Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BOTH SIDES ACTED INAPPROPRIATELY? OK ...



According to Jim Acosta, the White House is issuing a memo urging surrogates to say both sides acted inappropriately in Charlottesville.

Nice


-Mark

Monday, August 14, 2017

THE VIOLENCE DONALD TRUMP NOW CLAIMS TO CONDEMN DIDN'T COME OUT OF NOWHERE ...

From the talented dude at The Daily Don ...


Forgive me for not being impressed with Donald Trump finally deciding to condemn the KKK and white supremacists during their race-hate filled march in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. His previous rhetoric and hate-filled encouragement has helped create the environment for the racist idiots and cultural snowflakes we saw in Charlottesville to feel emboldened.

In fact, Trump has been calling for a return to the good old days, when people of color knew their place, and women made the sandwiches, for some time now ...


The mayor of Charlottesville has more than a few things to say about what happened in his city, which you can access by clicking here.

- Mark

Saturday, August 12, 2017

JONATHAN PIE'S EPIC "OFF THE AIR" SUMMARY OF DONALD TRUMP'S WEEK

Jonathan Pie gives another epic "off the air" performance, outlining Donald Trump's failed week. Fair warning, while it's theatrics at it's finest, the language is strong in spots, and might be offensive for some ...


- Mark

For more on Pie's work, click here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

BAKERSFIELD HEALTH CARE CEO CALLS OUT REP. KEVIN McCARTHY FOR LYING ABOUT OBAMACARE


Via the Bakersfield Californian we get this op-ed from Steve Schilling, CEO of Clinica Sierra Vista, a California based non-profit health care organization that provides health care to low-moderate-fixed income patients in the region.
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McCarthy's words about 'imploding' ACA are literally unbelievable

  • By Steve Schilling

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, seeing an opportunity to score political points with his party’s hard-right base, recently resorted to scare tactics after the announcement that Anthem is pulling out of the Covered California exchange in Kern County. After reading McCarthy’s grave predictions that the Affordable Care Act “is collapsing,” the 5,000 county residents covered through Anthem could be forgiven for panicking.
But don’t panic and certainly don’t listen to McCarthy. He’s just reciting a tired list of talking points.
The only thing changing for the 5,000 Anthem patients in Kern is the name of the company on their insurance cards. They’ll still get the care they need, the care all Californians are entitled to, no matter what fiction he feeds his constituents or his true intended audience: the party brass in Washington (of which he is a part) and President Trump.
The exchange is working wonders in California, giving coverage to millions of people who for too long have used emergency rooms and other urgent care “solutions” as their only access to medical treatment. McCarthy disingenuously blames the Affordable Care Act for instability in the market while creating the very turmoil he condemns: “None of this can be blamed on Republicans because nothing in Obamacare has been changed in the law,” McCarthy told The Californian.
But plenty can be blamed on the Republicans.
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President Trump’s irresponsible comments about allowing the ACA to “implode” plays politics with the lives of millions of Americans, many of whom voted for him. And when Republicans got their turn at bat in the health-care ballgame, they introduced bills that would end coverage for millions, bankrupt those with pre-existing conditions, and allow an opt-out for the young and healthy – a demographic essential to keeping costs down – meaning the very people who need health care the most would have to pay through the nose to get it.
Unbelievable.
That’s the verdict of most Americans, and even most United States senators. When your party owns Congress and the White House and you still can’t pass health-care legislation, that means the legislation isn’t worth passing.
But McCarthy is right about one thing: Anxiety in the insurance markets is real. The source of the anxiety, though, does not stem from the Affordable Care Act but from the “repeal-and-replace” chorus we’ve been hearing from McCarthy and his colleagues for seven years. Anthem Blue Cross President Brian Ternan said as much, in explaining his short-sighted decision:
“The market for these plans has become unstable. And with federal rules and guidance changing, it’s no longer possible for us to offer some of those plans.”
Meanwhile, though they’re pulling out of Fresno, Kern and a few other markets, Anthem – whose profit growth from government business is so robust that it beat recent Wall Street projections - is choosing to remain in 28 of the state’s 58 counties.
Anthem’s competitors in Kern – Health Net, Kaiser and Blue Shield – are more than happy to step in, taking the long view that the Republicans and the Trump administration won’t have the political currency to abandon the Affordable Care Act. And when the market stabilizes after the rhetoric dies down, Anthem will realize it served up its Kern customers to its competitors on a silver platter.
As for McCarthy, he recently told The Californian he hasn’t given up on a health care bill. Really? What are his ideas? Besides voting for the House’s American Health Care Act — a tax break for the wealthy that would strip millions of their health coverage — it isn’t clear what our congressman has in mind.
Perhaps he should spend more time meeting his 100,000-plus constituents benefiting today from the ACA and less time memorizing a list of party talking points.
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Steve Schilling wrote an equally compelling article taking on conservative Obamacare lies, for the Bakersfield Californian, which I posted here.

- Mark

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

COULD YOU IMMIGRATE TO DONALD TRUMP'S AMERICA? Probably Not ... But What's Worse is We May Be Witnessing the Ugly Rebirth of Eugenics in America

Would you qualify to apply to immigrate to the United States under the GOP's, and Donald Trump's, proposed immigration policy? 

Check out the immigration scorecard - put together by the good people at Time Magazine - which scores your eligibility to apply, according to proposed congressional legislation (click on this link if you want Time's interactive to tally your score for you).
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To give you an idea of how unfair and out of touch this type of scoring is check out my score ...

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So, yeah, I might qualify to apply under the proposed new system. But take away my Ph.D. and my 20+ years salary in the California State University system and I'm on the bubble, or out. 

But let's be clear. Qualifying to apply doesn't mean I would get in to America if I applied. It only means I could apply. Other less "desirable" characteristics could disqualify me. My blog alone would probably sink me in Trump's America. 


LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT'S REALLY HAPPENING
Let's be blunt about this. What we're seeing in America, under the cover of a clever but draconian immigration policy, is the reemergence of "the science" of eugenics. It's easy to make this case because the proposed immigration policy, without saying so directly, is designed to stem the flow of "undesirables," which include those with no money, no education, no Nobel prizes, or no Olympic gold medals. 

Heart, drive, family, artistic talent, initiative, a passion for the American Dream, etc. mean little to nothing in the proposed immigration program

For those who need a primer on eugenics, know that it's a pseudo science that believes you can improve a populations stock through controlled breeding. The goal is to produce, over the long term, desirable genetic characteristics within a population that will help make the region, or the nation-state, genetically superior to other regions or populations. 


Winning family of a Fitter Family contest stand outside of the Eugenics Building
(where contestants register) at the Kansas Free Fair, in Topeka, KS (c. 1929).

And, yes, the school of eugenics, which was embraced and practiced in the United States, was disgraced and ignored only after it was perverted by the Nazis. 

If you're interested in the clever but not-so-disguised eugenics policy of the Trump administration, what's presented below provides some background on the ugly history that helped bring eugenics to the United States in the early 20th century, and today.


THE JUNK SCHOLARS OF THE 19th CENTURY
The school of eugenics has a long history and, for my purposes, begins with the charlatans and fake science that gained popularity with the junk scholars of the 19th century.

Among the many intellectuals who helped breathe life into the notion that your position in life was determined by hard work and initiative alone were popular academics, like William Graham Sumner and Herbert Spencer. In fact, while many believe that Charles Darwin coined the term "survival of the fittest" it was actually Herbert Spencer who gave life to the phrase, which perverted Darwin's work. 

Still, it would also help win Spencer praise and monetary support from America's wealthiest tycoons, whose status and position in life were justified by Spencer's work.


For his part, William Graham Sumner helped convince America's richest that they not only deserved their place in society, because of the hard work that they did, but that "a drunkard in the gutter is just where he ought to be, according to the fitness and tendency of things ..." 




These observations were tied to laws of nature, according to Spencer and Sumner, and should not be tampered with with pesky rules and regulations. For them, the natural order of "divine right and privilege" we saw during the Feudal Order had been replaced by the natural order of "success or failure" in America. Drunks in the gutter, like other social misfits, deserved all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them because they were nature's losers. 

Still, benevolence and chivalry were not entirely dead. 


Because women had a "natural" place in the society, the state didn't have to concern itself trying to educate their delicate minds. For William Graham Sumner, the state had only one objective when it came to women: protecting their honor. Joining his contemporary in this thought, Herbert Spencer was so adamant about maintaining the proper place of women he believed society's softer gender should not be allowed to be educated because,
... such brain forcing could lead to nervousness, anaemia, hysteria, stunted growth and excessive thinness.
But this wasn't the worst of it.


THE JUNK SCIENCE OF THE 19th CENTURY
Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828) made a name for himself building phrenology, a controversial field of study in 19th century (made popular by Leonardo DiCapario in Django).


The experts in the field argued, to an increasingly wide audience, that you could determine the emotional and personal characteristics of an individual by looking at and exploring the contours of the human skull.

According to Gall the mind is composed of multiple and distinct faculties. Each one determines traits and characteristics, from individual benevolence to violence. As a result, the size of each "faculty" in the brain is important because each faculty pushes and shapes the skull in such a way that by measuring skull patterns a good phrenologist could determine whether someone was predisposed towards charity, spirituality, kindness or aggression. 



More simply, with the proper training and tools, the surface of the skull was viewed as a good index for reading individual aptitude and personal tendencies.

Over the course of the 19th century phrenologists were able to determine - scientifically, of course - that certain ethnic groups were predisposed towards violence, while others were geared for success as the shape of their skulls made clear. 

As you can imagine, Western European skulls emerged with the most aptitude and benevolence skull spots (bumps?), while slaves, Eastern/Southern Europeans, Asians, and other groups were deemed to have skull shapes that kept them out of the highest levels of civil society, education, and far away from success.
This pseudo science was embraced by many who were looking for scientific justification for their capabilities and acumen in the business world. Similarly, phrenology was supported by those who wanted to justify slavery (their skulls weren't shaped for creativity and genius), and those simply looking to reaffirm their life of leisure in the country club (skull space for genius and benevolence allowed them to enjoy leisure).
But the distorted teachings of these "junk scientists" didn't end with phrenology. There would be an even uglier spin-off, which helped justify emerging social hierarchies, and the status quo in America. 

This school of thought was eugenics.


THE EUGENICS SPIN-OFF
Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) was one of the first scholars to give scientific racism intellectual heft. Agassiz argued that each race on earth were separate creations that were started in diverse geographic zones (called polygenism). These distinct beginnings, according to Agassiz, endowed each race with different and even unequal attributes. 

For this reason, Agassiz argued, each species can be tied or classified by specific climate zones, just like animals and plants. One of Agassiz's great "discoveries" came when he proved the superiority of European stock over all others.


Agassiz's spectacular findings should not have come as a surprise to anyone. As a European, it was only natural that he (or someone like him) would make this discovery.

As you can imagine, Agassiz's life work was very popular in the American South, where slave owners were looking for reasons to justify slavery and racism (from a Christian perspective, of course; Agassiz was a Christian).




But the eugenics legacy didn't end with simply establishing the superiority of one ethnic groups genetic make-up over another.

The real genius behind eugenics was when policymakers started to buy into the idea that certain genetic groups were predisposed to certain behaviors, and believed that they could purify society by removing or neutralizing these undesirable elements. To do this many states in America began to sterilize habitual criminals, lunatics, schizophrenics, and others who had been officially labeled social misfits.





And, if you're wondering, yes, this is where the Nazis got many of their ideas.





The irony in all of this is that while many of these 19th century "scientists" drew from Charles Darwin (who was a real scientist) most, if not all, of their work would have been rejected by Darwin on scientific grounds.

Unfortunately, though, the damage had been done. It's still being done. 
Only this time it's being done under the color of a draconian immigration policy that pretends to be "merit based" - just as Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner would have preferred.

- Mark

* The section on eugenics is drawn from an earlier post, and will appear in next book.

* Hat tip to Leonel for the Time/Immigration link.

IS THERE A SHORTAGE OF QUALIFIED INTERNS OF COLOR, OR DOES THE GOP HAVE A DIVERSITY PROBLEM?

The Washington Post has an article on the "overwhelmingly white White House intern class photo, and why it matters" here ...
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This issue is not new for Republicans in Washington, and around the country. Last year Speaker Paul Ryan posted the selfie below of himself with a group of Capitol Hill interns in the background. Does anything stand out? 
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One of the reasons racial diversity matters is that democracy is about voice, and inclusion. According to this Brookings report, 44.2% of today's millenials (18-34) are NOT identified as white. This means Paul Ryan and Donald Trump's intern groups are not representative of modern America.

Now, one could make the argument that there are simply no qualified interns of color, or that the GOP has a diversity problem. You be the judge on that one. 

No wonder Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions want to turn Affirmative Action on its head, and start pursuing reverse discrimination cases for white applicants who don't get into the college of their choice. The demographic story behind Donald Trump's White House and Paul Ryan's Capitol Hill intern groups makes one thing very clear: white Americans simply can't catch a break. [**cough**cough]

Sigh ...  

- Mark

Monday, August 7, 2017

REPUBLICANS HAVE NO REAL STANDARDS, OR SHAME ... AS "BARACK OBAMA" READING REAL DONALD TRUMP QUOTES MAKES VERY CLEAR

In an effort to expose how much of a double standard the GOP has when it comes to politics, and reality, Bill Maher hired a Barack Obama double (Reggie Brown) to read actual Donald Trump quotes.

While getting people to see what "white privilege" in America looks like, the broader idea is to demonstrate that, when it comes to governing, Republicans have no real standards, or shame ...



- Mark