Wednesday, May 29, 2019

FROM BOOT LICKERS TO SIMPLE ERRAND BOYS

With Robert Mueller coming out to explain that Trump effectively would have been indicted were he not president, this week's cover for The New Yorker is especially pertinent. 

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- Mark

MUELLER: "CHARGING THE PRESIDENT WITH A CRIME WAS ... NOT AN OPTION WE COULD CONSIDER"

This is what integrity and honor look like ...


And, for the record, Trump was NOT exonerated.

- Mark

IN OTHER WORDS, "TRUMP WAS ENGAGED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITY"

"If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that ..."

- Robert Mueller


You can read more by clicking here

- Mark

Friday, May 24, 2019

THE PRO-LIFE CROWD LACKS HUMANITY

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- Mark

THIS IS CRONY CAPITALISM

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When you take publicly funded research, which led to the creation of a life saving drug, and then turn around and put that publicly funded drug on the market for almost $2,000 you are not a market capitalist reaping the benefits from your hard work and the sweat of your brow. You are a crony capitalist, benefiting from taxpayer funded research and other legislative gifts that should have gone to benefit the American taxpayer who paid for the development of the drug.

Put more simply, you are not a capitalist. Like the the market players on Wall Street who were saved by bailouts backed by the American taxpayer after 2008, you are a crony capitalist.


The line of questioning below from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) helps us understand how Corporate America and Big Pharma has benefited from favorable government legislation.



So, yes, when you depend on the state and favorable legislation for your profits and salvation - especially if you need bailouts and a team of bankruptcy/tax attorneys to keep you afloat (you know who I'm talking about) - you're not a free market capitalist. You are a crony capitalist, and a ward of the state.

It's really that simple.

- Mark

Thursday, May 23, 2019

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT, 2.0 ... BUT THIS TIME IT'S REAL

Picture of Prisoner and Guard from the Standford Prison Experiment

In 1971 a psychology professor at Stanford University, Philip Zimbardo, conducted an experiment that involved students volunteering to participate as guards and prisoners. The goal was to study the psychological effects of perceived power. It did not go well, as this movie clip-trailer illustrates.


I bring up the Stanford Prison Experiment because it looks like many of the psychological elements that we saw in the Stanford Prison Experiment are playing out again. Only this time, we don't have makeshift prisons created out of plywood, and the prison guards aren't Stanford students operating under "controlled" conditions. We have private for-profit companies operating giant prison centers, with well paid guards who are often as ill-equipped as they are poorly trained. Their education levels, I can assure you, are not at the level of a Stanford student.

In most instances, the "prisoners" in today's immigration centers have minor immigration violations or are only "guilty" of seeking asylum in the United States, which is a legal right everyone who lands on America's shores can claim. Yet, they are treated and housed as if they are convicted felons.

Image: A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his segregation cell back to general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility in California on Nov. 15, 2013.
A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his segregation cell back to the "general population" at California's Adelanto Detention Facility in 2013.   

To date, several children have already died while in custody while thousands more have been forced into solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers simply because guards don't like or understand the prisoners. Specifically, the vast majority of those:
... in ICE custody are not facing criminal charges, and their detention is not intended to be punitive. They are in custody for civil immigration violations such as overstaying their visas or being in the country illegally. Some are awaiting deportation or court dates. Some are asylum-seekers.
What's worse, the whole spectacle is playing out in front of the approving eyes of America's Trump-inspired bigots and a political class that's too gutless to act against a megalomaniac president who is as morally depraved as he is intellectually challenged.

You can read more about what I'm calling "America's Stanford Prison Experiment, 2.0" by clicking here.

- Mark

IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTERS, INCUBATORS OF DEATH?

With immigration officials acknowledging that a sixth child has died in detention, this Lalo Alcaraz comic seems oddly appropriate.

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- Mark

FROM TECHNOLOGY OVERDOSE TO ADDICTION ... AND OUR HUMANITY IS COMPROMISED


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- Mark

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT ... 'TRUE DAT'

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- Mark

Friday, May 17, 2019

THE SORROWS OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE*

"The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq waged this century not only
failed to achieve even the most charitable interpretations of their 
objectives, but also further destabilized the region, empowered hostile
actors like Iran, and should have confirmed for any sane observer 
that the United States lacks the ability to transform 
distant societies with military force."

- David Faris


In "The Dangerous Myth of U.S. Hegemony" David Faris writes that going to war with Iran, with little to no provocation from Tehran, is a dangerous moment in American history. Faris argues how Donald Trump's blustering over a region that poses no credible threat to the U.S. reveals how "the overall trajectory of American foreign policy" makes it appear as if the U.S. "is in dangerous decline - drunk on vanishing power, fearful of a reshuffling of hierarchies, and driven by emotional decision-making and irrational fears."

Put another way, U.S. foreign policy under the Trump administration is so empty and chaotic that the global community sees a president who is incapable of developing any understanding about wielding power. Worse, they are also keenly aware that our nation is run by an intellectually compromised megalomaniac.

One of the lessons of the 20th century was that superiority in military weapons alone will not win wars, let alone the hearts and minds of the regions where you wage war. This was a lesson that Lyndon B. Johnson learned all to well in Vietnam. More troops and more weapons, no matter how powerful and modern, simply are no match for a determined people who do not like the idea of being occupied, let alone told what to do.

Lyndon B. Johnson listening to a tape recording from his son-in-law - who was a 
Marine Corps company commander stationed in Vietnam - telling him that the 
U.S. was not going to win the war in Vietnam, ever. 
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So, what about air strikes, as proposed by Senator Tom Hawk (R-Ark.)? Faris tells us that the idea air strikes can bring Iran into line "is a fantasy, a staple of conservative war-porn" that shouldn't be pursued because it would be an unmitigated disaster. I agree. 

You can read about the looming foreign policy disaster Donald Trump seems intent on creating by clicking here.

- Mark

* Yes, the title of this post is a paraphrase (ripoff?) of Chalmers Johnson's book, The Sorrows of Empire. If you enjoyed the theme of this post you should read the book.

CHINA JUST BUILT A 250-ACRE PANDA SHAPED SOLAR FARM

OK, this is pretty cool ...


You can read the story by clicking here.

- Mark

THE GOP'S NEW EMBLEM

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- Mark

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE DIGNITY OF LIFE ... IT NEVER WAS

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- Mark

Thursday, May 16, 2019

IT'S NOT ABOUT LIFE, IT'S ABOUT CONTROL

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- Mark

RECKLESS THINKING, IN REAL TIME

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- Mark

AND NOW THIS ...


George Clooney explains what's wrong in America since Republicans and Trump took control of the U.S. Senate and the White House. Fair warning. The language might be too colorful for some people (though, to be sure, Trump supporters lost any claims to indignation over principle or breeches of social protocol when they voted for him). 

Enjoy ...


- Mark

MEDIEVAL IGNORANCE IN MODERN AMERICA?

Medieval Pesants Time Off

When Catholic priests promised pardons and salvation in exchange for a fee - what were called indulgences - they laid the groundwork for both the rise of Protestantism and the 30 Years' War (which ended in 1648). Today we have religious leaders peddling fake coins, with the promise that your contributions will serve God and the Christian Right by helping to keep Donald Trump in the White House.

Yeah, the con job is as predatory and exploitative as it sounds. Here, take a look ...


Here's the point. The peasants and simpletons of both periods were/are sucked into the nonsense of salvation and political gain, for a fee, because of one simple reason: Ignorance is as naive and gullible today as it was during the medieval period.

So, yeah, medieval stupidity has made a comeback (if it ever left). Only today, we have high tech platforms to suck in the truly stupid.  And it's working. Big Time.

Sigh ...

- Mark

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

WHAT AWAITS THE FAKE CHRISTIANS

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- Mark

TRUMP ITCHING TO PLAY TOY SOLDIER, AGAIN



Three years ago I wrote about Donald Trump wanting a military parade. In effect, he wanted to play toy soldier with America's military. 

Well, now he's itching to take it up a notch. 

With his poll numbers stuck at 40% and Americans increasingly aware that he's a con man of the first order, Trump is looking for something (anything) that will help distract the nation from his many, many shortcomings and personal failings. Simply put, Trump wants war.

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Apart from Trump trying to cover for his personal incompetence, this is how we got here:


* Iranian nuclear deal kept Iran from developing nukes. The world is pleased. Trump not so much (primarily because it's Obama's deal). 
* Trump cancels deal, May 2018. 
* Trump grows concerned (surprise) Iran's now developing nukes. 
* Trump sends naval ships to the region to send a message. 
* Trump says tensions rising with Iran, and wants to send troops in case Iran messes with ships.

Yeah, The Stupid here writes itself.  

With Trump trying to play toy soldier with America's military (again), I can't help but think of the eerily appropriate "The Parade of the Tin Soldiers" (before clicking, you might want to turn the volume down a notch) ...



- Mark

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

THIS IS NOT PRO-LIFE

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- Mark

AMERICA IS NOT WINNING THE TRADE WAR

So Donald Trump, who is leading America into an unnecessary trade war, said slapping tariffs (a tax on imported goods) on China is necessary for bringing jobs home. Not only has our trade deficit failed to improve, but America's trade deficit with China widened by $43.6 billion last year, to $419.2 billion.
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trade deficit
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One thing's clear. Donald Trump's not doing his part to bring jobs home to America (sigh) ... 

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Then we have this ...


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- Mark


JUST TO BE CLEAR ...

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- Mark

Monday, May 13, 2019

BAD LOANS AROUND THE WORLD

Here's a look at the countries whose private banking sectors have the worst bad-loan ratios in the world. 
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I don't want to bring this up (actually I do), but there are plenty of reasons the financial sector in the U.S. isn't doing worse. It starts by reminding ourselves of stories like this, this, this and this.

- Mark

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

WHEN YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE ...

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- Mark

HOW AMERICA'S BRAINS HAVE BEEN HACKED

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Has your conservative friend's brain been hacked? Probably so. Click here to understand the dangerous and computer driven propaganda campaign that Russia's perfecting, and America's political conservatives are eating up because it feeds their worst instincts.

Worse, it serves their political interests.

- Mark

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

YOU KNOW ALL THOSE JOBS TRUMP LIKES TO CLAIM HE CREATED? WELL, HE ACTUALLY DIDN'T CREATE MUCH ...

So ProPublica called around the country to check if Trump's job creation claims are legitimate. If a company said Trump was a contributing factor ProPublica gave Trump credit. Pretty simple. They found that only 797 of the supposed 8.9 million jobs added to the economy - since Trump became president - are attributable to Trump.

So, yeah, that means only .008% of Trump's job creation claims can be viewed as legitimate.
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You can click here to go to ProPublica's site, which has a pretty cool interactive on Trump's job creation claims. 

Long story short, Trump doesn't know what he's talking about. 

For the record, this is what Trump likes to claim he (and Ivanka) created ...
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Again, you can click here to access the ProPublica article.

- Mark

CLIMATE FACTS from THE YEARS PROJECT


- Mark

NO, TRUMP DID NOT FIX THE ECONOMY

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- Mark

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

THIS IS WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU HAVE NO STANDARDS ... AND NO SHAME

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- Mark

HAPPY MAY DAY ... YOUR WORKER RIGHTS DIDN'T COME OUT OF NOWHERE


The United States does not celebrate May Day, or International Worker's Day, on May 1 like the rest of the world. Instead, the U.S. celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September. May Day was selected by labor and social democratic groups around the world - including European socialist and communist parties - because it coincided with the Haymarket (Square) Riot in Chicago (May 4, 1886). U.S. interests didn't like the idea of labor groups in America lining up with international labor organizations.

Illustration of Haymarket square bombing and riot
1886 engraving depicting the bombing at the Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4. 

As for the Haymarket Riot in Chicago in 1886, workers were peacefully marching for an 8-hour workday one day after police had killed eight workers, when a bomb exploded. The subsequent riot and gunfire resulted in seven police officers being killed, along with four civilians. Dozens more were wounded.


- Mark