Friday, August 31, 2018


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- Mark


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- Mark


The headline from this LA Times piece says it all.

You can bet the world has him figured out too, which explains why Trump is getting played for a fool by Putin and the Chinese (and the North Koreans). Here's the money quote from the article ...

He likes to break things, blame others for the fact that they are broken and then take credit for “fixing” them. North Korea, family separations at the border, NATO, NAFTA … the pattern is clear. What’s also evident is that Trump relishes the tactical drama far more than he cares about any strategic outcome. He is quick to cave on substance if it makes everyone happy at the end of his TV show — so long, of course, as he gets the credit for making them happy.

What an embarrassment.

You can read the review by clicking here.

Sigh ...

- Mark

Thursday, August 30, 2018


Over 50 years ago, in 1965, the United States government implemented a test program that would replace farmworkers with high school students. The idea was farmers need help and high school students needed jobs, especially in the summer. It was a complete failure. It was actually worse than that. It was such a disaster that the United States government and participating American farmers immediately tried to bury information about the program because of what it revealed about working conditions, and the rigors of modern farming in America.

You can listen to the NPR interview of the researcher who peals back some of this history by clicking here. Or you can read about the research in this Valley Public Radio article, courtesy of the San Diego Tribune.

- Mark

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


I'm all for religious freedom, but apart from being nuts, the pastor below seems to be concerned by little else except politics. If Jesus is coming back, you can rest assured that he's going to miss this clown show. This "church" of narcissistic self worshipping blowhards should be taxed. 

One more thing. Isn't this America? Shouldn't Mr. Pastor be speaking English Only? Or is it just the Spanish tongue that real 'Murica doesn't like?

Just asking ...

- Mark

Update: And for the record, I think it's Fred Flintstone who deserves credit for creating the "yabba dabba" tongue-lingo (babble?) that the "pastor" claims to speak ...



Are you as frustrated as everyone else with the new Swamp Monster in Washington? If you are then know that so is Senator Elizabeth Warren. Here's her suggestion for starting a real swamp draining ...


- Mark

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


El Financiero, one of Mexico's largest financial papers, posted this comic of Trump's "historic" trade deal. Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto's signing a NAFTA document and thinking, "That's OK White Guy ... I'm leaving anyways" (his term ends December 1) as Trump's telling him he'll revise the "fine print" later.

Donald Trump, desperate for anything that will make him look like he knows what he's doing, is claiming that he's signed an epic "trade deal" with Mexico that's "one of the largest trade deals ever made." 

Trump's a complete and utter fool. A couple of points are in order here. 

* BIGGEST TRADE DEAL EVER? NOT EVEN CLOSE: What was negotiated is not one of the largest trade deals in history. Not by a long shot. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Trump abandoned represented 40% of global domestic product, and one-third of global trade. The European Union, by itself, totaled $4 trillion in trade in 2107. Then we have the EU-Japan trade agreement. Then there's Russia and China's ...
* NEGOTIATIONS ON A SMALL SCALE: Trump's "trade deal" is actually the first step in preliminary negotiations on a section of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which needs to include Canada. For her part, Canada has to sign off on the automotive part of a trade agreement, which is STILL governed by NAFTA. Referencing the "historic" trade deal, David Frum joked on Twitter yesterday, “Congratulations to the Trump administration on reaching a preliminary agreement in principle to begin negotiations with half of America’s NAFTA counterparties with a view to revising one section of the trade agreement!”. Yeah, this is Small Ball.
* NAFTA'S ALIVE: Contrary to Trump's claims, he is not "terminating the existing [NAFTA] deal." In fact, U.S. trade officials are trying to renegotiate NAFTA, even as Trump lies about the [non-] "historic" agreement he claims to have negotiated. Not only is NAFTA alive, but Trump has moderated his demands of Mexico within the trade agreement (see El Economista's headlines below).

In effect, Trump wants to be congratulated for restarting talks on a trade agreement that he has stalled and badmouthed since Day One. 

It's like wanting a pat on the back for denuclearizing North Korea when they're actually revamping their nuclear program.

It's like wanting credit for claiming you didn't hang out with porn stars, and then wanting a pat on the back for saying you actually paid them for services rendered ... and for staying quiet about it.

It's like wanting credit for ... oh never mind. 

Look, I'm not interested in bashing Trump everyday, but he does this stuff with such regularity that it's hard to ignore. This trade stuff is so basic - especially if you're a "stable genius" - that anyone who's been involved in global trade, or taken an introductory course on trade and political economy should understand the issues involved. 

Trump clearly does not. 

For those of you who want to understand a little more about trade, and the stuff Trump doesn't care to look into, think of the following. There are several stages to creating broad trade agreements, and even smaller trade deals. As I point out in my International Commerce class, they range from the negotiation of simple Free Trade Areas and Customs Unions, to Common Markets and Economic Union (where Europe is at today). Each effort is very specific, and requires lengthy and detailed negotiations.

International trade is not built around, "I'm going to slap a tariff on you because you're a cheater." It's not a "tit for tat" game, or a prelude to some power politics move if you're serious about commerce. International trade is more like a chess game. My students in my international relations and international commerce classes understand this. 

In reality, NAFTA is not close to what Europe has going on (not by a long shot), and is probably on the short end of a Free Trade Area. In fact, if we're using Economics 101 as our model, NAFTA is not even close to being a "Free Trade" agreement. This is because one of the three primary factors of production - labor - is not free to move about the region. And you can rest assured that our current attitudes towards immigration will make sure nothing changes on that front. 

So, in a few words, Trump's principle negotiations on a small part of NAFTA is no breakthrough. NAFTA was a breakthrough, but it's still not a free trade agreement, or a common market, or an economic union. There are many details to each (take my class), but the point is, Donald Trump has no clue what he's talking about. It's a ripple in the larger stream of commerce.

Simply put, Trump's a blustering buffoon on this issue.

At the end of the day, whether it's pestering Europe about NATO "dues" or lecturing Canada about invading the U.S. in 1812, or giving Kim Jong Un a world stage to look statesmanlike, Donald Trump is a national embarrassment, of epic proportions.

Did Canada really invade the U.S. in the War of 1812? Sigh ...

Yes, that's laughter around the world you hear.

- Mark

For the record ... the headlines in Mexico's leading daily newspapers make it clear that Trump's trade deal is neither historic, record breaking, or viewed as the end of NAFTA. 

Even Mexico's La Jornada doesn't reference Trump's agreement as historic or "the biggest." It's simply a bilateral commercial agreement. It's the same with El Economista below ...

El Economista announces the U.S. has "moderated" it's demands on Mexico. So, yeah, more "winning."

The headline reads: "Trump thinks he won with the trade agreement with Mexico,
but in reality the United States lost. 
Automotive sector's worried about the new FTA (free trade agreement). 

For more trade pact headlines from Mexico, click here.


Most of Trump's supporters will have no idea why Senator Warren's proposal (below) matters, even if it's explained to them. They'll revert to the same binary socialist arguments, as if the world is so black and white that we either do what they say or it's "socialism." This kind of naive and sophomoric thinking is the basis of their bumper sticker logic, and what creates the false equivalencies that guide their life.

- Mark


When Rudy Giuliani went Full Orwell with his "truth isn't truth" claim, he was effectively validating the "this is how Trump's supporters see the world" graph-meme below. 

As pathetically on target as this graph-meme is, it's the reality America has to deal with daily because of Donald Trump's supporters. Can you imagine the amount of human hours and resources our nation is wasting combating this kind of stupidity? It's one of the reasons other nations are laughing.

What a mess ...


Hat tip to Dave for the graph.

Monday, August 27, 2018




The LA Times has an excellent article that discusses "The high cost of 'English Only'," which you can access by clicking here. The first five paragraphs are posted below.

This summer, a candidate for secretary of state in Arizona called for the government to stop providing ballots in Spanish, Apache or Navajo; a sign on a Baltimore Dunkin’ Donuts offered free coffee for reporting non-English use by employees; a Houston building posted an “English Speaking Only” requirement for new tenants.
These incidents are part of the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that has been swelling since at least the 1990s and that has worsened under President Trump. They reflect a restrictive view of what the United States ought to look and sound like — white and Anglophone.
Like German or Italian in earlier eras of American history, Spanish in particular now is seen as a threat to English and hence to the unity of the nation. English-only nativists seek to push Spanish and other minority languages out of the public sphere .
But knowledge of a language other than English is an asset. It makes no sense to discourage “natural” fluency and expect the educational system to pick up all the slack.
It is true that the status of English as lingua franca for business and research gives English-speaking countries an advantage. By some measures, however, China and the European Union have surpassed the U.S. as the largest economy, and it is likely this trend will continue. With the economic power and political influence of the U.S. on the wane, cracks are appearing in the global English phenomenon ...
One final note to help formalize the last paragraph above. China's stock exchange, the Shanghai momentarily became the world's largest stock market in 2105. China is also the largest source of "financial aid" to Russia. Finally, when it comes to GDP in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) dollars, China officially passed the United States in 2015.

Here's the case I'm trying to make. Becoming xenophobic about the world, and especially about languages that others speak, is not a winning strategy for the United States in the long term. It also makes our nation look like a bunch of bigoted xenophobes in the short term.

Again, you can read the entire "English Only" article by clicking here.

- Mark


- Mark

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


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For an updated look at the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, via Forbes Magazine, click here.

The point here is Trump's bragging about marching the country backwards, again.

- Mark

Thursday, August 16, 2018


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Below, FDR speaks to Paul Ryan about Social Security, which Ryan and his clueless GOP colleagues want to "privatize" because the ghost of Ayn Rand speaks to him ...

- Mark

Postscript: For those of you interested in the "let's privatize social security" lie, click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018


The frustrations of anti-intellectualism and the death of literate mind in America, in one simple comic ...

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- Mark

Sunday, August 12, 2018




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- Mark

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


- Mark


If you think we're now living in a bad James Bond movie you're not alone. The Late Night Show With Stephen Colbert has a nice take on Russia's "Special Envoy" Steven Seagall ...

For those of you just catching up, know that Steven Seagall's special envoy appointment by Vladimir Putin didn't come out of nowhere.

Steven Seagal, Good Morning Britain

Seagall has called Vladimir Putin "one of the world's greatest leaders," thinks the NFL protests are a "joke" and "disgusting," and puts no stock in the claim that Vladimir Putin and the Russians worked to rig the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump's favor.

A trifecta in disillusionment for Russia's special envoy.

One more thing. Steven Seagall was granted Russian citizenship by Vladimir Putin in 2016 (in part for his dancing skills, no doubt).

Did I say "a bad James Bond movie"? Make that an Austin Powers movie. Sigh ...

So, what's Russian for useful idiot?

- Mark


For those of you who haven't seen it, below I've attached the article Robert Price - editor and CEO of the Bakersfield Californian - wrote about Kevin McCarthy, our local congressman and aspiring Speaker of the House. 

In "A Tale of Two Cities and One Congressman" Mr. Price writes what Rep. McCarthy's constituents have been grumbling about for years. Kevin is more concerned about his position in Washington than the interests of his constituents, or the interests of our nation. Enjoy.


Congressman Kevin McCarthy leads a double life.
In Washington, he's golden: Heir apparent to retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, frequent and familiar White House guest, donor-connected darling of vulnerable Republican incumbents.
In Bakersfield, not quite so much anymore: He's still a man constituents really, really want to believe, considering his warm reception at fundraisers and service club luncheons. But recent events have at least some of them wondering on which coast his allegiances truly lie.
In Washington, he collects big checks and hands them out too. McCarthy personally raised $12 million in campaign donations in the second quarter of 2018, running his take in this election cycle to a cool $40 million, and he has already distributed half of that total to GOP candidates. That doesn't include Thursday's haul at the Capitol Hill Club, where McCarthy secured commitments for $10 million from House Republicans — with the biggest check, $6 million, coming from McCarthy himself.
But back in his hometown district, growers are still sweating President Trump's tariffs. California is on the front lines of this growing U.S.-China trade war, and Kern County, the state's biggest agricultural producer, is especially vulnerable. Tree nuts, a huge local crop, have been specifically hard hit, a fact that must be particularly painful given McCarthy's personal connections with people in the Kern County almond and pistachio business.
Thank goodness for that $12 billion federal farm aid package, right? You know, the money that's supposed to ease the impact of China's retaliatory counter-tariffs. Except the people benefitting from the aid package are primarily the producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs — in other words Midwestern states and not (except for dairy) California.
How can that happen, you ask, given McCarthy's co-starring role in the Donald Trump show alongside House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes of Fresno? They're both Trump favorites who've gone to bat for the president time and time again. And they represent vital California farming districts.
Tough luck, Central Valley. Republican strategists know their districts will send McCarthy and Nunes back to Washington in November (and California will still be blue in 2020) no matter what they pull on constituents. But things aren't so certain in vulnerable pockets of the heartland. So, campaign strategy, not district economic need, carries the day.
McCarthy has his challenges in Washington, too. His path to the speakership was cleared considerably when Ryan and the majority whip, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, endorsed him; Scalise had considered a run himself. But it was muddied again Thursday when Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus, announced that he would seek the speaker post.
Most House Republicans recognize that Jordan is a long shot. But Jordan could try to extract promises from McCarthy, should Republicans hold the House in November. And one of those promises is sure to involve an immigration game plan that rejects anything that smells even remotely like amnesty.
Already McCarthy has had to go back on a promise to hold a vote before the August recess on a conservative immigration bill that included a much-needed guest-worker program for farmers. That flip put McCarthy in an awkward spot; just last month he had assured several rank-and-file members there'd be a vote, and his assurances compelled at least two congressmen to withhold support for legislation that would have created a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. They figured they'd have the opportunity to do so again in August. Now they probably won't.
“There are those of us (who) need to go back (home) and show that we’re doing all we can to do (on immigration reform)," one of those Republican congressmen, Dennis Ross of Florida, told Politico. "... And if it fails, it fails."
The American Farm Bureau Federation supports a guest worker program, and so does the Kern County Farm Bureau, which reprinted in its members' newsletter one of my recent columns criticizing McCarthy's conflicting allegiances.
Bakersfield has noticed, Kevin.
I'll concede McCarthy has one tough job. He's supposed to keep 236 Republicans in line and on the same page, a task that is quite impossible. He's also supposed to be looking out for the 707,000 people of the 23rd Congressional District, however, and when the interests of those two jobs diverge, he regularly chooses the former over the latter.
In Washington, McCarthy is the golden goose, the man you want by your side if you're an at-risk Republican member of Congress in need of financial assistance.
But back in Bakersfield, if you're an almond grower worried about who might buy your crop next year, or a grape grower wondering who might be picking yours, McCarthy looks, more and more, like a different sort of poultry.
Robert Price's column appears Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Reach him at or @stubblebuzz. The opinions expressed are his own.

- Mark

Monday, August 6, 2018


I got another FB message from a Trump apologist. He's the the same guy who blamed Obama for not fixing Bush's mess fast enough, and then bought into candidate Trump's claim that unemployment under Obama was really between 8 and 32 percent. He's now bragging about Trump's economy. My response is below. Feel free to cut and paste for the Trump friends you have left.


"_______, remember when the economy was still in the tank in early 2010, and you said the laggard economic performance was Obama's fault? But now, you're claiming Trump's 'The Man' because he effectively inherited an economy already on an upward trajectory.

Why did Obama get blamed for Bush's mess, but Trump's suddenly some kind of economic God?

What kind of White Privilege, "Blame Bush's Mess on the Black Guy, but Let’s Toast Trump for Obama's Economic Recovery" economic model are you looking at? 

Look, it took Obama more than 2 years to fix Bush's mess, it's going to take Trump a while before he screws it up. And screw it up he will ... 

Remind me again, how much higher is our budget deficit going to be this year, and the year after that?"


For the record, here's what was happening in the U.S. economy when Trump took over. The employment numbers are from the Federal Reserve ...

Related image

The unemployment chart below is from CNN Money ...

trump unemployment rate july 2017

- Mark


- Mark

Saturday, August 4, 2018



By now most of you have seen or heard about Donald Trump's reckless comments about LeBron James, whose commitment to education and his community are genuine, and backed by millions of dollars from his own pocket. Below are just a few of the more humorous, and very serious, comments that others posted after learning about Trump's mindless midnight tweets.



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- Mark


"Because I'm going to be working for 
you, I'm not going to have time 
to play golf. Believe me ..."

- Donald Trump, 2016

From NBC News we get a detailed listing of Trump's vacations, breaks, and the number of visits to Trump resorts, all paid for by the American taxpayer ...

You can read "Tracking President Trump's Visits to Trump properties by clicking here.

- Mark