Thursday, February 28, 2019


After praising Kim, eliminating "full accounting" of nukes demands ahead of the summit and absolving Kim of murder, the Trump-Kim summit side show comes to an inglorious end

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- Mark

Wednesday, February 27, 2019


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- Mark


I haven't been able to watch the entire testimony, but this is what I have from what I've seen so far ...

The Democrats are looking for information and evidence. Republicans are all about character assassination. It's about killing the messenger. 

What the Republicans have achieved so far is making it clear that Trump employed a guy to regularly lie for him, and to commit crimes on his behalf. I'm not sure that's a good thing.

If we're going to follow the line of thinking from congressional Republicans questions, any mob boss who testifies in a mob case is NOT credible because of their previous lies and crimes. This blows up almost every criminal trial against the mob in America. 

The GOP's "liar, liar, pants on fire" logic, while passionate and politically distracting, is built around a legal absurdity if we want to go after the mob again.

Big point. No Republican is trying to defend Trump on ethical or substantive grounds.

Cohen: "The more people who blindly follow Trump, the more will end up where I'm at now." Wow.

Cohen's already convicted, and has nothing to gain by lying now.

Either Trump knew about Russia and other illegalities committed by his team, or he's a complete idiot.

Trump knew about and directed rigged 'bot' polls before the elections.

Trump knew Roger Stone talked to Wikileaks (Julian Assange), which means he was fine with the release or dump of information that was harmful to Hillary Clinton.

Cohen: "I don't walk with my wife when I go to restaurants. I don't walk with my children." He's not testifying for his health. 

And, just in case anyone's missed this one ... Putin is grinning from ear to ear, all day long.

Thank you Donald Trump ... and let's not forget to thank our aiding and abetting Republican Party.

One more thing. Trump and this whole mess makes me want to take a shower. What a bunch of two-bit thugs.

- Mark

P.S. I forgot this one, which I posted on FB ... Responding to a question from a Democrat, Cohen looked towards Republican Rep. Gosar - who had just questioned Cohen - and said, “I did for Trump, what you’re doing now, protecting Trump."

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


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- Mark


Donald Trump's team is touting the sale of soybeans to China, as if it vindicates their tariff policies.


Here's the problem. If you're going to celebrate that the Chinese have committed to buy 10 million tonnes of soybeans - as Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue did this week - then you need to add for context that China was once the top purchaser of U.S. soybeans, buying 30-35 million tonnes a year. Then, because of Trump's tariff policies, China canceled all their soybean purchases. 

So, if my math is correct, even with the announced 10 million tonnes purchased by China we're still about 20-25 tonnes off from what China once purchased. Even if we add the early February announcement that China was going to purchase 5 million tonnes of soybeans we still have a deficit of 15-20 million tonnes (China had zero U.S. soybean imports for November, 2018).

(U.S. farms are declaring bankruptcy at an alarming rate, due in part to Trump's policies and rising interest rates. This is a side issue for another day. So are the costly subsidies designed to buy off farmers hurt by Trump's policies.)

So, yeah, Trump's announcement that China is going to purchase soybeans again is kind of like starting a house fire and wanting credit for saving the family's home because you alerted the authorities. Yes, the family is safe, but we still have fire damage; which brings me to the next issue. 

The Trump administration is now bragging about selling rice to China, as if selling rice to the world's #1 importer of rice is a big deal. But the Trump administration's decision to crow about selling rice to China - as if it's akin to selling ice to an Eskimo - is more smoke & mirrors. 

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Rice imports into China, from their 14 rice-suppliers, cost China $1.8 billion in 2017. That's a 73.8% increase from 2013, and a 15.2% increase from 2016 to 2017. Below is a list of the top providers of rice to China.

  1. Vietnam: US$1.02 billion (55.9% of China’s total rice imports)
  2. Thailand: $544.1 million (29.8%)
  3. Cambodia: $101.1 million (5.5%)
  4. Pakistan: $93.6 million (5.1%)
  5. Laos: $32.8 million (1.8%)
  6. Myanmar (Burma): $31.8 million (1.7%)
  7. Japan: $1.1 million (0.06%)
  8. Russia: $962,000 (0.05%)
  9. Taiwan: $314,000 (0.02%)
  10. South Korea: $208,000 (0.01%)
  11. India: $10,000 (0.001%)
  12. United States: $9,000 (0.0005%)
  13. Canada: $2,000 (0.0001%)
  14. Italy: $2,000 (0.0001%)

The key here is that China has 1.4 billion mouths to feed and has been importing rice from other countries for some time. It's needs - rather than Trump's strong-armed tariff tactics - are what's driving China's purchase of U.S. rice. 

- Mark

P.S. Then we have this: "27.5 million tons of US soybeans expected to go unsold this year as a direct consequence of the trade war with China," Business Insider.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


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Worth the read ...

Anthony Bourdain wrote:

"Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.” But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims. Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “bro food” at halftime. It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.

The received wisdom is that Mexico will never change. That is hopelessly corrupt, from top to bottom. That it is useless to resist—to care, to hope for a happier future. But there are heroes out there who refuse to go along. On this episode of “Parts Unknown,” we meet a few of them. People who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost."

*drops mic*

- Mark

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


From Wired, we get perhaps the best dichotomous explanation of Trump's "I'm not an agent" denials, while he continuously demonstrates an acquiescent and even subservient devotion to Russia's foreign policy goals. In real simple terms ...


The opening paragraph of the article sets the tone ...
THE PATTERN OF his pro-Putin, pro-Russia, anti-FBI, anti-intelligence community actions are so one-sided, and the lies and obfuscation surrounding every single Russian meeting and conversation are so consistent, that if this president isn’t actually hiding a massive conspiracy, it means the alternative is worse: America elected a chief executive so oblivious to geopolitics, so self-centered and personally insecure, so naturally predisposed to undermine democratic institutions and coddle authoritarians, and so terrible a manager and leader, that he cluelessly surrounded himself with crooks, grifters, and agents of foreign powers, compromising the national security of the US government and undermining 75 years of critical foreign alliances, just to satiate his own ego.
You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

- Mark


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From the Manzanar Committee:
"February 19, 2019 marks the 77th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced removal and unjust incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans in ten American concentration camps, and other confinement sites, during World War II, one of the worst violations of civil rights in our nation’s history, and most certainly, one of its darkest chapters."

One final note. While former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Earl Warren is on record defending the internment of the Japanese in 1942 - as California's Attorney General Warren was the state's chief enforcement officer of the internment order - Warren would later change his mind. Specifically, according to former law clerk G. Edward White, Warren said that he, "

... deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it, because it was not in keeping with our American concept of freedom and the rights of citizens ... Whenever I thought of the innocent little children who were torn from home, school friends, and congenial surroundings, I was consciencestricken.”
- Mark




For those who want to whine about "socialists running out of other people's money" let me remind you that social security is owed more than $2.7 trillion by the federal government. If funded, social security is flush through at least 2055. 

Then we have this: Wall Street actually ran out of "other people's money" in 2008. This required more than $4 trillion in bailout cash, and trillions more in "rainy day" funds that are still available to America's financial institutions.

So, yeah, tell me again why we can't pay social security the more than $2.7 trillion that it's owed, but seem to have the cash needed for Wall Street bailouts and trillion dollar tax giveaways to the already mega-rich. 

- Mark

Friday, February 15, 2019


FDR did it after Pearl Harbor, right?

JFK did it during the Cuban Missile Crisis, correct?

And who could forget George W. Bush hitting the resorts and then the links right after 9/11 ...


Our president is incompetent, and this "national emergency" stunt demonstrates once again that he's not fit to be commander-in-chief. This is embarrassing.

And, yes, it's true. MAGA ... Morons Are Governing America.

Sigh ...

- Mark



It all starts with Trump demonizing ethnic groups during the presidential campaign to pump up his political base.


Then Donald Trump became president, and moved into full tantrum-meltdown mode when he realized that Robert Mueller's Russian investigation was bringing bad news, and indictments. Trump needed a distraction, and found one.

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Unfortunately for Donald Trump, the threat he was trying to construct didn't measure up to what was happening along the border.
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In fact, the border crossing and apprehension numbers are so bad that they're actually going in the opposite direction Trump needs for his rhetoric to align with narrative he wants to create.

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Then we have this inconvenient truth: Because Donald Trump doesn't care about lying to his base to rile them up, he decided to lie "bigly" about El Paso, Texas and their wall during his 2019 State of the Union address.


Then, demonstrating he is unfit to be commander-in-chief, Trump confused his temper tantrum with our national security needs. 

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So, against all evidence, Donald Trump announced that there is a national emergency. 

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But at least Trump' base is appeased, right?

Unfortunately, for America, we move one step closer to Trump playing national security soldier for his base, and becoming a tin pot dictator for the rest of us ...

- Mark

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Trump divisive and xenophobic politics and his supporters blind support for them are not without historical precedent. "A Night at the Garden" makes it clear that the political DNA of fascism, authoritarianism and hate have an American strain. This was 80 years ago this month ... 

- Mark


- Mark

Monday, February 4, 2019


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For the record, high tax rates came with generous tax deductions for reinvesting in the economy (i.e. your business and your workers). This helped lead to higher wages, more training, etc.

When Reagan and Bush came in and reduced taxes to the mid 38.5% and 28% on the highest incomes, deficits exploded and our national debt went into the trillions (it was about $970 when Reagan was elected in 1980). Worse, corporations are now keeping more of the profits, and failing to pay higher wages to employees (wage growth has stagnated for the middle class since 1980). Worse, they've spent their money buying lobbyists and politicians instead of investing in the economy.

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- Mark


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- Mark