Thursday, December 14, 2017


Yes, Doug Jones won in Alabama. But we can't slow down, or celebrate too long. The two clips below show what we're up against, and why our real challenges are not going away with a few electoral victories.

The people in the focus group, in the first clip, don't see a race problem in America, except for what Obama started (seriously). Roy Moore's campaign manager, in the second clip, makes it clear evangelical Christians like him don't understand what "separation of church and state" means.

In both of these clips we see there's no sense of history, nor any understanding of the foundations of our Constitution - or America, for that matter. You can't fix what should have been learned in grade school. It's even worse when we consider that many of these people believe they have all the answers in their Bibles.

It's one thing to be clueless, but when you're delusional ... we have a real problem.

America is supposed to be better than this.

- Mark

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


The NY Times published Salma Hayek's op-ed, which discusses her experiences with Harvey Weinstein. With so many similar accounts, it's hard not to look at Weinstein and think that he was a predator who took predation to another level. 

HARVEY WEINSTEIN WAS a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster.
For years, he was my monster.
This fall, I was approached by reporters, through different sources, including my dear friend Ashley Judd, to speak about an episode in my life that, although painful, I thought I had made peace with.
I had brainwashed myself into thinking that it was over and that I had survived; I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference.
In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones: Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who hurt me so deeply. I had been proud of my capacity for forgiveness, but the mere fact that I was ashamed to describe the details of what I had forgiven made me wonder if that chapter of my life had really been resolved ...

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

- Mark 

WITH ROY MOORE'S LOSS, EXPECT TO SEE VOTER I.D. LAWS COME ROARING BACK ... Yeah, it's those pesky blacks causing trouble, again

The Root has an interesting article written by Michael Harriot: "You're Welcome, White People: Alabama's Black Voters Just Saved America." While the title might seem a bit hyperbolic, it's actually spot on. Heck, even Newsweek picked up on the theme.

In a few words, Harriot's article explains how Alabama's black voters, who make up 26 percent of the electorate in the state, may have made up at least 30 percent of the voting population yesterday (final numbers still pending).

This is roughly how many turned out during the 2008 and 2012 elections, when Barack Obama was on the ballot.

To be sure, Independents moved against Roy Moore as well, but the reality is black voters came to the polls in a non-presidential election year to vote against a religious nut case and an accused pedophile.

While status quo Republicans are busy blaming Trump's political brain, Steve Bannon, for the loss we should not be surprised if the GOP's leadership responds to Alabama's electoral results by going after their favorite election manipulating tool of the past decade: using claims of voter fraud to demand voter I.D. laws, which impact people of color disproportionally.

What I'm suggesting here is that Republicans - who have become very good at making voting more difficult with voter I.D. laws - will see Alabama as another reason for demanding new voter I.D. laws (after bringing up questions of voter fraud, of course).

Why will they do this? Because when it's really close, all things being equal, voter I.D. laws tend to help Republican candidates.

So, my guess is that echoes of voter fraud will creep back into the GOP's political playbook, with a larger policy push for voter I.D. laws. But let's not delude ourselves. The goal is to disenfranchise more Democrats, which will turn away people like those pesky black voters in Alabama, who did nothing more than exercise their constitutional right to vote.

- Mark

In the FYI category, while the debate is still open as to how much voter ID laws impact voting overall, it's clear that the intent of voter ID laws is to keep black Americans from getting to the polls

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


This coming Thursday evening, at 7 pm on December 14, 2017, California State University Bakersfield's Center for Social Justice and Kern County's Immigration Justice Collaborative will present AMERICAN MIGRANT STORIES at the Dore Theatre, located on the CSUB campus.

The documentary takes a look at the long history of migration in America, with Kern County as the backdrop. The impetus for the documentary was the work of a group of local attorneys who put together a string of roaming legal clinics, where they provided legal information to Kern County's undocumented populations, free of charge.

For those of you unfamiliar with the area, know that Kern County is about 2 hours north east of Los Angeles, and is separated by a mountain range - the Tehachapi Mountains - which is often impassable during the winter. The distance between liberal Los Angeles and Kern County is reinforced by the political differences, where Republicans dominate the politics of Kern County and Bakersfield, the county's largest city.

If you plan on attending, please park in parking lots A, B, or C, which are located west of the amphitheatre, off of Stockdale Highway.

If you reach the bus turnaround, you have gone to far. Remember, doors open at 6:30 pm.

- Mark

Monday, December 11, 2017


- Mark

SO, WHAT WILL $1.5 TRILLION BUY? (or why the GOP tax bill is a really bad idea)

Apart from agreeing that the 2017 Republican tax bill benefits primarily the rich, one of the few points of agreement is at least $1.5 trillion will be added to our national debt over a ten year period.

So, what can $1.5 trillion buy, you ask? Good question.

Instead of subsidizing tax cuts for the rich ...

With $1.5 trillion you could pay off the entire debt of every credit card holder in America, and still have at least $500 hundred billion to spend.

With $1.5 trillion you could pay off the student loan debt of every student who borrowed to go to college in America.

Source: Federal Reserve of St. Louis

With $1.5 trillion you could make every public college and university tuition-free for four years, and still have $1.42 trillion left over (to, presumably, pay off every student student loan now on the books).

With $1.5 trillion we could build, according to the very libertarian Cato Institute, a national high-speed rail system, and still have enough to guarantee every American child access to high-quality day care or prekindergarten, for 10 years!

With $1.5 trillion you could purchase the Apple corporation, and still have about $600 billion left over to buy each NFL, MLB, and the NBA franchise (and then name yourself commissioner of American sports).

There's more, but you get the point. We could do far more, and provide greater value for our national dollar, than we would by subsidizing tax cuts for billionaires and multimillionaires who don't actually need the money.

New York Magazine has a few other things we could purchase with $1.5 trillion, which you can access by clicking here.

Finally, if you're having a difficult time imagining what $1.5 trillion looks like, check out the picture below.

The semi-truck below the flag holds $2 billion on its 20 pallets.
Imagine packets of $100 bills stacked on a pallet. You would need 100 of these pallets, stacked 100 high, to get $1 trillion. This is about 465 feet high, which makes it considerably taller than the Statue of Liberty (305 ft). Put another set of $100 pallets that reached 232 ft high next to the trillion dollar pallet and you have about $1.5 trillion.

This is how much money Congress wants to add to our national debt to subsidize tax cuts for the rich.

- Mark

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I posted the Neil deGrasse Tyson clip below over three months ago. I did it mostly to help my International Relations students understand how the scientific method is supposed to work, and why it's so important to understanding our world.

Given the constant lying and deception from the White House, and the steady erosion of fact based decision-making in Washington, I'm re-posting it as a reminder of what's happening to our "informed democracy." Simply put, our democratic experiment is under attack today, which makes Neil deGrasse Tyson's words below especially important, and presicent.

Long story short? With Donald Trump in the White House, we're in trouble.

- Mark


Much of what's going on in Saudi Arabia is not well understood, or simply ignored in the west. Below is a quick 3-minute primer ...

- Mark