Friday, July 21, 2017


Trevor Noah points out, once again, why Fox News is pretty much useless when it comes to reporting the news and evaluating President Trump ...

In a few words, Noah takes a look at the Doncathlon "events" that Fox News engages in to promote and protect Donald Trump. The events include the Hillary Leap (diverting attention from Trump to Hillary Clinton), the Giant Leap (inventing conspiracies), and Semantic Judo (using the weight of the truth against itself).


- Mark

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Two days ago I made another appearance with Republican Cathy Abernathy on KGET 17 News' 5:30 pm segment. The topic was the Republican-led effort to kill Obamacare, and replace it with the health care equivalent of, well, nothing.

Out of the gate I made it clear that the GOP's plan really isn't about health care. What they're calling a health care plan - by first repealing and then replacing Obamacare, some time down the road - is really a tax cuts for the rich Trojan Horse (which I explain 1:20 into the clip). It's a promise of a fabulous health care system, but only after the Republicans get their tax cuts for the rich, and then get rid of something that's actually working, Obamacare.

How do we know that Obamacare is working? Because it has opened up access to health care, and slowed down projected pre-Obamacare health care costs.

What people forget is that health care costs had been rising at an unsustainable pace when President Obama was elected in 2008. Think about this. In 1970 for every dollar we earned as a nation we spent 7.2 cents of it on health care. In 2009, when Obamacare was introduced, for every national dollar we earned we spent 17.6 cents on health care!

This is simply not sustainable.

During President Obama's first term, the Congressional Budget Office even projected that our nation would spend 20 cents of every dollar earned on health by 2018, and 25 cents by 2025.

This has not happened.

Today, not only are we spending about 17.8 cents of every national dollar on health care but, as Forbes reported, health care costs during the Obama administration rose at its slowest rate since 1960. As well, between 2010 and 2016 Obamacare helped lower personal (medical) bankruptcies by nearly 50 percent. What this means is that Obamacare is a stunning success when it comes to creating access and reducing health care related costs in America.

This also means that when Cathy Abernathy said - 25 seconds into the clip - "We don't need Obamacare ... It's hurting the economy ..." she was flat out wrong (OK, she was "lying"). Let me repeat: Obamacare has slowed the costs of medical care in our nation's economy to rates not seen since 1960.

More importantly, as the Wall Street Journal reported, Obamacare has added years to the life of Medicare.

The other point I made in the clip - and what I want to emphasize here - was that the Republicans aren't serious about replacing Obamacare. Their "plan" to repeal and then replace Obamacare with something better (that only they know about) down the road is really a Trojan Horse.

I closed my comments by pointing out that the GOP's assumptions are based on wishful thinking (2.6% growth rates when the CBO projects it to hit 1.9%), and by reemphasizing that the Republicans current health care efforts are really just another round of tax cuts for the rich.

Cathy ended with some nonsense about "the government," which left us all looking at each other.

- Mark

You can access the KGET 17 News segment by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


- Mark

Hat tip to Leonel for the John Cole-San Jose Mercury News comic.


Six years ago pundits were writing California off, complaining about its migrant population, its business environment, and its politics. Today, all of that's changed.

With a democratic legislature and governor, a tech-based economy that's in tune with its Asian-Pacific partner nations, and a political culture that's embracing its migrant communities, California - according to Bloomberg News - is leading the U.S. economy, and the world away from Trump.


California's secret? Whatever Trump does, it does the opposite. And it's working.

To be sure, it's a little more complex than running away from everything that our national embarrassment does from the White House, but the point is made. The United States under President Trump is going in the wrong direction. States that buck Trump's initiatives, like California, are doing well.

Specifically, Bloomberg notes:

* California has one-eighth of the U.S. population (39 million) and one-seventh of the nation's gross domestic product of $2.3 trillion.

* Far from being a mess, California's economy is bigger than ever, rivaling the U.K. as No. 5 in the world.

* California is the chief reason America is the only developed economy to achieve record GDP growth since the financial crisis of 2008 and ensuing global recession

As Bloomberg notes, Governor Jerry Brown is making the point that much of the U.S. growth can be traced to California laws promoting clean energy, government accountability and protections for undocumented people. Indeed, rather than treating its migrant populations as pariahs, criminals and terrorists as President Trump and much of the Republican Party is doing, California's leaders are embracing its newcomers. Governor Brown, now in his fourth term, considers immigrants a major reason for the state's success.

And contrary to what President Trump and his Flat Earth society of climate deniers are saying about climate regulations hurting business, California is becoming the poster child for the right mix of smart regulations and a viable clean energy policy.

Bloomberg writes:

No state or country has created as many laws discouraging fossil fuels and carbon while promoting clean energy. That convergence of policy and voter preference is paying off in the stock market.

California is home to 20 of the 130 companies in North America and South America that meet the standard classification of clean energy. These 20 companies produced a total return of 45 percent during the past 12 months, beating the clean energy benchmark's 13 percent, the S&P 500's 19 percent and the S&P 500 Energy Index's 6 percent.

As evidence of California's power to attract and maintain tech talent, take a look at Apple's new $5 billion "Space Ship" Campus, which they're building in Cupertino, California ... Ground Zero for what Republicans claim is a tax and regulatory hell hole.


There's more, much more, about California's new successes - away from Trump, and Washington - which you can access here.

- Mark

Monday, July 17, 2017


An interesting look at how people from around the world arrived in the United States, beginning about 50 years after the Declaration of Independence ...

Another interesting look at migration patterns, into the Americas, from about 70,000 years ago ...


- Mark


I missed this one a few months back. During the height of the "travel ban" discussion, Alec Baldwin plays President Donald Trump on SNL's skit on The People's Court.

- Mark

Saturday, July 15, 2017


If you've read President Trump's comments with journalists on Air Force One - or just followed his daily antics since he was inaugurated - this Mike Luckovich comic makes all the sense in the world.

I'm not sure what's worse. President Trump's buffoonery, or the stubbornness of those who voted for Trump and now refuse to acknowledge they put a compromised man-child in the White House.

How bad is it? It's so bad that I don't even need to post commentary to President Trump's responses to journalists on Air Force One this past week. Check out these gems from President Trump on trade, health care, and the border wall ...



THE PRESIDENT: A big thing we have with China was, if they could help us with North Korea, that would be great. They have pressures that are tough pressures, and I understand. And you know, don’t forget, China, over the many years, has been at war with Korea — you know, wars with Korea. It’s not like, oh, gee, you just do whatever we say. They’ve had numerous wars with Korea.

They have an 8,000 year culture. So when they see 1776 — to them, that’s like a modern building. The White House was started — was essentially built in 1799. To us, that’s really old. To them, that’s like a super modern building, right? So, you know, they’ve had tremendous conflict over many, many centuries with Korea. So it’s not just like, you do this. But we’re going to find out what happens.

Very important to me with China, we have to fix the trade. We have to fix the trade.

And I’ve been going a little bit easier because I’d like to have their help. It’s hard to go ***. But we have to fix the trade with China because it’s very, very none-reciprocal.


THE PRESIDENT: ... I think, first, I want to do — well, we have a few things. We have a thing called healthcare. I’m sure you haven’t been reading about it too much. It is one of the — I’d say the only thing more difficult than peace between Israel and the Palestinians is healthcare. It’s like this narrow road that about a quarter of an inch wide. You get a couple here and you say, great, and then you find out you just lost four over here. Healthcare is tough.

But I think we’re going to have something that’s really good and that people are going to like. We’re going to find out over the next — you know, we just extended for two weeks. Which, that’s a big —


Q. You were joking about solar, right?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not joking, no. There is a chance that we can do a solar wall. We have major companies looking at that. Look, there’s no better place for solar than the Mexico border — the southern border. And there is a very good chance we can do a solar wall, which would actually look good. But there is a very good chance we could do a solar wall.

One of the things with the wall is you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. In other words, if you can’t see through that wall — so it could be a steel wall with openings, but you have to have openings because you have to see what’s on the other side of the wall.

And I’ll give you an example. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don’t see them — they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall. 

But we have some incredible designs.

But we are seriously looking at a solar wall ...


THE PRESIDENT: ... And I’m not saying it wasn’t Russia. What I’m saying is that we have to protect ourselves no matter who it is. You know, China is very good at this. I hate to say it, North Korea is very good at this. Look what they did to Sony Studios. They were the ones that did the whole deal to Sony. You know, we’re dealing with highly sophisticated people.

So, China is very good. You have many countries. And you have many individuals that are very good at this. But we can’t have — and I did say, we can’t have a scintilla of doubt as our elections and going forward.

Q Have you told him that?

THE PRESIDENT: I told him. I said, look, we can’t — we can’t have — now, he said absolutely not twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, okay? Because then I brought up Syria, and I said —

Q Afterwards?

THE PRESIDENT: Very shortly there afterward. And I said, there’s so much killing in Syria. We got to solve Syria. We’ve got to solve Ukraine. And you know, I’ve always said — and I’m not just talking about Russia — we’re a lot better off — like it’s a good thing that I have a good relationship with President Xi. It’s a good thing I have a good relationship with every one of them — Modi — you saw that. Every single one of them of all 19 — there’s 20 with us. All 19, I have a great relationship with.

There's no need to highlight all of Trump's syphilitic-addled responses, as chronicled in the NY Times, which you can access here. The key is understanding that the level at which President Trump speaks isn't much better than what I expect from a freshman in one of our introductory political science courses.

We are truly dealing with a compromised man-child, who's in over his head. What's worse is that his supporters can't see it, or simply don't care.

- Mark

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Do you have friends or colleagues who think Donald Trump colluding with the Russians is not a big deal? Are you tired of them arguing that because the Democratic Party was looking for dirt on Donald Trump, through an intermediary from the Ukraine, this means that the Democrats are hypocrites? If so, here's how you can/should respond.

First, explain to your Trump loving friends that their Ukrainian-Russian comparison is a "false equivalency" argument, which means it has no merit. Since you're probably dealing with someone who is most likely challenged when it comes to science (and vocabulary) you're probably going to need an example they can understand. Let me help.

In real simple terms, a false equivalency occurs when you have someone who says something like, "I don't know why Mexicans just don't assimilate. My grandparents came to the United States years ago, and they assimilated." What they leave out is that their grandparents came from Canada or Great Britain, had degrees, and already spoke English (yes, I actually had someone make this argument to me).

So, yeah, their ancestors may have been migrants, but their experience is not the same as - or the equivalent of - the poor uneducated groups who migrate from Latin America. Ergo, it's a false equivalency.

The false equivalency with  "the Ukraine is Russia" story line becomes real once we recognize that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was engaged in "opposition research" on Donald Trump, and was offered information on Trump. Apart from the fact that opposition research is what every political campaign does, it was the DNC who was offered the information (and not the Clinton campaign).

In plain English, there's a difference between securing opposition research for campaign strategy, and having a hostile nation-state undermine the integrity of a presidential election (and our democracy) so they can elevate a global stooge to do their bidding.

Let's be clear here. Rather than looking for information on Hillary Clinton (opposition research), Donald Trump's campaign was actively being assisted by a hostile nation-state, Russia, who hacked the vote.

Specifically, Vladimir Putin directed his intelligence and military agencies to actively work towards sowing misinformation and doubt about our presidential elections, which America's national intelligence agencies have confirmed. Let's be clear here (and to repeat), there's a difference between opposition research and having a Head of State directing his intelligence and military agencies, and other state resources, to attack our democracy by undermining a presidential election because they want to shift the geo-strategic map.

Because Trump's supporters have suddenly forgotten what Ronald Reagan understood, let's remind ourselves of one thing: Vladimir Putin's Russia is hostile nation-state. Their long game, as I pointed out in January, is to collapse the post-World War II order that the United States and the west created.

Vladimir Putin wants to upend the global order so that Russia can jockey for position in a new global hierarchy, that they want to manage. This means that the United States and it's strategic alliances built up throughout the cold war must be weakened. This point can't be repeated enough: The United States must be weakened for Russia to achieve her goals.

Putin is playing a big chess game here.

Undermining NATO, destabilizing the European Union, getting a pass on Syria, etc. - which Donald Trump is helping along - are all big moves that help Vladimir Putin on the global chessboard.

Donald Trump is a novice on the global stage and doesn't understand any of this.

Worse, Donald Trump's being played by Vladimir Putin in ways that probably have Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon rolling over in their graves. There's a definite, and obvious, imbalance there.

Indeed, President Trump's decision to not try and impress Vladimir Putin with his much talked about (and mocked) power grip handshake should be seen as a sign that he does not want to upset his puppet master.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump actually thinks bloviating and blustering about countries like North Korea (which poses no geo-strategic threat to the United States), and cozying up to Putin, makes him a star on the global stage. They don't. They make Trump, and the United States, look foolish and naive.

Putin's long game is well established, and does nothing to enhance U.S. interests. This does nothing to make America great again.

One final thought. If your Trump supporting friends and colleagues are anything like the ones I run into, explaining false equivalencies, outlining the difference between opposition research and the undermining of our democracy, and pointing out Putin's broader geo-strategic chess moves will probably be too much logic for them to handle. They will probably drink more of the Fox News Kool-Aid, and invite you to join them.

Don't argue their points. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. Simply walk away.

It will frustrate, rather than validate, the voices in their head.  

- Mark

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


With President Trump pushing to ease last year's Ukraine-inspired sanctions on Russia - which passed the U.S. Senate 98-2 - the very conservative Weekly Standard has made it clear: The Trump Administration Has Forfeited the Right to be Trusted on Russia. Specifically, the editorial board of The Weekly Standard writes:

These are circumstances in which the president has no capacity to set policy toward Russia. Whether the media has unfairly targeted the president and his advisers over their dealings with Russian officials is now beside the point. By a series of unforced errors—omissions of financial dealings with Russian companies, unaccountably faulty memories on meetings with Kremlin-connected operatives—the Trump team has lost all credibility on the question of Russia.

The Weekly Standard's editorial board has also conceded something that President Trump's most ardent supporters don't want to believe because of the story line that logically follows: Russia interfered with our 2017 presidential election.

You don’t need to think that Trump and his campaign aides colluded with Russia ... to believe that Russian government officials tried to manipulate it. 
Perhaps the most damning observation from the TWS's editors is an argument I've been making for some time now: President Trump is selling our foreign policy soul to Vladimir Putin for a song.

Specifically, the TWS's editorial board makes it clear that President Trump is sitting idly by while Moscow props up Syria, which insures instability and antagonism towards the west in the region for years to come. Worse is how President Trump's effectively ceding any kind of interest in the Ukraine, a state that was moving towards the west before the Russian "invasion" began.

There is no doubt, moreover, that the Kremlin has armed Bashar al-Assad’s regime in a successful bid to establish a client state in the Middle East and undermine American interests there, and that the Russian army has waged war inside the borders of Ukraine, an American ally.
It won't be long. Trump is slowly being exposed in conservative circles for what most of us have been saying for the past two years. Donald Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who's in over his head, and a danger to the global community.

- Mark

Monday, July 10, 2017


The video below is going viral (with reason).

Australian reporter Chris Uhlmann offers up one of the most succinct and spot on overviews of President Trump's place in the world. It's devastatingly accurate and, to Trump's chagrin, insightful ...

For Trump's supporters (who don't speak at Ulmann's level), Uhlmann is saying that Trump has no business being around serious world leaders, and that he's pretty much a punk and a poseur.

- Mark