care plan - by first repealing and then replacing Obamacare, some time down the road - is really a tax cuts for the rich Trojan Horse (which I explain 1:20 into the clip). It's a promise of a fabulous health care system, but only after the Republicans get their tax cuts for the rich, and then get rid of something that's actually working, Obamacare.

How do we know that Obamacare is working? Because it has opened up access to health care, and slowed down projected pre-Obamacare health care costs.

What people forget is that health care costs had been rising at an unsustainable pace when President Obama was elected in 2008. Think about this. In 1970 for every dollar we earned as a nation we spent 7.2 cents of it on health care. In 2009, when Obamacare was introduced, for every national dollar we earned we spent 17.6 cents on health care!

This is simply not sustainable.

During President Obama's first term, the Congressional Budget Office even projected that our nation would spend 20 cents of every dollar earned on health by 2018, and 25 cents by 2025.

This has not happened.

Today, not only are we spending about 17.8 cents of every national dollar on health care but, as Forbes reported, health care costs during the Obama administration rose at its slowest rate since 1960. As well, between 2010 and 2016 Obamacare helped lower personal (medical) bankruptcies by nearly 50 percent. What this means is that Obamacare is a stunning success when it comes to creating access and reducing health care related costs in America.

This also means that when Cathy Abernathy said - 25 seconds into the clip - "We don't need Obamacare ... It's hurting the economy ..." she was flat out wrong (OK, she was "lying"). Let me repeat: Obamacare has slowed the costs of medical care in our nation's economy to rates not seen since 1960.

More importantly, as the Wall Street Journal reported, Obamacare has added years to the life of Medicare.

The other point I made in the clip - and what I want to emphasize here - was that the Republicans aren't serious about replacing Obamacare. Their "plan" to repeal and then replace Obamacare with something better (that only they know about) down the road is really a Trojan Horse.

I closed my comments by pointing out that the GOP's assumptions are based on wishful thinking (2.6% growth rates when the CBO projects it to hit 1.9%), and by reemphasizing that the Republicans current health care efforts are really just another round of tax cuts for the rich.

Cathy ended with some nonsense about "the government," which left us all looking at each other.

- Mark

You can access the KGET 17 News segment by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


- Mark

Hat tip to Leonel for the John Cole-San Jose Mercury News comic.


Six years ago pundits were writing California off, complaining about its migrant population, its business environment, and its politics. Today, all of that's changed.

With a democratic legislature and governor, a tech-based economy that's in tune with its Asian-Pacific partner nations, and a political culture that's embracing its migrant communities, California - according to Bloomberg News - is leading the U.S. economy, and the world away from Trump.


California's secret? Whatever Trump does, it does the opposite. And it's working.

To be sure, it's a little more complex than running away from everything that our national embarrassment does from the White House, but the point is made. The United States under President Trump is going in the wrong direction. States that buck Trump's initiatives, like California, are doing well.

Specifically, Bloomberg notes:

* California has one-eighth of the U.S. population (39 million) and one-seventh of the nation's gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion.

* Far from being a mess, California's economy is bigger than ever, rivaling the U.K. as No. 5 in the world.

* California is the chief reason America is the only developed economy to achieve record GDP growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing global recession

As Bloomberg notes, Governor Jerry Brown is making the point that much of the U.S. growth can be traced to California laws promoting clean energy, government accountability and protections for undocumented people. Indeed, rather than treating its migrant populations as pariahs, criminals and terrorists as President Trump and much of the Republican Party is doing, California's leaders are embracing its newcomers. Governor Brown, now in his fourth term, considers immigrants a major reason for the state's success.

And contrary to what President Trump and his Flat Earth society of climate deniers are saying about climate regulations hurting business, California is becoming the poster child for the right mix of smart regulations and a viable clean energy policy.

Bloomberg writes:

No state or country has created as many laws discouraging fossil fuels and carbon while promoting clean energy. That convergence of policy and voter preference is paying off in the stock market.

California is home to 20 of the 130 companies in North America and South America that meet the standard classification of clean energy. These 20 companies produced a total return of 45 percent during the past 12 months, beating the clean energy benchmark's 13 percent, the S&P 500's 19 percent and the S&P 500 Energy Index's 6 percent.

As evidence of California's power to attract and maintain tech talent, take a look at Apple's new $5 billion "Space Ship" Campus, which they're building in Cupertino, California ... Ground Zero for what Republicans claim is a tax and regulatory hell hole.


There's more, much more, about California's new successes - away from Trump, and Washington - which you can access here.

- Mark

Monday, July 17, 2017


An interesting look at how people from around the world arrived in the United States, beginning about 50 years after the Declaration of Independence ...

Another interesting look at migration patterns, into the Americas, from about 70,000 years ago ...


- Mark


I missed this one a few months back. During the height of the "travel ban" discussion, Alec Baldwin plays President Donald Trump on SNL's skit on The People's Court.

- Mark

Saturday, July 15, 2017


If you've read President Trump's comments with journalists on Air Force One - or just followed his daily antics since he was inaugurated - this Mike Luckovich comic makes all the sense in the world.

I'm not sure what's worse. President Trump's buffoonery, or the stubbornness of those who voted for Trump and now refuse to acknowledge they put a compromised man-child in the White House.

How bad is it? It's so bad that I don't even need to post commentary to President Trump's responses to journalists on Air Force One this past week. Check out these gems from President Trump on trade, health care, and the border wall ...



THE PRESIDENT: A big thing we have with China was, if they could help us with North Korea, that would be great. They have pressures that are tough pressures, and I understand. And you know, don’t forget, China, over the many years, has been at war with Korea — you know, wars with Korea. It’s not like, oh, gee, you just do whatever we say. They’ve had numerous wars with Korea.

They have an 8,000 year culture. So when they see 1776 — to them, that’s like a modern building. The White House was started — was essentially built in 1799. To us, that’s really old. To them, that’s like a super modern building, right? So, you know, they’ve had tremendous conflict over many, many centuries with Korea. So it’s not just like, you do this. But we’re going to find out what happens.

Very important to me with China, we have to fix the trade. We have to fix the trade.

And I’ve been going a little bit easier because I’d like to have their help. It’s hard to go ***. But we have to fix the trade with China because it’s very, very none-reciprocal.


THE PRESIDENT: ... I think, first, I want to do — well, we have a few things. We have a thing called healthcare. I’m sure you haven’t been reading about it too much. It is one of the — I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is healthcare. It’s like this narrow road that about a quarter of an inch wide. You get a couple here and you say, great, and then you find out you just lost four over here. Healthcare is tough.

But I think we’re going to have something that’s really good and that people are going to like. We’re going to find out over the next — you know, we just extended for two weeks. Which, that’s a big —


Q. You were joking about solar, right?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not joking, no. There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that. Look, there’s no better place for solar than the Mexico border — the southern border. And there is a very good chance we can do a solar wall, which would actually look good. But there is a very good chance we could do a solar wall.

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. 

But we have some incredible designs.

But we are seriously looking at a solar wall ...


THE PRESIDENT: ... And I’m not saying it wasn’t Russia. What I’m saying is that we have to protect ourselves no matter who it is. You know, China is very good at this. I hate to say it, North Korea is very good at this. Look what they did to Sony Studios. They were the ones that did the whole deal to Sony. You know, we’re dealing with highly sophisticated people.

So, China is very good. You have many countries. And you have many individuals that are very good at this. But we can’t have — and I did say, we can’t have a scintilla of doubt as our elections and going forward.

Q Have you told him that?

THE PRESIDENT: I told him. I said, look, we can’t — we can’t have — now, he said absolutely not twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, okay? Because then I brought up Syria, and I said —

Q Afterwards?

THE PRESIDENT: Very shortly there afterward. And I said, there’s so much killing in Syria. We got to solve Syria. We’ve got to solve Ukraine. And you know, I’ve always said — and I’m not just talking about Russia — we’re a lot better off — like it’s a good thing that I have a good relationship with President Xi. It’s a good thing I have a good relationship with every one of them — Modi — you saw that. Every single one of them of all 19 — there’s 20 with us. All 19, I have a great relationship with.

There's no need to highlight all of Trump's syphilitic-addled responses, as chronicled in the NY Times, which you can access here. The key is understanding that the level at which President Trump speaks isn't much better than what I expect from a freshman in one of our introductory political science courses.

We are truly dealing with a compromised man-child, who's in over his head. What's worse is that his supporters can't see it, or simply don't care.

- Mark

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Do you have friends or colleagues who think Donald Trump colluding with the Russians is not a big deal? Are you tired of them arguing that because the Democratic Party was looking for dirt on Donald Trump, through an intermediary from the Ukraine, this means that the Democrats are hypocrites? If so, here's how you can/should respond.

First, explain to your Trump loving friends that their Ukrainian-Russian comparison is a "false equivalency" argument, which means it has no merit. Since you're probably dealing with someone who is most likely challenged when it comes to science (and vocabulary) you're probably going to need an example they can understand. Let me help.

In real simple terms, a false equivalency occurs when you have someone who says something like, "I don't know why Mexicans just don't assimilate. My grandparents came to the United States years ago, and they assimilated." What they leave out is that their grandparents came from Canada or Great Britain, had degrees, and already spoke English (yes, I actually had someone make this argument to me).

So, yeah, their ancestors may have been migrants, but their experience is not the same as - or the equivalent of - the poor uneducated groups who migrate from Latin America. Ergo, it's a false equivalency.

The false equivalency with  "the Ukraine is Russia" story line becomes real once we recognize that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was engaged in "opposition research" on Donald Trump, and was offered information on Trump. Apart from the fact that opposition research is what every political campaign does, it was the DNC who was offered the information (and not the Clinton campaign).

In plain English, there's a difference between securing opposition research for campaign strategy, and having a hostile nation-state undermine the integrity of a presidential election (and our democracy) so they can elevate a global stooge to do their bidding.

Let's be clear here. Rather than looking for information on Hillary Clinton (opposition research), Donald Trump's campaign was actively being assisted by a hostile nation-state, Russia, who hacked the vote.

Specifically, Vladimir Putin directed his intelligence and military agencies to actively work towards sowing misinformation and doubt about our presidential elections, which America's national intelligence agencies have confirmed. Let's be clear here (and to repeat), there's a difference between opposition research and having a Head of State directing his intelligence and military agencies, and other state resources, to attack our democracy by undermining a presidential election because they want to shift the geo-strategic map.

Because Trump's supporters have suddenly forgotten what Ronald Reagan understood, let's remind ourselves of one thing: Vladimir Putin's Russia is hostile nation-state. Their long game, as I pointed out in January, is to collapse the post-World War II order that the United States and the west created.

Vladimir Putin wants to upend the global order so that Russia can jockey for position in a new global hierarchy, that they want to manage. This means that the United States and it's strategic alliances built up throughout the cold war must be weakened. This point can't be repeated enough: The United States must be weakened for Russia to achieve her goals.

Putin is playing a big chess game here.

Undermining NATO, destabilizing the European Union, getting a pass on Syria, etc. - which Donald Trump is helping along - are all big moves that help Vladimir Putin on the global chessboard.

Donald Trump is a novice on the global stage and doesn't understand any of this.

Worse, Donald Trump's being played by Vladimir Putin in ways that probably have Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon rolling over in their graves. There's a definite, and obvious, imbalance there.

Indeed, President Trump's decision to not try and impress Vladimir Putin with his much talked about (and mocked) power grip handshake should be seen as a sign that he does not want to upset his puppet master.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump actually thinks bloviating and blustering about countries like North Korea (which poses no geo-strategic threat to the United States), and cozying up to Putin, makes him a star on the global stage. They don't. They make Trump, and the United States, look foolish and naive.

Putin's long game is well established, and does nothing to enhance U.S. interests. This does nothing to make America great again.

One final thought. If your Trump supporting friends and colleagues are anything like the ones I run into, explaining false equivalencies, outlining the difference between opposition research and the undermining of our democracy, and pointing out Putin's broader geo-strategic chess moves will probably be too much logic for them to handle. They will probably drink more of the Fox News Kool-Aid, and invite you to join them.

Don't argue their points. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. Simply walk away.

It will frustrate, rather than validate, the voices in their head.  

- Mark

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


With President Trump pushing to ease last year's Ukraine-inspired sanctions on Russia - which passed the U.S. Senate 98-2 - the very conservative Weekly Standard has made it clear: The Trump Administration Has Forfeited the Right to be Trusted on Russia. Specifically, the editorial board of The Weekly Standard writes:

These are circumstances in which the president has no capacity to set policy toward Russia. Whether the media has unfairly targeted the president and his advisers over their dealings with Russian officials is now beside the point. By a series of unforced errors—omissions of financial dealings with Russian companies, unaccountably faulty memories on meetings with Kremlin-connected operatives—the Trump team has lost all credibility on the question of Russia.

The Weekly Standard's editorial board has also conceded something that President Trump's most ardent supporters don't want to believe because of the story line that logically follows: Russia interfered with our 2017 presidential election.

You don’t need to think that Trump and his campaign aides colluded with Russia ... to believe that Russian government officials tried to manipulate it. 
Perhaps the most damning observation from the TWS's editors is an argument I've been making for some time now: President Trump is selling our foreign policy soul to Vladimir Putin for a song.

Specifically, the TWS's editorial board makes it clear that President Trump is sitting idly by while Moscow props up Syria, which insures instability and antagonism towards the west in the region for years to come. Worse is how President Trump's effectively ceding any kind of interest in the Ukraine, a state that was moving towards the west before the Russian "invasion" began.

There is no doubt, moreover, that the Kremlin has armed Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a successful bid to establish a client state in the Middle East and undermine American interests there, and that the Russian army has waged war inside the borders of Ukraine, an American ally.
It won't be long. Trump is slowly being exposed in conservative circles for what most of us have been saying for the past two years. Donald Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who's in over his head, and a danger to the global community.

- Mark

Monday, July 10, 2017


The video below is going viral (with reason).

Australian reporter Chris Uhlmann offers up one of the most succinct and spot on overviews of President Trump's place in the world. It's devastatingly accurate and, to Trump's chagrin, insightful ...

For Trump's supporters (who don't speak at Ulmann's level), Uhlmann is saying that Trump has no business being around serious world leaders, and that he's pretty much a punk and a poseur.

- Mark

Friday, July 7, 2017


Many of my regular readers have been wondering why I haven't been writing and posting at my regular clip over the past two months. There are primarily two reasons for this sudden change.

First, on a personal note, over the past two months I have been consumed with moving into a new home [happy dance], which took up all the time and energy you can imagine. To be sure, I did work with a moving company one summer, moving families up and down the state of California, so I kind of know what I'm doing when it comes to moving. Still, there's a reason why I did it just one summer. While we're still in Bakersfield, the move - along with trying to sell our home - was, and is, time consuming.

Also on a personal note, California State University Bakersfield's end of the academic year activities, grant management duties, and my son's graduation from high school all contributed to making our move, and life, more hectic than they normally are during this time.

The second reason, is a bit more complex, but important nonetheless.

Simply put, keeping up with President Trump's parade of stupidities is exhausting.

While I am a political scientist, and have a pretty good understanding of what's happening, I am also an American whose bounds of sanity have been tested trying to understand and normalize the activities of a man who appears to be a syphilitic lunatic. Yeah, I said it. Donald Trump's a lunatic.

Bluntly spoken, trying to follow or track Trump daily is not healthy because he brings such a toxic spirit to our world. As I've pointed out before, it's like watching a child play with a loaded gun. Choosing between trying to focus on our move, our end of the academic year activities, my son's graduation (and pending move to college), and trying to keep up with our off-the-rails president wasn't difficult.

My plan is to start posting on a more normal schedule after today.

Thanks for indulging my choice(s).

- Mark

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Can someone explain to me why congressional Republicans celebrated the 4th of July? Think about it. The 4th of July is a celebration of our nation's global declaration for independence from foreign rule, and King George III's "absolute tyranny." 

Now, congressional Republicans are bending over backwards to cover for a president whose "so called" election was a product of foreign meddling, and marred by a weak electoral college victory that included losing the actual vote count by 3 million votes.

Foreign meddling from Russia, as the Washington Journal acknowledges, is well documented:
* Every U.S. intelligence agency agrees that Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to direct and execute a cyber attack, and misinformation campaign, in America during the 2016 presidential campaign.   

* Russia's cyber attacks included hacking into voter registration offices in at least 22 states – 4 of them successful.  

So, while the "debate over what [Russia] did and how they did it is over" what we've gotten from Trump's White House, and his Republican allies, are concerted efforts "to conflate, discredit, and outright obstruct the many investigations" that are designed to get to the bottom the Russian operation

Acknowledging foreign meddling in our elections, fired FBI director, James Comey, told the Senate Intelligence Committee during his June 8th testimony:
There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever ... The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government.
Current National Security Director, Admiral Michael Rogers, said as much in November (2016), when he told a Wall Street Journal forum:
There shouldn’t be any doubts in anybody’s mind: This was not something that was done casually, this was not something that was done by chance, this was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily.  This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.

As President Trump prepares for G20 meetings in Europe, after celebrating our Declaration of Independence (which many Trump supporters don't seem to understand), one thing is clear: in spite of conclusive evidence from our national security agencies, Donald Trump and his administration will not confront Vladimir Putin about Russia's interference in our past presidential election. 

I think we all know why.

In any other setting we should all expect the Republican Party to be up in arms about acknowledged and verifiable foreign interference in our elections. This is not the case today.

We have a word for this. I'll let you fill in the blanks.

So, can anyone explain why did congressional Republicans, and Donald Trump, celebrate the 4th of July?

- Mark


In April I wrote this ...

According to Wired, by 2022 vehicles that run on electricity will cost less than cars that run on gasoline. What this means, according to Bloomberg, is that electric vehicles will displace oil demand by 2 million barrels a day between 2023 and 2028, creating an oil glut like the one we saw in 2014 (when oil prices collapsed).

Because advances in batteries and clean energy are happening at a faster rate than anticipated, electric vehicles will dominate our transportation systems faster than we think.

How much faster? Check out what Volvo just did.

Volvo Cars just announced that beginning in 2019 all new Volvo models will be either be fully electric or a hybrid. The CEO of Volvo Cars, Hakan Samuelsson, said that the company's decision "marks the end of the solely combustion engine-power car," and promised that Volvo would sell one million electric or hybrid cars by 2025.

Volvo - which is now owned by Chinese group - is responding to market trends, where municipalities are increasingly banning diesel vehicles in their cities and the growth of Tesla (whose market value surpassed Ford, GM, and BMW).

You can read more about Volvo's decision by clicking here.

You can also read about Volvo's parent company's decision to purchase Terrafugia, a flying car startup, by clicking here.

- Mark